Over half of the league gets to keep playing after Sunday’s regular-season finale with expanded playoffs this season. The game that solidified that the Orioles won’t be one of them was, perhaps not coincidentally, about as lousy as they’ve played all year.
In an 8-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Orioles made three errors and continued their low-scoring ways to render the rest of their five-game road trip moot.
A Toronto Blue Jays loss kept the Orioles (23-32) five games out of the last wild-card playoff spot with five games to play, though their 1-6 record so far against Toronto means the Blue Jays hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“I’m disappointed,” said manager Brandon Hyde, whose team was 20-21 just two weeks ago but has lost 11 of 14 while playing three of the hottest teams in the league in the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays in that span. “We kind of ran into a buzz saw there.”
The Orioles took an early lead on a single by DJ Stewart in the first inning, but his error with two outs in the second was the team’s second of the game and allowed a run to score when a routine fly ball hit his glove and fell to the outfield grass.
Rio Ruiz had a throwing error to begin the second inning, and Ramón Urías bobbled a slow ground ball up the middle in the fifth inning that wasn’t punished.
“We just didn’t play good defense,” Hyde said.
Boston was sloppy too, making two errors, but the Orioles didn’t take advantage much. Their two-run miniature rally came in the sixth inning when Boston left fielder Michael Chavis misjudged two line drives that went over his head, but the Orioles stranded two in that inning, which began with a home run from Renato Núñez.
Pedro Severino left the bases loaded to end the game.
Akin’s pitches add up
The errors didn’t help matters, especially in a 32-pitch second inning, but long at-bats also contributed to a short start for rookie left-hander Keegan Akin.
“This wasn’t his best start, but I think he was really competitive,” Hyde said. “We just didn’t help him out behind him.”
He left after four innings with 94 pitches, allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts, bringing his ERA to 3.57. Akin could start the season finale against the Blue Jays in Buffalo.
“Not the way I wanted to end it,” Akin said. “I hope I get one more crack at it on Sunday, but looking back at it, my evaluation is I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done.”
Right-hander Evan Phillips entered Tuesday with nine straight scoreless outings spanning 9⅔ innings with 15 strikeouts, but that streak ending with a three-run home run by Christian Vázquez that broke the game open in the sixth inning will be the least of his worries.
Phillips left the game after a mound visit from Hyde and assistant athletic trainer Mark Shires, who came out after Phillips showed some arm discomfort after a pitch.
Hyde said he left the game with elbow soreness and would be further evaluated Wednesday. Phillips had elbow soreness in spring training that required most of the coronavirus shutdown to heal.
Urías up with two hits
Urías was recalled from the Bowie site for his second stint with the Orioles to cover at shortstop for José Iglesias, who remains out with a wrist injury and may still need a few days to recover.
Urías had two hits in the loss, and was one of two new players on the Orioles roster Tuesday. They had an open roster spot from losing Carson Fulmer on waivers Monday, but also activated Shawn Armstrong on the injured list while placing Dillon Tate on it.
Tate fell while in his apartment Monday and landed on his hand, Hyde said, causing a sprain of his right pinky finger.