BALTIMORE—Twenty-four hours after the Orioles’ 14-run outburst against the Atlanta Braves, their slumbering offense returned.
Last weekend, the Orioles scored just three runs in 33 innings in a four-game sweep at Yankee Stadium. Six Braves pitchers held the Orioles to four hits in a 5-1 win on Tuesday night.
It was the Orioles’ sixth loss in the past seven games, dropping their record to 21-27.
“I felt like we’ve been chasing a little bit,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Some guys are scuffling a little bit, and we’re kind of chasing hits and we’re expanding [the strike zone] a little bit too much.”
Thomas Eshelman got the start, and he allowed two runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
In the third, Atlanta scored on doubles by Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman. In the fourth, Adam Duvall, who homered three times in the Braves’ 29-9 win over Miami on September 9th, hit his 15th of the season, his 10th this month.
Huascar Ynoa started and pitched four scoreless innings. He allowed a one-out double to José Iglesias in the first and a leadoff single to Pedro Severino in the second.
“I think it’s just a combination of us not having timely hits,” centerfielder Cedric Mullins said. “We’re still putting good at-bats together and working our way on base. It’s just a matter of getting those runs in early.”
Severino’s hit was the last Oriole baserunner until Iglesias’ leadoff single in the seventh. Atlanta pitchers had retired 14 straight Orioles. Mullins doubled with one out in the ninth, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Iglesias’ infield out.
“We’re definitely a streaky hitting team, and we struggle with guys that can expand the strike zone on us,” Hyde said. “And that is something we need to get better at as a club, and we’re inexperienced and young. I think it’s pretty common for young hitters to chase out of the strike zone, and I think when we’re not swinging the bat well, that’s what we’re really doing.
“Tonight, I would give credit to the Braves’ pitching staff. I thought they were really excellent, but going forward we all need, top-to-bottom, to zero in on the strike zone and understand what pitches we can handle and what pitches we can drive because the nights we score a bunch of runs, we get good swings on strikes. When we’re scuffling is when we’re trying to do a bit too much and leaving the strike zone.”
Atlanta scored three runs in the ninth against Asher Wojciechowski.
Hyde ejected: Hyde was ejected for arguing a checked-swing call on Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña in the fourth inning. First base umpire Brennan Miller tossed Hyde, who was in the dugout. He came out to argue after the ejection. Fredi González managed the Orioles after Hyde’s ejection.
“Pretty quick for sure,” Hyde said. “We had a few disagreements on a few checked swings. I guess he didn’t like what I said there out of the dugout on the third checked swing that we disagreed with. Pretty quick hook, but it’s so quiet out there. It’s definitely the weirdest ejection I’ve ever been a part of.”
It was Hyde’s first ejection of this season, fifth in his career and fourth as Orioles manager.
“I think I yelled out there, and he didn’t like what he heard, and then I had to keep my distance when I was out there,” Hyde said. “It made me pause. I wasn’t thinking clearly, and I got a little too close, distance-wise.”
Mountcastle plays first: For the first time in the major leagues, Ryan Mountcastle played first base. Mountcastle’s only embarrassing moment came when a pop fly by Atlanta’s Austin Riley fell between rightfielder DJ Stewart and Mountcastle for a single in the eighth.
“I’ve been really happy with the defense he’s played in left,” Hyde said before the game.
“He’s done a really nice job since he’s been here. Credit goes to him, and the coaches in Bowie because he has improved a lot in the outfield.
“He’s played the infield his whole life. It’s not like he’s never been on the infield dirt … It’s somebody who has played the infield, who has taken reps at first base, and I’m ready to try it.”
O’Day returns: For the first time since he was traded by the Orioles to the Braves on July 31, 2018, Darren O’Day pitched in Baltimore.
O’Day retired the Orioles in order in the fifth to pick up his fourth win without a defeat. His ERA is 0.64.
A month short of his 38th birthday, O’Day went to the Braves along with Kevin Gausman in a deal that brought Evan Phillips, minor league catcher Brett Cumberland, third baseman JC Encarnacion and pitcher Bruce Zimmermann.
It was his first appearance in Baltimore since June 26, 2018. O’Day suffered a season-ending hamstring injury.
Life in the bubble: Major League Baseball announced its postseason schedule. The new wild-card round, which features the top eight teams in each league, begins on September 29th in American League parks and September 30th in National League parks. It’s best two-of-three, and all games will be played in the homes of the higher seeds.
The American League Division Series will be played at Dodger Stadium and San Diego’s Petco Park and begin on October 5th. The National League Division Series, to be played at Arlington’s Globe Life Field and Houston’s Minute Maid Park, starts on October 6th.
The AL Championship Series starts in San Diego on October 11th, and the NLCS begins in Arlington on October 12th.
The World Series will be played in Arlington beginning on October 20th.
“This is an unusual year,” Hyde said. “Everybody’s been making sacrifices for a while now. I know that the NBA has been successful. I think the NHL, with what it’s been going through, has been successful. I think what we’ve done has been successful.
“I think everybody has made sacrifices to finish this season and stay healthy.”
Mullins for Gold Glove?: Hyde is clearly taken with Mullins’ play in center field.
“I’m going to go on record here and say you have start considering Cedric Mullins a Gold Glover,” Hyde said. “He’s played Gold Glove-type defense this whole entire season. I can’t remember a play … he didn’t make. He’s made so many great plays and, not only that, but run-saving plays, big plays in big spots. He makes the tough play look easy. Some of those plays on balls over his head that he just glides and gets to, those are really difficult plays that a lot of guys don’t get to.
“I knew he was a good defender. I saw him a little bit last year. I [saw] him in spring training, but this has opened my eyes. This is an elite center ielder that should be in the Gold Glove consideration.”
Coming up: Keegan Akin will face Cole Hamels in the last of the three-game series Wednesday night. It will be the Orioles’ final game against a National League East team.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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