St. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Orioles reached the dubious 100-loss mark Friday night at Tropicana Field, allowing four homers to a Tampa Bay Rays team that opened the night ranked second last in the American League in long balls.
The way the Orioles have played, it was a near certainty they would reach triple-digit losses at some point during their three-city, nine-game, cross-country-and-back road trip, and their 14-2 loss to the Rays on Friday sealed the team’s third 100-loss season in its 65-season history with one of the ugliest defeats of 2018.
The only two other Orioles teams to finish with 100 losses were the inaugural 1954 team (54-100) and the 1988 team (54-107), and with 21 games remaining in the regular season, this year’s team could set a record for Baltimore baseball futility.
“Nobody likes losing, especially that many games,” Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard said. “It definitely wears on you a little bit. We’ve got a good group of guys and we lean on each other, and we continue to grind it out.”
The Orioles must win at least 14 of their last 21 games to avoid setting a new club record for losses in a season.
After allowing two three-run homers that gace the Orioles (41-100) an early 6-0 deficit, right-hander Dylan Bundy (7-14) set a new Orioles team record with 37 homers allowed. No other Orioles pitcher has allowed more than 35 in a season.
“Just really had no clue where the ball was going tonight and wasn't executing my pitches,” Bundy said.
Rays left-hander Blake Snell (18-5), who has emerged as one of the best southpaws in the game and a pitcher for Tampa Bay to build around, recorded strikeouts on five of his first six outs on the way to a nine-strikeout performance over just 5 1/3 innings.
With the loss, the Orioles have scored two runs or fewer in five of their first seven games on this road trip that has taken them through Kansas City and Seattle before Tampa Bay.
Orioles hitters struck out 15 times and Orioles pitchers issued a season-high 11 walks Friday.
“Yeah, I don’t care how inexperienced you are,” Showalter said. “Certainly there are experienced people walking people, too. That’s not something that obviously you can accept.”
Bundy lasted just four innings, allowing all six runs — all by the home run ball. Nick Cuiffo’s three-run homer in the second was his first major league homer and was followed by Kevin Kiermaier’s three-run shot in the third.
“Yeah, it’s command,” Showalter said. “You guys I’m sure you see it. He’s trying to go in and ball leaks out over the plate, he’s trying to go away and jerks it middle in.”
Bundy also issued a season-high five walks, including three that placed runners on base before home runs. Bundy’s slider, his chief swing-and-miss pitch, was erratic and didn’t draw a single swinging strike Friday.
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The Orioles’ only runs came on Rickard’s two-run homer off Snell, a ball that chased the left-hander from the game after he reached the 104-pitch mark.
But for most of the night, Snell handcuffed a struggling Orioles offense that was willing to chase pitches up in the zone. Snell recorded 15 of his 21 swinging strikes on his four-seam fastball, which averaged 96 mph.
“I talked to the players before the game,” Showalter said. “They’re facing a competitor for the Cy Young Award and there’s two ways you look at it. You look at it as a chance to really compete against some of the best.”
Three pitchers being tested for roles in the future failed to keep the game close. Left-hander Sean Gilmartin offered up a solo homer to Tommy Pham in the fifth, and the rout was on after right-hander Ryan Meisinger allowed a grand slam to Ji-Man Choi in the sixth.
Right-hander Luis Ortiz, the top prospect acquired in the Orioles’ trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for Jonathan Schoop, struggled in his major league debut, failing to finish a full inning in the seventh.
Ortiz let five of the seven batters he faced reached base, allowing three runs on a double, two singles, two walks and a wild pitch.
“We give them opportunities,” Showalter said. “Some will take advantage of it and some may not right now. Doesn’t mean, just because it’s delayed doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. These guys, there’s not another level to go to, so just want to see some guys take steps forward and not as many taken back. Tonight was a tough night because we didn’t really do much well.”