This offseason, the Orioles’ free agency focuses were understandably on areas where they were inexperienced and lacking major league-ready players in the high minors. They signed Freddy Galvis to fill the shortstop hole they created by trading José Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels. To fill the holes in a youthful rotation, they provided minor league deals to three veteran starters.
Former Cy Young Award winner Félix Hernández didn’t make it through spring. Wade LeBlanc’s stay on the major league roster was brief. Of the trio, only Matt Harvey remains, and while Galvis has trailed only Trey Mancini in offensive production since slumping through his first two weeks with Baltimore, Harvey has trended the opposite direction.
In a 7-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox to open Saturday’s doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field, Galvis homered twice, but Harvey continued a frustrating May, laboring to get nine outs. The defeat marked the Orioles’ 11th straight, their longest winless streak since dropping 13 straight in the final week of the 2009 season.
“Got to get better in really all areas,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
Harvey, 32, was never expected to recapture the form that made him an All-Star starter and National League champion with the New York Mets, but the Orioles hoped he could be a serviceable innings provider behind John Means to stabilize what is otherwise a fresh-faced rotation. He seemed up to the task initially, but beginning with a four-inning outing in which he lowered his ERA to 3.60 because the quartet of runs he surrendered were unearned, he has failed to complete five innings in five straight starts. The Orioles have lost each, with Harvey’s ERA climbing to 6.84.
“I feel good throwing every pitch, and things are really just not going our way, in general,” Harvey said. “I missed a couple pitches over the middle that really cost us and cost me today. The last two starts, I’ve felt like I’ve had much better stuff than I even had at the beginning of the season, so it’s just kind of one of those things that is extremely frustrating when you know you have good stuff, you’re just not really locating as well as you need to be and not keeping runs off the board.”
Galvis staked him to an early lead with his first-inning home run off Chicago left-hander Dallas Keuchel, the sixth time during the losing streak the Orioles have scored in the opening frame. But Harvey gave it right back on José Abreu’s RBI single in a 33-pitch first.
The White Sox (30-20) scored four times off Harvey in the third, with Abreu driving in two more and scoring on Jake Lamb’s home run. An error opened the fourth, prompting Hyde to end Harvey’s afternoon with 88 pitches in three-plus innings. He flirted with 96 mph and struck out six, but the White Sox made him work for each out.
“Just made some bad pitches there in that third inning,” Hyde said. “Balls were elevated. Two-seamer that caught a lot of the plate there with Lamb. Just had kind of a tough time finishing hitters.”
Travis Lakins Sr., the Orioles’ 27th man for the doubleheader who was returned to Triple-A after the latter game, kept the inherited runner from scoring, allowing Baltimore (17-34) to start cutting into the deficit Harvey created. Maikel Franco homered, and Ryan Mountcastle, back in the lineup for the first time since taking a pitch off his left hand Tuesday, followed with his first career triple, scoring on Pat Valaika’s ground ball. Galvis brought the deficit to one with his second solo shot off Keuchel, marking the switch-hitter’s fourth career two-homer game and the first where both came right-handed.
“Freddy’s really been swinging the bat well this last month, left- and right-handed,” Hyde said. “For him to drive two baseballs out to the big part of the ballpark, those were two really good swings.”
It was the closest the Orioles came. Yoan Moncada created the final margin with a two-run home run off Shawn Armstrong in the sixth, and with doubleheaders featuring seven-inning games, Baltimore immediately had to face Chicago closer Liam Hendricks, who finished off the Orioles’ 18th defeat in 20 games.
Nevin makes birthday history
With Mountcastle limited to designated hitter duty and Mancini still a day or two away from returning while dealing with soreness after taking a 95 mph fastball off his right elbow in Thursday’s series opener, Tyler Nevin drew the start at first base. With Saturday being his 24th birthday, Nevin became the first player in Orioles history to make his major league debut on his birthday.
“It was a pretty sweet birthday,” Nevin said. “I don’t know if anything’s going to top this for the rest of my life.”
One of three prospects the Orioles acquired from the Colorado Rockies for reliever Mychal Givens, Nevin doubled into the stands in his first at-bat and walked his second time up. After the doubleheader, he had to fight back tears talking about the phone call to his dad, New York Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, to tell him about his promotion to the majors.
“We have talked about that call for the past couple years now when it became more of a reality than just a dream,” Nevin said as he wiped tears from his eyes. “Every time, I even talk about it, I start getting choked up. He’s helped me so much as a dad, as a mentor in this game. I always knew he’d be the first call. It was special. It was a lot like this, honestly. Not many words, but the point got across. It was a very special moment.”
Longest Orioles slumps
O’s losing streaks of 10 games or more since moving to Baltimore
Lost 21 — April 4-28, 1988
Lost 14 — Aug. 11-25, 1954
Lost 13 — Sept. 17-30, 2009
Lost 12 — May 18-29, 2021
Lost 12 — Aug. 16-28, 2004
Lost 12 — Sept. 18-29, 2002
Lost 12 — June 18-July 3, 1955
Lost 11 — July 27-Aug, 8, 1958
Lost 10 — June 12-21, 2019
Lost 10 — May 26-June 5, 2010
Lost 10 — Sept. 17-26, 2008
Lost 10 — Sept. 1-19, 2001
Lost 10 — June 23-July 3, 1999
Lost 10 — Aug 23-Sept 2, 1998
Lost 10 — June 3-13, 1987
Sunday, 2:10 p.m.
Latest Baltimore Orioles
TV: MASN2 Radio: 105.7 FM