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Orioles search for their purpose as Friday's loss drops them 50 games below .500

Such is the plight of a team plummeting toward the bottom of baseball’s record books that on a night when they didn’t exactly deserve their fate, they lost and hit the round number of 50 games below .500.

The Orioles’ 2-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday made them one of 35 teams in baseball history to lose 50 more of their first 122 games than they won, and the first since the 119-loss Detroit Tigers of 2003, who were 31-91 at this point in the season. The 1962 New York Mets, whose 120 losses were the most in the modern era, were 30-92 through 122 games.

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With 40 games remaining, the Orioles are on pace to go 48-114, which would be the fifth-most losses in the modern era. Their run toward ignominy has the Orioles grasping at whatever they can to derive value from the remaining six weeks of the season.

“It’s not good,” first baseman Chris Davis said. “We know that it’s not good. We know that every night we go out there, we’ve got to find something to play for and really find something to hang our hats on. For this club right now, as young as we are, having some new faces in here, that’s got to be our focus to go out and learn and try to find something to build on to carry momentum into the offseason.”

Games like Friday’s in which they play well in most facets would be a good start. Rookie David Hess allowed a two-run home run in the first inning but nothing else in his six innings of work, and Miguel Castro had two clean innings of relief to get himself back on track. Second baseman Jonathan Villar had a good game in the field, and manager Buck Showalter found plenty else to point out, other than the fact that they scored just once on four hits and right fielder Joey Rickard accounted for six of their seven runners left on base.

“I thought we played one of our better games defensively,” Showalter said. “Villar made a lot of plays at second, very quietly [center fielder Cedric Mullins] cut off a ball that not many people cut off, went back and got some balls effortlessly, Rickard made a good throw to second base. It was one of our better defensive games. Chris turned a big double play for us early that I thought got David on his feet a little bit.”

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