BALTIMORE—On August 22, 2007, the Orioles lost to the Texas Rangers, 30-3. Since then, the Orioles have had some excellent seasons and some that were downright awful. However, until Saturday night, the Orioles hadn’t given up 20 runs since that forgettable night.
In their most embarrassing defeat in a season that has been extraordinarily challenging, the Orioles lost, 23-2, to the Houston Astros.
Aaron Brooks allowed nine runs in three innings, Branden Kline gave up five, and Tayler Scott surrendered six.
Manager Brandon Hyde put Stevie Wilkerson in to record the final four outs in order to save the bullpen, a much different circumstance than when he last pitched on July 25 and became the first position player to save a game.
Wilkerson allowed three runs in the ninth, including Yordan Alvarez’s third home run of the game.
Early in the game, Hyde had to adopt a survival mindset, knowing that after Sunday’s game with Houston, the Orioles have to travel to New York for a doubleheader with the Yankees, who this week hit 16 home runs against them in three games.
“We have to face these guys again [Sunday], doubleheader on Monday,” Hyde said. “Third inning, probably I was planning how was I going to finish this game, and somehow we finished it.”
When the Orioles acquired Brooks on waivers just before the All-Star break, they hoped he would eat some innings and help stabilize the rotation.
That’s not how it’s turned out. Brooks did acceptably in two short starts at first when he was pitching in short stints. The Oakland Athletics had most recently used Brooks as a reliever, and the Orioles needed him to start.
In his most recent four starts, Brooks has a horrifying 11.88 ERA. He allowed a career-high four home runs.
“Just ran into a good offense, didn’t execute pitches and had a few things not go my way,” Brooks said. “That’s sometimes how it happens. I’ve got to try to shake it off, move on from it and learn and keep going.”
One of them, Carlos Correa’s 474-foot home run, was the longest home run since Statcast began tracking homers in 2015. Another, Alvarez’s first-inning home run, was hit 442 feet.
Brooks gave up a two-run home run to Alex Bregman, his 28th, just before Alvarez’s, and allowed five more runs in the second. Jose Altuve hit a two-run home run. Bregman drove in a run with a double, moved to second on Brooks’ wild pitch and scored on his balk.
Trailing 8-1, Brooks was allowed to pitch the third and gave up Correa’s majestic home run.
Kline gave up five runs in two innings, and Scott allowed six in two innings. Alvarez hit a grand-slam home run as part of the six-run seventh.
Orioles rightfielder Trey Mancini, who’s always cooperative, even in the most unpleasant of circumstances, tries not to think that nights like Saturday can happen in a rebuild.
“That really can’t be a mindset,” Mancini said. “We’ve lost a lot more than we’ve won the last couple of years. We’ve had flashes of some good times this year, such as July, it looked like things were trending up.
“August has obviously gotten off to a tough start. This is big boy league. We’ve played some really good teams so far. This hasn’t been a good homestand for us, but that’s a losers’ mentality right there to think you’re going to take a beating, so you can’t come to the park expecting that.”
Aaron Sanchez, who pitched six innings of a combined four-pitcher no-hitter on August 3 in his last start, stuck around for five innings, giving up a run on three hits.
Rio Ruiz, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, hit a pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning.
In the final game of the series, Asher Wojciechowski faces Justin Verlander.
“We’re in a really tough stretch, facing these guys [Sunday],” Hyde said. ‘We need a really nice start out of Wojo. We need Wojo to step up and give us a really good start and then a doubleheader on Monday, so not the easiest few days.”
Pitching in New York: On Monday, the Orioles have a day/night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. Gabriel Ynoa will pitch one of those games, Hyde said.
The other game will be pitched by either someone already on staff or a 26th man called up for Monday.
Tom Eshelman is a possibility as the other starter, but Hyde likes him in the long relief role. He pitched to two batters in the eighth before Wilkerson came in.
James Paxton will pitch one of the games for New York. John Means and Dylan Bundy pitch Tuesday and Wednesday against Domingo German and J.A. Happ.
Injury updates: DJ Stewart, who suffered a concussion in Tuesday night’s game, is now “symptom-free,” Hyde said. He ran before Saturday’s game and has been cleared for baseball activities on Sunday.
Stewart is eligible to come off the seven-day concussion injury list on Wednesday, and Hyde thinks he’ll be ready to play then.
“We don’t see him missing any time when the seven days is up,” Hyde said.
Dwight Smith Jr. will travel to New York with the team and is progressing well from his left calf injury. It’s possible Smith goes on a rehab assignment after the Orioles return from their road trip on August 19.
Renato Nunez fouled a ball off his left ankle in the fifth and suffered a bruise. X-rays were negative, and he’s day-to-day.