Cobb back on the mound as Orioles try to stop skid

The Orioles are 12-34 since the start of September, the latest blow yesterday’s 6-5 walk-off loss to the Tigers. When it rains, it pours - even when a game is played beneath a blue sky.

Rally to take a 4-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning, immediately fall behind 5-4, get a game-tying leadoff home run from unlikely hero Luis Sardiñas in the ninth and give up Dixon Machado’s leadoff shot in the bottom half on only the second pitch from Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo.

As I’ve stated in the past, echoing manager Buck Showalter and others, you can’t hide the kid. If Brad Brach was the choice and the game carried into the 10th, Araujo probably was getting the ball.

We’ll never know whether Brach could have kept the score tied in the ninth, if Araujo could have done the job for however many innings were needed, if Showalter would have gotten up Mychal Givens for a second time after the struggling right-hander pitched the previous day.

What we do know is that the Orioles are eight games below .500 and can’t get to a point where the math dictates that they play .800 ball the rest of the way to make the playoffs. The bleeding must stop, however the bandage is applied.

The offense finally perked up in the late innings, and the game might have been lost in the eighth on an unlucky bounce on Chris Davis’ fly ball to left field that struck the yellow line on the top of the fence and came back onto the field, giving him a single instead of a home run.

The “other” Machado got the other bounce in the ninth, because very little is going right for the Orioles.

Finally start to hit, get a big over-the-shoulder catch from second baseman Engelb Vielma with runners on the corners and no outs in the seventh, and the back end of the bullpen implodes. And another quality start was wasted.

Alex Cobb can more easily dismiss his debut at Fenway Park over the weekend if he quickly reverts to the form that led the Orioles into giving him a four-year deal.

His chance arrives today in Detroit, where the Orioles wrap up their three-game series and road trip.

(Maybe they’ll remember to pack all of the bats for the next one.)

Cobb lasted only 3 2/3 innings against the Red Sox and was charged with seven earned runs (eight total) and 10 hits. Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez homered off Cobb, who didn’t sign with the Orioles until March 21.

The first inning will be key after Cobb threw 28 pitches Saturday afternoon and gave up three runs. And so will his feel for his split-changeup, which was lacking against the Red Sox.

The Orioles’ rotation ranked 27th in the majors yesterday with a 5.27 ERA, but Kevin Gausman held the Tigers to two runs and walked none over six innings. Gausman has allowed 13 earned runs in 21 innings, but his ERA in four starts has dropped from 13.50 to 8.00 to 6.60 to 5.57.

Dylan Bundy is winless in four starts, but he’s allowed four earned runs in 25 2/3 innings for a 1.40 ERA and he’s struck out 31 batters. Right-handers are hitting .104 against him, but left-handers have posted a .333 average in the same number of at-bats (48) and plate appearances (52).

Perhaps I’m the only one who finds it an incredible coincidence that the at-bats and plate appearances are the same on both sides.

Andrew Cashner has allowed eight earned runs in 24 innings for a 3.00 ERA and he’s registered quality starts in his last three outings.

The rotation ranking is born mainly from Cobb’s rough outing, the 11.91 ERA in Chris Tillman’s three starts and the 7.94 ERA in Mike Wright Jr.’s two starts.

Wright is working now in relief and Tillman’s next start has been pushed back until Saturday afternoon against the Indians at Camden Yards. Tillman was given an extra work day in an attempt to fix any mechanical issues that have sabotaged his appearances.

“Got to get back to being Chris,” Showalter told the media in Detroit. “He understands the seriousness of it. Falls underneath the Captain Obvious. Chris knows when it is right and when it’s not. Time for him to take a step forward.”

Cobb is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.313 WHIP in six career starts against the Tigers over 37 1/3 innings, and 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 1.400 WHIP in four starts at Comerica Park over 25 innings.

The Tigers have registered a .178 (8-for-45) average against Cobb. Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-15 with two doubles and five walks. Victor Martinez is 4-for-13 with three RBIs.

Cobb owns a 3.09 ERA in 36 starts in day games.

Pedro-Alvarez-gray-at-bat-sidebar.jpgTigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann has walked only two batters and struck out 11 in 11 innings this season, but he’s also surrendered 10 runs and 15 hits for an 8.18 ERA and 1.545 WHIP. Left-handers are batting .375 against him. Pedro Álvarez, Anthony Santander and Chance Sisco figure to be included in today’s lineup.

Zimmermann is 3-4 with a 5.84 ERA and 1.478 WHIP in eight career starts against the Orioles. He faced them once last season in Detroit and allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings in a 6-5 win. Chris Davis and Adam Jones homered off him.

Davis is 5-for-9 with three home runs lifetime against Zimmermann. Jones is 6-for-22 with three home runs. Alvarez is 2-for-6 with a home run.

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