For seven innings Friday night, it looked like the Orioles had already packed up their bats for the winter.
They had floundered for six innings against one of the most ineffective starters in the National League and appeared dead in the water against one of the losingest teams in baseball. It had reached the point that the announced crowd of 37,815 was just happy to be going home with those cool Hyun Soo Kim Korean-language T-shirts.
Showalter always does the classy thing in these situations and gives the opposing pitcher the credit when the Orioles don't show up at the plate. But that's a hard sell now that the Orioles have scored three runs or fewer in seven straight games and 11 of their past 15 games.
Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo wasn't overpowering, but you can bet that Showalter would have signed up in blood to get the performance he delivered. Gallardo allowed single runs in the first and second innings, then shut down the Diamondbacks until it was time to line up the short-relief crew.
"The past four days it was a little bit rough," Gallardo said, "but that's how this team is. It never gives up, comes in day in and day out ready to play and it showed today, being down two runs throughout the game and then finding a way to get the victory. It's exciting."
If this were a week ago, Showalter would not have used his "win" relievers in a game that the Orioles were trailing, but they have run out of rope here. The Detroit Tigers have replaced them in the second wild-card slot and seemed poised to push them back another game with a lopsided victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Darren O'Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Zach Britton, Tommy Hunter and Oliver Drake pitched scoreless innings to buy some time and the offense finally came to the rescue in a game the Orioles could not afford to lose.
No pinch runner for Hardy? Showalter was asked after the game why he didn’t pinch run for Hardy in the ninth inning, which – in highsight – might have allowed the Orioles to win in the ninth.
Opportunities lost: The Orioles loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning against Miller with a couple of walks and a single by Manny Machado, but Alvarez was caught looking. The inning also featured a towering fly ball by Chris Davis that might have been a home run if right fielder Yasmany Tomas had not had plenty of time to settle under it and reach up before it seemed destined to land on the roof of the grounds crew shed.
The Orioles also had runners at second and third with one out in the sixth inning before Alvarez and Jonathan Schoop popped out to end the inning.
Shaking things up: Showalter revised the lineup a bit, moving Kim into the leadoff spot for only the second time this season and putting Adam Jones in the No. 2 slot. Showalter continues to look for something that will give the offense a spark, but nothing has worked.