DETROIT — Alex Cobb only recently joined the Orioles' pity party, having debuted Saturday with a start as ignominious as the one he turned in Thursday.
But with every baseball that clunked off a glove and grounder that sneaked through the infield at sun-splashed Comerica Park on Thursday, Cobb grew more frustrated and walked off the mound the avatar for this team's April misfortunes.
"Just the culmination of a lot of different things going wrong today," Cobb said.
The 13-8 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Thursday was the Orioles' sixth straight, and they return home to Camden Yards for a 10-game homestand with a 5-14 record for their worst start since opening 2-16 in 2010.
For the second straight start, Cobb (0-2) didn't make it out of the fourth inning. The final blows that chased him were emphatic. The rest of the 10 hits he allowed earned their own folder in the growing file cabinet of Orioles misfortune from this woeful start to 2018. Of the first seven, only one had a hit probability over 50 percent, according to Statcast data.
"A lot of borderline pitches, not quite getting some counts in his favor," manager Buck Showalter said. "The command's not where it's going to be. We didn't play particularly well defensively behind him, too. We gave them a lot of outs — some of them that don't show up on the error column. Some double-play balls we should turn, some other things."
Said Cobb: "My goal out there when I'm on the mound is to try to get them to put the ball on the ground. I felt like I did that for the most part. Sometimes, it just goes right through gaps."
It began with two singles in Cobb's first five pitches, both stung through the infield to create a jam early. One run scored when Victor Martinez singled to left field, and the Orioles were fortunate the Tigers (7-9) ran into the third out of the first inning at third base.
A two-run home run by Chris Davis reversed that one-run deficit and put the Orioles ahead in the second inning, but Cobb had an inning of exasperation looming. It began with a difficult error charged to Tim Beckham — a familiar face to Cobb from their days with the Tampa Bay Rays and a central figure in the series of events that crushed him in a four-run second.
Beckham's error came on a ball deep in the shortstop hole that required him to spin as he threw, but the resulting throw pulled Davis off the bag at first. JaCoby Jones hit a single through the left side, and both runners scored on a triple down the left-field line by José Iglesias. Then, Cobb issued his first walk of the day and recorded his first strikeout before the batted-ball luck that tormented him all day resumed.
Jeimer Candelario, who torched the Orioles all series, topped a ball through the right side that hit off second baseman Luis Sardiñas' glove and left an exasperated Cobb standing on the infield with his hands on his knees. The next batter, Miguel Cabrera, tapped a ball to the left of the mound that Beckham couldn't barehand, loading the bases. Nicholas Castellanos grounded to Beckham, too, and the Orioles could have been out of it with a double play. But Beckham bobbled the ball, and all that was left was the force at second base.
"It was a tough day for not just him," Showalter said. "We gave them a lot of extra outs. Tim is better than that."
Said shortstop Manny Machado: "He's making the pitches, and they're just finding the holes. That's just how it's been going."
After 34 pitches, Cobb was out of the inning with a 5-2 deficit. The Orioles cut the margin to 5-3 in the third with Machado's first of two home runs on the day, and Cobb shut the door with a quick inning, but a warning-track triple by Leonys Martin and a home run by Candelario in the fourth left him staggered on the mound. When Cabrera then singled through a right side vacated by the shift, Cobb was finished.
Just five of the seven runs were earned, meaning he's allowed 12 earned runs on 20 hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts in two starts in an Orioles uniform. He said after his debut Saturday that he didn't feel quite ready after signing late and pitching only in extended spring games to prepare, a consequence of byzantine minor league rules that would've made him use a baseball he refused to throw if he pitched at, say, Double-A or Triple-A. But he said "midseason form" came to him in stretches Thursday, and "it stinks that it has taken these two games, but I really do feel like it's right around the corner, and I will get it."
"I'm sure that has something to do with it," Showalter said of Cobb's spring. "He's going to be a good pitcher for us — just a matter of when. … Alex will get it going. The things I'm concerned with, that's not one of them. It's a certain process he's going to have to go through a little bit. He'll figure it out."
Said Cobb: "You come into the offseason wanting to, when you're a free agent, to join a team and join a winning team and contribute and be a big reason why they're winning ballgames. I feel like it's almost the opposite right now. … It's my job to get better and get better as quick as possible and come out here and try to be that guy I wanted to be in the beginning."
There was no opportunity for the bats to further bail him out, either. Mike Wright Jr., the man Cobb replaced in the rotation, cleaned up the fourth before he allowed a grand slam to Martin in a five-run fifth inning. The Tigers added their 13th run in the eighth inning off Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo.
"If we could get some shutdown innings after Alex exited, we're in the ballgame," Showalter said. "I felt like we'd make a run at them. Just couldn't stem the tide after him."
The bats didn't roll over, though, showing signs of life as the game progressed. Machado homered for a second time to open the sixth inning, and the Orioles loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a single in that frame before rookie outfielder Anthony Santander grounded into a double play.
Catcher Chance Sisco and left fielder Trey Mancini each had hits to open the seventh, and scored on an RBI groundout by Machado and center fielder Adam Jones' second of three doubles, respectively.
Jones and Machado had RBI doubles in the ninth, too. Beckham matched them with three hits.