The rules of baseball say that a team has to play 162 games in a season. This obligation is something of a curse for a team that is as bad as the Orioles are in 2018. Many games in the waning weeks have been almost completely meaningless, with not even some token excitement from young players to give the slightest shred of hope for the future.
On Friday night, the Orioles played another one of these games and lost to the Yankees. They had to play this game because that’s what the rules say. Perhaps even they knew that they were going to lose. As it turned out, the O’s surprisingly made a game of it, with the usually-lifeless offense breaking out to score eight runs.
Unfortunately, the typically poor O’s pitching staff managed to give up ten runs and so they lost again. This was the 109th defeat that they have racked up on the year. It is still almost an unbelievable number. If the Orioles lose any of their final nine games, they will have at least 110 losses for the season. Unless they win six of nine, they will have fewer than 50 wins. They are bad.
What was bad on Friday night was familiar for this season. Starting pitcher Yefry Ramirez was bad. This started in the first inning, when he allowed a two-run home run, and continued through the fourth inning, which Ramirez was unable to complete because he did not pitch well. The specifics almost don’t matter. What matters is that he gave up six runs on six hits and three walks in just 3.2 innings. Ho-hum, another loss.
For much of the game, the O’s didn’t even seem like they were going to make it interesting. They trailed 6-0 after Ramirez left the game and the offense was blowing scoring chances left and right against Yankees starter CC Sabathia.
Eventually, the O’s loaded the bases in the fifth inning and Adam Jones drove in two runs to get the Orioles on the board in the fifth inning. It’s fun when the Orioles score runs. They scored more once Sabathia was out of the game to make the game interesting again. Austin Wynns ripped a pitch from reliever Jonathan Loaisiga into the left field seats to make it 6-3, and later in the inning, Jonathan Villar drove in another run for the O’s with a single.
Orioles relievers then took it upon themselves to make sure that the game did not remain interesting for long. In the bottom of the seventh, just after the O’s scored two more, Donnie Hart failed to get out a lefty and was lifted for Cody Carroll, who let Hart’s runner score plus gave up a pair of runs of his own. The early big league action for Carroll, part of the Zach Britton trade return, have really been poor. He has not looked like he deserves any better than his 8.10 ERA.
This made the score 9-4, again not particularly interesting. However, the O’s weren’t done scoring. In an eighth inning where the Yankees made two different pitching changes, the O’s were able to snag another four runs on four hits, with Renato Nunez driving in two runs with a Yankee Stadium Special home run and DJ Stewart driving in another pair of runs on an Even More Yankee Stadium Special home run.
This was the sixth home run of the season for Nunez and the second for Stewart. These are the kinds of things that can at least make yet another loss somewhat exciting. If Nunez can be something of an interesting placeholder at third base, that will be good for next year. If Stewart can hit well enough to be a big league regular, that’s a win for the team as well.
Cedric Mullins had a pair of hits, a walk, and a stolen base in the game. He is another player whose success means something in these waning days of a lost season. That’s good, too. The pitchers keep failing, including Paul Fry, who surrendered a tenth run in the bottom of the eighth inning, but there were, at least, some positive signs.
Of course, there was failure, too. Chris Davis struck out four times. He was the only Oriole who did not get a hit - the team collected 13 in all, actually out-hitting the Yankees, who had only 10. When you score eight runs, you should win. Even this team should win when they score eight. They did not win, though. It’s 2018. Losing is what they do.
The two teams will be back in action on Saturday afternoon for a 4:05 start time. David Hess and Lance Lynn are the scheduled starting pitchers. If Davis strikes out at least once, he will tie for 38th place on the career strikeout list. A second consecutive four strikeout game would tie him for 37th.