Between the middle of May and mid-August, as the Orioles built a commanding lead in the American League East, Baltimore found a way to avoid any extended cold spells and losing streaks.
This weekend, the wheels fell off. With news of Manny Machado's season-ending knee surgery wedged in with the O's enduring their first sweep since three straight losses to the Tigers from May 12-14. Suddenly skidding, they open a four-game set with the Rays on Monday night in Baltimore.
"Been gone what, 10, 11 days? Chicago is a great town, but I've had enough," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "Looked at where we were [in the standings] when we left, we'll see where we are when today is over. It's part of the progress and the process."
With the Orioles' first losing road trip of the season, their division lead that once stood at nine games has shrunk to six. Even so, Rays starter Jake Odorizzi won't overlook an offense that always has the potential to break out.
Odorizzi (9-10), who has quietly been one of the best rookies in the AL, has faced the O's three times this season and posted a 3.52 ERA. He will make his third start at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Monday for a team that has won nine of its last 10 series away from home.
"Their offense is clicking," Odorizzi said. "Overall, they are a tough team and really don't have a soft spot in the lineup. This is the team we need to try to make up ground on."
Baltimore, meanwhile, will look to Chris Tillman, who has been the closest thing Baltimore has had to a stopper this season. Tillman (10-5) has delivered 12 quality starts in his last 14 outings and the O's have won five in a row with him on the mound.
Orioles: Machado's surgery has date
Machado will undergo his season-ending right knee surgery on Wednesday in Los Angeles. It is the same procedure he had a year ago on the other knee.
Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache will once again perform the surgery that will this time repair the third baseman's partially torn medial patellofemoral ligament. Machado will stay in California for 2-3 weeks before going to Baltimore's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla., to continue his rehab.
The O's are hopeful that Machado will have a regular winter and be ready for Spring Training. He missed the first month of this season because of knee surgery in October.
Rays: Torre conversation encourages Maddon
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon spoke with Joe Torre for five minutes before the Rays' 2-1, 10-inning win against the Blue Jays on Sunday, and the manager has an "adequate amount of hope" that his appeal from Saturday will be upheld.
Maddon's protest came after a replay challenge during the fourth inning of a pickoff play at first base. Maddon argued that the next "play" occurred because the pitcher had toed the rubber and the challenge came too late. Torre, who is the MLB's vice president of baseball operations, believes the protest is valid, and he will look more diligently into the matter before making a decision.
"Any time you get with Joe, it's always fair and you will be listened to," Maddon said. "You can't ask for anything more than that. I'm looking forward to seeing what he has to say."
If the protest is upheld, it will be the second one confirmed in a week and the third since 1986.
• Baltimore's three game-sweep at the hands of the Cubs at Wrigley Field this weekend was only the second time the O's have been swept this season.
• The Rays are the last team to take a series from the Orioles at Camden Yards, winning three games in a four-game set from June 27-29.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.