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O’s lose 4-0, get swept by Brewers

Aquino had a solid start, but the offense blew too many early chances

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The downward spiral continued for the Orioles as they lost 4-0 to the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, completing a sad, road sweep. For once, the pitching was pretty good, but the defense had a lapse and the offense did absolutely nothing.

Surprisingly, the best part of this game for the Orioles was the starting pitching. Go figure. Jayson Aquino put together a respectable, albeit brief, outing worthy of a major league hurler. Those are nice to see every once in a while, even in a losing effort.

The southpaw got the start in place of Chris Tillman, who is out on paternity leave. He wound up throwing just 77 pitches in 5.1 innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits, seven strikeouts and no walks.

By the way, congratulations to the Tillmans!

Milwaukee got on the board in the second inning following a Manny Machado error. Travis Shaw led off the frame with a double. Two batters later, Keon Broxton sent what looked like a simple bouncing grounder towards the hot corner. Machado took a step back and tried to make a swiping back hand, but whiffed. Shaw came around to score and put the Brew Crew up 1-0.

The Brewers other three runs came in the fourth inning. Ryan Braun led off with a double. A Domingo Santana single one batter later brought Braun in to score. Then Broxton smacked a two-run round tripper to double the Milwaukee lead to 4-0.

This was Aquino’s second career start, both coming this year. Each time he has done a much better job than he has in the bullpen. If a spot in the rotation does open up (paging Ubaldo Jimenez), the lefty deserves first dibs. It’s not as if anyone else has been impressive enough to deserve it ahead of him.

On the other side of things, Matt Garza, and the rest of the Brewers pitching staff, completely shut down the Orioles offense. The right handed starter’s final line was 6.1 innings and no runs on five hits, two walks and four strikeouts.

Garza had just one 1-2-3 inning, but continually tip-toed around jams. In the first inning, Machado was stranded at second after a one-out double. In the second, the O’s loaded the bases with no outs. Then Ruben Tejada and Aquino both struck out and Seth Smith flew out. In the third, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo were left stranded. And then Schoop was left on base in the fifth inning. Ugh. This team was supposed to be good at hitting with runners in scoring position.

From the sixth inning through the eighth, Baltimore sent 10 hitters to the plate. They went 1-for-10 with a double and five strikeouts. Somewhere in there was an appearance by former Oriole Oliver Drake. He went just one-third of an inning, striking out one and allowing a hit.

The O’s did show a little heart in the ninth inning against Corey Knebel. Trey Mancini led off with a single, but then Welington Castillo and Tejada both struck out ahead of a Joey Rickard single, giving the visitors runners on the corners with two outs. But they would go no farther as the Brewers closer made short work of Smith, striking him out on three fastballs, to finish the game.

If you’re looking for positives, check the bullpen. Miguel Castro, Zach Britton and Brad Brach combined for 2.2 scoreless innings, striking out two, walking two and allowing one hit.

Britton is the main attraction here. He finally returned from his lengthy disabled list stint and look definitively...meh. He didn’t strike anyone out and it took a nice play by Machado on a deflected ball to keep him from allowing a run. He’s a sinkerballer and, many times, when they have too much rest or are too amped up, their performance suffers. He should improve, but it’s good to see him back on the mound.

Baltimore are now losers of three in a row and five out of six and have a 40-44 record. No way they are THIS bad, right? It’s become downright depressing just to watch them. The feeling of impending doom overwhelms you during every botched rundown, every runner left stranded and every three-run home run allowed. It’s a tough time in Birdland.

The O’s are now headed to Minnesota to begin a four-game series with the Twins ahead of the All-Star break, which feels sorely needed. Dylan Bundy (8-7, 4.02 ERA) takes the hill for the Birds. He will be opposed by right-hander José Berríos (7-2, 3.44). First pitch is 8:10 p.m. if you can stomach it.