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O's can't back Cashner, drop twin bill to Yanks

@JoeTrezz
May 16, 2019

NEW YORK -- Two games and 18 innings later, the Orioles left the Bronx on Wednesday night still searching for answers for Gleyber Torres. Torres tormented the Orioles all day as they dropped both sides of a single-admission doubleheader to the Yankees, each game decided by home runs from New

NEW YORK -- Two games and 18 innings later, the Orioles left the Bronx on Wednesday night still searching for answers for Gleyber Torres.

Torres tormented the Orioles all day as they dropped both sides of a single-admission doubleheader to the Yankees, each game decided by home runs from New York’s young shortstop. Torres hit two of the four homers that sank David Hess and the Orioles to a 5-3 loss in Game 1, and the club was dealt a 3-1 defeat in Game 2 despite a quality start from Andrew Cashner.

“We were in both games, a couple hits short,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “They hit a couple more home runs than we did in the first game and one more than we did in the second game. Yeah, we just came up a little short in both games.”

Box score

Cashner took the loss despite striking out seven over six innings in the nightcap, surrendering nothing more than Luke Voit’s third-inning RBI double and Torres’ solo homer in the fourth. But the Orioles managed just Hanser Alberto's sacrifice fly against German, who earned his Major League-best eighth win with seven innings of one-run ball. They also went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position on the day and were shut out for a combined 5 2/3 innings by New York’s high-octane relief corps.

Here are a few more notable numbers from Wednesday’s twin bill.

Number: 94.6
Significance: Cashner’s average fastball velocity Wednesday was 94.6 mph, per Statcast, the right-hander’s highest of the season and up almost two mph from his last start.

Cashner also threw his three hardest pitches of the season, maxing out at 96.5 mph on a first-inning strikeout of Voit. That output came in contrast to the last time Cashner faced the Yankees in New York on Opening Day, when the righty allowed six runs in a 7-2 loss. Cashner’s heater averaged just 92.6 mph that day; he’s pitched to a 3.25 ERA over eight starts since.

“I think from Opening Day until now you’re seeing his fastball velo spike and the command is better,” Hyde said. “Great tempo, multiple pitches for strikes, facing tough lineups. He’s doing a great job.”

It also further illustrated a change in approach for Cashner, who is attacking hitters much differently than he did during his first summer in Baltimore. Cashner threw 54 percent sinkers in 2018, but he has scrapped that pitch almost completely this year in favor of his four-seamer, which he’s throwing nearly four times more frequently than he did last season. He’s also utilizing the changeup as much as he ever has in his career -- at a 22 percent clip not seen since he was predominantly a reliever in 2012.

Throw in the occasional slider and curve, and Cashner’s usage most similarly mirrors the mix he sported with the Rangers in 2017, when he pitched to a 3.40 ERA across 28 starts. Wednesday’s performance shaved his ERA this season to 4.10 in nine starts, more than a run better than a year ago. He’s also posting his highest strikeout rates since 2016.

“I think I’ve got a good feel right now, I think it’s just a full mix of pitches,” Cashner said. “It comes down to fastball command and working both sides of the plate.”

Number: 89
Significance: The Orioles have allowed 89 home runs through 42 games, by far the most in baseball. Baltimore will need many more outings like Cashner’s to slow what’s become a staggering rate, with the club on pace to shatter the Major League record for roundtrippers allowed by a wide margin.

The Reds set the current mark of 258 in 2016; these Orioles are in line to surrender 343 through 162 games unless something changes.

“It’s embarrassing,” catcher Austin Wynns said. “We have to put an end to it. We have to make an adjustment. We need to bounce back and we need to come up with something.”

Torres, Gary Sanchez and Cameron Maybin all went deep in Game 1 off Hess, who has now allowed an MLB-most 14 big flies in 40 1/3 innings.

“We’ve given up a ton this year,” Hyde said. “And it’s something we really have to improve on.”

Number: 403 feet
Significance: Renato Núñez belted a solo homer a projected 403 feet off J.A. Happ in Game 1, which ended a 14-game homerless drought and snapped the Orioles’ DH out of an 0-for-15 funk. Trey Mancini also tied Dwight Smith Jr. for the team lead with his eighth homer of the year, continuing an All-Star level first half for the right fielder.

But results have been much more difficult to come by lately for Nunez, who had been 4-for-his-last-54 without a walk before he deposited a 1-1 fastball from Happ into the left-field seats.

“It felt great. It had been a long time,” Nunez said. “What I think the hardest was the mental part. … You always have to stay positive. All I can say is I’ll keep working hard and the results will come.”

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.