Baltimore Orioles: Example of why we need instant replay

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The Orioles lost to the NY Yankees 2-1 last night at Yankee Stadium. There wasn’t really much that went on in the game, save for how the Yankees scored their two runs. After the Orioles put one run on the board in the second on a sac fly, NY came to bat in the last of the inning. Mark Texeira led off, and sent a tight grounder down the right field line (luckily for the Orioles the ball smacked off the grandstand and directly to fight fielder Nick Markakis, holding Texeira to a single). Eric Chavez’s homer put NY up 2-1, which was the final score.

Manager Buck Showalter came out to argue with first base umpire Bob Davidson immediately after Texeira got on base. Showalter felt that the ball was a little too tight down the right field line; in other words, he felt that the ball didn’t go over the bag. Upon further review on the MASN replays, he was right. All other things being equal of course, this should have been a 1-1 game going into extra innings. The ball bounced once in fair territory, and then went wide of the bag (in foul territory).

I don’t blame Bob Davidson in this case. I can be very critical of umpires at times, however in this case the ump is forced to make a snap decision on the fly. So in the tradition of more cowbell on Saturday Night Live, I’m saying that umpires should have more replay! This would be a pretty easy play to overturn if they had the option of taking a look at it.  I still think that college football does replay the best; if the “eye in the sky” sees something that he questions he buzzes down to the ref, they review it, and move on. I get the whole argument about slowing down the game and so forth. However if the game is officiated better, why would that be bad? It seems to me that managers going out and arguing with umpires slows the games down just as much. (I’m not advocating reviewing balls and strikes under any circumstance; home runs, fair/foul, and safe/out.) In this case, there’s no question that a bum call aided in costing the Orioles the game.

Obviously it’s never just one thing; the O’s only managed the one run against NY starter Hiroki Kuroda. Jason Hammel pitched another good game even though he came out on the losing end. Hammel’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K. This is where you need run support as a pitcher, and Hammel just didn’t get it yesterday. In my opinion the most important aspect of his start was the fact that he was able to settled down after the Chavez homer. After surrendering the lead Hammel started mowing them down, and he only seemed to get better as he went along.

This evening the Orioles will try to even the series as Brian Matusz continues to look for his first win of the season. As a fly ball pitcher, he might struggle to do that in Yankee Stadium. However it’s expected to be another cool night in the Bronx, which makes things a bit tougher for hitters. Matusz of course is coming off of his best start in quite awhile last week, giving up two runs over six innings against Toronto. Matusz was pretty crisp in that performance, which is obviously a good sign moving forward. He seemed to retain a lot of the late movement that he had earlier in his career, which kept Toronto hitters guessing.

Matusz will be opposed by NY’s Phil Hughes, who’s struggled thus far in 2012. His record stands at 1-3, and he was lifted after 2.2 innings last week in Texas. So here’s a chance for Oriole bats to get back on track after last night. If Hughes hangs a few fastballs that get hammered, the Orioles can chase him early. The issue of course is that NY has a pretty darn good bullpen, so the idea is to get to Hughes and stockpile some runs. In those 2.2 innings in Texas last week, Hughes allowed four runs. I would expect that Joe Girardi might have somewhat of a quick hook on Hughes as he did last week, so as I said…stockpile those runs early and often!

Going back to the fair ball call with Bob Davidson, I recognize that umpires want to make the right calls. I also recognize that it’s impossible to make the right call 100% of the time…without help. So why can’t MLB give umpires a tool to help them to make the right call more frequently? One of the direct results of that call at first base last night was that the Orioles lost the game. If Bob Davidson has seen the replay since then, he would probably admit that he blew it. Again, why not allow them the luxury of a tool by which they can do their job to the best of their ability?

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala

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