BALTIMORE—The first inning was an awful one for Aaron Brooks, who started the Orioles’ 23-2 loss to Houston on August 10, and it was enough to send them on their way to their fourth straight loss. It’s their 10th losing streak of four games or more.
The Orioles’ 9-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday night put them four games away from their second consecutive 100-loss season. They’ve lost 100 games or more three times since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954.
Brooks’ troubles began on his second pitch when he hit both Rangers rightfielder Shin-Soo Choo and home plate umpire Jim Reynolds. Choo trotted down to first, but Reynolds stayed in the game only after a prolonged examination of his right arm by Orioles assistant athletic trainer Patrick Wesley. He left the game after the top of the first and was replaced by first base umpire Sean Barber.
Brooks walked Elvis Andrus, and Willie Calhoun singled to load the bases. Nick Solak bounced one back to Brooks, who threw wildly to the plate, enabling Choo to score.
Danny Santana’s single scored two runs, and Rougned Odor’s three-run homer made it 6-0.
“It was kind of similar to his last start in Kansas City, where he didn’t have his command to start off the game,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
“He hits Choo, a walk, and he had an opportunity to get out of the inning, or at least help himself out with a comebacker that could have potentially been a 1-2-3 double play or at least a forceout to give himself a chance to get out of the inning. But he threw the ball away. A three-run home run later and it’s 6-0.”
Brooks struck out the next three batters while Chandler Shepherd warmed up. Shepherd entered the game in the third after Delino DeShields’ single scored Odor to put Texas up, 7-3.
“Just a little out of sync,” Brooks said. “It’s one of those days that was a struggle to get the ball where I wanted it to go. Fall behind that early in the game, it’s tough to come back.”
In the bottom of the first, the Orioles got three runs back against Jonathan Hernandez, who was making his first major league start in only his fourth appearance.
Jonathan Villar scored on Anthony Santander’s RBI single, Trey Mancini came home on a wild pitch by Hernandez and Santander, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games, scored on Mason Williams’ sacrifice fly.
Hernandez lasted 2 2/3 innings and was relieved by Yohander Mendez, who yielded a home run to Rio Ruiz to start the Orioles’ fourth.
It was Ruiz’s 10th home run, the 10th Oriole to hit 10 or more in a record season for home runs throughout baseball.
Shepherd retired his first eight batters before allowing two runs in the sixth. DeShields scored when leftfielder Dwight Smith Jr., who had made a spectacular catch on Calhoun’s drive to begin the fifth, overran Ronald Guzman’s single. Guzman scored on Jeff Mathis’ double, and the Orioles were down, 9-4.
The Orioles struck out 13 times against six Rangers pitchers. Mendez, who pitched in his first major league game this year, got win and struck out six in 2 1/3 innings.
“He’s got good stuff, mid-90s fastball,” Hyde said. “Nice to see Rio take him deep, but other than that we really didn’t do anything off him. That’s a good arm.”
Hays returns: In his first major league game since October 1, 2017, Austin Hays pinch-hit for Williams and struck out. He made two impressive plays in center field in the seventh, running down Calhoun’s drive and making a diving catch on Solak’s liner.
“The ball definitely finds you when you come in off the bench,” Hays said. “That old metaphor holds true tonight. I know I got a lot of plays out there and didn’t lose too much rest in the last week or anything. It was fun to chase some balls down tonight.”
Hays, who was called up earlier in the day, is the 58th player used by the Orioles, a club record.
“It’s exciting. This is what we work for, this is what I’ve worked the last two years for, to get back here and be in Camden Yards and play for this team again,” Hays said. “So there was excitement, nerves, it’s all mixed in.”
He also struck out in the eighth inning.
Hyde said he would play Hays on Sunday.
Bowie advances to championship series: The Bowie Baysox defeated the Harrisburg Senators, 12-5, to win the Western Division championship in the Eastern League playoffs.
The Baysox, who won the final two games at Harrisburg after splitting the first two games, won the best-of-five series, three games to one.
Cedric Mullins had five hits and went for the cycle. He drove in three runs. Yusniel Diaz drove in two.
Alex Wells allowed one run on six hits in six innings to record the win.
Bowie plays the Trenton Thunder in the Eastern League Championship Series, a best-of-five, that begins in New Jersey on Tuesday.
The Baysox will be home for Game 3 and Games 4 and 5, if necessary, at Prince George’s Stadium on September 12-14.
Elias on DL Hall: Left-handed pitching prospect DL Hall, who had his season shortened by a strained lat muscle, is making progress, according to general manager Mike Elias.
“It’s just the kind of thing where he needs to take some time off,” Elias said. “I hear it’s getting better and better, so he’s in good shape.”
Hall, the Orioles’ first-round draft pick in 2017, was 4-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 19 games at High-A Frederick.
He struck out 116 batters in 80 2/3 innings while walking 54.
“I don’t think we’re going to have him pitch competitively this offseason, but he’ll have a normal program in terms of throwing and, fingers crossed, he’s going to come to spring training 100 percent,” Elias said.
“If this injury had happened in May or June, he probably would have missed a month and come back, but it happened two weeks before the end of the season, and we shut him down.”