Orioles’ offense quiet again in 1-0 loss to Cardinals, leaving AL East lead at 2 entering Rays series – Boston Herald

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has often praised his players for their focus on the game in front of them. He took the same approach himself during Wednesday’s pregame media session.

Peppered with questions about his team’s massive upcoming series with the Tampa Bay Rays, Hyde’s answer to the first began with a reminder the Orioles still had to play one more game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“First and foremost is tonight, honestly,” Hyde said. “We need to take care of tonight. We need to play our best baseball and score some runs.”

They did neither, losing 1-0 to the Cardinals as their lead on the Rays atop the American League East fell to two games before the foes face off four times this weekend. Paired with other results around the league, their magic number to clinch a playoff spot remained four.

One of three top-20 prospects Baltimore sent to St. Louis last month to acquire starter Jack Flaherty, Cardinals left-hander Drew Rom did not allow a hit until Jorge Mateo’s two-out infield single in the fifth and finished with 5 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his first major league win. He entered the night with a 7.79 ERA, though that was lower than the 8.19 figure Adam Wainwright carried into Tuesday’s start in which he topped Baltimore (91-54) for his 199th career win.

Their combined performances ended the Orioles’ streak of seven straight series wins. Baltimore will try to start another Thursday against Tampa Bay. Randy Arozarena’s go-ahead home run for the Rays in the ninth inning of their afternoon victory against the Minnesota Twins prompted a string of curse words inside Baltimore’s clubhouse. The Orioles couldn’t return the favor with a late swing of their own, stranding Gunnar Henderson after his two-out triple in the ninth. They managed only two hits before it, with Anthony Santander’s double in the sixth chasing Rom.

“We didn’t square many balls up,” Hyde said. “Give [Rom] credit. He pitched really well. We had a tough time getting to his fastball and he kind of kept us off balance with the sweeping slider. Didn’t do much.”

Baltimore’s fourth-round draft pick in 2018, Rom became the youngest Cardinals starter to record at least seven strikeouts in a road game since Flaherty, who has a 7.16 ERA in six starts for the Orioles. Rom said the punchouts will give him “bragging rights” with former teammates.

“It’d feel a lot better than just a ground ball or something like that,” Rom said. “I just wanted to make sure they couldn’t talk too much over the offseason. … Those are going to always be some of my best friends that I’ve met along the way for a lifetime. If they end up winning everything, I still get a ring, so of course that’s going to be nice if they end up winning, get a nice little World Series ring next year. I just hope the best for those guys.”

The big hit has been absent the past two nights, a stretch in which Baltimore managed two total runs after putting up double digits in four of their previous five games. The Orioles followed going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position Tuesday with an 0-for-6 showing in those situations Wednesday. The offense was not helped by the absence of first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, who left the game after one plate appearance with left shoulder discomfort.

The empty night for the bats wasted a strong start from veteran Kyle Gibson, who by allowing a run over 6 2/3 innings surrendered fewer than three runs in an outing for the first time since July 31. The Cardinals’ only run off Gibson, and of the game, came in the fourth, when Towson University product Richie Palacios hit his third home run in two nights.

“Any series [loss] is tough, but I still think we’ve played pretty good baseball,” Gibson said. “I think the last thing we need to do right now is make too much about one loss and losing the series. Yeah, does it stink that Tampa won? Sure, but we’re two games up, and if we play really good baseball here the next three weeks, I think we’ll be fine.”

Around the horn

  • The Orioles added a fresh arm to their bullpen before Wednesday’s game, swapping left-hander Cole Irvin for left-hander Nick Vespi. Hyde said the combination of the team’s use of a six-man rotation, which means one fewer spot in the bullpen, and some short starts from it of late prompted the move. Vespi has been optioned four times this season after being sent down five times — the maximum without penalty to the team — last year despite pitching effectively in Triple-A and the majors. “Head down, work hard,” Vespi said of his mindset. “You control your own destiny at the end of the day, so just keep pitching well, and chips will fall.”
  • Injured closer Félix Bautista played catch Wednesday, the fourth time he has done so since suffering a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow Aug. 25. The team has not made Bautista available to the media in the nearly three weeks since the injury.
  • The Orioles named Double-A Bowie outfielder Dylan Beavers and Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Chayce McDermott their minor league player and pitcher of the month for August. The 33rd overall pick in the 2022 draft, Beavers hit .344 with a .908 OPS for the Baysox last month. One of two pitchers acquired for Trey Mancini last season, McDermott posted a 2.81 ERA and allowed a .185 average in five August starts.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jacob Calvin Meyer contributed to this article.

Rays at Orioles

Thursday, 7:15 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM


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