For the honor of breaking the arbitrary three-run ceiling for the first time in a week, the Orioles got plenty of mock praise and a seventh straight loss for their troubles, 8-5 to the New York Yankees after a 104-minute rain delay Saturday at Camden Yards.
How the American League's least-productive offense at 3.7 runs per game managed to score even that many, considering the context of this winless homestand, this second seven-game losing streak in five weeks and this sorry season, goes to show just how hard it has been for them to do anything productive at the dish of late.
“We've been talking about that for a while, just putting together a lot of quality at-bats,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “One of our strengths has been when we've got — I'm not going to get into other people or who they are — we've just been able to make a pitcher really grind all the way through the batting order. And we haven't done that this year.”
Consider this: Before Saturday, the last time the Orioles got a leadoff man on base and scored him was a full week ago, in the seventh inning of their eventual 5-1 loss at the Tampa Bay Rays. That kicked off this losing streak, and an even more ignominious stretch of 13 straight leadoff men who have reached base for the Orioles not to score.
“I believe that,” Showalter said.
Four were left in scoring position, including Jonathan Schoop in the fourth inning Saturday. Seven were erased by double plays, including Chance Sisco after his fifth-inning single. Craig Gentry, who singled to open the ninth inning with the Orioles down 2-0 on Wednesday and was thrown out trying to steal third base with the go-ahead run in the batter's box, qualifies in his own special category entirely.
Only Manny Machado's home run to open the sixth inning Saturday ended that ignominious run, albeit on a technicality. As with most all things to do with the Orioles offense this year, he had to do it himself. It was his team-leading 18th home run, which moved him into a tie for second in baseball.
And after all that futility, they broke it for real when Danny Valencia doubled to lead off the ninth inning and Jones scored him with a single.
But about those home runs — the first three Orioles runs came on solo shots Saturday. Adam Jones hit his 10th of the season in the first inning, and Joey Rickard's third of the year came in the third.
Before Valencia doubled home Schoop with two outs in the sixth inning, the Orioles had gone 27 full innings without scoring on something other than a home run.
There are no fond memories at Camden Yards of the last time they did, either. Jones doubled with two on and two out in the fifth inning Tuesday, and Sisco scored. But Jace Peterson was waved around third into the final out of the inning with Machado on deck. The Orioles didn't threaten again and lost, 3-2.
Since then, they were blanked by Max Scherzer, got one run off the struggling Sonny Gray on Friday and when they finally scored more than three runs for the first time in eight games and just the second time since May 14, it still wasn't enough.
The Orioles were once decried as a one-dimensional offense reliant on that power. Now they really have no dimensions, and explanations aren’t easy to come by.
“Just have to grind it out,” Jones said. “You have to make the pitcher work, get a pitch to hit. You just have to grind it out. All the other hoopla, all the other explanation stuff — first off, they really don’t understand anyway, so it makes no sense to even go into the details. But just grind a pitcher out. There’s a lot that falls under that category.”
A second straight shaky start for Kevin Gausman, in which he struck out eight in the first four innings and nine overall but also allowed two-run home runs to Miguel Andújar and Giancarlo Stanton, didn't help.
Nor did the sixth inning that chased Gausman, which featured a pair of Yankees runs on three straight plays that involved Orioles errors. Gausman (3-5) allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.
With the loss, the Orioles fell to a major league-worst 17-41.