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Walks, six-run first inning doom Orioles in 7-6 loss

The Orioles walked nine batters and failed to overcome an early six-run deficit against the Angels.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

They say leadoff walks will kill you. If you were wondering what a lead off walk, hit by pitch and another base on balls will yield, Chris Ellis and the Orioles have an answer for you.

It doesn’t get any better.

Ellis sandwiched walks to Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon with a HBP to Mike Trout in the bottom of the first. Jared Walsh punched a single to left field and the Angels held a two-run advantage before Ellis recorded an out.

Ellis remained wild with a walk to Taylor Ward and Brandon Hyde had seen enough. Hyde yanked Ellis with the righty on the hook for the two runs and three more base runners. The quick trigger was understandable but it did not generate a positive result.

Jo Adell greeted Orioles’ reliever Travis Lakins Sr. with a grand slam that gave the Angels a six-run cushion before they made any of their 27 outs. Suddenly, the Orioles west coast sweep was dead on arrival.

The Orioles, to their credit, battled back. Baltimore even the score with a three-run seventh, but Felix Bautista walked Ward with the bases loaded to give the Angels a 7-6 lead. Baltimore brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth, but Ryan Mountcastle grounded into a game-ending double play to end the threat.

The groundball capped an odd and long game that saw Baltimore issue nine walks, two HBP and an error. The Orioles outhit the Angels 9-6, but a mostly impressive performance from the bullpen could not overcome the early blunders from Ellis and Lakins.

The Orioles cut the deficit in half via a three-run home run in the third inning. Chris Owings singled to center and Cedric Mullins worked a two out walk before Trey Mancini launched a three-run shot over the left field fence. Mancini singled to start the ninth and also worked a walk in five plate appearances.

Keegan Akin walked two but did not allow a run in two innings of relief. Michael Baumann followed and worked a clean sixth before running into trouble in the seventh. Ohtani ledoff with a single and advanced to second on a deep fly ball by Mike Trout.

Baumann walked Rendon with a base open and plunked Walsh to load the bases. The walk marked Rendon’s fourth of the day and the two free passes were enough to chase Baumann from the game.

Felix Bautista replaced Baumann and immediately walked in the winning run. Bautista generated a fly out and pop out to end the inning, but the damage was done.

The walk came just a half inning after the Orioles evened the score at six. Mullins kicked off the inning with a walk and Santander reached on a HBP. With the Angels doing their best Baltimore impression, the Birds suddenly had a chance.

Ryan Mountcastle plated Mullins with a single to right, but Santander was caught in a run down when the throw properly went to the cut-off man instead of the plate. Still, Austin Hays knotted the game with a two-run homer to left field.

A come-from-behind win for a sweep would have provided some quality momentum on the trip back to New York. Instead, the Orioles are now forced to regroup after a series victory and a terrible first inning.

Hyde stated after the game that Ellis did not look right and confirmed that the righty experienced at least some shoulder discomfort. Ellis wanted to remain in the game but Hyde made that call to go to Lakins.

MASN’s Roch Kubatko tweeted after the game that Jorge López, Dillon Tate, Joey Krehbiel, Paul Fry and Joey Baker were not available today due to “past usage.” Close games and a lack of starting pitching will lead to plenty of tired arms this year.

Baumann, Akin, Bautista and Cionel Pérez combined for just one run, but all four walked at least one batter. A lineup that boasts Ohtani, Trout and Rendon will always generate some fear, but three walks to Taylor Ward feels a little excessive.

The short start and potential injury to Ellis is another blow to a club still reeling from the loss of staff ace John Means. Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez are at Triple-A Norfolk until they aren’t, and it remains a mystery who will take the ball when it’s not Jordan Lyles, Bruce Zimmermann or SPTW (starting pitcher Tyler Wells).

The loss overshadowed a season-high six runs for the Orioles. Baltimore tallied 16 runs in the three-game series which could be a sign that the bats are heating up. The Orioles will need all the offense they can get with three games at Yankee stadium looming after a day off tomorrow.