Memories won’t hold one game above all others when explaining this edition of the Orioles, mostly because they’ve already played the nine innings that define them on a loop this summer, over and over again.
Saturday night’s 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees that completed a doubleheader sweep at Camden Yards and extended the Orioles’ losing streak to seven games was only the latest example — and there have been no fewer than 30.
They didn’t hit, even against an underwhelming opposing pitcher in maligned Yankees right-hander Sonny Gray (10-8). They didn’t field, certainly not to the quality required to compete with a playoff aspirant, let alone be one. All they did get was a just-fine starting pitching effort, this time from Andrew Cashner (4-12), that made it 33 losses when their pitchers record a quality start. It is all enough to lose, and with 93 defeats in their first 130 games, few teams have done so more often. Only 20 clubs in baseball history have lost that many games that quickly before them.
“Offensively, it’s been a struggle,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We scored, what, four runs in 18 innings? Give a lot of credit to their pitching, but that and being consistent defensively has been a real challenge for us. So, there’s two obvious things we’ve got to get better at.”
Much like the front half of this doubleheader, a 10-3 loss in the afternoon Saturday, the Orioles trailed almost immediately. Brett Gardner hit Cashner’s first pitch to deep center field for an automatic double, and after the veteran right-hander lost Giancarlo Stanton to a walk, Aaron Hicks singled to right field to score Gardner.
Cashner soon picked Hicks off first base, and after a strikeout and a flyout, was out of the jam almost as quickly as he got into it. The same couldn’t be said in a sloppy Orioles second, when he allowed three singles to load the bases with one out, yielded one run on a wild pitch, then a second on a ground ball to first base that Trey Mancini came home with but threw wide of the plate.
The Yankees (82-47) got two on in the third before Caleb Joseph threw Gleyber Torres out trying to steal second to end the inning, but the Orioles didn’t do much in the way of helping out Cashner in the fourth when Mancini was charged with an error after he couldn’t corral a throw from shortstop Jonathan Villar. He and Jace Peterson nearly collided at second base as the Orioles tried to turn a double play on a comebacker from the next batter. They only got the out at second base, and New York’s fourth run came across on a screamer of a single by Stanton off the right-field wall.
Mancini said he “did not play well at first base.” Showalter rattled off several ways the Orioles hurt themselves early.
“There were some good defensive plays, too, but not enough to offset the miscues that we had,” Showalter said.
Cashner settled in from there, helped by another caught stealing by Joseph in the fifth. He struck out Stanton and Hicks to end his seventh and final inning in emphatic fashion to give him quality start No. 13 this season. The Orioles have lost eight of them.
“You obviously want to pitch for yourself, too, but I think you want to pick other guys up on the club,” Cashner said. “I think for me, it’s just that grinder mentality, never giving in, constantly grinding pitch to pitch. Whether you’re first or last, it doesn’t matter. You’re out there pitching for your team that day and trying to win.”
Most nights, that doesn’t happen for the Orioles because they follow scripts like Saturday’s. The offense conspired to leave two on in the fourth and seventh innings, and struck out in five of their first seven at-bats with a runner on base.
They entered the last inning scoreless on four hits, and only scored in the ninth after Mancini doubled and came around on a single by Peterson, sparing the blushes of a 13th shutout loss this season.
Mancini led the way with a pair of doubles, a single, and a walk in four trips.
“As an offense, you want to give your guys run support,” Mancini said. “It was a tough day.”