Respectable? Very. But it didn't do much to satisfy the O's, who are 20-12 and continue to believe that they can win every time they take the field.
"No one's happy about losing," said Orioles starter Tommy Hunter, who allowed four runs over six innings in working on three days' rest. "We don't play this game to lose. For anybody to be happy about losing a series at any point in the season is definitely in the wrong sport. This is what we do for a living. ... Losing [stinks]. You've got to find a way."
There were no excuses for these Orioles, as players hesitated in answering questions regarding their run of 39 innings over three games in Boston followed by a four-game set with Texas capped by Thursday's doubleheader. The carryover effects -- particularly from Sunday's 17-inning marathon game -- have been ugly, leaving the Orioles' bullpen haggard and triggering a revolving door of roster moves.
"[We] just got to turn the page and move on," manager Buck Showalter said as the Rangers leave town and the Rays, who are tied with the Orioles for first place, come in for a weekend set. "[We] played a 13-inning game, 17-inning game and 18 innings today."
Still, the tough stretch of games -- and no off-day for two weeks -- had to have taken some kind of toll, right?
"It's a little draining," third baseman Mark Reynolds conceded of the team's last week. "But I think the tougher part of it is a bunch of roster moves, our bullpen's taxed playing all those extra innings and trying to mix and match parts. Guys get used to certain roles and get consistent at them, and once you have to bring in different guys and new guys, and guys going two innings that aren't used to going two innings, things like that, it takes its toll on guys. But it's part of baseball. It's what it is."
Showalter has hammered a "one game" focus into his team, a lens that, following the Orioles' third loss in four games, didn't look so pretty. The O's were outscored 36-15 in the series, with the pitching staff allowing 34 runs in the previous 14 games combined.
"We played pretty good baseball against a pretty good team," said Rangers manager Ron Washington, whose club has scored a Major League-leading 182 runs. "They challenged us for all four games, and we're fortunate to get three of them."
The Orioles' offense -- which blasted five homers in the first game -- couldn't get anything going off Rangers starter Derek Holland, scoring three runs in a second inning in which Texas committed three errors. Baltimore had just five hits -- all singles -- and never seemed to click after a power surge earlier in the day that included three consecutive homers to start the game.
Hunter, who was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday but never made it there before being recalled, pitched admirably against his former club. The 25-year-old right-hander surrendered a two-run homer to Josh Hamilton -- who had six homers in the four-game series -- but otherwise kept the Rangers at bay, picking up seven strikeouts along the way.
"That's what this sport is, a whirlwind," said Hunter, whose next start is still undetermined and could very well be back in Triple-A. "You get sent down, you get called up. You got a sellout crowd in Indianapolis, my hometown, and I'm not going to be there. It is what it is. You've got a job to do at the end of the day. I gave up four runs today. I've got to go back, keep going after people, get back in the swing of things and start winning again."
The Orioles' bullpen, which has been one of the bright spots all season, couldn't keep it close, with reliever Matt Lindstrom letting the game slip away with a three-run (two earned) seventh inning.
"That's why they are well known as one of the best hitting teams in the American League," said Lindstrom, who had his 13-inning scoreless streak to start the season snapped. "I made some good pitches, so I'm not going to change anything, but it just goes to show you why they are a tough team. I just wish I had kept it a little closer there at the end for our guys to battle back at the end."