The Orioles haven’t given the home crowd at Camden Yards much to cheer about lately, and after an eighth-inning implosion on a sweltering Saturday afternoon at Oriole Park, they gave their fans plenty reasons to boo.
Their late-inning unraveling ended in a 6-2 loss, their seventh straight defeat and 17th in their past 18 home games.
After a five-run eighth inning sequenced by the bad baseball that has summarized their season, those who remained of the announced crowd of 38,838 booed the Orioles off the field.
The fact that the Orioles managed just two runs — and had just three singles after scoring those runs in the opening frame — wasn’t a good omen. The Orioles are just 3-34 in games in which they score two runs or fewer.
“It’s just trying to create — from a team standpoint — trying to create some margin of error where you might go after somebody a little bit more at 4-2, 3-1, something like that,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “But we haven’t been able to expand on our lead. We scored two in the first and that was it.”
Right-hander Andrew Cashner had given the bullpen his fourth straight non-rain delay quality start, holding the Angels to one run on four hits over six innings in what was one of his grittiest efforts of the season.
“Yeah when you only score two runs again, you’re gonna have to pitch real well, which we really did for seven innings,” Showalter said. “So, I’ll take that out of it. You can’t ask much more of a starter than what Cash gave you on a real sticky, hot day. That’s pretty draining. So, I was really impressed with him. Looked like he had a good [outing], we just couldn’t get it done after that.”
And even with a bullpen badly diminished by season-ending injuries, the Orioles were set up well with late-inning arms to protect a one-run lead, but couldn’t. And the Orioles reliever corps didn’t get much help from its defense in the eighth.
“It’s our job to do what we have to do in the bullpen, no matter if our offense is struggling or our offense is doing well,” said setup man Mychal Givens, who was charged with three runs in 1/3 of an inning. “There’s going to be times our offense is doing well and you still do bad in the bullpen. We just have to keep grinding and do our job in the bullpen and right now we’re struggling, but at the same time we have to get our job done.”
Givens failed to hold the lead in the eighth, surrendering back-to-back one-out walks to Mike Trout and Justin Upton that spelled trouble. Givens walked Trout on nine pitches — a plate appearance that included five foul balls — then gave him second base on a wild pitch while walking Upton on four pitches.
Albert Pujols took the first pitch he saw the other way to the right field warning track, where Danny Valencia misjudged the ball and allowed it to bounce off the wall for a double that tied the game.
“You can ask a question about anything,” Showalter said when asked about Pujols’ fly ball to Valencia. “There’s a lot more that goes into setting up that inning — if that’s what people want to dwell on. I haven’t looked at it — looked like it hit high on the wall in one of the deepest parts in the park other than center field. I don’t know, I’ll have to look at it. I’m more concerned about the other things that led to that situation.”
After Andrelton Simmons was intentionally walked with first base open, left-hander Tanner Scott didn’t fare much better. Pinch hitter Chris Young hit a sharp grounder to Tim Beckham at third, but after touching the bag there, he hesitated on his throw to first and pulled first baseman Chris Davis’ foot came off the bag, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
The next three batters reached. Ian Kinsler then beat out a grounder to shortstop Manny Machado for an infield single to score another run, and Scott hit Martín Maldonado with a pitch to make it 5-2. The Angels took a 6-2 lead on David Fletcher’s two-run single to center, but Adam Jones threw out Maldonado at third to end the inning.
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Cashner had learned to work with little run support from his offense this season. He has very little to show for the quality starts he’s recorded in his past three non-delay shortened outings going into Saturday’s start. And after Saturday’s outing, he’s had six starts without a win and the Orioles are 4-12 in games he starts.
“To say I’m not frustrated, I’d be lying, but for me, wins and losses are out of my control,” Cashner said. “So for me, it’s just show up and give these guys a chance to win every day, and compete. I think guys in the clubhouse know what I can do, and wins and losses, I think they’ll come.”
Cashner battled through a 27-pitch fifth inning that ended with him stranding the bases loaded by striking out Upton. Cashner walked two and allowed a single to load the bases before bearing down on Upton after falling behind 3-0, getting him to swing through a 3-2 slider to end the inning
“I didn’t think he was looking for that,” Cashner said.
He used his curveball effectively against a fastball-feasting Angels lineup, especially early in the count to get ahead, throwing the pitch for a strike 16 of 21 times.
The Orioles manufactured two runs in the bottom of the first with station-to-station baseball against Angels starter Tyler Skaggs as Beckham, Jones and Machado opened the game with singles. Machado’s single scored Beckham and Valencia’s sacrifice fly drove in Jones to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
But the Orioles had just three hits after that, one that actually ended an inning when Machado hit a ball the other way destined for right field but hit Jones on the bases between first and second for a runner’s interference call that ended the fifth.