KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Is there anything the Baltimore Orioles can do to come back from this monumental 3-0 deficit in the ALCS?
Well, they can't send Curt Schilling out to the mound with a bloody sock. That might have worked for the Boston Red Sox in 2004 when they became the only team in baseball history to ever rally from an 3-0 hole to win a postseason series. But not only is Schilling retired, the Orioles traded him away, along with Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch in 1991 for Glenn Davis. (And people wonder why the Orioles haven't reached the World Series in 31 years -- and soon to be 32 years.)
Instead, Baltimore will start Miguel Gonzalez with socks that haven't been dirtied on a game mound in 16 days. The last time Gonzalez pitched in a real game was the last day of the regular season. As manager Buck Showalter said when asked about the long layoff for Gonzalez: "The real challenge of the postseason is it's such a completely different routine than you have during the season."
Exactly. And the most obvious difference is the regular season is 162 games, so a three-game losing streak is both inevitable and easily overcome. Not so in the postseason, in which losing three games in a best-of-seven series is deadly.
It's not that the Orioles have been vastly outplayed by the Kansas City Royals in this series. They lost Game 1 in extra innings. They lost Game 2 when the Royals broke open a tie game in the ninth inning. They lost Game 3 by one run, which scored on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. Nonetheless, they are simply in too deep a hole against a team playing as well as Kansas City. For crying out loud, the Orioles can't even hit a ball several feet into the dugout suite without the Royals catching it.
So perhaps the Orioles need to track down Steve Bartman, get him good seats near the left-field line and hope he brings his glove. But because Bartman has basically been in a witness protection program since that infamous play for which he was unfairly blamed 11 years ago, that probably won't happen, either.
So that leaves what? Getting Jeffrey Maier to sit in the right-field bleachers probably won't help. It's too late to trade for Big Papi. And getting Don Denkinger assigned to umpire first base is definitely not the answer.
Asked whether there is any superstitious routine the Orioles could try before Game 4, Jones paused and gave it some thought. "I'm generally even-keeled with things," he said. "But I might call Jason Giambi for that thong of his."
The thong Jones referred to is a golden "slump-buster" thong that Giambi slips into teammates' lockers whenever they are in a deep slump. But the Orioles will need more than a golden thong. For one thing, they will need to get a strong start from Gonzalez -- Game 3 starter Wei-Yin Chen was the first Orioles pitcher to get through five innings this series.
Gonzalez has delivered for them before -- he held the Yankees to just one run in seven innings in Game 3 of the 2012 division series, and he also had a 2.19 ERA in the second half of this season. "I feel good about myself right now," he said.
They also could use some offense from the heart of the order (Jones and Nelson Cruz went a combined 0-for-8 on Tuesday). "The pitching was great today, but the offense wasn't there," Cruz said.
The Orioles actually did manage to get a lead in Tuesday's game -- their first this series -- when Steve Pearce and J.J. Hardy somehow hit back-to-back fly balls that center fielder Lorenzo Cain was not able to catch in the second inning. That resulted in two doubles and a 1-0 lead that actually quieted down the Kansas City fans ever so briefly. But the Orioles managed just one more hit after that -- and it was a bloop single.
The Orioles will also need to score early against Kansas City starter Jason Vargas because they haven't been able to do much against Kansas City's vaunted bullpen, nor has anyone else. As it is, the Orioles have one run, eight hits and 13 strikeouts in 12⅓ innings against Kansas City's relievers in this series.
"That bullpen is as good as advertised with [Kelvin] Herrera, [Wade] Davis and [Greg] Holland," Jones said. "But we still have opportunities. It's not like they're going to go out and shut everybody down."
Well, they pretty much have so far, so it'll be best to avoid any deficits after the fifth inning.
So with Baltimore trailing three games to none, thongs, bloody socks and bad-luck-charm fans will not help Baltimore. The Orioles will have to simply come out with their heads held high, their bats swinging smoothly, their pitching arms strong and their fingers crossed that closer Zach Britton can close out a win. And then try to win again the next game. And the game after that. And the game after that.
Hmmm. Perhaps they could try to convince Kansas City manager Ned Yost to insert Bill Buckner as a late-inning defensive replacement for first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Hey, it wouldn't hurt.