OAKLAND, CALIF. — When the Orioles were swept out of Detroit in what was supposed to be the soft spot of their challenging April schedule, they were only just grasping the consequences of what was then a 5-14 start.
Center fielder Adam Jones said at the time that a turnaround needed to come quickly, and if they were waiting for it on May 3 — an arbitrary date that was two weeks away at that point — then "that's going to be some trouble."
May 3 featured a lopsided loss, and May 4, their series opener in Oakland, was a 6-4 loss, too. The Orioles are 3-10 since being swept at Comerica Park. When reminded of that date he threw out, Jones acknowledged why.
"Damn — ate my own words, didn't I?" he said. "The reality of it is that it is. In our division, you can't get back deep in our division because Red Sox, Yankees, Toronto, Tampa — these are teams that are cutthroat and don't have any sympathy for the next team — as they shouldn't. Obviously, it's so cliché, but we've got to start our routines, continue to play the game the right way.
"We need to play 27 outs. When you play any team in the major league, if you give them 29, 30 outs, they're going to make you pay. No matter who the team is, the lineup, it's the major leagues. So, we played a good game.
"Unfortunately, we had three errors that were three extra outs for them. And they're a big league team. You see in the first inning with that one error. That cost us four runs. We just need to continuously play fundamental baseball. That's what our style of baseball has been the last six, seven years for our success. Right now, we're not playing fundamental baseball. That's our creed, to be fundamentally sound."
Jones took some positives from the game. He liked how Andrew Cashner got them into the fifth inning with the game still in reach after that four-run first. He liked how they used small-ball, something they're "not very good at," to erase a 4-1 deficit in the sixth inning. None of those included his own performance, which featured his fifth home run of the season and a team-high three hits with two runs scored as he moved to the No. 2 spot in the lineup for his 1,500th game in an Orioles uniform. Manager Buck Showalter took care of that.
"Adam, he's grinding every day," Showalter said. "There's not a day goes by that I don't know how blessed we are to have a guy that posts up and competes like he does every night, regardless of what's going on. We're lucky to have him. I talked to him today about moving to second and he always has the same response. He's a baseball player."
But Jones said he and his teammates are focused on the end result, which is why it's easy for him to overlook what he did in hopes of getting the team back on track.
"We're grown men," Jones said. "We're professionals. We know how to handle trials and tribulations. But the most important part is we're here to win. We're not here to just be part of a country club. We can join any country club in various cities that we live in.
"What we need to do is get back to the mindset of winning. If we lose a game, the mindset of like, 'Dang, how did we really lose that game?' as opposed to, 'Dang, we lost a game, here's another. Here's another spinner going down.' We just have to be better. I can say what I want. We've just got to be better, and the guys in there know that. We're frustrated overall as a group because we're professionals, and we know that we're better than this. But at the same time, we understand that this is part of the game. It's just not the part that we like. We've got to be better. No team is going to lay down and let us beat them."