The Orioles continued their woeful week with a 3-1 loss to the Nationals at home Saturday, as the porous defense and barely-existent offense combined to give another starting pitcher zero margin for error.
It certainly wasn’t that Wei-Yin Chen (L, 7-3) pitched poorly on Saturday. The lefty gave up 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits through 5 innings. One of those hits was Adam LaRoche’s 13th home run of the season, a solo shot in the forth that made it 3-0 Washington before the Orioles picked up their first hit.
And that is the position Orioles starting pitchers find themselves in now, as opposed to most of the surprising, even stunning first half of this season. No longer is it good enough to simply “not pitch poorly”. These days, Orioles starters had better be lights-out. Two earned runs given up in five innings felt more like 10, especially since the birds were facing Oriole-killer Edwin Jackson (W, 4-4). Jackson improved to 6-1 lifetime against the Orioles, giving up one run on four Orioles hits.
He walked one. He struck out 5. He retired the first 12 Orioles he faced before Adam Jones led off the fifth by reaching on an error by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. One out later, Wilson Betemit, whose throwing error in the second helped give the Nationals a 2-0 lead, singled to right, for the Orioles first hit.
Up stepped Mark Reynolds, with runners on first and third, and just one out. Reynolds was in a position to be productive, even by making an out. But as he’s prone to do, Reynolds chased a ball in the dirt on a 1-2 pitch, for strike three. The next batter, Nick Johnson, drew a walk, loading the bases.
Steve Pearce was the due batter, and, as good as Pearce has been, it would have been a perfect opportunity for a left handed bat to come off the bench. But the only such bat Saturday was Rule 5 rookie Ryan Flaherty, hitting .178. Pearce popped to short to end the threat.
The Orioles were able to avoid being shutout for the third time this week. Jones hit a screaming line drive over the fence down the left field line, making it 3-1 in the seventh. The Orioles picked up a couple of other hits that inning, too. Betemit and Reynolds had back-to-back singles with one out, prompting Nats manager and old friend Davey Johnson to pull Jackson for lefty and old friend Michael Gonzalez. Gonzalez, the former Orioles closer, was roundly booed by most of the 46,298 in attendance, before he got pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino to hit a hump-back liner to shortstop Ian Desmond, who then doubled Betemit off second base.
The Orioles would pick up one more hit in the game, as Roberts singled with one out in the eighth. JJ Hardy hit into a 6-4-3 double play, though, and that was all for the Orioles offense. Tyler Clippard came on for his 12th save of the year for the Nats.
Jake Arrieta (3-9, 5.83) gets the ball Sunday in the series finale for the Orioles. Arrieta faces Ross Detwiler (4-3, 3.34. Game time is set for 1:35.
- Another outstanding night for the Orioles bullpen: Darren O’Day, Luis Ayala, Pedro Strop and Troy Patton each pitched an inning, and combined for 0 runs on 2 hits with 2 strikeouts in the 4 innings.
- Remember the old baseball saying, “Facing a good knuckleballer can put your team in a week-long slump”? Maybe there is some truth to that saying. Since being 1-hit by Mets knuckleballer R. A. Dickey Monday night, the Orioles have 25 hits in 152 at bats, for a .162 team batting average. With runners in scoring position, the birds have gone 1-for-25 (.040) since Monday. They’ve hit into 4 double plays in that time, too. Now, this follows on the heels of a 12-game stretch that saw the Orioles go 9-3, ad score 63 runs. That’s 5.25 runs per game.
- Speaking of the number 63, that’s the total number of errors the Orioles have committed this season, after Betemit’s throwing error Saturday. That’s 3 more than any other team in baseball.