The Orioles suffered perhaps what we might call their first “bad loss” of the season last night in Chicago, dropping an 8-1 decision to the White Sox. Starter Tommy Hunter was solid…in the first inning. I’m always curious how that works; does a pitcher “have it” at one moment only to “lose it” the next? Ultimately I think you also have to give a bit of credit to the opposition, as the White Sox are a professional team as well. Endy Chavez’s RBI-double gave the Birds a 1-0 lead in the first. Hunter gave up a two-run homer to A.J. Pierzynski in the second, and also allowed one in the third…
…to that point, I thought that Hunter was doing a decent job of minimizing the damage. He’d let a run through here and there, however until the sixth inning he wouldn’t allow more than that at one time. Certainly the opposition is still allowed to get more and more ahead, however it keeps the damage at a minimum. However Hunter loaded the bases in the sixth inning before being pulled in favor of Troy Patton. Adam Dunn broke out of his slumber with a bases-clearing double to put Chicago ahead 8-1. If you want two positives from this game, you can look to Mark Reynolds’ two dazzling plays at third base last night, as well as the play of Kevin Gregg. While Gregg did give up a base hit and walk two, he managed to get out of the inning unscathed.
The good news for the O’s is that they’re still in a position to win this series. (I would point out that it’s tough to sweep a three-game series, much less a four-game swing.) The even better news from the perspective of the team is that today’s game is a getaway-day afternoon matinee at 2 PM. That might be less-than-idea from the perspective of the fans, however it’s good for the players because after a tough loss you want to get back on the field as quickly as possible. It’s kind of the Mother Goose/Humpty-Dumpty idea; get back up on the wall as soon as you can after falling. (Of course there is that bit about “all the king’s horses and men not being able to put Humpty together again…work with me people!) The Birds have very little time to think about this one before they have to get right back at it this afternoon, which is a good thing.
Jason Hammel will head to the mound for his third start today. The key for Hammel is going to be his two-seam fastball; in his first start (a no-hit bid) he had that working wonders for him. He said that it was something that he had always had in his repetoire but he didn’t use it too often in Colorado because the altitude wasn’t conducive to it. In his second start this past Saturday in Colorado it wasn’t sinking as well as it did the first time. However Hammel only allowed two runs over five innings and struck out three, so he definitely put the Orioles in a position to eventually win the game. Hammel will be opposed by Baltimore-area native Gavin Floyd who’s 1-1 on the young season after beating Detroit on Saturday afternoon.
I really think that this is a key game for the O’s. As I said today is a getaway-day matinee. Both teams are on the move after the game, the Orioles to Anaheim and Sox to Seattle. Anaheim may only have a 4-8 record, but they’ve given the Orioles problems in the past (the Angels swept the O’s out there last year if my memory serves me). So if the Orioles can win today before going out to “the big A” for the weekend, they’ll carry some confidence into the series. Generally the status quo in these four-game sets seems to be that the teams split two wins a piece. Chicago is not in a position to be able to take three-of-four (instead of the normal split), the Orioles are. Let’s hope they can take advantage of it before heading out “to the coast.”
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