Where do we begin regarding last night’s 7-3 win over Cleveland for the Baltimore Orioles? First off Manny Machado was ejected from the game, his first ejection in the big leagues. However the manner in which he was tossed is of some interest. Machado struck out in the last of the fifth and as he walked away claimed that he had foul tipped the ball. Home plate umpire Will Little proceeded to throw him out. Granted we don’t know exactly what Machado said to the umpire, but it appeared to be a pretty quick hook (especially for a guy umping his first game in the big leagues behind the dish). That brought a streak of 1200+ consecutive innings played for Machado to an end.
Following the Machado strikeout, we saw a bizzare sequence involving Adam Jones at second base. With Jones on first and Nate McLouth on third Chris Davis legged out an infield hit at first base (which scored McLouth). Jones slid hard into second, and was clearly called safe by second base umpire Mike DiMuro (as the second baseman bobbled the throw). However DiMuro was behind Jones on the play, so Jones couldn’t see the call. Jones assumed that he had been thrown out, and was eventually called out by DiMuro for abandoning second base. As Birds Watcher associate writer Steve Katz told us earlier this week, umpires are not required to scream their calls of fair/foul (or in this case out/safe). However while Jones may well have made what could be construed as a mental error in leaving the base, that’s where DiMuro could have gone from being just “the second base umpire” to exhibiting “good umpiring.” On a bang-bang play if you’re behind the player and you make the call, how is the player supposed to know where he stands? According to “the book” DiMuro did everything right there. He made the call as was his duty, and the video backs that up. However umpires are certainly allowed to yell their calls, and that would be a situation where one might hope and even expect an umpire to do just that. In Jones’ case he probably also could have asked what the call was, however with the luck the Orioles are having with umpires of late DiMuro probably would have said he made the call once and he isn’t making it again.
Miguel Gonzalez had a rough start to this game, throwing 45 plus pitches in the first two innings. However he rebounded well, and walked off the field to a standing ovation with two outs in the top of the seventh. Gonzalez’s line: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 9 K. The nine strikeouts are a career-high for Gonzalez, and the zero walks probably explain some of Gonzalez’s struggles as well. Gonzalez gave up two solo homers in the game, and quite a few hard-hit balls that dropped for hits. Gonzalez was getting a lot of the zone, as is evidenced by the nine K’s. Sometimes sprinkling in a few walks also passive-aggressively says that you aren’t getting too much of the strike zone! Nevertheless, Gonzalez got stronger as the game progressed, and to his good fortune Oriole bats came alive.
Ryan Flaherty gave the Birds a 2-1 lead in the second with a two-RBI single with runners at second and third. With a roster move potentially coming when Brian Roberts returns to the team at some point this weekend, Flaherty is certainly making Buck Showalter‘s decision tough. However Cleveland is a pretty gritty team, and they drew even on a Chisenhall RBI-double and then took the lead on a Mike Aviles homer. Nick Markakis‘ RBI-single in the fifth tied the game back up, and Adam Jones singled to load the bases. That of course was followed by Davis’ RBI on which Jones was called out for abandoning second base, however the O’s had the lead again 4-3. But Matt Wieters, who’s bat has shown some signs of coming to life of late, broke the game wide open with a three-RBI triple. When the smoke cleared, the O’s had about as large a lead as anyone’s had in this series.
To top off the strange happenings, the game was delayed by rain in the middle of the seventh. When it resumed neither team appeared ready or willing to do more than simply play out the rest of the game, and the O’s ended up with a split in this four-game series with Cleveland. As I’ve said a few times already, this was just a strange game all around. I suppose I find it a bit interesting that the Orioles can’t seem to stay out of controversy one way or the other with umpires in the last two weeks or so. Even on something as simple as a takeout slide, some sort of issue seems to find the Orioles. I’m not saying that as a good or bad thing, but merely that it’s just something interesting.
In another series with huge potential implications, the New York Yankees will come to town starting tonight for a three-game set. In a surprise move, Buck Showalter announced after last night’s game that reliever T.J. McFarland will make a spot start out of the bullpen, as opposed to Kevin Gausman (which was what everyone expected). While I thought they should have gone back to Gausman, there’s no doubt that McFarland deserves this shot with how he’s pitched in long relief and the bullpen arms he’s saved. It’s an interesting move to say the least. I have to wonder if that means Gausman is once again slated for triple-A when Brian Roberts returns at some point this weekend. That would allow the O’s to keep Roberts, Flaherty, and Alexi Casilla. McFarland will be opposed by NY’s David Phelps.