The Orioles have been an embarrassing team for most of the season, and this weekend put the cherry on top of the embarrassment sundae as our Birds were swept by the Kansas City Royals, the only team even close to as bad as them.
There was optimism for a brief moment as, in the top of the first inning, Jonathan Villar hit his 11th home run of the season to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. A lead! Could they hold it? Obviously not. In fact, that one run was the only they’d score en route to a six-hit game.
Starting pitcher David Hess gave back the lead in the bottom of the second inning as a run scored thanks to a few singles and a ground out. But it was the cringe-inducing third inning that was when most of the damage.
Whit Merrifield, who I suspect the Orioles will not miss when they leave Kansas City, started the inning with a single and then moved to third thanks to a stolen base and a single from Alex Gordon. The Royals were set up for a big inning and while they did get it, I’m betting it didn’t happen the way anyone would imagine.
After striking out Hunter Dozier for the first out, Hess make a pick off throw to first base. But the throw was bad and got away from Trey Mancini at first, allowing Merrifield to score the go-ahead run from third. Bad form, Orioles. But wait, there’s more!
Gordon moved up to third on a fly ball out, then came into score on a double from Jorge Bonifacio. With two outs and a runner on second, Hess again made a pick off throw. This one went to second base, and AGAIN Hess made a bad throw! Bonifacio raced to third base raced to third base. Breyvic Valera, playing second base today, tried to throw Bonifacio out at third, and HE made a bad throw! That allowed Bonifacio to score the fourth run of the game for the Royals.
Hess got the final out, but the damage was done. It was seriously like Little League out there. The Orioles made three errors in one inning!
The bottom of the fourth started with more shenanigans as Hess struck out Brett Phillips but Caleb Joseph couldn’t hold on to the ball and then the umpire accidentally kicked it away! Phillips was safe at first by an eyelash and shockingly ended up scoring later in the inning.
Sean Gilmartin relieved Hess after four innings and pitched 2.2 of his own without allowing a run, but Mike Wright turned a four-run deficit into an embarrassing eight-run deficit before you could blink an eye.
People keep talking about how Mike Wright is better these days, but is he really? He pitched to a 9.00 ERA in the month of August (11 runs in 11 innings) and today he gave up four runs while recording only two outs. And the hits against him were not bloops. Tanner Scott had to come in and clean up his mess, getting the last out on two pitches.
The starting pitcher for the Royals today was Jorge Lopez, who came to Kansas City earlier this year in the trade for Mike Moustakas. Lopez had been pitching in relief for his former team, the Milwaukee Brewers, but was put into Kansas City’s rotation. In three starts so far, Lopez had given up 12 runs total and hadn’t pitched more than five innings.
That changed today. Lopez owned the Orioles. He gave up just five hits and didn’t walk a batter, while striking out eight. The only thing approaching a rally that the Orioles had was in the fourth inning when Trey Mancini and Chris Davis hit back-to-back singles with two outs. Davis, of all people, was the only hitter in the game to get more than one hit off of Lopez.
When this series began, the title of Worst Team in Baseball was seemingly up for grabs. After being swept in three games, two of which weren’t even close, the Orioles have done their best to claim the trophy. The Royals are now 5 1⁄2 games better then the Orioles in the standings.