Stop me if you've heard this one before: Orioles pitcher starts the game looking great, goes five strong innings, then hits a wall and can't get anyone out. Scott Feldman was the latest Orioles pitcher to not be able to go deep into a game after starting the game strong, and the result was an ugly loss. Not helping matters was the Orioles offense who stranded, oh, a million base runners through the first four innings.
Through the first three innings Feldman looked fantastic. He faced just six batters in the first two innings, and in the third a lead off single moved over to third thanks to two ground outs then scored on a single by Ian Kinsler. He had thrown just 39 pitches through three innings.
The Orioles, meanwhile, were hitting Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland hard but had nothing to show for it. In the first inning, Manny Machado and Adam Jones singled with one out, but both Chris Davis and Matt Wieters struck out to strand them. In the second inning J.J. Hardy singled with no outs and after Nate McLouth inexplicably bunted him over to second base, Hardy was stranded. And in the third inning, Nick Markakis and Machado singled to start the inning, but Jones popped out and, just as they did in the first inning, Davis and Wieters struck out to end the inning.
So that was five runners stranded in the first three innings, and they certainly could have used a few of those runs later in the game.
In the top of the fourth inning Feldman gave up one more run, this one in an inning that was a bit rougher than the last. With one out the Rangers loaded the bases on a single, a double, and a hit by pitch. That brought Mitch Moreland to the plate, who hit a single to knock in the second run of the game. It looked like things were getting ready to unravel, but Elvis Andrus grounded into a double play (that second baseman Alexi Casilla turned a sweet play on) to end the inning.
Down two runs, the Orioles finally struck back in the bottom of the fourth. Hardy led off the inning with a four-pitch walk and a double from McLouth put runners on second and third. Brian Roberts hit a ground ball to the right side but the first baseman bobbled the throw. Hardy was running on contact and would have scored anyway, but the error allowed McLouth to score and Roberts to get to second.
The next batter, Alexi Casilla, bunted Roberts to third. That's annoying, but it looked possible he was trying for a hit, and he is Alexi Casilla, so I'll allow it. Markakis couldn't knock Roberts in but Machado singled to left to get the RBI and put the Orioles on top 3-2. The lead lasted one inning.
Feldman bounced back for a great fifth inning and ended it with just 70 pitches. He looked primed to go deep into the game, but he didn't get out of the sixth. It got ugly.
With David Murphy and Adrian Beltre on base with one out, A.J. Pierzynski doubled. Murphy scored and runners were on second and third with one out. The Orioles intentionally walked Moreland to load the bases and perhaps set up a double play or at least a force at the plate for Andrus. It didn't work out that way as Andrus singled to right, knocking in Beltre.
That was all she wrote for Feldman and Buck Showalter turned to lefty Troy Patton to try and stop the bleeding.
He did not. The other Beltre, Engel Beltre, hit a cheap single to right field, I believe that's what the kids call BABIP'd. It resulted in another run scored. After the O's got the second out at the plate, Ian Kinsler's hit was decidedly NOT a cheap hit, a bases clearing double to left field. Murphy, the tenth batter of the inning, grounded out to end it, but the damage was bad: 6 runs on 6 hits and one intentional walk.
The O's cut into the lead in the seventh inning thanks to an unlikely source. Adam Jones struck out but reached on a passed ball, and after Chris Davis struck out for the third time, Matt Wieters came to the plate.
Do you remember, back before Wieters was terrible at hitting, when he'd sometimes have smooth, easy power to the opposite field? Well we got to see that again in this at bat. Wieters hit a deep fly ball to right center and easily cleared the fence and made the score 5-3. They put two more runners on thanks to Hardy's second hit of the day and a walk to Roberts, but pinch hitting Ryan Flaherty grounded out on the first pitch to end the inning and the rally.
The homer gave me a little glimmer of hope, the thought that maybe the bats would wake up, but it wasn't meant to be. They went 1-2-3-4-5-6 (including Davis's fourth strikeout of the night) against Joakim Soria and Joe Nathan, starting the homestand off with a loss.