After sweeping the Oakland Athletics at Camden Yards in mid-August, the Orioles held the second wild card spot in the American League. They have dropped 16 of 20 since then, and now sit 13 games behind the Blue Jays in the East and are behind six other teams in the race for the second wild card spot. The Orioles are now seven games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2011 season.
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 fact that the Orioles and Royals each will send two relief pitchers to Cincinnati next week is emblematic of the outsized role that their bullpens have played in the dramatic resurgence of both franchises. Sure, there have been some pundits grumbling about the presence of setup man Darren O'Day on the AL team, but the best seventh-inning and eighth-inning relievers have been getting more All-Star love in recent years and it's about time.
The Orioles bullpen couldn¿t preserve a two-run lead as right-hander Tommy Hunter allowed a grand slam to pinch hitter Stephen Drew in the top of the seventh inning. Despite that, the Orioles still had hope, but plated just one run in the bottom half of the inning after loading the bases with one out.
The Orioles will have much more work to do at next week's Winter Meetings in San Diego than they did at the beginning of this week, one that saw the club lose three key pieces of its 2014 playoff team.
A day after Orioles manager Buck Showalter finished second in the Sporting News' American League Manager of the Year voting, none of the team's players were selected for the publication's AL All-Star team.
Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop struggled to explain the magic that seems to be in his bat when he faces the New York Yankees after his eight-inning homer tied the game Wednesday night and stole momentum from the Yankees in the Orioles' eventual 5-2 win.