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Orioles gut punch loss is less a worry than what it leaves you fearing next

The Orioles still have a 14-7 record and are still tied for first place. But that Friday loss sure feels like the start of a free fall.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

The Orioles lost one of the most painful regular season games that they’ve played this decade on Friday night. The game itself defies explanation and thinking about it or dwelling on it won’t even be healthy anyway. The Orioles lost to the Yankees and tomorrow’s game still starts 0-0, no matter how much this one hurt.

No Orioles loss is fun. There’s a reason why the legend Earl Weaver said to put on his tombstone, “The sorest loser who ever lived.” There is that old cliche that every team is going to win 60 games and every team is going to lose 60 games each year - the success of the season is what they do with the rest.

At the same time, you never know when one game will end up mattering. The Orioles were a mere game away from hosting the Wild Card Game last season - and if they’d had that game at home, maybe they would have had a better chance of winning it. Let’s hope that the end of the season doesn’t leave us looking back on this game foremost among a slate of unfortunate losses.

What will probably end up hurting the Orioles worse than this one game being a loss is whether it reveals legitimate weaknesses with the team.

Opening Day starting pitcher Kevin Gausman continues to side-step any opportunity to show that he’s the top of the rotation pitcher the Orioles need. The long relief/fifth starter depth in the bullpen is depth that you experience similar to quicksand - that is, once you feel it, you’re going to die. Vidal Nuno and Jayson Aquino both showed that on Friday night.

The bullpen without Zach Britton showed that it can veer into disaster abruptly. Maybe you can shake it off, if you’re an optimist - after all, there’s no way the good relievers were sitting out in the bullpen when the Orioles were winning 9-1 or 11-4 thinking, “I’m pitching tonight.” It’s not a very satisfying answer for fans, but pretending that isn’t a factor in the problems tonight is unreasonable.

Oh, and by the way, in case you forgot, 2017 Britton wasn’t looking like 2016 Britton before he landed on the disabled list. And Britton, in a Double-A rehab outing on Friday, gave up a home run and walked two batters in two-thirds of an inning. So acting like he’s going to come back on Sunday and suddenly be the steady hand on the ninth inning tiller like he was last year is probably not reasonable either.

This stuff surely won’t bother the Orioles players the way it bothers the fans. Of course they wanted to win tonight’s game and will be disappointed that they didn’t, but you don’t get to be a major leaguer and stay a major leaguer if you can’t put this kind of stuff behind you. None of it carries over.

If anything, they might carry over some positive things. The pitching was indeed fatally horrible (other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...) but let’s not forget that Mark Trumbo’s bat showed signs of life for the first time since Opening Day. Manny Machado’s 3-5 night is reason to hope maybe he’s heating up from an April slump. That will matter as much as anything else going forward.

It’s not encouraging that Ubaldo Jimenez is the one who will be sent out to the mound to try to help the Orioles recover from this gut punch. We might all be lamenting more than just this loss come Saturday night and beyond.

I’m going to try to sleep now. I’ll be reminding myself of the Adam Jones Theory of Everything - “Sometimes you suck.” Maybe it will work. The Orioles will be back in action at 1:05pm on Saturday, so as Buck Showalter likes to say, sleep fast. That’s even more important on a night where a horrible loss makes you feel more like sleeping forever.