BALTIMORE-In his first three starts, Spenser Watkins was the Orioles’ unlikeliest feel-good story of 2021 — a 30th-round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers from Western Oregon who trudged his way through the minor leagues.
Watkins allowed just three runs in those starts, but the Miami Marlins matched that total in the second inning as the Orioles lost, 7-3, before an announced crowd of 10,098 at Camden Yards on Tuesday night.
The loss broke the Orioles’ sixth three-game winning streak of the season. They’re 34-65.
Miami had 15 hits against Watkins, Shaun Anderson, Adam Plutko and Conner Greene.
Sandy Léon hit a three-run home run that landed on Eutaw Street in the second off Watkins to give Miami (44-57) a 3-0 lead.
Watkins (2-1) loaded the bases in the third but got out of the inning when Isan Diaz grounded to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle.
Miami scored in the fourth on three singles. Starling Marte’s single scored Léon.
In four innings, Watkins allowed four runs on nine hits, walking one and striking out one. His ERA rose from 1.65 to 2.10.
“The biggest separation was the feel for the offspeed,” Watkins said. “We’ve been working on a few things, tweaking as we do throughout the season and trying to find that consistent feel was a little bit a search for me rather than having it from pitch one.”
Watkins is looking forward to his next start Sunday against Detroit.
“Find that grip, find that feel,” he said. “I wouldn’t sit here and say I took a step back by any means.”
Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings. Austin Hays’ 10th home run in the fourth was the Orioles’ first hit. Trey Mancini doubled to right and, with one out, was doubled off second on DJ Stewart’s liner to second baseman Isan Diaz.
Anderson served up Lewin Diaz’s second home run of the season to begin the fifth, and the Orioles were down, 5-1.
Cedric Mullins’ 17th home run began the Orioles’ sixth to cut the margin to 5-2. Brian Anderson’s fifth homer in the seventh put Miami ahead, 6-2.
After Stewart began the seventh with a double, Ramón Urias drove him in with a single, and Anthony Bass relieved Alcantara (6-9), who allowed three runs on six hits in six-plus innings.
“He’s a dude that has some movement on his fastball,” Mullins said. “It was just a matter of making adjustments, which I feel as a team we did, just couldn’t get them the way we wanted to.”
In the bottom of the eighth, Mullins led off with a single against Anthony Bender. After Hays struck out, Mancini doubled, with Mullins moving to third, but Mountcastle fouled out to right, and Stewart grounded to second.
“We faced Alcantara and he’s a number one, so he’s really good,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “This guy’s got a chance to be an elite pitcher in our league for a long time.”
Greene became the 48th player used by the Orioles when he made his major league debut in the eighth. Greene is the 12th Oriole to make his debut this season. He pitched the final two innings, allowing a run in the eighth on Jesús Aguilar’s RBI single.
After the game, he walked behind the backstop, chatting with fans and signing autographs.
“He was really amped up that first inning,” Hyde said. “We saw a bunch of 98 [mph] and 99s, I haven’t seen that before.
“I like the energy he brings on the mound. He’s definitely in the fight every single pitch. Our pitching staff, we’re having trouble with two outs.”
Notes: The Orioles signed right-handed pitcher Daniel Lloyd, their 14th -ound draft pick. They’ve signed their entire 21-player draft class. They’ve also signed four undrafted free agents — right-handed pitchers Carson Carter (Oklahoma), Daniel Federman (Miami) and Preston Price (Arizona) and catcher Logan Michaels (Virginia). … Jorge Lopez (2-12, 5.84 ERA) will face Jordan Holloway (2-3, 3.21) on Wednesday night. … For the Orioles’ four-game series in Detroit beginning Thursday night, Alexander Wells, Matt Harvey, John Means and Watkins are the scheduled pitchers.
Minor league update: Shortstop Mason McCoy hit a three-run home run and Konner Wade (3-1) gave up one run on three hits in six innings, striking out six as Triple-A Norfolk defeated Durham, 3-1.
The Tides had just two hits, both by McCoy, who also singled.
Cody Sedlock (3-2) pitched five strong innings, allowing a run on six hits, striking out seven and walking one as Double-A Bowie beat Richmond, 6-1. First baseman Toby Welk hit his seventh home run, a two-run shot. Shortstop Cadyn Grenier had three hits.
Ignacio Felix (0-2) allowed six runs in three innings as High-A Aberdeen lost to Bowling Green, 9-3.
In his first game since being promoted from the Florida Complex League, Jean Pinto allowed four runs, three earned, in four innings as Low-A Delmarva lost to Fredericksburg, 5-1.
Pinto (0-1) gave up just two hits but walked three and struck out eight.
The Shorebirds had just three hits.