When home plate umpire Jim Reynolds left Saturday’s game at Camden Yards in the middle of the first after taking an Aaron Brooks pitch off the hand, the Orioles trailed by six. Their attempt to rally started and stopped in Sean Barber’s first half-inning behind the plate.
The Orioles dropped their fourth straight game Saturday, losing 9-4 to the Texas Rangers after being unable to come back from the six runs Brooks surrendered in the first inning.
The Rangers (71-73) scored their first run behind a reached-base cycle. The pitch that hit Reynolds first pegged Texas leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo, and a walk and a single followed to load the bases. Nick Solak then hit a comebacker to Brooks, but his throw home was uncatchable, allowing Choo to score. After another single, Rougned Odor hit a three-run homer. Brooks struck out the next three batters to end the inning.
“He just didn’t really have his command to start the game,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "Hit Choo, walk. Had an opportunity to get out of the inning or at least help himself out with the comebacker that potentially would’ve been a 1-2-3 double play or at least a forceout and give himself a chance to get out of the inning, but he threw the ball away. Three-run home run later, and it’s 6-0.”
The Orioles (46-96) quickly responded in somewhat similar fashion. After Jonathan Villar’s leadoff single, Trey Mancini hit a tailor-made double play grounder, but third baseman Danny Santana’s throw to second sailed into right field. Anthony Santander extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single. Dwight Smith Jr. walked to load the bases, and with Mason Williams up one batter later, Mancini scored on a wild pitch before Williams brought home Santander with a sacrifice fly.
The rally ended there. Brooks’ night ended on Delino DeShields’ RBI single with two outs in the third.
“Just a little out of sync,” Brooks said. "It’s one of those days that was a struggle to get the ball where I wanted it to go. Fall behind that early in the game, it’s tough to come back.”
After Brooks’ rough outing, Hyde turned to a series of relievers possibly auditioning for their future with the organization.
First up was Chandler Shepherd, who held the New York Yankees to one run across four innings in his major league debut then earned International League Player of the Month honors for August by posting a 1.62 ERA for Triple-A Norfolk. Shepherd retired the first eight Rangers he faced before three straight Texas hits plated two runs against him in the sixth. With seven innings on the year, he has surpassed Nate Karns as the Orioles’ leader in most innings pitched without giving up a homer.
“I just like the way he throws strikes," Hyde said. "I’ve been saying it all year: I’m looking for guys to come in and pound the strike zone out of the bullpen.”
Like Shepherd, Ryan Eades made his Camden Yards debut, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his second appearance for the team since being claimed on waivers from the Minnesota Twins.
Evan Phillips, who has ridden the Norfolk shuttle more often this season than perhaps anyone, pitched a perfect eighth, his first scoreless outing in the majors since May 26. Branden Kline followed with a clean ninth.
“Hopefully, those scoreless innings gives guys confidence, and they can build off it," Hyde said.
Rio Ruiz’s fourth-inning home run was his fifth since rejoining the club following his late-July demotion and provided Baltimore’s final run. It was also his 10th of the year, making him the 10th Oriole to reach double-digits.
That tied the club’s 2019 iteration with their 1998 and 2000 versions for the most double-digit homer hitters in franchise history. Chance Sisco, with eight, is their last reasonable option for the record 11th.
Of the 28 teams in history with at least 10 hitters with at least 10 home runs, half have come in the past three seasons and six have done so in 2019, including the Yankees and their record 13. Another eight teams entered play Saturday with nine players who have reached double-digit home runs.