Add another chapter to the sad story of the 2018 Orioles.
Just as it seemed as if one big swing in the eighth inning from beleaguered first baseman Chris Davis had erased the sting of a letdown start from Alex Cobb, closer Zach Britton allowed a rare home run to level the game at seven in the ninth, robbing him of a redemptive moment and the team of a win.
They lost two innings later on a sacrifice fly by Denard Span that made it 8-7, dropping them to 23-56 before an announced LGBT Pride Night crowd of 15,502 at Camden Yards and putting the Orioles in jeopardy of a four-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners in a loss unique even by their own standards.
“Scored enough runs that should hold up, but that makes it disappointing,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“It was a lot of fun to see CD go out there and deliver that big hit,” Cobb said. “I wish we could have won the game and see him be the headline of the night.”
Instead, it was a late loss that carried the day. The deciding run came in the form of Jean Segura, who doubled to open the 11th inning off Mychal Givens (0-5), went to third on a single by Kyle Seager off recent call-up Donnie Hart and scored on a sacrifice fly by Span.
There was more different Wednesday than just Davis homering at Camden Yards for the first time since May 9 and onto Eutaw Street for the 11th time in his career, not to mention Britton's uncharacteristic struggles. The Orioles don't score seven runs often, and to lose after doing so efficiently makes Wednesday all the more deflating.
It's no longer an oddity for the Orioles to run into pitchers who, if not as part of their typical repertoire certainly adapt to the club’s fastball-hungry lineup, navigate an entire game throwing only a handful of heaters.
But unlike so many other losses, the Orioles seemed to be sticking to a plan to combat the backwards-pitching Wade LeBlanc, who has baffled them before. It started rather traditionally, with Trey Mancini singling to start the first inning after being reinstated to the leadoff spot and scoring on Danny Valencia's second home run in as many nights.
The convention ended around there.
Mixed into a six-pitch second inning for LeBlanc that was as eye-rolling as it sounds, Tim Beckham laid down a bunt single to try and spark something before the inning ended quickly.
When Adam Jones dropped his own bunt single with one out in the third inning, there was no such waste. Manny Machado hung back on a changeup and singled up the middle on the next pitch, and when Mark Trumbo stung a two-out single to left field and extended his hitting streak to 11 games, they were off to the races.
The throw from Span to try and get Jones at home skirted past catcher Mike Zunino, and Machado, a day after his lack of hustle on the bases drew ire from a frustrated fan base, read the passed ball behind home plate well enough to sprint home for the Orioles' fourth run.
“We scored enough runs to win, and we had a pretty good approach,” Showalter said.
There's been plenty of talk recently among the Orioles stars about how they need moments and innings like that to become the expectation, not exception. Now that the league has figured out to just spin the ball against the Orioles to stop them from doing nearly as much damage as years past, and pitchers such as LeBlanc become more prevalent, the Orioles will have to score far more runs the way they did in the third inning than the first — or at least set them up the way they did for Davis in the eighth.
Machado and Valencia singled consecutively in the eighth inning off Alex Colomé, then Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop set up Davis, creating a moment where the only two options seemed to be a redemptive blast like the one he hit or another disappointment.
He's waited a long time for the former.
“It’s still a nice contribution from Chris,” Showalter said.
Such a swing was only meaningful because, after Cobb exited having allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings, Mancini dove and caught a sinking drive in left-center to keep the score 5-4.
Mike Wright Jr. pitched 2 1/3 scoreless, one-hit innings of relief, and Brad Brach contributed a scoreless eighth before Britton came in to protect the 7-5 lead Davis staked him to and promptly allowed a single and a home run to tie the game for his first blown save of the season.