BALTIMORE—The most jarring sound in the first game of the Orioles’ first seven-inning doubleheader came in the middle of the fifth when John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” came wafting through the ballpark’s sound system.
For decades, the Orioles have played Country Boy during the seventh-inning stretch, but in this strangest of all years, anything goes.
The Orioles didn’t have a hit in the first four innings against Miami’s Elieser Hernandez, but they got two in the fifth. They weren’t enough, and they lost their second straight to the Marlins, 1-0, on Wednesday.
It was the first time they were shut out in consecutive games since September 19-20, 2017. They had three hits in each of the shutouts.
“It was a tough game for us offensively,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Yesterday was a tough game for us offensively. Just having a tough time getting it going. We’ve had some good games offensively against some premier pitching.
“We just didn’t square many balls up. I don’t know if we have guys pressing or what it is. It was not a very good offensive performance by us in this first game.”
Last week, Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed that seven-inning doubleheaders were best for players’ health in this 60-game season, and the Orioles and Marlins needed to make up four games in three days.
“I haven’t seen one of these since 2009,” Hyde said in a pregame video conference call.
“I managed a lot of seven-inning doubleheaders in my minor league managing career, but I’ve never seen one in the big leagues, obviously. I’m excited about the new rule this year. I think it’s really helpful to everybody in the league. It’ll help our pitchers … It’s just a shorter game. Bullpen guys have to be ready earlier in the game than normal. It goes a little quicker.”
Orioles starter Alex Cobb allowed Brian Anderson’s leadoff home run in the fourth inning. He also allowed a leadoff single to Jonathan Villar in the third. In five innings, Cobb struck out seven and walked three.
“We were playing really good baseball right before this last offday,” Cobb said. “I don’t know what happened. We ran into some good pitching the last two games. We’ve got to find a way to come together as a team and get these two victories. If we can split the series, that would be great. It would be tough to lose this series.”
In the fifth, the Orioles had their only chance. Chris Davis struck out, and Chance Sisco doubled to left. Pedro Severino singled and, with runners on first and third, Nick Vincent replaced Hernandez. His first batter, Hanser Alberto, hit into a double play.
“The game is shorter, more emphasis to score earlier, to score first just because it’s different,” Hyde said.
Cobb liked the seven-inning innovation.
“I love the mindset of going into a seven-inning game,” Cobb said. “A lot of baseball purists probably don’t like it, but as a starting pitcher, you can see the finish line.”
Roster move: John Means, who was the losing pitcher in Tuesday night’s game, was placed on the bereavement list. The Orioles, who must trim their roster to 28 on Thursday, did not replace Means.
Hyde said that he didn’t know if Means, who would be in line to pitch Sunday in Washington, would return in time.
“I wouldn’t even know that yet,” Hyde said. “He’s dealing with a family matter and we’re going to give him some space and some time.”
Because of the doubleheader, the Orioles will need a starter on Saturday. Hyde said that Thomas Eshelman was a possibility.
Davis scuffling: Davis was hitless in three at-bats and is just 1-for-19 (.053).
“It looks like he’s pulling off a little bit,” Hyde said. “A little bit late on the heater right now. The time off might have gotten his timing off, the time off he had from sitting for a few days. It looks like he’s a little bit late. I’d like to see him get a little more aggressive, putting the ball in play earlier in the count.”