Manager Dave Trembley started his pre-game meeting with reporters by declaring it a "new day, a new game." But early in the series opener against the Oakland Athletics on Thursday night, a very familiar feeling had enveloped the Orioles.
They again couldn't buy a hit with a runner in scoring position. They again made a couple of mental and physical miscues. And they again found themselves with a loss in a situation that is growing more dire and desperate by the day.
The Orioles' 10-game road trip started exactly as their most recent homestand ended, with a lifeless 6-2 loss in front of an announced 17,382 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. It was their seventh straight defeat, and the fifth time during that skid that they were held to two runs or fewer.
"No excuses, no one is feeling sorry for anybody," Trembley said. "I just see it not getting done. The other teams are playing better right now. You battle, you keep plugging away at it. Tomorrow's another day."
With the Houston Astros getting their first win Thursday to move to 1-8, the Orioles, at 1-9, are the owners of the worst record in the major leagues. They also have lost 11 of the past 12 meetings with the A's, who they face three more times in the series.
And injury was added to insult as left fielder Felix Pie, who was one of the few Orioles swinging the bat well, was removed from the game in the seventh inning after aggravating his persistent shoulder injury.
Pie winced after swinging and missing at a pitch from in the top of the seventh. He eventually worked a walk and scored the Orioles' first run on Nick Markakis' sacrifice fly, the right fielder's first RBI of the season. As Pie crossed home plate, he grabbed his left shoulder, and he didn't come out to play defense in the bottom of the seventh.
"You'd like to be able to have the guy healthy so he can play on successive days and put a little string together," Trembley said. "It would appear that it's a situation that keeps creeping up and bothering him on a way too frequent basis. So I'll wait until I get a report from [head athletic trainer Richie Bancells], and that proper recommendation will be made and we will go from there."
If Pie goes on the disabled list -- and there appears to be a decent possibility of him joining Brian Roberts, Michael Gonzalez and Koji Uehara there -- the Orioles' top option to replace him would be Triple-A Norfolk's Lou Montanez.
Pie, who said his shoulder hurts him every time he throws a ball, said it's too early to speculate how long he'll be out.
"It's the same thing," Pie said. "It hurts now, but I'm going to wait to see what's going on with it tomorrow."
Overall, the Orioles managed just five hits against A's starter Ben Sheets, who turned in six scoreless innings after allowing a total of 21 base runners and five earned runs over 11 innings in his first two outings.
The Orioles went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and are now a ghastly 10-for-74 (.135) in such situations this season. They also were 0-for-5 with a man in scoring position and two outs, falling to a miserable 1-for-36 (.028) in that situation this season.
"That's going to happen through the course of the year, but starting the year out like that, it gets a little frustrating," said catcher Matt Wieters, who went 0-for-3. "But you have to come back and play the next day. Soon, the diving plays will stop and we'll start getting some big hits. Right now, you just have to go out there and battle. I don't think we're pressing. We're still hitting some balls hard and finding some barrels. Once we find a few holes, things will fall."
Orioles right-hander David Hernandez, who is from about 90 minutes away in Sacramento and had 35 friends and family members in attendance, took his second loss, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk over five innings.
Hernandez's biggest problem was he failed to get the Oakland leadoff man out in four of his five innings of work.
"It probably would have been a different story if I was able to get the leadoff man out," he said. "Once again, you're out of the stretch most of the game. It makes it real tough."
Hernandez lamented allowing two runs in the first inning, which came after the Orioles had Rajai Davis dead to rights at first base. Hernandez's pickoff throw beat him by a wide margin, but first baseman Garrett Atkins' tag was late. Trembley vehemently argued the call with first base umpire and crew chief Gary Cederstrom but acknowledged after the game that the correct call was made.
Oakland scored again in the third inning and then tacked on one more in the fourth because of poor defense by the Orioles. Center fielder Adam Jones missed both cutoff men, turning Adam Rosales' leadoff double into a triple. Ty Wigginton then botched Cliff Pennington's routine grounder, allowing Rosales to score without a throw.
"It wasn't really pretty on that part," Trembley said. "We wish we could have scored early and they added on. We'll keep battling and keep trying to break through on this, and sooner or later, it will turn on our side."