ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Bags were being packed, travel plans had been arranged. The only thing between the Baltimore Orioles and the all-star break was their series finale against the Angels in Anaheim on Sunday.
And on a sunny Southern California afternoon, the Orioles played like they were already on vacation.
Baltimore went into the all-star break with an all-around uninspired performance, falling to the Angels, 6-0, in front of an announced crowd of 37,108 at Angel Stadium.
The Orioles were shut out in consecutive games for the second time this season. The Mets blanked them on June 18 and 19 in New York. Baltimore, second in the AL East, goes into the break losers of 13 of its last 19 games.
“We’re not swinging the bats well,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “There’s good pitching and that’s why they call it the big leagues.
“I hope these next four days they kind of get away from it and kind get a little tuneup mentally and emotionally.”
Considering their lack of offense, it’s amazing they’re still in second in one of baseball’s most competitive divisions. The Orioles (45-40) have been held scoreless in 32 of their past 33 innings. Steve Pearce’s three-run homer on Friday was the only offense Baltimore had in that span.
On Sunday, Baltimore had just five hits.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles (48-38) hit four homers off Baltimore pitching, including three off starter Wei-Yin Chen.
Chen (7-5) lasted just four-plus innings — his shortest outing in 17 starts this season — allowing five runs on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks, losing his third straight decision.
Five of the Angels’ six runs were scored with two outs, including all three homers off Chen.
“Sometimes I pitch good one game and sometimes I have a horrible game,” Chen said through an interpreter.
“I’m still feeling good on all my pitches, but the most important thing was I couldn’t locate my pitches..”
In the second inning, Erick Aybar hit a solo two-out homer. Rookie all-star Mike Trout homered off the rocks to the left of center field in the third. Adam Jones then nearly made a spectacular diving catch of Torii Hunter’s ball, but it popped out of his glove for a double.
Albert Pujols made the Orioles pay, hitting a two-run homer off Chen to make it 4-0. Mark Trumbo homered off reliever Luis Ayala in the fifth.
A day after being shut out by Angels ace Jered Weaver, 27-year-old journeyman left-hander Brad Mills, called up from Class AAA before the game, held Baltimore to just three hits over five innings.
Mills, who was making just his 10th big league start, is 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA against the Orioles — he previously beat them twice while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays — and 0-3 with a 10.75 ERA against the rest of baseball as a major leaguer.
Mills retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. Robert Andino’s double to lead off the game was the best offense all day for the Orioles, who had runners reach second base just twice and were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
Baltimore hopes to get key players back after the break, particularly right fielder and No. 3 hitter Nick Markakis, who is on a minor league league rehab assignment at Class AA Bowie.
Markakis’s absence from the lineup has been glaring. Shortstop and No. 2 hitter J.J. Hardy is hitless in his past 18 at-bats following an 0-for-4 afternoon Sunday and is hitting just .179 with two homers and eight RBI in 33 games without Markakis in the lineup. He’s hitting .260 with 10 homers and 24 RBI in games with Markakis hitting behind him.