Losing three games in a row in New York has changed the vocabulary surrounding the Orioles, with fans and commentators suddenly wondering aloud if this team should be focusing on the second wild card rather than defending their 2014 division title.
The Orioles left the Bronx with barely a whisper, swept in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium for the first time under manager Buck Showalter with a 9-3 loss to the Yankees in front of an announced crowd of 46,875 on Thursday afternoon.
The Orioles' three-game series at Yankee Stadium provided the opportunity to gain ground on the division-leading New York Yankees. Instead, the Orioles fell six games out of first place in the American League East after their 4-3 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday night in front of an announced 43,887.
The Orioles have won four straight and six of their last seven as they open their three-game series against the division-leading New York Yankees. But tonight, they will face Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda, who recorded arguably the most dominating pitching performance against the Orioles last season.
The Orioles hit three home runs, including Nelson Cruz's 40th of the season, and had 17 hits in a 5-4 win over the Yankees in front of an announced 43,201, putting a dagger in New York's already faint postseason hopes.
Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman has been suspended six games and handed an undisclosed fine by Major League Baseball for throwing at Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph¿s head in the sixth inning of Monday¿s game.
Showalter was announced Wednesday night as one of three finalists for the Baseball Writers' Association of America's award after leading the Orioles to a 93-69 record and their first playoff appearance since 1997.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters didn't start Friday night's game against the Oakland A's, but it wasn't because he is mired in a 1-for-30 slump. Wieters was held out of the lineup because of a tight right bicep muscle.
In the past few weeks, the Orioles have had contact with the San Diego Padres about third baseman Chase Headley, the Philadelphia Phillies about third baseman Placido Polanco and the Chicago Cubs about first baseman Bryan LaHair.
The Orioles' first-half statistics aren't pretty, but they hold one statistical trump card. The only one that really, truly matters right now: .529. That's the fifth best winning percentage in the American League.