The Orioles’ road losing streak continued Thursday night where it began more than a month ago against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Their 13th straight loss away from Camden Yards — a 6-2 setback that tied the franchise record for consecutive road defeats — was much like the others, with the Orioles trailing early and frustrated late.
Right-hander Kevin Gausman, who had quality starts in five of his previous six outings, didn’t survive a four-run fifth inning in which he grew more uncharacteristically flustered as the frame progressed.
“Sure, sure,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said when asked whether Gausman was frustrated in the fifth. “Yeah, there were a lot of pitches could have and should have gone his way. Changed a lot of things around. We gave them, I think, eight extra base runners. We had four walks, we had the three stolen bases that they didn’t really earn. You could look at either way. And the play we didn’t make that we should have made. Kevin’s got a bubble gum card, too. Those pitches, I’m very biased, but I didn’t think he got a fair shake tonight.”
And the Orioles bats — the same ones that averaged more than eight runs over the first seven games of their homestand — were silenced by Boston left-hander David Price, who threw a complete game on 95 pitches.
“I think it’s a combination,” Showalter said of Price, who struck out eight and walked none. “I’m always going to give a lot of respect to guys, especially with his track record, but we didn’t do much of anything. A lot of early contact and we’re talking about speed of games, that’s probably why. I give him all the credit, but we’re capable of better.”
The loss matched the longest road losing streak in the Orioles’ 64-year history, according to STATS. The Orioles lost 13 straight road games April 8-28 during their American League-record 21-game losing streak that opened the 1988 season.
On Thursday, the Orioles (13-30) managed just five hits and went into the ninth scoreless before Manny Machado’s two-run homer with two outs.
Gausman appeared visibly rattled in the fifth — both by the Red Sox on the bases and by plate umpire Tony Randazzo’s strike zone.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Gausman said. “Price had to deal with it, too, I’m sure. It’s frustrating, especially when you make a perfect pitch and feel like you’re maybe getting cheated a little bit. The most frustrating things was on all those checked swings, he wasn’t even looking down towards the guy at first or third. So that’s frustrating as a pitcher, you kind of have to ask for it that way, and sometimes when you ask for it, the umpire’s not even going to give it to you because at that point, it might have taken him a little bit too long. That’s frustrating, but I didn’t do a good job of executing my pitches today. It really hurt me in that fifth inning.”
The Red Sox stole four bases in the inning, and on two occasions base runners took tremendous jumps to second base off Gausman. Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez orchestrated a double steal as J.D. Martinez struck out.
In Gausman’s sequence to Ramirez, he questioned borderline ball calls by Randazzo twice and, when he ran to back up home plate after Ramirez’s single, he expressed his displeasure to the umpire on his way back to the mound.
That set the stage for Xander Bogaerts’ three-run homer that capped the inning, a 3-1 four-seamer up in the zone that Bogaerts sent over the Green Monster in left, prompting Showalter to jump out of the dugout to pull Gausman before Bogaerts rounded third.
“Yeah, I tried to battle through it and like I said, I made a great pitch to J.D. to get the big strikeout and maybe tried to kind of back off the reins a little bit on Bogaerts and maybe thought I was taking it a little easy on him,” Gausman said. “And looking back, that hurt me obviously.”
The tone was set with more first-inning woes, as the Orioles fell behind quickly on Martinez’s two-run homer.
Gausman was close to getting out inning unscathed, but the homer extended what would become a 36-pitch first inning.
The Orioles have been outscored 60-18 in the first inning, and opponents are batting a robust .341 against them in the opening frame.
Gausman has struggled in the first inning, allowing eight earned runs in the first in nine starts this season.
After allowing a single to Mookie Betts to open the inning, Gausman retired the next two batters he faced, but then hung a 1-1 splitter to Martinez that he hit over the center-field fence.
Gausman would need 19 more pitches to get out of the inning. He went ahead of the next batter, Bogaerts, 0-2, but couldn’t put him away with six two-strike pitches, allowing an infield single. He threw strike one to Rafael Devers but then threw four straight balls to walk him. He would need a six-pitch strikeout of Brock Holt to end the inning.
Machado provided the only Orioles offense, hitting his league-leading 14th homer of the season, the ball thumping off one of the advertisement boards above the Green Monster in left.
Longest Orioles road losing streaks
13 games: April 13 to May 17, 2018, Bos., Det., L.A. (AL), Oak., Bos.*
13 games: April 8 to 28, 1988, Cleve., Milw., K.C., Minn.
11 games: April 30 to May 27, 1954, Phila. (AL), N.Y. (AL), Cleve., Det.
11 games: May 17 to June 13, 2017 Det., Hou., Wash., N.Y. (AL), Chi. (AL)