Seemingly having learned their lesson from the night before, the Orioles pitched around Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani at every opportunity. But it was a former teammate who had some teaching to do Saturday night.
After Ohtani homered twice and scored the game-winning run in Friday’s series opener, the Orioles walked him three times Saturday, including twice intentionally. But behind a brilliant performance from former Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb, the Angels took the series with a 4-1 victory.
Cobb, who the Orioles traded in the offseason along with cash for infield prospect Jahmai Jones, worked 7 ⅔ innings in his first start against Baltimore since 2017, limiting his old team to one run on four hits. During Brandon Hyde’s three-season managerial tenure, the Orioles (27-56) have received only one start of that length: John Means’ no-hitter on May 5.
“Cobber threw an outstanding game,” Hyde said. “I thought he had everything going. He had the two-seamer working to both sides of the plate, really good split, threw some curveballs. But command was excellent. Pitched ahead in the count against us the entire game. And hats off to him. He pitched really good tonight.”
The Orioles’ only run came in the third when their infield manufactured one. Third baseman Domingo Leyba walked, went to third when shortstop Ramón Urías singled and scored when second baseman Pat Valaika grounded into a fielder’s choice.
A batter after the Orioles knocked out Cobb with another Urías single in the eighth, Cedric Mullins, who will likely be named an All-Star on Sunday, struck out representing the tying run.
Take a walk
Right-hander Jorge López shared a spot in the Orioles’ rotation with Cobb last September, joining him as the only Baltimore starters to complete seven innings in 2020. But he couldn’t match him Sunday, laboring through 4 ⅔ innings as the Orioles reached seven straight games where their starter pitched fewer than five innings.
After a leadoff single began his outing, López walked Ohtani then issued another free pass. An infield single and run-scoring groundout put the Orioles in an early 2-0 hole. The Angels (41-41) extended their lead to 3-0 in the second when José Iglesias, who was dealt from the Orioles to the Angels in a separate trade this offseason, singled and scored on a Juan Lagares double.
When Ohtani came up again with two outs and Lagares at third, Hyde sent him straight to first. López stranded runners on the corners with a strikeout of Anthony Rendon, starting a run in which he retired nine of 10 batters.
But that got spoiled in the fifth, when three straight two-out hits plated another Los Angeles run and ended López’s outing. Adam Plutko, who entered play having inherited the third-most runners in baseball, stranded both of López’s.
“We all try to do the best we can,” López said. “This game, I really failed. It really hurt. Just keep working hard every single day, and to the next one.”
With Ohtani again coming up with two outs and a runner on third in the sixth, the Orioles again intentionally walked him. Again, it didn’t hurt them, with Plutko retiring Rendon on a flyout.
Hyde said he meant no disrespect to Rendon by intentionally walking Ohtani, who became the first player the Orioles intentionally walked twice in one game since fellow Angels star Mike Trout in May 2018. Baltimore issued two intentional walks in the entire 2020 season.
“I just think Ohtani right now is the best player in the league,” Hyde said. “He’s playing a different game than the rest of us.”
Dylan Bundy reunion
Before sending Cobb and Iglesias to Los Angeles this offseason, the Orioles traded right-hander Dylan Bundy to the Angels for four young pitchers the prior winter. After thriving in 2020, Bundy has struggled this season and was recently moved to the bullpen. He noted Saturday that his first relief outing went better than his most recent start.
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“I mean, I didn’t throw up, so it was positive,” Bundy quipped, referring to heat exhaustion causing him to vomit near the Yankee Stadium mound last week.
Bundy has yet to pitch in the series, but one of the former Angels prospects the Orioles got for him did. Right-hander Isaac Mattson inherited two runners from Plutko and left the bases loaded in the seventh then worked a scoreless eighth that included getting Ohtani to fly out.
“Isaac showed a really good fastball tonight,” Hyde said. “I know he came in with two runners on, maybe a little bit antsy, pitching against some familiar faces with the Angels, and so the command was a little bit erratic, but he got out of it in that [seventh] inning and made some really nice pitches there in the [eighth] inning.”
Around the horn
» Means will make his first rehab start for High-A Aberdeen on Sunday. Means, who has not pitched since suffering a left shoulder strain June 5, will throw two or three innings, Hyde said.
» The Orioles made a pair of additions to their 40-man roster Saturday, acquiring infielder Kelvin Guttierez from the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations and claiming right-hander Shaun Anderson from the Texas Rangers. Both players are 26 years old, were recently designated for assignment and were subsequently optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. To open spots on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated right-hander Konner Wade for assignment and transferred right-hander Travis Lakins Sr., who suffered what Hyde has called a “significant elbow injury,” to the 60-day injured list.
» Utilityman Stevie Wilkerson cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk after he was designated for assignment.
» Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann (left bicep tendinitis) had his recovery timeline “pushed back a week or two,” Hyde said. The Ellicott City native was originally on schedule to return near the All-Star break. Meanwhile, right-handed reliever César Valdez (lower back strain) could be activated from the injured list as soon as Sunday.