SAN DIEGO—When the Orioles acquired starting pitcher Jack Flaherty from the St. Louis Cardinals at the August 1st trade deadline, they were expecting solid performances from a dependable veteran.
In his first start, he allowed a run on four hits in six innings in Toronto, and in his second, he gave up three runs on six hits in five against Houston.
His third start was worse, much worse. Flaherty gave up seven runs on four hits and walked four while throwing 84 pitches over just three innings as the Orioles lost to the San Diego Padres, 10-3, before an announced crowd of 35,604 at Petco Park on Tuesday night.
Despite the loss, the Orioles (74-56) maintained their three-game lead in the American League East because the Tampa Bay Rays lost at San Francisco, 7-0.
Flaherty (8-8) allowed five runs in the first inning when he walked three in a row. The third was Jake Cronenworth, whose bases-loaded walk scored Ha-Seong Kim. Gary Sánchez’s grand slam made it 5-0.
“His command just wasn’t there from the start,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Tough time landing his breaking balls. It seemed like a lot of breaking balls were down and out of the zone.”
Manny Machado’s two-run double that skipped past leftfielder Austin Hays put the Orioles behind 7-0, and after Flaherty threw a 1-2-3 inning in the third, Hyde decided to send Nick Vespi out for the fourth.
“Just a bad night. Didn’t execute like I wanted to. It happens,” Flaherty said. “When you don’t execute against guys like that, things happen. It wasn’t just one thing … I didn’t do a good job on the mound.”
It was Flaherty’s shortest start since May 4th when he lasted just 2 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels.
“It started the second out there pretty good, and it turned into a long one,” Flaherty said. “After you have a long first, you still have a lot of ground to make up for. I didn’t do a good job in the second. I was able to do that in the third, but at that point, I had already thrown a lot of pitches in a short amount of time.
“I don’t believe in flush and forget. I take it. It doesn’t mean you have to reinvent everything. You understand what went on and make adjustments from there, but it’s not always about reinventing the wheel. You make small adjustments.”
Vespi allowed two hits in the fourth, and in the fifth, he gave up doubles to Xander Bogaerts, Garrett Cooper and Ben Gamel, and the Padres (57-63) led, 10-0.
Padres starter Michael Wacha (9-2) allowed just three hits in five scoreless innings.
“He’s always had a great changeup from his Cardinals days. He’s got a nice cutter now, and he can reach back for his four-seamer and get in the mid-90s,” Hyde said.
Cedric Mullins’ single against Steven Wilson in the sixth scored Ryan O’Hearn, who had doubled, for the Orioles’ first run.
Hays hit his 11th home run and Gunnar Henderson’s RBI single brought in two runs for the Orioles.
Reserve catcher James McCann pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth inning.
“I was happy he got the ground balls to get out of the inning,” Hyde said. “When I gave him the nod ‘like are you willing to do it?’ I didn’t sense the excitement, but he had a smile on his face coming off the mound so that was nice. That was the best part of the game.”
Minor league update: John Means allowed four runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings in his second rehab start as Double-A Bowie lost to Altoona, 8-4. Means walked two and struck out four, throwing 45 pitches.
Catcher Silas Ardoin had three hits.
Drew Rom, who was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Flaherty, allowed just one hit in six scoreless innings as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Memphis, 3-0. The Tides had just three hits.
Trace Bright allowed one run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings as High-A Aberdeen beat Wilmington, 8-6.
Bright (2-5) struck out eight and walked two. Shortstop Frederick Bencosme and designated hitter Samuel Basallo each had three hits and drove in two runs.
Centerfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. had two hits and stole two bases in Single-A Delmarva’s 6-2 loss to Salem.
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions in the next several days. Please email them to: Rich@Balt