The sad thing about last night’s 19-7 loss in Minnesota was that Oriole bats came alive once again. In fact, had things fallen differently in this one we would probably be saying this morning that they were flat out hot. However scoring seven runs over 13 hits does you no good when you give up 19 runs over 20 hits. I suppose the table was set for a long night at the very beginning when Nick Markakis led off with a single, followed by a J.J. Hardy walk. Adam Jones sent a liner the opposite way, but right fielder Ben Revere got on his horse and made an amazing diving stop. If that ball gets by Revere, the Orioles probably lead 2-0 with Adam Jones on second and nobody out. Instead, Matt Wieters grounded into a double-play to end the inning.
It’s tough to win when your starter lasts two-thirds of an inning. In fairness to Chris Tillman, only one of the seven runs he gave up was earned. With two outs in the first Mark Reynolds allowed a ground ball to go through him, scoring two. That would have been the third out, so any and all runs scored off of Tillman for the rest of the inning were unearned. I can’t blame Tillman for that; however to his own detriment more than anything else he seemed to lose confidence after that. He started leaving more and more balls in the middle of the plate and up, and Minnesota happily obliged by hitting them. That’s a situation where Tillman needs to pick up his teammate (Reynolds) and the rest of the team. His performance and his body language in the wake of that error indicated that he lost confidence in them as well as in himself.
Honestly, I’m not as worried about Tillman as some of the folks on my twitter feed seemed to be last night. Granted I don’t think he’s as un-hittable as he looked in Seattle, but he’s nowhere near as bad as he looked here. I think that more than anything else he compounded bad luck by losing faith in himself and his teammates. Manager Buck Showalter told MASN’s Gary Thorne after the game that they’d “run him out there again,” which puts to rest any thought that Tillman might get sent down as a result of this outing. Just as you can’t put the guy in the hall of fame based on his previous start, you can’t write him off after this one.
Mark Reynolds’ error hurt the Orioles in numerous ways, however to his credit he did everything he could to atone for his mistake. Reynolds went 3-for-4 on the right, including a three-run homer. As I said, Oriole bats were in fact lively in this game. That’s not really something that’s worth bringing up since they gave up 19 runs, however it might well be something upon which they can build. I suppose that the flip side of that is it’s easy to hit when the stakes are low. If anything, the pressure was out of the game early so the Orioles might have been able to relax just a little. So…does this mean that in general they’re tense and thus trying too hard in a manner of speaking?
Minnesota kept piling on the runs, with little apparent regard for the circumstances. You can of course see what I’m inferring here; in no way am I suggesting that batters should let good pitches go by or purposely swing through them. That’s disrespectful to the game and the opponent. However…is it really necessary to send a runner from second on a base hit when you’re up by 10+ runs? In the last of the fifth Minnesota attempted two steals of second base, one of which was successful. At that point they were up by nine runs. I recognize that the other side of the coin is that if you have a problem with that you should try to stop them from scoring. New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichek has said in the past that it’s not his job to stop his offense. However there’s a bit more than meets the eye here; there is such a thing as professional courtesy, and in some cases I feel that’s lost in today’s game.
Zach Britton will make his 2012 debut after coming back from injury earlier in the season. Britton struggled at first in triple-A after his rehab assignment, however he’s stablized as late. More than anything else, the Orioles need someone to give them a quality start and to go deep into the game. The Oriole bullpen has been taxed hard coming out of the all-star break, and if they aren’t careful someone’s arm might fall off. When I say go deep into the game, I mean that I’d like to see Britton go seven innings tonight. I suspect that the ‘pen can handle themselves for two innings of work. Britton will be opposed by Samuel Deduno of Minnesota, who was bothered by the long ball in his first big league start on July 7th. As I said above the Orioles’ offense seemed to come alive last night, so if Britton can keep Minnesota at bay the Birds have a chance to put some runs on the board against Deduno.
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