In perhaps the most emblematic example of their defensive struggles during this latest rough stretch, the Orioles found themselves in a deficit they attempted to but couldn’t overcome thanks to a single that followed an error and ended with the batter at third base.
Amid an 8-7 loss Wednesday night in Cleveland that marked Baltimore’s 18th straight road defeat, left fielder DJ Stewart’s off-line throw home on Amed Rosario’s RBI single in the third inning put two in scoring position for José Ramírez as the Orioles held a one-run lead. Ramírez flipped the score with a two-run single to right, but he wasn’t done yet.
First baseman Trey Mancini cut off Austin Hays’ throw home and threw to shortstop Freddy Galvis at second, but Ramírez reversed direction and got in a rundown. Galvis tossed the ball to second baseman Pat Valaika, and as Ramírez sprinted past Galvis, Valaika flipped it back. Ramírez slid safely into second, where third baseman Maikel Franco moved to cover to assist with the rundown. That left third base vacated, allowing a helmetless Ramírez to dive into third with a three-base single.
“We didn’t do many things right on that,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
Back-to-back doubles followed, putting the Orioles down 6-3. Ryan Mountcastle, who had already driven in Mancini twice, did so again in the fifth and brought himself along, with his two-run homer cutting the deficit to one. It reached three again when Hunter Harvey allowed two runners he inherited from Akin to score on César Hernández’s triple, only for RBI singles from Hays and Franco in the seventh to get those runs back.
But the Orioles didn’t threaten again in their seventh straight loss.
“I thought we had a pretty good chance of coming back, just the way we were swinging the bats early in the game, too,” Mountcastle said. “Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough.”
An 18th straight road loss brings the Orioles closer to the major league record of 22 shared by the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics, the 1963 New York Mets and the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks, who moved into the tie Wednesday night.
The 18-game streak is the longest by an American League team since the Washington Senators also dropped 18 straight on the road in 1949.
The Orioles have one game left in this series against Cleveland and could get to 19 today before starting a homestand Friday night.
Starting pitcher Keegan Akin’s final line of eight earned runs allowed in a career-high 5 2/3 innings came with a strange beginning, middle and end.
He pitched acceptably through two innings, allowing a run on Ramírez’s solo home run in the first. But after the first six batters in third reached, he retired the next 11 consecutively. Hyde gave him the chance to complete six innings before a walk and single ended his night.
“Definitely one of the more weirder outings that I’ve had,” Akin said. “Just happened pretty quick there in the third inning, but I felt like I had all my stuff. Just one of those nights. It didn’t pan out, didn’t work out, but there’s some positives from it. Retired 11 in a row, so that was kind of a positive for it. Keeping the pitch count down and getting into the sixth inning and getting those two outs there, so there’s some positives to look at, but obviously overall not really happy about it.”
The oddities didn’t end with Akin. As the closer of a team that hasn’t won in more than a week, left-hander Paul Fry had pitched only once since June 4 before he took the mound for the eighth. He got the first two outs quickly before a walk sandwiched between hit batters loaded the bases, but a groundout ended the threat.
Hyde pointed to Fry’s lack of usage in explaining his uncharacteristic command issues.
“He needs to pitch,” Hyde said. “He hadn’t pitched in four days. Before that, he hadn’t pitched in a while. I need to get him on the mound, but we’re trying to save him for times when the game’s close late, and we’re not getting there very often.”
Around the horn
Hyde kept Anthony Santander out of the lineup to give him a night off his sore ankle, leaving Galvis to bat third for only the sixth time in his career.. ... Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said before the game that he and Hyde spoke with league representatives earlier Wednesday regarding the 10-game suspension and immediate ejections for players discovered to be using sticky substance to alter the ball. “This is something we’re really happy that is happening,” Elias said, praising the creation of a “level playing field.”