It’s not as if the Orioles and their fans need any more evidence that this baseball season has become a cruel joke.
Each time the Orioles create even the smallest impression that they are going to start playing better, it’s immediately followed with some new injury or indignity.
That’s what happened on a Tuesday night when they came from ahead against the Seattle Mariners and lost more than the game.
They lost reliever Darren O’Day to a recurring hamstring injury that could keep him out several more weeks. They announced that top starter Dylan Bundy was going on the disabled list with a sprained ankle and that utility outfielder Craig Gentry also is headed to the DL with a rib cage injury.
They already had lost whatever positive energy they had built in their series victory over the first-place Atlanta Braves, losing the final game of that series and Monday night’s opener against the Mariners.
Oh, and Chris Davis apparently isn’t exactly out of his season-long slump, even though he drove in five runs his first two days back from an eight-day hiatus to re-evaluate his approach at the plate.
Davis came home from Atlanta brimming with confidence that he had conquered his demons, but in seven plate appearances in this series he has struck out six times and been hit by a pitch.
Still, he kept his wits about him and left the outward show of frustration to teammate Manny Machado, who failed to run hard on a double-play ball and was booed when Mariners shortstop Jean Segura double-pumped on a relay that still beat Machado easily.
It’s been that kind of year … and then some.
O’Day has suffered through a long stretch of nagging injuries that he thought had come to an end. Now, he figures to be lost for a long period just as closer Zach Britton is rounding into shape after missing the first two months of the season with an Achilles tear.
This after the Orioles lost their most dependable pitcher of the first half, left-hander Richard Bleier, to a torn left lat muscle that ended his solid season.
“It’s a hard game,” O’Day said. “It’s a tough schedule. It’s tough on your bodies. Injuries are going to happen. We want to do our jobs, so the more of us that are hurt, the harder it makes that. So, some of the young guys are going to step up and take advantage of opportunities and pitch well.”
Catcher Caleb Joseph saw right away that something was wrong when O’Day came off the mound to field a bunt in the eighth inning.
“It really stinks,” Joseph said. “The first move, right out of the gate, didn’t look right. You figured it was the hamstring. He’s been battling it for a little bit now. The guy’s the heart and soul of the bullpen. Ten-year veteran. Accountable. You can lean on him. Knows how to win. Knows how to pitch.”
Joseph said you don’t want to lose anyone to injury, but losing O’Day, Bundy and Bleier over a two-week period is particularly discouraging for a club that didn’t need any more bad news.
“There’s guys you really want around and you want pitching and playing in games … [Darren] is definitely one of them,” Joseph said. “Dylan and Richard have been workhorses. The injury bug is making its way around and you try your best to stay out of it, but it’s extremely unfortunate. It’s just body blow after body blow for us.”
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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