As Manny Machado walked to the plate tonight with two outs and no one on base in the bottom of the first inning, a couple of visiting fans yelled, “Come to Philly!”
Their club is doing just fine without him, completing a delayed sweep of the Orioles with a 5-4 victory before an announced crowd of 20,100 at Camden Yards.
Kevin Gausman allowed five runs and a career-high 12 hits, weak contact still hurting him, and the Orioles had their 16th loss in 19 games. With a 26-68 record, they’re 42 games below .500 for the first time since the conclusion of the 1988 season.
Trey Mancini and Jace Peterson hit back-to-back home runs with two outs in the seventh inning to cut the deficit to one - the latter coming on the first pitch from former Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter.
The rotation hasn’t produced a quality start in the last eight games while registering an 8.12 ERA. Gausman lost his chance after No. 9 hitter Jorge Alfaro stroked a two-run double with no outs in the fourth after a leadoff single, hit batter and wild pitch.
Gausman threw 31 pitches in the inning, which also included a walk, while falling behind 4-0.
Alfaro led off the sixth with a home run and Gausman was gone after back-to-back singles, still unable to record an out in the inning. Paul Fry stranded the runners.
The Phillies loaded the bases with one out in the third inning and Carlos Santana’s single, the fourth hit of the inning, scored Alfaro. César Hernández came home on a fielder’s choice grounder from Nick Williams.
Mancini hit a two-run homer off Nick Pivetta with two outs in the seventh inning to reduce the lead to 5-3 and interrupt a 2-for-27 slump. Peterson deposited Hunter’s first pitch onto the flag court in right field, as the Orioles went back-to-back for the sixth time this season.
A rainout on May 15 allowed Pivetta to pitch both games of the series. He held the Orioles to one run and two hits and struck out 11 batters over seven innings in the first meeting, and allowed three runs and five hits tonight in 6 2/3.
The Orioles long ago gave up on the idea that their season would be filled with breaks.
Pivetta didn’t surrender a hit until Chance Sisco’s one-out single in the fifth. Tim Beckham led off the sixth with a double and scored on Machado’s infield hit on a comebacker that Pivetta mishandled before making a late throw to the plate.
Machado, who singled in the eighth and was stranded, likely will be one of the Phillies’ free-agent targets over the winter. They haven’t backed out of the trade sweepstakes this month, but they seem to be lagging behind the Dodgers, Brewers and Yankees.
The Diamondbacks might not have the necessary prospects to complete a trade due to a thin farm system, but they’ve been talking trade since the Winter Meetings.
Zach Britton warmed in the bottom of the eighth and sat down when the Orioles failed to take the lead. He’s strung together five consecutive scoreless appearances, his stuff is back to being nasty and he could be the first player dealt.
The Phillies are known to have interest in Britton as a deadline acquisition and are expected to make a strong push for him in free agency, the numerous Orioles connections and Britton’s comfort zone with them certainly not hurting the cause. The Astros, Dodgers, Red Sox and Indians also have been scouting him and are included in the group of serious suitors, according to various sources.
The Astros nearly got him at last year’s deadline and are trying again.
Two errors and a wild pitch in the second inning put two Orioles in scoring position with one out, but Sisco struck out and Mancini grounded out. Peterson led off the third with a walk and was erased on Beckham’s double play.
Beckham saved a run in the second with a diving backhanded stop and throw to rob Aaron Altherr.
The bullpen tried to save Gausman with four scoreless innings. Miguel Castro stranded two runners in the seventh. Tanner Scott got a double play and strikeout in the eighth after Beckham’s error and retired two batters in the ninth. Mancini let a pop up fall and was charged with an error, but Brad Brach retired Maikel Franco.
Manager Buck Showalter on Gausman: “Actually pretty good. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that many poorly hit balls fall for hits. I think it was like three out of 14 hit hard, maybe four if you go back through it. Just snake bit tonight. He couldn’t catch a break. I’ve got no fault with the way Kevin pitched tonight. He deserved a lot better fate.”
Showalter on whether that was a consequence of pitching more to contact: “I understand what you’re saying. It’s hard for me to fault a guy who threw that many quality pitches and got weak contact and gave up hits. That’s the whole idea, either make them swing and miss or weak contact. He did a little bit of both, you know? Didn’t walk a bunch of guys.
“We made a good run at them there, just couldn’t push that last one across to tie it up. It’s frustrating. I told a few of our guys, be sure to rub on a couple of those guys. See if it rubs off.”
Showalter on Mancini and Peterson home runs: “He and Jace both. Nobody puts more time and effort and sincerity into working and trying to contribute to us playing better than those two guys, so it was good to see them both get us back in that ballgame.”
Showalter on whether this was the most disappointing loss: “I try not to live in the world. I know the reality of a loss. We were down 5-0 with a lot of things that kind of out of your control, the baseball gods, so to speak, not being kind of Kevin and the team. Our guys said the heck with it and battled back and got within a run. So I don’t feel that way, no.”
Showalter on mixed bag on defense: “Trumbo made a really nice play on the one ball. You’ve got to have a quick read and you have to time it properly. One thing when players come up from the minor leagues, the ball carries more, it gets to you quicker, there’s more topspin on ground balls. There’s an adjustment.
“Obviously, Mark’s been up here a while, but that’s one of the things you see. Balls have a little more carry on them, fastballs have a little more life. That’s an adjustment that young players have to make when they come up here. Quality of breaking balls. There’s not many people pitching up here without a quality secondary pitch.
“It’s just a miscommunication. That’s one of the challenges you face and the reason we go over it a lot in spring training is shift defense. You’re shifted there and you’re in places where you’re not normally and some of the priorities change. It’s tough because there’s a fly ball that probably both guys could have caught.
“Timmy made a heck of a play. I thought the throw was as good as the catch. Very quietly, Manny has been playing a really solid shortstop for an extended period of time.”