Dan Straily, signed last week to stabilize the Orioles' rotation after a rough first week of the season, found himself Wednesday flying the same turbulent skies as the rest of the team's pitching staff in a 10-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics at Camden Yards.
Making his first start with the Orioles on Wednesday after a rocky relief debut Sunday, Straily allowed five runs on eight hits — including two home runs — in 3 1/3 innings for an inauspicious start to his young Orioles career.
“It was his first start, and he made some mistakes that got hit, and I think they were leaning out over the plate on him,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Fastball-slider guy, and they're looking out over the plate, and drove some balls on him. But it's his first start, and we'll continue to build him and go from there.”
Said Straily: “The competitor in me is really upset with the results, but I think I'm also able to take a step back and go look at some of the steps forward that I was able to take. I feel like I'm finishing up spring training right now, which is a tough place to be, because it counts. It's not like you're up there just getting ready anymore. I feel like my pitches were pretty sharp tonight. Just wasn't getting ahead of guys with my fastball, and that really kind of puts me sometimes in a bind.”
Oakland didn't score in the first inning despite two hits, but Chad Pinder's one-out home run put the Orioles behind in the second. An inning later, three straight two-out hits made it 3-0, and Jurickson Profar homered to score Pinder two batters into the fourth inning, bringing on left-hander Josh Rogers.
Straily thought he got close to where he wanted to be as the outing went on, even if things got away from him.
“Just being able to throw all my stuff to both sides of the plate, work in all quadrants of the zone, things like that that make me who I am as a pitcher,” Straily said. “I was able to execute a lot of those tonight, just obviously not sometimes. Everything kind of fell back towards the middle there towards the end, and that's when I kind of started having some trouble with it, trying to throw a slider back-door and it comes back middle. Try to throw a fastball away and it comes back middle, just some of those things that are really just a product of not being out there, that I think that it's really close to being ready to go now.”
Said Hyde: “I'm all for pitching to contact, but you've got to be able to get off the barrel, got to be able to move feet, got to be able to pitch to both sides of the plate, up and down. When you're predictable and you're on one side of the plate against good lineups, you're going to give it up.”
Straily's first start essentially came in an emergency in place of right-hander Alex Cobb, who felt back spasms playing catch Tuesday afternoon and couldn't make his start Wednesday after going on the injured list. He signed Friday after a few weeks on the open market following his late-spring release by the Miami Marlins, taking the roster spot of Rule 5 infielder Drew Jackson. He joined the Orioles on Saturday and pitched on Sunday late in a lopsided loss to the New York Yankees.
He allowed five runs on five hits, including two home runs, in his debut, and had the fly-ball going again early Wednesday.
Rogers, up from Triple-A Norfolk for bullpen cover, was stung himself by three home-run balls accounting for five runs in 3 2/3 innings of relief before Mike Wright finished with two scoreless innings. Rogers was optioned back to the Tides after the game, with the Orioles set to summon another fresh bullpen arm for Thursday’s matinee series finale.
It's not that warm yet...
Since the Orioles came home on April 4 for their home opener after a successful six-game road trip through New York, they've allowed 23 home runs in six games.
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Only the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks had allowed that many all season entering Wednesday, and despite the temperate weather this week at Camden Yards, the ballpark certainly wasn't playing like it does on those hot summer Baltimore days.
Hyde wants it fixed before that comes.
“We've got to find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark,” he said. “Obviously, we're giving up a lot of home runs. It's no secret, we're falling behind because we're giving up a lot of long balls. We've just got to find a way to keep the ball in the park.”
Three in a row
The Orioles didn't have a hit until the fifth inning, when the hot-hitting Trey Mancini finally got to Oakland starter Frankie Montas, smacking his sixth home run of the young season. Designated hitter Renato Núñez backed it up with a single, then scored on third baseman Rio Ruiz's first home run of the season.
After their first 12 batters went down in order, the Orioles had three straight hits to account for all three of their runs. Joey Rickard added an eighth-inning double to collect the club’s fourth and final hit.
Worth a shot
With the game well out of reach in the ninth inning, Chris Davis pinch-hit for Núñez for a chance to break out of his hitless early-season funk.
Instead, Davis flew out to center field for his 57th straight plate appearance without a hit, tying an MLB record set in 1984 by Tony Bernazard of the Cleveland Indians.