It was “Bark at Oriole Park” night on Wednesday, which left the Orioles open to all manner of canine-related one-liners when Andrew Cashner and rookie Cody Carroll combined to allow 10 runs in the third inning of a 10-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
But this was no night for cheap humor, because there was nothing funny about what has recently befallen Cashner and the other pitchers in the Orioles’ starting rotation.
Cashner has been the victim of lousy run support for most of the season, but this time he just couldn’t get anybody out in a third inning that featured 15 Oakland batters, 10 hits, two walks and a home run. He was charged with all but two of the runs.
Coming on the heels of Alex Cobb’s early exit because of a cut on his right middle finger Tuesday night, another very frustrating performance by Dylan Bundy his last time out and two rocky starts by rookies David Hess and Josh Rogers over the weekend, the Orioles’ pitching staff has been thrown into complete disarray.
It has been an interesting last six weeks for Cashner, who gave up 10 earned runs over just 1 2/3 innings in his first start of August after pitching well for much of the summer. He bounced back with a couple of strong starts, but has been all over the place in his past five appearances, giving up 23 earned runs — and eight home runs — in 25 innings.
Manager Buck Showalter alluded after the game to a possible physical reason for Wednesday night’s struggle, but Cashner initially denied there was anything wrong before conceding that “we’ll wait and see” when pressed on the issue.
Still, Wednesday night’s eruption came out of nowhere. The A’s got a very cheap hit to lead off the first inning and Cashner retired the next six batters in order.
From that point on, he was up to his ears in line drives. Oakland left fielder Nick Martini opened the third inning with a single to left field and Jonathan Lucroy followed with a single to center before Cashner walked Ramon Laureano to load the bases.
The next four Oakland batters delivered run-scoring hits, starting with a two-run double by third baseman Matt Chapman and including a three-run homer by Matt Olson that gave the A’s a lightning-quick 7-0 lead. Cashman gave way to Carroll one batter later, but before the inning was over, three A’s hitters — Martini, Lucroy and Chapman — had two hits each in the rally.
Cashner took the loss, which dropped his record to 4-15 and raised his ERA to 5.29, its highest point since he allowed four earned runs in five innings in his Orioles debut March 31.
“I just didn’t locate,’’ Cashner said. “Threw a lot of offspeed in the middle of the plate. My fastball was kind of out over, but you’ve just got to find a way to get through it and I didn’t find a way.”
The Orioles, meanwhile, could do next to nothing against A’s single-inning opening pitcher Liam Hendricks, who allowed a single to Trey Mancini, and right-hander Daniel Mengden, who pitched five hitless innings. Right-handers Ryan Dull, J.B. Wendelken and Aaron Brooks each pitched a hitless inning to complete the combined one-hitter.
The loss, before an announced 10,480, was the Orioles’ sixth in a row and 104th of the season, which is three three short of the dubious club record of 107 set by the 1988 team that opened the season with 21 straight defeats. The losing streak is their eighth of the season of six games or more.
If there was anything memorable about the evening, it was the major league debut of Orioles prospect DJ Stewart, who started in left field and ended up playing both corner outfield positions over the course of the game. He did not reach base in three at-bats.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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