DETROIT — Like hitting and offense? Boy, do I not have a game for you.
The Orioles, without the prominent bats of Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle, fell to the Tigers 3-0 this afternoon. The two teams combined to ground into six double plays.
"Obviously they're two huge losses, incredible hitters and guys that you want in your lineup, but at the same time, guys go down on every team," said Trey Mancini. "You have to fill the void and try to keep the line moving."
Baltimore hit the ball hard, but right at defenders. Baseball, am I right?
According to Statcast, eight balls off the bat of Orioles had an exit velocity of at least 100 mph. Despite gathering just four hits in the ballgame, the O’s had four outs on balls in play that had an expected batting average over .500. That includes two Trey Mancini flyouts to right field, which had an xBA of .840 and .770 respectively. Don’t let Trey buy your lottery ticket this year.
"Really frustrating, I thought I hit both of them well," Mancini added. "Especially on balls to the opposite field this year, they just seem to be dying. I don't know why ... That's how the game goes sometimes."
The Tigers were forced into an unexpected bullpen game with just one out recorded in the top of the second inning. Ramón Urías drilled a 105.9 mph liner off of starting pitcher Michael Pineda’s right hand, forcing an early exit.
The Tigers' bullpen entered Saturday’s game with a 2.88 ERA, good for third best in Major League Baseball. They combined to throw 7.2 innings, allowing just three hits and no earned runs.
Bruce Zimmermann continued to show his newfound 2022 prowess. The lefty allowed just two earned runs in six-plus innings of work. An unearned run came in the second inning, as a Jonathan Schoop double turned into three bases on a Ryan McKenna error. A sacrifice fly made it 1-0 early.
"Bruce threw the ball extremely well. Went into the seventh inning, two earned runs, we just didn't score," said Brandon Hyde. "I just think he's got a much better mix this year. Better changeup and he's not walking people."
"I was pretty happy with the overall outing," adds Zimmermann. "Definitely a little bit up in the zone sometimes compared to previous outings. Thought I made good pitches and the defense played well behind me with the double plays."
Detroit catcher Eric Haase’s first hit of the game came on an infield single, which left his bat at 58.1 mph. His second hit went a little bit further than that, a solo home run that traveled 377 feet and doubled the Tigers’ lead to 2-0.
The solo home runs got to Zimmermann, who allowed another to Willi Castro in the bottom of the seventh inning, knocking him out of the ballgame. The third time through the lineup has still presented challenges for the lefty.
"Still trying to figure that one out," Zimmerman laughed. "That's the name of the game being a starter in this league. The seventh is kind of the monkey on my back right now, but I know I'm going to get it off soon."
Nonetheless, Zimmermann exited with the O’s firmly in the game. Three runs through six-plus innings gives you a solid chance, which has been the common theme through the first two losses in Detroit.
All in all, the O’s pitching staff has done a nice job of keeping Baltimore in the game. Jorge López also made his first appearance since May 9 against the Royals, and ushered a quick 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout.
The pitching staff has allowed just seven total runs in the first two games of the series.
"These guys have been doing an incredible job, I can't say enough about the whole staff," said Mancini. "From top to bottom these guys are going out there, attacking the zone and keeping us in games."
In a shocking turn of events, Miguel Cabrera has posed the biggest threat. After a double and a home run in Detroit’s win yesterday, Miggy went 2-for-3 with a walk and two singles.
The offense, once again, did not hold up its end of the deal.
In yesterday’s loss, the Orioles couldn’t cash in on the golden opportunities they had. The birds loaded the bases in each of the last three innings, but weren’t able to make good on those chances. 14 runners were stranded on base.
In today’s loss, those opportunities didn’t come in the first place, despite making good contact and hitting the ball hard.
Not having Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle in the lineup tends to have that impact. In the meantime, versatile utility players will continue to get at-bats. They’re going to need to step up in the absence of two of the best hitters on the club.
"Other guys have to step up," said Hyde. "It's a 26-man roster, we're in the big leagues and we've gotta be able to hit."