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Zach Britton blows another save, Orioles lose 8-7 in 11 innings

It seemed like the Orioles were going to lose this game, then it seemed like they would win! But then they lost anyway.

Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Tonight it looked like, for once, the Orioles might get a feel good win that they didn’t expect. They overcame a bad start from Alex Cobb with a three-run home run from Chris Davis, of all people. But another blown save by Zach Britton erased the excitement of seeing Davis hit a ball to Eutaw Street, and the end result was the same as so many others this season.

With the loss tonight, the Orioles now have a record of 23-56. Through 79 games the 1988 Baltimore Orioles, universally recognized as the worst team in O’s history, were 24-55. That’s right, it’s finally happened. The 2018 Orioles are now worse than the worst team in team history and are on pace to win 47 games. Well done, boys.

On to the grisly details.

You Got Cobb’d!

During spring training the Orioles signed Alex Cobb to a four-year deal and so far it hasn’t seemed like a very good idea. Tonight was no different, as Cobb was twice staked to a two-run lead and twice blew it. He didn’t make it out of the fifth inning and his already high ERA rose even more to 6.75.

After Danny Valencia’s first inning homer gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead, Cobb gave back one run in each of the second and third innings. In the second inning, it felt like it was going to be more than one. The lead was cut to 2-1 on a one-out home run from Ryon Healy, then the next two batters reached base as well. But Cobb got out of it to hold the lead....

...until the next inning. Jean Segura, who I will be glad to see leave town, started the third inning off with a double. He came in to score on a single by Denard Span to tie the game.

After a 1-2-3 fourth (his only of the game), Cobb melted down in the fifth. A walk, a double, and another walk loaded the bases with one out, then the first run came in on a sacrifice fly by Healy. Both runners moved up on the long fly ball to center field, leaving first base open for an intentional walk to Ben Gamel to face Mike Zunino instead. The move backfired as Zunino hit a two-run single. Oops.

Just like that, the Orioles were down by a run, 5-4, and Cobb was pulled from the game, Mike Wright came in to pitch in relief and cleaned up Cobb’s mess, stranding his runners and going on to pitch the sixth and seventh innings as well. I’m usually pretty quick to point out when Mike Wright is bad, so let me take this opportunity to point out that he’s had a very nice outing today.

Crush Davis and Hustlin’ Manny

One of the few pleasant surprises of this season has been Danny Valencia. Valencia has been known as a platoon player who can hit lefties and that’s about it. This year, however, he’s been all-around good at the plate, and he came through again tonight. In the first inning, with Trey Mancini on first base, Valencia homered to give the Orioles their first lead of the day.

I’m still not crazy about Valencia playing defense, especially the outfield, but when you’re the second best hitter on the team they’ll find a way to get you in the lineup.

In the third inning the Orioles scored two more runs, both of which I thought were going to turn into outs. With Adam Jones on second and Manny Machado on first, Mark Trumbo singled to left field. Bobby Dickerson waved in Jones and it looked like the throw was going to beat him. But it went up the line and Jones was safe.

The ball got away from the catcher which meant that a hustling Manny Machado was ALSO headed toward the plate, which seemed like insanity. But he too was safe, just ahead of the tag. Wow!

If you missed yesterday’s game, you may have missed a play where Machado grounded into a double play and didn’t run up the first base line. Like, at all. Today he formally apologized for that and was visibly running hard at all appropriate times during the game. It was refreshing.

Speaking of the hustle, we move to the 8th inning, which found the Orioles down by one run, 5-4. Machado was leading off and he hit a ground ball to the right side. It was deflected by the pitcher and Manny ran his butt off. It might be the hardest I’ve ever seen him run. He just beat the throw, which set up the Orioles’ go-ahead inning.

Valencia singled and Trumbo smoked a ball that shortstop Jean Segura made a very nice diving play to catch. Tough break, there. Jonathan Schoop grounded out for the second out, which meant that it was up to...Chris Davis.

Ugh, not Chris Davis. Might as well call it! No way he’ll...HIT A THREE-RUN HOME RUN TO EUTAW STREET!! Go, Chris! I knew it all along!

That massive dinger gave the Orioles a 7-5 lead and it felt like maybe things were going well for the team for once. (Spoiler: they were not)

Zach Britton is Broken

Armed with a two-run lead in the ninth inning, Buck Showalter turned to his closer. Zach Britton has had his troubles since returning from the disabled list, but I don’t blame the Orioles for continuing to use him. The season is lost, but if Britton can pitch well for a month maybe they’ll get something for him at the trade deadline.

The problem is that he hasn’t been pitching well, and that was the case again tonight. The first hit he gave up was the kind you tend to see from him even when he’s good: a ground ball that gets through the infield. The second, not so much. Kyle Seager stepped to the plate and launched his 15th home run of the season to right field.

Dammit, Zach! What the heck! He went on to get the next three batters but the damage was done.

Free Baseball

First Chris Davis erased the damage done by Alex Cobb, then Zach Britton erased the good done by Chris Davis. And so we went to extra innings.

Out of the bullpen for the Orioles was Mychal Givens, who pitched an outstanding 10th inning. He needed just eight pitches for the 1-2-3 inning, but he wasn’t as fortunate in the 11th.

It made sense to send Givens back out for the 11th. He hadn’t broken a sweat in the 10th and who knew how many more innings the game would go (it went on no more innings). Unfortunately it did not work out.

Jean Segura (this guy again?) hit a double to start the inning, then after Givens retired Mitch Haniger, Buck Showalter turned to Donnie Hart. I don’t think Hart is very good, and neither do the Orioles based on how much time he has spent in the minors this year. But there just aren’t a lot of good choices right now, so Donnie Hart it is.

Hart immediately gave up a single to Seager and a sacrifice fly to Denard Span to give the Mariners an 8-7 lead. Hart got the last out without further damage but no more damage needed to be done.

Mariners’ closer Edwin Diaz shut down the Orioles in the 11th despite giving up a leadoff single to Schoop. That brought Davis to the plate but he couldn’t bring the magic two at-bats in a row. He struck out for the first time in the game, extending his strikeout streak to 27 games. If only Britton hadn’t blown the save, Davis’s dubious streak would be over!

Tim Beckham and pinch-hitter Steve Wilkerson went down quietly to end the game, the Orioles’ fourth loss in a row. Tomorrow they will try to avoid the four-game sweep with a game at 3 p.m. Jimmy Yacabonis will be starting in place of the injured Dylan Bundy.