Strikeouts piling up at alarming rate for Orioles
HOUSTON — The Baltimore Orioles don't seem too worried about their offense despite striking out 37 times in their past two games.
Baltimore struck out 18 times in a 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros on Wednesday after whiffing a season-high 19 times in a 3-2, 13-inning loss Tuesday. The 37 strikeouts for Houston pitchers tied the two-game franchise record, set against the Chicago Cubs on May 30-31, 2003.
Manny Machado doesn't think the Orioles are pressing at the plate despite the excessive strikeouts in this series.
"For what? Why? Strikeouts are part of the game," he said. "Have to keep swinging the bats."
Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer and Luis Valbuena had a tiebreaking solo shot in the sixth inning to help the Astros to the victory.
The first five batters in Baltimore's order piled up 11 of the team's strikeouts on Wednesday night.
"It's been a struggle," designated hitter Mark Trumbo said "But that's part of the deal. It's not going to go your way all the time. This is just one of those little ruts that we're in."
Baltimore tied the score 3-3 with a two-run sixth, and Valbuena homered for the second straight day with an opposite-field drive, with two outs to left-center field off Tyler Wilson (2-3).
Gattis has four homers and six RBIs in eight games since his return from Double-A Corpus Christi, where he went to prepare to play catcher in Houston after not working behind the plate since 2014.
Houston starter Collin McHugh allowed three runs and eight hits while fanning a season-high 10 in 5 1/3 innings. Pat Neshek (2-0) got the last two outs of the sixth, and Luke Gregerson allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth for his 10th save in 13 chances.
Wilson allowed four runs — three earned — and six hits in six innings, losing his second straight decision.
Machado and Jonathan Schoop hit consecutive doubles in the first, and George Springer's RBI single tied the score in the third.
Colby Rasmus reached on Wilson's error in the fourth, and Gattis homered into the left-field seats for a 3-1 lead.
Wilson lamented his error that set the table for Gattis.
"There are a lot of things that you can say were the difference in the game, but you look back at it that's definitely one of them," Wilson said. "So make that out right there it's a tie ballgame if everything else goes according to plan. It's frustrating."
Chris Davis and Trumbo hit consecutive singles starting the sixth, and left fielder Tony Kemp allowed the ball to glance off his glove for an error that advanced the runners. Davis scored on a wild pitch and Pedro Alvarez hit a chopper for a tying single that chased McHugh.
Neshek allowed a two-out double by Hyun Soo Kim and intentionally walked Machado before retiring Schoop.
Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy, who has been on the disabled list since May 2 with a fractured left foot, started doing some workouts this week, but isn't yet ready for full weight-bearing activities. But he should progress to that soon. "Structurally he's fine," manager Buck Showalter said. "That thing's just about healed. So I think that should happen shortly."
Astros: OF Carlos Gomez, who is on the disabled list with a bruised left ribcage, went 1 for 4 with a solo home run in his second rehabilitation start for Double-A Corpus Christi on Wednesday night. He'll likely make several more starts there before returning to Houston.
Orioles: Kevin Gausman (0-1, 2.70) is scheduled to make his seventh start on Thursday. Gausman lost his first game, but hasn't factored in the decision in any of his five starts since then. He allowed eight hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings of a 3-1 win over the Angels in his previous outing.
Astros: Lance McCullers (0-1, 5.91) will make his third start on Thursday. McCullers, who spent the early part of the season on the disabled list with soreness in his right shoulder, allowed five hits and two runs while striking out seven in six innings in his previous start, but took the loss in a 2-1 win by the Rangers.