Scott Feldman throws in the third inning last night against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Stop us if you've heard this: Orioles face a must-win

The yo-yo who wrote this blog a couple of weeks ago went on record as saying Scott Feldman does not looks like the world’s steadiest ship when he pitches. There are some people who never let the facts get in the way of a good story, but I am not one of them. Feldman went on to throw a complete game shutout last Friday, a virtuoso performance, then hold the Yankees to three hits in a 7-inning performance last night, even though the Yankees won the game.

Both times, Feldman looked like the only member of the Baltimore Orioles rotation who has been bold enough to step up and pitch as well as Chris Tillman recently. If it had nothing to do with boldness, he did it regardless of how motivated he was feeling. We assume he doesn’t need any more motivation than being in a pennant race. At any rate, it was a welcome sight.

But no matter how solid he was last night, the results weren’t there, because two of the three hits Feldman gave up were home runs, including one by that third baseman who is being allowed to play while his suspension is being appealed. That guy.

Bullpen woes that have come to be the sad norm reared their ugly head, and there went the lead, courtesy of a Robinson Cano blast off of Tommy Hunter. The Orioles got a run back in the 9th off Mariano Rivera, but then he finished them off with a strikeout of Manny Machado, in which the second strike was down around Machado’s ankles, and the third strike was a very high pitch that he desperately chased.

I briefly wondered if there were any layers to that scenario. The night before, he had screamed at the plate umpire from a distance for not granting him a requested timeout. This may have led to last night’s plate umpire giving Rivera the strike on a low pitch for strike two, forcing Machado to protect on the subsequent 0-2 pitch, and flailing at it.

The overused term “must-win” gets another workout tonight. The Orioles face the 4-13 Phil Hughes in a game they must have, because losing three out of four home games to any team, not just the Yankees, with 17 games left in a pennant race would certainly shake their morale no matter how good they are at putting each game behind them. Wei-Yin Chen, 7-7, opposes him.

Anything is possible, and any team can collapse and be caught in the last several games of September. I’m not suggesting the Orioles can overcome their 9 1/2 game deficit to the Red Sox, but the teams in the running for the wild card are too tightly bunched to consider any one of them unworthy of grabbing it. But the time for grabbing is running out.

The Orioles hit the road for Toronto after tonight’s game, and I’ll take Buck Showalter‘s advice and not look beyond tomorrow. But this team has to use every tomorrow to play in concert.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Scott Feldman

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