On Friday night the Baltimore Orioles were able to overcome multiple homers by Seattle; last night they were not. Now in fairness before people start dissecting Orioles’ pitching we should also state that this same Seattle team gave the BoSox a run for their money this past week. As we all know, Boston had to score six runs in the last of the ninth to beat Seattle on Thursday. Two ways to look at that; Boston had the charisma to come back, or that they had to come back from that far down at all. Nevertheless, this is a Seattle team that puts runs on the board at will.
Scott Feldman had a truncated outing that featured a few command issues, as well as some Harry Houdini-like situations where he got out of trouble. Feldman’s line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 4 K. My observation on Feldman was that he was up in the zone fairly frequently, however in fairness Seattle turned into the NY Yankees and started fouling off pitch after pitch. In the early innings Feldman was allowing a lot of base runners, however he would generally find a way to get out of it aside from the number of pitches he was throwing. Justin Smoak‘s solo homer got the scoring started in the top of the second, however the score was soon knotted in the last of the inning when Matt Wieters hit a solo job of his own (breaking out of an 0-for-25 slump).
Seattle re-took the lead in fourth on a Brad Miller blooper to left field with the bases loaded. Nate McLouth actually made an excellent decision in letting the ball drop, as he was able to fire the ball to third base for a force out on Justin Smoak. It netted Seattle a run, but the Orioles got the second out in the inning. Luckily for the Birds Manny Machado immediately equaled the score at two with a solo homer to lead off the last of the inning to reset the game. However Seattle put up four runs and chased Feldman in the fifth, in a sequence that included a Michael Saunders three-run homer (off of reliever T.J. McFarland).
The Orioles seemed to have a gripe with home plate umpire Larry Vanover’s strike zone for most of the game, and in fact it did seem to jump around a bit. Buck Showalter had finally seen enough in the last of the seventh on a strike two call to Nick Markakis, which replays seemed to indicate was well outside the zone. Showalter was ejected while he was still in the dugout (his second early exit of the season), but he then proceeded to come out on the field and get his money’s worth from Vanover. It’s unclear whether Showalter was upset about the strike zone or the quick hook, but he received a standing ovation from the fans as he departed. But that seemed to energize the Birds – just a bit. Markakis ended up singling and that was followed up by an Adam Jones double. Markakis would later score on a sac fly by Chris Davis, and Jones scored on an RBI-single by Matt Wieters. However the fatal blow was Michael Saunders’ second homer of the game, this one of the two-run variety, in the eighth off of Darren O’Day.
Afterwards Buck Showalter appeared to choose his words carefully with regard to the umpiring, however he pretty much made his point on the field. Showalter seems to have the ejection or “point of contention” thing down pat. He does his arguing on the field, and generally is pretty forceful in making his point. (In this particular case I suspect that he knew that the fans would get behind him as well, kind of putting the umpire in a bad position so to speak.) But he generally refrains from saying anything more in his post-game comments. He might make a passive-aggressive point here or there, but for the most part he sticks with comments such as those guys have a tough job or it’s difficult to get them all right.
Many naysayers want to point to the Orioles’ struggles against teams like Seattle as a huge deficiency, and perhaps they have a point. However again, you never want to assume that you’re just going to roll over someone simply because their record is sub-par. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when teams probably groused about dropping a game to the “lowly Orioles.” As Showalter often says, sometimes you just have to tip your cap. The series concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards as Wei-Yin Chen takes to the mound, and he could be just what the doctor ordered. Chen’s been going deeper into games, and with the Orioles’ bullpen taking a bit of a hit the past few days that’s exactly what they need today. Chen will be opposed by former Oriole Joe Saunders, who as fans will remember started and won the AL Wild Card game last year (the first Oriole playoff victory since 1997).
As a matter of housekeeping, the Orioles optioned reliever Steve Johnson to Norfolk following last night’s game. Johnson came off the DL and was added to the big league roster after Brian Roberts went on paternity leave on Friday. Speaking of which, congratulations to Brian, his wife Diana, and their entire family; Diana Roberts gave birth to the couple’s first child on Friday, a boy named Jax Issac Roberts (six pounds seven ounces). It’s currently unclear whether or not Roberts’ return from paternity leave will be the corresponding roster move for Steve Johnson, however Showalter did say that he might send Miguel Gonzalez to the bullpen this afternoon in a move that might add up to having him throw a side session either in a game or in the pen (during the game).