NEW YORK—Alex Cobb knew this might be a short day. He’d been bothered by a blister on his right middle finger for several weeks, and he left his previous start on Sept. 11 after just two innings.
Cobb also knew he wasn’t risking serious injury by pitching, so he decided to go ahead and try to start, and perhaps he could even get another start if things went well.
Things didn’t go well.
Four pitches into his first start since Sept. 11, the blister forced Cobb out of the game, and his disappointing first season with the Orioles was over.
“I knew it was going to be an issue when I started throwing in the bullpen, towards the end of that,” Cobb said. “I knew I wasn’t going to last very long, but I didn’t know how long, how long I could push it. It ultimately cut open again, probably that fourth pitch in that first inning.”
Cobb didn’t sign as a free agent with the Orioles until March 21 and had an awful beginning to his year before an unexpected and disappointing end.
With a 2-14 record as August arrived, Cobb improved markedly in the last two months, winning three of four decisions and posting a 2.31 ERA. His final mark of 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA is deceiving because he was much better before developing the blister.
“I don’t really want to,” Cobb said when asked to summarize his season.
“It hasn’t been anything that we’ve envisioned before we made the commitment to come here. I don’t think anybody envisioned it turning out his way. You never sign up for something like this. We’re going to see how things go in the offseason and see what kind of team we’ll be working with next year and do our best with what we’ve got and hopefully be able to turn this whole thing, this organization around quickly because this isn’t where anybody wants to be.”
Cobb said he felt awful leaving nine innings for the bullpen to cover.
“Personally, I would have liked to finish off pitching and being healthy and providing some sort of length to my outings,” he said. “It’s real tough walking off of the mound like that, really contributing nothing to the game knowing that you’re leaving such a burden to the bullpen to kind of deal with.”
It was the second time this season an Orioles starter failed to retire a batter. Dylan Bundy allowed four home runs to the first seven Kansas City batters on May 8 without recording an out.
According to STATS, it was the first time in 30 years that two Orioles starters failed to record an out. In 1988, Mike Morgan (April 22) and Jay Tibbs (June 5) didn’t register a single out.
Wright walked the first three Yankees batters, and all scored. But after the first, Wright, Ryan Meisinger, Tanner Scott, Cody Carroll and Mychal Givens combined to throw eight scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.
Meisinger got the win. Givens picked up his ninth save in the Orioles’ 6-3 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday. The Orioles are 45-110, but won five of nine games at Yankee Stadium this season.
“Obviously, Alex had issues with his fingers before, so we were kind of on high alert,” Wright said. “Once I saw somebody go out, I was pretty much ready to go in the game.”
With seven games remaining, Cobb and most likely Andrew Cashner (knee) are done for the year. Manager Buck Showalter will be scrambling to find starters for at least two games, Tuesday in Boston and Friday against Houston.
Before the game, Showalter said that Sean Gilmartin, who worked 4 2/3 innings in relief of Evan Phillips on Sept. 17, was a consideration for Tuesday’s start. Jimmy Yacabonis, who started Thursday and threw four shutout innings against Toronto, was another one.
Phillips won’t pitch again this season, Showalter said.
After the first inning, Wright gave the Orioles what they craved.
“I knew that innings needed to be covered for the bullpen, especially with Tuesday coming up,” Wright said. “We don’t have a lot of games left, but there’s still a lot of innings to cover. I was just fortunate to cover four.”
Trailing 3-0 and with Cobb out of the game, the Orioles pulled off an unlikely comeback.
Tim Beckham homered twice, a solo shot in the second and a two-run shot in the four-run sixth. It was his first multi-home run game with the Orioles. He has 12 homers his season.
Beckham and Renato Nunez hit back-to-back homers in the sixth.
In April, Beckham underwent core muscle surgery, missing two months and has just a .225 average with a .281 on-base percentage.
“If you look at it number-wise, yeah, it’s been a tough year for me,” Beckham said. “I started the season banged up a little bit and I had to have surgery. It all comes with the territory.”
He’s hoping that a hot streak to end the season could establish something for 2019.
“You might click a fastball, and that feeling, it might be the feeling you need to you never know, ride you out for two or three years, or ride you out for the rest of the season,” Beckham said. “As far as finishing the season strong, it’s huge for all of us. It taking momentum for next season and next spring and look to have a good year next year.”
Nine of the Orioles’ 12 hits were for extra-bases.
DJ Stewart continued his hot streak. He had a sacrifice fly in the sixth and an RBI double in the eighth. After going hitless in his first 13 at-bats, Stewart is 7-for-12.
Valera’s dive costly
Breyvic Valera’s fifth-inning triple was the first extra-base hit of his major league career. He tried to score on Jonathan Villar’s grounder to first base, but was tagged out on a head-first dive.
Valera rose slowly and was helped off the field. Initially diagnosed with a bruise on his left index finger, the report was later altered to a broken finger.
Jones had the authority
The final week of the worst Orioles season began with Adam Jones taking the lineup card to home plate. Showalter generally follows a strict regimen. He brings the lineup card out for the first game of a series. Coaches John Russell, Bobby Dickerson and Wayne Kirby get the honor in successive games.
“He can have it any day he wants, trust me,” Showalter said. “It just enhances my relationship with umpires. No, he texted me about it today and I said I already had it planned. He stole my thunder. He enjoyed it. He’s 1-0.”