The Orioles got off to a good start against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. Centerfielder Cedric Mullins led off with his 21st home run. With two outs, rightfielder Austin Hays singled, stole second and scored on a single by designated hitter Pedro Severino.
The Orioles wouldn’t score again until the seventh and by then the Rays had scored seven times on the way to an 8-4 victory at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The loss was the Orioles’ 14th in a row.
It’s the second time this year the Orioles (38-81) have lost 14 straight, which equals the second-longest streak in team history. Only in the 1988 season, when the Orioles started 0-21, was there a longer losing streak.
“It’s hard. It’s not easy, no doubt about it,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “What’s disappointing is we’re having a tough time getting people out. We’re not scoring a ton of runs. Tonight’s game was fairly close, and it got away from us in the sixth [when the Rays scored three times to take a 7-2 lead].”
Of the 14 losses, three have been by 10 runs or more, and only one has been by two runs. The Orioles have been outscored, 131-40.
“We’re not in many games right now. That’s very, very hard,” Hyde said.
Mullins’ home run was his sixth to lead off a game.
“There’s a lot of stuff not going our way,” Mullins said. “We’re not helping by creating our own problems out there.”
Ji-Man Choi’s two-run single against Oriole starter Spenser Watkins tied the score at 2 in the first.
Brandon Lowe’s RBI single and Wander Franco’s double that scored Lowe gave Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead in the fourth.
Watkins (2-5) allowed four runs on eight hits in four innings. After two wins in his first three starts and a 1.65 ERA, Watkins has lost five straight and his ERA is 5.63.
“Guys make adjustments. This is the big leagues,” Watkins said. “They make adjustments. They make them fast.”
Ryan Yarbrough (7-4) replaced Tampa Bay opener Louis Head in the second inning, and he pitched five scoreless innings, allowing one hit.
Oriole reliever Paul Fry entered the game in the sixth and, after an error by Ramon Urias at second base allowed Francisco Mejia to reach, Fry walked Kevin Kiermaier and Lowe.
Dillon Tate replaced Fry and, with the bases loaded, Franco drove in Mejia with an infield single. Sacrifice flies by Nelson Cruz and Austin Meadows gave Tampa Bay (74-47) a 7-2 lead.
“We’re having a really tough time out of the ‘pen against the lineups we’re facing,” Hyde said. “We have guys that I’ve been using for the majority of the year in high-leverage spots that I’m trying to get going in low-leverage spots, trying to get some confidence, trying to get them to feel good.”
One-out singles by Mateo, Maikel Franco and Austin Wynns led to an Oriole run in the seventh. Anthony Santander, who wasn’t in the starting lineup because of a sore ankle, pinch-hit for shortstop Richie Martin and popped out.
Ryan Mountcastle’s 20th home run against former Oriole Shawn Armstrong cut the lead to 7-4 in the eighth. It extended Mountcastle’s hitting streak to 10 games.
Meadows’ RBI double against Cesar Valdez scored Keirmaier in the bottom of the inning to close out the scoring.
“Every guy that takes the ball each day or steps in the box each day wants to be a part of the solution,” Watkins said. “I don’t think anybody is stressing more than others, either … Each day is the same. You have a new chance to win. I don’t think I’m putting more pressure on myself. I’ve got to be better to give our team a better chance.”
Notes: Trey Mancini (sore calf) and DJ Stewart (sore knee) also weren’t in the Orioles’ starting lineup, with Jorge Mateo getting a start in left field. … The Orioles are 1-14 against the Rays. Watkins was the winning pitcher in the only Orioles win. They’ve lost 20 of their last 22 to Tampa Bay. … Jorge Lopez (3-13, 6.14 ERA) will face Shane McClanahan (7-4, 3.83) on Thursday afternoon at 1:10 p.m.
Minor league update: Adley Rutschman hit his first home run for Triple-A Norfolk in the Tides’ 9-5 loss to Charlotte in the first game of a doubleheader. Rutschman went 3-for-4.
Second baseman Jahmai Jones hit a three-run home run, his ninth.
Mikie Mahtook hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to break the 5-5 tie and win it against Manny Barreda (1-1).
Reliever Hunter Harvey allowed a run on three hits in a rehab appearance.
Dean Kremer pitched three scoreless innings in relief, allowing two hits, striking out two and walking one as Charlotte won the second game of the doubleheader, 6-5, in eight innings.
Mike Baumann started and pitched only one inning. Baumann threw 39 pitches, giving up two runs on three hits, walking two.
Third baseman Rylan Bannon continued his hot hitting with his 10th home run. Centerfielder Ryan McKenna hit his seventh.
Wilmington scored four runs in the top of the 10th inning to beat High-A Aberdeen, 10-6.
Second baseman Terrin Vavra went 1-for-4 on a rehab assignment. He’s been out because of a back injury. Shortstop Gunnar Henderson had an RBI double.
Shortstop Darrel Hernaiz drove in two runs as Low-A Delmarva beat Fredericksburg, 3-1.
Left-hander Ty Blach threw two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in a rehab start. Jensen Elliott (3-1) pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits.
Double-A Bowie was rained out at Reading. They’ll play a doubleheader on Saturday.
Norfolk announced its 2022 schedule. The Tides again will play six-game series with Mondays off, except for July 4th and September 19th.
The Tides will begin the season at home against Charlotte on April 5th and concludes on September 21st at Durham.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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