Because baseball tends to repel any form of logic, Jimmy Yacabonis joined the Orioles today as the 26th man and starter in Game 1 of a doubleheader after back-to-back duds with Triple-A Norfolk and plowed through a Red Sox lineup through four innings as if it were made of straw.
Because baseball also can be incredibly fickle and elite teams have a tendency to counterpunch with steel gloves, the Red Sox mashed a couple of two-seam fastballs in the fifth inning, put three runs on the board and sent Yacabonis to the showers.
The Orioles were reduced to hoping for a split after their 5-0 loss before an announced crowd of 18,003 at Camden Yards - because the Red Sox are playing at such a superior level that such an outburst just seemed inevitable.
Yacabonis retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced. Xander Bogaerts singled in the second inning. Otherwise, he kept getting outs with his fastball, mostly in the air, and needed only 10 pitches to retire the side in order in the fourth.
Bogaerts singled again to lead off the fifth and Eduardo Nuñez lined a 91 mph two-seamer into the left field seats with one out to break a scoreless tie. Jackie Bradley Jr. homered to right-center field with two outs, on the same pitch clocked at the same velocity.
Sean Gilmartin made his Orioles debut after Mookie Betts singled and he stranded two runners. Yacabonis was charged with three runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings, with no walks and two strikeouts. He lasted 60 pitches, 40 of them strikes.
The Orioles shortened up Yacabonis in his last start at Norfolk to keep him available and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was on board with the plan, scoring three runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings. Yacabonis allowed seven runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start. But he was rolling this afternoon until the fifth.
Cedric Mullins extended his major league hitting streak with a single off David Price in the fifth inning. That’s two and counting.
Adam Jones doubled with one out in the sixth inning, his 300th with the Orioles and his fifth hit in less than 24 hours. He also singled in the fourth, but Price struck out the next three batters.
Jones was stranded in the sixth after Mark Trumbo struck out and Price fielded Mancini’s bouncer. Price had his first game with 10 or more strikeouts this season and the 37 of his career.
The Orioles fell to 35-82 overall and 20-37 at home. They’ve been shut out in 10 games.
Last night’s loss eliminated them from a division race they had to ignore a long time ago. According to STATS, they tied the 1962 Mets and 1932 Red Sox for the earliest division/league elimination date.
The 2003 Tigers, losers of 119 games, were eliminated on Aug. 22.
Mullins walked into the clubhouse this morning and noticed that his locker was moved to the other side of the room. Where Danny Valencia dressed before the Orioles designated him for assignment. With two empty lockers separating him from Jones.
Mullins said he didn’t make the request - he’s just happy to be here - and manager Buck Showalter claimed that he didn’t arrange it. But it’s logical to keep Jones close to the rookie.
Last night’s game marked the 11th time this season that a player made his major league debut with the Orioles, the fourth-highest total in club history and the most since 2012 (12). The team record is 14 set in 1955, according to STATS.
Mullins struck out looking in the third before singling in the fifth. He faced Tyler Thornburg in the seventh and flied out.
The Red Sox padded their lead in the sixth on Bogaerts’ one-out double off Gilmartin, his stolen base and a throwing error on catcher Austin Wynns. The error could have been hung on third baseman Renato Nuñez for his failure to catch the ball.
Bradley homered again in the ninth off Miguel Castro, his first multi-homer game of the season and the third of his career. He was batting .213 with nine home runs before today.
Trumbo’s 12-game hitting streak, tied for the longest of his career, ended after he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
The Orioles struck out 14 times today.
Showalter on Yacabonis: “He was good, really good. That was well needed. We would have taken that going into (the game). We needed that. To get through that game with three pitchers. But we obviously didn’t do much off Price. But he had thrown five innings and 75, but his first four as good as you want to see. But stuff like that gets punctuated when you’re not scoring any runs. But it’s impressive.
“He came out and attacked them. That what, like we talked last night, you have to do and that’s what he did. Kind of ambushed them there. But the long ball got him a couple times. There isn’t much margin for error with Price being on his game.”
Showalter on Price: “Backdoor cutter, fastball in. Trum, both of them were balls called strikes, but that’s part of the gig. He’s a great pitcher and the backdoor cutter to right-handed hitters is a ball coming out of his hand and then it cuts back. It’s just a matter of whether ... The recognition on it is fastball off the plate and then when he’s able to come in there with that same pitch and with a four-seamer. He got a lot of outs with a changeup, too, today.”
Showalter on Yacabonis’ progression: “He’s a work in progress. Like a lot of our young pitchers, he’s growing a little bit from the experience he’s getting. His last couple of starts down there may not have looked good statistically, but Griff (Mike Griffin) and R.J. (Ron Johnson) feel like he’s continuing to make progress. He’s done things like hold runners better. He’s working on his off-speed pitch.
“You get a good arm like that, not a lot of wear and tear on it, you like to see first of all if the guy can start. And he’s made a lot of progress. I’m proud of him.
Showalter on Gilmartin: “The guy traveled, got here around 11:30. It’s been a tough travel day for him. It was a tough position to be in and he gave us some needed innings. I don’t think it’s fair to him.
“The results, we would have taken. I know he was telling me the Uber driver took his suitcase and took off with it and he had to try to find him. For those of us who don’t use Uber, I guess it’s pretty hard to do, to get him back. He’s had a tough day and I was real pleased with his performance, all things considered.”
Showalter on whether he sees Yacabonis as a major league starter: “That’s the next step. We try to keep in mind his body of work and try not to go from zero to 100 right out of the chute. They’ve done a good job with him. The next step is being able to maintain your stuff over a longer haul.
“We were five and 75 (pitches). He’s gone 83, but we had him at five and 75 today. It’s just the five, you could tell he was tiring there a little bit. I want to keep his confidence level and also feel good about a needed outing we needed from him today.”
Yacabonis on his start: “Just a couple of pitches ... but it happens. At least got into the fifth. The first four were good.”
Gilmartin on travel woes: “I got here this morning, probably around 7. Didn’t get picked up right away. The driver that was picking me up ended up going to the hotel first instead of the airport, so I didn’t get picked up right away, and then got to the hotel, got settled in, got the phone call to come over to the ballpark. I got here around 11:30, got out of the Uber, went around the back of the Uber to the trunk, was tapping on the lid of the trunk and then the Uber driver drove away with my equipment bag in the trunk.
“Took about a good 20-30 minutes to drive back and drop off my stuff. That was a little stressful. Got through it. Interesting day.”