Alternate title: Andrew Cashner and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Behind arguably the worst starting pitching performance in franchise history, the O’s were destroyed by the Texas Rangers in the opener of their four-game set, 17-8.
Hey, at least it wasn’t 30-3!
Let’s all just take a step back and take in the sheer horribleness of Andrew Cashner’s performance today. To call it a dumpster fire would be an insult to dumpster fires. “Don’t bring me into THIS debacle!” the inferno-ridden dumpster would insist.
I’m going to recite Cashner’s box score line, but I warn you, please don’t stare directly at it. It’s like looking into the sun without eye protection. In fact, you should probably put on full body armor while you’re at it. This thing could cause extreme injury.
Ready? Here goes. Cashner pitched 1.2 innings tonight, facing 15 batters. Seven of them got hits. Three of them walked. And TEN of them scored.
Yes, 10 runs. All earned.
Cashner became just the sixth starting pitcher in O’s history to allow 10 or more runs in a game, joining Scott McGregor (April 9, 1978), Jeff Ballard (June 26, 1991), Scott Erickson (July 6, 1997), Mike Mussina (April 21, 1999), and Jason Johnson (Aug. 15, 2000).
All of those pitchers, though, worked at least three innings in their 10-run disasters. Cashner lasted just 1.2. So you could make a legitimate argument that this was the worst outing of all time for an O’s starting pitcher.
Who says there’s no reason to watch the Orioles this year? On any given day, you could witness history!
It’s a shame it happened to Cashner, who has otherwise been a fairly solid starter for the Orioles this year. Of his 20 starts before tonight, he’d had only three where he allowed more than four runs. That’s the name of Cashner’s game — he’s not going to wow you, but he’ll usually give you a quality start, or close to it, and a chance to win.
Boy, was that not the case tonight. Cashner’s season ERA ballooned 72 points in one fell swoop, from 4.33 to 5.05.
So how did this travesty happen? Basically, the Rangers hit the ball hard, a lot. (Was that helpful?)
The first inning was just garden-variety bad. A walk and a single put two aboard for Jurickson Profar, who mashed a three-run homer into the right-field seats. Still, Cashner got out of that inning having recorded the same number of outs as runs allowed (three). There was no indication yet that he’d have the worst night of his baseball life.
The second inning is where it all came crashing down. With one out, back-to-back doubles brought home the Rangers’ fourth run, but still Cashner got a second out and was one away from escaping the inning with relatively little damage.
He never got it. He walked Rougned Odor on four pitches. By the way, Odor drew four walks in the first five innings of this game. To repeat: Rougned Odor, one of the free-swingiest hitters in the majors, a guy who had just 113 walks in 2,482 career plate appearances before tonight (or about one every 22 PAs), drew FOUR WALKS in this game. This night was ridiculous.
Anyway, Odor’s walk was followed by an Elvis Andrus RBI single, then a wild pitch that plated Odor, then another free pass, then a Profar RBI single and Joey Gallo RBI double. Finally, that was it for Cashner. He walked off the mound having already allowed eight runs — tying his career worst — but Donnie Hart did him no favors by allowing both of his inherited runners to score on an Isiah Kiner-Falefa two-run single. Kiner-Falefa took pity on the Orioles by getting himself thrown out at second to end the inning, but the damage was done. The Rangers had scored seven runs in the inning to take a 10-1 lead.
The game was already lost, so from there, it was a matter of playing out the string. The Rangers continued to pad their run total. Andrus added an RBI double in the third off Hart in the third. Jhan Marinez coughed up two more in the fourth, including a bases-loaded walk to Odor. He labored for 34 pitches in the inning, but Buck Showalter was planning to bring him out for another frame before Marinez suffered an injury while warming up. Showalter then had to turn to Miguel Castro, who was tagged for two runs of his own on an Odor two-run blast in the sixth.
This game got so out of hand that after Tanner Scott labored through his outing, giving up two runs, two hits, and two walks, Showalter replaced him with Danny Valencia with two outs in the eighth. Yes, that’s Danny Valencia, the usually-infielder, sometimes-outfielder, and definitely-not-pitcher. He became the eighth position player to make a pitching appearance in Orioles history, and the first since Ryan Flaherty in 2016.
Valencia retired the only batter he faced, with help from home plate ump Bruce Dreckman, who rung up Joey Gallo on a 3-2 pitch that looked about a foot outside. The ump clearly didn’t want this game to go on any longer than it had to. And his name was very appropriate for a game that was pure dreck, man.
On the plus side, the Orioles’ offense managed to put eight runs on the board, but long after the game was decided. They roughed up former Oriole Yovani Gallardo for five runs in 5.1 innings — for which Gallardo earned a win anyway, thanks to dumb baseball rules — with Mark Trumbo and Caleb Joseph both taking him deep.
Speaking of dumb baseball rules, Rangers reliever Eddie Butler was credited with a save in a game his team won by nine runs. Butler worked the final 3.2 innings for Texas, giving up three runs, two on a Trey Mancini homer in the ninth. That’s not even the most egregious save I’ve seen by a Rangers pitcher in a game against the Orioles. In the 30-3 game in 2007, Wes Littleton “earned” a save by pitching three innings in relief. Can we maybe re-think the save rule, anyone?
The game finally came to a merciful end with a 17-8 final. Better luck tomorrow, guys.