All baseball streaks must come to an end eventually, except perhaps Jim Palmer’s streak of never giving up a grand slam. Whether a streak is good or bad, it just does not go on forever. Orioles reliever Tanner Scott entered Thursday’s doubleheader without having allowed an earned run in his previous 17 games dating back to last season. He entered game 1 with a 2-2 tie and was not any good, so the streak ended and the Orioles lost, 4-2.
Scott is hardly the only reason that the Orioles lost the game. The offense must surely shoulder its share of the blame after getting just four hits over the game’s seven innings. This is made all the worse by the fact that the Mariners starter, soft-tossing lefty Marco Gonzales, entered the game with a double-digit ERA. The stoppable force faced the movable object and the stoppable force lost.
This was not the trajectory of the game from the very beginning. Orioles starter Matt Harvey cruised through the first inning with ten pitches, and the O’s started off the game by scorching Gonzales pitches across the diamond. Following a Maikel Franco walk, Trey Mancini blasted one 429 feet over the fence in center field to give the O’s a 2-0 lead. Pedro Severino and Ryan Mountcastle hit a couple of lasers as well, 109.5mph and 107mph, respectively, though these were grounders rather than line drives.
Signs were positive. Then, they weren’t. After that Mountcastle single, the Orioles did not get another baserunner until Freddy Galvis led off the fifth inning with a walk, and they didn’t get another hit until Franco led off the sixth with a single. It’s hard to win a seven inning game when you only get hits in five of the seven innings! That requires your pitching staff to be perfect, instead of the Orioles pitching staff.
Harvey’s first two starts saw some bad luck and bad pitches creep in the fifth inning. That pattern did not change on Thursday afternoon. He mostly cruised through four innings, and if you didn’t know better, you might think he’d take that 2-0 lead and go most of the rest of the way.
Then, trouble. Seattle’s #9 hitter, Sam Haggerty, got a two out single, and Harvey left the wrong pitch in the wrong place to Mitch Haniger, who launched a home run so far that a Mariners reliever caught it in their bullpen. That’s not a fence-scraper. And just like that, the game was tied 2-2.
Harvey was an out away from a win once again. He was pulled after allowing the homer, with two runs allowed on three hits and a walk with 89 pitches thrown over 4.2 innings. There are worse starts. There are better ones. But there was no margin for error. That’s just a tough way to pitch.
Scott was called on for the final out of the fifth inning, then continued on for the sixth. He was fighting nonexistent fastball command from the get-go here, giving up a leadoff walk to Luis Marmolejos, Seattle’s cleanup hitter. Scott took the next two guys, Luis Torrens and Taylor Trammell, into deep counts, taking a combined 15 pitches to rack up two strikeouts.
Perhaps it would have been better for manager Brandon Hyde to turn to righty Dillon Tate at this point, who was warming with righty Dylan Moore due up. Moore entered this game batting .121/.211/.212 for the season. Why let a struggling lefty face that guy? The world may never know. But Moore singled and Scott still stayed in against lefty-hitting J.P. Crawford. Scott did not get the job done.
Crawford doubled in two runs and that was, in essence, the game. Although Franco led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, bringing the tying run to the plate, Mancini immediately followed this with a major league-leading fifth ground ball double play of the young season. It’s rough. The first inning home run snapped him out of a series-long hitless streak but clearly was not the cure for whatever is at the root of his struggles.
As for the seventh and final inning, Orioles hitters went down in order in just nine pitches against reliever Kendall Graveman, whose own streak of zero earned run outings rolls up to nine with today’s performance. That too will end some day, but it won’t be the Orioles who benefit.
One other downer for the Orioles in this game is that Cedric Mullins’s hitting streak of 15 games dating back to last season was snapped. With seven innings of regulation and pathetic performance by the offense, Mullins only batted three times even though he was the leadoff hitter. It was a fun streak while it lasted. Maybe he can start a new one in the second game of the doubleheader.
Another seven inning affair awaits. Baltimore’s own Bruce Zimmermann is set to square off against the Mariners lineup, while Seattle righty Justin Dunn faces this somnolent O’s offense. I would say they can’t do any worse, but that’s not true. They could still get shut out, or even be the spark for whether a pitcher throwing a seven-inning no-hitter in a doubleheader deserves any kind of official recognition.