Orioles lose lead in second inning and eighth game in a row

The topic probably didn’t come up tonight during assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes’ visit to the mound in the second inning, but Dean Kremer’s lengthy stay on it threatened to get a beleaguered bullpen busy. Wheels in motion with the possibility of having them come off again.

Kremer surrendered two runs, and a walk following his conversation with Holmes loaded the bases with one out. The pitch count was skyrocketing, reaching 54 by the time he made it back to the dugout.

Two wild pitches brought in two more runs, Kremer grinded through the fourth, Keegan Akin allowed two runs in relief and the Twins defeated the Orioles 7-4 at Target Field.

The Orioles have lost eight in a row and 15 of 17 to drop their record to 17-31.

Ryan Mountcastle was drilled on the left hand by a José Berríos’ 94 mph sinker to lead off the sixth and came out of the game after a force play. The location and sound hinted at something serious, but he didn’t immediately head to the trainers’ room and X-rays were negative. Just a contusion, according to the team.

“I don’t think you ever really know until the next day and see how it responds tomorrow, see how sore it is,” manager Brandon Hyde said on his Zoom call. “It got him in a tough spot. Those of us who have been hit in the hand know you could wake up differently. Sometimes you feel OK and sometimes it’s pretty sore, so we’ll see how it is tomorrow.”

A three-man bench includes Austin Hays, who hasn’t played the last two nights due to a sore hamstring. He might be needed for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but Hyde listed him as “doubtful.”

There’s no taxi squad on this trip.

“We’re considering some options right now,” Hyde said. “Hays tried to do some running stuff earlier today. It’s still a little bit tight, so he’s not going to play tomorrow. We’ll have to figure it out. We’re on the road, noon game, it’s a little tight schedule.”

DJ Stewart led off the eighth with his second homer in two nights. Pat Valaika and Stevie Wilkerson singled off Alex Colomé and were stranded.

Rob Refsnyder led off the bottom half with a home run off Akin.

Kremer allowed five runs and six hits in four innings, with three walks and five strikeouts, and his ERA is 6.87. He’s been charged with nine runs and 11 hits with seven walks in his last two starts over seven innings.

Asked what went wrong, Kremer said, “The second inning, to be blunt. I let things snowball pretty quickly after the home run and didn’t execute after that.”

Kremer said his confidence has been “a little up and down.”

“Some innings are good, some innings are not as good,” he said, “but still trying to be on the attack and trying my best to just bulldoze through everything.”

Nothing was working for Kremer early, including plate umpire David Rackley’s fist-sized strike zone and catcher Pedro Severino’s backhand attempt on a ball that bounced in front of him and resulted in the second wild pitch. The first occurred when Severino bolted out of his crouch and the ball glanced off the top of his mitt.

Kremer struck out two batters in the first inning and shrugged off Severino’s fourth passed ball of the season, but Jorge Polanco led off the second with a 426-foot home run to right field, Mitch Garver walked and Refsnyder tied the game with a double.

A 19-pitch third inning included a pair of strikeouts and Garver’s two-out double, and back-to-back doubles by Wilkerson and Severino with no outs in the fourth shaved the lead to 4-3. But Severino didn’t budge because Berríos struck out Cedric Mullins and Freddy Galvis, and Trey Mancini grounded out.

The Twins led 5-3 in the fourth on Josh Donaldson’s sacrifice fly after Refsnyder’s leadoff double followed by Andrelton Simmons’ single. Simmons was out at the plate on Alex Kirilloff’s double, with Severino moving up the third base line to take Galvis’ throw and apply the tag.

“It was getting concerning, just getting the pitch count over 30 there in the second inning,” Hyde said. “Fortunately, he pitched a scoreless third and then I needed him to get through that fourth inning. I pushed him there.”

Adam Plutko replaced Kremer to bring a bullpen into play that posted a 7.87 ERA in the last 15 days and 6.43 this month. He stranded two runners in the fifth.

Thumbnail image for Akin-Delivers-Gray-Fenway-Park-Sidebar.jpgAkin surrendered a run in the sixth on Kirilloff’s RBI double past a diving Wilkerson, who replaced Mountcastle in left field. Akin retired the side in order in the seventh, but Refsnyder got him in the eighth.

Hyde needed only two relievers to get through the night. A win within a loss.

The Orioles took a lead in the first inning in three straight games before tonight and got a leadoff double from Mullins and one-out walk to Mancini. Anthony Santander struck out and Berríos picked off Mullins.

Maikel Franco singled with one out in the second and Simmons dropped a throw from Berríos that should have produced at least a force. Severino drew a two-out walk because Rackley was abysmal, and Mullins singled into right field for a 2-0 lead.

Mullins had been slumping, but the two-run single made him 5-for-10 in his last three starts.

Trailing 4-2 in the third, the Orioles stranded two runners after Santander singled and Franco doubled. Mountcastle grounded out.

The Orioles are 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position in the series. Santander reached with two outs in the ninth on Refsnyder’s fielding error and Stewart walked, but Franco grounded out.

“It’s tough,” Mullins said. “We’ve had our opportunities to win some ballgames and it just hasn’t gone our way. It’s just a matter of having that perseverance and continuing to push forward.

“I think overall we’re still keeping a very positive attitude. ... It’s just a matter of pushing through these tough moments and we’re going to come out on top in the end.”

Down on the farm, Kyle Bradish made his first Triple-A start and allowed two runs and five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. He tossed 13 2/3 scoreless innings with Double-A Bowie before his promotion.

Isaac Mattson stranded two runners after replacing Bradish.

Dillon Tate began his injury rehab assignment by retiring all three batters faced with a strikeout. He threw nine pitches, six for strikes, and the Orioles will decide later whether he stays with the Tides or rejoins them.

Mike Baumann started for Bowie tonight and lasted only two-thirds of an inning, allowing four runs and two hits with one walk, one strikeout, a home run, wild pitch and hit batter. He threw 33 pitches.

Patrick Dorrian hit his seventh home run.

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