One of the Orioles’ ugliest innings of the season wasn’t entirely a result of the New York Mets assembling a hit parade. A significant part of it was self-inflicted.
The Mets scored nine runs — sending 12 batters to the plate — in the sixth inning of the Orioles’ 16-5 interleague loss at Camden Yards on Wednesday night, an inning that also included four walks and a hit batter by Orioles pitchers.
Yes, the Mets posted four extra-base hits in the frame, capped by Kevin Plawecki’s grand slam off newly acquired right-hander Evan Phillips, but all five batters who received free passes scored.
The Orioles needed four pitchers and 54 pitches to get through the inning.
“There’s a reason why they say the best pitch in baseball is strike one, a well-located fastball,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Everybody’s repertoire works off that. … If we could have held them there at that point, a lot of different looks you can throw at them, but now you’re just trying to get through the game. We’ve done that quite a few nights.”
The Mets, who entered the night ranked 14th of the 15 National League clubs in runs, are no offensive juggernaut, but on Wednesday, they capitalized on the Orioles’ command problems in their big sixth inning.
“I never witnessed that,” Orioles rookie catcher Austin Wynns said. “And that was definitely tough. Let’s try to never do that again. We were all around the zone. Just couldn’t locate, bottom line. Just couldn’t locate.”
Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy was the first of four pitchers in the inning, chased from the game after hitting Plawecki with one out and allowing a double by José Reyes.
Left-hander Tanner Scott entered and allowed both runs to score on Brandon Nimmo’s triple, a tailing line drive that left fielder Trey Mancini misjudged and made a failed lunging attempt on. Scott allowed Nimmo to score on a wild pitch and walked two of the next three batters he faced.
Phillips couldn’t find the zone after that, allowing a two-run double to Todd Frazier on a ball to the left-center field warning track that center fielder Cedric Mullins couldn’t corral. He surrendered back-to-back walks to load the bases, repeatedly missing high in the zone, before throwing a 2-1 fastball over the heart of the plate that Plawecki hit into the left-field seats for a grand slam.
Sean Gilmartin finally got out of the inning, inducing Reyes to popout to shortstop Tim Beckham.
For Phillips, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after Wednesday’s game, his first impression with the big league club after coming to the Orioles from the Atlanta Braves in the Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day trade was a rocky one. He pitched well in his first outing, pitching two perfect innings with three strikeouts against the Texas Rangers on Aug. 3. But after allowing four runs Wednesday, he has allowed 10 runs (eight earned) while walking six over his past three outings, including two in which he didn’t record an out.
After he was charged with three runs in one-third of an inning Wednesday, Scott has allowed seven runs (six earned) over his past six outings spanning seven innings, including five walks. His season ERA is up to 6.57.
“It’s a challenge, but for a lot of guys, if it doesn’t break you, you learned from it and get hardened to it,” Showalter said. “When you have somebody down here, you step on their neck because you know how quickly it can turn the other way. We see the real good with a guy like Tanner, and you see the struggles. You are always wondering, at what point do you get a diminishing return on something? So you continue to look at that, and that only comes from having a day-to-day relationship with them and talking to them and seeing what you’re feeling.
“Everybody talks about them being young and bulletproof, but at some point you get beat down and what are you really getting out of it sometimes? I say it all the time, the best development, a lot of it goes on in the offseason when you step back and think about ‘This is what I felt and did when I was good, and this is what I felt and did when things weren’t going well.’ Confidence comes from getting people out, but also realistically why I’m getting them out as opposed to ‘I was lucky to get three outs that time.’ There are reasons why people are consistently successful up here.”
As ugly as it was, the nine-run inning wasn’t the most the Orioles allowed in one inning this season. They allowed 10 runs in the first inning of a 15-7 loss to the Kansas City Royals on May 8. In that game, which was also started by Bundy, he allowed four homers without recording an out.