But manager Buck Showalter maintained that the shortcomings hadn’t overwhelmed his team, which instead was taking an incremental approach of trying to win each game. The playoffs are months away, so he said the current standings have little meaning to him.
That mindset worked through a four-game series with the Texas Rangers. The Orioles’ 9-7 win Thursday night, fueled by a powerful offense in the fifth and sixth innings, sealed the sweep.
“When you win, it’s more happy,” second baseman Jonathan Schoop said. “But we’re a happy team and we believe in each other. Even the days we were down, you still come out here and try to win. You still play hard, go hard and leave it out there. Of course when you win, it’s different. You have fun.”
After scoring 22 runs in the previous two games — a burst missing when they had a combined 11 in three losses to the Cubs — the Orioles wanted to continue the momentum against Rangers ace Cole Hamels.
The Orioles (46-49) found a rhythm late in his outing, forcing the Rangers (45-50) to turn to the bullpen after 5 1/3 innings. Hamels allowed nine hits and seven runs, striking out three and walking two.
Center fielder Adam Jones started the scoring during the fifth inning with a two-run home run, scoring right fielder Joey Rickard, who led off with a single. After long flyouts by third baseman Manny Machado and Schoop, Mark Trumbo took Hamels’ fastball deep to center, cutting the Orioles’ deficit to 5-4.
In the sixth, Hamels surrendered a series of one-out singles, the last of which, by Rickard, tied the game at 5, capping the left-hander’s shortest outing since June 26. Jones then doubled and Schoop singled to extend the lead to three.
“Anytime you’re down 5-1 to Cole Hamels and you end up winning the game,” Showalter said, “you’ve got to like that.”
Miley lives dangerously
Wade Miley lived on the edge all game, allowing multiple base runners in four of his five innings but not truly being hurt by it until the end of his outing.
He walked right-fielder Shin-Soo Choo with one out in the first inning and saw him score on a single by third baseman Adrián Beltré after stealing second and taking third on a throwing error by catcher Welington Castillo.
Texas ran into two outs on the bases — one on a botched sacrifice bunt and a second when Delino Deshields was picked off on a stolen base attempt — in the third inning before it scored a run on a two-out double by center fielder Carlos Gómez in the fourth.
Things unraveled for Miley in the fifth when, with two outs and a man on first, he allowed a single to Beltré and a three-run home run to first baseman Mike Napoli.
“I left it up and away,” Miley said. “I was trying to go down and away for a strike, and I didn’t want to lose him.”
Miley left having allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks in five innings, but was taken off the hook for a loss by the team’s immediate comeback.
Winning pitcher Miguel Castro (2-1), Darren O’Day and Brad Brach each pitched a spotless inning, then Zach Britton allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in the ninth before getting Elvis Andrus to fly out to deep right to end the game.
Schoop's streak stopper
Schoop’s solo home run in the bottom of the fourth started the Orioles’ scoring and ended Hamels’ scoreless streak.
Before the second baseman sent the 2-0 pitch into the left-center-field stands, Hamels hadn’t allowed a run in 24 innings. He entered Thursday with two straight scoreless starts. An opponent hadn’t crossed the plate against him since the Chicago White Sox managed two runs in the first inning July 1.
The stretch was the longest active one in the major leagues.
The Rangers ace, however, limited his lapses as the Orioles failed to capitalize on a scoring opportunity later in the inning.
Trumbo walked after Schoop’s home run. Two batters later, Hamels hit left fielder Trey Mancini with a pitch. Castillo drew a four-pitch walk, leading the Rangers to converse on the mound.
But Rubén Tejada didn’t force Hamels to work through the jam for long. With the bases loaded, he grounded out on the first pitch to leave the Orioles trailing 2-1.