The first two batters reached against Jason Hammel in the top of the seventh inning, and manager Buck Showalter called for Pedro Strop.
It didn’t go as planned.
Hank Conger reached on an infield hit to load the bases, the ball deflecting off Strop’s glove, and Erick Aybar followed with a three-run triple. Aybar scored on Ryan Flaherty’s throwing error on the relay to third base.
In the blink of an eye, the Angels had four runs and fans were booing Strop, who was making his second appearance since coming off the disabled list.
It didn’t get any better for Strop, who has allowed seven of 13 inherited runners to score this season. J.B. Shuck walked with one out, bringing more jeers from the crowd, and Albert Pujols drilled a two-run homer to left field.
Showalter came out of the dugout, and Strop left to another chorus of boos.
Strop allowed a hit and struck out two batters in mop-up duty Saturday at Tropicana Field. Put in a high-intensity situation today, he wilted in front of the home crowd.
Strop was charged with three runs and four hits in one-third of an inning. His ERA rose to 7.58.
To answer a few questions already pouring in, the Orioles can’t send him down because he’s out of options. He’d have to pass through waivers first. And I don’t know whether the Orioles are prepared to do it.
If so, they could purchase Jon Rauch’s contract, since his opt-out date is June 18. They have an opening on the 40-man roster.
Rauch has allowed one run and four hits in 4 1/3 innings, with three walks and four strikeouts. He’s not exactly keeping the bases clean.
The Orioles have other relief options in the minors, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Just as the Angels moved ahead of the Orioles 8-4.
As for the suggestion that Showalter had everyone available in the bullpen, he clearly wants to stay away from Darren O’Day today. And he doesn’t want to play with a 24-man roster. As long as Strop is here, he’s got to pull his own weight and not threaten the health of the rest of the bullpen.
That’s why the Orioles need to decide whether he’s worth keeping.
Hammel’s final line: 6-plus innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, one home run. He threw 104 pitches, 72 for strikes.
Hammel’s pitch count stood at 94 when Showalter let him come back out for the seventh.
Today’s attendance: 25,964
Update: The Orioles scored in the eighth on Josh Hamilton’s three-base error and Chris Davis’ grounder, and the Angels scored an unearned run off Brian Matusz in the ninth after J.J. Hardy’s error.
Final score: Angels 9, Orioles 5.
The Orioles committed two errors today after being outstanding defensively for most of the season and absolutely brilliant last night.
The Orioles are 0-5 when having a chance to sweep a three- or four-games series.