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Baltimore Orioles

Orioles fall to Rays, 8-4, become third team since 1901 to suffer two 14-game losing streaks in one season

It is not yet the longest losing streak in the sport’s or even the franchise’s history. Another game against the Tampa Bay Rays and a lengthy homestand separates the 2021 Orioles from those unwanted distinctions.

But by other measures, a losing streak that reached 14 with an 8-4 defeat to the Rays on Wednesday night is perhaps the least competitive stretch of baseball in major league history.

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In that time, the Orioles have been outscored by 91 runs, the largest scoring gap of the 260 teams that have dropped more than 10 consecutive games since 1901, according to Baseball-Reference’s Stathead. Even the 1988 Orioles, who had two losses by 12 and one by 11 in infamously losing their first 21 games, were in enough games that they were outscored by only, so to speak, 85 runs in a streak 1 1/2 times as long.

“We’re just not in many games right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said, “and that’s very, very hard.”

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This losing streak has ensured the Orioles’ fifth straight non-winning season, sinking their record to a major league-worst 38-81. During the streak, they have allowed 131 runs, their second most over 14 games behind the span that began with their 30-3 loss to the Texas Rangers in 2007. Their offense, likewise, has managed fewer than three runs per game.

“The numbers are what they are,” Hyde said. “We’re just having a tough time getting people out, and we’re not scoring a ton of runs.”

That 1988 skid is the franchise’s only one longer than the current drought, with the inaugural 1954 team and this May’s group having also lost 14 straight games. These Orioles are the third team since 1901 and the first since the 1935 Boston Braves with two streaks of that length in one season.

The Rays could make this one a stand-alone second place Thursday afternoon, when they will go for a four-game sweep while trying to improve to 15-1 against Baltimore. The Orioles will be looking to avoid what would be their third winless road trip of at least seven games this year.

Afterward, they’ll come home for a nine-game homestand against three competing teams in the Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Angels and the Rays, with the matchup accounting for their final three games against the American League East leaders. If they don’t win between now and then, another Rays sweep would give them 24 straight losses, surpassing the Philadelphia Phillies’ 60-year-old record of 23. That team, with a losing streak 10 games longer, was outscored by 79 runs.

“I feel like the mindset is there,” said All-Star center fielder Cedric Mullins, who hit a leadoff home run to give Baltimore a brief lead. “I feel like we’re coming in strong, coming in with a great mindset, and it’s just a matter of trying to keep that competitiveness throughout all nine innings, and I think that’s where we’ve kind of struggled a little bit.”

How it happened

With the players who batted second, third and fifth in the series’ first game absent from Wednesday’s lineup, the Orioles scored twice in the first off Rays opener Louis Head. After Mullins’ home run, Pedro Severino, batting cleanup in a makeshift lineup with Trey Mancini (calf), Anthony Santander (ankle) and DJ Stewart (knee) nursing leg injuries, added an RBI single.

The lead lasted two outs. Ji-Man Choi’s bases-loaded single off starter Spenser Watkins tied the game. The Rays got two more two-out runs in the fourth, with Brandon Lowe (Maryland) singling home a run, stealing second when shortstop Richie Martin couldn’t cling the ball to make the tag and scoring on a double by Wander Franco. After posting a 1.76 ERA in his first three major league starts, Watkins has an 8.37 mark over the next five.

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“Every guy that takes the ball each day or steps in the box each day wants to be a part of the solution,” he said. “I don’t think anybody is stressing more than others.”

Watkins said the Orioles are leaning on their “core veterans” such as Trey Mancini, Maikel Franco, Matt Harvey and John Means. That Means, in his third major league season, is considered part of that group speaks to the inexperience of the Orioles’ roster amid the organization’s rebuild.

“We’re trying to win,” Hyde said. “Our guys are not quitting, and I give our guys credit for that, because this is challenging, and we’re facing really good teams, too. We’re not facing .500 clubs from other divisions. We’re facing teams that have added. We’ve subtracted for three years.

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“We’ve just gotta try to grind.”

After Tanner Scott managed a scoreless fifth, Paul Fry’s struggles continued in the sixth. Second baseman Ramón Urías’ error opened the frame, and Fry followed with two walks to load the bases. Dillon Tate allowed all three runners to score. Fry has allowed 11 walks and 13 earned runs in three innings over his past seven outings, and the Rays have scored 23 of their 27 runs in the series between the fourth and sixth innings.

The Orioles, meanwhile, managed little against Rays bulk pitcher Ryan Yarbrough, who retired 15 of 16 batters in his first outing off the COVID-19 injured list. Ryan Mountcastle’s eighth-inning home run accounted for their lone base runner against former Oriole Shawn Armstrong as he recorded the final six outs in his Tampa Bay debut.

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Around the horn

  • The Orioles announced their 2022 spring training schedule Wednesday. Pitchers and catchers will report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Florida, on Feb. 15, with the full squad reporting Feb. 20. Their first game Feb. 26 at home against the New York Yankees, with the exhibition slate ending March 27 with split squads against the Toronto Blue Jays. They’re scheduled to open the regular season against the Blue Jays on March 31 at Camden Yards.
  • The Orioles claimed right-handed reliever Zack Burdi on waivers from the Chicago White Sox and designated left-hander Ryan Hartman for assignment. The White Sox recently designated Burdi, a 26-year-old former first-round pick, for assignment to add former Oriole Mike Wright to their roster.

Orioles losing streaks of 10 games or more

Here are the Orioles’ losing streaks of 10 games or more since they moved to Baltimore in 1954, led by the worst start in major league history in 1988.

  • 21 — April 4-28, 1988
  • 14 — Aug. 3-present
  • 14 — May 18-June 1, 2021
  • 14 — Aug. 11-25, 1954
  • 13 — Sept. 17-30, 2009
  • 12 — Aug. 16-28, 2004
  • 12 — Sept. 18-29, 2002
  • 12 — June 18-July 3, 1955
  • 11 — July 27-Aug, 8, 1958
  • 10 — June 12-21, 2019
  • 10 — May 26-June 5, 2010
  • 10 — Sept. 17-26, 2008
  • 10 — Sept. 1-19, 2001
  • 10 — June 23-July 3, 1999
  • 10 — Aug 23-Sept 2, 1998
  • 10 — June 3-13, 1987

ORIOLES@RAYS

Thursday, 1:10 p.m.

TV: MASN Radio: 105.7 FM


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