Let’s be frank; Jason Hammel getting ejected in the fourth inning of yesterday’s 10-3 loss had no real bearing on the outcome. The Baltimore Orioles were already trailing 5-1, in the wak of back-to-back-to-back homers by Detroit. Hammel hit Tuiasosopo with a slider up and in, and was promptly thrown out of the game. There’s no doubt that hitting a guy with the first pitch after back-to-back-to-back homers is suspect. However Hammel had been having control problems, and the pitch itself was a slider (normally guys are going to use fastballs as purpose pitches). So…was ejecting Hammel really the right move on the part of the home plate ump, or would a simply warning have sufficed?
Buck Showalter argued for about five minutes while T.J. McFarland got warm. (And for the record, a reliever is supposed to get as much time as he needs to warm up in that situation. I felt that the game got started awful quick in the wake of the ejection, however it’s unclear if the umpires rushed things along quickly or if McFarland claimed he was ready.) For one reason or the other, Hammel’s day ended with him trailing 5-1 in the game. Those homers almost acted as a harbinger in a sense, as T.J. McFarland promptly loaded the bases and then put a 3-2 fastball right over the plate to Miguel Cabrera which ended up in the seats. That put the Birds down 9-1, and barring some sort of dramatic miracle effectively ended the competitive part of the game. You hate to say that with this team’s propensity for coming back in games, however eight runs is a tough margin to overcome.
As the saying goes, some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug. These types of games happen over the course of 162. While it stings for the time being from the Orioles’ perspective, part of the beauty of baseball is that you can get right back on the horse the next day. T.J. McFarland unfortunately learned the hard way that a 3-2 count with the bases loaded against arguably the best hitter of this generation is not the time to “give in” and throw a fastball down the middle. That’s part of learning from McFarland’s perspective. As I said on twitter during the game, McFarland’s final pitching line definitely looks rough due to the grand slam. However he did a huge “solid” for the Orioles’ pen in that he was able to bridge over to the later innings. That’s something that will get overlooked as a result of the overall game story, however it’s something that’s worth mentioning.
One bright spot for the Orioles on the offensive side of things was J.J. Hardy, who hit two solo home runs in the game. The Orioles did threaten a few times, however putting up runs against Justin Verlander is pretty tough. In that vain, Verlander continued his mastery over the Orioles pushing his record against them to 8-0 (6-0 at Camden Yards). As I said, some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug. The Orioles and Jason Hammel were definitely the bug in yesterday’s game. For the record, Hammel’s short line was as follows: 3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 0 K. In the first three innings I actually felt that Hammel had pretty decent control, however he fell apart in the top of the fourth, giving up the three consecutive home runs to start the inning before the ejection.
The Birds will go for the series win this afternoon in the finale, with Kevin Gausman making his home debut in front of the Camden Yards faithful. Gausman of course is coming off of a so-so start to begin his career in Toronto, and then a start in which he was beaten around a bunch in Washington last week. Orioles fans might shudder to think of what could happen with Gausman going against perhaps the most potent lineup in the American League at the yard (where the ball flies), however Gausman’s been a very good student while watching what the other pitchers have done well the past few games. Gausman will be opposed by Rick Porcello, who Detroit tried to trade to the Orioles (for J.J. Hardy) in the offseason. Thus far the fact that the Orioles didn’t trade for Porcello has worked out for them, as he’s 2-2 with a 5.29 ERA. If you’re planning on attending the game today, note that there might be some runs scored!
One more thing about the Hammel ejection. Even Detroit manager Jim Leyland said after the game that he didn’t feel Hammel was throwing at Tuiasosopo. Buck Showalter and J.J. Hardy both put it very bluntly; everyone knows that when you’re throwing at someone you use a fastball to send a message. Hammel’s pitch was a slider. I would submit that having umpires now be the judge of intent is not a good thing. Having said that, I can see where the umpire was coming from (given the three consecutive homers), however given the fact that the pitch was a slider I feel that a warning to the Orioles’ bench would have been sufficient. Given Leyland’s remark about it not being intentional I doubt Detroit would have retaliated, however if they had their bench would have subsequently been warned as well and that would have been the end of it. Luckily for the Orioles neither Hammel or Showalter opted to blast the ejection following the game, meaning that the O’s probably won’t have to risk losing them for a game or two. However once again, some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug.