Orioles fall flat in 3-0 loss to Nationals as cold bats again can’t support Corbin Burnes

WASHINGTON — The Orioles have been shut out twice this season. Both times, they tallied only a few hits, barely had any opportunities to score and squandered the couple they had. And both times, ace Corbin Burnes pitched well enough to win but didn’t get any run support.

For the second time this month, Burnes delivered a quality start only for his offense to not back him up. Baltimore’s bats went ice cold Tuesday night against the Nationals, reaching base safely only three times in a 3-0 loss.

The Orioles have allowed three or fewer runs in their past eight games, but they’re 6-2 in them. The other loss was May 1 when Luis Gil and the New York Yankees’ bullpen shut out the Orioles, who recorded only three hits in a 2-0 defeat with Burnes on the mound.

Burnes delivered a quality start Tuesday with six innings of three-run ball to extend the rotation’s hot streak, but he wasn’t nearly as dominant as the club’s starting corps has been recently. He walked three and gave up five hits while also allowing three Nationals to steal a base and another runner to advance on a balk after three pickoff attempts.

The Orioles’ rotation entered on a 21-inning streak without allowing a run, dating to the end of Kyle Bradish’s start on Thursday and through scoreless outings by Cole Irvin, John Means and Dean Kremer over the weekend in Cincinnati.

The Baltimore offense couldn’t get anything going against starter Trevor Williams and the Nationals’ bullpen. The Orioles only had one runner get into scoring position. The frustration of the night boiled over in the ninth inning when Ryan O’Hearn and manager Brandon Hyde were ejected by home plate umpire Alex Tosi after O’Hearn was called out on strikes.

The last time the Orioles scored a run for Burnes was in the fourth inning of his start April 26 against the Oakland Athletics. He’s gone 14 1/3 consecutive innings without a run of support.

Baltimore is 23-12 and at risk of its American League-best streak without being swept in the regular season ending Wednesday as the Battle of the Beltways is only a two-game set.

Adley Rutschman singled in the Orioles’ second at-bat of the evening off Williams. The Orioles would record only one more hit off Williams and two more in the game. The 32-year-old journeyman entered the game with a 4.40 ERA across nine seasons, but he’s off to the best start in his career with a 1.96 ERA.

Williams varied his four-pitch mix to stymie a Baltimore offense that leads the major leagues in home runs and ranks in the top five in several other categories. He didn’t walk a batter — the Orioles rank in the bottom five in that statistic — and struck out eight to tie his career high through 155 starts. The last time he tallied eight punchouts in a start was September 2022.

Around the horn

Grayson Rodriguez said his shoulder inflammation is not a serious injury and the right-hander doesn’t expect to need much more time off before returning to the Orioles’ rotation. He’s played “light catch” since being placed on the 15-day injured list May 1, but Hyde said the fireballer will throw a bullpen session “in the next few days.” Rodriguez, who leads the team with four wins, said he knew when he woke up with “extra soreness” that it wasn’t anything more. “Obviously being early in the season, we just wanted to make sure we had it under control now and not let it turn into something worse.” The 24-year-old is able to return from the IL on May 15. “I’m not sure exactly the date he’s going to be coming off the IL,” Hyde said. “But it all looks good right now, and hopefully he’ll be back soon.”

Austin Hays (left calf strain) began his rehab assignment Tuesday with High-A Aberdeen. Hays, an All-Star in 2023, slumped to begin this season before his injury landed him on the shelf April 21. “Would like to see him get as many at-bats as possible,” Hyde said. “I’m not sure how long it’s going to be, but it shouldn’t be too long.”

Terrin Vavra, who debuted with the Orioles in 2022 and made the opening day roster in 2023, is continuing his rehab assignment with High-A Aberdeen this week after beginning it in the Florida Complex League over the weekend. Vavra, who is no longer on the 40-man roster, has missed most of the past year with a shoulder injury that required surgery in the fall.

— Third baseman Max Wagner, who Baseball America ranks as Baltimore’s 14th-best prospect, is also continuing his rehab assignment with the IronBirds this week. The Orioles drafted Wagner in 2022’s second round.