Orioles claim López while going for sweep (game suspended)

The search for pitching that can provide length and serve in swingman and long relief roles has brought the Orioles to right-hander Jorge López.

A team that’s trying to get back above .500 fiddling with its roster.

lopez-jorge-royals-sidebar.jpgThe Orioles claimed López off waivers from the Royals earlier today, filling their 40-man roster and 60-man player pool with one transaction. They made the move while also busy building a lead against the Nationals that’s been put on hold in the top of the sixth inning due to rain.

The grounds crew can’t get the tarp on the field.

López, 27, was designated for assignment on Friday after the Royals activated him from the bereavement/family medical emergency list. He made only one appearance in relief on July 26 in Cleveland and allowed two runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

Because López is out of minor league options, the Orioles must place him on the active roster after he reports and undergoes COVID-19 testing. He’s expected to join the team for its trip to Philadelphia that begins Tuesday night.

The Brewers selected Lopez in the second round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and traded him to the Royals seven years later in the Mike Moustakas deal. He’s gone 7-15 with a 5.97 ERA and 1.516 WHIP in 60 career games, including 27 starts.

López registered a 6.33 ERA with a 1.472 WHIP in 39 appearances (18 starts) last summer,

The Orioles should remember López from his Sept. 2, 2018 start in Kansas City, when he held them to one run with no walks and eight strikeouts over seven innings. Jonathan Villar homered in the first.

López tossed eight perfect innings in Minnesota in his next start, walking the leadoff batter in the ninth and surrendering a hit.

Pitching depth is needed after Kohl Stewart opted out for the season and left-hander Ty Blach underwent Tommy John surgery. Thomas Eshelman started last night.

López is going to force a pitcher off the 28-man roster. Keegan Akin hasn’t been used this weekend after the Orioles recalled him from the alternate camp site in Bowie. David Hess has been used only twice - on July 24 in the opener in Boston and Friday night in D.C.

A starter is needed for Thursday afternoon against the Phillies, but John Means can be activated from the bereavement list.

Travis Lakins Sr. was the first man out of the bullpen this afternoon as the Orioles tried to complete their first three-game sweep on the road since Aug. 25-27, 2017 at Fenway Park and improve to 8-7.

The Orioles jumped Stephen Strasburg, who was making his 2020 debut, for five runs in the fifth inning. They kept falling behind in the count and producing clutch hits.

Austin Hays and Chance Sisco singled with one out, Pat Valaika walked to load the bases and Bryan Holaday improved to 6-for-13 lifetime with the bases loaded by lining an RBI single into right field for a 1-0 lead.

Hanser Alberto scored two runs with a double and Anthony Santander plated two more with a single that ended Strasburg’s day.

The Orioles last series sweep of the Nationals came on May 8-9, 2017, when they took two games at Camden Yards. Their last three-game series sweep of the Nationals occurred on Sept. 22-24, 2015 in D.C.

Strasburg allowed only two hits through four innings and they didn’t leave the infield. Alberto laid down a bunt to lead off the top of the first and Dwight Smith Jr. reached in the second on a shot up the middle that deflected off Strasburg.

Meanwhile, Asher Wojciechowski kept bending but the scoreless tie didn’t break. His pitch count rose to 31 through two innings, a potential issue working on short rest, but he left the bases loaded in the second and threw only 10 pitches in the third.

Asdrúbal Cabrera walked with one out in the fourth and Wojciechowski hit Eric Thames on the left leg. Carter Kieboom struck out looking, Lakins entered and Yan Gomes flied out.

Starlin Castro hit a long two-run homer off Shawn Armstrong with two down in the fifth that reduced the lead to 5-2. Smith and Sisco walked in the sixth and the game was halted with one out.

It’s going to be stopped for good if the grounds crew can’t cover an infield that’s become soaked.

Update: The game has been suspended and will resume Friday at Camden Yards, with the Nationals as the home team. More to come.

Update II: Rule 7.02(a) includes the following reason why a game is suspended:

“Light failure, malfunction of, or unintentional operator error in employing, a mechanical or field device or equipment under the control of the home club (e.g., a retractable roof, a tarpaulin, or other water removal equipment)”

“The field’s unplayable,” Hyde said. “There’s a rule in there where there’s a mechanical failure with the tarp. If there is a mechanical failure with the tarp, then the game is suspended. If they can’t get the field ready to play. And that’s what happened.

“That was decided by the Nationals and the grounds crew and everybody involved. There were some soft areas.”

Hyde said he was unaware of the rule about mechanical failure.

“So now I know,” he said. “Not being able to get the tarp on the field. I guess it’s a recent rule. I’ve never been a part of something like this, so I didn’t know.”

The Orioles scored five runs in the top of the fifth, allowed two in the bottom half and had two runners on base with one out in the top of the sixth when the storm arrived and the grounds crew couldn’t unroll the tarp.

“I wouldn’t say we had it in hand,” Hyde said. “There was still quite a bit of game left. Yeah, it’s disappointing that we had a lead and I felt pretty good about our bullpen situation the last half of the game. So yeah, it’s disappointing that we couldn’t finish it today, but hopefully we can regroup, enjoy our off-day tomorrow, play well in Philadelphia and play them again next weekend.”

Paul Fry retired one batter and wouldn’t have been able to return if the game resumed. Lakins and Armstrong already pitched. But Hyde felt like he could have covered the remaining innings.

“I did feel comfortable,” he said. “I had Keegan Akin as a long guy, I had David Hess as a long guy, (Miguel) Castro was available, (Cole) Sulser was available. We had pitching left for the game and they couldn’t get the tarp on.

“Our guys were ready to play, and just unfortunate that things happened the way they happened. But sometimes you’ve got to deal with some adversity and life throws you curveballs, and we’ll finish this game up next weekend.”

It happened so long ago that he had to test his memory, but Hyde was happy with the at-bats against Strasburg in the fifth inning.

“Feels like about six hours ago,” he said. “Austin Hays gets us going with a line drive single to right. The big hit, Holaday with the bases loaded, two strikes. Everyone knows I love two-strike RBI singles hit opposite field, and Holly did that. And Tony Santander with another really nice at-bat with an RBI base hit to the opposite field, two RBIs. I just thought we really battled well.

“Strasburg was good the first four and we got to him in the fifth. I thought it was a real gutsy performance by our starter, by Wojo, escaping some trouble early and going to pitch into the fourth inning. Just did a really nice job. And Lakins picking him up in that fourth getting Gomes to fly out. It was a nice piece of pitching there, as well.”

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