Corbin Burnes

Getty Corbin Burnes pitching during a June 22 game against the Houston Astros.

All season long the Baltimore Orioles have relied upon Corbin Burnes to perform. When he doesn’t, and it’s rare, it usually results in a loss.

Against the Houston Astros on June 22, that’s how the game played out. Burnes’ streak of 10-straight quality starts was snapped, as he gave up 4 runs in 7 innings pitched.

It’s just the third loss of the season for the Orioles’ ace. He talked about his two month streak coming to an end, and the two pitches responsible with reporters postgame.

“I threw the ball really well today,” Burnes said. “Which is kind of funny to say when you lose 5-1 and you gave up four runs. But just from coming off the game and briefly looking at it. Command-wise, kind of the best we’ve been. Stuff-wise, the best we’ve been. Two mistakes that we left over the plate that they hit out. Otherwise it’s a 1-1 ballgame in the seventh.”

Yordan Alvarez hit an 88.6 mph changeup 420 feet to put the Astros up 3-1. Chas McCormick hit a 95.6 mph cutter two innings later to put Houston up 4-1. Baltimore never recovered.

Burnes is now 8-3 on the season, with 94 strikeouts and a 2.35 ERA in 99.2 innings pitched. And the Orioles will look to avoid a sweep as Albert Suarez takes the mound in the final game of the series.

Burnes, Westburg Downplay Tough June Stretch

Baltimore has played 20 games in 21 days. And some of the teams they’ve played against–the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies prime among them–aren’t walks in the park.

When asked if he thinks the June stretch is getting to the Orioles, Burnes was quick to downplay the idea.

“I don’t think so,” Burnes said. “We knew coming into this stretch what it would be like. We’ve done a good job of playing great baseball and getting days when you need to…Tonight we faced a guy with one of the better numbers in the league and he threw the ball well. You are going to run into guys like that where it’s tough to get something going. But I think we’ve played great baseball.”

Third baseman Jordan Westburg, who hit his 12th home run of the season in the first inning versus Houston, agrees.

“I think we’re playing good baseball,” Westburg told Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. “It’s easy to overreact on the first two games of a series. But we play 162 and losing is bound to happen. In a stretch like we are in this June, not that losing is ever OK, but it’s expected at some point. We can’t be perfect and can’t go 162-0.”

Burnes’ Off Night Reinforces Orioles Need for Pitching Help

The addition of new pitchers won’t change Burnes scheduled rotation.

But having more arms in the bullpen can prevent him from going seven innings in games like his latest against the Astros. It also means Baltimore can’t afford to give him off days in weaker parts of the schedule.

As of June 22, the Orioles are currently down all of Danny Cuolombe (expected out until September), Dean Kremer (rehabbing), Kyle Bradish (out for season), John Means (out for season), Tyler Wells (out for season). That’s four starters and the team’s best reliever.

With the July 30 trade deadline just over a month away, Baltimore is expected to be active on the pitching market. Ken Rosenthal reported as much in a June 12 column for The Athletic.

“The Orioles are intently exploring the bullpen market and still could pursue a right-handed hitting outfielder,” Rosenthal wrote. “In addition, general manager Mike Elias is telling clubs he will weigh the addition of a starting pitcher perhaps up to the deadline, according to sources briefed on his discussions.”

In order to preserve Burnes and other starters for an October run, acquiring depth for the bullpen is critical for the Orioles.

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