Alex Cobb never imagined that he’d have 12 losses before the All-Star break. Not while he waited to sign with a club after spring training camps opened, not after agreeing to a four-year, $57 million deal with the Orioles, not after getting off to a sluggish start based on his limited work prior to opening day.
Though a pitcher’s record shouldn’t define him - considering how much of it is out of his hands - Cobb also carried a 6.67 ERA into tonight’s series opener against the Rangers at Camden Yards. He shaved it down a bit, but his fate was determined as he sat in the dugout.
The chance for a no-decision was destroyed after Tanner Scott, who inherited a runner with one out in a tie game, walked Joey Gallo and served up pinch-hitter Ryan Rua’s three-run homer that sent the Rangers toward a 5-4 victory over the Orioles before an announced crowd of 17,348.
The Orioles wasted a bases-loaded opportunity in the eighth and have lost 17 of their last 20 games to fall 43 below .500 at 26-69. They’re 14-33 at home, 0-60 when trailing after seven innings and 1-16 against the American League West.
Rua was 0-for-18 in his career as a pinch-hitter before the home run, which was followed by a strikeout, a walk and a Nomar Mazara RBI double that expanded the lead to 5-1.
The Orioles loaded the bases against left-hander Cole Hamels with one out in the bottom of the seventh, and Caleb Joseph lined a three-run double into right-center field on a 97 mph fastball from reliever José Leclerc to cut the lead to 5-4 with two outs. Tim Beckham struck out to leave Joseph on second base.
Cobb was charged with two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings for the rotation’s first quality start in the last eight games. He didn’t walk a batter and was replaced by Scott after 95 pitches.
Gallo broke a scoreless tie with a leadoff home run in the fifth inning. Cobb had stranded a runner in the first after Beckham’s fielding error, escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the third by starting a 1-4-3 double play on Elvis Andrus’ comebacker and stranded two in the fourth after a one-out single and hit batter.
Danny Valencia tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly to deep left-center field that scored Adam Jones, who led off with a double and moved to third on Mark Trumbo’s grounder to first. Chris Davis singled and stole second base and Trey Mancini was hit by a pitch, but Joseph struck out.
Machado won’t be traded tonight, but the Phillies remain engaged in trade talks and their depth in pitching prospects continues to make for a good match, though they won’t part with Sixto Sanchez. Talks appear to have intensified, as reported by multiple outlets, but it wasn’t long ago that the Phillies seemed to back off and focus instead on trying to sign Machado over the winter.
They’ve gone back and forth on the whole Machado trade thing.
The Phillies also retain interest in closer Zach Britton, raising the possibility of a package deal that could sweeten the return to the Orioles.
The Orioles have been scouting the Phillies’ affiliates. Meanwhile, the Phillies again had a scout at tonight’s game, joining representatives from the Cubs, Athletics and Mariners, among others.
Trumbo and Valencia singled with one out in the seventh and Davis walked. Mancini took a disputed third strike from Leclerc, but Joseph doubled on the seventh pitch thrown to him.
The Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against Jesse Chavez after Schoop’s leadoff single, a Machado walk and Trumbo’s single. Valencia struck out, the Rangers brought in left-hander Jake Diekman and Davis popped up and heard more boos.
Delino DeShields made a sliding catch in shallow center field to rob Jones before Trumbo’s single. Schoop held at third after appearing to get a late jump.
Joseph reached on an infield hit against Keone Kela with one out in the ninth inning, and pinch-runner Jace Peterson stole second base while Beckham struck out. Schoop flied to center field.
Though defense has been an issue for the Orioles again this season and Beckham misplayed Andrus’ chopper in the first, the Orioles turned a couple of impressive double plays to stamp out Rangers rallies.
Schoop ranged far to his left to snare Adrián Beltré’s bouncer in the sixth and spun and threw to Machado, who fired to first while showing off arm strength and quickness on the release. About as good as it gets.
The season keeps getting worse, however, with back-to-back 5-4 losses assuring that the Orioles would continue to hold the worst record in baseball.