Some day, presumably, the Orioles are going to win another baseball game. Wednesday afternoon against Chris Sale and the Red Sox, with Yefry Ramirez making his MLB debut for the O’s, did not prove to be that day. The O’s fell much like you would have expected, 5-1.
The biggest headline coming out of the game might not have anything to do with the score at all. O’s reliever Richard Bleier came out of the game in the eighth inning with an apparent injury. The MASN telecast noted that Bleier looked like he may have suffered some kind of problem during his warm-up tosses before the inning began, and after getting a groundout on one pitch, the trainer came to the mound and Bleier left immediately.
Hopefully, this is not the kind of problem where the elbow went pop. The Orioles are bad enough and they don’t need to have their one reliable reliever up to this point in the season missing extended time. Bleier walked off the mound fine. This was not a case of someone landing funny on the mound and having a rolled ankle. It seemed to be an arm problem. 2018 sucks.
The highlight of the game for O’s fans might well have been Sale coming out of the game in the seventh inning. That’s partly because Sale had been dominating the Orioles, holding them to just two hits in six-plus innings while striking out nine batters. Sale has struck out more than one out of every three batters this season. That continued today.
Mostly, though, this was a highlight because Sale had just issued back-to-back walks before getting yanked and, whiny baby that he is, he chose to express his displeasure with the home plate umpire by shouting what TV broadcasts like to delicately call “one of the magic words.” So Sale got ejected from a game after leaving the mound but before getting into the dugout. This was hilarious and may cost Sale pocket change.
The walks to Mark Trumbo and Craig Gentry eventually led to the lone Orioles run. After Sale’s removal/ejection, the runners moved up on a groundout and Trumbo scored as Jace Peterson hit a deep enough sacrifice fly off of Sox reliever Brandon Workman. Wednesday afternoon was, as it ended up, yet another game where they went hitless with runners in scoring position. This time, they had just six such chances.
The Orioles were losing long before this, though. Could it have gone any differently with Ramirez making his MLB debut? Camden Yards destroyer Mookie Betts opened up the scoring with a solo shot in the third inning, his 18th home run of the season. That’s where things stayed until the fifth inning, when Ramirez lost his command and issued a pair of walks to Betts and Andrew Benintendi.
With Ramirez at an elevated pitch count of 97, manager Buck Showalter had seen enough and summoned garbage time reliever Mike Wright Jr. The MASN broadcast noted the oddity of Wright pitching in that situation, having chiefly been called on in mop-up duty.
Wright immediately set to showing why he should be relegated to such duty, uncorking a wild pitch that let both runners advance. A Xander Bogaerts sacrifice fly brought home a second Boston run in the form of Betts. Wright then walked J.D. Martinez and gave up a single to Rafael Devers, thus sticking Ramirez’s ERA with both of the inherited runners.
Fans of justice in baseball statistics should fret not, however, because Wright went on to have his own ERA eat some runs by doing what he tends to do: Not getting outs. Eduardo Núñez singled to center field, driving in Martinez. A poor throw by the day’s substitute center fielder, Craig Gentry, let this run score. Adam Jones had a routine day off. Chris Davis also had a day off, in his case for being very bad.
Later on, Wright allowed a bomb to Martinez, perhaps showing why he walked the Sox slugger earlier. That seventh inning solo shot put the Red Sox up 5-0, more than enough for them to win comfortably.
The Orioles offense had just four hits all game. This is the 20th time this season where they have been held to either one or zero runs. One imagines that it will not be the last. They are a bad baseball team for many, many reasons, one of which is that most of their hitters are not hitting.
This drops the Orioles to 19-48 on the season. They are now just one game ahead of where the 1988 O’s were through the same number of games. Worse, they’re on a pace to win just 46 games this season, eight fewer than those woeful O’s of three decades past. They lost their seventh straight game, the third time this season they’ve had such a losing streak. They haven’t hit eight yet, but there’s always Friday.
Thursday’s off day is a mercy for just about everyone associated with the team, surely. The team will be back in action on Friday night against the Marlins, who as it happens, are the only team with an offense that may legitimately claim to be as bad as or worse than the Orioles.
The Marlins have scored just 234 runs this season, just like the O‘s. They have to contend with pitchers batting, and no, their pitchers are not hitting better than Davis. No NL team’s pitchers are. Not that this is saying very much.
With each passing day it is more of a marvel that the decisionmakers of this team took a look at this roster over the offseason and through spring training and thought, “Yep, if we just sign Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb, these guys will contend.” They’re contending, all right - for the worst record ever put up by an MLB team in a 162-game season.