HOUSTON—The Orioles’ bullpen was stout. Shawn Armstrong, Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens combined for four scoreless innings. In the 11th inning, Branden Kline allowed a one-out single to Yuli Gurriel, and with two outs, Robinson Chirinos doubled to left.
Stevie Wilkerson threw to cutoff man Jonathan Villar, and his relay throw home was in time to get Chirinos, but Chance Sisco couldn’t hold onto the ball on a short hop, and the Orioles fell to the Houston Astros, 4-3.
Manager Brandon Hyde contended that Chirinos never touched home.
“We’re still waiting to see him touch the plate,” Hyde said. “I’m waiting for us to tag him, and I’m waiting for him to touch the plate. I don’t think that’s happened yet. Maybe it is right now.”
Sisco knew the throw was good, but said Chirinos didn’t touch the plate. It also didn’t appear as if Sisco tagged him after picking up the ball.
“Just a do-or-die play right there really,” Sisco said. “One of those you have throughout the season that is either you pick it and get that out or you miss it. Unfortunately tonight, I didn’t make that pick. I wish I could take that back and pick that ball.”
“The throw was on time for sure. … I didn’t come up clean with it.”
The Orioles are 6-24 since May 6 when they last won consecutive games and fall to 19-44.
Ynoa’s night: Orioles starter Gabriel Ynoa allowed three runs on three hits in six innings. It was the second quality start of his career.
Ynoa allowed a home run to Josh Reddick, leading off the sixth. Later in the inning, he gave up a two-run home run to Tony Kemp.
“Obviously, we’re trying to win,” Ynoa said through a translator. “Unfortunately, we have come up short in the past few games, but hopefully we can change that.”
Better bullpen: After Ynoa left, Shawn Armstrong threw a scoreless inning, Richard Bleier allowed a hit in 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Mychal Givens recorded five outs.
Kline, who was sent to Triple-A Norfolk after the game, got the loss.
“Our bullpen is throwing the ball better,” Hyde said. “Rich was fantastic. Army, Rich and Givens threw the ball great and Kline had two outs there and got beat, but I like the way we’re throwing the ball. I love the way we compete against good clubs.”
Orioles overmatched by Cole: Houston starter Gerrit Cole struck out 14 Orioles in seven innings. He had 29 swings-and-misses, most in the major leagues this season, and most by an Astros pitcher since pitch tracking began in 2008.
“Gerrit Cole’s a top-five pitcher in the game, so there’s a reason why he’s pitching in All-Star Games every year and pitching in postseason,” Hyde said. “He throws 95-100 and he’s got secondary stuff that he can throw at any time, and he elevates his fastball so well, and it’s just tough to get on top of it at 96 … He’s a real competitive dude. He’s just good, and I’m proud of our guys for scoring three runs off him.”
Due to an error by third baseman Yuli Gurriel, two unearned runs were charged to Cole in the first. He allowed Chance Sisco’s first home run in the third to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead.
Overall, the Orioles struck out 17 times.
Santander gets the call: Anthony Santander was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to replace Dwight Smith Jr., who was placed on the seven-day concussion injured list.
Santander had a double and a single.
“Unfortunately, things happen in this game,” Santander said through a translator. “Players get hurt and it opens up opportunities for others. So, I’m just trying to be here and help my team.”
In 47 games at Norfolk, Santander hit .263 with five home runs and 28 RBIs. He was called up on May 1 to serve as the 26th man in the second game of the Orioles’ doubleheader at Chicago.
“I think I was doing well, playing strong every single day, which is the most important thing,” Santander said.
“The opportunity is here. What I want to do is play hard, which is my part. Whatever decision they’re going to make after that is really up to the team.”
Santander is one of a number of intriguing outfielders in the Orioles’ organization, some with major league experience and some without.
“There are plenty of outfielders in the minors. We realize it’s a competition, and whoever does better will receive the call,” Santander said.
Smith was in the Orioles ‘clubhouse before the game.
“Feeling better … it’s going to be a little while,” Hyde said. “Everything’s checked out well, shoulder. That was a pretty bad crash. These things take time.”
Minor matters: Bowie right-hander Hunter Harvey allowed eight runs on nine hits in four-plus innings at Portland. … Mark Trumbo went 1-for-3 for Norfolk at Columbus. He walked and struck out.