BALTIMORE — After Baltimore again failed to take advantage of ample opportunities to score in their 4-2 loss Sunday to the reeling Chicago White Sox, there was a strange vibe in the home clubhouse.
Yes, the Orioles (76-66) had won three of four vs. the White Sox to re-position themselves as a player in the American League wild-card race with 20 games to go.
But they also know the schedule doesn’t get any easier, especially after saying goodbye to the White Sox (57-85), who had lost nine straight games. A sweep was within the Orioles’ grasp if they had just made good on a few of their 11 hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position.
So was there disappointment in losing the sweep or satisfaction that they had won three of four without putting together a complete performance in any of their victories?
“A little bit of both,” first baseman Chris Davis said. “Obviously, you’re happy that you took three out of four, but at this point in the year, you almost have to move on and try to win one game at a time. They came out today. They didn’t want to lose 10 straight; I don’t blame them.”
Baltimore is now tied with the Cleveland Indians and is two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the final AL wild-card spot. The New York Yankees (76-67), who come to Camden Yards on Monday, are a half game behind the Orioles and Indians.
Playing before an announced 32,042, the Orioles lost with an offense that performed nearly the same as it did during the previous three wins: Compiling myriad opportunities and scoring only on a few. Add in the 0 for 11 on Sunday and the Orioles were 3 for 37 with runners in scoring position in the series (.086) and 5 for 54 (.093) in their past six games. They were 3-3 in that span.
“I think everybody’s aware of what we’re doing with runners in scoring position or what we’re not doing,” said Davis, who was hitless in three at-bats including two with a runner at second “It’s hard enough as it is, but knowing that we have so much on the line and that our time is running thin, I think we just kind of put a little bit too much pressure on ourselves.”
The problem with driving in runs has been escalating as the season progresses and the wins become more crucial. It’s a subject the Orioles are getting sick of hearing about.
“Let me shut this stuff up. 0 for 11. That’s 11 opportunities. Just imagine if we had none, and we created no opportunities,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “We created the opportunity. We didn’t come through, but we created the opportunity. Be happy with that. I know you want 20 runs a game. There’s a team on the other side that’s competing against us and trying to beat our brains in just as much as we’re trying to beat their brains in.”
Norris struggled with his command Sunday, allowing nine hits, one walk and four earned runs while striking out six in just 41 / 3 innings pitched, his shortest outing since being traded to the Orioles.