Orioles lose third straight, playoff chances fading

Orioles lose third straight, playoff chances fading
September 13, 2013, 12:45 am
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(Joy R. Absalon/ USA Today Sports)

BALTIMORE – The losses keep getting more difficult for the Orioles. After tying the game in the eighth inning, the ninth inning symbolized part of what’s gone wrong in 2013.

Jim Johnson’s throwing error and wild pitch accounted for the New York Yankees’ eventual winning run as the Orioles dropped their third straight, 6-5 before 24,659 at Oriole Park on Thursday night.

Johnson (3-8) entered the game with the score tied at 5. He began the ninth by allowing a single to Brendan Ryan. Chris Stewart bunted back to Johnson, who threw wildly to second. With first and second, Curtis Granderson bunted the runners up, and with Alex Rodriguez at the plate, Johnson threw a wild pitch, and the go-ahead run scored.

It was the second time this season, both against New York that an error by Johnson helped the losing run score.

“The ball slipped and that kind of started the whole inning,” Johnson said. “I feel like I have made a lot of those plays. I get bunted on quite a bit pitching later in the game and that’s something I’m usually pretty good at. I figure if the team wants to give me an out, I’ll take an out. And we work on that hard in spring training. And I’ll do it again, 100 times out of 100.”

Danny Valencia hit a three-run home run to tie the score at 5 in the bottom of the eighth against David Robertson, who pitched so poorly that he wasn’t credited with the win.

Mariano Rivera (6-2) was credited with it in his final game at Oriole Park. Rivera quickly retired the Orioles (77-69) in the ninth.

The Orioles’ playoff chances worsened markedly with the loss. Tampa Bay beat Boston, and they lead the pack for the second Wild Card by a game. The Yankees (79-68) are second, and the Orioles trail not only Tampa Bay and New York, but Cleveland, too. The Orioles are tied with Kansas City, 2 ½ games behind the Rays.

With 16 games remaining, the Orioles will have to play exceptionally well to make some noise. Since Aug. 11, they’re just 12-17.

Manager Buck Showalter said that the Orioles have one task.

“Win. It's not overly complicated. A lot of baseball left. Very easy group of young men to have confidence in. I'm lucky and honored to have a seat to watch it, just like I was tonight. And we'll see what tomorrow brings,” Showalter said.

Friday will bring the first of three games in Toronto, where the Orioles have dropped five of seven this year. Then it’s three in Boston and four in Tampa Bay.

Whether the Orioles (77-69) will be relevant when they return on Sept. 24 is open to question.

“We’ve got to pitch better. We’ve got to play better defense. We’ve got to get bigger hits. All those things. This is where everybody steps up their game—or you go home. That’s kind of the bottom line,” Brian Roberts said.

Wei-Yin Chen allowed a two-run home run by Mark Reynolds in the second, his 12th for a 2-0 New York lead.

In the third, Chen allowed a two-run single to Vernon Wells, and the Orioles were down 4-0.

Manny Machado’s RBI single in the fourth gave the Orioles their first run.

After the rocky beginning, Chen retired 13 straight batters before Granderson hit a long home run to right, his sixth to make it 5-1.

Josh Stinson replaced Chen, who allowed five runs on seven hits in 6 1/3. He walked two and struck out nine.

“I should do a better job for the first three innings,” Chen said through

Nick Markakis led off the seventh with his 10th home run, just his second since June 24.

Machado hit a long drive to left that looked as if it was going to leave the ballpark, but Alfonso Soriano snared it for the first out of the eighth.

After Chris Davis struck out, things started getting interesting. Adam Jones singled and so did Markakis, Valencia cracked a three-run home run, his eighth, and suddenly the game was tied at 5.

After Monday it looked like the Orioles would take a season series from New York for the first time since 1997. It didn’t happen.

“Obviously at this stage losing three is not ideal. We started off playing so well. It kind of looked like it was heading in a really, really good direction. Had a lead a couple of times in the last three, and then to come back tonight in such a dramatic way and lose in the ninth, we’ve got some picking up to do. I think guys definitely feel a little bit down right now. We’ll have to come out with some good energy tomorrow,” Roberts said.