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Offense frozen again as O’s lose, 4-2

Andrew Cashner delivered a quality start, but the Orioles’ offense remained anemic as the club lost its fourth straight.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After a brutal schedule to start the season, going to Comerica Park to play the 5-8 Tigers seemed as though it may provide some relief and the opportunity for the Orioles to get back on track. But their 4-2 loss at the hands of the Tigers tonight looked like many of their previous losses: quiet offense, starting pitching that was decent but not great, and an ineffective bullpen. This recipe led to the club’s twelfth loss in its first seventeen games.

The game started of positively for the Birds, as they got two runners on base against Francisco Liriano in the first inning. After they were stranded, O’s starter Andrew Cashner pitched a tidy 1-2-3 inning. The second inning did not go as well, as the Orioles bats went in order and Cashner allowed a lead-off walk to Nick Castellanos. As Rick Dempsey always says, “nothing good happens after a lead-off walk.” Victor Martinez followed that with his first home run of the season and the O’s were in a 2-0 hole, a large deficit for their cold bats.

The Orioles were able to rally back, starting with Trey Mancini’s line drive solo home run, his second this season, in the top of the third. Detroit’s defense shined in the fourth inning when left fielder Niko Goodrum robbed Luis Sardinas, a light-hitting utility infielder making his first Orioles start, of a two-run double with a leaping catch at the wall. The offense kept churning as Adam Jones delivered a clutch two-out RBI single in the fifth to tie the game and seemingly provide life to a struggling offense.

But Cashner was not able to deliver the elusive shut-down inning after the offense tied the game. After a one-out single, Jeimer Candelario tripled home what would be the game-winning run.

The O’s did not advance a runner past first base in their final four at bats (against a Tigers bullpen that looks much better than it did in the 2014 ALDS). Reliever Mychal Givens’ struggles continued as he allowed a run in the eighth inning to eliminate the potential of a game-tying solo homer in the ninth. Tigers closer Shane Greene collected his third save of the season without any drama.

This loss was more of the same for the Orioles, who have scored three runs or less in six of their last seven games. Tonight they managed only six hits and left eleven men on base. (Those looking for a silver lining can point to the fact that they did work five walks.) Perhaps this game turns out differently if Sardinas isn’t robbed, but there were other opportunities to cash in and they didn’t.

This was a gutsy outing by Andrew Cashner, who did not go to the mound with his best stuff. He allowed ten baserunners through six innings and was unable to shut the Tigers down after his offense tied the game. But the veteran induced a couple ground ball double plays, registered a “quality start,” and gave his team a chance to win. On a club that is supposed to score lots of runs, that should be good enough. He took the loss and dropped to 1-2 and raised his ERA to a very respectable 3.00.

Buck Showalter brought Brad Brach in to pitch the seventh inning while trailing 3-2 in order to give the closer some work. After all, save situations have been rare lately. He pitched a scoreless inning with one walk. Mychal Givens continued his disappointing April by allowing a big insurance run that was made possible in part by a (wait for it…) base on balls. He registered a big strikeout with runners on second and third with one out, but proceeded to deliver a wild pitch allowing the fourth run to score. With Zach Britton out, getting Givens and his 6.52 ERA back on track is essential.

After their fourth straight loss, the Birds will look to bounce back tomorrow in a game whose first pitch was moved up to 1:10 because of impending weather. Matthew Boyd (0-1, 1.38) will oppose Kevin Gausman (1-1, 6.60), who will look to build upon last week’s encouraging outing. With Cleveland coming to Camden Yards this weekend, getting back in this series tomorrow is important for the O’s.