BALTIMORE — If there was any hope left for the Orioles after the all-star break, it’s gone. Baltimore stumbled their way into the mid-season break and came out for the second half looking just as hopeless.
The starting pitching was atrocious. All three starters gave up a combined 21 runs, leading to a sweep at the hands of the defending World Series champions.
The series started on Friday after a brief rain delay. Kevin Gausman looked to get the O’s pitching staff off to a good second half start, but ended up getting shelled for eight runs over three innings.
Four different Chicago batters hit home runs in the first three innings to take the early 8-0 lead. The O’s bullpen took over and did a much better job at keeping the Cubs offense at bay. The Orioles offense did not seem too affected by the large deficit. They came all the way back and tied the game in the eighth inning.
Welington Castillo started the scoring in the bottom of the third with his ninth home run of the season. Chris Davis made his return from the disabled list on Friday night and helped add to the comeback effort with an RBI double in the fourth. RBI singles from Mark Trumbo, Trey Mancini, and Joey Rickard put the O’s within striking distance in the fifth.
In the eighth inning, Mark Trumbo came through again with a game-tying two-run homer. The eight unanswered runs were extremely unexpected, especially since five O’s relievers were called upon to hold the Cubs to their eight runs. Unfortunately, the comeback didn’t last long. Brad Brach surrendered a solo home run to Addison Russell in the top of the ninth.
The potent Orioles offense was finally shut down in the bottom of the ninth when Cubs closer Wade Davis got the O’s to go three-up-three-down. The Cubs escaped the series opener with a nail-biting 9-8 victory, but prevented the Orioles from getting anywhere close to a win in the next two games.
On Saturday the Orioles welcomed back a familiar face. Jake Arrieta returned to Camden Yards after being traded to the Cubs in 2013 and put together a solid outing to beat his former team. The 31-year-old threw 6.2 innings while giving up just two runs on four hits.
The Cubs offense continued to dominate the Orioles’ pitching staff by putting up 10 runs. Much like the first game, Chicago jumped out to a lopsided 7-0 lead in the fifth and the Orioles offense got called upon to dig the team out of another hole. However, this time there would be no comeback.
The Orioles scored three runs with Caleb Joseph being responsible for two of them. The backup catcher put the team on the board in the fifth with a solo homer, and then added an RBI single in the ninth. Ruben Tejada hit an RBI single of his own as the Orioles lost 10-3.
In his start, Wade Miley went slightly deeper than Gausman, but still gave up nine hits and seven runs in 4.2 innings. Miguel Castro surrendered two runs during his 3.1 relief innings, and Donnie Hart closed it out but gave up an unearned run in the process.
Sunday’s series finale didn’t go any better than the first two games. Ubaldo Jimenez took the mound and turned in yet another terrible start for the O’s. Jimenez lasted just 3.2 innings before being replaced, giving up six runs on 11 hits.
In the other dugout, Jose Quintana put on a show in his first start with the Cubs. The former White Sox pitcher struck out 12 batters while allowing just 3 hits in seven innings.
Unlike the first two games, the Orioles were unable to put up any sort of offense in Sundays matchup, losing 8-0. Considering the Cubs outscored the O’s 27-11 in the three game series, it’s almost surprising the Orioles had a chance to win one of the three games.
The Orioles continue their home stand in the coming days, hosting the Texas Rangers in a four game series. Texas has experienced pitching inconsistencies of their own this season but remain viable wild card contenders. The first game is slated for a 7:05 pm start on Monday.
Image Credit: Associated Press