Orioles take another tumble against the Tigers (updated)
There really isn’t any momentum in baseball.
Rallying to win Sunday in Toronto didn’t thrust the Orioles past a difficult stretch this month. It didn’t ignite the offense. The euphoria never made it through customs.
The last-place Tigers won again tonight, 3-2, at Camden Yards, and the Orioles are left with trying to avoid being swept again by a team that sits at the bottom of its division.
The Orioles are 76-71 overall and 8-10 this month. They’ve lost 10 of their last 15 games.
Gunnar Henderson, batting leadoff for the first time, hits a two-run homer off Joe Jiménez with two outs in the seventh to break up the Tigers’ shutout bid. The 409-foot shot onto the flag court in right field was Henderson’s third homer in the majors and first in Baltimore.
Four more batters reached base. No one else crossed the plate.
“We’re just having a tough time scoring runs right now,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Gunnar took good at-bats tonight, but we didn’t do much else offensively.”
Ryan Mountcastle’s fly ball off Gregory Soto with two outs in the ninth lost steam at the warning track in the right field. Much like the Orioles’ playoff chances.
Asked whether his club is tired, Hyde said, “Guys are tired? Well, we’re not the only team that’s played these many games. I think the league is. It’s part of tired of being a big leaguer at the end of September, and got to learn how to push through it.”
Henderson, who will relinquish the leadoff spot to Cedric Mullins on Wednesday, is the sixth player in club history with at least 14 RBIs in his first 19 career games. He’s also the sixth with at least 22 hits. Henderson is the second-youngest Oriole to homer at Camden Yards after Manny Machado.
“He takes really good swings on strikes,” Hyde said. “He’s on time with the fastball and aggressive, short to the ball. He’s doing a nice job of laying off tough pitches. As the league goes around, he’s going to see tough pitching and he’s going to have some tough games, but right now he’s on time with the heater like he showed tonight, he’s ready to hit, and he’s doing a nice job of laying off borderline balls and putting great swings on strikes.
“It’s incredible. Youngest player in the league, to be able to control the strike zone … Jiménez is a really good reliever, firm fastball and he’s got really good stuff, and to be able to get his foot down and get that swing on the heater there, that’s impressive.”
“I have confidence in myself, just the way I do business,” Henderson said. “Just hats off to the hitting coaches for helping prepare me, and I feel like that’s been the biggest help, just being able to go into the day with a good plan and being able to execute.”
In his fifth major league start, left-hander Joey Wentz blanked the Orioles on two hits over 5 2/3 innings. Adley Rutschman had an infield single with two outs in the sixth, reliever Alex Lange threw a wild pitch and walked Jesús Aguilar, and Ramón Urías struck out.
Akil Baddoo hit a 448-foot home run to right-center field off Austin Voth in the third inning after Jeimer Candelario led off with a single. Only the second home run for Baddoo this season in 60 games.
Kerry Carpenter led off the seventh against Joey Krehbiel by homering into the Orioles’ bullpen for a 3-0 lead. A big blow, considering what Henderson did in the bottom half after Austin Hays’ leadoff single.
The Orioles had scored three runs against the Tigers in 42 innings this season. The total reached five in 45.
“They’re pitching us really well right now,” Voth said. “They’re executing pitches and they’re making it hard on hitters right now. But all it takes is probably just one inning to get out of that funk, or just one game, and we just haven’t had that game yet. “
One night after Tyler Alexander kept the Orioles hitless through six innings, Wentz retired the first eight batters.
Jorge Mateo reached on an error and Henderson singled for the first hit, the ball deflecting off Harold Castro’s glove, but Ryan Mountcastle froze on a cutter with the count full.
Wentz was removed at 86 pitches. He walked two batters and struck out four.
Voth threw seven pitches in the first inning, all of them strikes, and he stranded Spencer Torkelson in the second. He was replaced by Krehbiel after the fifth with the Tigers still leading 2-0, his final line including six hits, no walks and three strikeouts.
Forty-six of Voth’s 62 pitches were strikes. He was coming off a one-inning relief appearance Wednesday in DC
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “It was good to kind of get a breather, throw a little less, and then have a little bit more time off in between my starts. My body feels good, my arm feels a little bit more refreshed today. I felt like I was attacking guys pretty well. Just got beat with a couple pitches, one for the home run, and gave up a couple doubles on curveballs, but thought I pitched pretty well and pretty effective for the most part.”
Baddoo doubled into the right field corner with no outs in the fifth, but Candelario was thrown out at the plate – Anthony Santander to Urías to Rutschman.
Rutschman bumped into Henderson while tracking a foul popup, lost control of the ball and made a lunging catch to end the inning.
Hays drew a four-pitch walk leading off the bottom of the fifth and was stranded. The sixth fizzled. The seventh sizzled, beginning with Hays’ leadoff single.
Mountcastle followed Henderson’s home run with a single and Santander drew his second walk, this one against Andrew Chafin, but Rutschman took a called third strike and made the Orioles 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position in 43 innings against the Tigers this season .
Urías grounded into a double play in the eighth after Aguilar’s leadoff single. Hays walked with two outs and Cedric Mullins grounded out.
Bryan Baker was able to strand two runners in scoring position in the ninth after Mateo sprinted into shallow left field to snare Baddoo’s popup.
The Orioles left the ballpark trailing the Mariners and Rays by 5 1/2 games for the last wild card, with Seattle playing late tonight. Are 15 games enough to make the playoffs under these circumstances?
“Oh yeah, for sure,” Voth said. “I feel like all the teams that we’re chasing have hard schedules and we have a hard schedule, as well. Why not us? We can play hard. If we come to the ballpark and play the way we know we can, I ‘m going to bet on us.”
“We’re putting in the work every day and it’s just a matter of time before we get it going again,” Henderson said.
“I’m not worried about it at all.”
The Tigers have won nine games in a row against the Orioles dating back to August 2021, tying the longest streak since 1954. Hyde’s club must overcome the mental and physical challenges and salvage a game of this series.
“It’s a six-plus-month season when you’re good, and we’re five and a half months into this right now, and we need to learn to push through,” Hyde said. “We just won that last game in Toronto. I didn’t sense that anyone was tired there, and last night we got blown out. Tonight, we just didn’t swing the bat very well, like we didn’t last night, either. But I want to believe that we’re going to grind through this, and they need to learn how to. And this is part of being a big leaguer.”
Down on the farm, Connor Norby homered on the first pitch thrown to him after moving up from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk – delivered by Durham’s Yonny Chirinos – and he also singled twice in a 9-2 loss. He’s hit 26 home runs this season at three levels of the farm system.
Yusniel Diaz hit his sixth home run.
Grayson Rodriguez starts Wednesday night for the Tides.
High-A Aberdeen forced a third game in its best-of-three South Atlantic League championship series against Bowling Green with a 13-6 victory. Dylan Beavers hit a three-run homer and Heston Kjerstad had a two-run triple within the first four innings. Jud Fabian had three hits and two RBIs.
Jean Pinto allowed one earned run and three total in 5 2/3 innings.
Steve Melewski was at Ripken Stadium and has the details.