Spenser Watkins continues sturdy run however Orioles’ bats keep quiet in 3-2 loss to Cubs


The Orioles have largely averted these types of video games, which is why they’re enjoying significant baseball in the midst of August for the primary time in years. But with anemic offense coupling with a bullpen that has cracked two days in a row, their playoff aspirations took one other hit Thursday in opposition to the Chicago Cubs.

For the second straight recreation, Baltimore wasted a powerful outing from a beginning pitcher and the bullpen allowed the opponent to push that recreation out of attain. On Wednesday, it was a series-finale loss to the Toronto Blue Jays through which six runs crossed within the seventh inning. On Thursday, it was two solo residence runs off right-hander Joey Krehbiel that put the Cubs forward — simply far sufficient forward to face up to a right away reply from the Orioles within the backside of the eighth inning

With the 2 lengthy balls within the prime of the eighth from Rafael Ortega and Willson Contreras, Chicago held on for a 3-2 victory at Camden Yards in a make-up recreation for a rainout on June 8.

“We’re just not stringing enough good at-bats together right now to give ourselves a chance,” supervisor Brandon Hyde mentioned.

The Orioles didn’t handle successful the primary time by means of the order, persevering with a development of sluggish begins. They broke up an ideal recreation bid from Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Drew Rasmussen within the ninth inning Sunday, then lastly reached base in opposition to Toronto right-hander Ross Stripling within the seventh inning Wednesday.

Asked whether or not he’d contemplate some type of shake-up to jumpstart his offense, Hyde mentioned “you just got to grind it out. I mean, there’s nothing you can do. You’re going to keep putting the work in, and hopefully we get out of it here pretty quick.”

Cubs left-hander Brandon Hughes needed to navigate a rocky ninth inning Thursday, as Austin Hays reached to begin the inning on a throwing error from third baseman Zach McKinstry. Rougned Odor popped up his bunt try, and whereas Jorge Mateo singled, a broken-bat bloop from Cedric Mullins led to a game-ending double play.

The Cubs took a 3-0 lead within the eighth with a pair of solo homers off Krehbiel, however Baltimore rapidly obtained again into it. With walks from Mullins and Adley Rutschman to steer off the body, Ryan Mountcastle discovered a gap by means of the appropriate aspect for an RBI single. Anthony Santander drove residence one other on a sacrifice fly.

But the Orioles (61-57) additionally had two runners thrown out on the plate. The first was Hays within the fifth, when he tried to return residence on a squeeze play from Mateo. Cubs right-hander Adrian Sampson flipped the bunt together with his glove to Contreras, and the ruling on the sector stood after Baltimore’s problem. Mountcastle tried to attain on a pointy grounder to 3rd base from Ramón Urías within the eighth and was thrown out.

“Anything on the ground there, I was going,” Mountcastle mentioned. “Unfortunately, it was right at their third baseman. Made a good play. Not much you can do there.”

On Wednesday, the Orioles couldn’t again up six scoreless innings from right-hander Austin Voth. On Thursday, it was right-hander Spenser Watkins on the shedding finish of a recreation through which his solely mistake was a four-seam fastball that Contreras hit off the highest of the appropriate subject wall and out within the sixth. That was Watkins’ solely run allowed on 5 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

“Gotta make a better pitch there to [Contreras],” Watkins mentioned. “As prolific as a hitter as he is, it’s just a mistake there. I’d like to have that one back, but I’ll move forward and learn from it.”

Barring that, Watkins was strong in his return to the rotation; he had served as a piggyback reliever for left-hander DL Hall on Saturday in opposition to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Since returning to the majors from the injured record, these are the type of performances Watkins has made a behavior of throwing. In these 9 appearances, he holds a 2.81 ERA.

“You want to go out and give your team the best chance and hand it over to a bullpen that’s done a great job all year,” Watkins mentioned. “Today is just one of those days. It happens. I trust my bullpen over anybody else. I trust my bats over anybody else.”

Hays aiming excessive

Hays has waited for this.

The Orioles outfielder spoke pregame about how he was driving too many hard-hit balls on the bottom, and “it’s hard to find holes on the ground.”

Hays hoped so as to add extra line drives to interrupt out of a .158 hunch between July 26 and Wednesday. He needed to deal with the center of the plate, eliminating swings at pitches on the sting of the zone early within the depend. Hays targeted on capturing the balls he did make contact with by means of the center of the sector, avoiding roll-over grounders.

He did so Thursday, roping a double to left-center subject within the fifth inning earlier than lining out to deep left within the seventh.

There have been few positives to take from Baltimore’s efficiency on the plate, however Hays’ skill to launch a couple of balls was one.

Finding flexibility

After trading Trey Mancini to the Houston Astros earlier this month, the Orioles have discovered themselves experiencing virtually day by day open tryouts at first base to seek out further choices in case Mountcastle wants a break day.

Tyler Nevin is probably the most skilled choice, however Baltimore has given probabilities to Terrin Vavra and Santander — the latter of whom has taken grounders at first for a lot of the season. Santander mentioned he felt snug at first base following his on-field exercise Thursday, through which he obtained short-hop throws from infield coach Tony Mansolino.

“Just to increase versatility, flexibility,” Hyde mentioned earlier than the sport. “More guys that can play more positions on your roster, the better.”

The experimentation extends past the foremost league roster. Shortstop Gunnar Henderson, the top-ranked prospect within the recreation in keeping with Baseball America, began at first base for the primary time Thursday with Triple-A Norfolk.

Henderson most repeatedly performs shortstop and third base, and people will stay his primary positions. But a supply with direct information of the group’s pondering advised The Baltimore Sun that Henderson will probably play first a couple of times per week for the Tides. The supply mentioned it’s about including expertise and positional flexibility and in addition supplies extra choices for every time Henderson reaches the massive leagues.

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