The 2019 Orioles played their 69th game of the season on Friday night. In contrast to what the Internet likes to say whenever that number appears in the wild, it was not very nice. The Orioles got their butts beaten in by the Red Sox in a 13-2 loss. There is nothing good to say about the game.
As we sit here in the middle of June, one member of the Orioles rotation, David Hess, has an ERA of 7.20. Hess did not pitch tonight, but he is important to discussing Friday’s demolition for this reason: When manager Brandon Hyde is asked about whether he might change the rotation, he says, “This is who we’ve got right now.”
The performance of the Triple-A pitching staff this season has been abysmal. No one is making the O’s want to see them in MLB. They are all bad.
A blister that developed on Andrew Cashner’s finger in the middle of his last start set in motion a chain of unfortunate events that culminated in a game where two of the guys ended up pitching who, when the Orioles see Hess giving up home runs like it’s going out of style, they still think, “Yeah, we’d rather keep seeing Hess than these other jokers.”
Two of those other jokers are Luis Ortiz and Josh Rogers, acquired by the organization last July in the Jonathan Schoop and Zack (then known to us as Zach) Britton deals. In Triple-A this season, Ortiz has posted a 7.01 ERA while giving up 14 home runs. You might think, “There’s no way someone could be worse than that,” except then there’s Rogers and his 8.51 ERA and 18 home runs allowed. They have been awful.
Only the ultimate desperation of Cashner’s blister, Dylan Bundy throwing a heavy side session on Wednesday, and Gabriel Ynoa’s short start on Thursday removing the possibility of a bullpen game on Friday led to a situation where they needed immediate minor league help. Only the fluke that Ortiz and Rogers were sufficiently rested on this exact day, plus their already being on the 40-man roster, made them seem like a good idea.
The best that Hyde could muster about Ortiz pre-game was, “I have no idea what to expect.” I think he was well aware that this was going to be a stinker. Surely so was Mike Elias, whose FanFest declaration, “I don’t want to place undue emphasis on something that’s not strategically relevant,” remains the phrase that says it all about the 2019 Orioles.
They are not strategically relevant. Ortiz is probably not strategically relevant. Neither is Rogers. It remains to be seen whether the Orioles decision to acquire them resulted from a foolish belief that they could be good or a foolish choice to delay trading their tradeable assets until the best they could get were jabronis of this ilk. Whichever it was, the architects of it have lost their jobs.
Games may come along where these guys or have to pitch and when they do, the result is unsurprising obliteration at the hands of a vastly superior opponent. The Red Sox even took pity on the Orioles (probably not the real reason) and had Oriole-killer Mookie Betts on the bench for the game and still destroyed the O’s.
No one needs or wants a play-by-play of how all of this happened. The pitching lines speak for themselves:
- Luis Ortiz - 3.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 80 pitches, 44 strikes
- Dan Straily - 1.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4 HR, 44 pitches, 29 strikes
- Josh Rogers - 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 0 HR, 82 pitches, 51 strikes
The home runs allowed included Ortiz giving up the first home run of the year to Red Sox super utilityman Brock Holt, who had been homerless in 55 previous at-bats. This remains the 2019 O’s true commitment to giving up homers. It’s not just giving up the homers to the obvious guys, like slugger J.D. Martinez going deep twice in this game for his 14th and 15th homers of the year. It’s breaking the streaks of futility of dudes like Holt.
This was just a disaster. After a week of slowing down the home run pace substantially, they had this scrubfest to set them racing back towards the record for most dingers allowed by a team in a season. They’ve now given up an incredible 138 home runs in their 69 games, an unbelievable pace of 324 home runs over a full season. They are on pace to win 49 games, which, hey, at least it’s still two games better than last season.
While all of this cruddy pitching was going on, the Orioles offense was practically missing in action against former O’s prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, whose 2019 mediocrity proved more than capable of dominating the O’s scrap heap lineup. Rodriguez kept the O’s to a run on six hits in seven innings, striking out four Orioles and walking none.
Believe it or not, the O’s led at one time, a 1-0 lead they took in the bottom of the first inning as hopeful future All-Star Trey Mancini crushed a pitch into the Red Sox bullpen. This was Mancini’s 15th home run of the season. The lead lasted all of two batters into the top of the second as Ortiz walked Xander Bogaerts and then gave up a two-run blast to Holt.
Mancini had two hits for the O’s. So did Pedro Severino, who nearly hit a home run in the sixth inning. Severino had to settle for a double when Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. brought a fly ball back into the yard but could not complete the catch. This scoring chance with men on second and third and one out ended abruptly when Mancini was thrown out at the plate trying to score on an Anthony Santander fly ball to right.
That’s 2019 for you. The Orioles couldn’t even push across a garbage time run on a sacrifice fly. Orioles not named Mancini or Severino combined for just two hits prior to the ninth inning. It’s hard to win a game like that, even without the pitching staff having given up 13 runs.
Maybe tomorrow will be better. It almost has to be better even if the Orioles still lose. Dylan Bundy and Chris Sale are the scheduled starting pitchers for the 4:05 Saturday contest.