The Orioles can no longer hide, even on the nights they’d like to do it.
They’ve been ignored by the national media over the past few years because rebuilds don’t have much curb appeal, but recognition is increasing beyond the local coverage. They’ve become the talk of Twitter, MLB Network and other outlets.
This is the good kind of attention. No accusations of “tanking” or being “historically bad.” But none of it really matters to them.
They’ve done a pretty good job of tuning out the critics and will do the same now that the industry wants to embrace them. Or at least try to figure them out.
Of course, it could turn on them again after back-to-back losses. This is a fickle business.
Alex Cobb cruised through the first two innings tonight, tiptoed into trouble in the third and then absorbed a couple of big blows, surrendering four runs in a 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.
The Orioles managed one run off Hyun Jin Ryu through six innings and fell to 12-10. None of their outs against him were recorded by an outfielder, the first fly ball coming from Rio Ruiz in the eighth.
The Jays had three infield singles in the third that, along with a bouncer to the mound that Cobb turned into an out, produced the game’s first run. Randal Grichuk followed with a three-run shot to center field and the small ball phase was over.
Cobb allowed two more singles and received a mound visit before getting the last two outs. He threw 21 pitches in the inning and the Orioles never recovered. But he joined Tommy Milone as the only starters to complete six innings this season, making it through 6 2/3 and 88 pitches.
The veteran right-hander retired 13 batters in a row before walking Danny Jansen with two outs in the seventh. Cavan Biggio singled off Renato Núñez’s mitt and Grichuk’s bloop single to right field increased the lead to 5-1.
Tonight marked Cobb’s longest start since his complete-game victory on Aug. 18, 2018 in Cleveland.
Biggio hit a two-run homer off Dillon Tate in the ninth to expand the lead. Núñez had a run-scoring bloop single with two outs in the bottom of the inning.
Injuries and the latest reset for Chris Davis left manager Brandon Hyde with a lineup that included six players claimed off waivers, a Rule 5 pick and a minor league free agent. For a team that began the day as the seventh seed in the playoff race.
Center fielder Cedric Mullins was the lone homegrown product, but he’s battling to stay in the majors.
“We have a lot of guys who have come here from other places and been taken off 40-man rosters, and that’s a tough pill to swallow for a major league player is when a team does remove you from the roster and now you’ve got to start all over and hopefully you get claimed and a team gives you an opportunity,” Hyde said earlier today in his Zoom conference call, asked again to explain how his team is above .500 and whether past rejections serve as a motivator.
“A lot of our lineup and a lot of our bullpen, that’s happened to, and I think that makes them tough, too. I think a lot of these guys grew a lot last year going through a lot of different experiences. We struggled at times, but we did do some good things also. We had a tough time closing games out, tough time keeping the score tight the second half of games a lot of times, but I felt like especially in the second half, we did compete to win and we did do some nice things offensively. Some guys had a good second half and I think they rolled that into this year.
“I think that winning does helps. You do have to learn to win here and it really starts with pitching. Your bullpen guys keeping the score there and giving your offense a chance.”
It happened again yesterday against the Nationals. The score held at 5-1 until Pedro Severino hit a three-run homer off Max Scherzer and Anthony Santander delivered his second solo shot to tie the game.
“We caught up to Max Scherzer,” Hyde said. “That doesn’t happen very often. Most teams, when you’re down 5-1 to Max Scherzer you can just chalk up an L. But give our guys credit for keeping the score there, pitching out of a lot of jams, a lot of bases loaded. They left a ton of guys on base. We did a nice job pitching out of jams. And then we hit a couple homers and we’re right back there.
“Happy with how our guys have played. I think we have some tough guys in that room who have dealt with a lot of experiences and just like to see it continue.”
Ruiz’s throwing error on Sunday led to an unearned run and a tough loss. There were no defensive breakdowns tonight that dictated the outcome.
Cobb followed his seven-pitch first inning in Philadelphia with a six-pitch first and second inning tonight. But Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Joe Panik began the third by reaching on infield hits, with shortstop Andrew Velazquez again showing off his range at shortstop but unable to get the outs.
Cobb knocked down Jansen’s bouncer up the middle, looked to third base and threw to first as the runners advanced. He ran down Biggio’s dribbler near the mound and flipped late to home plate - the third infield hit of the inning - and the Jay led 1-0.
Grichuk launched a split-changeup for his 13th homer against the Orioles in 31 games, the Jays batted around and Cobb’s start seemed to be falling apart.
In a strange development, he retired the side in order in every other inning through the sixth.
Santander extended his hitting streak to 12 games, tying his career high, with a single in the first inning. The Orioles had just announced that his second home run yesterday, upon further video review, landed on Eutaw Street to increase the ballpark’s total to 106.
Verification is a lot harder in 2020 without hundreds of people in the area.
Ryu didn’t allow another hit until Santander led off the fourth with a double and scored on Severino’s one-out single.
Mullins led off the sixth with a single, but Hanser Alberto struck out and Santander grounded into a double play.
Tate made his 2020 debut and stranded two runners in the seventh, with Mullins running down Travis Shaw’s fly ball on the center field track. Tate retired the side in order in the eighth and struck out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with high heat, registering 96 mph on the stadium radar gun.
Hyde on Cobb: “I thought he threw the ball really well. It’s an aggressive swinging team and he was aggressive with them in the strike zone, and he just kind of made that one bad pitch to Grichuk. Besides that, he was throwing strikes. Fastball was good, good life to his fastball. Some nice splits, some good curveballs. Pitched ahead in the count and got some early contact. Pitched into the seventh and probably could have gone longer. Gave us a chance and did a nice job. Just a three-run homer and an unlucky run there at the end.”
Hyde on Ryu: “Well, they didn’t give Ryu that big contract for nothing.”
Hyde on Velazquez’s defense: “He played great. We’ve seen that before from Drew. He’s got a ton of range, he’s got great feet, he’s got a quick release, accurate arm. Super athletic. Love having him.”
Cobb on third inning. “It’s just baseball. Those types of innings happen. You think back on the inning and think what you could have done better. Obviously, the pitch to Grichuk was middle-middle and it was a poorly executed pitch, but most of the pitches that I had I felt like I executed and got the results somewhat of what I was looking to get. But obviously you look back and you wish you could have executed that one pitch a little bit better.”
Cobb on how he’s feeling now: “This was hands down probably the best I’ve felt from start to finish that I’ve had this year. They’re a super aggressive team. I knew that going in. You’re going to have to have all your pitches working off-speed, you’re going to have to establish fastballs in. But they hit some balls hard. There were a lot of cheap hits, but there were some well-hit balls as well. It’s a game plan that if I had to pitch against them again tomorrow, I’d go in with the same thought process and just hope I executed a couple more pitches in key situations.”
Cobb on how stat line is deceiving: “It happens. Every year, this happens. Over 162 games, it happens two or three times. We call it getting bleeded to death, little cuts here and there and balls fall in and then there’s a blast, and before you know it, your line looks terrible and you’re falling behind. As a pitcher, you can feel it happening and you do your best to minimize it.”
Mullins on Ryu: “I think just a little bit of his movement was getting under our barrel. He was creating a lot of weak contact on our pull side and it was tough for us to make the adjustment.”
Mullins on how he feels at plate: “I do feel a lot better. In terms of my at-bats, I feel like they’re a lot stronger compared to ones I’ve had in the past. I think my vision at the plate has improved because of these adjustments. I think I’m able to adjust to these pitches. It’s just a matter of being able to grind through it.”