For the past month or so, the Orioles' widely divergent records in games at home and on the road have kept everyone wondering which direction the team would eventually turn.
Now we have the answer: the wrong one.
The O's came into this homestand with the best home record in the major leagues and have proceeded to lose five of six games against the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. They've still got two interleague games left here against the first-place Washington Nationals, but they'll have to look a lot more like a playoff contender to change the direction they've been going for the past week.
It isn't often that their steady defense lets them down, but a couple of misplays in the fifth inning led to three runs that would be the difference in a 5-3 loss to the Astros on a rain-soaked day that turned into a dismal night after nearly five hours of weather delays.
What remained of a paid crowd of 29,734 watched starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo pitch somewhat well in a loss and saw the on-again, off-again Orioles offense struggle against 12-game loser Dallas Keuchel.
Gallardo pitched seven innings and allowed four runs on seven hits, but only three of those runs were earned and a couple of those might not have been if Chris Davis had not lost Carlos Correa's line-drive double in the lights.
"Chris is a good right fielder and maybe our best right fielder," manager Buck Showalter said. "It got in the lights and he just had to guess where it was. He almost made a great play. Probably one of the few guys who would have got to that."
That was probably the difference between a win and a loss for Gallardo, who went deep in the game on a day when the Orioles were thin in the bullpen.
"We really needed it, in a lot of ways," Showalter said of Gallardo's long outing. "And hopefully to make us better the next few days. We needed some guys to stay away from again tonight with the short outings we've had. ...It was a good outing, especially considering the conditions."
The Orioles picked up single runs in the fourth and fifth innings on a homer by Jonathan Schoop and an RBI single by Adam Jones, but they were overmatched offensively after scoring 18 runs — and hitting 10 home runs — in the first 10 innings of the four-game series. From the second inning of the second game through the ninth inning Sunday, the Orioles were outscored 31-8.
"We're a good team," Schoop said. "We've never doubted ourselves. We've got to just flush out this series and worry about Washington tomorrow."
Sunday's loss was also a missed opportunity in the standings, since the first-place Blue Jays and second-place Red Sox lost before the tarp came off the field at Oriole Park.
Rookie Dylan Bundy will try to change the subject Monday night, but it will be no easy task against Nationals 15-game winner Stephen Strasburg.
Raindrops keep falling: The start of the game was delayed for 4 hours and 5 minutes while a series of storm cells moved through. Turned out, there was one left after the game started and the tarp was rolled back out after the first inning. This time, it wasn't out there long and the festivities resumed in 30 minutes, allowing both starting pitchers to remain in the game.
Bridwell's debut: The Orioles called up minor league pitcher Parker Bridwell for emergency long relief duty, and used him in a two-run game in the eighth inning. He got the first two outs of the inning, allowed a solo home run to late-inning sub Jake Marisnick, and pitched a scoreless ninth.
Schoop hits No. 19: Schoop lined a 1-0 pitch from Keuchel into the Orioles bullpen with two outs in the fourth inning to tie the game. Both Schoop and Pedro Alvarez need one more homer to reach 20 for the season and join the four other Orioles who already have passed that mark.
Upon further review: Astros manager A.J. Hinch used his manager's review to challenge a safe call at second base in the fifth inning and the call was overturned. Showalter used his manager's challenge to try and overturn a close out call at first base involving Schoop in the sixth, but the call was upheld. Hinch kept his challenge and used it to challenge a caught stealing at second base, but that call stood.