Going into last night’s series opener in Chicago, I felt it was a good thing that the Baltimore Orioles had a day off following the series with NY. It gave them a chance to come down from the high of that series and get back to playing a run-of-the-mill game. However in retrospect perhaps it wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, as the O’s dropped the series opener in Chicago 5-2. Jason Hammel took the loss, however I would submit that he pitched much better than his stats indicated. Hammel’s line: 7 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 7 K.
The O’s got started offensively in the third inning when they got a home run from the unlikeliest of sources. With one out Brian Roberts hit the first pitch he saw into the left field grandstand, giving the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Roberts had last homered off of former NY Yankee A.J. Burnett on April 13, 2011. So the gap between home runs was over two years for Roberts, but obviously we all know he’s missed a lot of time and why. This game had the mark of a pitchers duel for quite some time, and the five runs that Chicago ended up scoring is a bit deceiving. The ChiSox tied the score in the last of the fourth when Beckham sent an RBI-single to left field, scoring Gillaspie. Go figure, it was also Gillaspie who gave Chicago the lead for good with solo homer in the last of the sixth off of Hammel.
Buck Showalter kept Hammel in the game for the seventh, as it was still anyone’s ballgame. However Alex Rios’ fielders choice-RBI gave Chicago a 3-1 lead, which went all the way to 5-1 when Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer off of Hammel. The O’s did put up a token run in the eighth inning on Adam Jones’ RBI-single, but the only base runner they could muster in the ninth was Nate McLouth (on a double) who died at second. Unfortunately for the Orioles, both Boston and New York managed to win last night. The O’s are still in a good position to take two-of-three from the ChiSox if they can win tonight and tomorrow, which is really all you can ask.
On a side note, this column by Roch Kubatko of masnsports.com is a pretty good read about Steve Clevenger, who’s one of the newest members of the Orioles’ organization (via yesterday’s trade). Clevenger is a Baltimore native, and still lives in the area. Finding out that he had been traded to his hometown team had to be a surreal moment for him yesterday. Granted it’s all about having the right players at the right time and so forth, but I sometimes wish that more teams made a concentrated effort to find local talent. The Orioles also have Zack Clark in their minor league system, as well as Steve Johnson (who’s on the DL at the big league level), both of whom are Baltimore-area natives. To draw a bit of a parallel, I’ve always said that Coach Gary Williams had more of an incentive to see Maryland basketball win while he was the coach given that he was also an alumnus of the school (and a former player there). However again, it’s all about getting the right players and if locals aren’t the right guys they have to be passed by.
The other half of the trade, Scott Feldman, will be thrust into the spotlight immediately tonight as he’ll get his first start as an Oriole in Chicago. Ironically, Feldman (formerly of the Cubs) will in essence be returning to Chicago to join his new team. That’s just one of baseball’s many nuances that comes from having multiple teams in a city. (Stranger still are the trades that go down between two teams playing each other when the players involved literally just change clubhouses, such as Ichiro to the Yankees last year.) Feldman will be opposed by Hector Santiago of the ChiSox.
As I said yesterday, I’ll be away for two weeks in Europe starting today. Give me a day or two to get my sea legs under me, but I’ll still be here on Birds Watcher with daily game recaps. They may be a bit shorter than normal because I won’t have the luxury of watching the games and providing insight, but…work with me here folks! Happy Fourth of July everyone!