Despite spending the final weeks of the 2019 season with Triple-A Norfolk, Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer had never pitched at Buffalo’s Sahlen Park before Thursday night’s visit.
If not for the coronavirus pandemic, Kremer would’ve spent a good portion of the 2020 campaign with Norfolk, possibly getting the chance to take the mound at the home of the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate as he took the final steps of his minor league development. Instead, with the Blue Jays calling Buffalo home for a second straight year because of pandemic-related travel restrictions, Kremer got a rude welcoming to Buffalo, recording only one out while allowing the first six runs of a 9-0 defeat.
It’s the Orioles’ 20th straight loss on the road, tied for the second-longest streak in American League history and third-longest overall.
Kremer began his start with three straight full-count walks, and after a single and groundout each scored a run, he issued another that reloaded the bases. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. then hit a first-pitch cutter for a grand slam. After a fifth full-count walk, manager Brandon Hyde ended Kremer’s night after 39 pitches — only 17 of them strikes.
Kremer became only the fifth pitcher in major league history and the first since 1972 to last a third of an inning or less while allowing five walks and six earned runs. He said he had never had an outing with that poor of command.
“That’s embarrassing, on my part and for our team,” Kremer said. “That’s unacceptable. That can’t happen.”
He said the issues were “more mental than physical,” a point Hyde agreed with. Asked whether that’s more concerning for a young pitcher than some kind of fixable mechanical issue, Hyde responded, “I don’t know. It’s hard when you get one out and walk five. So obviously this is something he needs to work on. I don’t have much to say about it, to be honest with you.”
That lost Triple-A time has seemed to linger for Kremer, one of the four prospects the Orioles acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the July 2018 trade for Manny Machado. Since posting a 1.69 ERA in his first three major league starts last September, Kremer has an 8.08 mark in 13 outings since. Some of his starts have been strong — he held this same Blue Jays team to two runs over six innings last time out — but his 7.25 ERA in 2021 is the second highest of any pitcher with at least 12 starts, surpassed only by fellow Baltimore rotation member Matt Harvey’s 7.80.
“Obviously it’s not going as I’d hoped or as I’m sure the front office hopes, but it’s something I’ve got to take one step at a time,” Kremer said. “I can’t really get bogged down by every failure.”
Behind him, Adam Plutko allowed three runs in 2 ⅔ innings, one coming on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s major league-leading 24th home run. Travis Lakins Sr. provided a career outing, allowing one hit over four scoreless innings to save the bullpen in the first contest of a 10-game road trip. Lakins said all pitchers go through nights like Kremer’s in which their command evades them.
“It takes a toll on you,” Lakins said. “But the best thing about this game is you have a short mentality, you have a short stint where you’ve got four days to get better and dominate the next outing. And I know that’s what Dean’s gonna do.”
Make it 20
Hyde said Thursday that left-hander John Means (left shoulder strain) should rejoin the rotation “right after” next month’s All-Star break. The Orioles were 11-6 on the road after Means pitched a no-hitter in Seattle on May 5. They are 0-20 as visitors since.
That ties the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics for second-longest drought among AL teams, trailing only the 1943 A’s.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are currently on the record skid. They’ll try to win on the road for the first time in 24 road games Friday against the San Diego Padres.
It’s been awhile
Thursday also marked Baltimore’s sixth straight loss overall, and the latter half has featured a silent offense.
Over the previous 24 innings, the Orioles have been outscored 24-0. That streak exists despite the Orioles threatening early against Toronto starter Anthony Kay, putting two on base in the first and loading the bases in the second. They finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and struck out 10 times in their second straight shutout loss.
Pedro Severino was the only Oriole to manage multiple hits Thursday, while Ryan Mountcastle reached base three times with a single and two walks, tripling his total for June.
“We’re down a touchdown early back-to-back nights and that’s not easy to come back from,” Hyde said. “Thought we had a few guys swing the bat fairly well, but it’s not easy when you’re battling from so far behind so early in the game.”
Longest road losing streaks in MLB history
23 — 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks*
22 — 1963 New York Mets, 1943 Philadelphia Athletics
20 — 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, 2021 Orioles*
19 — 1985 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1945 Philadelphia Athletics, 1933 Cincinnati Reds
18 — 1949 Washington Senators, 1932 Boston Red Sox, 1920 Philadelphia Athletics, 1914 Cincinnati Reds
* — active streak
Friday, 7:07 p.m.
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