Offense, offense, wherefore art thou, offense? Baltimore’s bats once again faltered in Detroit, this time in a 5-1 loss to the Tigers. The Orioles scored just three runs in this three-game sweep, striking out 16 times today alone.
On Friday, the O’s couldn’t cash in on offensive opportunities, stranding 14 runners on base. Yesterday, Baltimore hit the ball hard, but just right at defenders. Eight balls were hit over 100 mph, with four of them having an expected batting average over .500, but no runs came of it.
Today? The Orioles didn’t fail to cash in, nor did they simply get unlucky. The lineup just didn’t hit.
Tarik Skubal was dominant, striking out five O’s hitters the first time through the lineup. It was the third-career double-digit strikeout game for Skubal, who struck out 11 Orioles in the game, matching a career high. The lefty was able to go deep into this one, allowing just three hits and not surrendering a run over six innings of work.
“I thought Skubal was really good,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “We had a tough time making contact against him, and give him credit, he threw a really good game.”
Ramón Urías, Ryan McKenna and Tyler Nevin were the only players to muster hits off Skubal. The progress that has been made at the plate in the month of May seemed to lose its ticket before the flight to Detroit.
In a lineup that once again did not feature Austin Hays or Ryan Mountcastle, it was the regulars that didn’t come through. Cedric Mullins struck out four times and Anthony Santander struck out three times. The only bright spot was a Trey Mancini solo home run in the top of the ninth.
“He (Skubal) was commanding his pitches really well,” Santander said. “Get back to the stadium tomorrow with the same mindset. Nothing changes, we’re staying positive. We’re working hard and we’re going to get through this.”
It also wasn’t the sharpest of starts for Tyler Wells. But once again, an Orioles starter pitched well enough to keep the Birds in the game. The big righty went four-plus innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits while striking out two Tigers. A high pitch count of 71 through just four-plus got the best of Wells, who was pulled in favor of Joey Krehbiel.
“I just thought his command wasn’t what it usually is,” Hyde noted. “Wasn’t as sharp as he has been the last few times out.”
“Definitely didn’t have a feel for all of my pitches today,” added Wells. “There’s more work to do in between starts trying to be more consistent."
The bullpen mostly took care of business the rest of the way, allowing just two runs over four innings of work.
The Orioles pitching staff has not been able to figure out Miguel Cabrera. Then again, not many pitching staffs have over Cabrera’s 20-year career. Miggy launched another longball off of Wells in the second inning, the 505th of his career and second of the series. “I’m not gonna worry too much about giving up a home run to that guy,” Wells joked. “He’s hit a lot of them.”
The extra-base hits got to Wells early. In the second, it was Cabera’s homer and Victor Reyes’ double. In the third, Javier Báez doubled and later scored.
Despite surrendering eight hits, Wells thought it wasn’t reflective of how he pitched. “For the most part, I induced a lot of soft contact,” he said.
The last thing the Orioles needed today was more injuries, and unfortunately, that’s what they leave Detroit with.
Jorge Mateo attempted to bunt for a base hit in the second inning and collided with first baseman Spencer Torkelson. Despite staying in the game originally, Chris Owings pinch hit for Mateo before his second at-bat in the top of the fourth. The injury was described as “rib cage soreness” for the young shortstop.
Hyde said that Mateo has a “left shoulder and chest contusion.” The x-rays were negative, but he will be day-to-day for the time being. It doesn’t appear that this will trigger a roster move.
Down on the farm, DL Hall had the strikeout pitch working in his start for Norfolk. The lefty struck out seven batters and allowed two runs and two hits in 3 ⅔ innings for the Tides. Adley Rutschman went 0-for-4 with three groundouts and a lineout.
Next up, the Orioles return home for a four-game set against the Yankees. Perhaps that Rutschman guy can provide an offensive spark sometime soon. Heard he's supposed to be pretty good.