The Orioles were unable to put history on hold, blowing a two-run seventh-inning lead Tuesday night on their way to a 6-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays that officially gave this year’s team the new distinction in franchise futility.
With the setback, the Orioles lost their 108th game, the most in the club’s 65-year history, breaking the mark set by the 1988 club three decades ago.
The defeat was like many others this season with the Orioles finding a way to lose, allowing four unearned runs in a seventh inning distinguished by the type of defensive miscues that have been abundant this year.
“When we were eliminated from winning the division or being in the playoffs, regardless of what it looks like, that’s why we get up in the morning and go to spring training, do all the things in the offseason,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “When that possibility is taken away from you, then you try to get things out of the season that helps you down the road.
“It’s as difficult as it was yesterday,” Showalter said of the team matching the 1988 team’s loss total Monday. “Nothing’s changed since yesterday. We’ll look back on it and hopefully learn a lot of things and build on it like the last time we got — not to the level of losses you’re talking about things and didn’t make the same mistakes. I hope that happens again.”
With 11 games left — and 10 of those contests coming against teams positioned for playoff berths — the Orioles (43-108) could conceivably tie the American League record for losses in a season set by the 2003 Detroit Tigers — who finished 43-119 — if they lose all of their remaining games.
“The season ain’t over yet, so I haven’t really wrapped my head around it yet,” right-hander Dylan Bundy said. “Haven’t really thought about it too much. Just try to show up to work every day and get better.”
The 1988 team might have received much more attention for their losses than this one because they opened the season with a major-league record 21 losses. They were captivating losers, getting on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and they still drew fans to Memorial Stadium, even though some wore paper bags on their heads.
If Tuesday’s crowd at Camden Yards was any indication — the announced attendance of 9,096 was far, far more than the actual number of fans in the stands on what became a crisp, clear night — Baltimore’s attention has long turned elsewhere.
Before Tuesday’s game, Showalter said that the difference between the success the Orioles previously had and this lost season isn’t a wide one, and this loss came down to a handful of pitches and unconverted plays.
“You’re either playing in October or you’re not, but what these type of things where we are makes a lot of people think how far away you are,” Showalter said. “And I’ve said before, those things can change quickly with a lot of things getting better.”
Bundy was one strike away from walking off the mound after seven innings with a 4-2 lead, but gave way to reliever Paul Fry after issuing a two-out walk to No. 9 hitter Reese McGuire to load the bases.
Fry induced the groundball he needed to get out of the inning as Teoscar Hernández hit a grounder to third base, but Steve Wilkerson’s throw to first skipped past Trey Mancini, allowing two runs to score.
After that, Blue Jays shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s two-run single to center field off Fry put Toronto up 6-4.
“Yeah it’s tough,” Bundy said. “It’s baseball. You never know what can happen and you never know what will happen until you get the third out.”
Wilkerson’s throwing error marked his second miscue that inning. He was unable to convert a potential double-play ball earlier in the frame, bobbling Devon Travis’ grounder and making a low throw to second baseman Breyvic Valera that took away any chance of an inning-ending double play.
Earlier in the game, it was the Blue Jays who seemed willing to give the game away. The Orioles scored three runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-1 lead.
Mancini opened the inning with a triple to left field, and the Orioles had runners at the corners after Chris Davis was hit by a pitch. Mancini tagged and attempted to score on Valera’s fly ball to center, and initially was called out at the plate, but Showalter challenged the call, and the play was overturned.
Rookie DJ Stewart singled to right for his first big league hit and found himself rounding the bases, scoring along with Davis on a pair of throwing errors by Toronto right fielder Billy McKinney and pitcher Aaron Sanchez, who threw the ball out of play trying to get Davis out at home, an error that allowed Stewart to take home.
Cedric Mullins opened the bottom of the first with a solo homer off Sanchez, who allowed four runs on four hits over four innings.
Bundy entered the seventh having allowed just two runs, but issued back-to-back infield singled to open the inning. He struck out Dwight Smith Jr., becoming the first Orioles starter to record an out in the seventh since Aug. 25. But then the Orioles couldn’t convert a double play on Travis’ grounder to Wilkerson and Bundy walked McGuire after four two-strike pitches, including ball four that just missed hight
“Yeah, I’m more disappointed just in that last walk I had,” Bundy said. “I thought I had that pitch there, and it was a tad up. But I wouldn’t change a thing about the outing. I thought me and [catcher] Caleb [Joseph] had a good game plan.”