Orioles are swept out of Anaheim with most lopsided loss of season. (Eduardo Encina/Baltimore Sun video)
Orioles after dark has quickly turned into a bad horror movie, one that's too ugly to watch but impossible to turn away from.
The club might have reached rock bottom on its first leg of its six-game West Coast road trip, swept out of Southern California with a 12-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night at Angel Stadium.
The Orioles have had their share of blowout losses — eight defeats of five runs or more through the season's first 31 games — but Thursday's setback was their most lopsided, all but over after the second inning.
After suffering their ninth straight road loss, the Orioles (8-23) are 15 games under .500 and will take the American League's worst record — and the second worst in the majors — to Oakland to start a three-game series against the Athletics with a beleaguered bullpen that had to account for seven innings with four relievers.
"It's only May 3," center fielder Adam Jones said. "There [are] 28 more days of May, probably 24 games. Hopefully we can go 20-4 the next 24 games and all of this will be behind us. The reality is we need to score more runs, we need to be more aggressive. We need to just be better. You can specify any part of the game which is calling people out, [but] we don't do that here. We just overall need to be better."
Right-hander Chris Tillman was roughed up for seven runs, allowing eight of the 11 batters he faced to reach base as Angels hitters sprayed the outfield with hits. Tillman lasted just two batters into the second inning, his shortest start of the season as his season ERA ballooned to 9.24.
"It is [tough], it is," manager Buck Showalter said. "He cares so much, but nobody understands what this is all about more than Chris, and what's at stake. I'm sure it's real frustrating for him, as it was for us, for him to take what we hoped was a really good step last time out and then have a tough outing like tonight."
The Orioles offense went hitless for five innings against Angels right-hander Jaime Barria, who had been recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake City earlier in the day. Making his third major league start, Barria followed this year's blueprint to beat the Orioles, holding them to two runs on four hits over six innings while throwing 50 of 85 off-speed pitches.
"[He was] pitching well with a 10-0 lead," Showalter said. "No really, it makes it a lot easier. It fits right in with him. He's going to throw a lot of off-speed [pitches] and use hitters' aggressiveness against them, and he's pitched well. He doesn't necessarily need a lead to be a good pitcher. You can see why they like him. He had a lot of moxie, and he's a good player."
Barria didn't allow a hit until Trey Mancini's leadoff single in the sixth, which fueled an inning that included four hits — all singles — with run-scoring hits by Manny Machado and Chris Davis. Machado drove in a second run with an RBI single in the eighth.
But that made just a dent into the Angels' huge lead. On Wednesday, the Orioles cut an eight-run ninth inning deficit to three before falling to Los Angeles, 10-7. But there would be no late rally Thursday.
"It's tough for anybody to play when they're behind," Jones said. "It changes a lot of dynamics of the offense, but we still have to go up there and put up good at-bats. We see the potential of this lineup. The first six inning we didn't get a hit and then we got four hits in five hitters. You can see how quick-strike of an offense we really are. But it's been too far and in between. Playing behind is not easy, but it's not an excuse for our woes."
Right-hander Miguel Castro, pressed into service in the second inning to relieve Tillman, was charged with a season-high four runs — he hadn't allowed more than one run in any of his previous 12 outings this year — in 2 1/3 innings. Right-hander Mychal Givens entered for Castro with the bases loaded in the fourth and allowed all three inherited runners to score, and another was charged to his pitching line in a four-run fourth that set the Orioles back 12-0.
Tillman couldn't build on his best outing of the season, a seven-shutout-inning start of one-hit ball that gave false hope that he had found his form. Instead, Tillman had little to offer that the Angels didn't hit as Los Angeles batters recorded extra bases on four of the seven hits off Tillman.
"I don't think we pitched all that great this series," Tillman said. "There are a lot of things that have been going wrong. We know what we are capable of and I think this is baseball. Tomorrow we could come out and play really, really well. So I don't dwell on all the negative stuff. Just move on."
An announced crowd of 35,879 witnessed a rout but came to Angel Stadium in hopes of witnessing history as Albert Pujols was on the cusp of reaching 3,000 hits.
Pujols hit a two-run double off Castro in the second inning to come within one of the mark. Castro hit him with a pitch in his next plate appearance, eliciting boos from the home crowd, and Pujols was hitless in his final two plate appearances.