Even Mike Wright, his own biggest advocate and a pitcher who finds the best in any start he makes, had trouble explaining what happened Wednesday.
Wright posted his shortest major league start since June 19, 2015, allowing six runs on seven hits — including four home runs, two by right fielder Mookie Betts — in 2 2/3 innings, watching his ERA jump to 5.88 in the process.
The end result was Wright again spinning things positively, but rather meekly.
"I'm pitching in the best league in baseball right now, and I'm leaving pitches up," he said. "So that was the result. ... It was difficult, but I'm in the big leagues, trying to cherish it. Trying to stay positive."
Manager Buck Showalter is struggling to find such silver linings.
"We've got five or six pitchers with less than a year's experience in the big leagues," Showalter said. "They're trying to find their way. But tonight, you do reach a point where we have to pitch better, because you've got to learn from things and show that you're getting better. Right now, it's one step forward and two steps back. But he's not the only one."
The day began as ingloriously as possible for Wright, though not in an unfamiliar way for a young Orioles pitcher. Just as he did to Kevin Gausman on Tuesday, Betts homered in the first and second innings. In between, reserve outfielder Chris Young hit a two-run home run, and designated hitter David Ortiz hit one in the third inning. Wright was pulled after a single by Travis Shaw. He retired eight batters, and allowed seven hits. His WHIP is 1.47.
"I mean, I threw some good pitches in there as well, but they executed every pitch I threw bad and there were quite a few today," Wright said.
Three of the four home runs came on fastballs, a pitch opponents have taken advantage of some this season.
"It's consistency with the fastball," catcher Matt Wieters said. "Most young pitchers, that's the first step. You've got to be able to get consistent with the fastball, and he'll keep working and keep grinding, and we'll get there."
Showalter pinpointed the issue with Wright easily: "Command."
"He's trying to go two balls off the plate and throws it right down the middle," Showalter said. "It's just been a challenge for him. Command. You can't get baseballs there against guys who are swinging the bats as well as them and expect to have success. He knows that."
Just as frustrating for Wright was the fact that the Orioles staked him to two leads, and he could keep neither. It seems the short starts are also mounting frustration for the manager, who has concerns about Wright on top of the team's omnipresent worries about what they'll get every fifth game from Thursday's starter, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Wright's short outing, which required 2 2/3 innings of relief from Vance Worley, means the Orioles have a taxed bullpen for Thursday. Newly added reliever T.J. McFarland will be able to provide length if need be, but Worley is out of the mix, and all three of Brad Brach, Darren O'Day and Zach Britton were used Wednesday.