MINNEAPOLIS — The Orioles’ 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday night was decided sooner than most in this defeat-filled season. There was no late-inning drama or controversial call, only a first inning that well defined the way this year has gone for baseball’s worst team.
Six batters into the bottom of the first, the Orioles already trailed by three runs. Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy gave up a pair of hard-hit singles to open the game, but that wasn’t what derailed the Orioles’ night so quickly.
With two on, Brian Dozier singled to left to score the game’s first run, and Trey Mancini’s throw to third base skipped past Tim Beckham and into the Orioles dugout, allowing another run to score and placing Dozier at third on the E-5. Three batters later, Jorge Polanco’s RBI single put the Orioles into a fast 3-0 hole.
“Real quick,” Bundy said. “It’s just single, single, single, single and the next thing you know we’re in a hole and there’s three runs on the board in the first inning and it’s hard to get out of it.”
That would be enough to beat the Orioles on most nights. The Orioles have scored two runs or fewer in 44.8 percent of their games this season (39 of 87), including seven of their past eight.
Before that, Beckham barreled up the first pitch of the game from Twins right-hander Lance Lynn, a ball that would have given the Orioles the earliest of leads had it not been brought back into the ballpark on Jake Cave’s leaping catch over the center field wall.
“Yup, it seems like it’s just par for the course for the 2018 season, right?” said catcher Caleb Joseph, who had three of the Orioles’ 11 hits, all of them singles. “They’ve made some nice plays on defense and before you know it, you blink and you’re down 3-0. Not only is the wind knocked out of your sails when the guy robs a home run, but then you’re down.”
So go the Orioles, who have lost 11 of their past 12 and 22 of their past 27, running their major league-worst record to 24-63. They have lost the first four games of their six-game road trip against the Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota.
Bundy, making his first start since landing on the disabled list after turning his ankle during an interleague game in Washington, lasted just 3 1/3 innings for his shortest start in the past nine outings. Bundy entered the night with seven quality starts in his previous eight games.
On Friday, he allowed 10 base runners (nine hits and a walk) in his worst start since he gave up a career-high seven runs and four homers without recording an out May 8 against the Kansas City Royals.
“Just elevated some pitches,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Bundy. “He hadn’t pitched in 12 days. To be expected. I thought he settled in there in the second and third inning. It looked like Dylan. Then, he got the ball back up again. With that many left-handed hitters you’re going to have some secondary pitches working. It’s usually in Dylan’s favor when it’s like that because he can really get in a groove with it, but command of the fastball. He got a couple changeups up. But he’ll be better, he’ll be better.
“A lot of things I worry about. Dylan isn’t one of them.”
Bundy fell behind 5-0 on a two-run homer by Twins right fielder Max Kepler in the fourth, a blast estimated at 427 feet that landed in the second deck in right-center field. He was chased from the game three batters later by Joe Mauer’s RBI single.
“Yeah, just leaving pitches down the middle of the plate,” Bundy said. “That home run was a changeup right down the middle. If anything, I was trying to miss low and just ended up right down the middle and he hit it out. And then that was pretty much how the whole game was, throwing stuff down the middle.”
Lynn — who entered the night with a 5.49 ERA and was coming off his worst start of the season, a 1 2/3-inning, seven-run showing Sunday against the Chicago Cubs — held the Orioles to one run on six hits over six innings. Lynn pitched effectively with his two-seam fastball, inducing 10 groundouts.
“He made some really nice pitches on us,” Joseph said. “He’s got some really nice stuff. Electric two-seam that’s really tough to square up.”
The Orioles left the bases loaded in the fourth against Lynn, and their only run off him came on Chris Davis’ two-out RBI single in the sixth inning.
The Orioles ran out of the seventh inning. With one already run in on first baseman Logan Morrison’s throwing error, they had two on with one out when Manny Machado singled to left, but Eddie Rosario easily threw out Beckham as home and Mark Trumbo flied out to end the inning.