Against a Miami Marlins team in the process of dismantling, the Orioles unintentionally made a case for their own teardown Friday night at Camden Yards, re-emphasizing to those watching their ugly brand of baseball that something with this team is broken.
The Orioles’ latest losing streak hit a season-high eight games with their 2-0 loss to the Marlins in their interleague series opener. It is their longest losing streak since the middle of the 2011 season, when they lost nine straight from July 4-15 that year.
At the 68-game mark, the Orioles fell 30 games below .500. They have lost 15 of their past 17 games overall and haven’t won at home since May 13, dropping their past 10 at Camden Yards.
“As you can imagine, it's tough,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “There's a lot of positive things being said before the game, and it just seems when we get into the game, we get back to making, getting in that same situation we've been in many times. We've got to do something. We've tried a number of things and will continue to try them. It's just, it can never be Groundhog Day.”
One can sense the frustration also building in the stands. The boos have become louder at Oriole Park, and with little to cheer about, the quiet that envelops the park elicits a tone of resignation.
The Orioles (19-49) were shut out for the eighth time this year, and they’ve been held to one run or fewer 21 times, nearly one-third of their games (31 percent).
“I think everybody's tired of giving credit to the other pitcher,” Showalter said. “That's certainly the case at this level but we have guys capable of doing a lot better than we have. But as far as in the dugout and in the clubhouse, there's frustration, I'll tell you that. But there's two ways you take frustration and we haven't been able to take that frustration and put it into some other funnel, so to speak.”
They made Marlins right-hander José Ureña look magnificent. Ureña tossed eight scoreless innings on three hits, marking the first time he had gone eight or more scoreless innings in 46 starts dating to Sept. 11, 2016. Ureña entered the night with a 1-8 record.
The Marlins – who came to Baltimore droopy-eyed after a 16-inning loss Thursday night in Miami — entered the night having lost 15 of Ureña’s 16 starts dating to September. Ureña didn’t have great control Friday, scattering his two-seamer up in the zone, but he finished with 14 groundouts.
“[He did] just what we talked about in the advanced meeting,” Showalter said. “Two-seamed the ball in, changeup, breaking ball, both sides of the plate. Good late life. Sometimes you can use an excuse of some pitchers that guys haven’t seen before. But that rings kind of hollow right now. We’ve been struggling against everybody it seems like. It’s exactly what we thought he was going to do. He just did it well.”
Right-hander Kevin Gausman was one out away from a quality start — allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings — but his pitch count came back to bite him.
“You know, it’s just about trying to grind out there,” Gausman said. “He obviously pitched a good game and I felt like we had a pitchers’ duel going there for a while. He’s got really good stuff over there. A guy who throws that hard and has sink and he’s throwing 93 mph changeups, he was tough. But it’s baseball. It’s going to happen.”
The Orioles added Corban Joseph before Friday’s game, immediately plugging the 29-year-old minor league journeyman into the top of the batting order as he started at first base and hit leadoff.
Through six innings, Joseph had the Orioles’ only hit against Ureña, a leadoff single in the fourth.
“Every time you get to the plate, I think everyone in his locker room, you’re trying to contribute and just do something positive,” Joseph said, “whether it’s moving a runner, laying a bunt down with a man on base, just trying to spark something. Whenever I step in, that’s what I try and do.”
Even when the Orioles found a dent in Ureña, they couldn’t score.
Adam Jones dropped a bunt down the third base line to open the seventh inning for the Orioles’ second hit, and Manny Machado followed with a single, but Danny Valencia hit into a double play and Trey Mancini struck out.
Bad defense continued to accompany their offensive decline. They were only charged with one error – a line drive right to Machado at short that hit off his glove and into the outfield – but Jones struggled to corral Lewis Brinson’s two extra-base hits in the gap, the second of which allowed one run to score.
Gausman (3-6) made a pair of fine defensive plays to nearly strand a base runner at third base in the fifth, but Brian Anderson’s grounder went past Valencia’s glove at third and into left field.
He struck out seven – including six in his first three innings – and walked three, all in his first two innings.
“It just gets magnified — any runs our pitchers give up — because we’re struggling so much to score runs,” Showalter said. “But, no, Kevin was pretty solid. Had to go deep to get out of some situations. He created some with the walks, but that’s usually a game that you’d like to think you have a good chance to win.”