Jorge López clearly wasn’t right Thursday afternoon. The Orioles right-hander’s velocity was well below his season averages, prompting a first-inning visit from manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel. López argued to stay in, an effort exemplifying that the Orioles, as Hyde said the day before, are trying to win.
But trying isn’t enough, and the Orioles haven’t won in 15 games. The Tampa Bay Rays completed a four-game sweep of Baltimore with a 7-2 victory as the Orioles’ losing streak marched on. This streak stands alone as the second-longest in franchise history, with only the 1988 club’s going longer without a victory when it lost its first 21 games. It has carried them from 38-67 to 38-82, ensuring their fifth straight losing campaign. Their record is the worst in the majors.
The end of this winless road trip, their third of this season of at least seven games, offers a demarcation before a return to Camden Yards, but that does not guarantee anything will change during a 10-game homestand.
“We’ve been trying to reset for a while now,” said Hyde, the only manager since 1935 to lead a team through a season featuring two losing streaks of at least 14 games. “It’s not easy right now. We’re not in many games, and that’s hard, and that was one thing that I was proud of the last couple of years was, even a lot of our losses, we made it close. We might have blown the game late or done some things to lose, but we played a lot of close games. Just right now, we’re not even in the game.”
López had surrendered two runs when the mound visit came, allowing the first four Rays to reach base ahead of a run-scoring double play. He returned for the second, with Brandon Lowe (Maryland) continuing to dominate the Orioles with a two-run home run. López did not come back out for the third, with his fastball more than 5 mph below his season average and his curveball nearly 8 mph slower, according to Statcast. He told Hyde that he had no issues physically.
“He just wasn’t himself today,” Hyde said.
López joins Matt Harvey as the only Orioles starters to have taken every turn through the team’s rotation, with Thursday’s outing raising his ERA to 6.35. Hyde said it’s too early to say whether López, who has thrown nearly three times as many innings as he did in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, could use a break.
“I worked my whole life to get here,” López said, “and that’s the last thing I will do, is just give up.”
As he and his team have struggled, López has also taken the mound while his young son, Mikael, has battled an illness that caused a two-week regimen of chemotherapy before a bone marrow transplant in July.
“Nobody wants to be in this spot, I promise that,” he said. “I just got to keep my head up and just keep walking forward. That’s all I can do, man.”
As they had in each game of this series and frequently in building a 15-1 record this season against Baltimore, the Rays broke the game open in the middle innings. After pitching a scoreless third, Fernando Abad loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, and Marcos Diplán allowed each of those three runners to score. The Rays outscored Baltimore 34-8 in the series, with 26 of their runs coming between the fourth and sixth innings.
During the losing streak, the Orioles have been outscored by 96 runs. The 1901 Cincinnati Reds (90) are the only other team with a negative run differential greater than 85 in a 15-game span, according to Baseball-Reference’s Stathead database.
A couple good streaks
Although the Orioles’ losing streak continued, a couple of their young batters extended their hitting streaks.
Jorge Mateo’s hitting streak reached 10 with his single to open the second, giving him hits in 12 of his 13 games after the Orioles claimed him off waivers, though he was subsequently picked off first base. He added a double in the seventh and is hitting .347 with Baltimore. Ryan Mountcastle led off the sixth with a single, giving him an 11-game hitting streak that has bookended his stint on the concussion injured list.
But it was Ramón Urías who contributed to their two scoring efforts Thursday, doubling and scoring in the fifth and homering with two outs in the ninth. Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan, who was born in Baltimore, struck out eight in five innings before the Tampa Bay bullpen added six more punchouts.
Around the horn
- Right-handed reliever Hunter Harvey, on the injured list with a right lat strain, will have one more rehab outing before the Orioles decide whether to activate him.
- Trey Mancini, who missed the past two games after fouling a ball off his left calf Monday, returned to the lineup, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts as the designated hitter.
- Hyde said the recent struggles of left-handed reliever Paul Fry, who has walked 11 and allowed 13 earned runs in his past three innings, are not related to mechanics but rather “a lack of confidence.”
- The Orioles released Triple-A infielder Domingo Leyba, who spent some time with the major league club earlier this year, and Florida Complex League outfielder Ricardo Castro.
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
- 15 — 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
Friday, 7:05 p.m.
Latest Baltimore Orioles
TV: MASN Radio: 105.7 FM