Orioles open homestand with 3-2 loss to Athletics, add 11th losing streak of at least five games

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Before the Orioles mounted their futile eighth-inning comeback attempt in a 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night, the in-game highlights shown to the announced crowd of 9,141 at Camden Yards told a sad story.

No defensive gems. No strikeouts. Just a few singles by Adam Jones and Caleb Joseph and a towering home run to center field by Jonathan Villar that landed in a section without a single fan seated there.

So when new infielder Breyvic Valera singled, stole second and scored on a single by Villar to cut the Orioles’ deficit in half and make it 3-2 in the eighth, the quiet reception spoke volumes.

The Orioles have been playing out the string as a group for a long time; only now, after a 1-8 road trip since they last appeared here and scored 29 runs in a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays, it doesn’t seem like anyone is really playing along.

“If you'd have told me that we’d hold them to three runs tonight, I’d take our chances, even though scoring runs has been a challenge for us,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Their guy [Mike Fiers] has really been pitching well.”

Tuesday’s loss was the Orioles’ fifth straight, their 11th losing streak of at least five games. They’re 1-8 in September, and 41-103 this season.

Even this, their 90th loss in 90 games when trailing after seven innings, was notable in being so close. Final scores like Tuesday’s don’t come often when one team’s starting pitcher doesn’t come out for the third inning.

Orioles starter Alex Cobb struck out the first two batters he faced looking at fastballs before a walk and a single forced him to strand two in the first inning. He got three outs on nine pitches in the second inning, but then Mike Wright Jr. started warming up in the Orioles’ bullpen. Cobb has dealt with blister issues that pushed this start back, and he left after two innings and 30 pitches. He said after the game that his right middle finger, wrapped in a Band-Aid, has something more like a cut, and he doesn’t know when he might pitch next.

Cobb’s short outing put the Orioles in a difficult spot. Wright walked the first batter he faced, No. 9 hitter Jonathan Lucroy, on four pitches, then retired leadoff man Ramon Laureano after fielding a line drive off his own leg. A double, a walk, and a pair of singles pushed across Oakland’s only three runs.

The two shutout innings that followed for Wright, and the two shutout innings that Yefry Ramírez gave, were little consolation. Tanner Scott stranded two in scoring position to keep it a 3-1 game after Villar’s home run in the sixth inning.

“I thought Yefry was really good,” Showalter said. “Tanner had another good step. Got Mychal [Givens] out there. Michael Wright had two good innings after that first one where he struggled a little bit. But we had a solo home run and Villar drove in a couple runs. That’s about it offensively.”

With Villar was on first base with two outs in that eighth inning and Trey Mancini at the plate, Laureano made a diving grab for the final out in the left-center field gap to keep the Athletics’ advantage intact.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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