With Thomas Eshelman getting the start, it felt like it could be a special night. Not special for Eshelman, but for a certain player sitting in the Orioles bullpen. Baltimore called up Mickey Jannis yesterday, and the odds felt high that the 33-year-old could finally make his major league debut tonight.
Eshelman impressed in a spot start last week but failed to recreate the magic against Houston. He allowed six runs on eight hits and exited after the fourth inning. With the game seemingly out of reach, Brandon Hyde turned to the knuckler.
The Astros needed a few at bats to settle in but eventually found their groove against Jannis. The rookie allowed seven runs over 3.1 innings, and the Orioles fell 13-0.
The Mickey Jannis experiment will not be defined by one game. Still, tonight was not how Jannis envisioned his debut. He did strike out the first batter he faced with a pitch that froze Yordan Alvarez. Jannis retired Carlos Correa on a deep fly ball, but walked Kyle Tucker to extend the inning. However, Austin Wynns gunned down Tucker on a stolen base attempt to end the fifth.
Jannis returned in the sixth and picked up two quick outs. Martin Maldonado squared up a pitch for a single, and Jose Altuve walked to put two on with two outs. Michael Brantley drove in Maldonado with a single, but Jannis escaped after allowing just the one run.
If it was another rookie pitcher on the mound, his night may have ended right there. A run on two innings is a perfectly acceptable line for a debut out of the bullpen. Unfortunately for Jannis, he is not any other rookie. The Orioles promoted Jannis to eat innings. He’s not a prospect on an pitch limit, the man is here to play.
Jannis faced Alvarez to start the eight and the designated hitter won the rematch. Alvarez squared a pitch up and blasted an absolute (full) moon shot. The ball traveled 448 feet to right field, and Alvarez admired the shot before eventually breaking for first.
Correa followed with a double, and Tucker walked again. Abraham Toro smashed a three-run home run to extend Houston’s lead to double digits. Jannis returned in the eighth, and Houston took him for two more runs via a long ball by Chas McCormick. Reluctantly, but mercifully, Hyde finally pulled Jannis from the game. Dillon Tate entered and pitched 1.2 scoreless innings to end the game.
So you wanna be a big league pitcher, huh?
Jannis found himself in mop-up duty after Houston got to Eshelman. The Astros pounced for three runs in the first with some two-out lightening. Yuli Gurriel smacked a single and Alvarez worked a walk. Correa plated both runners with a double, and Tucker scored Correa with a single to left.
Houston used bloop singles to snag another run in the second. Altuve muscled a ball to shallow center field for a two-out single, and Brantley followed with a single of his own. Gurriel punched a ball to left field, but DJ Stewart did not get a good jump on it. The ball fell, and Houston led by four. Altuve extended the lead to six with a two-run shot in the fourth inning.
We’re 550 words in, and there’s been no mention of the Orioles offense. That’s no coincidence. Cedric Mullins led off the first with a double to left-center field, but the Orioles could not bring him home. Maikel Franco walked in the second, but never advanced.
The Orioles went without a base runner in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Wynns singled in the sixth, but never made it to second base. Santander singled in the seventh but did not advance.
The Orioles loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth but failed to score. Stevie Wilkerson went down swinging and Pedro Severino grounded into a double play to end the “threat.”
The Astros out hit Baltimore 17-6. Pat Valaika tallied the Orioles’ only other extra-base hit with a double in the eighth.
The game marked a series sweep for Houston. The Orioles are now 23-51 on the season.
Jannis should get another chance in Baltimore. He faced a talented lineup that took quality approaches at the plate. If Jannis had faced the Orioles’ lineup tonight, we would probably be anointing him the next R.A. Dickey.
The Orioles will head to Buffalo for a four game series against the “Toronto” Blue Jays. Dean Kremer is set to start Thursday against Anthony Kay.