DETROIT—With one more win, the Orioles will surpass their win total from 2018. With one more loss, they’ll lose 100 games for the second consecutive year.
While those stats might seem trivial, there are still impressions to be made in the final 17 games of the season.
“In our situation, I care about how we play,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
The Orioles and Detroit Tigers have the worst records in baseball, and it bothers Hyde when his team doesn’t play well, which it didn’t do on Thursday night in a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers scored two runs on a passed ball after a strikeout with the bases loaded, Rio Ruiz was thrown out trying to take third on a ground ball to short and committed a costly error, and Jonathan Villar struck when he was attempting to bunt with two strikes and took strike three.
“We had an opportunity to win a couple of games by just playing a better brand of baseball and not making mistakes,” Hyde said. “The importance of not making outs on the bases and catching the ball on defense, little things we’ve harped on all year long.
“If we play these last two weeks with clean baseball, it will lead to some wins, and that’s what’s important to me.”
The Orioles have 36 players on the roster, 14 who are relievers.
“I’m trying to get everybody in there,” Hyde said. “I’m trying to play as many people as possible.”
Hyde has changed his lineup for Friday’s game. Anthony Santander, who has played in 84 straight games since he was called up from Triple-A Norfolk on June 4, was not in the starting lineup. He’s in an 0-for-19 skid.
Renato Nunez, who has played in 139 games, tied with Trey Mancini for second-most on the club, was also on the bench.
“I’m trying to give guys fair at-bats,” Hyde said. “We have a lot of players, and it’s not easy to shuffle around. There’s a lot of guys we want to take good looks at and see how they play here in the big leagues, so I’m going to try to continue to move guys around and play people as much as I can.”
Hyde still plans to use his more accomplished relievers, even though he’s happy to have the extra arms around.
“I’m still trying to win the game,” Hyde said. “There are certain guys I’m going to use in certain spots. Game’s close, on the line or we have the lead, I’m pitching [Mychal Givens] either in the eighth or ninth inning.
“I’m still going to run the bullpen by trying to win the game and Givens giving us the best matchup possible. That being said, you still want to see as many people as possible … It’s a total evaluation month while trying to win.”
Mancini ‘s outlook: Playing the Tigers after facing the Dodgers, the team with the National League’s best record, isn’t hard, Mancini said.
“Not in the slightest bit,” Mancini said. “At least for me personally, and I think for everybody else in here, there’s just as much energy and will to win, and will to do well as there is on Opening Day.
“Every game is so important now, especially in the situation we’re in now, kind of showcasing what they can do and a lot of guys are showing that they belong at this level. That’s extremely important at this time of year for all of us as … we get to know each other and mesh as a team. I think September is so important going into next year.”
Mancini had spoken with Adam Jones about the Orioles’ play in September 2011 when they were 15-13 and finished the season by knocking the Boston Red Sox out of the playoffs.
“They started playing really well at the end of that year, and it carried into next year,” Mancini said. “The opposite happened for us in ’17. We were a game out of the wild card in early September and then had a really bad month and that carried into 2018.
“Things just spiraled out of control from there. I think September’s so important going into the next year and feeling good about yourself, and I think that can really change the energy going into spring training and throughout the year.”
Entering Friday’s game, the Orioles had lost nine of 11 in September.
“I’m hoping we can take a big step and really show our fans and show everybody that we’re moving in the right direction and maybe move this thing along quicker than a lot of people think it will go.”