Rotation’s back end remains a liability
Gallardo KO’d in 4th; comeback bid falls short; O’s lose ground to Boston
The Orioles have the makings of an enticing playoff starting rotation — something every contender needs to play deep into October. But first they have to get there, and a pair of struggling veteran starters are making their chase for the postseason extremely unsteady.
One day after getting one of their best outings from a starter this season — righthander Kevin Gausman held the division-leading Boston Red Sox, the best-hitting team in the American League, scoreless over eight innings — the Orioles received an ugly outing from right-hander Yovani Gallardo against the worst-hitting team in the AL. The Orioles lost, 7-6, to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night, missing an opportunity they might end up paying for.
The front end of the Orioles starting rotation is coming into form as the team hits the stretch run. Gausman is reaching new levels, posting a 0.82 ERA over his past five starts. Despite some recent control hiccups and a continuing pitchcount limit, right-hander Dylan Bundy’s transition to starting has gone well. The continued health of right-hander Chris Tillman, who pitched a quality start in his first game back from the disabled list Sunday, gives the team its veteran anchor back. And right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez’s recovery from his demotion Tonight, 7:05 TV: MASN2 Radio: 105.7 FM Game recap
to the bullpen has been one of the team’s most pleasant surprises of the second half of the season.
In a postseason series, four starters are really all a team needs. But in the middle of a tight race for both the AL East and the AL wild cards, the Orioles must find a way to overcome a disturbing trend of short starts from Gallardo and continued struggles from lefthander Wade Miley to earn a playoff spot.
Against a Rays team that entered Thursday hitting .245 collectively, Gallardo lasted 31⁄ innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks. It was the second time in Gallardo’s past four starts that he’s failed to make it out of the fourth inning. On Aug. 26, Gallardo lasted a season-low 11⁄ innings, yielding eight runs (seven earned) in a 14-4 loss to the New York Yankees.
Miley’s struggles — he has an 8.41 ERA in eight starts for the Orioles — are more glaring because he was acquired at the nonwaiver trade deadline to bolster a beleaguered rotation. But he lasted 11⁄ innings in his last start Monday in Boston, pulled after allowing nine of the 12 batters he faced to reach base. He has failed to get out of the second inning in two of his past five outings. Miley Wade Miley, acquired to bolster the rotation, has an 8.41 ERA in eight starts for the Orioles. was shelled for six runs on six hits over 12⁄ innings against the Houston Astros on Aug. 19, after his offense hit four homers for him in the first inning.
The Orioles’ inconsistent pitching has placed them on a momentum carousel. In 16 starts made by Gallardo and Miley since Aug. 1, the Orioles are 4-12. On Thursday, the Orioles — riding high to begin an 11-game homestand after one of their best wins of the season — entered the night with the chance to jump into a first-place tie in the division.
Miley and Gallardo are Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette’s two most recent rotation acquisitions. Miley was acquired July 31 in a trade with the Seattle Mariners for Cuban left-hander Ariel Miranda, who has pitched consecutive outings of six innings and no earned runs for the Mariners. Gallardo, who remained on the free-agent market into spring training in part because he was tied to draft-pick compensation, signed a restructured two-year, $22 million deal after an earlier one fell apart because of concerns over his right shoulder.
When Tillman’s return Sunday allotted the Orioles six starting options, Gallardo’s turn through the rotation was skipped, apparently only because he has struggled against the Red Sox in his career.
And Gallardo was rusty in his return. In his first start in nine days, Gallardo found himself in trouble early. He walked the first two batters he faced and then allowed a three-run homer to Evan Longoria. The Orioles provided him with a one-run lead after one inning, but Gallardo couldn’t hold that, allowing three more runs on a total of seven hits, including four for extra bases.
Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo walks off the mound Thursday night after being removed in the fourth inning. It was the second time in his past four starts he failed to make it out of the fourth.