Defense does in Cobb as Orioles swept on road trip

OAKLAND, Calif. - The rotation is fixed again, for however long it lasts. Nine shutout innings last night for Kevin Gausman, only one earned run today from Alex Cobb over six innings. The Orioles were put in positions where they could win, but firing on only one cylinder won’t get them moving forward.

Cobb Gray Sidebar.jpgThe batters were befuddled by former farmhand Andrew Triggs, who retired the last 12 and was hurt only by Pedro Álvarez’s solo home run in the second. The defense committed two more errors, the most serious by Álvarez that opened the door for two runs in the fourth.

The issues run deep. So does the hole they’ve dug.

The Orioles went winless on their six-game West Coast trip with a 2-1 loss to the Athletics. They’ve lost 12 in a row away from Camden Yards, where they return Tuesday to play the Royals. They’re 8-26 overall and have dropped 12 of the last 14 games, 18 of 21 and 20 of 24.

Including last night’s defeat, the Orioles have scored one run in 21 innings over their last two games.

Pinch-hitter Trey Mancini led off the ninth by reaching on a chopper in front of the plate, moved up on Blake Treinen’s wild pitch and took third on Craig Gentry’s sacrifice bunt. Jace Peterson grounded out with the infield playing in and Chris Davis flied to right.

Matt Joyce led off the fourth with a double and was caught between second and third on Mark Canha’s comebacker. Álvarez dropped the ball upon receiving the throw, recovered and sailed it into right field to put two runners in scoring position.

Joyce came home on Khris Davis’ grounder and Matt Olson followed with an RBI double to give Oakland a 2-1 lead. Gentry almost made a sensational diving catch in left-center field, but the Orioles again came up short.

Second baseman Engelb Vielma accounted for the Orioles’ 26th error of the season when he failed to backhand a Jonathan LuCroy grounder with two outs in the fifth, forcing Cobb to stay on the mound and run up his pitch count. The Cubs and Brewers began the day tied for second in the majors with 26 errors, leaving them four behind the Rangers.

Triggs, selected off waivers by the Athletics on March 16, 2016 when the Orioles needed a roster spot for Álvarez the first time, entered the game with a 5.20 ERA in six starts. He retired 16 of 17 batters after Álvarez’s home run, Jace Peterson’s leadoff single in the fourth the only interruption. He tied his career highs with seven innings and nine strikeouts.

Álvarez and Peterson accounted for the only baserunners against Triggs, who was replaced after 96 pitches.

A team plagued by so many issues sat two of its regulars, with Adam Jones recovering from a fastball that hit his right wrist and Mancini slumping since the night that his right knee slammed into the brick wall in foul territory.

Tim Beckham remains in Sarasota while recovering from core muscle surgery - the team is waiting to set up a schedule for him - and third base is shared by Álvarez and Danny Valencia. Álvarez hit his second home run today with two outs in the second inning, a monstrous shot measured by Statcast at 433 feet with a 114 mph exit velocity.

This is why he’s on the team. The left-handed power. He wasn’t signed to a minor league deal to play defense, but circumstances have returned him to the hot corner.

The outfield experiment is over and first base seemed a more likely spot if Álvarez donned the glove again, but the Orioles remain in scramble mode with Beckham and Jonathan Schoop on the disabled list and Manny Machado hunkered down at shortstop.

Alvarez committed his first error today, though there have been a handful of close calls, including his throw to second base on a force play in the eighth inning.

Cobb escaped a jam in the sixth, created by an infield hit and two-out walk, by striking out Matt Chapman on his 103rd and final pitch. He allowed two runs (one earned) and five hits, with one walk and five strikeouts.

In his last two starts, Cobb has surrendered only three earned runs in 12 innings to lower his ERA to 7.61 - down from 17.18 after his debut and 15.43 following his second outing.

He’s headed in the right direction while the Orioles were swept in their sixth series.

blog comments powered by Disqus