WASHINGTON, DC — The Orioles lost a winnable game Tuesday.
You’ve read that before.
They hit three homers — two-run shots by Jace Peterson and Trey Mancini and a solo one by Joey Rickard — and scored seven runs, which is obviously a step in the right direction.
But they also ran into a couple outs on the bases, couldn’t quite make the outstanding defensive play when they needed it and watched a rookie starter experience growing pains in his final inning.
Tuesday’s 9-7 loss got away from the Orioles, however, in the seventh, when the Washington Nationals scored four times against rookie lefty Tanner Scott and right-hander Mike Wright Jr.
It’s impossible to look at that inning and not think a few days ago it would have been Richard Bleier’s real estate. But the reliable left-hander underwent season-ending surgery on his left lat Tuesday morning in New Jersey and, if all goes well, may be able to pitch again next spring.
The seventh on Tuesday also would have been a spot for side-armer Darren O’Day, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter said post-game that O’Day, who hasn’t pitched since Friday, was unavailable due to a hamstring issue suffered in his last outing.
“He’s out throwing a bullpen, see what we are going to do,” Showalter said about O’Day after the game. “He’s got some nagging hamstring (tightness), he’s had since the last time he’s pitched. This is the fourth day he’s not available. He’s real close and I’m hoping we get good news from his throwing down there when (pitching coach Roger McDowell) comes in.”
O’Day will undoubtedly be back fairly soon. But the 31-year-old Bleier won’t be, and he is the kind of guy that’s missed most when he is gone.
That happened Tuesday with the Orioles holding onto a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the seventh.
The 23-year-old Scott, who throws his blazing fastball about 10 miles harder than Bleier, got the call.
The first batter of the inning, veteran Adam Eaton, dropped a hard bunt toward second that Jonathan Schoop couldn’t bare-hand on the run. It happens.
Then scalding-hot rookie Juan Soto singled up the middle. A sharp hit, but they happen.
Then Anthony Rendon smoked a double to the left-center gap and two scored. The lead turned into a deficit in an eye-blink. Scott got Bryce Harper to ground out and then Wright entered. A single, double and another single and the game was basically over.
Scott said he left some pitches in the middle of the plate – and it’s something he needs to work on.
“My job is just to get lefties out and whoever’s in the box,” Scott said. “I was missing more middle, and ended up giving up a couple of runs and putting us in the losing column, which wasn’t ideal. But you live, and you learn.”
That’s what this season is now. A learning experience. And that experience has ratcheted up for Scott now that Bleier is lost. These innings will be his on occasion.
“That’s something Tanner is gonna be able to do. He’s got a chance to be a good pitcher,” Showalter said. “Every club, you have injuries and things that happen. It creates another opportunity for somebody. That’s just the way the world works. You can’t make everybody stay healthy. It’s an excuse that we’re gonna refuse to use.”
It’s a situation worth watching as this lost season unfolds — which young guys step up and seize the available opportunities.