The Orioles have now sandwiched six game losing streaks around one lone win. The second of these six game losing streaks is still active, reaching its sixth in a thoroughly depressing 11-2 loss against the Rays on Tuesday night in Baltimore. The only thing that went wrong is everything.
If you are a believer in concepts like karma and vibes and any of that stuff, you may have been thinking that some of the spillover good feelings emanating from Camden Yards on the occasion of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken's record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game. The only streak the Orioles honored tonight is their own losing streak.
All of the things that have ailed the team recently continued to ail them. After an August in which their starting pitchers collectively mustered a 5.23 ERA, Chris Tillman came out of the chute in September ready to rock and roll - or rather, ready to get rocked. He kept the Rays off the board until the fourth inning of the game until it all went to hell in a handbasket.
Logan Forsythe hit a one out double and that kicked off a string of five straight batters Tillman went through without getting even a single out. When the dust cleared on that scrum, the Orioles were down 4-0 and, as it turned out, that would have been more than enough for Tampa Bay to have a comfortable lead for the entire game.
These Rays runs came exactly one inning after the Orioles bumbled their way out of a potential scoring opportunity. The bottom of the third inning saw Manny Machado hit a one out double against Orioles nemesis Drew Smyly. Machado on second base with the #2 and #3 hitters coming up - that sounds good, right? Especially once Machado stole third base and was only 90 feet away from scoring the game's first run.
Steve Pearce was that #2 batter. He hit a Bermuda Triangle pop-up that Forsythe managed to run down and catch over his shoulder. Despite the fact that Forsythe caught the ball with his back to the infield, momentum carrying him away from the plate, Machado did not try to tag on this play. Forsythe's wild throw in to the infield was well off the mark. It was the rare time where a lack of aggressive baserunning was what cost the Orioles.
Next, Adam Jones struck out, and though it was probably not the case that the Orioles sat there in the dugout thinking, well, here we go again, it sure FELT like what happened there was the wind went out of their sails - especially when Tillman followed up with a stink bomb in each of the next two innings.
Yes, he was not done pitching poorly just because the fourth inning was over. The story of his game was not one of one bad inning. Again with one out, Rays DH John Jaso got a double, a cheapo against the shift down-the-line double, that was followed up by an RBI single hit by Forsythe and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Asdrubal Cabrera. Buck Showalter had Tillman issue an intentional walk to James Loney - a weird move considering the team was down by five runs and there were two outs, but then he got yanked.
In came Steve Johnson, one of the September saviors in 2012. He was just called up today. It's not 2012 any more. Johnson got all of one out in the game, but not before he gave up two hits and two walks. That put across both of the inherited runners, meaning Tillman's ERA for the night was 13.50, and gave up one run of his own. At least he didn't end up with an ERA of infinite.
The damage was well past done. Yet against Smyly, who had a 5.14 ERA in three starts since returning from the disabled list, the Orioles hitters had nothing going on whatsoever. Smyly has pitched six games against the Orioles in his career before tonight, three of which were starts, and he had a 1.00 ERA. That went down as the Orioles flailed away, striking out ten times against Smyly, all of which were swinging. That was the fourth 10+ strikeout game of Smyly's career.
Somehow in this game, J.P. Arencibia, the Rays catcher, who began the year in Orioles camp back in spring training but did not make the team in favor of Ryan Lavarnway, ended up driving in six runs. Arencibia received a post-game Gatorade bath courtesy of his teammate Chris Archer.
Only a ninth inning FUHR hit by Chris Davis - his 36th homer of the year - spared the Orioles the indignity of a shutout. Smyly was gone from the game by then. His record against the Orioles had no blemishes tonight.
Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? I don't know. There might be. It could turn out that we see a light and the light ends up being an oncoming train. As this losing streak stretches on, the team continues to invite unfavorable comparisons to the 2002 Orioles, who, like the 2015 Orioles, were 63-63 at one point in time. Those O's went on to finish up the season 4-32. They got started on that path with a ten game losing streak. The 2015 Orioles hit that 63-63 mark and have since lost six games.
They will try to avoid unlucky number seven on Wednesday night against the Rays. Erasmo Ramirez and Kevin Gausman are the currently scheduled starting pitchers for the 7:05pm game.