On Friday, they were stymied by an Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher who spent the first four years of his professional career in Baltimore’s minor league system. Zach Davies, who entered the game as one of the least effective pitchers in the major leagues, shut down the Orioles over six innings of one-run ball to hand Baltimore a 4-2 loss.
After scoring a run in the first inning, the Orioles’ bats couldn’t muster another one until the eighth inning. Both runs scored on two-out hits from Ryan O’Hearn to score Gunnar Henderson. But Austin Hays, representing the tying run in the eighth, struck out to end the inning, and after a leadoff single from Cedric Mullins in the ninth, the Orioles couldn’t score in the ninth off closer Paul Sewald.
Davies, a right-hander selected by the Orioles in the 26th round of the 2011 draft, entered the series opener 1-5 with a 6.93 ERA in 13 starts. The only MLB pitchers with at least 60 innings and an ERA worse than Davies’ entering Friday were St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright and Detroit’s Joey Wentz.
Five times this season opposing teams scored at least five runs off Davies, who the Orioles traded to Milwaukee at the 2015 deadline for outfielder Gerardo Parra. Only once this season had the 30-year-old pitched at least six innings and allowed no more than one run. In nine big league seasons with the Brewers, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs and Diamondbacks, Davies owns a 4.29 ERA.
Davies wasn’t the only player formerly in the Orioles’ organization to hand Baltimore the loss. Christian Walker, a first baseman the Orioles selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to provide the difference. Walker debuted with the Orioles in 2014 but was designated for assignment before the 2017 season. In seven years with the Diamondbacks, he’s posted a .799 OPS. After hitting 36 homers last year, Walker smashed his 29th of the season Friday.
In 2015, Walker and Davies were ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Orioles’ Nos. 3 and 4 prospects, behind pitchers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey.
Henderson and O’Hearn both went 2-for-4 with a double, while the rest of the Orioles’ lineup managed just four hits in 26 at-bats. Baltimore went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Arizona, meanwhile, scored its four runs on two big swings off Orioles starter Cole Irvin. After Baltimore took a 1-0 lead on O’Hearn’s RBI single in the first, Irvin gave the lead right back, allowing a two-run homer to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on just the fourth pitch of the left-hander’s night. Gurriel clobbered the hanging changeup 403 feet to left field.
Irvin, the Orioles’ sixth starter in the six-man rotation it adjusted to last month, retired 15 of the next 18 batters he faced to begin the sixth inning cruising. But Tommy Pham roped a double to left field to lead off the inning, and Walker gave the Diamondbacks all the offense they would need.
The main bright spot of the evening for Baltimore was the stellar defense played by Henderson. The rookie made several web gems at shortstop, but none more impressive than his double play in the fourth inning. The 22-year-old ranged 106 feet to catch a popup in left field and then nabbed Diamondbacks star rookie Corbin Carroll with a 90.2 mph throw to home plate, according to Statcast tracking data. Henderson and Carroll are the front-runners to win the Rookie of the Year awards for their respective leagues.
Baltimore falls to 83-51 with the loss, but the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t gain ground Friday. The Cleveland Guardians came back from down 2-0 to beat the Rays, 3-2. The Orioles are 1 1/2 games up on Tampa Bay atop the American League standings.
—Around the horn
Mid-Atlantic Sports Network broadcaster and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer returned to the booth Friday for his first game since he was hospitalized with COVID-19 in early August.
Triple-A Norfolk catcher Maverick Handley was removed from Friday’s game after colliding with another player, the Orioles said. Last week, Tides catcher Anthony Bemboom and High-A Aberdeen backstop Samuel Basallo were placed on the concussion injured list.
Source: Yahoo Sports