TORONTO - The Orioles’ nightmarish 2018 season continued today - on a day where it looked like they might be headed for a win. The Orioles were 23-4 this year when leading after seven innings. But a three-run advantage in the eighth inning got away, as relievers Brad Brach and Tanner Scott gave up two-run homers in the inning.
Toronto stormed back to beat the Orioles 5-4 and sweep this three-game series. They lost twice in the series by one run and have gone 0-7 this season at Rogers Centre. Four of the losses were by a single run.
The Orioles are 1-9 versus Toronto, 12-39 on the road and 28-72 at the 100-game mark.
O’s starter Andrew Cashner returned to the rotation today. He came off the disabled list and gave the Orioles a solid start, but the team fell to 5-14 in his 19 starts. However, this one wasn’t on him.
Cashner allowed six hits and one run over 5 2/3 innings. He threw 79 pitches in taking the mound for the first time since July 10. He wanted to stay in the game longer and throw more. He seem to show some frustration when he was taken out with a 2-1 lead in the sixth.
Cashner said he sought an explanation after the game from manager Buck Showalter on why he didn’t stay in longer.
“I thought I made some pitches throughout the game today,” said Cashner. “I thought maybe if I make some other pitches earlier in the game, maybe I stay in there. But it’s not my call. I have to respect that. I have a lot of respect for Buck, so it’s just be more efficient early and maybe I stay in there.”
But he did have a postgame conversation with his skipper.
“Yeah, I wanted to talk to him just kind of (about) where I thought I was at,” Cashner said. “I didn’t know I was on a pitch count. Had I known that, maybe I would do things different. It’s his decision. I have to respect that.”
Said Showalter: “He’s only going to throw 70-80 pitches anyway after 11 days off and (we) tried for six innings, whichever came first. I gave him (Kendrys) Morales. I’m sure he was pitching carefully with a base open. That was about the extent of it. I welcome his effort for staying in the game. I’ve had enough of them looking for you to help them. That’s why we like him so much. I wasn’t going to tell him exactly how many he was going to throw today. ... We talked after the game. It’s the last thing I worry about. I’d like to have more of them.”
Jonathan Schoop homered and the Orioles added to their 2-1 lead after Cashner left. It was 4-1 when Brach took the mound in the home eighth. He gave up a single and groundout before Randal Grichuk hit his 13th homer and fourth in 10 games versus the Orioles. It was a 4-3 lead. Tanner Scott entered with a man on and two outs and the count went to 3-1 on Yangervis Solarte, who turned around a high 97 mph fastball for a two-run shot and a 5-4 lead.
Scott took the loss, but Brach took the blame. He pointed the finger at himself for today and his recent struggles. He now has an ERA of 12.71 this month, allowing 11 hits and two homers in 5 2/3 innings.
“I’m trying to find answers and every time I feel like I have one ... Just didn’t execute pitches,” Brach said. “Didn’t make pitches when I needed to. That is what it boils down to. It’s been tough. Like I said, I’ve been looking for answers. Watching video. Trying everything I can. Trying to work on everything and it’s like anytime I execute a pitch it seems to find a hole or goes over an infielder’s head. Obviously, when I don’t make pitches right now, it seems to be giving up the big hit or the home run. It is extremely frustrating.”
The subject of trade rumors, Brach was asked if such speculation has impacted his pitching.
“When I am out there pitching, it’s the last thing I’m thinking about,” he said. “Obviously, it’s hard to avoid it right now. But when you are on the mound, it’s all about going out there and executing pitches. Any of the trade stuff is the furthest thing from my mind. So it is no excuse. There are no excuses out there. Just gotta get the outs.”
Showalter addressed the topic of players trying to perform well while also being asked about possibly getting traded.
“These guys are getting text messages from national writers. They’re constantly getting updates from their agents. It’s a different world we live in,” Showalter said. “(Brach’s) strong. He understands what’s going on. We had a good talk the other day. I’ve broached the subject with all the guys whose names are out there, so I don’t think anybody knows exactly what they’re feeling and what effect it has or doesn’t have. If somebody trades for Brad, they’re going to get a good pitcher.”
Scott had his chance to hold a late lead today in a high-leverage situation and could not come through. It provides something to learn from.
“There are tight spots in the sixth inning in the major leagues,” said Showalter. “There are tight spots in the fifth inning, the sixth and the seventh. It was painful. Hopefully, he’ll learn from it. ... He gets the ball down, he’s got an out. He got it up and ambushed.”
Asked whether Zach Britton was available for a four-out save, Showalter said: “Like I said, there’s a lot of different challenges I’m juggling here, OK? So respect that. He pitched yesterday and could have pitched the ninth inning today.”
While Toronto produced its 26th come-from-behind victory, the Orioles got swept in a series of three or more games for the 11th time and second time this year at Rogers Centre. They host Boston tomorrow at Oriole Park to begin a seven-game homestand that will end about 48 hours ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline.