SEATTLE – The Orioles just finished a grueling 10-game road trip against three powers of the American League West with a 6-4 record and series wins in Anaheim and Seattle.
It might have been the toughest stretch on the road this year, and the Orioles passed the test. But now they will have to face the Angels and the Mariners at home for a pair of three-game sets at Camden Yards.
“It’s going to be a memory by the time we leave here because we have two of the best teams in the American League coming in,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said following the Orioles’ 3-2, 10-inning win over the Mariners on Sunday. “It’s tough, it’s challenging.”
So even though the Orioles are still three games up on the second-place Toronto Blue Jays, they know they can’t let up now.
“Now we have to go back home and play them again,” Orioles third baseman Manny Machado said. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and keep playing our game; that’s going to take us where we need to go.”
Other teams in the AL East are starting to heat up. The Tampa Bay Rays are 9-1 in their last 10 games and both the Blue Jays and the New York Yankees are 7-3 in that span. The only team in the division that isn’t making a run right now is the Boston Red Sox, but don’t worry, David Ortiz is still showboating with his team nine games under .500.
The Orioles rotation posted a 2.94 ERA over the road trip, but offense was scarce all the way around. The Orioles scored more than four runs in a game just once on the 10-game trip. In each of the last three games against the Mariners, they scored three runs or fewer, including their 10-inning, 3-2 win over Seattle on Sunday.
“We didn't do what we wanted to, but we came out with a win which was the most important part,” Machado said. “We are going back home now to face them again, and we are going to have to swing the bats a little bit better.”
Still, the Orioles rotation kept the club in several tightly contested games on the trip. Seven of the 10 were decided by two runs or fewer.
“They kept us in every game,” center fielder Adam Jones said of the rotation. “I think only one game we didn't have a chance to win on this road trip. All the other nine we’ve had a great opportunity to win it.
-- Sunday’s 10th inning marked the first time Zach Britton has struck out the side in an inning as the closer. Showalter commented after the game that it might have been Britton's most dominating outing. He needed just 12 pitches to retire the side, striking out Kyle Seager, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison.
-- Left-hander T.J. McFarland was dominating as well. Take away a two-out walk to Robinson Cano, and he made easy work of the Mariners, striking out James Jones and Dustin Ackley and then getting Kendrys Morales to hit into a forceout at second base.