Things were plugging along so nicely, and the Kansas City Royals had to come to town and spoil the party as they defeated the Orioles 8-2 last night. It resembled someone coming and crashing your birthday party from the Orioles’ perspective; or perhaps it was more like finding some wedding crashers at your wedding reception.That aside, let’s not over-analyze what happened here. The O’s snapped a five game winning streak; winning and losing streaks don’t last forever one way or another. This is not a sign of impending doom in terms of the season, or anything like that.
Wei-Yin Chen struggled in this game from the beginning. Alex Gordon led off the game with a solo home run, which was followed by a three-run homer by Billy Butler. So suddenly before even coming to bat the O’s were in a 4-0 hole. Kansas City would put two more on the board in the third off of two doubles, and one more in the fifth on a sac fly. The main story line of the night or the O’s was the major league debt of third baseman Manny Machado, who was called up from double-A Bowie. All in all, Machado was fairly solid. going 2-for-4 and scoring a run on a sac fly by Nick Markakis. Machado’s first major league hit came in the last of the fifth on a triple to right field. He followed that up with an infield single to second base in the seventh. He never had anything more than a routine play in the field, however he seemed fairly solid on all of those.
Machado of course is a natural shortstop, however it’s certainly fair to say that the two positions have often been interchangeable. I suppose that I’m not against bringing Machado up per se. Obviously there’s no point of having superstar players in your farm system if they’re going to stay there and never see the field in the major leagues. However I would submit that while the Orioles do need a more steady glove at the hot corner I’m afraid that on the job training for a rookie is not something that should be done in the thick of a pennant race. To say the least, it’s a baptism by fire so to speak for Machado. Furthermore, bringing him up to the majors starts the clock on his big league service time. Most fans are going to argue that’s not something with which the team should concern itself in trying to earn a playoff birth, however they might have been better served bringing Machado up next May to defer that a year.
It’s also fair to say that if the O’s start worrying about that kind of thing and they start playing roster games, it’s possible that they’ll outsmart themselves. But all avenues need to be considered when dealing with a prospect the caliber of Machado. Needless to say, he’ll make some mistakes, however I do suspect that they won’t be any more than what was already being committed at the hot corner. You might turn around and ask what’s the issue then? If he makes mistakes that were already being made, who not bring him up since he’s young and he’s the future? Again, I’m not against the concept per se, I’m just saying that I hope Dan Duquette thought of every potential outcome when making this decision. In fairness, most of Duquette’s moves that came across as pointless thus far have panned out for the Birds. So based on that track record, perhaps we should give Duquette the benefit of the doubt.
The Orioles will face Luke Hochevar tonight, who’s coming off a no-decision. He had one poor inning in his previous start in which he gave up four runs (one earned). He will give up runs, evidenced by his 5.04 ERA. The Orioles will counter with Miguel Gonzalez, who’s coming off of the first scoreless outing of his career Sunday in Tampa. Gonzalez of course registered a no-decision as well, but pitched seven scoreless innings. Much like Seattle, Kansas City is a team that the Orioles need to handle if they’re going to be serious contenders for the playoffs. Dropping one game last night has a minimal affect, as it’s only one game…so long as they right the ship moving forward.
Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala