Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, on the eve of the final game of the mathematical first half of his first season in charge of the worst team in baseball, said he didn't know what the team's record was before Friday's series opener against the Cleveland Indians.
That their 23-58 mark through 81 games is tied for the second-worst since baseball shifted to a 162-game schedule in 1962 might be part of the reason he doesn't want to look. He's more focused on getting the team back to playing in a manner that, quite simply, doesn't feel as if they're losing so often.
"Losing is hard," Hyde said. "And it's hard on everyone. I think our guys are giving great effort. Somehow, we stayed in a lot of games earlier in the year and we just haven't recently. I'm hoping to get back to that, back to that level of play every single night where really good teams have to beat us for them to win.
"I feel like we've beat ourselves a lot recently. We haven't pitched real well. The days that we have pitched, we haven't scored runs. It's been one of those one-or-the-other situations, and we stayed in a lot of games the first couple months against really, really good clubs. I was really proud of that. But right now, we just haven't played very well the last couple weeks. I'm hoping to get back to playing the competitive baseball we've played the first couple of months."
Friday’s 13-0 win over the Cleveland Indians might have been the most extreme example of that hope coming to fruition.
Earlier in the season, the effort Hyde hoped for led to at least some better results if not victories. Their 4-1 start in New York and Toronto turned heads, and even if the season quickly transformed into a growing tangle of losses, Hyde took pride in keeping close for the most part. That's hardly been the case over the past few weeks. The Orioles are 5-19 in June, and Friday’s 13-run explosion means their run differential for the month lowered to -70.
Their last series win was April 22-24 against the Chicago White Sox; they haven't won back-to-back games since May 4-6 against the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays; only the 2003 Detroit Tigers, who lost 119 games, have been worse through 81 games than the Orioles are at 20-61.
"The first couple of months, I felt really good about how our team was playing," Hyde said. "We weren't winning games, but we were in almost every game, and very, very competitive. These last couple weeks have been really, really hard, because you want to see our guys playing those close games. You want to see guys come through. You want to see guys have success. It hasn't been easy."
Hyde tries look at the team's execution on a given night as opposed to whether they won or lost, while sprinkling in some knowledge that the future is bright with former top picks DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez representing the Orioles in the All-Star Futures Game next month, Ryan Mountcastle and Keegan Akin selected as All-Stars at Triple-A Norfolk, and four All-Stars at Double-A Bowie. More than a dozen Orioles prospects were selected for the Carolina League and South Atlantic League All-Star Games, too, and Low-A Delmarva won its division title in the first half.
"I knew going in that this was not going to be easy," Hyde said. "I knew what our expectations were. Me and [executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias] have a lot of very honest conversations about — before the season and continuing through today — about how we see the organization, what our plan is and what Mike's vision is.
"We're really aligned in that. It's never easy to lose, there's no doubt about it, and it's really, really challenging. You're looking for positives. You're looking for what we just talked about; guys being named to the Futures Game, the Triple-A All-Star games. You're looking for guys where positives happen up here. And we have some positive things that happen up here. We just don't have the wins that you'd like."