Fans who stayed up to watch their 8-20 Orioles play their first late night game of the season were rewarded with Alex Cobb’s first quality start in an orange and black uniform. They were punished by having to watch the O’s deliver zero hits in innings 2-8. They were uplifted in the ninth inning by clutch hitting and a game-tying rally. And their excitement was crushed almost immediately when the Angels walked off with a win the next half inning. That all adds up to a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who improved to 17-12.
Alex Cobb (no-decision) started for the O’s and his struggles this year have been well documented, as he probably hasn’t been ready to pitch after signing late in spring training. He changed that tonight as he allowed just two earned runs through six innings and brought his season ERA under ten (baby steps, ok?). Questions about his conditioning and how prepared he is to pitch after signing so late will continue as both runs were allowed in his sixth and final inning. He also allowed seven base hits, walked two, and struck out only two. But it was his best performance of the season and one he can hopefully build on as he looks to put his awful April behind him.
Angels starter Nick Tropeano (no-decision) turned in a nice performance and was in line for the win when he left the game. He allowed one hit, a Manny Machado double in the first inning, in 6.1 innings while striking out five. His ERA lowered to 3.42 after his outing.
Quality scoring chances were in short supply early in the game. The Angels had their first opportunity in the third inning, when two singles were followed with a fielder’s choice that placed runners on second and third with two outs. Buck Showalter’s decision to intentionally walk Mike Trout (the first of three times tonight) to load the bases was rewarded when Cobb retired Justin Upton.
Cobb worked out of minor jams in the fourth and fifth innings while the O’s were being retired quietly. The first runs of the evening came by the Angels in the sixth inning and were aided in part by the Orioles defense failing them again. Andrelton Simmons hit what appeared to be a harmless two-out double down the left field line. But when Manny Machado received Trey Mancini’s cut-off throw, he fired it over second base into no man’s land allowing Simmons to come all the way around and score. In what would end up being a one-run loss, this was a very costly mistake. The situation was compounded by Cobb allowing a home run to next batter Luis Valbuena.
Miguel Castro worked around a one-out double to hold the score at 2-0 in the seventh , but that inning saw a scary scenario. Catcher Chance Sisco and third baseman Pedro Alvarez collided on a foul pop up and Sisco’s head was injured badly enough that he gave way to Caleb Joseph. Sisco appeared woozy after the collision, but Showalter post-game comments indicated there were no concussion systems exhibited. Hopefully O’s fans get good news on this tomorrow.
Meanwhile Angels manager Mike Scioscia used three pitchers (including our old friend Jim Johnson) to get five outs to deliver a 2-0 lead to his closer Cam Bedrosian in the ninth inning. This is when Orioles’ bats finally came alive. Trey Mancini led off with an opposite field single and scored on a one-out double by Manny Machado, his 23rd RBI of the season. Adam Jones then plated Machado on a clutch single up the middle to tie the game. The uprising handed Bedrosian his second blown save of the season.
This is where the good news ended for the O’s, as their bullpen faltered again. Richard Bleier got the first out of the ninth inning after pitching a scoreless eighth. Struggling (former closer?) Brad Brach came in and did not retire a batter. A bloop, line drive, and walk loaded the bases for Justin Upton. Brach got ahead 0-2 in the count, but left a pitch well over the plate and Upton delivered a game-winning single to left. Brach took the loss, falling to 0-1, and allowed all four hitters to saw to reach base. His ERA stands at 6.55 and his performance is becoming a major concern. Bedrosian (1-0) benefited from baseball’s scoring rules and picked up the win despite allowing two runs and blowing the save.
This loss stings, as the ninth inning rally could have been used to jump start this team after a disappointing April. How many times have we seen a clutch comeback victory propel teams to a winning streak? But that opportunity was squandered in the bottom of the ninth and the O’s fell to 8-21.
Tomorrow’s first pitch is again at 10:05. Dylan Bundy (1-3, 2.97) squares off with Andrew Heaney (0-1, 6.91). The O’s will look for a win to avoid losing yet another series.