Orioles trying to snap 13-game slide

Orioles trying to snap 13-game slide

ST. PETERSBURG -- It's a fitting dilemma for a last-place team: the Orioles are looking for motivation and unsure where to find it. Baltimore is playing through the longest losing streak in the Major Leagues this season and threatening to complete the worst road trip in franchise history, an indignity that can only be avoided with a win in Thursday's series finale.

"We have to come in every day and just try and have fun," said Melvin Mora, the longest-tenured member of the team. "And you know you can't have fun when you're in last place. What can we do? Just finish strong."

The Orioles can do that with a win against Tampa Bay on Thursday, and then by competing well against Toronto in the season's final homestand. Baltimore has already lost 13 consecutive games and is 0-9 on its current road trip, and a defeat on Thursday would mean the longest big league skid since Arizona lost 14 in a row in 2004.

And on paper, the finale might be the O's toughest game. Baltimore will send Chris Waters to the hill on Thursday, and he'll be making his first big league start of the season. Tampa Bay, by contrast, will counter with youngster Matt Garza, who has gone 6-0 with a 2.70 ERA in seven career starts against the Orioles.

Baltimore has already clinched its most losses since 2001, and another defeat would mean that the Orioles have to win their three remaining games to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1988. Baltimore has gone 20-48 against division rivals this season and is just 6-29 on the road against American League East teams.

All those numbers are backdrop, though, and the Orioles aren't looking at anything past their next game.

"It's tough," said outfielder Luke Scott of the current losing streak, "But the best thing to do is to come out tomorrow, don't look at the scoreboard and play the game inning-by-inning. Just try to play your hardest."

Pitching matchup
BAL: LHP Chris Waters (0-0, 8.10 ERA)
The Orioles decided to shut down rookie Chris Tillman after cranking his innings count to a career-high 161 2/3. That means Waters will be making his first Major League start since Sept. 26, 2008. That year, he went 3-5 with a 5.01 ERA in 11 starts for the Orioles. The 29-year-old went 9-7 with a 4.49 ERA in 29 games (20 starts) for Triple-A Norfolk, striking out 71 batters.

TB: RHP Matt Garza (8-11, 3.93 ERA)
Garza endured a tough outing Saturday night in Texas when he allowed seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings to take his 11th loss of the season. When he is on the top of his game, he can be dominating. It's when he doesn't have his good stuff that he struggles. The fact that he is zeroing in on 200 innings for the season is a good indication he is getting closer to finding consistency.

Bird bites
The Orioles have only had two other 13-game losing streaks in franchise history. They lost 14 in a row in 1954 and dropped 21 consecutive to open the season in their infamous '88 campaign. ... Baltimore is 54-38 when it scores at least four runs and 6-60 when it doesn't score that many. The Orioles are 39-36 when they score first and 21-62 when their opponent draws first blood. ... Baltimore is 35-60 with a rookie starter on the mound. ... The Orioles have allowed 211 home runs, which is the highest total in the Majors this year but 15 short of their franchise record.

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Up next
• Friday: Orioles (Jason Berken, 5-12, 6.51) vs. Blue Jays (David Purcey, 1-2, 5.28), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Orioles (Mark Hendrickson, 5-5, 4.38) vs. Blue Jays (Scott Richmond, 8-10, 5.35), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 10-17, 5.05) vs. Blue Jays (Ricky Romero, 13-9, 4.26), 1:35 p.m. ET

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.