ARLINGTON, Tex. –- Adam Jones had heard enough, seen enough. After the final game of a horrendous road trip, which ended with six losses in seven games, Jones was waiting as his locker in the visitors clubhouse in Globe Life Park.
He had something to say.
Jones was sick of being questioned about the Orioles’ effort. Sure, his team had lost 10 of 11 and fallen out of the playoff conversation after the 6-0 loss to the Texas Rangers before 22,256 on Sunday.
But, wait a minute.
Jones doesn’t think the Orioles are out of it. Never mind they’re in fourth place in the AL East, 11 games out of first place—or they’re 5 ½ games out of the wild card.
“We’re still right in the thick of things, so if you think we aren’t, cool. I think we are in the thick of things, just have to go on a five-six game winning streak and you guys come back to us and say, ‘now you’re in the middle of it,’” Jones said.
Jones doesn’t want to hear anything about the team’s supposed lack of effort, either.
“My biggest thing about sports is when somebody doubts an effort or another player or something like that. That’s basically calling him a coward. You know what I mean? Whenever someone says, ‘Oh you don’t give an effort. You’re not playing (with) effort. That’s kind of calling someone a coward,” Jones said.
“We go out there and play our tails off. Some days it looks pretty, some days it doesn’t but the effort is always there. For some people to say that our effort level isn’t there just because we struck out 11 times. We could strike out 20 times. But to say our effort level wasn’t there, that’s a slap in the face and I want to slap somebody in the face who says that.”
Jones is having another fine season, with 24 home runs, 66 RBIs and a .279 average. He had one of the Orioles’ three hits off Derek Holland, who threw a complete game shutout. Jones also struck out twice.
The Orioles didn’t put up much of a fight off Holland (2-1), who missed most of the season with a shoulder injury. After Dariel Alvarez’s fifth-inning single, Holland retired the final 14 Orioles, and didn’t walk a batter.
Miguel Gonzalez continued to struggle. In 5 1/3 innings, he allowed four runs on seven hits. Gonzalez (9-11) has lost five straight and hasn’t won in seven starts.
Gonzalez had a horrid first inning. He allowed singles to Delino DeShields, Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder to begin the inning. Adrian Beltre’s sacrifice fly to right scored DeShields, and Choo scored on a wild pitch.
Texas took a 3-0 lead in the third when Beltre, Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus singled.
The Rangers (68-61) scored again in the sixth. Andrus singled, and with one out, Gonzalez hit Chris Gimenez with a pitch.
Jason Garcia replaced Gonzalez and allowed an RBI single to Hanser Alberto.
“It’s tough to swallow. September is coming up, we got to keep grinding. Keep working hard, keep our heads up and give each other, talk about positive stuff. That’s going to be the main thing for September. Pick each other up,” Gonzalez said.
Two more runs scored in the eighth. Zach Britton was getting some needed work, and allowed an RBI single to DeShields. Steve Pearce overran the ball and allowed Gimenez to score.
Manager Buck Showalter’s team has scored more than three runs just once in the last 11 games, and they’ve lost each time.
“We’ve tried a lot of different things, trust me. It’s not a time to point fingers. It’s a time to rally around each other, which our guys have already tried to do and will do,” Showalter said.
In their last four games, the Orioles (63-67) have struck out 11,14,12, 6 and 11 times. They’re on-base percentage has dropped to an abysmal .305.
“We're striking out in double figures it seems like every game. I'm not going to beat up on them. If I do that, it's certainly going to be privately, not publicly. They understand and they're frustrated and I think we're looking forward to getting home and see if we can right this ship,” Showalter said.
Showalter talks. Jones talks. Can something change in these final five weeks to wake up the slumbering Orioles?
“I’ve talked to the team, I talk to these guys every day. What do you want me to do? Bend over and spank them?” Jones said.
COMING UP: Wei-Yin Chen (8-6, 3.17) faces Chris Archer (11-10, 2.88) on Monday night as the Orioles begin a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman faces Drew Smyly and Erasmo Ramirez in the other two games.