When the Orioles and Minnesota Twins first met Monday, they shared the league’s worst record at 17-29, giving the beleaguered Birds a chance to break their longest skid of the season.
Instead, for a third straight series, they were swept.
With little positive to speak of and just a little fight at the end, the Orioles’ bats went quiet Wednesday afternoon as starter Jorge López had a good start spoiled by one swing in a 3-2 loss at Target Field.
The defeat, their ninth straight and 16th in their past 18 games, dropped the Orioles to 17-32.
“There’s some frustration, obviously,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “This doesn’t feel good — no way around it. This doesn’t feel good. We’re in most of these games, too, and we’re just having a tough time getting on the right end of it.”
The Orioles’ best chances to create a big inning happened early, when Cedric Mullins singled to open the game but was thrown out trying to steal second after a strikeout. That proved costly when Trey Mancini hit his 11th home run of the year — and league-leading 42nd RBI — four pitches later. But after Anthony Santander’s double in the ensuing at-bat, Twins starter Michael Pineda and the Minnesota bullpen didn’t allow another hit until the ninth inning.
López, though, was up for the task. He pitched around some traffic after two walks in the first inning and got an out at home on a ground ball in the second, but kept the game under control. With a runner on first in the sixth, Maikel Franco bobbled a potential double-play ball on a hot-shot to third and only ended up with a chance at first base. A walk and a groundout later, López left a fastball over the plate to Miguel Sanó, who drove it 426 feet over the fence in center field.
Even so, it was López’s first sixth-inning start of the season, and he lowered his ERA to 5.80.
“Threw the ball great,” Hyde said. “Disappointing on that pitch, but six really good innings, some control, was in command. Pitch count was down. Velo stayed there throughout his outing. He pitched really, really well. He just made that bad pitch there and Sanó, we’d pitched to well all series and Lopey pitched him well prior. Just makes a bad pitch in a bad spot. But, we didn’t score.”
López said he felt good overall and enjoyed the chance to pitch deep into the game, but found it hard to overlook the home run when assessing his day.
“It’s hard when we are in this situation,” he said. “With a lead, that’s what a good starter does — takes the lead as far as they can and give the team wins. Right there, in the sixth, [I made] a big mistake. That can’t happen again. It’s something for where we were, how close the game was, it’s unfortunate.”
Shawn Armstrong and Tanner Scott turned in much-needed scoreless innings, and it looked worthy when Mancini doubled and scored on a double by Franco in the ninth. But Stevie Wilkerson grounded out to end the game as the Orioles finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Kremer optioned; Akin joins rotation
A night after another arduous start for rookie Dean Kremer, the Orioles optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk. Reliever Dillon Tate will be activated off the injured list Thursday to take his place, while Keegan Akin will go into the rotation as Kremer gets to work in a less stressful environment.
“We felt it was important for Dean’s development to go down, continue to work on the quality of his pitches,” Hyde said. “Dean’s a major league starter, he’s got four major league pitches. Now it’s about being comfortable in executing them.
“We’re sending him down from a development standpoint of him pitching in a lower-pressure environment and working on executing the four major league pitches he has.”
Hays hits injured list
Faced with a short bench after Ryan Mountcastle was hit in the left hand by a pitch Tuesday night, the Orioles put outfielder Austin Hays (hamstring) on the injured list retroactive to Monday and recalled outfielder Ryan McKenna from Triple-A Norfolk.
Hays did not play against the Twins, and Hyde said Mountcastle’s hand was sore when he woke up. Mountcastle will be day-to-day, the manager said.
Thursday, 8:10 p.m.
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