The Baltimore Orioles are having a tough time putting everything together at one time. They did it on Monday in Cleveland fairly well; good offensive output and a good pitching performance. But that seems to be the exception as opposed to the rule. Last night Zach Britton set the tone early by giving up four runs in the first inning. Britton’s line: 2.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Most teams will find it tough to win if their starter can’t get out of the third inning. After two infield singles and a walk, Britton had loaded the bases in the first inning with nobody out. A Yan Gomes RBI-single kept the bags juiced and gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning Raburn hit a two-RBI double, and Astrubal Cabrera added an RBI-single; Cleveland led 4-0 after one.
However to his credit, Britton settled down and sent Cleveland down 1-2-3 in the second. He was lifted with two runners on and one out in the third, in favor of Kevin Gausman. That in and of itself shows you the urgency of all these games given that it’s doubtful that Showalter would have lifted his start in that situation in a game back in June or July. Several readers tweeted me regarding why Britton was in the game to begin with. I understand people’s frustration, however the reason he was given the start is mainly due to the fact that he’s a lefty. Terry Francona had stacked the lineup with lefty hitters against right-handed Oriole pitching for two consecutive days (and when I say stacked I mean eight of the nine batters hit from the left side). Was Britton the southpaw that should have been out there? I suppose that’s debatable; however it’s tough to criticize the line of thinking there.
The Orioles did rally, which is a good sign moving forward. Adam Jones hit a solo home run in the fourth, and Manny Machado tied the game with a three-run homer in the fifth. So let’s be clear; Zach Britton is not why the Orioles lost this game, as once Machado tied it with that home run it was a new ballgame. It’s easy to say if not for those four runs in the first… however I believe that Orioles fans are smarter than that. The all things being equal argument in sports is a tough one to make. Because you’re assuming just that; all things are the same. Sure if you remove those four runs in the first and still assume that Jones and Machado hit their home runs, the O’s have a 4-0 lead. Realistically I just don’t think it’s fair to make that assumption.
Gomes would add another RBI-double in the fifth, and Kevin Gausman would surrender another run on a wild pitch. The issue of course is that Cleveland was scoring their runs by manufacturing them, while the Birds are living vicariously through the long ball. That might be the biggest takeaway from this game and this series; the Orioles need to manufacture runs if they’re going to remain in the race moving forward. Situational hitting will always help to win you games, but especially in September when you’re fighting for a spot in the post season.
The Orioles head home after a 3-6 road trip, however there’s no use crying over spilled milk. There’s still time to make up ground, and that quest has to start tonight. The Orioles open up a four-game set against the ChiSox at the yard this evening, and for the record this will be their last series outside of the AL East for this year. Miguel Gonzalez will take to the mound for the Orioles after a tough outing in New York last year. He’ll be opposed by Jose Quintana…another southpaw.