The Orioles have seen their losing streak extended by missed opportunities, opponents’ big innings and errant pick-off throws. But it hadn’t yet taken extra innings for Baltimore to be defeated during this slide.
On a gorgeous Memorial Day at Camden Yards, the Orioles’ losing streak reached 14 — matching the second longest since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954 — with a 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Minnesota Twins. In the past 10 seasons, the only longer losing streak in Major League Baseball belonged to the 2013 Houston Astros, a team that, like these Orioles, featured Mike Elias in the front office and was placing greater emphasis on the development of its farm system than its major league product.
Over these two disastrous weeks that have plummeted their record to the majors’ worst, the Orioles (17-37) have had fewer better opportunities to win than Monday. After a dominant ninth inning from Paul Fry, manager Brandon Hyde elected not to use his most consistent reliever again in the 10th after he also pitched in Sunday’s loss. The Twins then scored twice off Adam Plutko, first on a wild pitch then on a solo home run, but Baltimore quickly answered when DJ Stewart doubled to score automatic runner Maikel Franco from second, snapping the Orioles’ 0-for-29 skid with runners in scoring position.
But after Stewart advanced to third on a wild pitch, they missed their next three chances against Minnesota closer Hansel Robles. Ryan Mountcastle, who hammered a game-tying homer in the fifth inning, and freshly recalled catcher Austin Wynns struck out with the potential tying run 90 feet away and the infield drawn in before Freddy Galvis flew out to complete the Orioles’ 16th straight loss to the Twins (22-31).
“We just couldn’t score runs today,” Hyde said.
Since a 3-for-4 start with runners in scoring position May 23 in Washington, the Orioles are 5-for-74 (.069) in those situations. Making Monday’s failures in that regard more disappointing is that they came amid Baltimore’s best-pitched game in three weeks.
After Jorge López delivered his second straight quality start, César Valdez, Tanner Scott and Fry pitched scoreless innings behind him, combining for six strikeouts and one base runner. It marked the first time the Orioles held an opponent to one or fewer through nine innings since May 10, a game against the Boston Red Sox that accounted for one of their two wins in their past 23 contests.
“Hopefully, we can get better,” López said. “We need to get better.”
In franchise history, only the 1988 Orioles, who suffered through 21 consecutive losses to open the season, have gone longer without winning, with the 1954 club also dropping 14 straight in the team’s first year calling Baltimore home. Monday’s loss wrapped up a May in which the Orioles were 5-23, tied for the third-worst month the club has ever had.
José vs. Jorge
For the second straight start, López found himself facing Twins slugger Miguel Sanó with two on and two outs in the sixth winning. In last week’s matchup, Sanó hit a three-run homer, dealing the decisive blow in what became Baltimore’s ninth straight loss.
But Monday, López got a soft flyball to right field, completing six innings for the second straight outing as he avoided the middle-innings bug that had hampered him throughout this season. He entered the day with an ERA over 20 after the fourth inning but managed to strand three runners across the fifth and sixth innings Monday. The only run on his account came in the third, when Kyle Garlick singled, stole second, went to third on an infield hit and scored on a fielder’s choice.
“To see him get through six, I was pumped,” Hyde said. “Really, really pleased with how far he’s come and how much he’s improved and getting better over the course of the season.”
In his support, the Orioles managed only four hits in Twins starter José Berríos’ first eight innings. Cedric Mullins led off with a double, but Berríos retired the next three Orioles to push Baltimore to 28 straight hitless at-bats with a runner in scoring position. That chasm reached 29 when Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander singled with two outs in the sixth and Franco followed with a groundout.
Between, Mountcastle launched a game-tying home run to dead center field on a curveball that caught too much plate in the fifth. The ball left his bat at 109.3 mph, per Statcast, getting out so quickly that Refsnyder unexpectedly smacked into the wall trying to track it down.
Berríos returned for the ninth, exiting after Mancini led off with a single. But pinch-runner Ryan McKenna went nowhere, with Franco grounding into a double play.
“It’s been tough the last couple weeks, but we’re trying to keep up our head up, trying to keep playing hard,” Mountcastle said. “We’ve been in a lot of close games, and we’ve just got to try to turn the page and move on to the next one and hopefully win tomorrow.”
No win, but Wynns
Before the game, the Orioles shook up their catching situation, optioning Chance Sisco to Triple-A Norfolk and calling up Wynns. To add him to their 40-man roster, Richie Martin, who broke his left wrist earlier this month with Norfolk, was placed on the 60-day injured list.
Wynns finished 0-for-4 in his first game in the majors with Baltimore in 2019, though he was on the taxi squad for a handful of road trips over the past two seasons. The 30-year-old had a 1.011 OPS with the Tides, but Hyde was more excited about what he can provide behind the plate.
“I like Austin’s intangibles,” Hyde said. “He’s got a great feel behind the plate, he does a great job with pitchers, he’s a really good clubhouse guy. He’s an ultimate team guy. I just like the way he really invests himself in getting pitchers through innings and to help out guys on the mound.
“Any kind of offense he gives us is a bonus.”
Sisco was batting .154/.247/.185 with no home runs, bringing his career batting average below .200.
Orioles losing streaks of 10 games or more
Since moving to Baltimore in 1954, here are the Orioles’ losing streaks of 10 games or more, led by the worst start in major league history in 1988.
21 — April 4-28, 1988
14 — Aug. 11-25, 1954
14 — May 18-Present
13 — Sept. 17-30, 2009
12 — Aug. 16-28, 2004
12 — Sept. 18-29, 2002
12 — June 18-July 3, 1955
11 — July 27-Aug, 8, 1958
10 — June 12-21, 2019
10 — May 26-June 5, 2010
10 — Sept. 17-26, 2008
10 — Sept. 1-19, 2001
10 — June 23-July 3, 1999
10 — Aug 23-Sept 2, 1998
10 — June 3-13, 1987
Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
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