For the fourth time this season, the Orioles had a chance to reach .500 with a win. Each time, they’ve come up short.
In the final game of their five-game road trip, they were shut out for the third time this season, getting just four hits and seeing just 99 pitches in a 3-0 loss to the Miami Marlins at LoanDepot Park in Miami on Wednesday.
Leadoff hitter Austin Hays grounded to third on the first pitch, setting the tone for an offense that showed little patience; Ryan Mountcastle had the lone walk.
Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann matched Marlins starter Trevor Rogers through four scoreless innings, but the fifth was his undoing.
Catcher Sandy Leon, who had been called up before the game, led off with a single. Rogers then bunted the ball to the mound. Zimmermann was in position to field it, but third baseman Maikel Franco had the better throwing angle and cut in front of Zimmermann. He gave a look to second before throwing to first for the out.
Leon saw that no one was covering third and took the open base.
“Bunt’s in front of the plate there, Franco’s being aggressive, runner at first. We know they’re bunting,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Three guys converge. We need to communicate, and the catcher [Pedro Severino] needs to be at third base.”
Severino wasn’t, but Zimmermann blamed himself.
“You can’t deny that changes the entire [complexion] of that inning,” Zimmermann said. “It’s been a while since we had to run bunt plays like that, and that’s completely on me for not being at third base. Definitely would have made it a lot easier having [Leon] on second base.
“In the grand scheme of things, a base hit is going to score him regardless from second or third. As locking in to the rest of the inning, that was the same, but it was just a mental lapse on my end. I’ve got to be better than that with the bunt plays.
“You don’t see a lot of those. Obviously, we’re playing an NL team, but still have to be aware of that and make that play.”
Zimmermann then came up big by striking out Jazz Chisholm for the second out with an excellent curveball. He walked Miguel Rojas on four pitches, bringing first baseman Jesus Aguilar to the plate. After lining a fastball foul, Aguilar powered another fastball to deep center, scoring Leon and Rojas.
“It’s a tough one to swallow, especially after battling back against Chisholm, and getting that punchout,” Zimmermann said. “I really want to get out of that, but I should have made a better pitch there.”
Cole Sulser replaced Zimmermann and allowed a run-scoring single to Adam Duvall, and the Orioles trailed, 3-0, on a day when the margin seemed even bigger.
Zimmermann, who’s 1-2 with a 4.57 ERA, allowed three runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking two.
“He just ran into trouble there in the fifth,” Hyde said. “Was one out away from getting out of that fifth inning, really nice punchout of Chisholm, then lost control with Rojas. I’m not sure what happened there.
“I thought he threw the ball well, kept us in the game. Zeroes up until that fifth inning, was a strike away from getting out of the fifth with another zero.”
Rogers (2-1) allowed just four hits in seven innings, and the Orioles got only one runner to second when Franco doubled to start the second. Rogers struck out eight and walked one.
“He’s been difficult on every team he’s faced, and you can see why,” Hyde said. “It’s a left-hander that throws from a tough angle. The ball jumps out of his hand. It’s mid-90s, but it plays up. He’s got command. He’s got good offspeed stuff. He was attacking the strike zone on us. You saw a lot of early outs. He had really good stuff today. We knew that going in.”
The Orioles were shut out for the second time in three games and are 8-10.
“What lost us the game was we didn’t score,” Hyde said. “We lost two games on the road trip and were shut out on both.”
Notes: The Orioles begin a seven-game homestand on Friday night against the Oakland Athletics. Jorge López (1-2, 8.56 ERA) will face Cole Irvin (1-2, 4.60). The Orioles haven’t named their pitchers for Saturday or Sunday. Oakland is scheduled to start Chris Bassitt (1-2, 4.43) on Sunday. … Cedric Mullins was rested for the first time this season. Hays started in center. … The Orioles are 3-14 in Miami.