BALTIMORE—Orioles manager Brandon Hyde needed a starter for Saturday night’s game against the Oakland A’s. Keegan Akin wasn’t available after cutting his left index finger in a kitchen accident. Dean Kremer isn’t eligible to return from the alternate training site at Bowie until Wednesday.
That left Wade LeBlanc as the logical alternative. LeBlanc, who hadn’t started since he broke his elbow last August 23rd and has pitched infrequently in the bullpen, got the start and was able to retire just five batters while allowing seven to reach in a game Oakland would win, 7-2, for its 13 consecutive victory.
After the game, it was learned that the Orioles will designate LeBlanc for assignment on Sunday and promote rookie left-hander Zac Lowther from the alternate site at Bowie. MASNsports.com was first to report the move, which was confirmed by an industry source,
Lowther, 24, is the No. 11 prospect in the system, according to MLBPipeline.com. The Orioles selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft out of Xavier University. He has a 2.26 ERA in 326 minor league innings and is averaging 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
On a rainy Saturday night, the Athletics scored four runs against LeBlanc, who didn’t get much help.
In the top of the first, LeBlanc gave up a leadoff double to Mark Canha, who moved to third on Jed Lowrie’s fly to deep right. Matt Olson’s popup to short right eluded second baseman Rio Ruiz, and Canha scored. A messy force play on a grounder by Matt Chapman extended the inning.
“I thought we didn’t help him out in the first inning,” Hyde said. “He got like five outs there in the first. Give him credit for battling through that first inning and only giving up one run with a couple of missed plays and bad luck there. He gave up three there in the second. I think if the first inning went a little cleaner, then it’s a different story.”
LeBlanc didn’t make it out of the second. With one out, he walked Mitch Moreland. Elvis Andrus singled, and Canha’s two-run double made it 3-0. With two outs, Olson’s double scored Canha, and LeBlanc left in favor of Tyler Wells, trailing 4-0.
“They just jumped on a couple of mistakes,” catcher Chance Sisco said. “Not sure if he felt like he had the good command he usually has. They capitalized on a couple of pitches that were in the middle of the plate, and that’s kind of the way it works.”
LeBlanc knew what wasn’t working.
“Not being able to get the ball to my glove side, into righties, away from lefties, that’s going to be the pitch that opens everything up for me,” LeBlanc said. “Unfortunately tonight, it wasn’t there from pretty much the get-go.”
Pedro Severino, who was the Orioles’ designated hitter on Saturday, led off with a double to left in the second against Chris Bassitt. With two outs, Sisco’doubled off the first base bag, scoring Severino. After Cedric Mullins walked, Sisco was thrown out trying to take third on a pitch to Trey Mancini that ricocheted off the backstop.
Andrus singled against Wells to start the fourth. He hit Canha with a pitch, and Lowrie hit his third home run of the season to right field to make it 7-1.
Wells, who hadn’t pitched since April 11th, gave up the three-run home run in two innings.
“We’ve been playing so many close games that trying to find a spot to get him in, just because I want to get him comfortable in the big leagues,” Hyde said. “We’ve been pitching well out of the bullpen and staying in games Tonight, the game got out of hand early, and that was his opportunity. He picked us up, getting us some outs.”
Shawn Armstrong, Adam Plutko and Dillon Tate combined for 4 1/3 perfect innings. Tanner Scott retired the first two batters in the ninth, then walked the bases loaded. He threw two balls to Stephen Piscotty before crew chief Laz Diaz called the grounds crew to manicure the mound because of the wet conditions. After a drying compound was applied, Scott struck out Piscotty.
Mancini’s run-scoring double in the fifth gave the Orioles their final run.
Bassitt allowed two runs on eight hits in six innings.
The Orioles outhit Oakland for the second straight night but had just three singles in the last 4 2/3 innings.
Notes: John Means will start against Jesús Luzardo on Sunday at 1:05. … The Orioles are 8-12 but 1-8 at home. The one home win is the fewest in the majors. There was an announced crowd of 7,616 at Camden Yards Saturday … Sisco’s double was his first extra-base hit of the season. He also had his first multi-hit game of the season.