Orioles offense crumbles in 5-0 loss to Athletics
The overall nature of a sleepy Sunday loss to the Oakland Athletics is a loss in 162 games. But in September, there’s added importance to every outing, even when a series win has already been won with wins on Friday and Saturday.
Especially when those outings come up against a team sitting firmly in the basement of their division.
Before the match, manager Brandon Hyde stressed how “today is hugely important, and I think everyone knows that”. He didn’t want his players anticipating the four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays that begins Monday — a series fraught with playoff implications.
It’s unclear if that matchup with the Blue Jays — the team currently occupying the last wildcard spot in the American League — played on the Orioles’ minds. But the 5-0 loss to Athletics was lackluster enough to warrant a page-turner, even if it’s a missed opportunity to keep pace with Toronto.
“We’ve had this opportunity a few times lately, and we just can’t finish,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I just have to bounce back, a big day tomorrow.”
The Blue Jays beat the Pirates on Sunday to close their series against a bottom dweller with a sweep. The Orioles missed that chance and now trail their division rival by 2½ games. Now Toronto arrives for a doubleheader on Monday that could narrow that gap to just half a game.
“We have high expectations for each other,” center fielder Cedric Mullins said. “At the same time, I don’t think we put pressure on each other, so I think that definitely helps us go out there and play our best.”
The quiet loss in the series finale came to right-hander Adrián Martínez, an Oakland rookie who had never worked as far in a game as Sunday when he went six innings against Baltimore. Martínez faced his toughest test in the first inning when a single from Adley Rutschman and a double from Anthony Santander put the runners in position to score with one out. But a ground ball to shortstop Sheldon Neuse led to a strikeout at home plate as Rutschman ran into contact.
Hyde said the decision to run in contact is situation by situation. “At worst,” he said, the Orioles still had runners at first and third with two outs. But Gunnar Henderson – who made two highlight plays at second base to assist starting pitcher Spenser Watkins – lined up to end the inning.
After Ramón Urías’ single to start the second, Martínez retired the next 10 batters he faced, relying on a lead-change mix to generate four strikeouts and soft contact. That streak ended with a walk by Jorge Mateo with two outs in the sixth inning, and despite Mateo’s stolen 30th base leading the American League, Martínez closed his outing by bringing out catcher Robinson Chirinos. Martínez allowed three hits and walked two in six scoreless innings.
“The offense was starting out really strong,” Mullins said. “We just couldn’t take advantage of it. After that, it looked like he had somehow settled down and was able to keep us at bay.
Meanwhile, Watkins struggled to his second straight start. On Tuesday in Cleveland, Watkins allowed five runs — his most since returning from the injured list in June — in 4 2/3 innings. In those 11 appearances, he allowed two runs or less in seven of them.
But Watkins allowed four runs in six innings on Sunday. And while this outing wasn’t one to bury an offense, it did turn that way. After Martínez allowed a single from Urías in the second, Baltimore hit five more base runners the rest of the game. Two entered in the ninth, with Anthony Santander on single and Urías walking before southpaw AJ Puk closed the door.
The Orioles were hunted for the eighth time this year and the first time since July 24. When Baltimore needed a roar — or even a growl — to complete a sweeping streak and keep pace with the wild card race, it produced something closer to a groan. .
“A game doesn’t define a team,” Watkins said. “We have proven that all year. Everyone wants to sit on us once we lose a game. I don’t think anyone here cares. We’re all still good, and yes, we played a bad game, but that’s how it is. Going to Toronto, everyone is still hungry and we see this wildcard spot.
- Right-hander Tyler Wells threw a bullpen at Camden Yards on Sunday to prepare for the next stage of his rehabilitation process after a strained oblique suffered in July. Upon his return, Wells said he would be open to a relief role if that’s what is needed. “The starting rotation did an absolutely phenomenal job,” Wells said. “Really proud of those guys. If they finally decide to put me in the bullpen, so be it. I’d like to help those guys out too. They’ve done a hell of a job this year. Whatever they want me to do to help with a wild card push, so I’m all for it.
- Right-hander Mike Baumann was added to the cab squad on Sunday in preparation for a Monday start in a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays. Baumann, ranked Baltimore’s 22nd-best prospect by Baseball America, has allowed just two earned runs in his last 16 innings for Triple-A Norfolk. Hyde said he would check with right-hander Jordan Lyles if he wanted to start Game 1 or Game 2.
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