Ugly loss eliminates Orioles from playoff contention; Akin undermined by sloppy defense; Stewart streaky - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Ugly loss eliminates Orioles from playoff contention; Akin undermined by sloppy defense; Stewart streaky

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

In the final week of a season highlighted by promising talent, the Orioles produced an ugly loss on Tuesday night. In the first game of their final road trip of the shortened season, the Orioles committed three errors and lost to the Boston Red Sox, 8-3, at Fenway Park.

The Orioles dropped to 23-32 with five games left and were officially eliminated from playoff consideration. They’ve lost 11 of 14 and lead the fifth-place Red Sox by two games.

Starter Keegan Akin, who pitched five scoreless innings against Atlanta in his last start, had a harder time against Boston. Akin allowed four runs, two unearned, on eight hits in four innings.

“I thought he threw the ball OK,” manager Brandon Hyde said in his postgame video conference call. “We just didn’t play very good defense behind him, and that really hurt him … a couple of routine plays that weren’t made.”

With the Orioles leading 1-0, Christian Vazquez led off the second by grounding to third. Rio Ruiz’s wild throw enabled him to reach. It was Ruiz’s sixth error of the season.

Jackie Bradley Jr. singled,, and Bobby Dalbec doubled to score Vazquez. Michael Chavis’ sacrifice fly scored Bradley, and Dalbec came in when DJ Stewart dropped Alex Verdugo’s fly ball, and Boston, led 3-1.

“A lot more traffic caused a big inning there, and a long inning,” Hyde said.

Dalbec’s RBI single in the third put the Red Sox ahead, 4-1.

Hyde hasn’t decided yet whether Akin will pitch the season’s final game on Sunday against Toronto in Buffalo, but he didn’t think this was a step back.

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“I felt like he was a little bit too quick,” Hyde said. “He was rushing through his delivery at times. I love his competitiveness. I love how aggressive he is. I think he’s just going to get better and better. This wasn’t his best start, but I thought he was really competitive. We just didn’t help him out …”

Akin has a 3.38 ERA and, outside of an awful first inning against the Yankees on September 11th when he faced seven batters and retired only two, has pitched well.

“I’ve been pretty happy with it, to be honest with you,” Akin said. “Not the way I wanted to end it. I hope I get one more crack at it Sunday. But looking back at it, my evaluation of it is I’m pretty happy where I am right now.”

Hyde couldn’t fault Akin for Tuesday’s outing.

“We’ve got to catch the ball behind him,” Hyde said. “That doesn’t help. That inning was right around 30 pitches, and it was because of a couple of misplays. That’s huge. You’ve got to be able to play defense in this league. You’ve got to be able to make the routine play. In a couple of his starts, we haven’t been able to do that, and it hurt him tonight from a pitch count standpoint.”

Boston starter Nick Pivettta allowed one run on five hits in five innings. Stewart’s RBI single in the first was the only run the Orioles scored against him.

Renato Núñez hit his 12th home run to begin the sixth, and Ruiz’s RBI double cut Boston’s lead to 4-3.

The Red Sox scored four times in the sixth. J.D. Martinez’s run-scoring single, and Vazquez’s three-run home run against Evan Phillips gave the Red Sox an 8-3 lead.

Phillips left the game with elbow soreness while pitching to Bradley. Hyde said he would be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

Cedric Mullins, Ramón Urias, Ruiz and Stewart each had two hits.

The Orioles loaded the bases in the ninth inning. Matt Barnes retired Pedro Severino on a pop fly to earn a save.

What went wrong?: The Orioles were 20-21 and lost, 7-6, to the New York Mets on September 9th. New York’s Michael Conforto made a brilliant running catch to rob Ruiz of an extra-base hit that could have scored three runs and given the Orioles a four-run lead.

Instead, they lost and have gone 3-11 beginning with that game.

“Started our downslide a little bit,” Hyde said. “We didn’t play well in Yankee Stadium. They pitched very well, lost a couple of close games. We played well against the Braves, but we ran into good pitching against the Rays.

“I think you see our hitters are really scuffling right now, trying to get their numbers back up. We’ve just got to start taking better at-bats … love that we played into the last week of the season, but disappointed that we’re officially eliminated tonight.”

Stewart’s streaks: Stewart started the season with 17 at-bats without a hit, then hit six home runs in six games to raise his average to .278.

Since hitting his seventh home run on September 14th, Stewart was 1-for-21 entering Tuesday night’s game. After his 2-for-4 night, he’s batting .219, and he’s committed two errors in the outfield in his last three games.

”I want to be more consistent with the bat,” Stewart said. “Obviously, I was hot a couple of weeks ago, had a few hits tonight. Just trying to eliminate those long periods of time without hits … Defense has been a priority of mine. Tonight wasn’t a good night for me defensively. Come back here tomorrow, and practice before the game.

“Going into the offseason as well, I’ve done a lot of good work with [outfield coach Anthony Sanders] and continue to build on that.”

Coming up: Dean Kremer will pitch against Nathan Eovaldi on Wednesday night at 7:30.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Earl Weevir

    September 23, 2020 at 7:02 am

    I’m not sure if Akin came back to earth last night, or our defense let us down again?

  2. Bhoffman1

    September 23, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Didn’t see the game but you can’t have two errors by DJ. His future is DH and are we what are we gonna do about 3rd base next year. Sisco should play everyday now. Since we probably won’t see Adley till 2022 Severino is not the answer for a number one guy behind the plate. Sisco might not be either.

  3. Orial

    September 23, 2020 at 8:21 am

    Now THAT was ugly. What’s up with Ruiz? Don’t know what to think of Stewart other than he looks like Cub Kyle Schwarber. Streaky hitter but there’s something appealing about his attitude and hitting approach. But ohhh that OF play. Interesting Akin observation by Hyde–“rushing his pitches”. Good now address it. Don’t look now but Mountcastle’s struggling at the plate. It may just be me but doesn’t it seem his slump started with his being rotated between LF,DH,1B instead of staying in LF? Phillips’ elbow injury has me thinking how fragile these pitchers are and maybe a first round pick should be kept to position players. Speaking of that the O’s have a solid chance of passing the Red Sox and going after that 3-4 draft pick. Hey gotta look for some silver lining.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      September 23, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      Tank this late in the game? For shame.

  4. Orioles20

    September 23, 2020 at 9:01 am

    The honeymoon phase seems to be over with Stewart. Hard to see where he fits in next year with Diaz coming at some point. The outfield next year should be Santander, Hays, Diaz. Mountcastle at first. Mancini at DH assuming he’s ready for opening day. Third base and catcher seem to be a hole for now. Guys like Alberto need to be traded for value while you can get some before they regress even further.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      September 23, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      I dunno … I think Mullins certainly has earned his spot in the outfield.

    • NormOs

      September 23, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      Good post. Agree with everything you said except no mention of Mullins, he has proven his worth as much as anyone on the team and maybe more. Stewart has had his week in the sun, very little offence and no defense. MLB infielders should be a priority for this team.

    • Bhoffman1

      September 23, 2020 at 3:44 pm

      Agree with you Oriole 20. Mullins 4th outfielder. Diaz has power, arm two things Mullins does not have. We live in a power game where outfielders need to be able to hit atleast 20 homers. That was the knock on Mason Williams until he failed in his 18 at bats this year his average was 286 but until Norfolk last year showed not enough power. If Mullins could learn second base that would be a perfect position for him

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 23, 2020 at 10:56 pm

        C’mon BHoff … Mullins is a top flight defensive center fielder. Why on earth would you want to move him out of the outfield? I know, you don’t like short outfiielders … not sure why, but you don’t. Power isn’t everything, although I think he could hit 20 when he matures. Everybody does in OPACY.

  5. Phil770

    September 23, 2020 at 9:32 am

    This and DO are one dimensional players. They need to be outstanding at that one dimension. This must field his position very, very well. DJ has to hit, consistently. Same with Sisco, he is an adequate catcher, but only if he hits very well can he be in the line-up. Still a lot of work to do with this roster.

    • Phil770

      September 23, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      RUIZ and DJ are one-dimensional players – auto fill error that I should have caught sooner. Agree with Norm and BRR, Mullins is in the outfield mix. If he is up to it, I would hope Mancini would be at his natural position of 1B, which would put Mountcastle in LF. We have to hope that Hays isn’t the next Nolan Reimold – tantalizing talent, always seems hurt.

  6. Bancells Moustache

    September 23, 2020 at 10:37 am

    “They are who we thought they were!”

    Now two games out of the basement and sinking fast, with Toronto and the Prince of Darkness himself, Randal Grichuk, looming over the horizon. All this cheery talk and they end up in last place anyway? Ugh.

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 23, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Did everyone really expect Stewart to continue banging taters every other game? Please guys, everybody around here claims that they’ve seen this guy, or that guy at Bowie or Frederick or where ever. Now I’ve never seen ANY of our players before they got to Baltimore, but what I do do, is read the minor league box scores religiously. Anybody that did, would have know that Stewart is about as streaky as they come. He’s either hitting .450 for 3 weeks, or going O-fer the month. Unfortunately, a month is more than 3 weeks. What I don’t remember reading in the boxes is the 4 or 5 errors per week he’s currently committing. I’m always joking about how hard can it be to shag fly balls in left field? Evidently, for some … it’s quite hard. A month ago when the rest of you were calling for Stewarts big butt, I was saying that I wasn’t ready to give up on the guy just yet. But now .. I’ve seen enough of his glove. He’s a decent enough hitter … just not decent enough to be a DH. Boys I’m with you now … it’s time for Mike Elias to find this guy employment in another city. I’d even take a couple more cabana boys in trade.

    And Rio Ruiz? Puhleeeze dump Ruiz. I know he’s a darling of Mike Elias, but I’ve seen enough of this clown as well. The way he’s played this year, we might as well have had Nunez playing 3rd!

  8. Massmonster

    September 23, 2020 at 9:10 pm

    what a awful awful way to be ending the season ,counting tonight losing. 10 of 11 to Yankees. Rays. Red Sox and the Blue jays next ! DISASTER THEY WILL END UP LAST AGAIN!!!!

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