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Orioles pitchers experience long-overdue misfortune in 7-2 loss to Twins

Nobody keeps an ERA under 1.00 forever. The Orioles learned this one the hard way on Tuesday.

Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles
Same.
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

One baseball thing that I believe in even though I know it’s nonsense is “due.” It makes me think of my late grandmother, who, any time she was observing a game where someone was 0-3 and batting for a fourth time, would say, “He’s due.” There’s a certain magic to it. Due is due! It applies to pitchers too. If a player hasn’t given up runs in a long time, he’s due. You can’t argue with due. The Orioles had a problem on Tuesday night: Several pitchers were due, and their turn all came up. They lost to the Twins, 7-2.

When a starting pitcher comes into his fifth start of the season sporting an ERA under 1.00, like Bruce Zimmermann did for the Orioles, he’s due. When a reliever brings a sub-1.00 ERA into his 11th game, like Joey Krehbiel did when he entered a tie game in the sixth inning, he’s due. Keegan Akin and his 1.26 ERA? Yep, he was due, too. That was the story of the game, and it will soon be a story of future games involving Cionel Pérez, Félix Bautista, and Dillon Tate.

For three innings, both starting pitchers, Zimmermann and Twins righty Joe Ryan, made it through unscathed. The Orioles had a chance to strike first in the first inning after Trey Mancini hit a grounder into the Brooks Robinson hole at third base. Twins third baseman Gio Urshela, trying to channel the O’s legend, made a strong but errant throw that got away, allowing Mancini to go to second. Anthony Santander was hit by a pitch. Hey, two on and one out. A promising scoring chance!

Except, no. Due may be due, and the 2022 Orioles offense is way, way due to cash in with runners in scoring position, but it is not a universal law. Ryan Mountcastle started off an 0-4 night by hitting into a forceout at second base, then Austin Hays popped out. All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again.

Minnesota got onto the scoreboard in the fourth inning. After a walk to Urshela, musical family cousin Jose Miranda skied a double that split the center-right field gap and made it to the wall. Cedric Mullins got to the ball quickly, but a good arm is not one of Mullins’s strengths as a player. He tried to hit the cutoff man but threw wide of Rougned Odor. Maybe a better throw would have allowed a cutoff and Odor to get Urshela at the plate. No such luck. Urshela scored and the Twins led, 1-0.

The Orioles struck back quickly, taking advantage of some fielding tomfoolery themselves. Hays hit a leadoff single, ending up on third after an Odor cue shot double snuck down the third base line, out of reach of any shifted fielders. Two in scoring position and none out? How could they Oriole this one up? Tyler Nevin tried his best to do so, hitting a ground ball right to Correa. The offseason’s rumored sorta-Oriole couldn’t field the grounder cleanly. Hays scored, Nevin was safe at first.

Next, Anthony Bemboom hit a warning track fly ball to center field. Odor tagged and went to third. Nevin, for reasons unknown, tagged and went to second. The throw in from center to the relay man to second base resulted in Nevin being tagged out, in the judgment of both the umpire and the review umpires, in spite of plain evidence both live and on replay. That is the way it goes, sometimes. Suddenly, two men were out. Jorge Mateo lined out to right, what might have been a sacrifice fly if only there was one out. Sigh.

They traded runs again in the fifth. Zimmermann’s command hiccuped to start the inning. He walked the #8 hitter and hit the #9 batter with a pitch. Not great, Bruce. Zimmermann got the next two outs before a single to center field scored the second Twins run. In the bottom half of the inning, Mullins led off with a double, scoring when Mancini finally got a lucky break on a blooper. The O’s did not score again, though they did chase Ryan before the end of the inning.

With Zimmermann having thrown 81 pitches through five innings, the Orioles went into the bullpen for the sixth. The book closed on Zimmermann with two runs allowed on four hits and two walks. He struck out four. Krehbiel, as mentioned before, had been a revelation through his first ten games, with a 0.90 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.

There is not much to say about Krehbiel except it was not his night. He made some bad pitches and paid. Former Yankee Gary Sanchez hit a one-out double. Krehbiel walked Trevor Larnach. This brought up Ryan Jeffers, who homered 424 feet into the Orioles bullpen. That made the score 5-2. That was all Minnesota would need.

The Orioles did not get another baserunner until the ninth inning, when Ramón Urías - a replacement for Nevin, who left the game with right groin soreness - led off with a single. Urías advanced no further, because that’s the way the Orioles offense is in 2022. In the meantime, they’d fallen behind by two more runs when Akin gave up a pair in the top of the ninth. Back-to-back-to-back doubles will tend to score two runs. Akin wasn’t fooling ‘em.

In all, the Twins had more extra-base hits than the Orioles had hits. In that sense, the outcome of the game is no surprise. If you give up seven doubles and a home run, and you only have seven hits, you will probably lose. The Twins improve to 15-9; the Orioles hit another “win one, lose two” record as they fall to 8-16. They have now been 3-6, 4-8, 6-12, and 7-14. The 8-16 record may not be the last time we see this in 2022.

The series resumes on Wednesday evening at 7:05, weather permitting, with what you might think of as the Narrative Bowl. Dylan Bundy is set to pitch for the Twins, while for the O’s, the guy who was traded for Bundy - Kyle Bradish - makes his second MLB start.