The last time the Orioles won a road game, they were mobbing John Means on the infield grass at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, giddy after Means spun the first Oriole no-hitter in three decades. That was May 5. In the six full weeks separating that day and Wednesday, the culprits ran the gamut: from a lack of timely hitting to shoddy starting pitching, stars lost to injury, sloppy defense and lapses in fundamental play.
If there is a single game that encapsulates the struggles of their current road losing streak -- now a franchise-record 18 games and the longest by an American League team since 1949 -- it is perhaps Wednesday’s wacky 8-7 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field. This particular defeat was far from straightforward: the Orioles jumped out to an early lead, watched it evaporate in the strangest way, and battled back but fell short despite contributions from some of their most promising young players.
“I’d call it weird,” said starter Keegan Akin. “It was definitely one of the more weirder outings that I’ve had.”
Throw in multi-hit nights from Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco, and it was the Orioles’ best offensive showing on the road in weeks. They entered play averaging 2.8 runs per game and hitting .129 with runners in scoring position over their road losing streak; despite going 6-for-12 in such situations Wednesday, they fell in part because they let rallies fizzle in the sixth and seventh.
“I thought we had a pretty good chance of coming back, unfortunately it just wasn’t enough,” Mountcastle said. “It was a close game and we battled hard.”
That offense came mainly against MLB’s first 10-game winner, Aaron Civale, and in support of Akin, who fell victim to poor defense behind him and morphed from unhittable to inept and back again multiple times throughout the night. His roller-coaster evening went as follows: Akin retired five of his first eight hitters, then allowed six consecutive to reach, then retired 11 of his last 13 only to watch those remaining two come around to score.
All told, the rookie left-hander struck out seven, allowed 11 baserunners and eight runs over a career-high 5 2/3 innings, cramming most of that damage into Cleveland’s five-run third.
“There are some positives to look at,” Akin said. “But obviously, overall, I’m not really happy with it.”
Pitching with a two-run lead to open the third, Akin allowed the first six Indians to reach and five to score, two on a José Ramírez single that, due to an Orioles botched rundown, ended with Ramírez on third. The inning also saw the Orioles give away extra bases via a defensive error -- their fifth in two nights.
Galvis took an extra base from the Indians in a similar way in the seventh, when run-scoring hits by Austin Hays and Franco pulled the Orioles within one for the second time. But Bryan Shaw struck out Pedro Severino and pinch-hitter Anthony Santander to strand the tying and go-ahead runs, and Baltimore didn’t threaten again.
“We didn’t do many things right on that [third-inning] play,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We have a tough time coming back from defensive mistakes. They made one too, and we answered, just not enough.”
The loss was the Orioles' seventh straight overall and 18th consecutive away from Camden Yards. That is the second longest in the Majors this season, and tied for the longest by an AL club since the Washington Senators dropped 18 straight on the road in 1949.
“It’s been a tough little road stretch,” Mountcastle said. “We just need to keep coming out and playing hard every day. We’re going to come to the field tomorrow with a good attitude and try to keep moving forward.”