In an unexpected development, the solution to the Orioles entering Sunday’s game with an MLB-worst starting rotation ERA was not Ubaldo Jimenez pitching. Another crummy outing put the Orioles in another deep hole from which they could not emerge. The result was the O’s ending up on the wrong end of a sweep, losing 8-0 to the Cubs on Sunday afternoon.
The Orioles have been losing so many games that finding new words to describe all of them is difficult. What’s more, with each successive loss, the results matter less and less. Nurtured postseason dreams of two months ago have long since faded. The only place the Orioles are going is further into last place.
More significant for the long-term of the franchise was a Sunday report from Ken Rosenthal that the Orioles are preparing for a “modified sell-off” - similar to what the Yankees did last season in trading their relievers and collecting prospects in the process.
As for Sunday afternoon’s contest against the Cubs, I hope you weren’t watching. If you were, you didn’t see anything surprising with how this season has gone. How many games does it feel like there has been where the Orioles starting pitcher was bad early and the Orioles offense never got anything going at all? Here was one more.
After a scoreless first inning that was just enough to trick you into thinking the bad version of Jimenez might not have reported for duty today, the Cubs turned around in the second inning and batted around on Jimenez, plating four runs in the process.
Nor was it just the one bad inning for Jimenez. He gave up another pair of runs in the fourth inning, a laser off the bat of Kris Bryant that screamed out of the playing field before you even had time to blink. With a man on base, this brought two more runs in.
The homer was Bryant’s 19th of the season, so it’s not like this was one of those times where the Orioles inexplicably get beaten by a #9 hitter homering off of them. But also, like, come on. You know? Of course that happened.
Jimenez could not complete the fourth inning of the game. Yet he still managed to give up six runs, all earned, on eleven hits in 3.2 innings pitched. It wasn’t walks that did Jimenez in today. He gave up just one of these. But he wasn’t fooling any of the Cubs hitters with what he was throwing in there. His ERA is now over 7 for the season.
While this was going on, the Orioles offense had one of their flail away games. It didn’t go very well. Newly-acquired Cubs starting pitcher Jose Quintana, against whom the Orioles had previously scored four runs in five innings in May, just plain had their number on Sunday afternoon.
The O’s never got anything going. They barely ever had a chance to get anything going. They got just three hits over the whole game. That’s the kind of thing where it almost doesn’t even matter what your starting pitcher does. You’re not winning many games where you only get three hits.
Quintana set a new season high in strikeouts with 12 over seven innings pitched. The Orioles were chasing. Most of the third strikes were swinging. Not much room for his Cubs debut to have gone better. The Cubs, who entered this series below .500, will leave it a game above .500.
For all that it matters, the Orioles bullpen kept the Cubs off the board until the ninth inning once Jimenez was out of the game. Donnie Hart tossed two scoreless innings, with Mychal Givens adding another 1.1 and possible trade bait Zach Britton keeping the ball on the ground in a scoreless inning.
It was a Darren O’Day appearance that further spoiled an already-spoiled party. Anthony Rizzo took him deep for a two run shot, Rizzo’s 22nd homer of the season. Again, in a vacuum, sometimes you have to live with power hitters hitting home runs against you. But that doesn’t make this game or season any better.
O’Day faced four batters before he even got a single out. He did finish the inning, at least. O’Day was also mentioned as a possible trade piece. With how he’s looked this season and especially today, it’s tough to imagine he would be in high demand. You don’t want to have to dig for peripheral-based consolations for a reliever with a 4.22 ERA.
The Orioles, meanwhile, are now seven games below .500. They are the cure for what ails every team. That may prove to be true for the Rangers, who the Orioles are going to face next over four games, as well.
Enjoy a merciful 26 hours or so where there is no fresh Orioles horror to find you. They will kick off their series against the Rangers at a scheduled 7:05pm on Monday evening. Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman are the expected starting pitchers.