The Orioles’ two road wins over the New York Mets this past week might have given them some false confidence that they’re a team that can consistently eke out low-scoring games. But after Friday night’s 5-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, manager Buck Showalter noted that’s not how this team is built.
“We’re not going to sit there and try to win 1-0 and 2-1 ballgames all year in the American League East,” Showalter said. “It’s just not a good combination.”
Andrew Cashner gave the Orioles their eighth quality start in the past nine games, continuing a recent run of rotation success that they hasn’t been able to capitalize on. The Orioles have won just two of those nine games.
The Orioles had just five hits Friday night, three of them coming from right fielder Craig Gentry. The rest of the lineup was 2-for-28.
After winning two games this week in New York while scoring two runs or fewer, the Orioles are now 3-25 when scoring two runs or fewer.
Andrew Cashner, who grinded his way through a six-inning, three-run outing, hasn’t received much run support this season. He entered the night having received just 1.58 runs of support per start, the lowest among Orioles starters. Even though he’s given the Orioles a chance to win on most nights, his better starts have often gone to waste. The Orioles are 3-10 in games Cashner has started.
“Yeah, you can definitely see the record, it definitely shows,” Cashner said. “But for me, I try not to look at that too much. For me, it’s all about executing pitches and giving my team a chance to win every night. I think that is kind of the one thing I’ve done over the course of my career. I’ve kept my team in the game and given us a chance to win every night.”
The Orioles (19-43), losers of nine of their past 11 games, managed just two hits in seven innings against Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ, their only run coming on a botched double-play ball.
“Cash gave us a major league outing,” Showalter said. “He gave us a chance, even without the command he usually has. He kept us in the game; we just can’t generate much offense. I’m not going to take anything away from Happ. He’s been good for a long time. It’s a double-edged sword — a good pitcher and we’re not swinging the bats well.”
Said Gentry: “The [starting pitchers] are doing their job and that’s all we can ask. Just have to keep fighting and hopefully it turns around sooner than later.”
Cashner (2-8) allowed a pair of solo homers, including one in the second inning on a 3-0 count to Russell Martin. Randal Grichuk homered in the fifth, marking the first homers Cashner had allowed in four starts.
“It has always been down the foul lines,” Cashner said of the homers. “It’s been tough. I hate giving up homers more than anybody. But it’s just one of those things where you just have to keep grinding and execute better. Maybe if I execute better early in the count, that doesn’t happen.”
The source of the Orioles’ offensive struggles have been that they don’t get many fastballs to hit — they had seen only 50.7 percent fastballs going into Friday’s game, second fewest in the majors. But on Friday, they faced a pitcher in Happ who threw 79 percent fastballs and they still couldn’t hit him.
Gentry had the only two hits off Happ over seven innings – a leadoff single in the third and a two-out double in the fifth. Happ (8-3) has allowed just two runs (one earned) in 13 innings over two starts against the Orioles this season. He allowed one run in six innings while striking out nine in a 7-1 Orioles loss at Camden Yards on April 9.
“He can go a while with it,” Showalter said of Happ’s fastball-heavy arsenal. “He’s got great late life, he’s got a good delivery with it, he hides it well and it’s something he’s been doing for a while. You couple that with the fact that we haven’t been swinging the bats very well.”
The Orioles scored their only run against Happ on Trey Mancini’s second-inning grounder to shortstop that appeared to be an inning-ending double-play ball.
With two on and one out after walks to Danny Valencia and Mark Trumbo, Mancini hit a grounder to Aledmys Díaz but second baseman Devon Travis’ throw to first went past Justin Smoak, allowing Valencia to score to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
Cashner was helped by rookie catcher Austin Wynns in the third inning. Wynns erased a leadoff runner when he threw out Díaz attempting to steal second.
Cashner allowed three singles in the sixth, the last of which – a one-out RBI single by Martin – gave Toronto a 3-1 lead. Cashner became visibly upset with home plate umpire Tom Woodring after he didn’t get the call on a borderline full-count pitch to Grichuk, prompting pitching coach Roger McDowell to visit the mound to calm him down.
The Blue Jays (28-35) added an insurance run on Teoscar Hernández’s RBI triple to right off Tanner Scott in the seventh, a ball that caused Gentry to slam into the wall. He remained in the game.
After the Orioles stranded runners at the corners in the eighth, Kevin Pillar hit a solo homer off Mike Wright Jr. in the bottom of the inning to give the Blue Jays a four-run lead.