3 takeaways from O's rough patch vs. Yanks

April 7th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- had never pitched in his life before toeing the rubber on Sunday afternoon, his presence on the Oriole Park at Camden Yards mound underscoring the ugliness that ended in a 15-3 defeat to the Yankees, Baltimore’s fourth straight loss to cap a nightmare weekend for its pitching staff.

Maybe that’s why the radar gun had trouble classifying the utility infielder’s pitches, which floated in at breaking ball speed after O's manager Brandon Hyde reluctantly asked Alberto to make his emergency cameo.

“It stinks,” Hyde said. “You hope it’s a rare occurrence.”

“Just fastballs,” Alberto clarified afterwards. “74 mph.”

The Orioles knew days like this were coming, given their stated development goals of their rebuild, still in its infant stages. But maybe not of this magnitude, and now comes the challenge of turning the page.

“We've got to forget about today and get ready for tomorrow -- a new series, new team,” said losing pitcher David Hess, who permitted four runs in five innings. “Try to go out there and have fun. Like every day, we go out there and play hard, do our best and hopefully there are good things coming.”

Here are a few takeaways from the most trying afternoon of the Hyde era to date:

They must find ways to limit the long ball
It wasn’t just Gary Sanchez, who enjoyed his first career three-homer game on Sunday. The Yankees went deep seven times, their highest single-game total in almost 19 years, and hit 14 home runs over the course of their three-game sweep. That ranks as the highest single-series total allowed in Orioles club history; not since June 1950 against the Red Sox had the franchise given up that many in a single series. The Orioles were the St. Louis Browns then.

As a team, the Orioles led the Majors with 234 surrendered in 2018. They now sit atop that list again, their 23 allowed, tied with Boston for the most in the early going this season. The bullpen has been especially susceptible; Hyde alluded to possible turnover coming for a unit that has coughed up 15 long balls across nine games.

“It’s not our stuff, it’s about being able to execute the stuff,” Hyde said. “And to be able to compete at a high level in this league, you have to be able to do that against teams like that. And when you don’t, they hit homers, and that’s what these guys did.”

Davis approaching history, too
While the Orioles avoided a no-hit scare with Alberto’s six-inning single off Domingo German, their most prominent player continued a hitless streak that’s now approaching historic proportions.

By coming up empty in four more at-bats on Sunday, is now 0-for-23 in 2019, and 0-for-his-last-44 dating back to last season. That puts him within shouting distance of the all-time mark of 46 straight hitless at-bats that Eugenio Velez set with the Dodgers in 2011.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, these are the longest hitless streaks in the modern era (since 1900) for non-pitchers, in terms of at-bats.

Eugenio Velez, Giants/Dodgers, 46, 2010-11
Bill Bergen, Superbas (Dodgers), 45, 1909
Dave Campbell, Padres/Cardinals/Astros, 45, 1973
Craig Counsell, Brewers, 45, 2011

Davis, Tony Bernazard, Luis Aparicio, Todd Zeile, Gus Gil and Joe Keough follow at 0-for-44.

A utility infielder who posted a 71 OPS + across parts of five big league seasons, Velez went hitless over his last nine at-bats with the Giants in 2010, then finished his career with 37 fruitless ABs the following year with the Dodgers. The Orioles will face three right-handed starters in their upcoming series against the A’s, meaning Davis could either eclipse the record or fall just short sometime this week.

“I hope that he feels like he’s making progress,” Hyde said.

Starting at first base and hitting seventh as he has most days this season, Davis flew out twice against German before striking out against Stephen Tarpley and Luis Cessa. Thirteen of his 23 at-bats in 2019 have ended via strikeout. Davis’ last hit was a double off White Sox righty James Shields on Sept. 14, 2018.

Hanser can’t stop hitting
The shame in the attention Alberto’s pitching brought is how it overshadowed his offensive contributions, which have been one of the more pleasant surprises of the Orioles' young season. The well-traveled Alberto has a hit in all five games he has gotten a plate appearance in this season, and is 7-for-14 (.500) overall. Consider it the first legit big league opportunity for the 26-year-old, who was waived three separate times this offseason before cracking the Orioles' Opening Day roster.

“He’s playing so well, offensively, defensively, the energy the guy has,” Hyde said. "The energy he has is infectious … I’m so impressed with how he’s playing. It’s awesome to have him on the club.”