The Orioles’ final road trip of the first half of the season ended like several before it — winless.
The Orioles continued their 2018 free-fall Sunday afternoon at Target Field, swept out of Minnesota in four games after a 10-1 loss to the Twins, completing their six-game road trip to Philadelphia and Minneapolis without a win.
For an Orioles team that has lost three times as many games than it has won on the road with a 12-36 record away from Camden Yards, it marked the club’s third winless road trip of six games or more this season.
“It’s really tough,” second baseman Jonathan Schoop said. “It’s really tough when you’re losing. It’s a lot more fun when you’re winning. I’ve been with this team four years already, this is my fifth, and I got used to winning already with this team. So this year’s tough and we’ve got to pick each other up and keep our head up and go out there and try to win the game and play hard and believe in ourselves.”
At this point, the only thing that might help the Orioles slow their tumble is the All-Star break, but first they must play seven games over the next six days at home, beginning with a doubleheader against the New York Yankees on Monday at Camden Yards.
In four games, an underachieving Twins team that entered the series 13 games under .500 outscored the Orioles 27-9.
The Orioles (24-65) scored two runs or fewer for the ninth time in their past 10 games. They have lost six straight, 13 of 14 and 31 of 38 and are 41 games under .500 for the first time since Aug. 1, 2010, just before Buck Showalter’s debut as Orioles manager.
Right-hander Alex Cobb left the game in the sixth inning with a blister on his right index finger and a split fingernail after giving up a pair of two-run homers.
For the second straight afternoon, the middle innings were the Orioles’ foil, highlighted by an eight-run sixth inning that broke the game open.
“Those are the innings you try to stay away from as a pitcher,” Cobb said. “When you’re able to do that, it usually gives your team the opportunity to stay in the ballgame and win. We didn’t do that. That’s seemed to happen quite a bit, but a lot of bad things happen when you’re playing bad baseball like we have been. When you go back and take a look at the things that have happened, you’re going see a lot of things that we’re doing that winning teams aren’t.”
Cobb took a shutout into the fifth before allowing a two-run homer to No. 8 hitter Mitch Garvey on a ball that hooked just inside the left-field foul pole.
Cobb was ahead of Garver 0-2 and had six two-strike pitches against him, but couldn’t put him away. Garver’s homer came after a seven-pitch walk to Mex Kepler after Cobb was ahead of him 1-2.
“He was pitching really well and actually what hurt him in the fifth inning is he had two counts in his favor,” Showalter said. “I think it was 0-2 and 1-2 on two guys and they both got 90 feet on him. On the home run he was ahead in the count and came in with a pitch that was a good pitch to hit, but Alex was really good. Obviously, the first four innings. We’re just not scoring any runs and it really creates a lot of pressure on pitchers to be perfect.”
Cobb allowed a two-run homer to Eduardo Escobar in the sixth. Cobb came off the mound slowly on the next play trying to field a bunt by Logan Morrison down the third-base line against the shift. He left the game with head athletic trainer Brian Ebel.
Rookie left-hander Paul Fry entered in relief and allowed five of the six batters he faced reach base, but didn’t receive much help from his defense.
With the Twins leading 4-0 with the bases loaded and no outs, Garver hit a grounder to shortstop, but Manny Machado’s throw home to get a force play skipped and pulled catcher Caleb Joseph off home plate, allowing the run to score. Machado was charged with a throwing error on the play.
“That’s one of Manny’s fortes,” Showalter said. “He made the right decision. What happens a lot of times is when you’re throwing to the force, that’s a really unusual play from that depth and really had a little more time than he thought, because you’re used to throwing for a tag play on that. It’s almost like a relay. And you’ve actually got a little more time to set and throw. But I can’t fault him. We just didn’t score.”
Two more runs scored — one on a bloop single to left by Jake Cave and another on a groundout to first baseman Chris Davis, who looked home before getting the out at first.
Fellow rookie Ryan Meisinger entered two batters later and yielded a three-run homer that Brian Dozier sent into the first row of the second deck in left field.
The Orioles had just five hits off Twins starter Jake Odorizzi over six innings, and the No. 5 through 9 spots in the Orioles’ batting order went 1-for-11 against Odorizzi.
The Orioles had two on with two outs twice, but Davis struck out looking both times to end the threats. Their only run came on Davis’ solo homer with two outs in the top of the ninth, his fourth in his past 11 games.