Buck Showalter preaches preparation, making sure his players are ready for whatever might come their way. In Showalter's first 71 games as manager, the Orioles have mostly experienced good things. But after dropping seven straight games to fall to 6-8, Showalter’s Orioles are facing adversity for the first time.
The Orioles return to Camden Yards tonight, and the city isn’t quite buzzing about baseball like it was the last time they were there. The Orioles were outscored 49-17 in those seven losses. They are plummeting in the standings. And three formidable foes are coming to Baltimore for this 10-game home stand. The ballpark will probably be barren this week when the Twins are in town, and we can count on Yankees fans trying their best to outnumber Orioles fans over the weekend. Ditto for Red Sox Nation next week.
The players who have been here for a while have to be thinking “Here we go again." It’s only natural for doubt to creep in, even if they have done their best to play it cool when the microphones came out and the cameras came on after each mounting loss.
These are the Orioles, after all, and plenty of people around baseball were already shooting them down during their 6-1 start. Buck’s Birds were bound to hit the ground eventually, they said.
Now the pressure is on Showalter to halt to this skid before the Orioles’ season goes off the rails.
The Orioles have had plenty of issues over the past 10 days. You have to figure the offense will break out eventually -- sooner rather than later would be nice -- but what we’ve seen is what we might get from the starting pitching, and the team can’t do anything but wait for Brian Matusz and J.J Hardy to get healthy.
“We’re not going to sit around and wallow in our self-pity," Showalter said after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Indians. "Let's move on. Nobody feels sorry for you in this game. We know what we need to do to get out of it. There is an opportunity [Monday] to have some good things go on. ... You put it behind you, learn from it and you don't let it happen again."
There is good news for the Orioles, though, and it isn’t that Showalter stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night: The Twins are also struggling. They snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over the Rays on Sunday. And like the Orioles, they have had trouble scoring runs, and their pitching has been unreliable.
One of these teams will start to get back on track in this series. Will it be the Orioles?
“They are trying," Showalter said. "You want something to happen, and it will happen. We're going to be a good club before it's over. We have been, we will be, and we are.”
It's too early to panic, but it will be acceptable if the Orioles don't start playing like a good club again soon.