On Sunday, the Orioles had their opportunities. As their losing streak continues to grow, they have been practically incapable of capitalizing on them.
Their opponents, meanwhile, have been unrelenting in doing so. One inning after the Orioles failed to score with the bases loaded and the middle of their lineup facing Chicago White Sox ace Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson singled and stole second, then promptly found himself diving back to second base on a pick-off attempt. But right-hander Dillon Tate’s errant throw instead allowed him to go to third, and he scored score easily when Nick Madrigal followed with a two-strike triple.
Madrigal scored one pitch later on Yoan Moncada’s single up the middle, providing the decisive margin in Baltimore’s 3-1 defeat — the Orioles’ 13th straight loss, and 20th in their past 22 games.
“Once again, we’re in the game, another close game, just don’t quite score enough runs,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Besides that seventh, I thought we threw the ball really well.
“Held a good club to three runs on the day. That’s a win on most nights.”
The Orioles lost all 10 games on this road trip, getting swept in Washington, Minneapolis and Chicago after the Tampa Bay Rays swept them at Camden Yards to start what is tied for the third-longest losing streak since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954. Only that inaugural team, with 14 straight losses in August, and the 1988 club, which infamously lost its first 21 games, have gone longer without a win.
When the Orioles last returned home, they did so fresh off John Means’ no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners, holding a 15-16 record. They have gone 2-20 since, falling to a major-league worst 17-36, and are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks — who defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-2, on Sunday afternoon to end a 13-game slide — for the longest losing streak in the majors this season.
Missing the big hit
In this upcoming homestand, the Orioles will not only try to snap the losing streak, but also a long stretch of failing to come through with runners in scoring position. Giolito and his changeup tore through the first seven Orioles on Sunday, and he got ahead of DJ Stewart 0-2 before Stewart sent an elevated fastball out to right-center field to give Baltimore a 1-0 lead. The Orioles threatened to extend it when Cedric Mullins tripled with two outs, but Freddy Galvis grounded out to leave him there.
That pushed the Orioles to 23 straight hitless at-bats with a runner in scoring position. They reached 25 when Mullins became their first base runner since his triple with a bunt single ahead of walks to Galvis and Trey Mancini, who was back in the lineup for the first time since he exited with a bruised right elbow in Thursday night’s series opener. But Giolito struck out Santander for a third time before getting Franco to pop out. The Orioles did not threaten again as Giolito struck out 12 in seven innings and Chicago’s bullpen retired the final six batters.
“We’re lacking the big hit in the big spot,” Hyde said. “I just think we’ve got to continue to push. We’re in almost every game. I haven’t looked back on every game on this road trip. It was a tough road trip. The majority of the games are right there for us in the sixth, seventh and eighth inning. We’re hanging around. We’re not quitting. Guys are competing, so I’m happy about that. We could use a three-run homer at a big time, in a big spot.”
Since recording three hits with a runner in scoring position in the first inning last Sunday against the Nationals, the Orioles have gone 4-for-64 in such situations.
“I think some guys are just pressing a little bit,” said starting pitcher Keegan Akin, the only Orioles player made available to media after the game. “I don’t think we’re playing bad baseball. We’ve kind of got to get on the right page and go from there.”
Akin it happen
Making his first start of the year after replacing fellow rookie Dean Kremer in the Orioles’ rotation, Akin provided as much as Baltimore could’ve asked for.
Akin, the Orioles’ No. 10 prospect according to Baseball America, retired the first five White Sox, then issued consecutive walks before a strikeout ended the second. Billy Hamilton led off the third inning with his second home run in three plate appearances against Orioles pitching, surpassing his total from his previous 487 major league at-bats.
But that was the only run against Akin in his 4 ⅔ innings, as he allowed five hits and two walks with four strikeouts. The left-hander exited with runners on the corners, but Galvis’ backhand snag and throw from his knees at shortstop kept the game tied after Adam Plutko allowed a walk to load the bases.
“I thought Keegan was outstanding,” Hyde said. “Went into the fifth inning in his first start. Had him scheduled for around four innings if he could, and for him to go into the fifth inning, that was impressive.”
After a solid audition in 2020, Akin entered spring training penciled into the Orioles’ rotation but struggled with his command, instead starting the year in the minors. He might have been called up sooner if he didn’t require stitches on his pitching hand after what he called “a freak accident” in which he slipped while holding a kitchen knife. He made four appearances out of Baltimore’s bullpen before Sunday’s start, pitching better than his 6.10 ERA in those outings indicates.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Akin said. “I’ll help this team out any way I can, whether it’s out of the bullpen throwing three innings or it’s starting. I’m just happy to be back on track.”
Cole Sulser and Paul Fry pitched scoreless innings around Tate’s troublesome seventh.
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
13 — Sept. 17-30, 2009
13 — May 18-Present
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
Monday, 1:05 p.m.
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