An injury-riddled and struggling Orioles rotation got a shot in the arm tonight. It came from the right arm of Yefry Ramírez. He put together his best start since he threw five scoreless July 14 in Baltimore against the Rangers.
But would he or the team get a win out of it?
Chicago White Sox right-hander Reynaldo López made that a no. He’s been pitching well lately, and that sure carried over tonight as the White Sox beat the Orioles 2-0 in front of 23,266 at Oriole Park.
Chicago won an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel and the Orioles fell to 42-106 and were shut out for the 14th time. With their next loss they will tie a club record for losses set in 1988. The Orioles have lost eight of nine, 12 of 14 and 20 of their past 25 games.
The scoreless tie ended in the top of the sixth. Ramírez was at 64 pitches with one hit allowed through the fifth. Shortstop Tim Anderson singled off Ramírez’s glove up the middle to start the sixth, but catcher Caleb Joseph threw him out for his second caught-stealing of the night. Joseph got three before this was over.
Ramírez then got a popout, but he was not able to escape that inning with a zero. Back-to-back two-out doubles - by Yoán Moncada to right and Yolmer Sánchez just inside the chalk in left - provided Chicago a 1-0 lead, and Mike Wright Jr. came on. Chicago got a big insurance run on a solo homer in the ninth by Avisaíl García off Mychal Givens. He hit No. 18 for the 2-0 lead.
Ramírez went 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and the one run while recording one walk and seven strikeouts. The strikeout total matched his season and career highs. He threw 83 pitches, 53 for strikes, and his fastball seemed to have plenty of late life, ranging between 91 and 95 mph.
Ramírez pitched some solid relief outings recently, but in his nine starts on the year had gone 1-5 with a 7.34 ERA. He allowed 20 runs over 14 2/3 in his previous four starts, between July 31 and Aug. 19.
Coming into this game, the Orioles rotation had covered just 13 innings over the last five games. In the last 17 games, the Orioles have gotten just three quality starts with a rotation ERA of 6.54 in that span.
So Ramírez provided them with a solid game tonight and gave a busy bullpen some rest. The O’s ‘pen had thrown 31 innings the last five games.
López came into this start having allowed just two runs and 11 hits over 20 innings in his last three outings. And then tonight he gave up four singles over seven scoreless to improve to 6-9 with a 4.05 ERA. The Orioles only advanced two runners to second base against López, who saw his four-seam fastball average 96 mph tonight, topping out at 98.
Ramírez (with interpreter Ramón Alarcón), did you have extra life on the fastball tonight?: “I think it was. At the same time, having the ability to command my fastball, I think that’s the big plus. I definitely felt strong today. I was working with my pitching coach and teammates on my mechanics and being more consistent. And it felt great today.”
Ramírez, did pitching out of the bullpen help you?: “Being in the bullpen, I’ve learned some stuff. But I think the biggest thing for me is practicing, just dedicating myself, training myself and preparing for my next outing.”
Ramírez has improved his time to the plate to hold runners: “Yes, I’ve definitely been working on my time to home plate. I remember the start I had against Cleveland, that too many runners were stealing bases against me. So I really wanted to improve that and, hopefully, get better.”
Joseph on Ramírez tonight: “I thought, probably pure stuff-wise, was the best I’d seen him before. Really nice life on the fastball. Really good action on the slider. Threw quite a few quality changeups. They’re a pretty aggressive team, and he stayed in the zone and took advantage of a lot of aggressive hitters in aggressive counts.
“Credit to him. We’ve seen starts where he had the potential to do this - go deep in the game and really keep them off the scorebord. But the pitch count has been up. That is tough to do when you’ve not started and been in the bullpen. Realy nice job. It’s a shame we couldn’t push across anything for him there.”
Manager Buck Showalter on Ramírez: “Really good, really good. That’s probably his best outing of the year. A good night to pitch on, crisp. I thought [his] best fastball, best slider. His slider’s come a long way. Changeup, threw about 10 or 15 of those. Good times to the plate with runners on base. Just another night where he deserved a better fate as far as W and L. He was outstanding. That was fun to watch. He was fun to catch. That was as good as you want to see a young pitcher pitch.”
Showalter, when asked if Ramírez stays in rotation now: “Don’t feel good about the way Andrew’s (Cashner) knee is responding. He’s not going to pitch Monday, which is his normal start, so we’re going to need a starter there. (Josh) Rogers is at a point where we’re probably looking, really, not to pitch him much. Cash, there’s no real day he’s scheduled to start right now unless we get some real positive movement with his knee, we’re not going to pitch him. Just hasn’t responded to the treatment and the cortisone as we’d hoped. Structurally, he’s in good shape, just the wear and tear of the season, I guess. Alex (Cobb) probably going to play a little catch in the next day or two, but I’m not expecting that to be imminent for him to start, either. So, that’s my way of answering. Yefry’s going to pitch.”
Showalter on scoring no runs: “That’s been a challenge for us for a while. Tonight’s definitely one of those days. (López) reminded me a little bit of (Luis) Severino. He’s got a good live arm and commanded the breaking ball and changeup, too. You just couldn’t sit on one. He made you honor all three pitches, and we haven’t been swinging the bats well, regardless of who’s pitching, so that really made it a challenge for us tonight.”