Whoa, the Orioles certainly could have used more cowbell last night. However in fairness they were facing the only knuckleballer in the league in R.A. Dickey, who ended up tossing a one-hit shutout as the NY Mets defeated the Orioles 5-0. My concern is not last night’s game, and in fact I can even excuse it. Dickey came into the game with a 10-1 record due in large part to his knuckler. It’s just not a pitch that you see on a daily basis, and his is so good that it’s very difficult to hit. The guy didn’t achieve that 10-1 – now 11-1 – record by accident. He’s that good…
…my concern is more about what happens tonight and onward. Many former players say that facing a knuckleballer will often have you scuffling at the plate for the better part of a week. While there’s never a time that you want to go into a tailspin, the weeks leading up to the all-star break certainly isn’t ideal. Nevertheless, the Orioles need to work hard at ensuring that they don’t go into a tailspin at the plate and thus in the standings. In monitoring my twitter feed last night, lots of people seemed incensed that the O’s weren’t swinging the bat, and when they did they swung at bad pitches. I suppose in bringing this up I’m coming before people on bended knee, hat in hand, and begging…please, let’s not take things out of context. This was a guy throwing a knuckleball that could do anything and everything. In fact, it’s entirely possible that towards the end of the game many guys weren’t swinging so as to not throw off their timing for the future. I guess I’m just saying that you have to look at things in the manner of the big picture. If you don’t, it’s easy to get too high or worse yet too low on yourself.
Jake Arrieta didn’t throw a bad game, although the above-mentioned “out of context crowd” would probably say that he lost and therefore he pitched poorly. Short story even shorter, Ike Davis hit a sixth-inning grand slam to put NY up 4-0. They would later tack on an insurance run, but that was the game. That’s all you need when you have a guy throwing his knuckleball across as well as Dickey was. Last night was his second consecutive one-hitter, so again it’s not as if the Orioles ran into a guy that was struggling and he righted himself against Oriole bats. Ironically, it was Arrieta himself who became the Orioles’ first base runner with a walk. Dickey of course followed suit with a base hit up the middle to start the rally that ended with the Davis grand slam.
The Orioles need to put this behind them and move on. Again, you never want to lose a game however they were facing a pitcher that has a very unorthodox pitch and who’s been on fire this entire season. Luckily for them, they get to face just a regular flame-thrower in Johan Santana this evening. The O’s will counter with Tommy Hunter, who still has us wondering what kind of outing that he’ll have. If Hunter struggles, the good news is that the bullpen is fairly rested after Showalter only needed to use one reliever (Kevin Gregg) in last night’s game. These next few games will be very telling for the Birds coming off of facing a tough knuckler like Dickey.
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