The Orioles had been stuck in a strange offensive pattern in the past week: Three separate times they scored five runs or more in one game only to follow it up with two runs or fewer the next contest.
They broke that up-down trend Saturday night, but not in a good way, losing 6-1 to the Los Angeles Angels before an announced 29,102.
A night after scoring one run on five hits in a 3-1 loss to the Angels, the Orioles managed just three hits, including a Steve Pearce home run, on a soggy Preakness Saturday night at Camden Yards.
The Orioles (15-19) already have dropped the series to the Angels (19-17) and need to win Sunday afternoon to avoid the sweep. They'll attempt to do it with rookie Mike Wright on the mound. The 25-year-old will be making his big league debut, and maybe that will change the club's early-season fortunes.
The Orioles are now 0-12 when they have scored fewer than four runs and are 3-8 in their past 11 games overall.
“It's frustrating from a team standpoint,” Pearce said. “It's still a long season. We're just hoping to turn this thing around. When stuff starts falling our way, we can go on a good run. It's early. ... We can still turn it around.”
The lackluster offensive output against Matt Shoemaker (3-3), who entered the night with a 6.61 ERA, marked the second straight night in which the Orioles wasted an outstanding pitching performance.
This time it was Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3), who was the hard-luck loser despite allowing two runs in seven innings, just like Wei-Yin Chen on Friday night.
“I don't know how you can pitch much better than Ubaldo, and really Wei-Yin last night,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “But the problem is their guys are pitching just as well and we're not mounting much offensively.”
Jimenez, who originally was supposed to pitch Sunday until being moved up a day when Bud Norris was scratched with bronchitis, had never beaten the Angels in his career heading into Saturday night.
He still hasn't, dropping to 0-5 in five starts versus Los Angeles despite giving up just seven singles, walking none and striking out six in his latest effort.
“They've beaten me before, but once I get on the mound, I don't think about that,” Jimenez said. “I'm thinking about getting people out and trying to give the team a chance to win.”
The Orioles, at least, got on the board first.
Pearce's solo shot in the fourth was his third homer of the season, but first since going deep on consecutive days to start the season, April 6 and April 7.
It was the 11th home run surrendered by Shoemaker this season — most in the American League. The right-hander didn't bend after that, posting seven strikeouts and no walks in seven innings.
Despite having to wait out a 57-minute delay before delivering the first pitch, Jimenez was tremendous from the start. He retired the first nine batters he faced, striking out the last one in each of his first three frames. Los Angeles right fielder Kole Calhoun singled to lead off the fourth, but Jimenez picked up three quick outs. In the next two innings, Jimenez allowed base runners, but kept his shutout intact.
He ran into a little trouble in the fifth, allowing a one-out single before Manny Machado committed his ninth error — most in the majors for a third baseman — on a tough sinking liner that he couldn't backhand while playing in a shift.
Still, the Angels couldn't get a run across the plate until the seventh, when they strung together four singles and two runs. That included two infield hits and a high chopper that tipped off Machado's outstretched glove and rolled into left field.
“It's one of those crazy moments in the game. There's nothing you can do about it. I made some good pitches and then they got three infield hits. What else can you do?” Jimenez said. “You see [it] and you just go, ‘Wow, how could this happen?' But at the same time, you know it's part of the game.”
The Angels tacked on a solo homer by Mike Trout in the eighth against Darren O'Day and three runs in the ninth versus closer Zach Britton, who hadn't pitched since Monday.
In the non-save situation, Britton served up a solo homer to David Freese, threw a wild pitch to permit a run and was charged with another when Machado couldn't handle a slow roller that was ruled an infield single.
“Anything past four [days of rest], I don't like. He'll be better,” Showalter said of Britton. “Hopefully, there will be a situation for him [today] and he'll be better. That's one reason why he needs to pitch."
The final inning took all the suspense out of a close game, but the Orioles lost this one at the plate, where for the second straight night they couldn't do anything.
“This is the big leagues. You're going to face good pitching every night for the most part,” Showalter said. “We've got good hitters that aren't quite where they're capable of being the last couple of nights. So we're going to have to get consistent with that to take advantage of some really good outings by our two starting pitchers.”