It was a low-scoring affair this afternoon, on a sparsely attended Senior Day at loanDepot Park, between the Orioles and Marlins. And it just so happened both starting pitchers were left-handed: Bruce Zimmermann for the O’s and Trevor Rogers for the Fish.
The dueling lefties traded zeroes on the scoreboard for awhile, but Rogers showed more polish and pulled ahead by the middle of the game. Zimmermann spent most of his afternoon working in and out of trouble. He allowed six hits and two walks in 4.2 innings.
What’s becoming more obvious about Zimmermann is his calm and collected demeanor on the mound. His body language is workman-like and consistent, whether there are runners in scoring position or the bases are empty. That could’ve been the difference on a day like today, when Zimmermann kept the Orioles in the game despite not pitching deep into it.
On the other side, Miami starter Trevor Rogers started fast by putting the Orioles down quietly on seven pitches in the top of the first. His plus changeup was on point, and he kept piling up the strikeouts as the afternoon went on.
With Cedric Mullins getting a rare day off, Austin Hays took his place atop the order and in center field. In his first start since returning from the IL — he entered last night’s game as an injury replacement — Hays swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded out. He swung at the first pitch again in the sixth and was retired on a loud line-out to short. In between those two instances, Hays’ aggressiveness backfired on the basepaths when he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Hays’ last at-bat was a ground out, completing his 1-for-4 day.
As a fan’s unintelligible yells echoed through loanDepot like a cavern, Bruce Zimmermann dug deep and worked out of a jam in his half of the first. The left-hander induced a couple of fly balls to center and struck out Corey Dickerson to strand two runners.
Throughout the next several innings, both teams managed a baserunner here and there but couldn’t push any runs across. The logjam broke in the fifth.
Marlins catcher Sandy Leon led off the inning with a single. Then starting pitcher Trevor Rogers laid down a sacrifice bunt in front of the pitcher’s mound that was handled by a charging Maikel Franco. But no one covered third base, so despite the out, Leon advanced two bases. A big strikeout of Chisholm followed for the second out, and Zimmermann was close to wriggling out of trouble yet again.
But the O’s lefty didn’t make it out of the inning. He departed with a 2-0 deficit, after right-handed hitting Jesus Aguilar ended the tie with a two-RBI double to deep center.
That pivotal hit came during Aguilar’s third at-bat, which is part of a pattern for Zimmerman. Entering this game, batters were hitting .357/.400/.857 against him the third time through the order.
In relief of Zimmermann, Cole Sulser allowed his inherited runner to score on Adam Duvall’s single to center, which brought Miami’s lead to three.
Baltimore executed a textbook outfield relay in the sixth, and Ryan Mountcastle’s involvement made it even better. The O’s left fielder ran hard to cut off a one-hopper before it got to the outfield wall, then fired a strike to the cutoff man Galvis, who then relayed it to second baseman Ramon Urias for the tag out.
The Orioles had to be glad when a pitcher other than Rogers took the mound for Miami in the eighth. The rookie left-hander was dominant for the Marlins, tossing seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, one walk and four hits allowed. All that, and he threw just 82 pitches.
Eventhough the Marlins made a pitching change, the results at the plate were the same for Baltimore. Marlins reliever Dylan Floro navigated an easy 1-2-3 eighth inning, requiring only seven pitches. It was the same story in the ninth.
Yimi Garcia made quick work of the heart of the order on 10 pitches, with a Mountcastle strikeout sandwiched by a pair of groundouts from Trey Mancini and Franco.
The Orioles lineup tallied nine strikeouts today, with only one walk (courtesy of Mountcastle). They left four runners on base.
With today’s loss, the Orioles have to settle for a series split as they leave Florida. The Birds get an off day tomorrow before starting a seven-game homestand on Friday.