BALTIMORE—On the night Major League Baseball decided to begin inspecting pitchers’ caps and gloves for foreign substances, the Orioles were nearly the victims of a combined no-hitter by the Houston Astros.
Maikel Franco’s two-run home run with one out in the bottom of the eighth was the first Orioles’ hit in a 10-2 loss to the Astros before 7,414 at Oriole Park on a rainy Monday night.
Jake Odorizzi and Cristian Javier combined to no-hit the Orioles for seven innings. Brandon Bielek struck out DJ Stewart looking and hit Austin Hays with a pitch. Franco followed with his ninth home run to make it 10-2.
“We want to break up a no-hitter,” Franco said. “When that happened, everybody was excited.”
The game’s start was delayed by rain for an hour, and then by another 41 minutes in the top of the eighth. Franco’s hit came two minutes before midnight. By the time the game ended at nearly 12:30, perhaps 500 fans were left.
“That wasn’t very fun,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We struggled offensively and gave up 10 runs.”
Odorizzi (2-3) started against the Orioles (23-49) for the 20th time in his career,and retired the first 13 batters before Stewart walked in the fifth. Odorizzi struck out Hays, and Franco hit a foul pop to third that Abraham Toro caught after falling down between home and third.
In the first seven innings, Hays came the closest to a hit when he grounded to third and Toro’s throw barely beat him.
Odorizzi struck out nine in five innings. Javier struck out two in two innings.
Pedro Severino lined a ball to left that Alvarez moved in to catch for the second out of the sixth. Ryan Mountcastle hit a sinking line drive to centerfielder Myles Straw to end the seventh.
Houston (44-28) won for the eighth straight time and nearly had their third combined no-hitter in history.
Just one no-hitter has been thrown in the 30 seasons of Camden Yards. Boston’s Hideo Nomo no-hit the Orioles on April 4, 2001.
Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma was the last to no-hit the Orioles on August 12, 2015.
John Means threw a no-hitter for the Orioles in Seattle on May 5th.
Since Means’ no-hitter, the Orioles are 8-33, and they’ve lost 11 of 12.
Houston scored its five runs against Keegan Akin (0-3) in the third. Jason Castro doubled to lead off. Jose Altuve walked, and Chas McCormick singled to left, scoring Castro.
Hays’ throw from left eluded the cutoff man at third, Franco, who was out of position, enabling Altuve to move up to third and McCormick to second. Michael Brantley walked. Yuli Gurriel’s sacrifice fly to center scored Altuve, and Yordan Alvarez’s three-run home run, his 10th, made it 5-0.
Akkn allowed five runs on six hits in four-plus innings, walking four and striking out five. Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez and first base umpire Ted Barrett checked him after the first inning. Every pitcher was checked. Akin and Odorizzi were examined twice.
“It was pretty easy, honestly,” Akin said. “They just wanted to check your hat, your glove, your belt. Definitely different. I was kind of nervous the first time. I had nothing to worry about. It’s weird that we’ve gotten to that point. It’s good, though that they’re doing it.”
Houston scored two runs against Travis Lakins in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Gurriel and a run-scoring single by Carlos Correa.
Brantley’s two-run double, and Garrett Stubbs’ RBI double against Mac Sceroler put the Orioles behind 10-0. Then came Franco’s home run.
“It was a big relief when Maikel hit that home run,” Akin said. “You never want to get no-hit.”
The Orioles struck out 15 times.
“It was a disappointing game for us offensively,” Hyde said. “Unusual night, a pretty frustrating evening.”
Note: Jorge López (2-8, 5.95 ERA) will face Zack Greinke (7-2, 3.74) on Tuesday night.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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