Notes: O's confident at quarter mark
Despite their record, team believes it can contend
TORONTO -- There's still plenty of race left to be run, but the Orioles skidded into one of the season's main milestones on Tuesday night. Baltimore's fourth straight loss -- a 2-1 decision on Tuesday -- brought the O's to the quarter-pole with an 18-22 record, but nobody in the clubhouse thinks that's indicative of the team's talent level.
Just for the sake of comparison, the Orioles had an identical record last year and finished with 70 wins.
"We'd obviously like to be a little bit better than this," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "[Baltimore executive] Jim Duquette had told me a couple days ago that we had the fourth-toughest [schedule] to start the season, for the first six weeks. But we're OK. We're just in a little bad streak right now and we need to turn it around."
Baltimore has had three four-game losing streaks this season and has only won one of its last eight series, a run that has seen the team's record change from being four games over .500 to being four games under the break-even mark. Only three American League teams have hit fewer home runs than the Orioles, and none have left more men on base.
"We're behind where we want to be. We've had a couple tough games and a couple tough injuries, but we're still hanging in there," said designated hitter Jay Gibbons. "We haven't hit like we've been capable of, [but] the pitching's been great. They've met expectations, for sure, but we haven't hit, and that's why we're in a lot of close games."
"We're not where we want to be with consistency," added first baseman Aubrey Huff. "We'll go on a nice little win streak and then we'll lose a couple games. It's been pretty inconsistent, but we've had a lot of key injuries and we've lost half our starting staff. We have streaks where we all hit and some streaks where we don't.
"We're not getting the power and we're not driving the ball. It's been a tough route so far."
As Gibbons noted, there are some positives on the pitching side. Only one AL team has struck out more batters than Baltimore, and only two have given up fewer home runs. The bottom line, though, is the record. The Orioles are only one game out of second place in their division, but they haven't taken advantage of a topsy-turvy month of action.
"We can't say it's early anymore, because it's not," Huff said. "But at the same time, there's no need to panic because we've still got a lot of baseball left. We've been in every game we've played -- even the games we've lost have been heartbreaking. That's been the most disheartening thing about the season -- the way we've lost some games."
"When we went through our good streak, we were doing a little bit of everything," said Perlozzo. "Our starting pitching looked like it was coming around, then our bullpen failed us a couple times. Then our offense failed us a couple times, but we still have some good players and I see some good things happening."
Another league: The Orioles will begin their run through Interleague Play on Friday, when they visit Washington's RFK Stadium for a three-game series. Perlozzo said Wednesday that he will suit his managing style to fit the National League parks, which could mean a temporary switch to bunting and double switches.
"That's part of the National League," he said. "Where it plays the most is when you're in the seventh inning, you're in a close ballgame and your pitcher's pitching really well. Pitchers are going to be bunting, so it's a little different."
Fame game: The Orioles may be making Monday's trip to the Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, N.Y., but they won't have many recognizable names pitching for them. Baltimore expects to have five Minor League prospects join the team and pitch, and the O's will likely have a similar amount of help from position players.
The team will have to use its off-day to fly to Rome, N.Y., and then it will take a 45-minute bus ride to Cooperstown. Then the Orioles will reverse the process and fly home in time to play a Tuesday night game at Camden Yards. Perlozzo said he's coached in the game twice before and sounded like he was looking forward to the journey.
"This is a wives' trip, where they're allowed to go," he said. "We can go up to Cooperstown and they can see the Hall of Fame, so that's nice for them. Once you get there and can go to the Hall of Fame, that part will be fine with the team."
Quotable: "It's part of the game. You've just got to go ahead and play them. The Washington trip is at least a drive -- it isn't a major road trip for us." -- Perlozzo's take on Interleague Play
Coming up: The Orioles will get an off-day Thursday and will kick off Interleague Play in Washington on Friday. Steve Trachsel will start the opener for Baltimore at 7:05 p.m. ET, and he'll be matched against Jason Simontacchi.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.