Jorge López comes up big for Orioles, but losing streak continues

Using a pitch mix showing about 50 percent fastball and 50 percent secondary pitches, right-hander Jorge López gave the Orioles a quality start. It was quality, whether you used the definition of a quality start - three earned runs or less in six innings or more - or the old-fashioned eye test.

It just didn’t lead to a win for the Orioles, as their losing streak reached 14 games in a 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Minnesota Twins in the homestand opener at Camden Yards.

Over six innings, López allowed five hits and just one run with two walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches and used his two fastballs a combined 44 times, throwing 27 two-seam sinkers. He mixed in 22 curveballs, 19 changeups and five sliders.

Valaika-Throws-at-2B-White-Sidebar.jpgA pitcher who often seems to throw well early in his starts, López carried that through to the end of his outing today. He began today with an ERA of 21.94 in the fifth inning this season and 16.20 in the sixth. But he put up zeros in both innings today.

In a 1-1 tie in the top of the sixth, he got a big out to keep the score right there. With two on and two outs, he faced Miguel Sanó. Sanó started the day 5-for-11 in his career versus López with three homers and 11 RBIs. And he had produced nine extra-base hits and 14 RBIs his last 13 games.

But López got a huge out when he busted a fastball in on the hands on a 2-2 count. Sanó could not turn on the 95 mph heater and instead flew out to right field. The Twins stranded two and the game rolled on tied at 1-1.

This time, López won a sixth-inning battle with Sanó. On Wednesday at Minnesota, López entered the sixth leading 1-0 and then Sanó blasted a 426-foot three-run homer off him to beat the Orioles. Today, López recorded his second straight quality start both coming against the Twins. In the game Wednesday, he allowed four hits and three runs over six innings against this club.

López pitched to an ERA of 7.48 in April, but his outing today lowered his ERA for six May starts to 3.68. But he has received one run of support or less now in 10 of 11 starts, including no run support in four of those games. The only game in which he received more than one run of support was on April 16, when the Orioles scored five for him at Texas. His 2.00 run support average (10 runs over 45 innings pitches) is the third-lowest among all qualified major league starting pitchers.

Today was just the fifth time in the last 23 games the O’s rotation produced a start of six innings or more, very welcome for a bullpen that has been busy. John Means has three of those outings and now López has the other two.

But the O’s offense just could not get much going again today, held to six hits and going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Minnesota scored twice in the 10th to break the 1-1 tie. DJ Stewart’s RBI double in the home half cut the lead to 3-2, but the O’s could not get even as the futility of a long losing streak will carry into another day.

But the Orioles were not getting much offense again for López. Down 1-0 in the fifth, the Orioles tie it up when Ryan Mountcastle blasted a solo homer to center field. He hit a 1-1 curveball from José Berríos 410 to center to even the score and produce his fifth home run.

Berríos threw a strong game today, allowing four hits and the one run over eight innings and 96 pitches. He completed eight innings for the first time since June 17, 2019 against Boston. He threw 22 of 28 first-pitch strikes, for 78.6 percent.

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