Orioles get swept by Astros as Suárez and offense falter - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles get swept by Astros as Suárez and offense falter

Photo Credit: Thomas Shea USA TODAY Sports

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What happened? After going two years without suffering a regular-season sweep, the Orioles were swept for the second time this season after being thumped by the Houston Astros, 8-1, on Sunday.

The Orioles came to Minute Maid Park after winning the final two of their three-game series against the New York Yankees and scored 11 runs in a 14-11 loss on Friday night. They scored 17 runs in their final game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, and after the 28 runs in two games, they’ve scored just two in the last two games.

The Orioles (49-28) trail the Yankees, who lost to the Braves on Sunday, by 1 ½ games in the American League East.

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Oriole starter Albert Suárez (3-2) had his second straight uneven start, allowing five runs on 10 hits in five innings, walking three and striking out three. The five runs equal a career high and the 10 hits are the most he’s ever allowed. Suárez gave up four runs in the first.

In his previous start against New York last Tuesday, Suárez allowed three runs on six hits, walking five in just 3 2/3 innings.

For the second straight game, Jordan Westburg provided the Orioles’ only offense. He hit his 13th home run in the sixth inning against Houston starter Framber Valdez (6-5). Valdez allowed the run on six hits in seven innings.

Houston (38-40) has won five straight.

What happened to Suárez? The Astros were aggressive against Suárez in the first inning. Jose Altuve homered on his first pitch, and they quickly scored four runs against him.

With manager Brandon Hyde trying to conserve his bullpen, Suárez made it through five innings, allowing the fifth run in the fifth inning.

Hyde told reporters in Houston that Suárez left pitches in the middle of the plate, and the Astros were aggressive.

What’s ahead for the rotation? The Orioles have lost three starting pitchers — John Means, Tyler Wells and Kyle Bradish — to season-ending elbow surgery. In addition, left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe will be out until perhaps September after surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow.

The Orioles’ top two starters, Corbin Burnes and Grayson Rodriguez, were beaten by Houston. They’d like to see Dean Kremer, who is on the 15-day injured list with a strained right triceps, return soon.

However, his second rehab start on Saturday night for Triple-A Norfolk against Lehigh Valley didn’t go well. Kremer threw 39 pitches in the first inning, recording just two outs and allowing five runs on five hits, including two home runs. He walked one and struck out one.

“He didn’t last very long, so that was unfortunate,” Hyde said. “He wasn’t walking people, but he was getting hit. He didn’t get through the first inning. We need him back as soon as possible. I don’t know what we’re going to do with that, but he only threw 30-ish pitches. That’s not ideal.”

The Orioles must decide if despite the bad rehab outing, Kremer is ready to return. He could replace Suárez, who would be in line to pitch on Friday against Texas.

Where was the offense? Besides Westburg’s home runs, the Orioles offense showed little life on Saturday and Sunday. Ryan Mountcastle had two hits, and while Gunnar Henderson extended his on-base streak to 30 straight games with a walk, he was hitless in both games.

Colton Cowser, who was hitless in 11 at-bats, had a fifth-inning single.

Westburg’s home run allowed the Orioles to homer in 22 straight games, extending a franchise record.

What does it mean? Though Hyde attributed the two losses to strong starts by Valdez and Ronel Blanco, the Orioles are nearing the end of a difficult month with just one offday.

They won two of three against Philadelphia and New York, and it seems only natural that playing emotional games can catch up with them.

With three games against Cleveland and four with Texas, it could be another challenging week.

What’s the stat of the day? 2. The two runs are the fewest the Orioles have scored in two consecutive games this season.

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Centerfielder Billy Cook hit a grand-slam, catcher Connor Pavolony had three hits and second baseman Connor Norby had two hits in Norfolk’s 7-6 loss to Lehigh Valley.

Centerfielder Dylan Beavers had three hits and second baseman Frederick Bencosme drove in both runs for Double-A Bowie in its 6-2 loss to Altoona.

Adam Retzbach had two RBIs in High-A Aberdeen’s 6-2 win over Wilmington.

Third baseman Anderson De Los Santos drove in all three runs for Single-A Delmarva in its 5-3 loss to Fayetteville.

What’s next? The Orioles will try to break their three-game losing streak when they host the Cleveland Guardians, who lead the American League Central, in a three-game series. Cade Povich (0-1, 3.94) will face Trevor Bibee (5-2, 3.65) on Monday night at 6:35.

Call for questions: Most weekdays, I’ll be answering at least one Orioles question. Please send yours to: [email protected]

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