BALTIMORE–The Orioles played better this weekend against the Atlanta Braves, but they still couldn’t win. Sunday’s 3-1 loss was their 18th straight, the longest in the major leagues since Kansas City dropped 19 in a row in 2005. The Orioles are three losses from tying their club record, when they began 1988 with 21 straight losses.
After being thoroughly outplayed in the first 15 games of the streak and being outscored, 138-42, they had chances in all three games of the series. On Friday, they were shut out, 3-0, when Max Fried tossed a complete game on just 90 pitches. Saturday’s loss was 5-4, which has been the only game decided by one run in the streak and featured four Oriole homers.
With John Means pitching on Sunday, the Orioles thought they had a good chance to end the streak, but a bad fourth inning cost him before an announced crowd of 11,180 at Camden Yards.
“I thought today was going to be the day,” Means said. “I felt good. I felt like things were going in our favor. It didn’t happen at the end of the day, so move on to the next one.”
The Orioles (38-85) were swept for the 16th time. They were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
“I’ve been pretty frustrated for a while,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “This has been a tough run, extremely tough.”
The Orioles have Monday off and will try to end the skid against former Oriole Dylan Bundy and the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
“I have no problem with our effort,” Hyde said. “We’re not winning games. We’re not executing. We’re very inexperienced. We got beat this series by good pitching. We just didn’t swing the bat well this series. We didn’t pitch very well last series.”
After allowing just one single in the first three innings, Means (5-6) allowed Jorge Soler’s 18th home run with one out in the fourth. Leftfielder DJ Stewart failed to catch Freddie Freeman’s drive that went for a double. With two outs, Means walked Dansby Swanson, and Adam Duvall’s two-run double put Atlanta ahead, 3-0. That was all the runs the Braves would need.
The Orioles had a scoring chance in the third against Touki Toussaint. With one out, Austin Wynns walked but Richie Martin struck out and, when Cedric Mullins doubled into the right-field corner, Wynns had to stop at third. Ryan Mountcastle grounded out to end the inning.
Trey Mancini doubled to start the fourth. He scored on a two-out double by Ramon Urias. Wynns struck to end the threat.
In the fifth, Martin led off with a single. Mullins lined out sharply to right, and Mountcastle ended the inning by hitting into a double play on a sharp ground ball.
“We’re not putting enough major league at-bats together,” Hyde said. “Atlanta’s got a nice pitching staff, and we just had a tough time getting the big hit.”
Touki Touissant (3-2) pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing a run on five hits.
Means left after he walked Swanson to start the seventh. He allowed three runs on four hits, walking two and striking out five. Means has won once in 12 starts since his no-hitter on May 5th.
“Still wasn’t great, but definitely a step in the right direction,” Means said.
With two outs in the seventh, Martin singled against Chris Martin. Tyler Matzek walked Mullins, and Mountcastle struck out, ending his 13-game hitting streak.
Luke Jackson struck out Mancini, Anthony Santander and Austin Hays in the eighth.
Urias led off the ninth with a double against Will Smith. Jorge Mateo struck out. Pedro Severino flied to center, and Maikel Franco struck out to end the game. Smith recorded his 28th save.
“I think we’ve been pressing pretty hard, honestly,” Means said. “I think everybody’s been trying to fix everything. We just need to relax and play the game and have fun again. It has not been a whole lot of fun lately, that’s for sure.”
Notes: After Monday’s offday, the Orioles play three games against the Los Angeles Angels. Spenser Watkins (2-5, 5.63 ERA) will face Bundy (2-9, 6.04) on Tuesday night. Hyde hasn’t decided on Wednesday’s starter against Shohei Ohtani (8-1, 2.79), who comes in with 40 home runs. On Thursday afternoon at 1:05, Keegan Akin (0-8, 7.92) will pitch for the Orioles. The Angels haven’t announced their starter. … Right-hander Cesar Valdez has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk. … The Orioles grounded into three double plays, equaling their season high. … Jorge Lopez pitched a scoreless ninth in his first outing since he was sent to the bullpen after Thursday’s abbreviated start. … High-A Aberdeen’s game with Wilmington was rained out.