MILWAUKEE — If the anger from manager Brandon Hyde had any strategy behind it beyond expressing genuine annoyance at home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt’s strike zone, there wasn’t a corresponding rapturous response from his Orioles players.
Hyde left the dugout to argue with Wendelstedt in the fifth inning of Wednesday night’s 10-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and was promptly thrown from the game. Ryan O’Hearn had just struck out looking — one of nine punchouts by Brewers pitchers — and there was little life to be found on the second leg of this two-city road trip.
It remained that way even after Hyde gesticulated at the umpire. The Orioles stumbled to a series loss in which their pitching staff crumbled and their bats hardly touched right-hander Corbin Burnes.
“Just wasn’t our night, really, in any aspect,” Hyde said.
Between it all was a curtain call-worthy performance from rookie Joey Wiemer, the center fielder who has been a thorn in Baltimore’s side these two games. In Tuesday’s loss to Milwaukee, the 24-year-old tracked down what could’ve been a run-scoring extra-base hit from Aaron Hicks in the gap and then drove in the winning run in extra innings.
On Wednesday, Wiemer clobbered two homers — one off right-hander Dean Kremer and another against left-hander Bruce Zimmermann — to go with a single and a double. He wasn’t alone, though, in breaking through against Kremer, who gave up a season-high six runs.
“You have to give those guys a lot of credit,” Hyde said. “They hit a lot of balls that were on the corners, also.”
Kremer has been the most consistent pitcher in Baltimore’s rotation for the last month, working into the sixth inning and allowing three runs or fewer in each of his last six starts. But, on 15 swings against Kremer’s sinker, the Brewers didn’t whiff once. They hit his four-seam fastball hard, too, with shortstop Willy Adames powering one in the first inning for a solo homer.
That was one of three pitches Kremer wanted back. The two others came against catcher Victor Caratini in 0-0 counts. Beyond those, Kremer felt as though he didn’t leave too many pitches elevated in the zone. But the Brewers recorded nine hits against him, tied for the second most he’s allowed all season.
“Something I was told in the minor leagues ... is you’re going to have five [starts] that are going to be really good, and you’re going to have five that are going to be not so good,” Kremer said. “That middle bulk kind of makes your season. I’d like to chalk this one up as one of those unlucky ones.”
Wiemer blasted a two-run shot in the third inning and drove in another run with a single in the fourth. Kremer finished the fifth but allowed two more runs in that frame. And, after Zimmermann escaped a jam in the sixth, three runs crossed against him in the seventh.
The Brewers recorded 16 hits — one shy of Baltimore’s season high allowed. One of the only positives, Hyde said, was that Zimmermann finished the game with three innings so Baltimore didn’t need to deplete its bullpen.
The Orioles couldn’t string hits together, not the way Burnes pitched. He retired the final 11 batters he faced and struck out nine without a walk. Burnes conceded just two hits across eight innings, and one of those was an infield single.
It was a clinic from Burnes, who has a penchant for this type of display. But it also came against a lineup that hasn’t been at its best lately. Since May 29, the Orioles entered Wednesday with a .230 team average, which ranks in the bottom half of the league.
“He was throwing in a really good spot, attacking hitters down and away, down and in,” Orioles right fielder Anthony Santander said. “That’s a big key as a pitcher.”
Still, Baltimore avoided its third shutout in its last eight games by jumping on left-hander Bennett Sousa in the ninth.
At that point, it was too late. The fire the Orioles needed should’ve sparked innings earlier. They’ll return to American Family Field on Thursday looking to avoid being swept for the first time this season.
“We have to stay positive,” Santander said. “Come back the next day, work hard and play hard.”