In looking at the question I posed in the headline, let me unequivocally state that the answer is no. Uh, Mr. Vadala we have a follow-up question…will today’s game in Detroit be played? I’ll address that later. You’re pretty quick and to the point today, aren’t you? Yes. All of that aside, the Baltimore Orioles fell to 1-2 on the young season with last night’s 4-3 loss to Boston. Again, it’s NOT time to press the panic button if you’re following this team. Keep in mind that we haven’t even gone the entire way through the rotation, and the Orioles ran into some great pitching in Lackey and Felix Doubront in games two and three. Is 1-2 ideal? Not in the least, however…three games out of 162 is nothing.
The biggest hole last night was the same thing that befell the Birds the previous night: starting pitching. Let me be clear; Wei-Yin Chen wasn’t horrible, and as Joe Angel and Fred Manfra said on WBAL’s postgame show, he did put his team in a position to win the game. Chen’s line: 5.2 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 5 K. The good news is that Chen wasn’t far off in terms of his pitches; if anything, he was hitting spots too well if such a concept exists. There was no movement on Chen’s pitches last night, much like we saw with Ubaldo Jimenez the night before. Furthermore Boston’s a stingy team at the plate, and they’ll force you to throw the ball over in order for them to swing.
Chen had runners at the corners after two base hits (and nobody out) in the second, but he was able to minimize the damage by inducing a double-play from Wil Middlebrooks. The Orioles gave up a run, however those are the kinds of things you have to do to keep your team in the game. David Ortiz added an RBI-single in the third inning and Ross one in the fourth, and suddenly the Orioles were 3-0 in the hole. However the O’s still had some fight in them, as Chris Davis led off the last of the fourth with a double to center field, and he was later plated by Matt Wieter’s RBI-double. Wieters would score on Delmon Young‘s RBI-single, and suddenly the O’s only trailed by one run. Jackie Bradley Jr’s RBI-single in the sixth inning would put Boston back up by two, and Chris Davis would score with the bases loaded in the last of the inning on a wild pitch. The O’s also threatened in the eighth, but to no avail.
Again, the Orioles aren’t far off in these games. Granted you’d rather not be far off back in spring training as opposed to in the regular season against a division rival, however if pitchers can employ just a bit of late movement on the ball (as Chris Tillman was able to do on Monday) they’ll find themselves in much better shape. I do think that it’s noteworthy to mention how Chen minimized the damage early in the game in yielding that first run. There’s a part of me that says you still gave up the run which means you have to score two to beat them. However part of why teams such as Boston are so good is because they set themselves up to have big innings. That second inning last night was starting to go in that direction, however Chen closed the door on that by giving up the one run and erasing the other base runners which removed the threat of a big inning (or at least would have forced Boston to start over in order to have one). Granted the O’s ended up losing by the one run, however if Boston has a big inning there they aren’t even in the game late.
While the starting pitching has had a few issues and the bats have been asleep to a certain degree, the biggest bright spot for the O’s in the first three games without a doubt has been the bullpen. Evan Meek and Zack Britton combined last night to pitch 3.1 innings, giving up one hit, one walk, and striking out two. Britton has probably been the “star” if such a thing exists in the ‘pen, and it seems that he’s really found a home out there. Obviously the goal of every pitcher is to be in the starting rotation, however you can’t underestimate the importance of a great shutdown reliever.
Immediately following last night’s game the O’s hopped on their charter and flew to Detroit. There were some storms in the Detroit area overnight, and as of last night there appeared to be some question as to whether or not today’s game would be played. However I checked the Detroit forecast prior to writing this article, and tentatively the forecast looks fairly clear for 1 PM today which is the scheduled start time. The Orioles were saying last night that if today’s game ends up being rained out, they’re expecting to play a day/night doubleheader on Saturday.
Detroit has a pretty big advantage in that not only did the Orioles finish their game last night and have to fly to Detroit to prepare for an early 1 PM start, but the Tigers’ game with Kansas City was rained out yesterday giving them some extra rest. Granted we’re at a point in the season when extra rest might not mean as much, but every little bit helps. Miguel Gonzalez will head to the bump for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Anibal Sanchez. One thing to watch: in five games previously at Comerica Park, Chris Davis has five homers, eight hits, and ten RBI. Both he and the O’s will hope that trend continues this afternoon and all weekend.