HOUSTON, TX — A week ago, the Orioles were 25-17 and just a half game behind the Yankees in the American League East. Since then, the O’s have lost seven straight games, slipped to third place in the AL East, and are just two games above .500.
The seven-game skid marks the Orioles’ longest losing streak since the 2011 season, where they lost nine straight games. The O’s finished that season with a losing record, which marks the last time the birds finished a season below .500.
To say that the past week has been a disaster for the Orioles would be an understatement.
Coming off a disappointing 2-4 homestand that ended with getting swept by the Twins, the Orioles knew that they had a tough weekend ahead, going on the road to play the best team in baseball. Things only got worse for Baltimore, who continue to be plagued by an under-performing starting rotation, a depleted bullpen, and a cold offense.
“It pulls at you [when] people you respect and know how good they are are struggling, you wanna try to help,” Orioles skipper Buck Showalter said after Sunday’s loss. “We’ll get Jonsey back hopefully tomorrow, and get J.J. back, and [Britton] is making a lot of progress, but everyone has issues like that all around baseball…It’s the big leagues, you are going to have really good competition, whether its the Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, that’s what makes it so gratifying if you can pull it off.”
Game 1 (2-0 HOU): The Orioles were shut out for the third time this season (and the second time in three games), despite a solid start by Kevin Gausman. Gausman, who has struggled all season, pitched 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and two strikeouts. The two runs came on home runs, one by Jake Marisnick in the third inning, and the latter by Carlos Beltron in the seventh inning.
The Orioles recorded just seven hits, going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and leaving six on base.
Game 2 (5-2 HOU): For the third time in his last four starts, Wade Miley lasted just five innings for the Orioles. The Astros got to Miley early in the game, scoring two runs in the first inning. Jose Altuve hit a double that scored George Springer, and Carlos Correa singled to score Altuve. In the third inning, the O’s cut Houston’s lead to one when Wellington Castillo, batting DH, hit a single to score Caleb Joseph. The Astros answered right away in the fourth inning, when Springer hit a two-run bomb that also scored Alex Bregman. Miley, after his five innings of work, allowed the four runs on eight hits, three walks, and two strikeouts.
Both teams added a run in the seventh inning. Chris Davis scored on a wild pitch during a Jonathan Schoop at-bat, and Correa hit another RBI single off of Tyler Wilson.
Game 3 (8-4 HOU): Before this series, the Orioles announced that Ubaldo Jimenez would not start Sunday’s game. In his place, Alec Asher got the nod, but he was just as bad, if not worse, than Jimenez. Asher was done after two innings, with the Astros scoring six runs in the second inning.
The Orioles actually had a 3-0 lead after their first two innings on offense, with all three runs coming at the hands of Schoop. Baltimore’s second baseman hit a two-run home run in the first inning, and an RBI single in the third inning that scored Castillo. It was great to see the Orioles have a lead after not having one since blowing a 5-0 lead against Minnesota on Monday.
With Asher coming out after just two frames, Jimenez came on in relief and actually pitched effectively. Jimenez ran into some trouble in the third inning, allowing two runs on a Yuli Gurriel RBI single and a wild pitch, but he lasted six innings without allowing a walk and striking out five.
Center-fielder Adam Jones sat out the final two games of this series with nagging injuries, including his ankle and hip (Joey Rickard played CF in his place).
Up Next: Things will not get any easier for the Orioles, as they now begin a nine-game home stand, with the first seven games being against the Yankees and Red Sox, who are now ahead of the O’s in the AL East. The Orioles are 4.5 games behind the Yankees, and 1.5 games behind the Red Sox. The O’s will play the Yankees for a three-game series from Monday to Wednesday, and will then face Boston in a four-game series that lasts Thursday until Sunday.