Orioles manager Buck Showalter has all sorts of words that he lives and manages by, but the one he generally trots out when he is team building early in the season is the one about players trusting each other to contribute just enough to get the job done.
He calls it “passing the baton,” and its something that the Orioles will need to do Friday night if they are to outlast Texas Rangers 16-game winner Yu Darvish and bring the playoffs back to Camden Yards.
It’s pretty obvious that too many players are trying to do it all themselves, which is a normal instinct when things start to go awry. Everybody wants to take the big swing, so a lot of potential base runners turn into strikeout and double-play victims. This is a team that can deliver those big swings, but they come when you’re patient enough to wait for them, not when you go looking for them.
- Orioles are nicked up ... just like everybody else
- Adam Jones is the Orioles' newest ironman
- Orioles fail to guarantee a home playoff game, will face Texas in wild card
- Orioles in October [Pictures]
- Peter Schmuck grades the Orioles
- Orioles celebrate American League East title [Pictures]
See more photos »
For the O’s to advance, Adam Jones needs to do what he did on Wednesday night and stroke that line drive to right center when there’s a man on first…if that’s what’s available to him. Matt Wieters needs to take a walk when he’s way ahead on the count and it’s pretty clear that a right-hander wants no part of him. Chris Davis, well, he can do what he wants right now because he’s launching the ball over the place, but you get my drift.
The thing that has made the Orioles one of the surprise teams of the 2012 season is their ability to deliver from everywhere on the roster. Maybe the Rays pitching staff simply stifled them for three nights -- it certainly happens -- but that’s a rationalization that won’t get them past Friday night’s game against another stifling starting pitcher.
They’ve beaten a lot of very good pitchers this year when they have made them work harder in the early innings and raised the stress level on the mound. They need to find a way to do that on Friday night, or the only thing they’ll be bringing back to Baltimore is their luggage.