Jorge López’s dominance as the Orioles neared June was evidenced by his short era, his reluctance to surrender home runs and the fact that no reliever was more reliable in late-game, multi-inning situations.
But perhaps the best example of Lopez’s effectiveness in the ninth inning was with Baltimore entering that frame: 29-0.
It went 29-1 on the first day of July. Lopez surrendered a walk-off, two-run home run to Byron Buxton, giving the Minnesota Twins a 3-2 win on Friday and the start of Baltimore’s series at Target Field.
“Well, he’s not going to be perfect,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, who was dropped in the third inning. “He’s been close to her so far this year.
“We just haven’t lost many leads. These things happen with good teams with premier closures. Sometimes, you drop it, and we did it tonight with a really good player.”
Lopez retired 21 straight Minnesota batsmen with the Orioles (35-43) on Friday, and his recent work gives little reason to consider that he cannot continue the streak. He had not missed an earned run in 15 innings, spread over 18 innings. He was one of three pitchers allowed a home run among those who worked at least 35 innings, and had the second lowest ERA of any pitcher to cross that threshold. The 0.73 ERA was the lowest by the Oriole through 32 outings since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954.
But on Friday, Minnesota leadoff man Luis Arrez, who leads the league in batting average, worked a nine-pitch-bat to open the frame, for the first hit since a run-scoring single in the first. Single in the middle. Then came Buxton, who was one of the most influential players in the game when he recovered. Lopez’s 1-2 slider held over the plate, and Buxton sent it into left field. Hyde said it was a pitch that many other hitters could hit the ground for a double play.
“The team doesn’t deserve it,” Lopez said. “I think I let them down.”
He has often done the opposite. He leads the majors in savings of four or more outs, his six already tied for the Orioles the most since 2007. After spending the last season as a middle starter, he has become a relief weapon with an upper-90s sinker. Before the game, Hyde declared “hands down” to Lopez that he deserved to be an All-Star, and Friday’s outing should do nothing to change that.
Starter Spencer Watkins said, “Every time he goes out we have full faith in the guy.” “Whenever he catches the ball, we have faith in him.”
Lopez hopes the next time comes soon.
“I’m ready for tomorrow,” he said. “Pucca.”
McKenna’s big game
A hand injury to one of the Orioles’ main offensive pieces created an opportunity for Ryan McKenna. He showed his hand, glove and leg.
With Trey Mancini continuing to treat his right arm injury more than two weeks ago, McKenna started in left field and ended Watkins’ long low by throwing out a runner at the plate. The Orioles’ pitching staff did not allow another baserunner until Lopez’s ninth, McKenna contributed a diving catch to that effort. He started the eighth with a double, eventually scoring a go-forward.
“Mac’s hanging in there,” Hyde said. “Mac is grinding. Nice to see his contribution today.”
It has been the second consecutive year of sporadic major league starts for the 25-year-old McKenna, who was once one of Baltimore’s top prospects. His pace and defensive ability make him a perfect fourth outfielder, but he entered with .597 ops on Friday, while striking in nearly 40% of his plate attendance, including each of his four Saturday starts. Were. Still, with Mancini’s absence, Hyde gave Anthony Santander a night on the designated hitter and fielded McKenna. He was rewarded with a diving play and a fourth assist from McKenna, which made him the third Oriole with so many; No other American League team entered Friday with as many outfielders as possible with at least four assists.
After working five scoreless innings into his return to the Orioles rotation last week, Watkins booked a run first with a further five shutout frames as he faced the final 15 twins. McKenna’s diving catch to start sixth was the 13th of those outs. Sionel Perez extended the streak to 18, then McKenna opened eighth with a double.
Mancini said that before the game he would be available to pinch-hit a large spot, and he batted really long, which ended up second from grounder to move McKenna to third. . With Minnesota playing infield, McKenna smashed home a Jorge Mateo’s grounder at second base, but Jorge Polanco’s wild throw allowed him to score easily and give Baltimore a 2–1 lead.
“Just keep learning,” McKenna said. “It’s a process. Obviously, it’s about winning at this stage and trying to learn, watch, see and take whatever I can to achieve that goal for us on a daily basis.” Am. “
Perez and Felix Bautista cleaned joint eighth before Lopez lost in the ninth game.
Mancini is sitting with a hand injury
Mancini was recently left out of Tuesday’s lineup after receiving a cortisone injection in his right arm for a bone growth known as the carpal boss.
Mancini missed three games last month after taking the pitch in a swing attempt in Toronto. Prior to Friday’s pinch-hit appearance, he had hit nine out of 10 games since his return, including each of the last eight, with six of his 10 hits for extra bases. Now hitting .222 in that period, Mancini said before the game he planned to be in Saturday’s lineup.
“It’s nothing that I think about when I’m at the plate,” Mancini said. “But it got to the point where it wasn’t getting much better. It’s more of an annoyance than anything. Maybe I’m cutting my swing a bit because of it, but I’d say I am sacrificing from here today just in the hope that this is no longer an issue.”
Mancini said he was unsure whether the pitch caused development or exacerbated something already existing. He also took a pitch in Chicago on Saturday with his left hand, although there is no problem with that hand, he said.
“I give him a lot of credit for trying to grind it out,” Hyde said pregame. “He got hit in both hands and in no time. You need your hands, and it’s hard to hit when your hands aren’t looking good, so give him credit for trying to post.”
around the horn
>> Infielder Ramon Ureas, who is in the injured list with a left oblique strain, is expected to begin a rehab work with Double-A Bowie at the earliest from Saturday.
>> Kyle Braddish, right-hander, with a swelling of the right shoulder, threw a flat-ground session on Friday and is expected to throw a bullpen in the coming days.
>> The first phase of fan voting for the start at this month’s MLB All-Star Game ended Thursday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Mancini finished eighth among American League designated hitters, while Ureas was 10th among AL third basemen. No other Orioles infielder finished in the top 10 in his place, while no Baltimore outfielder was among the top 20 vote recipients in that group. The top six outfielders and two in all other positions progressed as finalists.
>> The Orioles’ No. 5 prospect according to Baseball America, infielder Coby Mayo, was ruled out of Double-A Bowie’s game, according to a source with knowledge of the injury, which was first reported by MASNSports.com.
Baltimore Sun reporter Andy Kostka contributed to this report.
Orioles @ Twins
Saturday, 2:10 p.m.
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