The Orioles began today with an opportunity to sweep the best team in the American League. Baltimore struggled to score for the third consecutive game, but Houston finally made them pay today.
Yuli Gurriel broke a scoreless tie with a two-run single in the seventh, and the Orioles wasted six strong innings from Austin Voth. The Astros dodged the sweep with a 3-1 victory.
It’s easy to understand offensive struggles with Justin Verlander on the mound, but the game did not play out how one would expect. Verlander exited after just three innings.
The Orioles failed to score off the future Hall-of-Famer but did work the pitch count. Verlander needed 20 pitches to record his first out, and threw 60 pitches in three frames. The cause for his exit was not immediately clear, but the Astros eventually disclosed right-calf discomfort for the ace.
The move initially appeared to work in Baltimore’s favor, but the Astros entered today’s game with the best bullpen ERA in the majors at 2.99. They lived up to their reputation.
The Orioles failed to score for eight innings before finally breaking through in the ninth. Austin Hays drove in Anthony Santander to get the Birds on the board. Baltimore managed to get the tying run on base, but Rougned Odor struck out swinging to end the game.
Austin Voth gave the Orioles everything he had today. The waiver-claim limited Houston to just one hit through six innings. Voth struck out four, walked three, and threw 57-of 94 pitches for strikes. He took a difficult loss after being asked to pitch into the seventh inning.
Brandon Hyde, riding high after his starters worked into the eighth inning in the first two games, elected to send Voth back out in the seventh. Voth walked the leadoff batter and Hyde called for Bryan Baker.
Kyle Tucker worked a 3-2 count before pounding a cutter down the right field line. The double placed two runners in scoring position for Trey Mancini. Baker struck out Mancini for the first out, but Baltimore’s good fortune ended there.
The Birds played the infield in with one out and Yuli Gurriel made them pay. Gurriel squared up a ball that skipped beyond a diving Rougned Odor. Both runners scored with ease, and the Astros held a two-run advantage.
Baltimore went quickly in the top of the eighth, and Alex Bregman added an insurance run with a solo homer.
The Orioles continued their trend of threatening early but failing to score. Cedric Mullins and Adley Rutschman put runners on the corners in the first before Verlander struck out the side.
Robinson Chirinos led off the third with an infield single and advanced after Mullins worked a walk. Santander lined out to center, and Chirinos bluffed toward third after tagging up at second. Mullins expected Chirinos to run and broke toward second base. The throw came into second, and Chirinos was eventually nabbed in a run down.
Jorge Mateo nearly put the Birds in a position to strike first in the fifth. Mateo lined a ball to the gap in left-center and never considered stopping at second. Mauricio Dubon made a strong throw to third, and Mateo was ruled out on the play.
Mateo’s hand may have snuck in there, but the play was too close to overturn. The Orioles lost their challenge and failed to score again.
Ryan Mountcastle continued to look lost at the plate. Mountcastle struck out twice and joined Odor with an 0-for-4 performance. The Orioles outhit Houston 7-to-6, but five of the seven hits were singles.
The Rays gained a game on Baltimore today, but Toronto lost to the Angels. The Mariners were still in action against Cleveland as of the time of this writing.
The Orioles get Monday off before taking on the Guardians.