The losses keep on coming for the Baltimore Orioles. For the sixth consecutive day, the Birds found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreline, dropping this one 6-1 to the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday night.
For a while, it looked like the O’s had a real good chance to get a quality start from one of their pitchers. Imagine that! Alec Asher opened the game with three no-hit innings, one strikeout and a walk. But things just fell apart from there on out.
In the fourth inning, back-to-back singles from Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu dashed any hopes of an out-of-nowhere, no-hit bid. Moments later, Avisail Garcia’s double to left center ended the chance of a shutout as both runners scored. It should be said, though, that Joey Rickard took an odd angle to the ball as it was headed to the wall, so much so that Adam Jones was the one who ended up actually corralling the rawhide and tossing it back to the infield. Would a better defender have prevented the second runner from scoring? The world may never know.
Following a scoreless fifth inning, the sixth inning was an implosion of epic proportions for the O’s hurler. Abreu singled, Garcia was hit by a pitch and Todd Frazier walked to load the bases for Matt Davidson, the White Sox team leader in home runs. Not ideal.
It was a seven-pitch duel between Asher and Davidson. On pitch five, Davidson smashed a long fly ball to left field, but luckily it went foul. On pitch seven, Davidson smashed a long fly ball to left field, and unfortunately it stayed fair. The mammoth grand slam extended the Chicago lead to 6-1 and knocked the starter from the game. Asher’s final line: five innings, six runs on six hits, two walks and one strikeout.
Glass half full? Since someone in the majors hit a grand slam, you can get a discount on Papa John’s pizza tomorrow. Yay?
That Orioles run was the only one they would manage to scratch across against the White Sox starter, Derek Holland, and it came way back in the first inning. As a matter of fact, it was pretty much the entirety of the offense for the evening. Rickard led off the game with a double, then a Manny Machado single to left field drove him in. Machado was thrown out at second base trying to stretch the hit into a double.
Holland fought through six frames despite not having a single 1-2-3 inning. In the second, Jonathan Schoop was stranded at second base after a one-out single. In the third, Rickard and Jones were left on after reaching with one out. Welington Castillo and J.J. Hardy were left on base in the fourth. Rickard and Jones led off the fifth with back-to-back singles, but would not go past second base. And finally, Trey Mancini had a wonderful nine-pitch at bat to lead off the sixth inning with a double, but a pop out and two fly outs meant he never got to third.
Holland’s final line: six innings, one run on eight hits, two walks and five strikeouts. One run on eight hits and a pair of walks? The offense has completely lost its mojo, it would seem.
From there, the Chicago bullpen, which is one of the team’s strengths, took over and led the hosts to victory. Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle and Chris Beck each had one inning, scoreless appearances to improve the White Sox to 28-35 on the season. With the loss, the Orioles fall to 31-32, the franchise’s first time under .500 since October 3, 2015.
This game was yet another microcosm of the season as a whole. The offense, without the help of a home run, can’t scratch together enough hits to do damage. The pitching, inevitably, sputters out. And the Orioles lose, which has been happening far too often this last month or so.
Looking for positives, they were tough to come by. Rickard and Jones each had two-hit days. Mancini’s nine-pitch at-bat in the sixth inning was a thing of beauty. And the bullpen guys were good. Richard Bleier gave a solid, scoreless inning. Jimmy Yacabonis finished things up with a shutout seventh and eighth frame.
But the Orioles were flat out beaten...again. It wasn’t even close, and there is no one person to blame. The team is bad as a whole right now. But it is far from a flash in the pan at this point. This has been a prolonged stretch of bad baseball. And it’s not because of a lack of passion or preparedness or hard work. They just stink.
There is still something to look forward to, however. Tomorrow is Dylan Bundy (6-5, 3.05 ERA) day, which is always exciting, but it is getting to the point where it feels like the Orioles HAVE to win everyone of his starts, because the other games are all a crapshoot. That is awful lot of pressure on the young guy.
The right-hander will be opposed by former Oriole Miguel Gonzalez (4-7, 4.89 ERA) in game three of a four-game series. The O’s will need to win both to earn a split and to get back up above .500. First pitch for Wednesday’s game is set for 8:10 p.m. eastern.