Harvey chased in fourth in error-filled game

June 16th, 2021

When the Orioles signed to a Minor League deal this winter, their best-case scenario envisioned the veteran right-hander gobbling up innings while he blossomed into a trade candidate come July. For a while, it looked like that might happen: Harvey made the rotation out of Spring Training, pitched serviceably through April and drew praise for his presence in the O’s largely inexperienced clubhouse.

But lately, with every passing start, the early success Harvey enjoyed fades deeper and deeper into memory. The question now is how much longer the Orioles can keep giving him the ball every fifth day.

The 32-year-old was roughed up again Tuesday night at Progressive Field, dropping his seventh consecutive decision in the Orioles’ error-filled 7-2 loss to the Indians.

Though three defensive miscues behind him (four total) didn’t help, Harvey nonetheless allowed six runs (five earned) in 3 1/3 innings, requiring 82 pitches (52 strikes) to get 10 outs. It was the fourth consecutive start that Harvey did not complete four innings, and it raised his season ERA to 7.76.

“We let him down defensively,” manager Brandon Hyde said. "I thought Matt threw the ball as well as he had in a long time … but when you have to get four outs per innings, it makes it really, really challenging.”

The result was the Orioles’ 17th consecutive road defeat, extending their franchise record. They last won a road game on May 5, the day of John Means’ no-hitter in Seattle. Their starting pitchers are 0-12 with a 6.47 ERA in road games since. Harvey is 0-7 with a 12.00 ERA (36 earned runs in 27 innings) over his past eight starts.

“As a starter, you need to go more than five innings, and I haven’t done that in quite some time,” Harvey said. “I don’t think there is anything positive about [tonight], or anything, really.”

As he has after seemingly every loss this season, Harvey fully admitted he needs to be better. The Orioles simply don’t have many other options at this point. Baltimore's rotation is already shorthanded with Means still sidelined, and there is little big league-proven depth at Triple-A Norfolk. Their top prospects there have either recently arrived (Kyle Bradish, Kevin Smith) or started slowly (Zac Lowther, Alexander Wells).

Asked if he would consider a spell in the bullpen to iron things out, Harvey, who famously fought against similar demotions during his days with the Mets, was adamant.

“I am not even thinking about that,” he said. “That hasn’t even crossed my mind.”

Rodriguez makes Bowie home debut

The pitching is far less of a problem down at Double-A Bowie, where Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles' No. 2 prospect and MLB Pipeline's 20th overall, made his home debut to significant fanfare Tuesday night. Rodriguez wasn’t as dominant as during his first two starts with Bowie, striking out six across 4 2/3 innings of two-run ball in the Baysox’s 3-2 loss to Akron.

Still, 4,963 fans packed Prince George’s Stadium for the event, many lugging custom-designed gas cans to commemorate Rodriguez’s arrival at the level. The gas cans were an homage to the big righty’s high-velocity fastball, which touched triple digits Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

The Orioles’ first-round Draft pick in 2018 (No. 11 overall), Rodriguez has largely breezed through the Minors thus far, succeeding at every level. He went 10-4 with a 2.87 ERA at Class A Delmarva in 2019, then 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in five starts at High-A Aberdeen to begin 2021. He’s now 2-1 with a 1.84 ERA in his first three starts at Bowie, where he joins the club's No. 1 prospect Adley Rutschman (No. 2 overall) and No. 4 prospect DL Hall (No. 55 overall) on one of the most talented rosters in Minor League baseball.

They said it

“It’s not effort-related. I do think the effort is there. I have an issue if we’re not playing the game hard and the right way. But right now, it’s about lack of focus at times. Guys are grinding and frustrated.” -- Hyde, on the Orioles' defense