By the time the Orioles and Oakland Athletics were back in their respective clubhouses after Wednesday’s marathon series finale at Camden Yards, the outcome of the game didn’t seem all that important anymore.
The Orioles certainly needed to win the game and the series — and they did — but the final score wasn’t going to change what everybody saw on a beautiful afternoon or what we’ve been seeing for the entire month of August.
This is no way to get to the playoffs.
The O’s have won the first game of their past five straight series and lost the second game of each of those series. And, while we’re on this disturbing subject, they didn’t win any of those series until Manny Machado’s 12th-inning walk-off homer Wednesday.
Does that mean they have no chance to reach the postseason? No, it doesn’t, but only because there are enough games left for something totally unexpected to happen, like the Orioles suddenly getting their stuff together and going on a long winning streak.
Of course, everyone who watched Wednesday’s game saw why that might require enough Oriole Magic to summon two unicorns to drag the infield.
When a team has its figurative boot on the neck of a team as unimposing as the A’s and cannot keep that team from getting off the floor and erasing a five-run lead in the late innings, well, do I really have to spell it out?
The starting rotation is still a big problem and even when the O’s got a strong six innings from Dylan Bundy, things still unraveled. Bundy finally blinked and the bullpen suddenly looks more vulnerable than it has in years.
Mychal Givens gave up two runs in the eighth and Zach Britton gave up two runs in the ninth to end his record streak of 60 successfully converted save opportunities.
This didn’t just start happening. It has been going on in some form or fashion for a month and, somehow, the Orioles continue to reside on the fringe of the wild-card race.
They win one. They lose one. They score in double digits in a series opener and then score one run the next night. They treat momentum as if it were kryptonite.
It’s fun to watch Trey Mancini continue on his way through a very impressive rookie season. He did his part Wednesday with a mammoth three-run homer in the fourth inning.
Machado has been on a huge roll in August and was just named American League Player of the Week.
Jonathan Schoop is having a career year and is threatening to join Machado on the pricing-themselves-out-of-Baltimore list.
Newcomer Tim Beckham has been a revelation since he was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays.
If someone had told any of us that those young offensive stars would all pop at the same time in August, you’d have to think that the Orioles would be doing pretty well right now, but they are not. The pieces are there, but they just don’t fit together very well.
Manager Buck Showalter is trying to keep his cool. He knows he has been working with a vastly inadequate starting rotation all season, and it was always going to be about that. The fact that the bullpen is now showing cracks only reinforces the notion that things just aren’t very likely to improve.
Sure, it was nice to see a young pitcher such as Miguel Castro strut his formidable stuff for several very clutch innings. It was great to see Beckham reel off three more hits. And, of course, it was fun to watch Machado finally get hold of one in the bottom of the 12th inning and send the O’s off to Boston with nice warm feeling.
It just doesn’t change anything.