We all remember the line from Bull Durham I hope; “…some days you win, some days you lose, and some days it rains.” With that said, the Baltimore Orioles dropped their series finale against Anaheim yesterday at Camden Yards, in a game that they probably allowed to slip away. The Birds were in a prime position to sweep with a 4-2 lead in the seventh, however a six-run inning did their chances in. On the plus side, Jason Hammel was solid through six innings of his start. Hammel’s line: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 K. The only criticism of Hammel could be that he still needs to work on going deep into games. He was lifted in the top of the seventh after allowing the first two runners to reach base, and those runners would later come into score.
The Orioles jumped on top early on two RBI-ground outs by Nick Markakis and Adam Jones respectively. Anaheim knotted the game up with a solo homer and an RBI-single in two separate innings, however Chris Davis smacked his 21st home run of the season in the last of the fourth to put the Birds ahead again, 3-2. Adam Jones would follow suit in the last of the sixth, and the O’s suddenly led 4-2. However after Hammel was lifted (with two on and nobody out) in the seventh, Buck Showalter went to Pedro Strop. He allowed an infield single to Conger which loaded the bases, and then Alex Aybar cleared them with a three-RBI triple. However Aybar himself came into score on the play on an error by Ryan Flaherty, so it had the effect of an inside-the-park grand slam. To add insult to injury, Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer later in the inning to round off Anaheim in the seventh. When the smoke cleared, the Birds trailed 8-4.
Both the Orioles and Anaheim would score unearned runs (in the last of the eighth and top of the ninth respectively), bringing us to a 9-5 final in favor of Anaheim. Obviously the loss is taken by Pedro Strop, who had been solid in his only other appearance since coming off the DL (Saturday at Tampa). In fairness to Strop, he did induce what would have been a double-play ball, but he tried to make the play himself and wasn’t able to do it. That would have gotten the Orioles out the inning still on track to win the game. Buck Showalter indicated after the game that there were some relievers he would have to try to stay away from today given the work load of the past few days; Strop is apparently not on that list. Some people might in a way fault Showalter for burning the bullpen out a bit, and I don’t know that it wouldn’t hurt him to perhaps look at how he’s using relievers and so forth. However in this case keep in mind that the O’s had a long rain delay on Monday, which definitely forced Showalter to alter the way he used the bullpen.
At some point, it’s going to be put up or shut up time for Strop. The only criticism I might make of the Orioles here is that Strop could have worked in the minors for up to 30 days in rehab starts after being ready to come back. I’m not sure why they didn’t utilize that time to get him some seasoning down on the farm. However what’s done is done. If Strop pitches lights out in his next few outings nobody will care about any of that any longer.
The Orioles will have their work cut out for them tonight as the red hot Boston Red Sox come to town. Boston has of course been giving the Orioles fits even without playing them of late, as to their credit they just refuse to lose. The O’s and BoSox will open a four-game series at the yard tonight with Kevin Gausman getting the ball for the Orioles. Gausman is of course still searching for his first big league victory, and the thought of the rookie facing the re-tooled Boston lineup is something that’s probably scary for a lot of Orioles fans. However he’s going to have to face them at some point, and also keep in mind that he held the best lineup in the AL (Detroit) in check two starts ago. Boston’s Felix Doubront is probably not looking forward to facing the best home run hitter in baseball in Chris Davis either, not to mention the likes of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, et al.
Many four-game series’ are split, however for the sake of the standings it would really behoove the Birds to do everything they can to take three-of-four. At some point they’re going to have to beat these teams (Boston and New York) in order to overtake them, as they’re giving the Orioles no help against the rest of the league!