Offense, pitching scuffle during O's slide

Offense, pitching scuffle during O's slide

There was no one pitch or at-bat that summarized Saturday night for the Orioles in Houston. Instead, it looked like much of the past two weeks has for the scuffling O's -- not nearly enough offense and a pitching staff that has struggled to see the sixth inning.

Saturday's defeat, a 5-2 loss to the Astros, is still concerning for the Orioles, who lost their sixth in a row, have dropped 12 of 15 and are in third place in the American League East. The O's are just three games ahead of last-place Toronto and will turn to spot starter Alec Asher on Sunday to try to avoid a sweep.

"We just haven't been doing much offensively," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's a real tribute to their pitchers and us not swinging the bat real well right now.

"Tempo is usually set by the other pitcher. And [Astros starter Dallas Keuchel] is a great locator of the baseball. They get up early like that, guys tend to push more, which falls right into his repertoire."

Already without All-Star closer Zach Britton, the Orioles got word Saturday that center fielder -- and team leader -- Adam Jones would be sidelined for a few days with a jammed ankle. The Orioles have scored three runs or fewer in five of six games, and while they've seen some good pitching over that stretch, big bats Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis have been largely inconsistent.

Davis' triple

"It's kind of hard to pinpoint. Everyone's probably got something different going on," Trumbo said of the lineup's struggles. "We're swinging at a lot of pitches that we probably can't do too much with. We can do a better job of capitalizing on the good pitches and laying off some of the ones that are in the dirt."

The O's offense, which went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base Saturday, isn't solely to blame for the team's recent slide.

The bullpen has struggled without Britton, and Asher is starting Sunday because Ubaldo Jimenez was demoted to relief.

Saturday's starter, Wade Miley, tied his season high with four runs allowed over five innings. He's gone five innings in three of his last four outings and is part of an O's rotation -- aside from Dylan Bundy -- that has struggled to turn in quality starts.

Miley strikes out Bregman

"The first inning, I felt like I was getting ground-balled to death. Balls were finding holes, obviously the [double] to [Jose] Altuve, but I think there were about three or four ground balls that just kind of snuck through," Miley said. "It's part of it. I had a pretty quick decent second and third, and then struggled a little in the fourth and fifth. But just a couple counts where I fell behind 3-1, 3-2, and it probably cost me 15-20 pitches, and that's the difference between five and seven innings."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.