BALTIMORE — A rather simple truth about Baltimore Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner that has played out plenty this season came into focus again in Wednesday’s soggy 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
He was cruising for five innings, completing two scoreless turns through the Phillies’ lineup before it flipped over a third time to open the sixth inning and the Orioles’ one-run lead turned into a two-run deficit. The rain picked up around that time, but that doesn’t wash away what has happened to Cashner time and again this season. Pitchers all around the game have been found to pay a penalty for facing a lineup three times, and Cashner is part of that group.
“Some people look at that [statistic], and rightfully so,” Manager Buck Showalter said. “There’s some stuff to back that up. But I don’t think that was the case today.”
Said Cashner: “I thought I threw the ball well. The sixth inning, the ball just kept slipping out of my hand. It got pretty wet there.”
Cashner (1-5) was as good as he has been in an Orioles uniform through the first five innings, striking out six and allowing just four men to reach base.
But Cesar Hernandez homered over the right field scoreboard on Cashner’s first pitch of the sixth, and after a quick lineout by Rhys Hoskins and a full-count groundout by Odubel Herrera, the trouble began in earnest.
Carlos Santana drew a two-out, nine-pitch walk, went first-to-third when Nick Williams singled and scored when Maikel Franco’s base hit chased Cashner. Williams came around to score when Pedro Florimon singled off Richard Bleier, closing the book on Cashner at three runs on five hits in 5⅔ innings.
The Orioles signed Cashner for his consistency, and they’re getting it. He has either started slowly and grinded deep into the game to keep the Orioles close or, like Wednesday, seen a gem turn into something less once hitters see him for a third time.
According to Baseball Reference stats entering Wednesday, the league-average jump in opponents’ batting average from the second time through the order to the third was .245 to .270, and their on-base-plus-slugging percentage jumped from .725 to .805. For Cashner, it was even more striking. Opponents were batting .226 the first time through, .239 the second and .341 the third. Their OPS went from .803 the first two times through to .940 the third.
Considering he allowed a single and a double and walked two the first two times through before allowing two singles, a walk and a home run the third, those splits will only look more disparate.
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