Friday the 13th was as much of a nightmare for the Orioles as the rest of the season has been. They lost again to the Rangers, 5-4, with a total meltdown by Tanner Scott putting them in too much of a hole for an attempted late comeback. This was the 69th Orioles loss of the year in 95 games. It is not very nice. They are a bad baseball team that finds ways to lose.
A team does not end up 26-69 by accident. The Orioles have earned every single loss they have gotten. They lose when they actually score a few runs. They lose when they get good starting pitching. They just lose. They don’t have to lose, but they do. That’s what they do.
You can blame a number of things for why the Orioles lost this latest game, but the top of the list must be Scott. He entered a tie game with one out in the seventh inning and a man already on first base and could not throw strikes. This is what will happen with Scott sometimes. He walked the #8 Rangers batter, Joey Gallo, and then was asked to face pinch hitter Ryan Rua, who entered the game .182/.216/.327 on the season.
What’s more, Rua had never gotten a pinch hit in his career in 18 previous at-bats. Always apply Murphy’s Law to the 2018 O’s. Things will be the worst that they can possibly be. Scott served up a three-run home run to Rua because of course he did, and suddenly the Orioles trailed, 4-1. Before being mercifully yanked from the game, Scott walked another batter and gave up another run with a double.
This meltdown spoiled what had been a nice outing by starting pitcher Alex Cobb. Good games haven’t been all that common for Cobb on the season. On Friday night, he pitched 6.1 innings and at the time he was lifted had allowed just one run on six hits, with no walks allowed and three strikeouts.
The only blemish on the scoreboard against Cobb came when Gallo took him deep for his 22nd home run of the season, putting the Rangers up, 1-0. 22 home runs for a guy batting .188? That’s kind of impressive. Maybe that’s why Scott pitched carefully to him. Oh well. Cobb was pulled after 95 pitches. Perhaps he should have gotten another chance against Gallo. Hindsight is 20/20.
Because the second run was put on base by Cobb, it was charged to Cobb when Scott allowed the home run. This also means that Cobb takes the loss in the game, since the Orioles never came back to tie it after that. He is now 2-12. At times, he has not deserved better than that. This was not one of those games.
In typical 2018 Orioles fashion, they were flailing away against the other team’s starting pitcher. In this case it was possible trade deadline piece Cole Hamels, auditioning for several scouts who were in the house. Only after a fifth inning leadoff double by Adam Jones did the O’s manufacture any offense, advancing Jones on a groundout and scoring him on a sacrifice fly to knot the score at 1-1.
Hamels cruise ground to a halt abruptly in the seventh inning, immediately after his team gave him the four-run lead. He loaded the bases with one out, giving up singles to Mark Trumbo and Danny Valencia before walking Chris Davis. Just like that, the tying run was at the plate in the form of Trey Mancini.
This was enough for the Rangers, who yanked Hamels even though it had only taken him 81 pitches to get to that point. They brought in reliever Jose Leclerc to try to hold the line. He struck out Trey Mancini before allowing a bases-clearing double to Caleb Joseph, of all people. Kid’s gotta eat, as he likes to say. The O’s were genuinely back in the game, cutting the deficit to 5-4.
Although the O’s teased with chances, they did not score again. They did not lack for the chance to score again. Facing reliever Jesse Chavez in the eighth inning, Jonathan Schoop led off with a single. After Chavez walked Machado, the O’s had the tying run in scoring position and the go-ahead run on base with no one out. The rally had potential. The potential was never realized. That’s the story of my life.
Jones flew out for the first out. Trumbo followed with an actual, honest-to-goodness clutch hit, a line drive that sliced in to right field for a single. Unfortunately, the lead runner, Schoop, read the ball poorly off the bat, got a bad jump, and was unable to score on the play. Still, the bases were loaded with one out. Valencia struck out to bring up Davis. The Rangers brought in a lefty. Davis popped out. That was basically that.
Paul Fry and Mychal Givens each struck out two batters over an inning of relief to close the barn door after the horses had bolted. If Fry keeps pitching so well, he might find he starts getting called on in the higher-leverage spots before Scott does.
All of the losing has put a real dent in what was a handy cushion above .500 for Buck Showalter’s record as an Oriole. They are now 648-638 with Showalter as manager, so they must finish the season 29-38 in order to keep him above .500, unless there’s a firing before season’s end. This doesn’t really mean a whole heck of a lot except that it’s another reminder that the 2018 Orioles are very bad.
The O’s and Rangers will be back in action on Saturday night for a 7:15 matchup that will air on Fox. What genius picked this matchup for national television? Yowza. Yefry Ramirez and Martin Perez are the scheduled starting pitchers, and by the way, if you’re looking ahead to Sunday’s finale, Jimmy Yacabonis has possible strep throat and may not pitch, bringing us a step closer to the threat of another Chris Tillman Orioles start.