The Orioles’ oft-lacking defense isn’t the only reason they lost Tuesday night in Cleveland, or the night before.
Until they fix it, the 7-2 loss Tuesday at Progressive Field that featured four errors and represented their club-record 17th straight defeat on the road won’t be the last.
“We’re playing a little tighter defensively,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’re making some uncharacteristic plays right now, negative plays defensively, because we’re not playing with a ton of confidence. We’ve just got to continue to push and grind. Nobody takes more ground balls or throws to bases in the outfield more than we do in the league, I can guarantee that. It’s continuing to work and improve and help out our pitchers a little bit. It’d be nice to score some runs to relax everybody a little bit, but right now, we’re just in a tough run.”
A 17th straight road loss brings the Orioles closer to the major league record of 22 shared by the 1963 New York Mets and 1943 Philadelphia Athletics, though the Arizona Diamondbacks have lost 21 straight on the road. The Orioles have two games left in this series against Cleveland and could get to 19 this week.
“Right now, we’re just kind of in a hole, going through a rough time,” starter Matt Harvey said. “It’s frustrating for everybody. No one is trying to fail. We’re making mistakes but that’s where we are right now as a group. We just have to be better as a team.”
This time, it started early, with a second error by Stevie Wilkerson in as many nights extending the first inning so a leadoff walk from Matt Harvey could come around to score on a single by Bobby Bradley.
The Orioles answered back with a single by Freddy Galvis putting him in position to score on a double by Maikel Franco, but a big inning for Cleveland arrived in the fourth and featured another costly error, this when Cedric Mullins’ throw from center field on a run-scoring hit by Ernie Clement sailed over everyone and opened the floodgates.
Two more runs scored off Harvey before he gave way to Cole Sulser, who allowed both the runners he inherited to score. Harvey, who pitched well earlier in the season despite some shoddy glovework behind him, ended up charged with six runs (five earned) on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts, with his ERA up to 7.76.
Hyde said Harvey was better than he’s been in the past month-plus, and said having to get four outs every inning didn’t help his cause. Harvey, whose standard is that a starting pitcher should go at least five innings, noted that he hasn’t in a while (since May 1 in Oakland) and said there’s “not really anything positive about anything” to do with Tuesday’s start.
“It’s the same thing over and over again,” Harvey said. “It’s here, it’s there. Two good innings, three good innings, then [expletive] hits the fan.”
Trey Mancini had a run-scoring double in the top of the fifth, and Cleveland extended its lead back to five with a home run by Bradley off his old teammate Adam Plutko.
The Orioles (22-44) have now lost six straight games overall, dropping to 5-7 in June after beginning the month with the league’s best offense and a 5-1 record.
There were two costly errors against the Orioles, but two others went unpunished.
Franco made a two-out error at third base in the second inning, and Wilkerson had his third in two nights in the eighth inning.
Hyde said he doesn’t believe the errors have anything to do with effort, but instead are execution.
“I have an issue if we’re not playing the game hard and the right way,” he said. “But right now, it’s about lack of focus at times.”
The Orioles offense is scuffling again, especially with runners in scoring position, but that’s not to say everyone’s giving at-bats away. Mancini and Galvis had three of their seven hits Tuesday, but also had some of their toughest at-bats.
In the seventh with Mullins on first, Mancini saw 11 pitches before grounding into a double play while Galvis grounded out after an 11-pitch at-bat to begin the ninth.