As I said yesterday, Texas is a team that’s been a thorn in the side of the Baltimore Orioles for some time. Granted the O’s beat them in last year’s wild card game, however they’re a team that just seems to have the Orioles’ number for the most part. That trend continued in last night’s 8-4 loss at Camden Yards, a game in which Adrian Beltre hit two home runs. Beltre and his Texas teammates wore out starter Zach Britton, who along with Kevin Gausman was optioned to Norfolk after the game. (Wei-Yin Chen will come off the DL and take Britton’s spot in the rotation, and the corresponding move for Gausman will be announced later.) Britton’s line: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 0 K.
The zero strikeouts would indicate that Britton was pitching too much to strikeout, and was missing the zone. One positive sign is that the Orioles put up four runs against a Texas starter in Perez who previously had an ERA under one. With Texas leading 1-0 following Beltre’s homer, Brian Roberts‘ RBI-single tied the game in the second inning. Manny Machado homered in the last of the third to give the Birds a 2-1 lead, but that was short-lived. In the top of the fifth Texas struck with a big inning. Nelson Cruz‘s RBI-single scored Ian Kinsler to tie the game, and that was followed by Beltre’s second homer of the game (this one an Earl Weaver special, of the three-run variety).
Even in a losing effort, the Orioles don’t let innings like that get them down. They loaded the bases in the last of the inning and J.J. Hardy‘s two-RBI single brought the Birds to within one. However two Texas RBI in the seventh gave them a three-run cushion, and Beltre (who had been intentionally walked in the seventh) added another RBI-single for good measure in the ninth to close out the Orioles’ 8-4 loss.
Luckily for the O’s, New York was defeated last night as well, and as this column is being published Boston is behind. (Keep in mind once again that I’m on European time, so I’m six hours ahead of Baltimore!) However the rest of the division probably won’t continue to wait for the Orioles, and with those teams having lost a few games themselves the O’s are squandering an opportunity to pick up some ground. Granted the all-star break will be upon us after Sunday’s game and that will do the Birds a world of good, however the fact is that at this point they appear to be limping into it. However they pulled a similar stunt last year in that they seemed to tire going into the break, and many people felt they were at a crossroads.
Winning these next two games with Texas would be big for the O’s given that they close out the first half with a three-game set with Toronto this weekend. (Toronto pitching wore the O’s out last time around, however it’s worth mentioning that they seem to have much less of an advantage when they’re away from Rogers Center.) As I said above, Wei-Yin Chen will come off the DL today (taking Britton’s roster spot) and will make the start tonight for the Orioles. He’ll be opposed by Josh Lindbloom of Texas.