Two hours before the Orioles would lose their seventh straight game and their 18th in a row on the road behind shoddy fundamentals, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias talked about other issues regarding the team.
He revealed that last year’s top draft choice, Heston Kjerstad, who has myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle — has suffered a setback in his attempt to play this season. That 2017’s first-round pick, left-hander DL Hall, will be shut down for a while because of soreness in his left elbow. And that manager Brandon Hyde won’t be judged on where the team finishes in the standings this season.
That’s a good thing for Hyde. The bad thing is that he had to watch an unsightly third inning when the Cleveland Indians scored five runs on their way to an 8-7 win over the Orioles at Progressive Field on Wednesday night. It included another overthrow of a cutoff man and an embarrassing rundown gaffe that Hyde described as “botched.”
Fans won’t soon forget the image of José Ramirez getting out of a rundown between first and second and somehow winding up on third base as several Orioles became spectators instead of fielding their position.
The broken rundown and breakdown weren’t all that went wrong. Starter Keegan Akin (0-2) allowed eight runs in 5 2/3 innings, the last two of which were inherited runners who scored when Hunter Harvery gave up a triple to the first batter he faced. In that third inning, the first six Cleveland (37-28) batters reached base, and five scored. But it was the Ramirez play that stands out for a team that is in search of fundamentals.
The Orioles (22-45) haven’t won a road game since May 5th when John Means, who’s in Sarasota, Florida rehabbing a strained left shoulder, pitched a no-hitter. They were 15-16 after that win. Since then, they’re 7-29.
Their 18 consecutive road losses are four away from the record set by the 1963 New York Mets and 1943 Philadelphia Athletics. They have just one more game on this awful trip to Tampa Bay and Cleveland before they return home for six games with Toronto and Houston.
The Orioles hadn’t scored more than four runs or had more than seven hits in their previous six losses. They had seven runs on 12 hits, and had strong offensive performances from Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle, who each had three hits.
Mountcastle drove in four runs, with run-scoring singles in the first and third, and a two-run home run in the fifth.
The Orioles led, 3-1, going into the bottom of the third.
Bradley Zimmer singled and César Hernandez walked. Amed Rosario singled to left, and DJ Stewart’s throw home missed the cutoff man and allowed Zimmer to score and the runners to advance to second and third.
Ramirez singled to right, scoring Hernandez and Rosario but was caught in a rundown between first and second. Mancini cut off Austin Hays’ throw from right field and tossed the ball to shortstop Freddy Galvis, who started to chase Ramirez toward first and threw to Pat Valaika.
But when Ramirez changed direction and started to run toward second and away from Valaika, there was no one covering the base. Galvis had stepped out of the basepath and third baseman Maikel Franco was moving toward second but wasn’t there when Ramirez reached the base.
Ramirez then saw that no one was covering third and took that base, too.
“We didn’t do many things right on that,” Hyde said. “We didn’t follow our first throw. We stood around a little bit [at] second base, and kind of botched [it]. We’ve got to follow our throw. We’ve got to follow, and we can’t be standing around. You’ve got to make it at second base.”
Harold Ramirez and Eddie Rosario followed with RBI doubles, and the Orioles trailed, 6-3.
Mountcastle’s home run brought the Orioles within 6-5.
“It’s been a rough little stretch here, but we’ve just got to keep on coming out and playing hard every day and we’re going to come to the field tomorrow with a good attitude and try to keep moving forward,” Mountcastle said.
Hernandez’s two-run triple put Cleveland up, 8-5. RBI singles by Austin Hays and Maikel Franco brought the Orioles to 8-7 in the seventh, but pinch-hitter Anthony Santander struck out on a pitch out of the strike zone to end the Orioles’ final threat.
Akin showed composure after the disastrous third by retiring 11 straight batters. He struck out seven.
“Definitely one of the weirder outings that I’ve had,” Akin said. “It kind of happened pretty quick there in the third inning. I felt like I had all my stuff. It was one of those nights where it didn’t pan out, it didn’t work out.”
James Karinchak retired all three Orioles in the eighth, and Emmanuel Clase picked up his 11th save when he set the Orioles down in order in the ninth.
Adam Civale (10-2) allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings.
Notes: Hays’ single broke an 0-for-19 stretch. … Jorge López (2-7, 5.64 ERA) will start against Eli Morgan (0-1, 20.25) on Thursday at 1:10 p.m. … Norfolk released outfielder JC Encarnacion and infielder Wilbis Santiago. Encarnacion was acquired from Atlanta in the trade for Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day on July 31, 2018.
Elias on the rebuild: “I wish that there was a quicker and surer and easy option than this for the Baltimore Orioles to get back to the playoffs, especially in our division, but I know that there isn’t.
“I’m going to continue to do what is right and necessary and disciplined to get us there. It’s not going to go perfectly. I’m going to make some bad decisions. We’re going to have some bad luck, we’re going to have some good luck, we’re going to have some good decisions, and we want our approach to be sound so that over time, with all these little decisions we make over and over and all the things that happen, we come out ahead. And we’re moving along there.”
Elias on reports of housing issues for minor league players: On Tuesday night, there was a tweet from, Advocates for Minor Leaguers that claimed that multiple members of the Bowie Baysox were considering sleeping in their cars because the team wasn’t paying for their housing.
Because of the pandemic, the team paid for housing in Bowie for the first few weeks of the home season.
Elias denied that there was an issue.
“It was a tweet with some reference to hearsay and any information there was not accurate. I can assure you all our players in Bowie have accommodations, all of our players. I can’t verify anything that was in there based on that. This is actually a topic that all of us in the organization have been very proud of, the approach in the organization so far, especially in this coronavirus period of time.
“We have kept all of our scouts and coaches on staff on payroll. We kept paying minor leaguers last summer and actually if you scroll down in the tweet, we were receiving praise a few weeks ago for being one of the teams to extend some extra accommodation funding into this part of the summer. And we’ve been making a lot of strides in this area. We’re providing extra buses this year, a lot of extra funding across player development year over year.
“So our players did know and continue to know that we’re available to them should they have any types of hardships arise. It does happen from time to time and we handle them quietly from time to time. We’re here as a resource to them, we’re here to help them.”
Minor Matters: In his first Triple-A start, left-hander Kevin Smith allowed five runs, three earned, on six hits in 4 1/3 innings as the Norfolk Tides lost to Durham, 7-5.
Smith, who had a 1.04 ERA at Bowie, struck out four and walked two.
Centerfielder Ryan McKenna had four hits, including his third home run, and leftfielder Domingo Leyba continued his hot hitting. Leyba had two hits and drove in three. Since he was acquired on waivers from Arizona on June 3rd, Leyba is batting .357 with a 1.114 OPS.
Ofelky Peralta, David Lebron and Tim Naughton combined on a six-hit shutout as Double-A Bowie beat the Akron Rubberducks, 1-0. Peralta (3-0) worked five innings and allowed five hits. Lebron gave up one hit in three innings.
First baseman Adley Rutschman had two hits.
Designated hitter J.D. Mundy, centerfielder Zach Watson and first baseman Andrew Daschbach each had two hits in Low-A Aberdeen’s 7-5 loss to Asheville.
Left-hander Ryan Wilson (1-2) allowed three runs in the first inning.
Right-hander Zach Peek (1-2) allowed three runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings as Low-A Delmarva lost to Salem, 8-5. Peek was one of four pitchers acquired by the Orioles in the trade of Dylan Bundy to the Los Angeles Angels in December 2019.
Leftfielder Dylan Harris had three hits and three RBIs. Shortstop Gunnar Henderson had two hits and scored two runs. Henderson is batting .331 with a 1.002 OPS.