It is a stretch that includes a one-inning outing from an opener and three-inning outing last night. But Orioles starting pitchers have thrown to a 1.38 ERA over their last six games. And that has allowed the team to go 3-3 in those games, even though they scored just 18 runs in this span.
Suddenly, the Orioles are playing some low-scoring, close games.
They won one 3-2 last night, holding off the Texas Rangers, who scored one run in the ninth and not five this time. It made a difference.
In the last six games, O’s starters have allowed four runs and 20 hits over 26 innings with six walks to 24 strikeouts. They’ll take it after the pitching year they have had.
Each of Baltimore’s past four wins have come when scoring three runs or fewer. They had won just two such games prior to that, over a period that covered their first 145 games. Again, they’ll gladly take it.
For a pitcher with a career Triple-A ERA of 6.44 over 314 2/3 innings - and who had a 6.79 ERA this year for the Rays’ Triple-A club at Durham - right-hander Chris Ellis has sure looked good for the Orioles.
He pitched three scoreless innings on two hits and 46 pitches to start last night’s solid pitching night for the Orioles. But manager Brandon Hyde said after the game that he pulled Ellis early due to arm fatigue, the same reason he needed eight days between starts before this outing.
So on a team that can look at times like a MASH unit, we don’t know if Ellis will start again this year for the Orioles.
“It did start feeling a little bit better since my last time around,” he said postgame. “But it was just kind of ongoing as the game went on, it kind of got worse. It got to the point where I felt like I wasn’t doing myself or the team justice by pitching any more. So came in, talked to Hyder, told him I was feeling a little bit of tightness in my shoulder. Put in (Marcos) Diplán and that was kind of it. I don’t think it’s anything too serious. We’ll probably see over the next couple of days, but I’m hoping I can bounce back pretty quick from it.”
Claimed off waivers by the Orioles on Aug. 20 from Tampa Bay, Ellis is trying to make the most of his chance here. He turned 30 on Wednesday, and until this year he had just one major league inning under his belt.
“It’s been good,” he said of his chance with the Orioles. “Honestly, I’ve had a great opportunity as soon as I got here. Hyde let me slide into the rotation, gave me an opportunity. I feel like I did the most that I could with it. I don’t know. It’s been interesting. I want to finish the year out strong, honestly. I don’t know what the future holds with my cards, but it’s been a good opportunity and I’ve tried to do the best I can with it. I’m fairly happy with how the season has gone. I want to end on a high note, obviously, but we’ll see what the future has got in store. It’s not my decision, you know.”
Ellis admits that going from throwing zero innings in games in 2020 to 86 1/3 now between the majors and minors for this season might have been stressful on his arm and shoulder.
“Yeah, possibly. I mean, when you throw zero innings last year and you throw the amount that I have this year, it probably didn’t help,” Ellis said. “I’ve never really had any kind of arm troubles before, so I don’t really know what I’m looking for or how to feel. Just know that at the time it was something that I couldn’t really throw through. In the days in the past where I missed my last start, I was recouping pretty well from it, I felt like. So, I don’t think it’s anything too serious, maybe just some rest. I think I’ll be all right.”
Right-hander Dillon Tate got a four-out save in the win. Even though he gave up Nathaniel Lowe’s leadoff homer in the ninth, which cut the O’s lead to 3-2. But this time the Orioles held the lead, and Tate closed out the win for his third save.
It’s clear that Hyde remains a believer in the quality stuff we can see from Tate. And Tate has only given up one run - the homer in the ninth - in eight innings over his past seven games. That lowered his ERA from 5.08 to 4.59.
“For me, Dillon has got a sinker that is going to really play,” stated Hyde. “And the changeup is improving, threw a couple of really good changeups tonight. And the slider has been inconsistent. Lot of times he has left that slider on too much of the plate and gotten hurt with it. But you saw him punch out (Adolis) García there in the eighth on just a really nasty slider.
“If he can just get consistent with that and have the ball go east-west with the slider to go along with how heavy his sinker is, he’s going to be really successful. Just at times the slider can flatten out, and that’s when he gets hurt.”
The Orioles improved to 3-3 in their past six games, 50-105 for the year and to 13-24 in one-run games.
The O’s have played a lot of close games lately. In fact, 15 of their past 25 games have been decided by one or two runs, and they are 7-8 in those 15.
The O’s have scored three runs or fewer in 11 of the last 14 games. They scored just 10 runs in last weekend’s three-game series at Boston, scored seven in three games at Philadelphia and have scored 11 in three games in this series.
Third baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez, who hit his first O’s homer last night, has hit safely in eight of his past nine games. In that span he is batting .333 (10-for-30) with three extra-base hits.
Austin Hays doubled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Hays is batting .310 (13-for-42) with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs during the streak.