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Thursday afternoon Orioles game thread: vs. Angels, 1:05

In which Keegan Akin and the Orioles go for a winning streak, for a change.

Atlanta Braves v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Phew, what a relief! A little sage, a bad mustache, and poof, the losing streak is history! Orioles magic, indeed.

It’s a good thing, because the Orioles’ losing streak was getting ugly. Just how bad was that streak?

  • The Orioles missed breaking the AL record for consecutive losses—their own, set in 1988—by just two games, and the modern-day MLB record of 23, set by the Phillies in 1961, by just four;
  • Brandon Hyde’s post-game quotes had started to go from “Give credit to these guys for battling and staying in there” to “I’m handling it the best I possibly can”;
  • Other teams’ managers had started speaking out in support of the O’s poor scapegoat of a manager, like when the Angels’ Joe Maddon said on Tuesday, “I have the utmost respect for [Hyde]. He’s a really good baseball mind. The players do really respect him a lot”;
  • Finally, for the first time I can really remember as an Orioles fan, the team’s badness had become, not just a Baltimore problem but a national problem—at least judging from all the Ken Rosenthal/Buster Olney/&c. pieces about how tanking was bad for the sport.

Winning one game doesn’t magically fix all of that. But it certainly takes the pressure off a little.

Today, the Orioles try to kick off a new streak by stringing two wins together. It won’t be easy: their hopes of doing so rest on the shoulders of a rookie with an 0-8 record and a 7.92 ERA. It’s not been a hot year for Keegan Akin, exactly, with his -1.0 WAR and 1.806 WHIP through 11 starts.

Perhaps the best news for Akin and the Orioles today is that the Angels’ rotation is none too hot, either. After Shohei, whose fastball was hittable last night even if his splitter wasn’t, there’s not much else right now. The Angels are down four starting pitchers to injury, which explains why yesterday, they announced that Jaime Barria, 2-2 with a 5.87 ERA in seven appearances (five starts) this season, will be getting today’s start.

The Panamanian native debuted with the Angels in 2018, putting up a solid 3.41 ERA in 26 starts. But in 2019 his ERA ballooned to 6.42, and in 2020 he appeared in only seven games. Barria has spent most of the 2021 season in Triple-A, but he’s been an emergency starter for Los Angeles since July 25, pitching to a serviceable 4.74 ERA as a starting pitcher. Barria allows a decent number of homers (one-and-a-half per nine innings), as an .826 OPS-against suggests. His walk and strikeout rates aren’t quite where the Angels would want them, either, with 5.0 K’s (low) and 3.0 walks (high) per game on average.

Is that bad enough to gift these Orioles a chance for another victory? We’ll see.

Let’s go O’s!

Orioles lineup

1. Cedric Mullins CF
2. Ryan Mountcastle 1B
3. Anthony Santander RF
4. Trey Mancini DH
5. DJ Stewart LF
6. Ramón Urías SS
7. Pedro Severino C
8. Jahmai Jones 2B
9. Kelvin Gutiérrez 3B

Angels lineup

1. Shohei Ohtani DH
2. David Fletcher 2B
3. Phil Gosselin 3B
4. Jared Walsh 1B
5. Kurt Suzuki C
6. Jo Adell LF
7. Brandon Marsh CF
8. Jack Mayfield SS
9. Juan Lagares RF