BALTIMORE—On the night the Orioles wore their black City Connect jerseys for the first time, they allowed their most runs in an inning this season and were out of the game by the fourth inning.
The 12 runs the Orioles allowed were a season high, and the 10-run defeat to the Texas Rangers in a 12-2 loss before an announced crowd of 20,293 at Camden Yards on Friday weren’t a great way to begin a homestand after their triumphant 5-1 record on the six-game road trip to Toronto and New York.
After Oriole starter Grayson Rodriguez pitched five strong innings in an eventual 6-5 win at Toronto on Sunday, manager Brandon Hyde said it was his best start. He followed it with perhaps his worst.
“That’s what’s disappointing,” Hyde said. “His last start was so competitive, attacking in the strike zone, and even his misses were just off.
“A lot of fastballs up to left-handed hitters. You can out-stuff people below us, but here, even though your stuff is good, you’ve got to be able to command the baseball. He just had a few appearances where he wasn’t able to do that.”
Rodriguez allowed nine runs, eight earned, on six hits in 3 1/3 innings. The Rangers hit three home runs, two in the eight-run fourth.
“I let it snowball there in the [fourth],” Rodriguez said. “Didn’t make good pitches and had to pay for it.”
Leody Tavaras hit a two-run home run in the second, and Robbie Grossman hit a two-run homer in the fourth. Corey Seager’s grand slam put the Orioles behind, 9-1.
“There were a lot more mistakes made than the last start,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez (2-2) was also undone by some sloppy fielding in the fourth. Josh June, who had a possible home run taken away from him by centerfielder Cedric Mullins in the second, lined to rightfielder Anthony Santander, who misplayed the ball, but it was scored as a triple. Josh Smith followed with an RBI single, which was followed by Grossman’s home run.
After Grossman’s home run, Rodriguez walked Taveras and Sandy Léon singled. Marcus Semien grounded to shortstop, but Jorge Mateo booted it for an error, and then Seager hit a 437-foot grand slam.
Rodriguez’s ERA is 7.35, and he has alternated bad starts with good ones in his last six appearances.
“Throwing well to good teams, obviously the Rangers [are] one of the best teams in the league right now, just kind of the inconsistency is a little frustrating,” Rodriguez said. “We know it’s there. I’ve just got to go out there and do better than that.”
The Rangers (32-18), who lead the American League West, have the third-best record in baseball.
“That’s a really dangerous offensive team and they’re scoring a ton of runs,” Hyde said. “They’ve got some good veteran players … and I like some of their young players, too. It’s a good starting pitching staff, and they score a bunch of runs.”
Texas starter Jon Gray (4-2) allowed Adley Rutschman’s eighth home run with one out in the first, and only three more hits in seven innings.
Terrin Vavra’s infield single that scored Ryan O’Hearn in the eighth gave the Orioles (33-18) their second run, and in the ninth, Hyde used reserve outfielder Ryan McKenna to pitch. In his third career mop-up appearance, McKenna threw a host of pitches clocked at 35 mph and allowed two runs on four hits.
“That’s the last thing I want to do,” Hyde said. “Everybody hates it. I didn’t want to pitch [Bryan] Baker. I didn’t want to pitch anybody else. Down eight, if we score in that eighth inning, then Bake’s going to pitch … So I brought in the flamethrower throwing the shot put up there.”
Notes: McKenna, who pitched twice in 2022, was the first position player used by the Orioles to pitch this season. … Dean Kremer (5-1, 4.61) will face Andrew Heaney (3-2, 4.13) at 4:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Mike Elias on limiting innings for Rodriguez: “We’re just going to try to be smart about it. I mean that’s him, that’s [Tyler] Wells, that’s [Kyle] Bradish, that’s [Dean] Kremer. None of them had big full seasons last year. [Kyle] Gibson is really the only member of our current rotation who did. Cole Irvin did. Some other guys in Triple-A did. The first four that I mentioned were all hurt at one point and just didn’t rack up the innings.
“We can’t shut down four-fifths of our rotation in the middle of a playoff chase because they’re running out of innings. You can’t do it. We’re just going to be really smart about it with our medical staff, our pitching department and our strength and conditioning department on a start-to-start basis on, ‘Hey, what does this look like? What do you want to do tonight? Do you want to back them off a day?
“I just think we’re going to try to be smart and navigate this. We feel like we’re in this thing. These guys want to win. They don’t want to be taken out of the rotation because of innings, I’m sure. We’ll take it as it comes. There’s just so much that can happen. Somebody stubs a toe and they spend a month on the IL, their innings adjust themselves. We’ll see where we’re at every day.”
Minor league update: Bruce Zimmermann threw six shutout innings, giving up four hits, as Triple-A Norfolk beat Memphis, 7-2.
Zimmermann (2-3) struck out eight and walked three.
Second baseman Connor Norby had four hits and drove in three runs. He hit his fifth home run.
Carlos Tavera (1-2) threw five hitless innings as Double-A Bowie beat Akron, 3-2.
Tavera struck out five and walked two. Houston Roth recorded his first save, allowing two runs on four hits, striking out seven and walking two in four innings.
Third baseman Coby Mayo hit his seventh home run.
Third baseman Max Wagner hit a three-run home run, his seventh, as High-A Aberdeen beat Jersey Shore, 6-1.
Jean Pinto (1-1) pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits, striking out eight and walking one. Daniel Lloyd allowed a run on three hits in four innings, striking out five in earning his first save.
Alfred Vega (1-1) pitched five shutout innings, giving up four hits, as Single-A Delmarva beat Lynchburg, 5-0.
Catcher Creed Willems drove in two runs.