Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado, right, scores in front of Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt, left, and home plate umpire Vic Carapazza on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 8-6 in 13 innings. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The old saying about things getting worse before they get better may be the story of the Orioles’ recent four-game swing.
Things really seemed like they couldn’t get any worse after Baltimore lost two straight games to the Seattle Mariners, including getting no-hit in a 3-0 on Aug. 12. It was the first no-hitter the Orioles suffered since the 2007 season, and the seventh in franchise history. The no-hitter was embarrassing enough, but the losses pushed the O’s even further back in the hunt for a playoff seed.
It felt like the story had been written on Baltimore’s season: inconsistent pitching and a lack of batting power was going to be the death of those playoff chances. But as the saying goes, things really did get better for the O’s.
Baltimore went on to win two straight games over the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 14 and 15 with back-to-back walk-off home runs. Manny Machado smacked the walk-off homer on Aug. 14 and slugger Chris Davis did the honors the following night.
Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones breaks his bat as he pops out during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Baltimore. The Orioles won 4-3. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
It was the first time in August the Orioles were able to put together consecutive wins. But perhaps more importantly, it was the first time Machado and Davis appeared as if they could fill the void left behind by the departure of last season’s home run leader, Nelson Cruz.
Suddenly, the same batters who couldn’t buy a hit just a day earlier were flexing their muscle in grand style with signature moments that Orioles fans desperately wanted and needed to see.
It may be even something the Orioles’ front office staff needed to see, too, after they allowed Cruz to walk in free agency knowing Davis and Machado would return to the lineup after missing substantial time last season. Perhaps they were betting on Davis to return from his suspension to the form he displayed in 2013, when he led the American League with 53 homers.
It took a while for Davis to get going, but lately he’s been living up to the bill. Since the All-Star break, Davis has homered a league-high 15 times with a league-best .814 slugging percentage. His walk-off homer placed Baltimore just a half-game behind for the final AL Wild Card spot.
Things got better for the Orioles, right when they needed it. But will they continue to get better and better, or will they fall right back into a state of inconsistency that has haunted them all year long? Certainly the Baltimore faithful will be hoping for the former.