When Saturday’s Orioles game ended, Caleb Joseph was playing third base. If you skipped the headline and didn’t already see the lopsided final score, that sentence should tell you all you need to know about this game. That scenario would never happen in a game that was good for the Orioles.
Joseph actually got to field a grounder in his lone inning at third base, throwing out the runner. He went on to make a nice, if futile, diving attempt on a base hit that snuck into left field. This was the most exciting thing to happen for the O’s in the game.
How did things get there? To put it simply, Dylan Bundy was no good. That is not an encouraging thing for Orioles fans, especially considering Bundy was working with several extra days of rest in order to keep him from getting fatigued. The extra rest did not avail him at all.
Bundy had trouble from the get-go and things never got any better on the way to a 10-3 loss at the hands of the Rays. After clawing their way back to .500, the Orioles have now lost two in a row to fall back two games below .500. They are now 6.5 games back of the AL East lead.
The Rays scored three runs off the first inning. It only took four batters for you to know the kind of game it was going to be. Mallex Smith led off the game with a single. After one out, the Rays put on a hit-and-run with Evan Longoria at the plate.
Longoria executed the play perfectly, grounding the ball into right field where Jonathan Schoop opened a hole to cover second base. What’s more, the ball slowed down significantly on outfield grass that was drenched from a storm that delayed the start of the game by more than an hour.
No Orioles outfielder could get to the ball quickly - Smith was at full speed the whole way and he scored on the play. So that’s what it’s like to have a fast player on the team. The Rays were on the board first. No big deal, right? Just get the next guy.
Well, the next guy was Logan Morrison, who you might be surprised to know entered the game with 22 home runs, seven more than any Oriole. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. Morrison blasted a Bundy pitch into the sod farm in center field and almost before you could blink, the Orioles were losing, 3-0.
This was the eleventh consecutive start in which Bundy has allowed a home run. That hurts. What hurts more is that before Bundy was through in the game, he had allowed two more homers. Morrison hit Bundy for another one in the third inning, a ball that was launched onto Eutaw Street and came eye-poppingly close to hitting the Warehouse.
Steven Souza followed up by going back-to-back, hitting a home run of his own that soared into the Rays bullpen. More ouch. That was Souza’s 16th home run of the season. He would also lead the Orioles in that category.
While he was giving up all of these runs, Bundy was also throwing a ton of pitches. It took him 99 pitches to clear just four innings. In that time, Bundy gave up five runs, all earned, on seven hits. It’s nice that he got seven strikeouts and didn’t walk anybody, but geez. That hurts.
It’s safe to say that the afternoon could have been the kind of game that leaves Oriole Park at Camden Yards susceptible to giving up a ton of home runs. After the rain was gone, it was warm and humid. The ball was soaring. Only, the Orioles hitters weren’t able to take advantage of that, or at least not like the Rays did.
The O’s hitters were able to go up against a homer-prone Rays pitcher in Jake Odorizzi, who entered the game with his own streak of eleven straight starts in which he had given up a home run. Could they take advantage of this? Ha! That was a funny joke.
Actually, the Orioles did homer off of Odorizzi, a two-run shot hit by Schoop that felt like it was long after the game’s outcome was still in doubt. That’s because Bundy was relieved by Alec Asher, who gave up a three-run home run to Rays catcher Wilson Ramos to put the Orioles in an 8-1 hole at that time. Schoop’s homer brought the deficit back to 8-3. Yay.
Asher ended up having a Five Runs, All Earned performance in just 1.2 innings of relief. When two different pitchers give up five runs, you are surely going to have a hard time winning.
During the MASN rain delay content, they brought GM Dan Duquette into the TV booth to give some remarks. Gary Thorne remarked that Duquette sounded very confident that the Orioles are about to have a strong second half.
Duquette launched into a monologue that largely consisted of him saying things like, “I know Chris Tillman is capable of pitching better and Kevin Gausman is capable of pitching better.” He said something similar about slumping hitters like Manny Machado, who broke an extended 0-18 slump with a bloop single in this game, and Mark Trumbo.
About that, Duquette’s not wrong. Those players are underperforming. But it’s a sobering thought to really consider. The Orioles success for the remainder of the season is heavily if not entirely contingent on players who have thus far given little reason to have much confidence in them for their seasons turning around. They are not hitting or pitching well enough to pretend to be a team that’s in contention for anything.
The Orioles will close out the numerical first half of their schedule on Sunday afternoon looking to have one of those struggling players start to do better to improve their chances of staying in the race. They need a win to avoid a sweep. Kevin Gausman is starting the 1:05 contest for the O’s, with Alex Cobb pitching for the Rays.