BALTIMORE—In the first third of this 60-game season, the Orioles surprised by winning 12 of 20 games. Quickly, the chatter of a possible postseason berth has quieted.
On Thursday night, the Orioles lost their season-high fifth straight and didn’t show much offense, losing 7-1 to the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards.
The Orioles are 12-13 with only 35 games remaining.
Earlier this season, they lost four straight to the Miami Marlins before rebounding with a six-game run, their longest in nearly three years.
Their five-game skid is their longest since a six-game losing streak September 3-10, 2019.
After their series against Miami, the Orioles won three against Washington and three more against Philadelphia before starting a nine-game homestand, their longest of the season.
Even though they were the “road” team for two of the Miami games, statistically, they’re counted as playing at home. The Orioles are 4-12 at Camden Yards.
Starter Asher Wojciechowski threw 88 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, and he left trailing, 3-0, in a performance that was anything but crisp.
“I wasn’t executing a lot of pitches,” Wojciechowski said in a postgame video conference call. “They fouled off a lot of pitches. It’s one of those nights where I wasn’t as sharp.
“I just think we’re in a rough patch. I wanted to come out and have a good quality start and get us back on track, but I wasn’t able to do that.”
Boston catcher Christian Vazquez singled to start the second. Kevin Pillar walked and, with one out, José Peraza singled to score Vazquez. Pillar scored on Alex Verdugo’s infield out.
Xander Bogaerts homered, his fifth of the year with one out in the third.
The Orioles’ offense came from Pat Valaika, whose seventh-inning home run against Nathan Eovaldi cut the lead to 3-1.
In the first, the Orioles loaded the bases on Anthony Santander’s single, which extended his hitting streak to 15 games, a base hit by Renato Núñez and a two-out walk by Rio Ruiz. Valaika grounded to second to end the threat and the inning.
The Orioles are playing without two of their best defenders, shortstop José Iglesias and centerfielder Austin Hays, who are both on the injured list. Iglesias, who has been hampered by a sore quadriceps muscle, is hitting .400.
“Ever since Iggy went down, Iggy and Hays out of the lineup, I feel like a like a lot of these guys … Rio’s trying too hard, Nunie’s trying too hard, Alberto’s trying to hard,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We put together better at-bats earlier in the year. We need to get these guys to relax and think about line drives in the middle of the field. Easier said than done, especially when you’re facing a guy like we faced.”
Eovaldi allowed a run on five hits in seven innings. Boston is 8-18.
“I saw Nate Eovaldi give us a really tough time,” Hyde said. “That was an unbelievable start. That was Nate being really, really good and throwing every pitch for a strike — fastball, the cutter, breaking ball, the split and being on for seven innings and us not getting the barrel on the baseball very often at all except for Valaika. Tough to evaluate the club when you’re going back to the dugout a lot.”
Bogaerts’ RBI single and Mitch Moreland’s three-run homer in the ninth put Boston ahead, 7-1.
Dillon Tate was impressive after relieving Wojciechowski, allowing a hit and a walk in 2 1/3 innings. He struck out three.
Ramón Urias made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter for Valaika, striking out to end the game.
Streaking opponents: Hyde hopes the Orioles don’t run into any players who specialize in hitting against them.
Toronto’s Randal Grichuk homered against the Orioles four times in the three-game sweep, including two on Thursday. In 33 games against the Orioles, Grichuk is batting .349 with 16 home runs and 37 RBIs.
They’re significantly better numbers than he has against other AL East teams. Grichuk is hitting .211 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 38 games against Boston, .235 with 13 homers and 23 RBIs in 36 games against New York and .216 with five home runs and 17 RBIs against Tampa Bay.
He’s not the only AL East player picks on the Orioles.
Last year, the Yankees’ Gleyber Torres hit 13 homers and hit .394 in 18 games against Baltimore. The Rays’ Mike Brosseau has nine homers in 67 career games. Six of them have come in 10 games when facing Baltimore.
“That’s frustrating from our end because we had a tough time getting Grichuk out,” Hyde said. “Brosseau has been a thorn in our side the last year or so. Gleyber Torres last year wasn’t very fun. Guys see the ball good here. Guys are comfortable in their at-bats against us.”
Sisco’s growth: Chance Sisco, who didn’t play on Thursday night, has done a better job defensively, said catching coordinator Tim Cossins.
Sisco is batting .270 with 10 walks and a hit by pitch for an on-base percentage of .438.
In the past, there was talk that when Sisco struggled offensively, it carried over to his catching. That’s not the case, Cossins said.
“I feel like Chance does a fairly good job of separating the two,” Cossins said in a pregame video conference call.
“Defensively, he’s got a different meter where he stays in the pocket. He does a really nice job of not letting the offense take away from his defense, so that’s always the tipping point for most guys is how they control those two things because those can get tricky in the course of a game.
“If you fall off the wagon offensively, and take your defense, that’s catastrophic for the club.. He’s doing a nice job of that. I’m not saying he’s perfect. Nobody ever is. It’s a very difficult, demanding position on most fronts. In terms of his focus and running games, I don’t think he’s ever taken it behind the plate.”