Jackson Holliday suspended from the team set to leave after 3Days!

The Orioles have a pitching staff problem. Perhaps that should be more focused: The Orioles have a bullpen problem. Or maybe even more zoomed in still: The Orioles have a Craig Kimbrel problem. The closer returned to the mound on Sunday afternoon looking to put the memory of Friday’s disaster behind him and all of the rest of us.

Kimbrel blew it, recording zero outs before leaving the game mid-batter with an injury or “injury” but in either case he stuck around long enough to give up two runs and send the O’s towards a disappointing home series loss to the Athletics as they dropped the finale, 7-6. There is no way not to sugar coat it. That’s a bummer.

This was a cascading problem that the Orioles were building up to in Sunday’s game, one that got rolling when Albert Suárez made his third start of the season with a goal of beating the “Even Mike Wright debuted with good big league starts once” comments. Suárez did not beat the charges. Against what has up to this point been a sad Oakland offense, Suárez labored through a rough four innings. By the end of the outing, he’d given up four runs on seven hits and thrown 83 pitches.

While Suárez struggled, the Orioles offense was able to do even better with its output against Oakland’s starter Paul Blackburn, who brought a 2.03 ERA into the game and left it with a 3.34 after giving up six runs in four innings. Blackburn was socked by third inning home runs hit by Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle, then taken deep again in the fourth by Ramón Urías. Safe to say that they had Blackburn’s number today.

The Orioles actually led the game, 6-4, by the time that Suárez took a seat for the day. This was also part of the story because it meant that the team could not just deploy the punt relievers (for my money, Mike Baumann and Yohan Ramírez) and let them soak up a couple of innings each on the way to an obvious loss. The game was close and they had to use relievers with an eye to winning the game, even though the starter only went four.

Keegan Akin pitched two innings on 32 pitches, allowing no runs to score or even any runners to get on base. That bridged the game at least to the seventh. Ought Akin have gone another inning? 32 pitches is his high for the season up to this point. Also, he brought a 4.09 ERA into the game, so it’s not like he’s one of the super reliable guys. Akin did his job on Sunday and it would be up to other guys to do theirs. Others did not.

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