A series of Orioles were terrible during Thursday night's game, bringing their winning streak to a halt at four games before it could start getting long enough as to be exciting. This is not the first time this has happened this season, nor will it be the last. They lost to the Texas Rangers, 8-6.
When you score six runs, you should probably go ahead and win a given baseball game. It's there for the taking. This was not in the cards on Thursday. The first in the series of terrible Orioles performances was turned in by starter Chris Tillman, who allowed two runs and put another two men on base before ever recording an out. Though the Rangers scored no more runs in the first, Tillman picked up where he left off in the second inning. He faced five batters in the inning and retired none of them.
Is Tillman still quietly battling his groin injury? Only he knows for sure, but whatever he's battling, it's costing the Orioles. On nights like this, he looks so bad that you wonder how he could ever be a pitcher in the majors. He'd thrown 22 pitches before he even got an out in the game. He gave up five runs in one-plus inning. His ERA is now over 5 for the season. There are no bright spots.
Brad Brach relieved Tillman and he stopped the bleeding, making it through 3.1 innings while giving up only a walk and a hit. This allowed the Orioles to get back in the game thanks to a struggle from Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who has also not been very good this season. Lewis at least made it five innings for his team, but gave up five runs as well. It had the makings of a game where the O's would fold up the tents against a crappy pitcher. That turned around quickly.
The Orioles got some offense of their own in the third inning when Nick Markakis hit a home run into the right field stands. That came with David Lough on base, getting the O's on the board with a 5-2 deficit. Lough had reached on a leadoff double. They pulled into a tie in the fifth inning on a two-run double by Adam Jones and a run-scoring single by Chris Davis. It was, as they say, a brand new ballgame with the score tied 5-5.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, there were still other Orioles to be terrible in the game. The next up was J.J. Hardy, who looked to have suddenly forgotten how to throw a baseball in the sixth inning. He bounced a throw on a routine grounder from Rougned Odor, who moved up to third on a groundout. Hardy then made an errant throw on an easy grounder by Elvis Andrus, allowing Odor to score. That was Hardy's third error of the game. Cal Ripken made three errors in the entire 1990 season.
As a result of a pair of unearned runs in the inning, the loss went to Brian Matusz, but he wasn't one of the terrible Orioles. That mantle falls next to Preston Guilmet, who relieved Matusz after Hardy's second error. The brief period where he had a couple of scoreless outings to begin his Orioles career has passed and now he looks like the kind of guy who you get for a floundering former eighth-round pick. Guilmet faced four batters and gave up three hits. By the time his reign of terror was over, the Rangers led the game 8-5.
That was all the Rangers would need. Adam Jones added a solo home run in the eighth inning, his eighth of the season. Two runs down with nobody out in the eighth was a close enough margin to hope. The O's got no other runners in scoring position from there on. After a rare Hardy walk, Jonathan Schoop grounded into a double play to end the eighth. The O's went 1-2-3 in the ninth against Joakim Soria.
Yes, the Orioles won the series, but it was yet another instance of turning in a stink bomb instead of getting a sweep. They will now be heading back to Baltimore to face the world-beating Oakland Athletics in a weekend series. The Athletics, who played in New York on Thursday afternoon, have been in Baltimore and resting all evening; the Orioles will get back home in the wee hours of the morning before having to play at 7.
Friday night's game will see Wei-Yin Chen start for the Orioles against Tommy Milone of the Athletics. The Athletics obliterate everyone, and the Orioles rotation is something of a mess even though the team just turned in a four-game winning streak. Don't hold your breath!