When it rains, it pours for the 2018 Orioles.
Not only did the club lose again — dropping to 23-55 on the season with a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday — but their injury woes escalated when reliever Darren O’Day exited in the eighth inning with a sore hamstring.
O’Day faltered while trying to field a Jean Segura bunt and was immediately visited by Buck Showalter and the Orioles’ training staff. O’Day left the game with what’s believed to be similar to the right hamstring strain that landed him on the DL in 2016.
“He’s probably going to get an MRI in the morning, but I feel pretty confident that he’s headed to the disabled list,” Showalter said.
O’Day was making his seventh appearance since returning from a hyperextended right elbow that shelved him for more than a month. Now he appears to be headed back to the DL.
“(It’s) frustrating. I was throwing well, helping the team,” a sullen O’Day said. “It’s a hard game. It really is. Injuries are going to happen. It’s tough.”
It will be his fifth DL stint since he signed a four-year extension with the Orioles prior to the 2016 season. It’s a distressing turn of events for a pitcher who was the picture of health during his first four years with the Orioles from 2012-2015, making 68 or more appearances each season.
“Darren’s battled a lot of things here the last couple years, and it’s frustrating for him and us, because we all know what he’s capable of and what he means to us,” Showalter said. “It’s as frustrating for him as it is for us, because you’ve got a good player, a good pitcher and a good guy you rely on in a lot of different ways other than just pitching.”
O’Day’s expected absence will place further strain on an Orioles’ bullpen that has faltered lately, with relievers taking the loss in four of the club’s last five defeats. That included Tuesday, when Kyle Seager’s two-run single off Tanner Scott scored O’Day’s two baserunners to give the Mariners the lead in the eighth.
“We want to do our jobs, so when one of us gets hurt, the harder it makes that,” O’Day said. “Hopefully the young guys can step up and take advantage of the opportunities.”
Bundy injured, Yacabonis on his way up
Tuesday’s bad news started before the Orioles took the field, when the club placed right-hander Dylan Bundy on the 10-day DL on Tuesday with a left ankle sprain, an injury he suffered while running the bases in Atlanta on Saturday. The Orioles will be without their best starting pitcher for at least the next two turns through the rotation.
I’ve already discussed my distaste for National League rules; pitchers are paid to pitch, not hit, and there’s no reason they should ever be in a lineup. Bundy’s injury just hammers that point home. If he’d suffered the injury while pitching, well, that’s life. But for Bundy to get injured running the bases because the Orioles were forced to put him in the lineup for interleague play? That’s a tough pill to swallow.
My opinion, of course, doesn’t mean much. But there seems to be growing support throughout baseball for implementing the designated hitter in both leagues. Injuries like Bundy’s are part of the reason why. Keeping pitchers out of the batter’s box is a safety issue, first and foremost. And if it means we’ll no longer have to watch pitchers helplessly flail away at the plate 90 percent of the time, all the better.
For now, the Orioles have replaced Bundy on the roster with lefty Donnie Hart, who’s making a U-turn back to Baltimore after the club optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday.
With Bundy scratched from his scheduled start Thursday, he’s likely to be replaced in the rotation by Norfolk righty Jimmy Yacabonis. Though the Orioles haven’t made an official announcement, Yacabonis was scratched from his Tuesday start for the Tides and told reporters that he’s on his way to Baltimore. It would be his first major league start. Yacabonis’ previous 16 major league appearances have come in relief, as did all 190 of his minor league outings prior to this season.
The Orioles, though, have had success converting him to a starting role in Norfolk this year. In 13 starts for the Tides, Yacabonis is 3-2 with a 3.14 ERA, the best ERA of any Tides’ pitcher with at least seven starts.
It remains to be seen if Yacabonis has the stamina to survive as a starter in the majors, and he’ll need to throw more strikes to have any chance of success (he currently has 19 walks in 23 career big league innings). Still, in a lost season like this one, there’s no harm in the Orioles giving him a shot.
Gentry DL-bound, too
More raining, more pouring.
As if injuries to O’Day and Bundy weren’t enough, outfielder Craig Gentry is also headed to the disabled list. Showalter informed reporters after the game that Gentry suffered an injured rib after getting hit by a pitch in Atlanta on Saturday.
“It should not be long term, but obviously 10 days or more,” Showalter said.
While the loss of Gentry isn’t quite on the same level as O’Day and certainly not Bundy, he’s been useful as a reserve outfielder who can come in for late-inning defense or pinch-run. The Orioles are expected to call up an outfielder from Norfolk to replace him.
Fans getting restless with Orioles’ veterans
It’s no surprise that Orioles’ fans are upset with the putrid play of the 2018 club. And Tuesday night, they weren’t shy about voicing their frustrations.
The announced crowd of 16,327 at Camden Yards was particularly fed up with perpetually slumping first baseman Chris Davis, who was utterly overmatched by Mariners’ southpaw James Paxton. Davis struck out in all three at-bats against Paxton, including a pair of three-pitch strikeouts. The crowd’s boos got steadily louder after each whiff.
Davis, who was recently benched for eight games while he worked on making improvements behind the scenes, had two hot games after he returned to the lineup in Atlanta. He collected a home run, a double and five RBIs on Friday and Saturday.
Since then, though, Davis has looked much like the helpless hitter who was benched. Since his Saturday double, Davis is hitless in his last 15 at-bats, striking out eight times. He has struck out at least once in 26 consecutive games.
The Orioles will continue to give Davis his at-bats in hopes of salvaging some value. He’s in the third season of a seven-year, $161 million contract, and with the team going nowhere this season, they can afford to give Davis as much rope as he can possibly handle. So far, though, Davis doesn’t really look like a new and improved hitter since his hiatus.
But the fans didn’t just direct their anger towards Davis — they also targeted the club’s biggest star.
In the bottom of the sixth, with the bases loaded in a tie game, Manny Machado rolled a grounder to second base. Dee Gordon flipped to Segura, who double-clutched before delivering the relay to first. Segura still finished off the double play in plenty of time, though, because Machado was jogging down the first-base line.
The go-ahead run scored on the play, but a number of fans booed Machado, presumably thinking that if he’d hustled, he might’ve been able to beat out Segura’s relay.
For all his talents, Machado doesn’t always bust it down the line on routine grounders. In the majority of cases, the plodding pace hasn’t hurt him. But in this case, he might have cost the Orioles a bigger rally because he gave up on the play.
“I haven’t looked at it closely, whether he slipped out of the box or what,” Showalter said. “I’m not going to make an excuse for him before I look at it. But Manny plays every day. I know he’s probably frustrated there.
“(Segura) took his time with it. Usually when a ball’s hit that firmly, it’s a pretty easy double play. He just took his time. Manny may have allowed him to take more time than he normally would. But it’ll be addressed.”