Any given baseball game has all kinds of ways that it can turn out to be very interesting. It can also be totally boring. The Orioles and Marlins began their Wednesday doubleheader with one of those boring games, combining for just five hits as the O’s fell, 1-0.
The only truly noteworthy about the game was the peculiar circumstance surrounding it. Due to COVID-related rules adjustments, any doubleheader is set for games with seven innings as regulation. This game had to be a doubleheader in the first place because of the significant outbreak of the virus that swept through the Marlins and kept them sidelined for more than a week.
It’s a shame to lose a game like this, especially for a team that no one expected to be any good who had surprised people with their first couple of handfuls of games, as the Orioles did. They got a fine outing from starting pitcher Alex Cobb, who struck out seven batters in five innings and only gave up a pair of hits. Cobb was followed by Miguel Castro, who struck out four in two scoreless innings of relief.
Most of the time a pitching staff allows two hits in seven innings, that team will win the game. Regrettably for the Orioles, one of the two hits that Cobb allowed was a solo home run. In the top of the fourth inning, Miami’s third baseman Brian Anderson lashed a line drive to the opposite field, which had just barely enough elevation to sneak over the out-of-town scoreboard in right field and into the barrier in front of the flag court for a home run.
That was it. That was the only damage. Cobb mostly cruised other than that, although he did have a bit of a problem as he seemed to run out of steam in the fifth inning. After a two-out walk, he slowed the pace of the game down with a number of throws to first base before retiring Corey Dickerson. Cobb threw 86 pitches in five innings.
The Orioles offense was about as pathetic as it had been on Tuesday night. They only had one real scoring chance, which came in the fifth inning. That inning began with Chris Davis striking out for the 1,840th time in his career, tying him for 16th place on the career strikeout list with Bobby Abreu and Derek Jeter.
Up to this point, the O’s were being no-hit by Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez, a righty whose career MLB ERA before this game was 5.11, who had not pitched since July 22 due to the COVID disruption. The no-hit bid went on just long enough for the MASN broadcast duo to point out that it has been decided that a no-hitter in a seven inning game of a doubleheader would not be an official no-hitter.
Chance Sisco picked up the first O’s hit of the game with a double down the left field line that bounced up into the seats. Presented with this chance, manager Brandon Hyde chose to pinch hit Pedro Severino for shortstop Andrew Velazquez. Severino hit a Bermuda Triangle kind of blooper where three fielders gave chase but none could reach it.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, Sisco didn’t get enough of a read to know that the ball was going to drop in for a hit until late in its flight path. When it hit the ground, he only had time to advance to third base. So they got a hit with a man in scoring position - something the Marlins team didn’t even do in this contest - and had nothing to show for it.
Rather than push his starter Hernandez beyond 66 pitches after such a long layoff, Marlins manager Don Mattingly summoned a reliever, Nick Vincent, who was also getting his first action of the 2020 season. The O’s had turned the lineup over by getting Sisco and Severino on base from the 8 and 9 spots in the lineup. Hanser Alberto grounded the first pitch he saw from Vincent right at the second baseman to start a 4-6-3 double play.
That was just about all she wrote. A two-out infield single by Pat Valaika at least put the tying run on base as the game ended, but he got no closer than that. Severino struck out looking and that was that.
The O’s are back down to .500 after this setback. They’re going to run into a Marlins bullpen game in the nightcap, so perhaps that will be the thing that sparks the offense. Or perhaps not, and they’ll fall back below .500. Asher Wojciechowski is set to start the second game.