As Matt Harvey’s ERA rose and patience with his failed starts withered away, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde kept defending the veteran by pointing out mistakes committed in the field and run support that lacked.
Harvey wasn’t nearly as generous after his most recent game, crushing himself like cocktail ice after a loss to the Mets. Hyde, meanwhile, leaned on the dugout railing tonight, watched an unearned run score in the first inning and hated to be proven right.
Hyde saw a missed cutoff in the fourth and a groundball single past a drawn-in infield and couldn’t feel good about Harvey’s fate or the stamping out of a long road losing streak.
The Indians used some timely hits and a few breakdowns by the Orioles to post a 7-2 victory at Progressive Field, with Harvey lasting only 3 1/3 innings and failing to complete the fourth in his fourth consecutive outing.
The Orioles are 22-44 after their 17th straight road loss, five short of the major league record set by the 1963 Mets and 1943 Philadelphia Athletics.
Harvey was charged with five earned runs and six total, the last two scoring after Cole Sulser replaced him. Harvey surrendered six hits, walked two and struck out two and was removed after 82 pitches.
Since the four unearned runs on May 7, Harvey has been charged with 36 earned on 45 hits in 23 innings. None of his last eight starts have gone past 4 2/3 innings.
“As a starter, you’ve got to go more than five innings, in my opinion, and I haven’t done that in quite some time,” Harvey said on his Zoom call. “I don’t think there’s really anything positive about any of that or anything, really.”
Harvey threw 24 pitches in the first, forced to stay on the mound after second baseman Stevie Wilkerson misplayed Eddie Rosario’s ground ball with two outs. Cesar Hernandez raced home on Bobby Bradley’s single.
Hernandez reached on a leadoff walk, so there was room to blame more than one Oriole.
Harvey struck out Bradley on a 94 mph fastball to strand a runner on second base in the third inning. However, the Indians scored five runs in the fourth, beginning with Josh Naylor’s double - again, blame spread around - and continuing with Ernie Clement’s first major league hit, a single into center.
Cedric Mullins committed the Orioles’ third error of the game when his throw whizzed past Trey Mancini, who didn’t cut it off. No one backed up on the play, at least from what could be gleaned on the MASN broadcast.
Clement scored on Bradley Zimmer’s ground ball single, Hernandez walked with one out and Amed Rosario ended Harvey’s night with an RBI single. Eddie Rosario had a two-run double off Sulser to leave Harvey’s ERA at 7.76.
“Defense is part of baseball,” Harvey said. “Some games you’re going to play well, sound games, and others it’s not going to go that way sometimes. It’s a long season. Everyone has good games and everyone has bad games. Right now, we’re kind of in a hole going through a rough time. It’s frustrating for everybody. No one’s trying to fail or make a mistake, but we are right now as a group. We just have to be better as a team.”
Asked if he might benefit from a spell in the bullpen and whether he’d be open to it, Harvey replied, “No, I’m not even thinking about that. It hasn’t even crossed my mind.”
The mechanics that were improved in his last start aren’t sustained.
“It’s the same thing over and over again,” he said. “It’s here, it’s there, it’s two good innings, three good innings and then (crap) hits the fan. I’ve got to do better.”
So do the guys playing behind him.
“I thought Matt threw the ball as well as he’s thrown the ball in a long time, probably since the first month for me stuff-wise,” Hyde said. “I know the velo wasn’t quite as high, but I thought he pitched better. I liked his slider, I thought he threw some good changeups to left-handers. But when you have to get four outs an inning, it makes it really, really challenging.
“We let him down defensively. Unfortunately, we have to play really good defense to have a chance. We’re not scoring a ton of runs.”
The losing could be seeping into the gloves and arms. Hyde noted how the Orioles are playing “a little tighter defensively.”
“We’re making some uncharacteristic plays right now, negative plays defensively, I think just because we’re not playing with a ton of confidence and we’ve just got to continue to push and grind,” he said. “Nobody takes more ground balls or throws to the bases in the outfield more than we do in the league, I can guarantee you that. So it’s continuing to work and improve and help out our pitchers a little bit. Nice to score some runs and relax everybody a little bit.
“It’s definitely not effort related, that’s for sure. Throwing to the wrong base, overthrow, booting ground balls, those types of things, those aren’t effort. ... Maybe it’s a little bit of a lack of focus sometimes. Guys are grinding and struggling and frustrated a little bit and so you might see some things uncharacteristically that we’re doing. But I do think the effort’s there.”
Bradley homered off former Indians pitcher Adam Plutko leading off the seventh. Wilkerson bobbled a grounder in the eighth inning for his second error and the team’s fourth.
Franco made a diving stop of Austin Hedges’ grounder with two outs in the second, but Mancini lost the ball in the sun, turning away from it as Hedges reached. Having to linger on the mound again, Harvey retired Hernandez on a grounder to Mancini.
Blake Parker replaced Quantrill in the fifth and allowed a two-out run on Mullins’ infield hit and Mancini’s double, which gave the first baseman 48 RBIs.
Phil Maton put two runners on base in the sixth via singles by Stewart and Galvis. He also struck out three batters.
Mancini ended the seventh by grounding into a double play on the 11th pitch of his at-bat. James Karinchak struck out the side in the eighth.
Notes: The Orioles released infielder Jean Carlos Encarnacion from Triple-A Norfolk’s roster.
Encarnacion, pitchers Bruce Zimmermann and Evan Phillips, and catcher Brett Cumberland were acquired from the Braves at the 2018 deadline for pitchers Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day. Encarnacion played for four affiliates this season.
Cumberland hit his fifth home run tonight.
Alexander Wells blanked Durham on two hits over five innings, with no walks and four strikeouts.
Grayson Rodriguez made his third start with Double-A Bowie and first at Prince George’s Stadium and allowed two runs and four hits with one walk and six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
Yusniel Diaz went 1-for-2 with a walk in his first injury rehab game.