BALTIMORE—Before Saturday night’s game began, the Orioles celebrated the life of Frank Robinson. One of baseball’s all-time greats, Robinson led the Orioles to their first World Series championship in 1966. He died on February 7 at age 83.
Robinson was saluted by Jim Palmer, Boog Powell and Brooks Robinson while Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. watched. Seated near Murray and Ripken was general manager Mike Elias, 36, who was a toddler when the team last won a World Series in 1983.
Elias is trying to put together a championship team of his own, but there will be more losses like the one to the Yankees that followed the tribute to Frank Robinson that will test the patience of those watching the rebuilding process.
Manager Brandon Hyde, who grew up in Santa Rosa, Calif, about 90 minutes north of San Francisco, was a huge Giants fan as a boy. He recalled getting a ball autographed by Robinson when he managed the Giants in the early 1980s.
Hyde and the rest of the Orioles watched the ceremony from the dugout.
“It’s special to be a part of that and just to be here in those guys’ presence, and have those guys come through the dugout and high-five guys and shake guys’ hands. It’s very, very meaningful,” Hyde said.
Then he watched Dylan Bundy again struggle against New York Yankees, the Orioles recover for 4-3 lead and Miguel Castro allow a three-run home run to Clint Frazier in the eighth for a 6-4 loss, the team’s third in a row.
The Orioles are 4-4, and while there were positives, there were many negatives.
After Thursday’s Opening Day loss, which included the Orioles allowing seven unanswered runs, loud booing of Chris Davis and sarcastic cheering of his pinch-hitter, the Orioles played aggressive ball, and it paid off in the seventh.
Cedric Mullins was hit by a pitch, and moved to third on Jonathan Villar’s single.
Davis, who didn’t start against left-hander J.A. Happ, pinch-hit for the first time in more than a year and extended his hitless streak to 18 at-bats this season, but his grounder to first scored Mullins, and Villar’s steal of third allowed him to score on Rio Ruiz’s fly ball to center.
Paul Fry was credited with 2 1/3 innings, and escaped a bases-loaded, none-out jam, thanks in part to catcher Pedro Severino’s heady pickoff of Gary Sanchez at third.
John Means continued to pitch well. He struck out two of the three batters he faced and has fanned nine in 5 2/3 innings.
“Paul Fry, John Means, both of those guys have been amazing,” Hyde said. “[Richard] Bleier, we are being patient with him a little bit as he’s coming off a tough injury last year, but Fry and Means have both pitched huge innings for us, putting up zeroes — just done a great jobs, both of those guys.”
Trey Mancini had a home run and double, and Dwight Smith Jr. had a hit in his eight consecutive game with the Orioles.
However, there were worrisome signs. For the second straight game against the Yankees, Dylan Bundy lasted just 3 2/3 innings and has a 7.36 ERA after giving up two home runs to Aaron Judge, a solo shot and a two-run homer.
“Got to get deeper in the game,” Bundy said. “I think that’s the first thing. A lot of foul balls. I couldn’t quite get them to bite on some two-strike pitches that I was really trying to get them to bite on, so just kind of ran the pitch count up again like I did last time.”
Richie Martin was hitless again, striking out in three of his four at-bats. Martin is just 2-for-22 (.091) with 11 strikeouts, tying him with Davis for the club lead.
Davis’ hitless streak is at 19 this season and 40 dating back to last September after the RBI fielder’s choice and his sharp groundout to first with the bases loaded in the eighth.
“CD, what a really good at-bat and hits the ball right on the screws, just didn’t work out,” Hyde said. “Really good at-bats up and down the lineup, grind-type at-bats, not giving in against tough pitching…just really happy with how our at-bats have been the first week of the season.”
Castro has surrendered home runs in his last three outings, and three-run home runs in his last two.
“I think the pitches have been up, been missing,” Castro said through a translator. “Commanding my pitches has been the main reason.”
After losing their opener, the Orioles won four straight, winning series at New York and Toronto. They’ve now lost three in a row.
“You take a blow, you deliver a blow,” Hyde said. “That’s what this week has been, a lot of back and forth. Sometimes, we’ve given up some home runs in tough spots and we’ve responded the next inning offensively. That shows the character of the club. I hope we take that over the next six months.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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