Even while playing some of their best baseball, the Orioles hinted at their need for relief help. Their eight-game winning streak was not free of bullpen blemishes, but they managed to cover them up.
They were not as capable in Monday’s 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Chris Taylor’s sixth-inning grand slam off right-hander Bryan Baker resulting in Baltimore’s first loss in almost two weeks and exemplifying its need for middle relief help before the approaching trade deadline.
The Orioles (57-36) entered the decisive frame with a 4-1 lead as top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez pitched effectively in his return to the majors. In his first inning back with Baltimore since a disastrous outing in late May against the Texas Rangers, Rodriguez threw six straight fastballs of at least 100 mph after never topping 99.3 mph in his first big league stint. He remained in the upper 90s for the rest of his outing, but his changeup was particularly a weapon in a two-strikeout third inning.
The Dodgers finally got to Rodriguez in the fourth with the Orioles leading 3-0, two singles bookending a walk plated a run.
Ryan Mountcastle doubled in a run in the first, and after Adam Frazier’s RBI groundout in the second, Gunnar Henderson laced a run-scoring triple down the field line to build Baltimore’s lead.
Henderson nearly added a home run to his line in the fifth, but the ball stopped at the warning track. Adley Rutschman followed with a solo shot that narrowly cleared the out-of-town scoreboard in right.
The third time through the order wasn’t kind to Rodriguez. The final out of the top of the fifth inning came when Mookie Betts singled but center fielder Aaron Hicks threw him out as he tried to stretch it to a double. The first three batters of the sixth reached on a triple, RBI single and walk and ended Rodriguez’s day after five-plus innings. In 11 major league starts, the former first-round pick has yet to complete the sixth inning.
Baker entered and produced a deep flyout that moved Will Smith, Los Angeles’ lead runner, to third, then another flyball shallow enough to keep him there. He got ahead 0-2 on Jason Hayward but threw four of his next five pitches out of the zone to load the bases for Taylor. He fouled off four straight pitches from Baker to start the at-bat before sending the right-hander’s fifth offering, a third straight fastball in the zone, into the Orioles’ bullpen in left center. Two of the four runs were charged to Rodriguez, who has a 7.33 major league ERA.
Even before Baker’s outing, the Orioles’ bullpen had struggled of late when someone other than All-Star closer Félix Bautista was on the mound, entering Monday with a 5.03 ERA from the sixth to eighth innings since the start of June.
Baltimore managed little against the Dodgers’ relievers, with two of their three baserunners over the final four innings erased on double plays.
Around the horn
- Outfielder Cedric Mullins was out of the lineup for a second straight game after exiting Saturday with right quadriceps tightness. Manager Brandon Hyde said the injury is not related to the right groin strain that caused Mullins to spend 20 games on the injured list earlier this month. “He’s a lot better today,” Hyde said.
- Hyde said the Orioles are “gauging” next steps with left-hander Cionel Pérez, who is on the 10-day injured list with forearm tightness. He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in a rehabilitation outing with Double-A Bowie on Saturday.
- To create roster space for Rodriguez, the Orioles optioned reliever Eduard Bazardo to Triple-A Norfolk.
This story will be updated.
Source: Berkshire mont