HOUSTON — On Wednesday morning, eight members of the Baltimore Orioles took a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA’s renowned Johnson Space Center.
Four innings into Wednesday night’s 11-7 loss to the Houston Astros, the entire Orioles team witnessed a launching pad — way too up close and personal for their tastes.
Six different Astros homered in the first four innings against Orioles pitchers Freddy Garcia (2-3) and Steve Johnson — setting an Astros season high in homers and a season-worst for long-balls allowed by the Orioles this season.
Insert you own flying rocket joke here.
The red glare began early.
With one on and one out in the first, Houston catcher Jason Castro homered against Garcia, Castro’s eighth of the season. Three batters later, Carlos Pena added a two-run shot to give the Astros a 4-1 lead.
In the second, Marwin Gonzalez hit a one-out solo blast — the third homer Garcia had served up in 34 pitches. All three landed in the Astros’ bullpen.
After a souvenir-free third, Matt Dominguez homered to lead off the fourth and chase Garcia from the game.
The Orioles’s 36-year-old right-hander had allowed just four earned runs and three homers in his past three starts spanning 19 innings. On Wednesday, he gave up seven hits, two walks, six earned runs and four homers in three-plus innings pitched.
Garcia’s rough outing led to just the fifth loss in 15 games for the Orioles (33-26), who were attempting to get to nine games over .500 for the first time in 2013.