In many of the Orioles’ 13 straight losses, they’ve been in the game. In six of them, they’ve lost by a run or two. On Sunday, they ended a winless 10-game road trip with a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The 13 consecutive losses tie for the third-longest losing streak in club history. The 12 straight road losses are one short of the team record.
Their pitching wasn’t bad. Starter Keegan Akin allowed a home run to Billy Hamilton in the third inning while pitching 4 2/3 innings. Akin wasn’t economical, throwing 94 pitches, allowing five hits and the run. He walked two and struck out four.
Two runs scored against reliever Dillon Tate (0-3) in the seventh, but it was the Orioles’ offense that again failed to produce.
DJ Stewart homered against Lucas Giolito (5-4) in the top of the third, but they had only two other hits, both by Cedric Mullins — a third-inning triple and sixth-inning bunt single.
In the four-game sweep by the White Sox (32-20), the Orioles couldn’t get a hit when it mattered. They were 0-for-24 with runners in scoring position.
“Another close game, we just don’t score enough runs,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We held a good club to three runs. That’s a win on most nights. We’re lacking the big hit in the big spot.”
Adam Plutko relieved Akin with two outs and two on in the fifth and walked José Abreu to load the bases. Yermín Mercedes hit a hard grounder to short on which Freddy Galvis made an excellent stop. He threw to second for the forceout, and the Orioles (17-36) were out of a jam.
“I thought Keegan was outstanding,” Hyde said. “I had him scheduled for four innings. For him to go into the fifth inning, that was impressive. He almost got through that fifth inning. He threw the ball well. He had really good life to his fastball.
“That’s a really good lineup. That’s a playoff-type lineup. I thought he did a nice job in his first start.”
Plutko and Sulser combined for a scoreless sixth. Tate’s first batter, Tim Anderson, singled softly to begin the seventh. Anderson stole second, and Tate’s errant pickoff throw sent him to third.
Nick Madrigal tripled to score Anderson, and Yoan Mocada singled, and the Orioles were down, 3-1.
“[Tate] didn’t execute there defensively,” Hyde said. “He didn’t execute the inside move, which he had an easy out there. It ended up being the winning run.”
Giolito allowed a run on three hits in seven innings, striking out 12 and walking one. Garrett Crochet and Liam Hendriks retired the last six Orioles hitters, with Hendriks earning his 13th save.
“We faced some really good pitching in this series,” Hyde said. “That’s a lights-out bullpen, a really good rotation. They played really well.”
Akin showed a lack of control in spring training and didn’t make the team to begin the season. With Dean Kremer at Triple-A Norfolk, Akin got the start.
“I was pretty happy with it, with it being my first time out as a starter this year,” Akin said. “Obviously, some things I need to take away and learn from it, like the two walks there back-to-back, and attacking hitters a little better than I did.
“Try to stay out of the three-ball counts as much as possible. That way, I can start getting deeper in the game, get into that sixth inning. Overall, I was happy with it. I wish I could have gotten through five. I get it. The circumstances, high pitch count, a little bit better matchup with Plutko. I totally understand it. I’m OK with it.”
Akin was asked about the losing streak.
“Some guys are just pressing a little bit,” he said. “I don’t think we’re playing bad baseball … got to get on the right page and go from there.”
On Monday, the Orioles return home to play the Minnesota Twins. They have not only a 13-game losing streak, but a 15-game slide against the Twins. Their last win against Minnesota came on March 31, 2018.
“We’ve got to continue to push. We’re in almost every game,” Hyde said. “The majority of the games are right there for us in the sixth, seventh, eighth inning. We’re hanging around. We’re not quitting. We’re competing, so I’m happy about that. We could use a three-run homer big-time, in a big spot.”
Notes: The Orioles’ last three-run home run came on May 5th in Seattle when Trey Mancini hit one. … Mancini returned after missing three games because of a bruised right elbow. He was hitless in three at-bats. … Anthony Santander’s 11-game hitting streak ended.
Coming up: Jorge López (1-6, 5.80 ERA) will face José Berrios (5-2, 3.67) on Monday. Bruce Zimmermann (2-3, 5.15) will face Michael Piñeda (3-2, 2.62) on Tuesday. … Oriole Park will open to its full capacity on Tuesday night. … The Orioles haven’t named a starter for Wednesday against Randy Dobnak (1-4, 6.49).
Hyde said he would not consider using John Means on three days’ rest on Wednesday. Means and Matt Harvey started Saturday’s doubleheader.
“We have an unusual schedule coming up with three offdays (June 3rd, 7th and 10th). We’re still working through what the rotation is going to look like. That day might be a bullpen day. That day might be an opener, or it might be somebody from Triple-A.
“Rainouts are nice at times, but it really screws your pitching up going forward from how to plan it out. That’s something we’re going to talk about the next few days, that third day against Minnesota.”
Hunter Harvey’s return: Hunter Harvey is eligible to come off the 60-day injured list on Monday, but Hyde isn’t sure that the right-hander reliever, who’s been out because of a sore left oblique ,will be with the team then.
Harvey is 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in three rehab outings at Triple-A Norfolk.
“We’re still taking a look at some things,” Hyde said. “He might make one more appearance there, we’ll see.”
Minor Matters: The Orioles promoted infielders Jordan Westburg and J.D. Mundy from Low-A Delmarva to High-A Aberdeen. Westburg was the 30th overall pick in last year’s draft. Mundy signed as an undrafted free agent.
Outfielder Johnny Rizer, their seventh-round pick in 2019, and right-handed pitcher Blaine Knight, the Orioles’ third-round selection in 2018, move up from Aberdeen to Double-A Bowie.
The Baysox swept a doubleheader from Harrisburg. Mike Baumann started the first game, a 6-5 Bowie win in eight innings, and allowed one run on two hits in three innings.
DL Hall allowed just one hit in five scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking three in the second game, an 8-2 win.
Adley Rutschman hit a pair of three-run home runs, one in each game, and drove in seven runs in the doubleheader.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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