Short-handed and playing regulars out of position is no way for a team to break a six-week run without a series win.
“It’s just obviously a little bit unlucky right now and we’re pretty banged up,” manager Brandon Hyde said, on a night when the Orioles were without three starters and lost a fourth in Dwight Smith Jr. to a possible concussion. “We’re playing short, obviously, and to play competitive, I think our guys come to play and they’re doing everything they can to win the game. A lot of nights, we’re just a little short.”
Thursday was the fourth chance the Orioles had in their last four series to win the deciding game and take the series, having split the first two games. However, for the fourth straight time they lost the last one, dropping them to 19-43.
They haven’t won a series since April 22-24 against the Chicago White Sox, and kept it that way because of some more bad luck for a player who was in an unfamiliar spot
The decisive runs came in the fifth, right after the Orioles tied the game 2-2 on a run-scoring single by Stevie Wilkerson.
Wilkerson was recalled just before the game to ensure the Orioles had a playable roster after DJ Stewart (ankle) went on the injured list with an ankle sprain and two others who left Wednesday's game — Pedro Severino (head contusion) and Jonathan Villar (finger) — weren't available to start.
Those absences, plus a sore foot for Trey Mancini that forced him to serve as the designated hitter, pushed Chris Davis to right field and Renato Núñez to first base. And with a runner on first and one out in the fifth, Delino DeShields hit the first ball in Davis' direction all game. Davis over-ran the grounder as it went to the right of his glove, and a run scored while DeShields advanced to third.
“I just think it was unlucky,” Hyde said. “Ball snaked in the wet grass, and Chris is pretty good with ground balls, so I think it was just more of a surface issue.”
A sacrifice fly by Danny Santana meant that Davis' run-scoring double in the top of the sixth only brought the Orioles within one.
Right-hander David Hess pitched into the seventh and allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts, but was leading 1-0 on a first-inning home run by Mancini when Hunter Pence homered for Texas in a two-run second.
“I thought this was Hess’ best start in a long time,” Hyde said. “Thought he threw the ball well. Did a nice job keeping his pitch count low, pitched into the seventh inning. Just some misplaced 0-2 pitches that kind of hurt him, but thought he competed and he gave us a chance.”
“I think the one thing that really stuck out was fastball command was a lot better tonight,” Hess said. “I think the only thing I really want to focus on going forward is put-away pitches. I got to two strikes a lot, but just couldn't seem to put guys away. That allowed them to score a couple runs right in big situations, so that's something to improve on.”
Miguel Castro pitched two innings of scoreless relief to keep it close, lowering his ERA to 5.57.
Another man down
The Orioles only had one reserve who was healthy Thursday — outfielder Keon Broxton — but they had to use him in the fifth inning, leaving manager Brandon Hyde with no bench options for the end of the game for a second consecutive night.
With two outs in the fourth inning, Dwight Smith Jr. ran hard into the left-field wall while catching a line drive from Rougned Odor, not even breaking his stride before his face hit the wall.
He was slow to get up, but made it back to the dugout and hit for himself in the fifth inning, grounding into a double play. Smith made it out to left field for the bottom of that inning, but removed himself from the game when he got out there.
Hyde said Smith was in the concussion protocol, and remaining in the Dallas area overnight for X-rays instead of flying to Houston. Hyde said Smith’s shoulder and jaw were also hurting.
Three hits for Mancini
A few foul balls and a hit-by-pitch on his right foot weren't enough to keep Mancini out of the lineup, nor really keep him down. He singled twice after the home run to raise his average back to .306.
“[Rangers starter Ariel Jurado] had a really good two-seamer, so I was trying to stay out of the plate,” Mancini said. “A lot of those guys I can tend to chase off the plate sometimes and I just wanted to make sure that I was selective with my pitches and patient and nor afraid to get deep in the count. That’s what I tried to do there tonight.”
Second baseman Hanser Alberto also had two hits in the loss.