Logically I know that the O's have a slim shot to make the postseason, and I've known this for awhile now. Still, I get caught up in being a fan and rooting for each pitch. So when the O's go 3-9 on a road trip, continuing a second-half slide that seems to erase the fun of the first half, I get frustrated. At least my team will finish over .500. I should count that as a blessing, especially after so many years of non-contention. But that's hard to do after a loss like this one. This is (one of the many reasons) why I'm not a baseball player.
Anyway, enough of me waxing philosophical. Let's talk about the game. Let's talk about Zach Britton … eh. Let's not. He loaded the bases with no outs to start the inning, and before I blinked it was 4-0. Nate McLouth cut down the fifth run with a nice throw from left. That was nice. But immediately, the O's were at a severe disadvantage in the game. Even though Britton had a great second inning, he was done after three batters in the third. With runners on first and second and one down, Kevin Gausman came in to not only end the inning with two strikeouts, but also work through the fourth.
Gausman's stoppage was needed, because the offense was just getting going. The O's had several good at-bats, pushing up Zach McAllister's pitch count, but couldn't push any runs across. That changed in the fourth when Adam Jones hit a solo shot to make it 4-1, then changed in a hurry in the fifth when Manny Machado put one over the center-field fence for an Earl Weaver Special. 4-4.
It wouldn't last, though. Gausman gave up a single, a walk, and a double to bring home Jason Kipnis. 5-4 Indians. Buck Showalter ordered Asdrubal Cabrera walked to load the bases, hoping for a ground ball, but instead Gausman spiked a slider in front of home plate for a wild pitch. 6-4 Indians. These were the first to runs to score against him in his current big-league stint. And they ended up being the last to cross the plate for either side. In fact there were only two more hits the rest of the night: a single by McLouth and a single by Matt Carson, making his 2013 debut (and thus notching his first hit of the year).
The O's flashed a bit of leather in the game. In the fourth inning, Gausman snagged a Drew Stubbs bunt in mid-air and winged it to second base to double off Mike Aviles. That was nifty. The seventh featured a couple smooth plays. Chris Davis snared a hard grounder to throw out hot-hitting Kipnis, and Machado fielded a tough bunt to throw out Carlos Santana. Speaking of Davis, he did record a hat trick, but one was a questionable call, and he saw plenty of pitches in his plate appearances, so ... I'm going to count that as a win.
So, yeah, the O's now have quite a hill to climb and must rely on several other teams stumbling all at the same time. Personally, though, I said before this year that I'd be happy with a .500 season, and that's looking pretty likely, so I'm going to content myself with that.
The O's return home now to take on the Chicago White Sox. The Pale Hose are terrible this year (-82 run differential) but as tonight's broadcasters noted, they are starting three lefties in this series, and the O's don't hit lefties well: just 88 wRC+ for the season. I say this not to depress anybody, it's just a fact. I promise! *ducks thrown tomatoes* After the White Sox, it's AL East opponents (Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Red Sox) the rest of the way.