OK, so the Orioles have lost five straight, but it’s not time to panic.
Last year’s team had just one losing streak over three games, a six-game skid from May 26 to June 1. But just four of those losses came on the road, as opposed to the five straight home losses that make up the team’s current losing streak.
That’s not that big a deal, because we know the Orioles play well on the road.
But during that six-game streak last year, Orioles manager Buck Showalter called a rare team meeting in Toronto to rally his players, to remind them that they were better than the losses showed and that staying consistent in their approach would pay off.
That talk obviously worked. Last year’s team avoided the long losing streak. Now this year’s team must do the same.
Showalter doesn’t address the club as a whole often because he trusts his players. That’s what leads to the tremendous clubhouse chemistry the Orioles have. But losing tests chemistry.
Yesterday’s 3-1 loss to the Rays was difficult to swallow. One, the Orioles received a solid outing from Chris Tillman, but wasted it. Yes, Matt Moore is one of the best pitchers in the game right now, but the Orioles had their chances to break through against him early, but couldn’t get a big hit. Moore was by no means at his best.
Showalter often talks about how the team’s ace is the pitcher starting that day, but recently Tillman’s been the only one worthy of that conversation. He recorded his sixth straight quality start in a game where he still had to battle. But the rest of the rotation, among the injured (Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen) and the struggling (Jason Hammel and Freddy Garcia), is being held together by a thread.
Gonzalez should return Tuesday, which is tremendous news for the Orioles. Gonzalez can’t wait to get back on the mound, and he’s doing so against the perfect opponent in a game the Orioles need to win. He’s pitched well against the Yankees.
Getting away from the rotation for a bit, it will be interesting to see how long the Orioles continue their extended look at Yamaico Navarro at second base. He’s made three straight starts there, but he made two critical miscues in the field Sunday: an errant toss to second for an easy force out that was ruled an error, and a ball that hit off his glove that was ruled a hit.
Alexi Casilla will likely start at second today against the Yankees because of his numbers against CC Sabathia. He’s hitting .583 (14-for-24) in his career against Sabathia. So don’t think the Navarro experiment is over because Casilla starts today.
But Showalter insists that you have to play defense to be a major league regular. And Navarro’s glove has always been a concern. Let’s see how this one plays out.
Just a side note, I had a pleasant experience talking to crew chief Gerry Davis about the replay review on Matt Joyce’s homer yesterday. When controversy arises and there’s a need to speak to the umpires, one pool reporter usually goes into the umpires room to speak with the crew chief.
Davis was easy to deal with. He welcomed me in, shook my hand, answered my questions directly, gave the other umpires the chance to add anything and even joked with me on the way out to make sure I spelled his name with a “G” and not a “J.”
With umpires under such scrutiny these days, it’s definitely worth pointing out when they’re deserving of praise. And in the end, they got the call right.