The Orioles turned to ace John Means to pull them out of their longest losing streak in nearly 12 years. But even Means could not end the frustration.
Means allowed a pair of home runs and the Orioles were swept in a doubleheader against the White Sox, 3-1, on Saturday. The Orioles lost Game 1, 7-4.
The Orioles have lost 12 straight games, their longest streak since dropping 13 consecutive game in September 2009.
“This is hard. There is no doubt about it,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “This is very, very challenging. This is very difficult. It’s frustrating. It’s embarrassing at times.
“We want to be able to compete in the big leagues. We’re finding out about our guys. That’s the bottom line. We have some guys we wanted to look at this year. We’re finding out about them from an evaluation standpoint and that’s good.
“But you want to put a competitive product out on the field. We’re facing good clubs that are built to win with starting pitching that is good. We have a tough time scoring runs.”
The Orioles have lost 12 games in a row three times — in 1955, 2002 and 2004. Baltimore lost 13 straight games in 2009 and had 14 consecutive losses in 1954.
Baltimore’s record for consecutive losses occurred in 1988 when they opened the season with 21 straight defeats.
Hyde expected to have some growing pains with the rebuilding club, but he acknowledged that this stretch has been tough on everyone.
“I knew the job was going to be a lot of work and it was going to be a rebuilding process. I did understand that,” Hyde said. “I am frustrated a little bit because you want to give the fans of Baltimore something to look forward to and something to hang their hat on, something positive. John Means is doing that. Trey Mancini, what he has done for the last three years and you see what Santander has done. So those things are positive you want to kind of continue.
“I felt like we had momentum last year. We played pretty well in kind of a weird year, especially in that first month when teams weren’t quite ready to play. It kind of helped us out. We stayed competitive throughout the second month even though we lost a ton of games. We lost a lot of close games. We just didn’t have the bullets honestly to compete with those types of teams.
“Then this year, we got off to a decent start. We lost some games we should have won — .500ish. This has been a really tough stretch. No doubt. We look overmatched at times for me. We have a really tough time with good starting pitching. And we have to get better offensively. We have to get better up here. It’s just going to take a little while.”
Means (4-1) allowed three runs and five hits with four strikeouts and two walks in five innings.
“We had some difficult streaks for sure,” Means said. “This is probably right up there with the hardest one. I was hoping to pitch better to get the win. I should have pitched better, but I didn’t get it done today and I’ll try to do better next time.”
Anthony Santander went 1-for-3 and has hit safely in 11 straight games — the longest current hitting streak in the majors.
After a shaky 35-pitch first inning where he loaded the bases, Means buckled down and was dominant until Billy Hamilton hit a solo home run on a changeup in the fourth.
“I was rushing to get out front to be honest,” Means said about the first inning. “I wasn’t locating well. They were fouling pitches off, working counts deep. It just wasn’t going well and I was pulling most of my pitches.”
Chicago starter Lance Lynn threw five innings of three-hit ball with seven strikeouts and no walks. Lynn improved to 6-1 with a 1.37 ERA.
The Orioles managed to get runners on second and third in the fifth, but Lynn struck out Cedric Mullins to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jose Abreu delivered a two run-shot off Means for a 3-0 lead.
Aaron Bummer entered in the sixth for Chicago and loaded the bases on a leadoff walk to Freddy Galvis, a single by. Santander and another walk to D.J. Stewart.
Bummer was replaced by Codi Heuer, who gave the Orioles their first run by hitting Stevie Wilkerson. However, Heuer struck out Ryan Mountcastle and had a groundout by Chance Sisco to get out of the bases-loaded jam.
“We had an opportunity there in the sixth inning,” Hyde said. “Lynn pretty much dominated us through five. We’re just not getting big hits in big spots right now.”
Liam Hendriks struck out the side in the seventh for his 12th save.
“It’s hard to lose, no matter if you’re rebuilding or you’re trying to win a pennant,” Hyde said. “It does stack up. From a coaching staff standpoint, we’re honest but we also need to continue to pat guys on the back and kick guys in the butt. That’s our job and now it’s their job to perform.”
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