Multiple roster moves on Monday weren’t intended to distract from an 18-game losing streak. They weren’t designed to spare manager Brandon Hyde from the daily bombardment of questions about it. But he lasted the full seven minutes of today’s media session without going into another deep dive.
The closest he came was expanding on a suggestion that the jolt of energy provided by new second baseman Jahmai Jones could benefit a team that’s beaten down.
The streak doesn’t care about any of it. Transactions, energy, the media’s understandable obsession over a growing succession of defeats. Eighteen losses in a row becomes 19 and the historical ramifications tag along.
Former Oriole Dylan Bundy had an unsuccessful return to Baltimore, retiring only four batters and getting a quick hook with a four-run lead. Spenser Watkins was jumped for five in the second and didn’t record an out in the third, and the Angels withstood an uprising in the middle innings to win 14-8 before an announced crowd of 8,781 at Camden Yards.
Ryan Mountcastle homered twice, but the game had sped downhill for the Orioles (38-86), who matched the 2005 Royals for most consecutive losses at 19 and are two away from the club and American League records set in 1988.
They haven’t won since Aug. 2 in New York. They’re 11-15 against the American League West but only 2-9 at home.
Anthony Santander doubled twice and his two-run homer off reliever Andrew Wantz in the sixth reduced the lead to 13-8. The ball landed on Eutaw Street, the 113th in the ballpark’s history and the seventh by Santander to rank second behind Chris Davis’ 11.
Watkins was charged with eight runs in his two-plus innings, Konner Wade letting two inherited runners score after entering into a bases-loaded mess. Wade was responsible for five of its own and the Orioles have been outscored (163-55) during the streak.
Shohei Ohtani opposes them Wednesday night. He led off tonight and finished with a single, two walks and two strikeouts.
The Orioles are going with a “mix and match” bullpen game, Hyde said, with heavy involvement from his relievers. He didn’t announce who goes first.
Hyde removed Watkins after back-to-back singles, José Iglesias’ RBI double and a hit batter. Watkins is carrying a 7.07 ERA after allowing 30 earned runs and 42 hits in his last six starts over 25 2/3 innings.
“They had a good game plan,” Watkins said. “I thought I made some good pitches and they hit them. Simple.”
Mountcastle’s 22nd home run came in the first inning on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Bundy threw 29 in the inning and was yanked in the second after a leadoff walk to Ramón Urías, a called third strike on Pedro Severino, an 0-2 fastball that hit Jones and Jorge Mateo’s walk. Junior Guerra stranded three runners.
Santander and Urías doubled in the third, but the Orioles trailed 8-2. Urías has six extra-base hits in his last five games. Santander doubled again in the fifth to score Trey Mancini, who had a leadoff single, but the Orioles trailed 13-3.
“It’s tough to stay in the game when you’re down 13-2 after four innings,” Hyde said. “You’ve got to pitch in this league to win, you’ve got to pitch in this league to be competitive. I was happy with our hitters continuing to take good at-bats, some guys take good at-bats, be competitive. ... You want to play closer games, but you’ve got to be able to pitch to do that.”
The bottom of the sixth began with an opposite-field shot by Mountcastle for his third-career multi-homer game. His 23 home runs as a rookie rank fourth in club history behind Cal Ripken Jr. (28), Eddie Murray (27) and Trey Mancini (24).
Mancini struck out and reached on an error and Santander unloaded. He also singled in the eighth for his fourth hit.
“Every day just trying to come in with the right mentality, with a winning mentality, trying to work hard, trying to help my team,” Santander said via translator Ramón Alarcón. “And the main thing is to try to finish strong with the time that’s left in the season, a month and a half. So, that’s the main goal right now.”
Watkins struck out the first two batters he faced in the second, but Iglesias reached on a wild pitch. Almost predictable given the Orioles’ current state, Watkins surrendered back-to-back singles to Max Stassi and Brandon Marsh and a two-run triple to Jo Adell.
No. 9 hitter Juan Lagares followed with a two-run homer, and Watkins’ 10-pitch, breezy first inning was a distant memory.
“He got off to a good start (this season), a little bit of lack of execution,” Hyde said. “I think teams have game plans for guys now. Once you get seen in the big leagues, then other teams can gameplan for you and you’ve got to make an adjustment back to the league.
“I haven’t seen the replay of the game but it just looked like poorly executed pitches and they hit him around pretty good.”
The Angels sent nine batters to the plate in the third. Adell had a two-run single off Wade. Ohtani was issued an automatic walk that drew jeers from the crowd.
Six of seven batters reached against Wade in the fourth and he left with runners on the corners and four more runs across to give the Angels a 12-2 lead. Fernando Abad, entering much earlier than normal based on need, struck out Ohtani and gave up David Fletcher’s RBI single. The Angels sent 10 batters to the plate.
Wade was charged with five runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings to raise his ERA to 11.42 in 8 2/3 and the Orioles optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk. Abad tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his longest outing since going five as an Astros starter on Sept. 18, 2012 in St. Louis.
The Orioles could be busy with more roster moves in the morning.
Guerra allowed three runs in the fifth. Santander stopped at third base on Austin Hays’ double because Marsh almost made a diving catch, but Urías lined a two-run single into right field and Guerra headed to the dugout.
Mateo reached twice on infield singles and has 21 hits in 17 games with the Orioles. But he left after the sixth with lower-back discomfort.
Jones’ debut with the Orioles included three strikeouts, all looking, a foul popup and a fielding error. But he also made a nice backhanded stop and flip, never using his bare hand, to get the force at second.
Marcos Diplán allowed his first earned run in eight appearances in the eighth inning.
The Angels were 11-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s tough, no one wants to be in this position,” Watkins said. “We’re battling. This is the big leagues, you don’t get that breather, you don’t get that easy team. That doesn’t exist here. It’s just a matter of guys digging deep and pushing through.
“This game is hard. It’s just a matter of continuing on and good things will come.”
“It’s been very tough,” Santander said. “Sometimes it’s the pitching, sometimes it’s the offense. But we have the mentality to come in every single day with a winning attitude, and that’s what we need to do. Come in with a winning attitude and something will happen.
“It’s been so tough to go through this streak. Obviously, we’re young, we’re still experiencing at this level. But we just need to come in every day with a winning mentality. There’s really nothing we can lose. We just need to come out and play hard and concentrate on the process.”
The record for longest losing streak in the modern era is 23 games by the 1961 Phillies. But the Orioles first would have to surpass their own mark and four teams that dropped 20 in a row - most recently the 1969 Expos.
Hyde won’t dodge the questions. He knows they’re coming, no matter what the Orioles do with their roster.
“This is incredibly challenging,” Hyde said, “and a huge gut check.”
Notes: The Orioles tied their season high with 16 strikeouts.
Rylan Bannon hit his 14th home run with Norfolk, and 10th in the last 10 games. Mike Baumann tossed five scoreless innings. Hunter Harvey worked one scoreless inning with one hit and one strikeout. Dean Kremer allowed three runs and three hits in two innings.
Cristopher Cespedes hit his 11th home run for Single-A Aberdeen.