BALTIMORE— For the seventh time in 10 games, the Orioles were held to just one run. Their 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night guarantees a losing season. They’re 22-31, and have lost the first four of a five-game series to the Rays.
In the bottom of the first, José Iglesias doubled with one out, DJ Stewart walked, and Ryan Mountcastle singled to load the bases against Charlie Morton. After Pedro Severino, who hasn’t driven in a run since August 30th, struck out, Chance Sisco was hit by a pitch, scoring Iglesias.
The Orioles didn’t score again.
“Charlie Morton’s on the mound, and he’s done a lot of good things … Those type of really good pitchers, you try to get to them early before they find their rhythm,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We only got that one off him, and he found his rhythm after that. We’re having a tough time scoring runs.”
Yoshi Tsutsugo homered to lead off the third, his eighth, and the score was tied at 1.
In the top of the third, Joey Wendle led off with a drive to right field that DJ Stewart had trouble fielding. Wendle was on third with a double and error. After Mike Brosseau struck out, Kevin Kiermaier bounced to second. Hanser Alberto threw home, and Sisco applied the tag.
Tsutguo walked with one out in the fifth, and Randy Arozarena homered with two outs, his fifth, and Tampa Bay led, 3-1.
Cedric Mullins singled to begin the Orioles’ fifth and, after Valaika struck out, Stewart walked. Mountcastle and Severino struck out to end the inning.
Morton allowed one run on five hits in five innings.
López worked six innings, giving up three runs on eight hits.
“I want to be a starter on the MLB level,” López said. “The most important thing is to keep consistent every outing. That’s what I’m trying to show everybody.”
With solid outings from Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer and Bruce Zimmermann’s debut this week, the Orioles appear to have some intriguing possibilities for next season.
“Six strong innings for him, and I think he’s definitely put himself in position to be a starting candidate for next year,” Hyde said.
In the eighth, Arozarena led off with a single off Phillips, stole second and ran to third when Sisco’s throw was wild. With one out, Wendle grounded to second and again Alberto nailed the runner with a throw home.
Aaron Loup recorded two outs, and Aaron Slegers allowed just one hit in 2 2/3 innings. Ryan Thompson retired the last two batters.
Mountcastle and Austin Hays each had two hits.
Iglesias injured: Iglesias was hit by a pitch in the second inning and fell to the ground, writhing in pain. He was replaced by Pat Valaika. Hyde said Iglesias has a bruised left wrist.
“You never know when someone gets hit in the wrist or hand area,” Hyde said. “You’re hoping for the best.”
Hyde said Iglesias’ injury would be re-evaluated on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Andrew Velazquez, who was batting .152 ,was optioned to the alternate site at Bowie, leaving the team with just three bench players.
Hyde said the team needed to add reliever Evan Phillips.
“We wanted the extra arm to give guys a little bit of a breather down the stretch, and the way Evan threw the ball a couple of days ago, we’re looking forward to getting him get back out on the mound in a big league stadium.
“We play a lot of close games. A lot of these guys are piling up quite a few appearances. It would be nice to give these guys a break here and there.”
Phillips pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out four.
Struggling hitters: Hitting coach Don Long said the Orioles are facing a lot of top-shelf starters. In the past 10 games, they’ve faced New York’s Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka, Atlanta’s Cole Hamels and Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Morton.
“You look at the competition they’re facing,” Long said. “You have some really good established major league hitters who against that type of pitchers aren’t really looking like they’re established major league hitters.”
Inexperience against these quality pitchers hurts.
“They’re facing a lot of these guys for the first time,” Long said. “You can talk about what they do. You can describe the action of their pitches. You can watch all the video you want from a center field camera perspective, but until you set in the box against them, you may not know what it’s going to look like.
“I think that with a lot of our guys, they’re still trying to establish who they are at this level, and a part of that is when you go against some of the best pitchers there are, you’re looking at that as a measuring stick for yourself.”