During a season in which young O’s lefty reliever Tanner Scott has mixed in some dominant appearances with some clunkers, the latter showed up tonight. Texas got to him for four runs in the seventh to post a 5-4 win in the series opener at Oriole Park.
The Orioles (26-69) have lost four of five, 10 of 12 and 17 of their last 20 games. They are 4-21 in their last 25 home games and 14-33 for the season in Baltimore. Texas had lost five of six entering this series and was 2-9 this month before tonight’s victory.
After Orioles starter Alex Cobb allowed a one-out single in the Texas seventh, manager Buck Showalter called for Scott for a left-on-left matchup with Joey Gallo, who had homered earlier. Gallo has struck out 129 times this year, and 42 times in 89 at-bats against left-handed pitching. And then Scott got ahead of him 0-2 in the count. But Gallo took four straight balls to draw a walk and Scott didn’t get the guy he was called on to get.
That brought up right-handed-batting pinch-hitter Ryan Rua, who was hitting just .182. He hit a 95 mph 1-0 fastball from Scott out to left, and the 1-1 game became 4-1 Texas just like that. It was Rua’s fifth homer of the year and his first-ever as pinch-hitter. He was 0-for-18 as a pinch-hitter in his career until that big swing. Nomar Mazara’s RBI double off Scott a few batters later made it a 5-1 game.
In the home seventh, the Orioles would pull back to within a run. They loaded the bases off Cole Hamels with one out, and right-hander José Leclerc came on. He held batters to an 0-for-22 over his previous seven games. But with two outs, the bases loaded and on a 3-2 pitch, Caleb Joseph doubled into the gap in right-center to score three runs and make it a 5-4 game. Joseph was batting just .105 with runners in scoring position this season.
The Orioles had a great chance to tie it or take the lead when they loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, down by that run. But Danny Valencia struck out and Chris Davis popped to short. The O’s went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Earlier, after Cobb and Hamels held the teams scoreless through the fourth, each team scored once in the fifth inning.
Texas left fielder Gallo lifted a high fly ball to deep left, and it carried out for a home run and 1-0 lead. Gallo hit No. 22 on a 1-1 curveball and showed good power to hit it out to the opposite field. Gallo began the night hitting just .186 and was 7-for-62 over his previous 20 games.
The Orioles got even within the first three batters in the home half. Adam Jones led off with a double to left, advanced to third on Mark Trumbo’s grounder to first and scored on a deep sac fly to center by Valencia. On Valencia’s 27th RBI the Orioles tied the game at 1-1.
One of the runs Scott allowed was charged to Cobb, who pitched well but took another loss. He gave up six hits and two runs over 6 1/3 and is 2-12 with a 6.41 ERA. The Orioles are 3-14 in his 2018 starts.
Cobb on what made his outing good: “I think just being able to mix pitches. They are a pretty aggressive team. Tried to get ahead early and make them chase pitches that you want them to chase. And, hopefully, they put it on the ground and find somebody. Didn’t have too many strikeouts, so you need to have the defense working behind you.”
Cobb on needing to throw his splitter more: “Yeah. I mean it’s going to be a key for me to get completely comfortable with that. The only way to do that is to throw it. I’m getting to the point now where at least I’m seeing enough action on it to where I feel comfortable that it’s not going to hurt me every time I throw it. Just need to throw it more and more and more and completely get that feel back. And then it will open up a lot more for me.”
Joseph on Scott’s learning curve as a young pitcher: “Way you see it is, stuff starts happening really, really quickly. You’ve got a chance before the pinch-hitter (which was Rua) with Gallo. You like the matchup left-on-left. Let’s say he puts him away there. There is kind of a momentum shift and they send up the pinch-hitter (and) we feel like we’ve got a nice momentum shift. And with two outs everything sort of changes a little bit. After that you’ve got another left-on-left matchup you like with (Nomar) Mazaro.
“After that, things can compound quickly and before you know it you’ve given up three or four runs. That’s the main thing. That’s the biggest difference from the big leagues and the minor leagues. You have people in the lineup that you can get out. There’s holes in the lineup (on the farm). Up here, there’s not many holes and there’s another guy coming up who was just as good as the guy before him. It all starts with getting ahead with Tanner. He’s got great stuff. He’s going to be fine. Tough growing pains though, for sure.”
Joseph feels his offense is starting to come around: “Feel well. The average is slowly starting to climb, and that will kind of fluctuate day-to-day, but you’re just trying to put good, quality at-bats together. I feel like I’ve been doing that since I returned. That’s kind of the main thing. Put the ball hard in play, solid contact, see what happen and try to limit the punchouts. Don’t be afraid to use right field and just try and have good, major league at-bats. For the most part, it’s been pretty good. You always want more when you lose, right? So, we’ll get them tomorrow.”