Since the Orioles are on the West Coast, the club was not in a position to make an immediate roster move to shore up the struggling bullpen in time for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Oakland Athletics, but manager Brandon Hyde said before the game there will be some changes coming in Seattle.
Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. is expected to come off the injured list to join the team for the four-game series against the Mariners after completing a short rehabilitation assignment with the Norfolk Tides in Scranton, Pa. And it seems likely that the team will replace veteran pitcher Dan Straily after his second straight blow-up Tuesday night.
“We have some potential roster moves coming in the next few days,” Hyde said. “One, Smitty will probably be there in Seattle. That went well in Scranton. He felt good after the game. Smitty will be there and we have some pitching decisions to make. We’ll probably have some moves in the next couple days.”
Hyde didn’t pull any punches immediately after Tuesday night’s game deteriorated into an exasperating blowout, which featured three pitchers combining to give up six home runs as the Orioles tied a season high by surrendering 16 runs. But he said Wednesday he had confidence his young team would shake it off.
“It’s a quick turnaround, obviously a really tough game last night — embarrassing loss,” he said, “but one thing about our guys, they’ve always responded well.
“Our guys are fighting for their major league lives. A lot of our guys are trying to establish themselves, so they have something to play for always. It’s a game where you’ve got to produce to stay. They know that. So, I think we do come ready to play after tough losses.”
Still, Hyde said he didn’t sleep well on his final night in Oakland because he didn’t see the kind of effort that has allowed him to live with many of the team’s other tough losses.
“There are some nights that I do. There are some that I don’t,” he said. “I’m going through this for the first time also. Last night, I didn’t sleep well. I know our situation. I know where we are. I know how short we are in so many areas. I can handle when we give a great effort and we’re just not talented enough or we just can’t execute because we’re not good enough at times.
“I want our team to be competitive and I think we’ve done that a lot of games this year, where we’ve lost a lot of tight games because some teams are just a little bit more talented than we are. But I didn’t like the taste of last night’s loss. That didn’t sit well with me. There were a couple games against Boston that did not as well. … Last night, to me, wasn’t a major league baseball game the last four innings, so that bothered me.”
The Orioles have struggled with their middle relief for most of the season, but Hyde said the organization will not be tempted to dig deeper into the minor league system for short-term benefit.
“We’re committed to what’s the right thing organizationally for our players,” he said. “And that’s not to rush anybody to try to help out our situation here. It’s going to take time, right? We have some guys that we like in the lower levels where it’s not fair to them or to anybody else to rush them here when we don’t feel like they’re ready. Unfortunately, we just don’t have a ton of depth at the upper levels. We’re just not there yet.”
Straily spoke to reporters before the game and made no excuses for back-to-back performances in which he allowed a total of seven home runs.
“As a professional, it’s your job to keep working and figure out how to fix it and that’s where I’m at now,” he said. “Been a very frustrating month and a half or so. You are just always trying to fix it. Been working on adjustments all the time.
“I went from the worst outing of my career last week to the second worst this week. You just have to keep working. That is what professionals do.”
Though Straily has to know his job security is hanging by a thread, he said he’ll keep working to improve as long as he’s here.
“That stuff, you can’t control that,” he said. “We are just working and we all want to be here. Those things — they take care of themselves. If we are not getting the job done, they are going to try find someone that is.”
Mostly, he’s just trying to figure out how things have gone so horribly wrong.
“This has been the most trying season of my career,” Straily said. “Especially mentally. Just trying to wrap my head around what is going on. A lot of it just doesn’t make sense to me. It is very confusing.”