The first two games of the Orioles’ series against the Kansas City Royals this weekend have been slugfests, with runners clogging the bases, home runs flying out of Camden Yards and final scores more fitting for football than baseball.
And one day after the Orioles put a hurting on the Royals with a 10-run eighth inning that included two grand slams against baseball’s best bullpen, the Royals returned the favor Saturday. Kansas City sent the Orioles to a 14-6 defeat in front of an announced 35,439 at Camden Yards following a season-long 3-hour, 2-minute rain delay before the game began.
The Orioles’ modest three-game winning streak -- a spark of optimism as their postseason hopes have faded over the past month -- was ended as the Royals scored 10 runs off the Orioles bullpen, not including two inherited runners that also scored, over 3 2/3 innings.
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas continued to crush Orioles pitching with a career night. He hit two homers, including a seventh-inning grand slam off left-hander T.J. McFarland, and finished with a Royals franchise-record nine RBIs.
“Nine?” Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy said when told of Moustakas’ RBI total. “That’s a pretty good month or week. What did we score? [Obviously] not enough.”
In six games against the Orioles this season, Moustakas is hitting .500 (12-for-24) with four homers and 18 RBIs.
The Royals (84-57) scored five runs in both the sixth and seventh innings, quickly turning a 4-1 Orioles lead into a 11-4 deficit.
“We didn't pitch well out of the 'pen obviously,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “A couple of games, I'm being nice when I say they weren't crisp.”
The Orioles also stranded 12 base runners on the day.
With any ambition of reaching the postseason fading by the day, the Orioles (68-73) entered the game six games back of the second American League wild-card spot with 22 games remaining in the regular season.
Orioles starter Chris Tillman left leading 4-2 with two on and one out in the sixth, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead.
Left-hander Brian Matusz (1-4) failed to get the next two batters out, walking switch-hitter Kendrys Morales and allowing a two-run single to Moustakas to tie the game at 4. Right-handed reliever Chaz Roe then gave up an opposite-field two-run single to Salvador Perez to give Kansas City a 6-4 lead.
McFarland let five of the six batters he faced in the seventh not only reach base but score. He allowed back-to-back singles to Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist to start the inning, followed by Lorenzo Cain’s run-scoring double.
After McFarland induced a groundout from Eric Hosmer and intentionally walked Morales to create a force play at any base, he hung an 0-2 slider that Moustakas sent into the right-center seats for an 11-4 Royals lead.
“He got a hold of the slider,” McFarland said. “Bad pitch to a good hitter. That’s what happens. … 0-2 [count], you don’t want to throw a hanging slider down the middle. That’s not your goal in that situation. You’re trying to throw something in the dirt and try to get him chase something and I left it up.”
Adam Jones gave the Orioles a 4-1 lead in the third inning with a three-run homer off Royals starter Yordano Ventura. Thirteen of Jones’ 26 homers this season have given the Orioles the lead.
Ventura (11-8) was chased from the game after loading the bases in the sixth with Kansas City up 6-4. He had just hit Manny Machado on the hip with a 94-mph fastball to fill the bases, drawing groans from the home crowd. Machado stared down Ventura before trotting to first base.
Machado was one of three Orioles hit by a pitch Saturday. Chris Davis and Jones were also hit. But Showalter, who was ejected after Davis was hit Friday and both teams were warned, said he didn’t believe any were intentional.
“Two breaking balls and trying to go away and scuttled it back inside,” Showalter said. “No one likes to see that, but you've got to take it -- unlike some teams who you run into -- you take it as it really is and as reality is and don’t get involved in all the drama people want to put into something that’s not there.”
After Ventura left the game after hitting Machado, right-hander Ryan Madson struck out Davis on four pitches to strand the bases loaded, getting Davis to swing through an 82-mph changeup.
“We had opportunities,” Showalter said. “It was one of those games like last night, when you get some opportunities you need to figure out a way to get them in.”
Ventura allowed 13 base runners (eight hits, three walks and two hit batters) over 5 2/3 innings, striking out five.
Tillman started well after allowing a run in the second inning. After Perez’s RBI single in that inning, Tillman retired nine straight and 10 of 11 before running into trouble in the sixth. He was removed after 5 1/3 innings after throwing 103 pitches.
"Yeah, early on I threw too many pitches and they fought and fought and fought and got it up there a little bit, but we were able to kind of get back on track,” Tillman said. “You always like to get deep in the game, but we got through what we needed to."
Tillman issued a leadoff walk to Gordon in the sixth and allowed a single to Zobrist to put two on with no outs. Cain then hit a grounder to third, where Machado threw to second to start a double play, but Jonathan Schoop lost the ball before making a relay throw to first, putting runners at the corners with one out. Tillman was then chased from the game after Hosmer’s RBI single made it a 4-2 game.
Hochevar then issued back-to-back walks, but Wade Davis induced a double-play ball from Jones and struck out Gerardo Parra to get out of the eighth.
Moustakas capped the scoring with his second homer of the day, a three-run blast off Steve Johnson, in the ninth.
“They’re good,” Hardy said. “They swing the bats, and they’ve got good pitching. There’s a reason they’ve got such a good record.”