Between the waiver claim that brought him to the Orioles from the Minnesota Twins and its one-month anniversary Saturday, right-hander Ryan Eades had pitched in a game only four times, split evenly between Triple-A Norfolk and the majors. The fifth did not provide cause for celebration.
Eades’ first appearance in a week began with the bases loaded, one out and the Orioles’ clinging to their second one-run lead of the night. It ended with the Detroit Tigers celebrating an 8-4 victory after John Hicks’ walk-off grand slam.
“That’s a difficult spot for anybody," Eades said. "I just didn’t do my job tonight. Timing was a little off and threw some balls, got behind in counts, put myself in a tough spot. Big league hitters take advantage of those mistakes, and that’s exactly what he did.
"I was ready to go. Just didn’t execute tonight.”
The Orioles were one out from a second straight victory against the Tigers, the only team with a worse record than them, when leadoff hitter Victor Reyes hit a game-tying solo shot off Baltimore closer Mychal Givens in the ninth. After they again gained a lead in the top of the 12th on Rio Ruiz’s go-ahead single, it evaporated when Eades replaced Paul Fry and threw six straight balls, the first four causing a game-tying walk, before serving up the walk-off grand slam on a 2-2 pitch to Hicks.
“Tough spot to put him in," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "I feel bad for it. That’s just a tough spot. All right-handers coming up, I needed a right-hander there and just wasn’t his night.”
Fry ended the 11th with a three-pitch strikeout and returned for the 12th after the Orioles took the lead. Another strikeout came between a walk and double, and Hyde pulled Fry after an intentional walk loaded the bases.
“Just being in the dugout when we scored that run and seeing how excited we are, it just hurts to go out there and have it end the way it did,” Fry said.
The defeat lowered Baltimore’s lead on the Tigers to 3 1/2 games with 14 to play while delivering their 100th loss of 2019. After suffering through triple-digit defeats only twice from 1954 to 2017, the Orioles (48-100) now have back-to-back 100-loss campaigns.
Givens was pitching for the third time in four games when he allowed his career-high 11th home run. He only had a lead to protect in the ninth because Trey Mancini’s 32nd home run was a go-ahead, three-run shot in the eighth, spoiling a Tigers (44-103) shutout bid.
“It’s obviously a disappointing loss," Hyde said. "We like the way our guys battled.
After the Orioles opened this four-game series with a victory, Hyde called it “a beautiful thing” to watch Mancini hit an opposite-field home run.
Mancini gave his manager all the reason to feel the same way about pull-side blasts with Saturday’s eighth-inning, three-run home run to spoil Detroit’s shutout bid and put the Orioles ahead 3-2. His 13 go-ahead home runs are off the American League lead.
“That was a huge one for us,” Hyde said.
Detroit’s pitching combination of Daniel Norris and Drew VerHagen held Baltimore scoreless through the first seven innings. Bryan Garcia got the first two outs of the eighth before consecutive singles by Hanser Alberto and Jonathan Villar, with an error on the latter putting both runners in scoring position. Mancini then sent Garcia’s elevated 1-0 slider out to left for his third home run in eight games after hitting none in his prior 19 starts.
The Tigers tagged Orioles starter Gabriel Ynoa for two runs on Harold Castro’s third-inning solo shot and the Victor Reyes RBI single that ended his evening with no outs in the fifth.
From there, an Orioles bullpen that entered play with baseball’s best relief ERA since Aug. 20 continued that run. Left-hander Tanner Scott entered and retired the two left-handed batters he faced around an intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera before yielding to Dillon Tate, who got the last out of the fifth to strand two then pitched a scoreless sixth. Richard Bleier covered the seventh and the first out of the eight, with Miguel Castro finishing the frame.
After Reyes tied the game with what was only his second home run of the season, Shawn Armstrong pitched a clean 10th, and Branden Kline and Fry combined for a scoreless 11th as the Orioles’ bullpen started its night with one run allowed in seven innings.
Before Detroit’s five-run 12th, the Orioles’ bullpen had a 2.62 ERA since Aug. 20. The night ended with that mark at 3.13.