Another day, another loss. These are the stories of the 2018 Orioles. Every episode has a different script but they all share certain thematic elements. They fell to the Twins on Saturday afternoon, 5-4, with the decisive runs being driven in by a backup catcher, Bobby Wilson, who entered the game batting .114 on the season. He drove in three runs today. The Orioles lost.
It was a history-making loss, at least for Chris Davis, who added one strikeout to his total and with that became the all-time leader for strikeouts as an Oriole. Davis tied Cal Ripken on Thursday with 1,305 strikeouts as an Oriole. He did this in 972 games as an O, where it took Ripken 3,001 games for as many strikeouts.
Now, Davis has the record all to himself. They did not stop the game for confetti or a long lap around the stadium when he broke the record, if you can imagine that.
Today is not the day to pile on Davis, in truth. He hit a home run in the first inning that was part of a three-run inning for the O’s, the eighth Davis homer of the year. He drew a walk in the game as well. It’s going to take a lot of games like that for his batting line to look anything other than atrocious for the season, but he’s hardly the biggest culprit for why the Orioles lost this particular game.
The O’s didn’t lack for scoring chances. Along with the Davis home run, they had four doubles. This meant that five of the seven hits they had in the game went for extra bases. Yet much like Friday night, they just couldn’t get the clutch hit to really break the game open. The O’s went just 1-11 in situations with runners in scoring position. That’s a big reason why, after their three first inning runs, they didn’t score again until the ninth inning.
Saturday afternoon’s game was different from many this season because the Orioles did not trail from the get-go. They grabbed the three runs, starting off with a leadoff double by Tim Beckham, and their starting pitcher, Kevin Gausman, did not give up any early runs. Gausman faced the minimum nine batters through three innings, and through four innings had allowed just one hit on only 49 pitches.
Alas, four innings of dominance from a starter isn’t worth a whole heck of a lot. Gausman struggled with the bottom of the Twins lineup the second time through the order. Starting with a Max Kepler home run, Gausman allowed five straight Twins to reach base. That stopped when he walked Joe Mauer to load the bases.
However, although Gausman retired the next two batters after Mauer, he also threw a wild pitch that let the tying run score. The MASN announcers felt more blame lay with catcher Chance Sisco, as the ball went through Sisco’s legs and bounced off of his foot and off towards the dugout. Whoever was to blame, the third Twins run scored without anyone even needing to swing a bat and the game was tied.
This nightmare fifth inning cost Gausman 41 pitches and he did not come out to begin the sixth inning. His line for the day was three runs on five hits and a walk in five innings, with five strikeouts recorded. Gausman has yet to be the winning pitcher in a road start this season.
Relieving Gausman in the sixth inning was Miguel Castro, who has often been good in his relief role this season. Often is not every time. This one will not go on his highlight reel. After being greeted by a leadoff double hit by Eduardo Escobar, Castro walked the next two batters to load the bases with no one out.
We know how this story ends. It was even more agonizing than you think, because Castro got two outs on bouncers hit to Davis at first base, with Davis coming home for the force out to preserve what was then a 3-3 tie. Castro only had to retire the #9 hitter, Wilson, to escape the jam. Wilson ripped a double to left field, scoring two runs, with the third runner being thrown out at the plate on the play.
Still, the damage was done and the Orioles faced a 5-3 hole heading into the seventh inning. They’d been shut down since the first inning thanks to the efforts of Twins starter Kyle Gibson, who ended up pitching seven innings despite the three-run first. Gibson allowed only four hits and issued four walks while striking out nine Orioles. In a noteworthy bit of failure by the O’s batters, they had 23 swinging strikes against Gibson.
The O’s scraped together a ninth inning run against Fernando Rodney to make it a one run game. Jonathan Schoop hit a one out single and advanced on fielder’s indifference, where he scored after Jace Peterson, of all people, delivered a two out double. The tying run got no closer than that. Beckham grounded out and the game was over, with the Orioles in the loss column for the 64th time this season.
That’s now five losses in a row for the O’s. It is the eighth separate losing streak of five or more games that they have notched in 2018. Since the beginning of June, they are 7-26. They are bad against anyone, anywhere, at any time. They’re on pace to win just 44 games on the season.
Maybe the most remarkable thing about these clowns is that there have been 24 games that they have played this season that they did not lose. The losses aren’t the surprise, not any more. How did they even manage to win that many? Some mysteries are cosmic and beyond the ken of mortal minds.
The O’s will try to avoid yet another sweep on Sunday afternoon at 2:10. Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi are the scheduled starters for the series finale.