Two feel-good victories for the Orioles to close the first half have lost their value, erased by two losses coming out of the break that shove them further out of the playoff picture.
Jake Arrieta held his former team to one earned run in 6 2/3 innings, Wade Miley couldn’t avoid two-out trouble and the Orioles lost to the Cubs 10-3 before an announced crowd of 40,258 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles (42-48) are six games below .500 for the second time this season. They’re 3-8 in July after going 12-16 the two previous months. They’ve allowed 10 or more runs 12 times this season.
In the only piece of good news, the Blue Jays also lost tonight and the Orioles aren’t alone in last place.
Miley was charged with seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, the last coming after Miguel Castro replaced him and allowed Javier Baez’s RBI single. Six of the runs scored with two outs after the bases were empty.
Willson Contreras’ RBI double off Castro in the sixth also came with two outs and gave the Cubs an 8-1 lead. Anthony Rizzo hit a 445-foot home run to center field off Castro with two outs in the eighth for a 9-2 lead. Baez had an RBI single off Donnie Hart, an unearned run, with two outs in the ninth.
For those of you scoring at home, that’s nine runners crossing the plate with two outs.
Miley hasn’t completed six innings since June 1, a span of eight starts, and his ERA grew tonight from 4.97 to 5.40 in 93 1/3 innings. He hasn’t finished five innings in four of those starts.
Home runs were the early issue tonight. Miley fell behind 1-0 on Albert Almora Jr.’s first-pitch homer leading off the third inning and 2-0 on Addison Russell’s first-pitch homer with two outs in the fourth.
Back-to-back walks were followed by Almora’s run-scoring single into center field for a 3-0 lead.
Miley struck out the next three batters after Almora’s home run. He started a 1-6-3 double play in the fourth before Russell homered for the second time in two nights.
The fifth inning completely got away from him. Kris Bryant’s leadoff single was wiped out by a 4-5-3 double play, but the next four batters reached against Miley, just as they did in the fourth.
Contreras doubled, Ian Happ walked, the runners moved up on a wild pitch and Russell was walked intentionally to load the bases. Jason Heyward cleared them with a triple to center field, giving the Cubs a 7-0 lead.
Heyward scored on Baez’s single off Castro to complete Miley’s line and intensify the argument that the Orioles should become sellers at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Arrieta was a little wild early with three walks to the first eight batters. He threw 27 pitches in the first inning, but the Orioles failed to score.
Jonathan Schoop’s single in the first, between walks to Manny Machado and Chris Davis, was the Orioles’ only hit until Caleb Joseph hit a solo home run in the fifth inning. Joseph added a run-scoring single in the ninth and now has four homers and 19 RBIs this season.
In his first start at Camden Yards since April 21, 2013, Arrieta left to a standing ovation from a huge gathering of Cubs fans - and a few who wore orange - after Rubén Tejada’s infield hit scored Trey Mancini with two outs in the seventh inning. Mancini reached on Russell’s error. Tejada reached after Bryant charged a slow roller and threw the ball past first base.
Arrieta departed with the Orioles behind 8-2. He allowed four hits, walked three, struck out three and threw 101 pitches.
Meanwhile, an Orioles rotation that posted a 5.75 ERA before the break has allowed 15 runs in 7 2/3 innings in the first two games of the series.
Anyone feel good about that?
Manager Buck Showalter on the two-out runs: “Six of them were two outs and nobody on. We were all there watching it. That’s really frustrating to be that close to getting out of an inning unscathed. With Arrieta out there, you feel like runs are going to be at a premium. You’re trying to keep it close and see if you can do some damage. We had him over 40 pitches the first couple innings, so there was the potential there, but once they jumped out like that, our guys got a little aggressive.”
On Miley: “Just trying to finish off hitters, finish off innings. Stuff was good. His velocity the last couple times has been as good as it’s been since he’s been here, but he got some pitches where he doesn’t need to get them. Command got away from him. Got some counts that were in his favor and he lost the advantage that he had.”
On whether struggling rotation has carryover: “There’s certainly a certain mentality that you want to be the guy that starts a good roll, but you’ve got to stay away from, when things get a little sideways early on... He started off sharp. I thought we were going to get another good outing from him like we did last time, but Chicago’s pretty good. I was looking out there. They’ve got, what, nine No. 1 picks? They struggled for a long time, but they made great use of those high picks. If you look around the whole infield and outfield and even the last guy’s a first round pick, but not by them. They’ve done a good job and they’re very athletic and they do a lot of things well.”
On impact of Machado caught trying to steal third base in first inning: “Actually, if you play it back, he’s probably safe, but they’re not going to overturn it from that angle. We’ve been talking about Manny with his front foot, if he gets it down instead of up. It’s the same reason why he ended up having contact with (Dustin) Pedroia, because he has a high front foot. You see a lot of guys that slide like that.
“He saw something and thought he could make something happen. You get over there and he probably did, but you’re not going to get it overturned. It’s still an out. Believe me, to put the whole game on him sliding into third base would a real stretch for you and all of us.”
On Miley’s regression: “You pinpoint how good he was last time in Minnesota and some really good games here. You put them side-by-side. It’s just a fine line up here, especially when you’re facing good clubs like them. You can’t drop your guard, especially at this level. It looks like you’re going to get through a fairly easy inning, not easy, and then it gets away from you. Just being able to finish off a hitter or finish off an inning. Nobody knows that more than him.”