In the past few seasons we’ve seen the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays play games where Toronto’s jumped way out in front of the Birds early on. Through the first two games of their series in 2012, we’ve seen the exact opposite; back-and-forth affairs that have been battles to the end. The other big difference is that the Orioles have won both of these two games, which always helps in the way of confidence as well as in the win/loss column.
Jason Hammel was a far cry from his form last week when he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning. Through five innings, Hammel gave up 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, and struck out three. There’s a bit more than meets the eye there however; Hammel had a very tough second inning in which he loaded the bases, only to give up one one run. However that cost Hammel a lot of pitches in doing so. Hammel’s big struggles in the inning were mostly in the beginning part there of. With one gone he struck out Kelly Johnson for the second out and Brett Lawrie on third, bringing Jose Bautista to the plate. Again keep in mind, the bases were loaded…why Lawrie would attempt to steal home plate in that situation is beyond me.
If you didn’t see the game, for the record Lawrie was tagged out by catcher Matt Wieters. It makes absolutely no sense to me why someone would try to steal home plate in that situation (bases juiced and a heavy hitter at the plate) is really baffling to me. This is purely theory, and I have nothing with which to back this up; Toronto is a team that has a reputation for stealing signs. So is it such a stretch to think that IF the Jays were up to those kinds of tactics perhaps someone thought they saw a sign for a specific pitch or location that they truly didn’t? Either that, or maybe were the O’s onto this and perhaps they crossed the Blue Jays up a bit? Again this is all purely speculation, however the fact is that the call to steal home plate in that situation left a lot of people scratching their heads.
Chris Davis hit his first home run of 2012 in the top of the 4th to put the O’s ahead 3-2. Davis of course is looked at as a guy that could be a first baseman with some power for the Orioles, which was good to see. Toronto got the lead back in the last of the sixth on the heels of a Wilson Betemit error at the hot corner. That’s right, an error at third but it had nothing to do with Mark Reynolds. The runs were charged to Matt Lindstrom who had come on in relief. In the case of Hammel, he actually left the game in line to be the winner. However as the game moved along it became obvious that neither Hammel or Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez would figure into the decision.
Going back to that attempted steal of home plate for a moment, Toronto had two runners in scoring position and a heavy-hitter at the plate. A base hit gives the Blue Jays two runs. Hold that thought for a moment! Wilson Betemit hit a solo home run in the 8th to tie the game at four, atoning for his earlier error. So when Nolan Reimold slugged a two-run homer into the third deck in the top of the ninth. Two runs…exactly the number of runners in scoring position when Lawrie tried to steal home plate.
The O’s have struggled over the years in Toronto, so this will certainly be a joyous Saturday evening for them in knowing that they’ve already won the series. This is not to say that they’re playing with house money going into tomorrow’s game, however it does make things a bit easier.
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