Mistakes hurt Orioles in 5-3 loss to Rangers (updated)

Early outs on the basepaths became a second obstacle for the Orioles today besides the team playing across from them.

The Rangers now have the second-best record in baseball. They don’t need any assistance.

The road trip rush is fading, with the Orioles losing again 5-3 before an announced crowd of 37,939 at Camden Yards.

Ryan Mountcastle and Ramón Urías had back-to-back RBI doubles off Will Smith with two outs in the ninth to make it close.

Dean Kremer registered his fourth quality start after he was charged with three runs in 6 1/3 innings, leaving him with a 2.45 ERA in May. Manager Brandon Hyde removed him at 97 pitches after a one-out walk to Robbie Grossman, and Bryan Baker surrendered a double to Leody Taveras and two-run single to Marcus Semien.

"Only giving up two runs there going into the seventh," Hyde said. "Unfortunately, the walk came around to score, that was his run in the seventh, but I thought he really battled. He threw well. The fastball command was really good, ton of life to his heater. Good cutter again. It's a tough lineup to pitch to and he did a great job."

Asked about his stuff, Kremer said, "I thought it went pretty. A quality start. That's the goal every time."

"He's attacking the zone," said Austin Hays, "he's throwing a lot of strikes with all of his pitches, he's getting ahead to hitters and finishing them with two strikes. It's been really good to see how he's thrown. He's given us a good chance every time he steps out there."

The infield was playing in with Semien at the plate, and shortstop Jorge Mateo couldn’t knock down the ball. He made a nice stop and throw on Corey Seager’s grounder to hold Semien at third base after Baker’s wild pitch, but the Orioles trailed 4-0.

Andrew Heaney lasted a season-high seven innings and held the Orioles to one run and four hits. He retired 10 in a row after Cedric Mullins’ walk in the third, the streak broken on Hays’ 411-foot leadoff home run to center field in the seventh.

The first 20,000 fans 15 and over received a Mountcastle bobblehead, and everyone was invited to stay for the Andy Grammer concert. The stands were decorated in black and orange. The weather was ideal.

The baseball was not, with the Orioles hurting themselves rather than Heaney. And with their luck turning sour, especially the number of hard-hit balls that found Texas gloves.

Heaney hit Mountcastle on the shoulder with a 92.4 mph fastball leading off the bottom of the second. Urías grounded into a double play, but James McCann doubled on a fly ball to left field that Josh H. Smith failed to track properly as he approached the corner. The dimensions causing a timid pursuit.

Adam Frazier lined a single into right field, and Adolis García’s throw to the plate arrived in plenty of time to get McCann. Former Orioles farmhand Jonah Heim caught the ball to the right of the plate, turned and waited for McCann, who hadn’t gone into his slide.

Mateo was 1-for-18 coming into today and 7-for-69 (.101) this month before lining a single into left field with one out in the third inning. He stole his 15th base and Mullins walked, but Mateo broke for third base as Adley Rutschman lifted a shallow fly ball to left field and didn’t attempt a retreat.

The play was magnified in the fourth when Josh Jung led off with a double and scored on Heim’s single for a 2-0 lead.

"He was stealing on the pitch and he was probably two-thirds of the way to third base when the ball made contact," Hyde said. "Just a really tough read for him at that point."

The Orioles are 33-19 and hoping to avoid the sweep Sunday before the Guardians arrive in town. Texas has improved to 33-18.

"We've played better games than we played the last two for sure, but these things are going to happen," Hyde said. "We're facing a really good club that is a first-place team that's scoring seven-plus runs a game. They have excellent starting pitching. Will Smith closed today, he's done it for a really long time. We've got to play a little bit better, but it's a tough team we're facing and hopefully we can shake this one off and try to salvage a win tomorrow in the series."

The Orioles were playing from behind again after a walk and two singles in the second inning, the last by Grossman with two outs, gave Texas a 1-0 lead.

A 20th comeback win had a chance to materialize after Hays’ home run, the crowd ignited again, but another miscue was on deck. And McCann later struck out to end the game.

Wasn't meant to be today.

Mychal Givens hadn’t allowed a run against the Rangers in 15 career appearances. He recorded two outs in the eighth, Keegan Akin inherited a runner at second base, and the left-hander’s missed catch while covering first on Smith’s grounder increased the lead to 5-1.

The run was unearned to keep Givens’ streak alive. García appeared to bail him out after leading off the inning with a single, diving into second base on Heim’s one-out, line drive double into the right field corner, recognizing his mistake and turning back toward first, and failing to touch second again on his way to third.

The weirdness was real.  

The loud outs by the Orioles were noticeable.

"I felt like we had good at-bats," Hays said. "Swinging at good pitches, put a lot of balls in play really hard on a line. They were tracking balls out there and making good plays. Just unlucky. I felt like we had a good approach and plan, kind of did all we could do at that point. Just couldn't get anything to fall."

* Akin was recalled this morning from Triple-A Norfolk to give the Orioles a long reliever after Austin Voth threw 3 2/3 innings last night. He allowed one run and one hit with 13 strikeouts in seven innings with the Tides.

Akin tossed three perfect innings in a May 21 start, so he’s stretched out. He worked 1 1/3 today with no runs charged to him.

The Orioles optioned Akin with his ERA at 5.91 and WHIP at 1.781 in 13 games.

Calling it a useful reset is “a good way to look at it,” Akin said.

“Obviously, I wasn’t throwing the best up here. I was putting up some zeroes but they were ugly zeroes. It was good to kind of go down and get a little reset, kind of get my mojo back, I guess, and hopefully roll that right into here.”

Akin conquered the challenge of keeping the proper mindset rather than letting the disappointment of a demotion consume him and hurt his numbers, which would eliminate the chance at a promotion.

“You see it so many times,” he said. “Guys go down and essentially get buried. They go down and they get sucked into it. So it’s just, go down there and stay positive. Luckily, it’s a great group of guys down there. I’ve been telling everybody up here, it’s probably the most fun that I’ve had in my minor league career. Buck (Britton) does really well. Just a great group of guys.”

* Ryan McKenna started in right field this afternoon. He didn’t touch the mound.

Not that he’d balk at another relief assignment.

McKenna made his third career pitching appearance last night, allowing two runs in the ninth inning in a 12-2 loss. He smiled as a reporter approached his locker this morning, knowing the conversation would center on his mound work.

The thought crept into McKenna’s mind last night when Terrin Vavra replaced Anthony Santander in right field in the top of the eighth inning. He might need to pitch.

“I kind of figured if the game stayed where it was, there was a change to try to alleviate some pitcher use,” McKenna said.

“It’s a unique situation, obviously. It’s kind of a special thing and I don’t take it for granted that being on a big league mound is what a lot of people want to do. But the circumstances call for saving the team, some pitchers. Just try to make it quick and move through it as well as you can.”

The stadium gun clocked McKenna’s pitches in the mid-30s and identified them as sliders and curveballs.

“It was a four-seam grip that I flicked my wrist and had pretty much the same arc as a curveball,” McKenna said, “but it was just floating in there.”

Allowing two runs qualified as damage control, though it raised his career ERA to 15.43 and WHIP to 4.286.

“We’ve come back from pretty severe odds, so only giving up two runs, I feel like it’s still, maybe not completely out of reach,” McKenna said. “As well as I could do, I’d probably say in that situation, what they needed me for.”

* The Rangers’ starter for Sunday is TBA with Dane Dunning on the paternity list.

Here are the starters for the series against the Guardians at Camden Yards:

Monday: RHP Tyler Wells (3-1, 3.47 ERA) vs. LHP Logan Allen (1-2, 3.31 ERA)
Tuesday: RHP Kyle Gibson (6-3, 3.82 ERA) vs. RHP Cal Quantrill (2-3, 4.75 ERA)
Wednesday: TBA vs. RHP Shane Bieber (4-3, 3.04 ERA)

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