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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Baltimore bats fall silent as O’s lose Game 2 to Cubs 4-0

By meerna Jul11,2024
Baltimore bats fall silent as O’s lose Game 2 to Cubs 4-0

The sweltering heat in Baltimore seemed to weigh on the Orioles’ batters on Wednesday night as they fell 4-0 to the Cubs without scoring a single run.

More painful than the lack of runs against Chicago was the manner in which the shutout occurred. If you simply checked the score, you can imagine the pain Birdland felt when you saw the statistic “0-11 with RISP.” If you watched the game, you know that the offensive issues were more painful than the score might convey.

The Orioles’ first moment of offensive frustration came early in the bottom of the first inning. After Adley Rutschman drew a walk with one out, Ryan Mountcastle hit a fly ball to left for a single that moved Adley into scoring position. Chicago’s star pitcher, Shota Imanaga, got out of trouble easily, throwing Anthony Santander up and out with a splitter and then throwing out Jordan Westburg with a fastball in almost the same spot.

At first, the O’s efforts in the first inning seemed encouraging. Despite Gunnar Henderson starting the inning with a single strikeout, they forced Imanaga to throw 29 balls. The O’s saw plenty of balls and had some really good swings against the rookie left-hander from Japan. An optimist might have viewed the first inning as a sign of things to come. Instead, it was an ominous sign of the Orioles’ apparent lack of decisive hitting.

Austin Hays opened the second inning with a double down the left-field line, only to be stranded on a single by Jorge Mateo and two outs by Colton Cowser and James McCann. In the fifth inning, McCann dropped a one-out double into the corner of left field, giving Baltimore another scoring threat. After striking out Gunner Henderson, Adley looked like he might finally score with a deep fly to left. But because of the Great Wall of Baltimore, what would have been a HR in 19 other parks ended up being a flyout on the warning track.

The depths of the offensive disappointment deepened in the 6th and 7th innings. Mountcastle led off the 6th with a single to right, then with one out, Jordan Westburg hit a high fly ball to left-center field. The Great Wall barely contained the blowout (in any other park, that would have been a HR), so Westburg had to settle for a double, and the O’s had two runners in scoring position with one out. As in the 1st inning, Imanaga managed to throw his best stuff in the slammer, throwing Austin Hays looking on a fastball into his lap before throwing out Mateo with a splitter to end the inning.

Imanaga left the game after six innings, but the Orioles’ batters did not improve against the Chicago Pen. After Cowser led off the seventh inning with a groundout, McCann was hit by a pitch and Gunnar singled to give the O’s a pair of bases again. Adley was down 0-2 before the rain delay, but he held on to his at-bat for about 20 minutes. When the skies cleared, Adley recorded a strikeout at third on the first pitch he saw. RMC then lost a seven-run battle when he flew out to center to end the inning.

The Orioles scored singles in the 8th and 9th innings, but failed to move a runner as the team’s lack of offense led to the loss. Wednesday was only the third time all season that the Orioles had failed to score, with Corbin Burnes taking the loss in all three games.

Burnes once again seemed to be bitten by the snake against the Cubs. After the Brewers scored zero runs in Burnes’ two starts against the Cubs last year, the Orioles’ batters were similarly quiet when Burnes was in the game. That didn’t help the Orioles, as their ace was far from his best on Wednesday.

Burnes started the game well — making an athletic sliding stop on a grounder for the second out of the first inning. The second inning wasn’t as graceful as the Cubs began to tie the game with their former NL Central foe. With one out, Burnes left a cutter over the outer third of the plate, and Cubs 3B Christopher Morel hit it over the center-field fence. Trailing 1-0, the hard contact didn’t end there for Burnes. Shortstop Dansby Swanson and CF Peter Crow-Armstrong followed Morel’s HR with a pair of big singles. Burnes threw out catcher Miguel Amaya for the second out, but he couldn’t escape the predicament as 2B Nico Hoerner sent the cutter the other way to RF for an RBI single.

With the O’s trailing 2-0, Burnes stumped in the 3rd and 4th. He ended the 3rd by striking out LF Ian Happ and Morel — both looking. The All-Star threw and then cruised through the 4th, punctuating a scoreless frame with another Amaya strikeout.

Burnes couldn’t keep that streak of good innings going in the fifth, as he ran into some bad luck. With one out in the inning, 1B Michael Busch hit a fly ball up the middle that looked like it was going to be a routine groundout. Instead, it bounced off the second-base bag in front of Henderson and Mateo, bouncing left-center and allowing Busch to reach with a double. Right fielder Cody Bellinger then hit the ball to first, allowing Busch to go to third. Burnes once again failed to keep a runner in scoring position, as he left a cutter over the plate for DH Seiya Suzuki — who threw it to left for an RBI single.

The way the Orioles approached the bat made the 3-0 deficit that Burnes created seem insurmountable. But we’re still talking about Corbin Burnes, so he came out and threw a scoreless sixth to earn his 15th quality start of the season, giving him the MLB lead. Burnes’ final line looked pretty good at first glance: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, and 5 K. But once again, pretty good wasn’t good enough for Burnes against the Cubs.

**

The loss, combined with the Yankees’ win in Tampa, means the Orioles’ lead in the AL East is down to two games with just four games remaining before the All-Star break. The Orioles are also 5-9 against the NL Central this year, their worst record in any division. The good news is that Thursday’s finale against the Cubs is their final game against the Central senior circuit. Albert Suarez will get the ball in this one as the O’s look to avoid a third win of the season.

By meerna

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