When it rains, it pours.
In the first inning of a 5-1 defeat to the Chicago White Sox to provide their second 10-game losing streak in three years, the Orioles lost their best offensive producer.
After a 20-minute rain delay at Guaranteed Rate Field and a leadoff single from Cedric Mullins, Trey Mancini was hit in his right elbow by a 95 mph fastball from Chicago starter Dylan Cease. Baltimore’s first baseman immediately collapsed in the batter’s box and was checked by the team’s training staff.
He initially stayed in the game, running the bases as Cease retired the next three batters in a scoreless top of the first, but Pat Valaika replaced him at first base for the bottom half. The team announced later in the game that Mancini suffered a bruise on the elbow, but initial X-rays and exam were negative for any breaks. Manager Brandon Hyde said there’s no plans for Mancini to undergo further testing and the team will see how he’s doing before Friday’s game, saying he was “worried sick” when Mancini initially went down.
“It was a very silent bullpen when we saw that happen,” starting pitcher Bruce Zimmermann said. “Obviously, Trey is the leader on this team and a spark plug for us on the offense, as well. He’s in good spirits, and hopefully, it’s nothing more than a contusion and he gets back on the playing field as soon as possible because he’s such an integral part of this team and a key to our offense and just kind of the lifeline of this team.”
Despite the team’s struggles, Mancini has thrived after missing the 2020 season undergoing chemotherapy treatment for a colon cancer diagnosis. He entered the day one back of the major league for RBIs with 42, and he leads the club in many offensive categories, including home runs, doubles and OPS.
Without him, the Orioles (17-33) managed little against Cease, who struck out 10 in six innings and held Baltimore hitless in eight at-bats with a runner in scoring position. They finished 0-for-12, striking out 16 times in all. Freddy Galvis’ seventh home run, second most among Orioles yet four behind Mancini for the team lead, tied the game in the fourth, but it accounted for their lone run as the offense and bullpen failed to back a strong start from Zimmermann in the club’s 17th loss in 19 games.
“We didn’t do much offensively,” Hyde said. “Tough to win when you score one run and you have five hits.”
The 10-game losing streak is the club’s second under Hyde, joining June 12-21, 2019. The club has had just seven losing streaks longer than 10 games since moving to Baltimore in 1954, led by the 21-game skid to open the 1988 season that set a major league record for the worst-ever start to a campaign.
“Losing is getting harder,” reliever Paul Fry said before the game. “We want to win.”
The Orioles’ streak is tied for the second longest in the majors this season after the Kansas City Royals lost 11 straight from May 2-13.
The Arizona Diamondbacks (18-32), owners of the league’s second-worst record behind the Orioles, rode a 10-game losing streak into Thursday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
After lasting a season-low three innings in his previous start, Zimmermann delivered his best major league start, striking out six in five one-run innings.
“I was able to attack the zone most of the night,” he said. “I also felt like I had pretty command of all four of my pitches tonight, and when that happens, usually good things happen.”
Zimmermann, a Loyola Blakefield product, was forced into the stretch every inning, but the only damage against him came when Yermín Mercedes hit a 116.8 mph solo shot off him in the second. A former Orioles prospect, Mercedes had drawn the ire of Chicago manager Tony La Russa for homering on a 3-0 pitch from a position player in a blowout, but surely did not have to deal with any qualms for doing so off Zimmermann in Thursday’s second inning.
In his first appearance off the injured list, reliever Dillon Tate left two runners with two outs in the sixth for Tanner Scott, who gave up a go-ahead single on an 0-2 count to light-hitting outfielder Billy Hamilton. The White Sox (29-20) added three runs in the seventh off César Valdez, whose ERA has risen from 1.23 to 5.30 in his past six outings. Recent waiver claim Brandon Waddell pitched a scoreless eighth in his Orioles debut.
Around the horn
>> First-base coach Anthony Sanders was away from the team to attend his son’s graduation, and assistant hitting coach José Hernandez handled first-base coaching duties.
>> Rule 5 pitcher Mac Sceroler (right shoulder tendinitis) made his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Norfolk, allowing four runs in 1 ⅔ innings.
>> Minor league right-hander Brenan Hanifee, the Orioles’ fourth-round pick in 2016, underwent what the team called a successful Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery Wednesday in Dallas. Hanifee, who turns 23 on Saturday, was the Orioles’ No. 23 prospect entering the 2020 season, according to Baseball America, but has since fallen out of the top 30.
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
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
Friday, 8:10 p.m.
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