Welcome to the official First Day of Summer, Camden Chatters! Welcome to a Summer where the Orioles started the night off sitting at .500 (35-35), and Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, Zach Britton, and Darren O’Day are on the disabled list. Welcome to a Summer where the Orioles had surrendered 5 or more (most of the time it’s “more”) runs in 17 (SEVENTEEN!!) consecutive games to round-out Spring.
Welcome to a Summer where despite losing 25 of their last 38 games, the Orioles are somehow 4.0 games out of 1st in the AL East and 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. “How?” you might ask. Because, baseball. Also, remember when everyone kept “joking” about banked wins early in the season? Turns out those wins are the only thing keeping this a ~.500 team right now—because they sure as hell aren’t playing like one at the moment.
Maybe playing at home is the key to success for the O’s, because they were 24-12 at OPACY coming into tonight, so conversely, they were 11-23 on the road. Mega wowza! Anyhow, tonight before the game, the O’s recalled Donnie Hart and Craig Gentry.
Hart seems to have (please, God) righted the ship down in Norfolk, pitching 8.0 scoreless innings on his way to striking out 11 and walking only 1. Craig Gentry also did some stuff down there, slashing .275/ .345/ .382 across 113 plate appearances. Optioned in return were Vidal Nuno of the 10.43 ERA and David Washington, who barely sipped his cup of coffee before the Dan Duquette roster carousel spun yet again.
On to the recap!
Kevin Gausman entered tonight’s affair coming off of a loss to the Cardinals on my birthday (shame on you, Kevin!) where he surrendered the Orioles’ then-obligatory 5 R over 5.2 IP. Not. Good. Tonight was a whole lot better, just not entirely in result.
Gausman came on after a 40-minute rain delay looking like a completely different Kevin than the one that the Orioles have been trotting out every fifth day for quite a time. Maybe he has a brother? Or a secret evil identical twin with a goatee named Evan? I promise I’ve never theorized about this.
Anyhow, The Goose breezed through his first four innings like it was [almost] nothing. Kevin actually didn’t allow a base runner until after he had already retired four batters, but that was just a blip on his radar at that point in the game. There was a little trouble in the fourth, when Jason Kipnis led off with a walk.
Jose Ramirez followed by smacking a ball into left-center. Two on, none down. Kevin didn’t care, though. Kevin reached back for something extra, and struck out EE. Then he got Lonnie Chisenhall to fly out to the Good Doctor in center, and Trey Mancini helped a little on defense to rob Carlos Santana down the 1B line—good for out number three! The score remained locked at 0-0.
The fifth is when Gausman got into his trademark trouble. With one down, Bradley Zimmer hit a single that didn’t seem to matter at the time. It mattered almost immediately when Roberto Perez followed it up with a screamer that rolled all the way to the left-center wall, scoring Zimmer from first.
Francisco Lindor then smoked a fastball into the stands that almost hit the Oriole Bird. That, folks, is a quick 3-0 in favor of the visiting team. Kevin struck out the next two batters to end the inning and tally eight Ks on the night, but the damage was done.
Gausman came on to start the sixth, and recorded two outs after walking Lonnie Chisenhall. Buck lifted Gausman in favor of the newly-recalled Donnie Hart with the left-handed batting Bradley Zimmer due up. Hart did his thing, and Kevin’s final line would be 5.2IP, 6H, 3ER, 2BB, 9SO—a pretty good line for a game where realistically Kevin only threw a few mistakes (compared to his usual “many, many mistakes”).
Unfortunately for the birds, Carlos Carrasco really didn’t care what Kevin Gausman or anybody else was or wasn’t doing on the mound. Carrasco is a certified good pitcher. When he threw a 1-2-3 first inning of his own, it wasn’t a surprise. Good for him!
Carrasco faced the minimum number of Oriole batters possible through 3.2IP (Trey Mancini reached in the second on a Baltimore chop, and was erased on a Jonathan Schoop GIDP). With two down in the fourth, Jones managed to leg-out and INF single, and Trumbo followed with a poke into center—but Mancini hit a ball so soft that Indians catcher, Roberto Perez, handled it for out number three.
Carrasco laughed that off and collected two more Ks in the bottom of the fifth, on his way to his third perfect inning out of five, and his Gausman-matching eight strikeouts. In all, his line on the night was an enviable 6.0IP, 7H, 0R, 0BB, 10SO.
Carrasco left the bases full of O’s in seventh with no outs as a challenge for Andrew Miller, and Andrew Miller showed why he is the best reliever in baseball. The Orioles didn’t even get close to scoring, with a Rickard pinch-hit 5-2 ground out, a CaJo swining K, and a Ruben Tejada pinch-hit swinging K. Door slammed shut. Hard.
Miguel Castro and Alec Asher came on to pitch the ninth, and the Indians increased their lead to *guess what?* 5-0. An Orioles game is no longer complete without the opponent scoring five or more runs. At least tonight it was five, not “or more.” The final score was 5-1, with a Mancini single + a Schoop double in the bottom of the ninth combining for a run. It was the epitome of “too little, too late.”
The silver lining (if you need one) evidenced in this game by Donnie Hart’s near-perfect 2.1IP is that there is reason to believe the Orioles bullpen will be improving soon.
It can’t really get much worse…but Donnie Hart may have recovered from whatever his problem was before being sent down to AAA, Darren O’Day is set to come off the DL Friday against the Rays, and Zach Britton is currently rehabbing and “feeling good.” If you squint really hard, you might see something bright on the horizon. Just maybe.
But for tonight, the Orioles are still losers, and they’ll go for the series split tomorrow night behind the venerable Wade Miley.