The Orioles cannot score runs anymore. That’s just the long and short of it. They can’t hit bad pitchers, they can’t hit good pitchers. They can’t hit starters, they can’t hit relievers. They can’t hit. It all showed again tonight, which resulted in a 2-0 loss and a sweep at the hand of the Nationals.
Tonight at least, they could pitch. So that was something different for a change. Rookie David Hess turned in a fine performance and provided a glimmer of enjoyment in an otherwise quiet and disappointing game.
The Continuing Adventures of the Embarrassing Offense
Look, nobody expected the Orioles to do anything against Max Scherzer. They can’t hit mediocre pitchers, how are they supposed to solve one of the best pitchers in baseball? They performed basically exactly as you’d expect them to against Scherzer, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t screw things up. Because of course they did, they’re the Orioles.
The Orioles broke up the no-hitter in the second inning, so at least we didn’t have to worry about that. With two outs, Chris Davis took a pitch the other way with a nice swing and singled to left field. I know, it was surprising! But don’t worry, he was back to his old ways later in the game.
Other than the Davis single, Scherzer just cruised through this game. He had strike outs in every inning, including striking out the side in the third. He had the Orioles chasing, with 10 of his 12 strikeouts being of the swinging variety.
The Orioles actually found themselves with a chance in the seventh inning, when they finally got their second and third base runners of the inning. With one out, Manny Machado doubled but he didn’t get past second base. Schoop followed him with his third strikeout of the game. Scherzer then issued his only walk of the game, putting Mark Trumbo on to bring Chris Davis to the plate as the go-ahead home run.
If only it were some previous year, this story might end with Davis hitting the three-run homer. But this is 2018, and so in the clutch situation Davis did exactly what you thought he’d do: he struck out to end the inning.
So Scherzer pitched as we all expected he would, but the pitching kept the Orioles in this game and when Sean Doolittle came to pitch the ninth, the team had a shot. Spoiler: they blew it.
Pinch hitter Craig Gentry (I know, I know) singled to start the inning, then Adam Jones hit a pop up to shallow right field. Second baseman Wilmer Difo and right fielder Bryce Harper converged but Difo overran it slightly and Harper couldn’t quite get there. That put runners on first and second and...what is this? A rally?
No, it was not a rally. Because before it could turn into a rally, Gentry got himself picked off of second base. He was trying to steal third but Doolittle threw to second and started a rundown. Craig, no!
After that TOOTBLAN, Machado and Schoop went quietly for outs two and three to end the game. I can’t even get worked up over it anymore.
All Aboard the Hess Express
The lone bright spot in this game was the start by rookie David Hess. Hess has had his ups and downs in his very short major league career, but it was hard to argue with the results tonight. After watching starting pitchers go down in flames over and over this season, I’ll take six innings, one run every day of the week.
The only thing we could have asked for was a bit lower pitch count so that he could have gone deeper than six. But for his fourth major league start against an above-average National League offense? It’s tough to argue.
Hess allowed base runners in each of the first two innings, but didn’t allow a run to score until the third with Bryce Harper at bat. Hess had struck out Harper in the first, but wasn’t so lucky the second time around. Harper hit a fly ball to left field that landed on the wrong side of the fence, good for his 18th home run of the season. And with Max Scherzer on the mound, that run was all they needed.
Anthony Rendon doubled immediately after Harper’s home run, but that was the last National who would reach against Hess. He got the final out of the third inning and then retired the side in order each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. It was a very nice stretch of baseball to watch, a rare treat for the Orioles fans still tuning in.
Unfortunately thanks to a few innings early on where Hess had to throw a lot of pitches, he found himself sitting at 97 pitches and was pulled from the game. His final pitching line was 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K. I’d say he’s earned himself another start.
Hess exited the game with the team losing 1-0 and the deficit quickly doubled in the seventh when Miguel Castro came in. A four-pitch walk to Michael Taylor put a runner on with one out, and two singles later Taylor came in to score. Castro wasn’t getting hit especially hard, but that’s why you shouldn’t walk guys.
Donnie Hart and Mike Wright each came in and pitched an easy inning each, but how could the offense be expected to overcome such a huge deficit?
The Orioles have now lost five games in a row and now have to face the Yankees for a four-game weekend series. Tomorrow night will see Andrew Cashner vs. Sonny Gray, game at 7:05 PM. How long of a losing streak do you think the Orioles will have when it’s all said and done?