After a poor weekend in Tampa Bay, the Orioles have a four-game losing streak. That might not seem like much in this season of losing streaks, but it’s the fourth skid of at least four in a row.
The Orioles’ 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Sunday was also their 15th straight on the road, a club record, and the sixth straight to the Rays this season.
They’ve been swept in five consecutive road series. Since John Means pitched a no-hitter on May 5th, they’re 7-26.
Starter Bruce Zimmermann (4-4) allowed three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Travis Lakins and César Valdez each were charged with two runs — Valdez yielding a grand slam.
“I was impressed with his pitch mix,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Zimmermann. “Again the changeup wasn’t his best today, but he did a nice job navigating through the lineup, went to his slider in big spots, got some outs, and went into the sixth inning, and gave us a chance. But we just didn’t score.”
The Orioles just didn’t hit. On Sunday, they managed just two hits — a first-inning single by leadoff hitter DJ Stewart and an RBI single by Pat Valaika in the second. For the series, they had just 11 hits.
Josh Fleming (6-4) pitched four hitless innings for the win. He walked one. Michael Wacha was the opener for Tampa Bay (42-24) and allowed the Orioles’ run in two innings.
Matt Wisler, Andrew Kittredge and Jeffrey Springs each pitched perfect innings against an offense that suddenly has gone stagnant again after appearing to get rolling with 18 runs last Sunday and 10 more on Tuesday.
In the three games at Tampa Bay, the Orioles (22-42) had just two hits in 14 1/3 innings against the Rays’ bullpen.
Austin Hays led off the second with a walk, took second on Freddy Galvis’ bunt and third on Maikel Franco’s infield out before scoring on Valaika’s single to left.
In the third, Tampa’s Taylor Walls led off with a single to left, stole second and, after Brett Phillips walked, moved to third on Manuel Margot’s force play. He scored on Yandy Diaz’s single to tie it at 1.
Walls drove in Brandon Lowe and Francisco Mejia, and the Orioles were down for the count, 3-1.
Zimmermann threw 95 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits, walking three and striking out three. He gave himself a B-minus.
“That’s a really tough Rays team, scrappy as hell,” Zimmermann said. “You get them on base, and they’ll run. You get them at the plate and, like you saw today, they’ll put anything in play. Tough at-bats, all the way, one through nine.
“I thought I battled well, got a little unlucky there in the fourth with some soft contact. I also had some really nice plays from my infielders today, Nice throw by [catcher Austin] Wynns. Just got to do a better job of getting ahead. I felt like I was nibbling a little bit today.
“It was a grind … I definitely didn’t have my best stuff but, with what I had and the guys behind me, I thought I did a decent enough job. I expect more out of myself, though, to get through that sixth inning, hopefully next time.”
Phillips walked and Margot singled against Lakins. Margot took second on a throwing error by Hays in center field. Valdez replaced Lakins. Austin Meadows was walked intentionally, and Randy Arozarena hit a grand slam for the final margin.
It was the second time the Orioles had been held to two hits. The other time came on May 20th in a 10-1 loss to the Rays.
“It’s difficult, man, difficult,” Galvis said. “We have to come in here every single day to try to do the best that we can to win the game. That’s what we want to do. We have keep fighting, keep practicing, try to get better.
“On the homestand, we played good, and now we lost [four] in a row. It’s time to get back, and go to Cleveland, turn the page and try to get some games there.”
Notes: Centerfielder Cedric Mullins was given the day off. Mullins had played in the Orioles’ first 63 games. … After the game, the Orioles optioned Lakins to Triple-A Norfolk. It’s likely that Dean Kremer will be recalled from Norfolk to start Monday’s game in Cleveland. The Indians have scheduled J.C. Mejia (1-1, 4.15 ERA). Matt Harvey (3-7, 7.41), Keegan Akin (0-1, 4.13) and Jorge López (2-7, 5.64) will pitch against Cal Quantril (0-2, 3.21), Aaron Civale (9-2, 3.17) and Triston McKenzie (1-3, 6.38) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday’s game begins at 1:10 p.m. … Since July 2017, the Orioles are 6-23 at Tropicana Field. They’ve lost 10 straight series, including four series sweeps.