Keep in mind that all winning streaks have to come to an end at some point, and those of the Baltimore Orioles are no different. When they do end, it usually isn’t pretty; with that said the O’s lost to Chicago 8-1 last night. You never want to lose a game, however it’s going to happen (as the 2007 New England Patriots for example). Similar to making mistakes in innings’ of games, you simply want to minimize the damage. The Orioles need to “sleep fast” as Buck Showalter likes to say and get back to the ballpark for this afternoon’s 12:30 matinee against the ChiSox. Immediately grabbing the bull by the horns and stopping a potential losing streak before it gets too far along generally aids in a winning season.
Joe Saunders made his debut with the Orioles last night, and in lackluster fashion at that. Saunders’ line: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R (6 earned), 2 BB, 4 K. I immediately noticed that he was a nibbler, much in the tradition of Sidney Ponson or Bruce Chen when they were with the Orioles years ago. I don’t think that this has been Saunders’ modus operandi in the past, however he was unable to locate his fastball in the zone. To his credit, he was able to induce a couple of ground ball double plays to help himself out, which tells us that his two-seam fastball did have some sink to it.
Chicago rookie Dylan Axelrod didn’t really look as impressive as his statistics indicate. The Orioles got very impatient at the plate and started swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, which did the guy quite a few favors. However baseball’s a game based on failure, which is a general comment that can in effect be made about any game during the season. Chicago put up four runs in the first, forcing Saunders to throw 31 pitches in his first inning in an Oriole uniform. To Saunders’ credit, he did settle down and appear to make adjustments. However the ChiSox would tack on three more runs to his total (two of which where earned). The O’s would get one back on a sac fly-RBI in the seventh, however call that a courtesy run if you will.
Orioles fans should also keep in mind that Chicago is a team that’s in the playoff hunt as well. They’re currently in first place in their division, so this isn’t Toronto we’re seeing. Furthermore, the Birds will have a chance to win the series this afternoon in the series finale, which is really all that you can ask. It’s tough to sweep a three-game series, much less a four-gamer. With the loss, combined with NY’s loss yesterday as well the O’s remain 3.5 games back in the AL East. They’re also currently the second wild card team in the American League behind Oakland (who finishes up their series in Cleveland this afternoon).
Zach Britton will head to the mound for the Orioles in this afternoon’s game. Britton’s won two consecutive starts, allowing two runs over his last 13.2 innings pitched. Jose Quintana will counter for Chicago, in the wake of throwing 42 pitches in the first inning of his last start against Seattle. One has to hope that the Orioles got the whole “not taking any pitches” thing out of their system last night because it might behoove them to take some this afternoon.