SARASOTA, Fla. -- On the one hand, it's only spring training. On the other hand, after Monday's 3-0 loss to Minnesota, the Baltimore Orioles still haven't won a game and have been outscored by 34 runs.
It's easy to write off Grapefruit League losses. Starting pitchers sometimes treat their early outings like laboratory experiments, tinkering with secondary or even tertiary pitches that they may have little to no intention of using once the regular season begins. Road game lineups are often littered with minor league players, while big league vets tend to stay back at headquarters and work out, especially early in the schedule.
But when neither of those factors are in play and the losses still keep coming, what then? When the starting pitcher throws three scoreless innings and the home team's lineup has a regular-season feel -- both of which were the case for the Orioles on Monday -- and the end result still doesn't change, what's a manager to do? If you're Buck Showalter, you focus on the positive.
Like Ubaldo Jimenez rebounding from an abysmal debut. "If he's carrying a good fastball that early in the year, that's a good sign," Showalter said of Jimenez, who followed up his rocky debut last week (6 runs in ⅓ IP) by giving up one hit in three scoreless frames against the Twins. In the process, he shaved a zero off his Grapefruit League ERA, lowering it from 162.00 to 16.20.
Like Hyun Soo Kim hitting the ball hard twice. "There's a lot of time," Showalter said of Kim, the free-agent outfielder who hit .326 in Korea last year, but who is now 0-for-18 in his first major league spring training. "He'll get it going."
Like Rule 5 outfielder Joey Rickard teaming with Jonathan Schoop and Matt Wieters to nab Darin Mastroianni at home plate in the eighth inning. "That's not an easy play," Showalter said, "but they made it look smooth."
Of course, there were also negatives. Like the Orioles scratching out just six base knocks against six different Minnesota pitchers. Like the offense going hitless with runners in scoring position. Like Hunter Harvey and Mychal Givens combining to issue four walks in two innings of relief.
And like the Orioles dropping to 0-7-1.
Although it's not something Showalter specifically addressed during his seven-minute postgame chat with the media, you have to think it's starting to weigh on him a little bit.
Even if it is only spring training.