On a sweltering afternoon in Baltimore, the Orioles sought to take game two of a three game series with the Angels after an embarrassing 7-1 loss in the opener. The temperature was a stifling 93 degrees at first pitch at Camden Yards.
The Orioles played against type in the bottom of the first by manufacturing a pair of runs. Tim Beckham got things started by poking a single into center field. He was hitting leadoff for only the third time this year, bearing in mind he missed about two months due to injury.
Adam Jones followed Beckham with a single to the opposite field, putting runners on first and third for Manny Machado, who grounded a single under the glove of third baseman David Fletcher. Beckham scored and after Justin Upton’s error in the outfield, Jones and Machado ended up at third and second, respectively.
Danny Valencia took a 2-2 changeup to deep center field for a sacrifice fly, driving in Jones and advancing Machado to third. The rally ended with a Trey Mancini strikeout and Mark Trumbo groundout. But the Orioles had a rare lead in the early innings, up 2-0 against the Angels at the end of the first.
Andrew Cashner retired the first six Angels batters in a row until a leadoff double in the third inning by Ian Kinsler, who would be stranded at second base to end the inning. For most of the afternoon, Cashner was topping out at 95 mph on the radar gun with his fastball.
The Orioles right-hander came into the game with a 2-8 record, 4.70 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. Before this afternoon he was winless in eight starts this season at Camden Yards, a streak that would continue. In his past three starts covering 16 innings, he was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. In his career against the Angels before today, Cashner had a 3.94 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in five games, including two starts, covering 16 innings.
The Angels were able to reach Cashner for a run in the fourth inning. Upton led off with a double to right center, then after two quick ground ball outs to Beckham, Andrelton Simmons drove Upton home. Then Luis Valbuena struck out on a 94 mph fastball to end the inning.
Los Angeles would threaten again in the top of the fifth, when Cashner walked Mike Trout with runners on the corners to load the bases with two outs. Then Upton worked a full count and fanned on a low-and-away slider that was out of the strike zone. Crisis averted.
The Orioles were part of two odd plays in the bottom of the fifth inning. The first occurred on a ground ball by Adam Jones. It looked like a routine play where Skaggs was covering first base on a ball to the right side, but when he received the feed he lost track of where his feet were in relation to the bag and Adam Jones was safe.
Then Machado bounced a ground ball between first and second that hit Jones in the leg as he ran, resulting in the final out of the fifth. Skaggs left the game after that inning. His final pitching line was two runs allowed (one earned) on four hits, one walk and six strikeouts. He threw 75 pitches, including 55 strikes.
Cashner lasted one more inning than Skaggs, exiting after the sixth. He allowed one run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He threw 105 pitches (66 strikes).
Most importantly, Cashner did not allow a home run, which has been a bit of an Achilles heel for him this year. In 16 prior starts, he had allowed 14 home runs. By comparison, Cashner allowed 15 home runs total in 28 starts last year.
Unfortunately, things got ugly for the Orioles in the eighth. Mychal Givens came on to face the Angels after a scoreless seventh by Brad Brach. In his last 15 innings pitched, Givens had a 4.80 ERA and opponents were hitting .317 against him. After retiring Kole Calhoun on a fly ball to start the inning, Givens walked Trout, who advanced on a wild pitch.
Then Upton walked, putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base for Albert Pujols, who hit a deep fly ball to right center field. Danny Valencia drifted back to the warning track and got near the ball, but it bounced off the wall right behind him. And the result was a run scored and a brand new ballgame in the eighth.
After that play in the outfield, Buck raced to the mound and brought in Tanner Scott. Andrelton Simmons was intentionally walked and Scott was set to face pinch hitter Chris Young with the bases loaded and only one out. With a full count, Young hit a ground ball to third that was fielded cleanly by Beckham, who stepped on third for the force out but double-clutched the ball before throwing to first. Davis was pulled off the bag on the throw, making the runner safe, scoring a run and giving the Angels a 3-2 lead.
Kinsler reached first on an infield hit to Machado and the bases were loaded again. The Angels scored their fourth run when Maldonado was hit by a pitch, forcing in Simmons. Fletcher followed with a two-run single, but the bleeding stopped when the Orioles threw out Maldonado at third on the play. Just like that, it was 6-2 Angels.
The Orioles went down relatively quietly in the last two innings, managing only a single in the ninth by Chris Davis, and he was stranded at first when the game ended.
After today’s loss, the Orioles are guaranteed a series loss against the Angels this time around. But they will look to avoid the sweep tomorrow afternoon in the series finale. Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.20 ERA) gets the start for the Orioles and he will face the Angels’ Deck McGuire (0-0, 6.08 ERA).