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Orioles feel ’drained’ after 5-0 loss to Blue Jays in Alex Cobb’s final start ahead of trade deadline

As the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting pitcher made a strong first impression, the Orioles’ starter left what was potentially a questionable last one.

In right-hander Alex Cobb’s final start before Monday’s trade deadline, the Orioles lost their fifth straight game to Toronto, falling 5-0 for their 10th loss in 12 games. Cobb worked fewer than five innings for only the second time in seven starts, exiting with two on and no outs in the fifth and five runs in. A sparkling Orioles debut from 35-year-old journeyman César Valdez in relief spared Cobb’s line from a worse fate, but it wasn’t the type of start that will inspire a team in contention to trade for Cobb and his 2021 salary of $15 million.

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Cobb has said previously he hopes to remain with the Orioles (14-18) through the deadline, but a winless road trip only backs up executive vice president/general Mike Elias’ willingness to deal from the major league roster to add to the farm system.

“I don’t really relate it to the trade deadline or not to the trade deadline,” Cobb said of the Orioles’ recent struggles. “The vibe in the clubhouse and just coming to play the game each and every day when you’re winning is so much more fun than losing, and right now, it’s just not that much fun.”

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Although the Orioles are only 32 games into the season at a time they normally would be closer to 132 games, Cobb said this year has been far more taxing than a standard one. There have been several complications to come with it, from the coronavirus pandemic, the labor negotiations that followed and the conversations centered on racial injustice in recent days.

“It feels like two Augusts combined into one,” Cobb said. “Everybody we talk to, emotionally, physically, is just drained. This year has taken a toll on everybody. It’s something that we’re all kind of learning how to deal with each and every single day together. I think once you start going on this little losing streak, it kind of weighs on you even more. It definitely doesn’t feel like we’re 30 games into a season and we’re fresh and we’re good. It feels like we’re on Game 230 right now.”

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde agreed.

“I thought today was the first time where we looked like a tired team,” he said. “We have been through a lot this season so far, and it’s emotionally draining. ... Tonight was just not our best effort and I did feel like our guys looked exhausted.”

Toronto right-hander Taijuan Walker, making his first start since being acquired in a deal with the Seattle Mariners, held the Orioles scoreless over six innings. He pitched all but the first of those with a lead.

Cobb retired the first two batters he faced before issuing a walk and allowing a single on which an error from right fielder Anthony Santander put two in scoring position. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. then rocketed the next pitch to the left-field wall for a two-run single.

After two scoreless innings from Cobb, Guerrero started another rally in the fourth, singling and moving to third on Travis Shaw’s base hit. José Iglesias, playing shortstop for the first time in two weeks after coming off the injured list Thursday, couldn’t make a smooth transfer on the back end of a double play attempt, getting Shaw out at second but unable to get Derek Fisher at first as Guerrero scored Toronto’s third run. Cavan Biggio later added a two-run single.

Cobb returned for the fifth but allowed the first two Blue Jays to reach, exiting what was perhaps his last start as an Oriole with a 4.33 ERA.

“There’s just so much that goes into [the deadline] this year,” Cobb said. “There would be so much that would go into a normal trade deadline year with everything surrounding me, so I think this year, there’s no way to even try to create some sort of hypothesis of what’s going to happen.”

César’s palace

Having not pitched in the majors in three years, Valdez didn’t look out of place. Replacing Cobb with two on and no outs in the fifth, Valdez’s first major league appearance since 2017 began with a matchup against Guerrero.

He struck him out.

Valdez, who spent most of the past two years pitching in the Mexican League, worked three scoreless innings in relief, striking out five while not throwing any pitches above 88 mph.

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“That was the highlight of the night, handing him the ball and then watching him wiggle out of that inning for Alex and then going two more scoreless innings after that with very little stress,” Hyde said. “That was fun for everybody to watch. The whole team was excited for him.”

Around the horn

The Orioles again wore their No. 42 jerseys in honor of Jackie Robinson for Saturday’s game and will do so again Sunday. … Before the game, the Orioles recalled right-hander Evan Phillips from their alternate site and placed right-handed reliever Shawn Armstrong on the 10-day injured listed with lower-back inflammation. The move is retroactive to Wednesday. … Right-hander Jorge López will make his first start for the Orioles on Sunday, with left-hander Tommy Milone starting Monday’s series finale in Buffalo.

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