Bethany Beach, DE – For the first time in my life I’ve included a city tag line in my column, as I’m not writing this from home, a hotel, the yard, or anywhere along those lines. I’ve decided to venture down-y oshun to spend the day at the seashore. Unfortunately all of the fun in the sun in this world couldn’t help the Orioles last night as they dropped the opener of the series in Seattle by the score of 6-3. First off some housekeeping; Chris Tillman is on his way to Seattle to join the club from triple-A Norfolk. Tillman was scratched from his triple-A start last night, and could start Wednesday in Seattle…or Thursday in Anaheim. Tentatively it’s going to be something along the lines of Tillman Wednesday, Arrieta Thursday, Dana Eveland Friday, and potentially Zach Britton Saturday…or some variation thereof. (Some of those names might get flipped around to different days.)
For the first time in a few days, the Orioles got effective starting pitching, this time out of Jason Hammel. His stat line doesn’t indicate that (6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 8 K), however he was pretty sharp for most of his final outing before having the opportunity to be voted into the all-star game on the final ballot. Hammel’s issue was that he tired in the 7th inning. And who could really blame him, given that he threw 114 pitches in the game. This is how bad things start to snowball in a season. Previously the O’s had gone through a string where their starters were getting beaten around. That trickled down to the bullpen, which to that point had been stellar. However when they started getting called upon to pitch five or six innings, their arms started to tire. Last night the Orioles were in a situation where they got good starting pitching, however Buck Showalter wanted to try to stretch it out as best he could so as to help the bullpen. That ultimately backfired.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the third, however the Birds turned the tables on them with two outs in the fourth. Jim Thome recorded his first hit as an Oriole, and he was followed by Matt Wieters who had hit the ball pretty darned hard in his first turn at the plate. Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma wanted no part of Wieters the second time around, and he effectively pitched around him. Just as MASN’s Gary Thorne was talking about how difficult it was to hit the ball out of Safeco Field, Chris Davis got a hold of one (with two on). When I say he got a hold of one, I mean he got a hold of one…that landed in the back of the lower level of seats in right field.
However with Hammel coming to the end of the line in the seventh, Seattle pounced. With the bases loaded in the seventh, Casper Wells hit a double to center field scoring three and giving Seattle a 4-3 lead. Seattle would also hit back-to-back homers in the last of the eighth off of Troy Patton to close the game at 6-3. In fairness to Hammel, he was very good for six innings and he got no “help from his friends.” Robert Andino committed an error, and the Wells double was a liner off his glove which was ruled a double. Earlier in the game Adam Jones missed a cut off guy trying to make a miraculous play at the plate, although Seattle would have scored anyways on that play.
The Orioles are a team that has so many people playing out of position that you almost forget where they’re supposed to play in the first place. Eventually those kinds of things will catch up with you, however in the Orioles’ case they haven’t needed to “catch up with them” because they had no trouble finding them in the first place. Adam Jones is the only true outfielder the Orioles have right now. Admittedly I thought that you could put anyone in the outfield (as a former little league outfielder myself). I was wrong; it does require a certain skill.
In game two in Seattle tonight, the O’s will send Wei-Yin Chen to the mound. This should be an interesting start for Chen, given that there’s a very large Japanese population in the greater Seattle area. Chen of course struggled in his last start against Cleveland, however it’ll be interesting to see what kind of command he has in a cooler climate such as Seattle. The Orioles will continue their murderer’s row of starting pitchers tonight as Felix Hernandez takes to the mound for Seattle. While Hernandez is 2-0 in his last two starts, he hasn’t had the same kind of pop thus far in 2012 (yet his ERA is still a respectable 3.09). Enough of this…I’m going to get myself some Thrasher’s fries!
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