The Orioles seemed to find a rhythm during their just-completed homestand, stringing together their best stretch of baseball this season — until the rain came to interrupt it over the past two days.
The result of the Orioles’ scheduled two-game interleague series with the Philadelphia Phillies was one postponement — Tuesday’s rainout will be played July 12, a call made after a 3-hour delay — and a rain-soaked 4-1 loss Wednesday at Camden Yards.
An Orioles team that averaged 8.3 runs a game during the first seven games of the homestand managed just one run on four hits Wednesday.
The teams waited to try to get Tuesday’s game in, announcing a delay just before the scheduled first pitch. It didn’t begin raining until an hour into the delay, but once it started it didn’t stop, forcing a postponement. Since this was supposed to be the Phillies’ only trip to Baltimore, the teams considered playing a doubleheader Wednesday, but there was barely a window to allow one game to get in, let alone two.
So the Orioles and Phillies played a half-hour early Wednesday through rain of varying intensity just to get one game in, and the game itself was as ugly as the weather it was played through.
Wednesday’s game marked the beginning of a stretch of 19 games in 19 days, which includes an 11-game road trip to face the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. The lengthy trip opens Thursday with a game at Fenway Park to make up an April 16 rainout, and weather could become a problem again this weekend in Boston.
Despite Wednesday’s outcome, the Orioles — who have lost 12 straight on the road — hope to carry over some of the success they had on the 5-3 homestand.
“I think we’re building on something,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “I think we swung the bats this homestand really, really well. So lets just try to keep building on that and swing the bats well in Boston and Chicago and Tampa, but let’s start tomorrow in Boston. Let’s keep the bats hot, keep the same approach that we had the last couple days and just try to barrel the ball up and try not to hit the ball too far but hit the ball hard.”
On Wednesday, the Orioles had few answers for Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta, who allowed just one run on two hits over seven innings while matching a career high with 11 strikeouts. The solo homer run he allowed to Jones in the bottom of the first inning was the only hit Pivetta would allow until Chris Davis’ one-out double in the fifth.
“I don’t know about intensity,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s more when a starting pitcher is on top of his game, like Pivetta was, it can look that way. It can look that way. I thought our guys were ready to play. Got off to a good start. But their guy settled in and pitched real well — and regardless of what the weather is doing and what have you. It’s remarkable to me when I watch pitchers at this level perform the way both those guys did with a wet ball and a wet mound. It’s pretty impressive.”
The Orioles were aggressive in the rain as Pivetta recorded 23 swinging strikes in his 99-pitch outing, including 10 on his fastball.
Andrew Cashner (1-5) was cruising through five scoreless innings as well, but as the rain picked up in the sixth, the Phillies (24-16) orchestrated a three-run rally that chased the right-hander from the game.
Cashner’s first pitch of the inning was an elevated changeup over the middle of the plate that Phillies second baseman César Hernández hit over the scoreboard in right field to tie the game. After retiring the next two batters, Cashner walked Carlos Santana on nine pitches in a plate appearance in which Cashner had six two-strike pitches, including three that were fouled off. Back-to-back singles then chased Cashner from the game down 2-1, and an RBI single by Pedro Florimón off lefty reliever Richard Bleier added another run. The Orioles used four pitchers in relief of Cashner.
The skies eventually cleared, but not before the grounds crew spent time applying drying agent on the mound, infield and home plate area to keep it playable.
And when the rain was reduced to just a light sprinkle, the Orioles nearly rallied, loading the bases in the eighth with one out. But Jones flied out to shallow center and Manny Machado hit into an inning-ending force play. The Orioles were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and the first five hitters in the lineup combined to go 1-for-18 with eight strikeouts.