A surprisingly sublime Orioles pitching staff staggered on Tuesday night. It is often said to dazzle the club to win.
It looks like manager Brandon Hyde is tired of that arrangement. After Tuesday’s 7-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins – the fourth time Baltimore has scored two or fewer runs in five games – Hyde criticized his team’s aggressive approach.
“We have some guys who are swinging too often,” Hyde said. “They’re looking at their numbers on the scoreboard, and they’re unhappy, so they’re trying to level them up in a single at-bat. You have to have a pitch-by-pitch approach, try to win every pitch. And I think a lot of people are chasing the numbers right now.”
Outfielder Austin Hays, only one of 11 hitters on his active roster with at least 15 at-bats, is batting above .240, half of whom are hitting .210 or less. Trey Mancini — back in the lineup on Tuesday at designated hitter after missing three games with injured ribs — is fifth in that group with at least .609 ops. The Orioles (8-16) entered 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams on Tuesday in runs per game, then went out and lowered their average.
“We’re not getting enough good bats to win matches against good clubs and good pitching staff,” Hyde said. “You have to be able to play the ball, you have to be able to apply pressure, you don’t have to be afraid to hit with two strikes.”
Few of Baltimore’s aggressive struggles are known for poor batting-ball luck; Statcast considers hard hits on balls – in play at speeds of 95 mph or more – the Orioles came in .390 hits on Tuesday, but the club’s expected batting average on such contact was .519, making it an inter-league. I had the biggest loss. But it doesn’t account for the lack of contact, especially with the chances of scoring runs. In plate appearances with second or third placed runners, Orioles batters hit base more often than they reach.
Making matters worse is that the scuffle took place when the club’s pitching staff were finally proving competent, especially as the left field wall went back to Camden Yards. The Orioles entered the game with a best-ever home era in the Majors and remained among the league leaders after Tuesday’s run of seven. In Baltimore’s half-win, the Orioles have scored fewer than three runs, with the pitching staff able to maintain those totals.
Left-hander Bruce Zimmerman, who has an ERA of 1.48 through five starts after allowing two runs in five innings, said pitchers aren’t putting any extra pressure on themselves as the offense struggles. In fact, center fielder Cedric Mullins, an All-Star in 2021 batting .221 after going 1-for-5 on Tuesday, said the opposite is true.
“That’s another reason why there might be pressure on our bat to pick it up,” Mullins said. “We see our players working their butts, and they’re keeping us in so many games, and us as an offense, we know we have the ability to score a fair amount of runs, and We’ve done it sometimes. It’s just a matter of finding that consistency.”
Nevin passed out with groin injury
Orioles third baseman Tyler Nevin, playing his fifth major league game of the year after putting .980 ops for Triple-A Norfolk, was right back pain in what the team said after the fifth inning. Hyde and Nevin said the Orioles will conduct further evaluations on Wednesday.
Nevin scored Baltimore’s first in the bottom of the fourth, hitting the ground ball with second and third runners that Correa had not fielded cleanly for an error. Anthony Bemboom chases down the center with a deep fly ball, where Byron Buxton takes a catch on the warning track. Nevin and lead runner Rugged Odor, who finished second on error, both tagged in, with the relay from Buxton to Korea as second baseman Jorge Polanco dismissed Nevin in second. The Orioles challenged the call, Nevin’s left hand reached base before Polanco was tagged in, but video replays from the umpires upheld the decision.
“They must have seen something different from what was on board,” Hyde said.
Nevin remained in the game in third place for the top of fifth. Mullins carried the bottom half with a double and scored when Mancini lofted a single to the left.
The Orioles continued to bully in the frame, bringing up Nevin’s spot in the on-deck circle, but Ramon Uriahs came out to pinch. Although the innings ended before Urias officially took the bat, he replaced Nevin in the field for sixth. His ninth inning single was the Orioles’ only hit in his last 14 at-bats.
Baltimore have an opening on their 40-man roster, should it add a player as Nevin’s replacement.
“Nothing happened where I knew something was wrong, so that’s a good sign,” Nevin said. “But while I was out there, it was taking over me, and it was hurting. The last thing I want to do is cut myself off the game, especially at a close. I want those moments, so we’ll see how we feel tomorrow, but I’m optimistic.
around the horn
- Manager Brandon Hyde said before the game that right-hander Chris Ellis, on a 10-day injury list with swelling of the right shoulder, left the team in Texas for a shoulder checkup.
- Usneel Diaz rejoined Triple-A Norfolk’s active roster on Tuesday after he was ruled out of the Tides’ April 12 game with a right hamstring strain. Once ranked as Baltimore’s No. 1 prospect after joining the organization in a July 2018 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for Manny Machado, the 25-year-old Diaz had 1,270 OPS at the time of injury and 1-in his return. K-3 gone.
- Top prospect Adley Ratschman reported on Tuesday to Double-A Bowie continuing his progress from a right tricep strain during major league spring training. He went 1 for-4 with a double and caught nine innings. “It’s looking great so far,” Reutsman said before the game at Bowie. “I think the training staff, all the coaches, they’ve done a great job so far and helped me feel right at home and get me back in the swing of things.”
Twins @ Orioles
Wednesday, 7:05 pm
radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM