TORONTO - It was another game where the offense produced little, the defense came up short at times and the starting pitcher did just enough to lose. The Orioles and their fans have seen this more than a few times.
The Orioles are 0-6 at Rogers Centre and 28-71 for the season after today’s 4-1 loss to Toronto. Three unearned runs in the Blue Jays fourth were big on a day the Orioles had just five hits, went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and didn’t score after the first inning.
The decisive Toronto fourth started when right-hander Alex Cobb got ahead of Justin Smoak 0-2, but then walked him.
“We were just trying to be too fine,” catcher Austin Wynns said. “Just trying to be too fine rather than just letting them hit it, ‘Here it is.’ We’re just trying to pinpoint and it hurt us, it definitely hurt us.”
The play that followed hurt too. Third baseman Yangervis Solarte hit one back to the mound. The Orioles were not likely to get a double play but they needed to get the lead runner. But Cobb threw to second and shortstop Tim Beckham failed to keep his foot on the bag long enough to get a force out. A replay review resulted in a safe call. Soon three runs would score and the Orioles were headed to an eighth loss in nine meetings with Toronto.
Was Beckham at fault on that play?
“I’m not sure,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I’d have to look at it, if he’s flying across (the bag) there and didn’t have time to anchor. The clock should tell you with the guy that hit the ball and it’s slow developing that you don’t have a play at first, so there is no reason to hurry. You kind of anchor and get the out.”
Here is Cobb’s take on the play: “It’s such a quick play. I mean, it was up the line a little bit I think. Obviously, I’d like to hit him in the chest. But you’re trying to be a little bit too perfect. You try to give him a little bit of a lead up the line so they can get their momentum going that way. Probably if I could do it all over again I’d throw it right at the bag and let him get the one out and be done with it. But that’s nitpicking, you know. The play happens too quick.”
The Orioles got an RBI single from Adam Jones in the first, but couldn’t score Jones after his leadoff double in the fourth and they generated very few scoring chances against Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman and two relievers.
“The key to the game is we scored one run,” Showalter said. “We are very dominant right-handed and you have a guy that can command the slider. And let’s face it, getting a little extra help off the plate today, obviously. And good veteran pitchers make use of that.”
For Cobb it was the latest frustrating loss. Late in his outing, he developed a blister that factored into the decision to take him out after he gave up four runs (one earned) and four hits over five innings and 88 pitches. At 2-13 with an ERA of 6.17, Cobb leads the majors in losses. One year after going 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA for Tampa Bay.
In the 2013 and 2014 seasons combined, Cobb had 12 losses in 49 starts. Now he has 13 in 18 starts and the Orioles are 3-15 in those games.
“I know that there’s a lot of discussions about wins and losses and how they don’t matter,” Cobb said. “But I worked really hard my whole career to try and have a real nice-looking record because whether you’re a casual fan or real in-depth into the numbers, the first thing you see on the back of your (baseball) cards is your win-loss. I’ve always taken pride in that in my whole career. I think I’ve always had a winning record. It sucks. I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name. It’s sickening. The only thing I can do is try to eat at it as much as I can and get it back to respectable looking numbers.”
Added Showalter: “I know it’s very black and white, but you look at his last month or so of pitching, Alex is not our issue. We need to have better ball security and swing the bats better. He pitched well enough to win the game. He gave up one earned run and we just didn’t score enough. I’m OK with Alex. That’s one of the problems, I think this year is a good example, that starting pitchers have very little control over.”
The Orioles were held to one run or less for the 27th time and that leads the majors. They need a win Sunday to avoid being swept in a series of three or more games for the 11th time this year.