When the Orioles returned from their latest winless road trip, the thought of being home surely provided at least some comfort.
They had won five games in their previous homestand, as many as they had won regardless of venue in May. But even Camden Yards could not provide salvation this past week, with a 13-0 loss to the Houston Astros on Wednesday night completing a sweep and 1-5 homestand.
The blowout extended a losing streak to five that began with Saturday’s ninth-inning blown lead and included a loss Monday in which the Orioles (23-51) were held hitless until the eighth. Their lone win on this stay in Baltimore prevented what would otherwise be their second 14-game losing streak of the year.
The Astros (46-28) scored three runs, all with two outs, in the top of the first against Thomas Eshelman, as many as the Orioles had scored in the first two games of the series. That total carried through Wednesday.
After another two-out run in the second, José Altuve drilled a two-run home run off Eshelman with one out in the fourth, leaving Eshelman with a 7.27 ERA despite a successful first start.
“These guys take really good at-bats,” manager Brandon Hyde said of the Astros, who have outscored opponents by 60 runs (81-21) during their current 10-game winning streak. “They’re pros. They don’t swing at pitches out of the zone, and they start rallies and then they capitalize.”
In the fifth, knuckleballer Mickey Jannis took over for his major league debut. The 33-year-old’s novelty was effective early. He began his career by striking out former American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Álvarez looking with a knuckleball that Statcast tracked as having a spin rate of 149 rotations per minute.
But after that scoreless initial inning, little else went Jannis’ way. The Astros added another two-out run against him in the sixth, then fully broke the game open in the seventh. Álvarez did not allow Jannis to fool him again, sending a knuckleball a projected 448 feet to left field for the third-longest home run at Camden Yards this year. Abraham Toro added a three-run home run as Jannis allowed the first five batters of the inning to reach. Another two runs in the eighth meant Jannis’ 3 ⅓-inning debut featured 12 base runners and seven earned runs.
Catcher Austin Wynns said Jannis’ knuckleball “wasn’t dancing as much,” while Hyde said it was “staying up in the zone a little bit too long.”
“He’s a professional,” Wynns said. “He’s paid his dues. He went out there and competed. And that’s all you can ask for a guy like him.”
Play the hits
Cedric Mullins lead off the bottom of the first with a double. He did not score. The Orioles loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth. They did not score.
Astros starters Jake Odorizzi, Zack Greinke and José Urquidy combined to allow one run in 19 ⅓ innings during the series. Over the three-game sweep, Houston’s first at Oriole Park, the Orioles scored three runs on 14 hits.
“They have really good arms, there’s no doubt about it,” Hyde said. “You’ve got to have a real disciplined approach and you’ve got to be ready, and we had a tough time.”
Added Wynns: “They have a good staff, tip your hat. So we’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to get better.”
On the road again
The Orioles will try to snap their 19-game road losing streak, the longest in franchise history. Their three-city trip begins in Buffalo, New York, where they will play the Toronto Blue Jays. A Blue Jays sweep would tie the Orioles with the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics for the longest road losing streak in American League history.
This year’s Arizona Diamondbacks have lost a record 23 straight games as visitors. They’ll try to snap their skid on a road trip that starts Friday in San Diego.
Buffalo, New York
Thursday, 7:07 p.m.
Latest Baltimore Orioles
TV: MASN Radio: 105.7 FM