Baltimore Orioles: Mind games

Miguel-Gonzalezs-Adenhart-gloveI thought about writing a formal game recap from last night’s game, but what’s the point? The O’s lost 10-1 to Tampa in a game where they literally trailed the entire time. Dan Jennings hit the first pitch of the game out of the ballpark, and Tampa never looked back. In the wake of this, I would encourage Oriole fans to take a cerebral approach. Remember folks, the Birds laid the wood work on Cleveland last week pretty bad. You’re never as good as you look when you blow someone out, and you’re never as bad as you look in getting blown out. That’s sports, and it’s part of the deal.

Miguel Gonzalez admitted that he didn’t have his good stuff last night after the game, which is pretty consistent with what the Orioles have said after losses all year. There are so many teams that make excuses when they lose games such as “the wind was blowing out today,” or something like that. Not the orange and black; these colors don’t run as they say! However I noticed one thing about Gonzalez and all of the relievers that the Orioles used that concerns me a bit: they’d get ahead with two-strike counts only to walk the batter. That might happen once or twice in the span of a game. However when you get someone down 0-2 or 1-2 you’re generally expecting to get him out (or to have him get on base with a base hit). But…to walk him?

Needless to say, there’s a bit more than meets the eye here. I think it’s no coincidence to say the least. I’ve said this before, but other teams know that at times Oriole pitchers can’t get their fastball across the plate. So they have to resort to secondary pitches such as curves, sliders, and changes. Not being able to locate a fastball can only be disguised for so long. When you’ve gotten to that two-strike count by throwing off speed pitches the hitter knows that the pitcher can’t locate his fastball. So that allows him to either take a walk and get on base, or sit on a fastball which will probably get hit a long way.

So as the title indicates, my stance is that Tampa was probably play mind games with the Orioles last night. While baseball has always had it’s share of good athletes, you really need to be spry of mind to compete in this game. That’s where Joe Maddon is tops at his game. Buck Showalter’s pretty good as well, however keep in mind that managers and coaches aren’t out there playing in the games. It’s up to the players to use what they’re being told to their advantage. In short, you might be able to get to two strikes by disguising the fact that you’re having trouble locating your fastball. However you also have to give some credit to big league hitters because eventually they’re going to figure you out.

The Orioles will try to salvage a game in this three-game set with Tampa in a special afternoon matinee at Camden Yards today at 12:30. Unless he’s traded before 12:30 this afternoon, the Orioles will get to see “Big Game” James Shields; lucky them. However Tampa will have to face Chris Tillman, who of course is coming off of a great start in Cleveland. One has to hope that Tampa got all of their runs out of them yesterday. If not, at the very least those Oriole bats need to come back to life. That might be a good idea anyways.

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala

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