A team that was pretty good this year at winning series and winning rubber match games to win series, took an early 4-1 lead Wednesday afternoon. And they took the lead off right-hander Shane Bieber, a former American League Cy Young Award winner who came into this start with an ERA of 3.04 and nine quality starts.
The early lead would be gone by the top of the fourth, and while the offense would fight back, the Guardians, ranked last in the majors in team OPS and 29th in runs per game, would have their way with O’s pitching in a 12-8 win to take the series.
Cleveland led 11-8 by the end of the fifth inning. To that point, the Guardians were 14-for-29 at-bat with four doubles and three homers. Most of their pitch mashing and heavy lifting was done as they won the series finale.
The O’s staff could use a day off which they get today after a 2-4 homestand with series losses to Texas and Cleveland. It followed that 5-1 AL East road trip to Toronto and New York.
The ups and downs of the big league season.
It has been a strange season for Orioles pitching in this respect. Against some of the better-hitting clubs in baseball, they have pitched well. Against some of the worst-hitting teams in MLB, they have not.
Texas the highest-scoring team in MLB, scored 26 runs with a .655 OPS against O’s pitchers over six games this season. Tampa Bay is second in runs per game in MLB and scored just six runs in three games versus Baltimore pitchers. Atlanta, fifth in runs per game in MLB, scored 12 runs in three games off the Orioles and Toronto, ranked eighth, scored 10 in three games.
Now for the rest of this story.
Kansas City, which is 26th in MLB in runs per game, scored 23 in three games versus the Orioles staff. Oakland, ranked 30th and last, scored 24 in four games. Cleveland, 29th in runs per game at game time Wednesday, scored 22 in three games at Oriole Park.
Does O’s pitching rise up to the task with the top clubs and have a letdown against lesser teams? It’s strange to see those numbers.
The O's bullpen took a beating yesterday after Keegan Akin, pitching as an opener, allowed a run in the top of the first. They allowed 11 runs, all earned in nine innings as the bullpen ERA jumped from 3.15 to 3.49.
O's pitchers have allowed 41 runs the last six games.
On a day the Orioles got seven runs and eight hits off Bieber in four innings they did not win.
The Orioles have scored 16 runs in their first two games without center fielder Cedric Mullins, going 1-1.
Now the Orioles have a day off to regroup and perhaps make an adjustment or two to the pitching staff ahead of a series that begins at San Francisco on Friday night.
The O's hitters will get a real challenge in the road trip opener, facing Giants' right-hander Logan Webb, who is 4-5 with a 2.75 ERA. He has an ERA of 2.92 in 70 games since the 2021 season.
Over his past four starts this year he has allowed three earned runs with an ERA of 1.00 and over his past seven games, he is 4-1 with a 1.68 ERA.
The Orioles stepped up recently against AL East opponents. But Texas and Cleveland won series against them. Now they hit the road trying to ensure what happened in Baltimore is just a bump in the road during a very good season.