Settling down in sixth sends Orioles to series win

The Royals’ Jorge Soler led off the sixth inning Tuesday night with a single off Dylan Bundy and the Orioles had to be flashing back to just about every game in the 2019 season.

The inning has crushed them. If wine could be made out of baseball players, the Orioles would turn every ballpark into a vineyard.

Bundy put a cork in it, inducing a ground ball from Hunter Dozier that the Orioles turned into a 5-4-3 double play. Alex Gordon lined to center field and the deficit stayed at one run.

The Orioles tied the game in the seventh, Hanser Alberto hit a three-run homer in the eighth and an eight-game losing streak died on the vine.

Fry-Pitch-White-sidebar.jpgPaul Fry inherited the sixth last night and retired the side in order with two strikeouts. The Orioles won again to claim their first series since late July.

Exceptions that brought favorable results.

The Red Sox sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs in the sixth inning Sunday afternoon and the Royals opened the following series by breaking up John Means’ no-hit bid in the sixth and tallying three runs.

Even with clean showings the last two nights and another Alberto three-run shot, the Orioles had been outscored 125-53 in the sixth, and the third time through the order routinely breaks them. Every inning has favored the opposition except the eighth (59-51), and the margins aren’t close, but the sixth has been downright brutal.

Leads are destroyed. Deficits swell as if exposed to allergens.

Asked for an explanation, manager Brandon Hyde said, “Usually it’s third time through the order, middle of the order.”

“Unfortunately, just the way our pitching staff is constructed this year ... a lot of times I’d love to pull the starter out before the third time through, but we just don’t have much length in the bullpen, so a lot of nights I’m just trying to see how I can try to finish the game, so I leave a starter out there to, hopefully, get through the sixth with somebody up,” Hyde said.

“We’ve just done a really poor job all year of having inherited runners score and it’s, like, night after night. But Gabriel Ynoa came in (Monday) night with the bases loaded and nobody out and did an outstanding job of not letting anybody score, and then had a tough time in the seventh.”

Nicky Lopez and Nick Dini hit back-to-back home runs and the Orioles lost 5-4.

Ynoa’s escape act was a rarity. The Orioles began last night ranked first in the American League and third in the majors with 40 percent of inherited runners scoring. Their relievers have been handed the most in the majors with 229.

“It’s one thing after another,” Hyde said. “A little bit with our pitching and it’s been a tough year for that from that standpoint.”

The innings tend to blur for players who aren’t doing the same tracking as the media.

“Is it really?” Trey Mancini said after he was told the numbers heading into last night’s game.

“I guess you don’t really think about that just because you play so much. You don’t think about what inning it is that the teams always put up the runs, and I don’t know if there’s really an explanation besides maybe that’s the third time they’re getting through the lineup and seeing guys more. But that’s also the third time we’re getting through. We have the same opportunity to see their pitchers a couple times.

“Yeah, that’s certainly something that needs to be cleaned up. I didn’t know that at all. That’s a pretty staggering number. I’d have to sit down and kind of analyze it a little better to see what exactly is going on those innings.

“That’s a huge turning point in the game, too. When you get to the third part of the lineup, a lot of times the game is close in the fifth inning and some teams can separate themselves in the sixth. We’ve definitely got to get better there and our record will improve.”

By two wins the last two nights.

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