The latest snapshot of a weird and unprecedented 2020 season came this afternoon before batting practice, when the Orioles gathered in right field in their home white uniforms for the annual team photo.
Everyone wearing masks and lined up in rows with the proper spacing between bodies.
Just another day at the ballpark for the Orioles, who are down to their last 12 games of the regular season and always reminded of the unpredictability of it after tonight’s 5-1 loss to the Braves at Camden Yards.
Scoring 14 runs last night didn’t offer any sort of carryover. Huascar Ynoa, with his 6.75 ERA, 1.909 WHIP and 7.4 walks per nine innings, shut out the Orioles on two hits in four frames in his longest outing of the season.
He didn’t issue a walk.
It didn’t make much sense, but it’s so 2020.
Manager Brandon Hyde earned his first ejection in the top of the fourth after yelling at first base umpire Brennan Miller from the dugout about another check-swing call. Hyde came onto the field and did a little more venting before heading inside.
Fourteen consecutive Orioles were retired before José Iglesias led off the seventh inning with a single against Chris Martin. DJ Stewart, Ryan Mountcastle and Pedro Severino had chances to tie the game with one swing and couldn’t do it.
Atlanta pitching retired 23 of the last 25 batters, with Cedric Mullins’ double in the ninth accounting for the fourth hit of the night. Mullins scored on Iglesias’ ground ball, but the Orioles fell to 21-27.
The Orioles steamrolled the Braves last night, but they fell behind 1-0 tonight in the third inning on doubles by Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman. Adam Duvall homered with one out in the fourth - his 10th this month - after Thomas Eshelman hung a changeup.
Eshelman lasted 3 1/3 innings and 67 pitches. He was charged with two runs and six hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Paul Fry stranded two runners.
Travis Lakins Sr. put runners on the corners with one out in the fifth and escaped the jam. Freeman led off the seventh with a single against Cole Sulser, tried for the double and was thrown out by Austin Hays. Travis d’Arnaud singled with two outs, but Dansby Swanson grounded to Mountcastle, making his first start at first base.
Orioles relievers strung together 4 2/3 scoreless innings, including two from Sulser, until the Braves tallied three runs against Asher Wojciechowski in the ninth.
Wojciechowski appeared in the eighth inning for the second time in three appearances and stranded a runner after Stewart and Mountcastle let a popup fall between them. But Ronald Acuña Jr. led off the ninth with a walk and scored on Freeman’s double, and Marcell Ozuna’s single gave Atlanta a 4-0 lead. d’Arnaud singled and Swanson’s sacrifice fly brought home Ozuna.
César Valdez was warming in the bottom of the eighth in case of a save situation, but it didn’t materialize.
Wojciechowski’s ERA has risen to 6.81 in 37 innings.
Iglesias doubled with one out in the first inning, his 14th of the season, but Ynoa retired the next two batters. Severino led off the second with a single, but Renato Núñez flied out and Rio Ruiz grounded into a double play.
Ynoa walked 12 batters in 14 2/3 innings before tonight. The Orioles couldn’t milk a free pass.
Former Orioles reliever Darren O’Day retired the side in order in the fifth. Left-hander Will Smith did the same in the sixth, striking out Mullins to end the inning.
Ynoa hadn’t worked more than three innings this season. The bullpen was going to come into play.
Shane Greene brought a 1.19 ERA into the eighth inning and got a ground ball, strikeout and popup. Mark Melancon handled the ninth, losing the shutout, and the Orioles were back in the loss column.
Hyde on ejection: “It was pretty quick, for sure. We had some disagreements on a few check swings and I guess he didn’t like what I said there in the dugout on the third check swing that we disagreed with. Pretty quick hook, but it’s so quiet out there. It was definitely the weirdest ejection I’ve ever been a part of.”
Hyde on reason given for ejection: “I just think I yelled out there and he didn’t like what he heard. And I had to keep my distance, which made me pause. I wasn’t thinking clearly and we got a little too close, distance-wise.”
Hyde on offense: “We’re definitely a streaky hitting team. I think we struggle with guys who can expand the strike zone against us. And that’s something we have to get better at as a club.”
Eshelman on start: “I felt good throwing the ball tonight. Mixing my pitches well. Threw my change a lot more than I have in the past, so I was happy to get results on that pitch, other than the one homer I gave up. I was just going as long as they wanted me to go, and obviously they made the decision to go to the bullpen. This is the first time I’ve gone past that amount of pitches in a while. I’m working my way back up, pitch count-wise because I haven’t done that in a while.”
Eshelman on team’s attitude: “The attitude’s been the same each and every day. Just roll out and play the games. We have that kind of quiet confidence as far as we don’t really care who we play. We just want to put a good game together and get it rolling. I think it’s more a, let’s get to tomorrow, get another win under our belt and go from there.”
Mullins on streaky offense: “I think it’s just a combination of us not having timely hits. We’re still putting good at-bats together and working our way on base. It’s just a matter of getting those runs in early.”