Yesterday I went to my first-ever Orioles away game. The game, itself, started off great. The Orioles got out to a quick 2-0 lead off of the bats of David Lough and Chris Davis. Then Miguel Gonzalez stepped up to the mound and although he gave up one hit to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, his first inning of work proved effective. After that, it was not the same and the Tigers rolled over the O’s by a score of 10-4.
There were several things to be afraid of when you watched the game yesterday. One could be the starting pitching was not nearly as stellar as everyone anticipated just a week ago. The Orioles starters have lost the past three games. Another could be the shortage of hitting on the side of the Orioles. Excluding the ninth inning, the Orioles only had three hits. To put that into retrospect, the Orioles pitchers hit as many batters as Orioles players actually tallied a hit in the first eight innings of play. However, the one thing I want to focus on is the lack of depth the Orioles roster has.
There are 162 games on a Major League Baseball team’s schedule. Because of this lengthy schedule, it is not only assumed but also proven that players are going to have to sit out a few games whether it be due to injury or just from being tired. The Orioles are no exception to this. Yesterday, because of the quick turnaround of games from Thursday to Friday, Matt Wieters had to sit as did J.J. Hardy, who was experiencing back spasms. In addition, Manny Machado is still battling back from the injury he suffered late last season. Because of this, Jonathan Schoop had to play third, Ryan Flaherty played at shortstop, Steve Lombardozzi played at second; and Steve Clevenger caught in his first game of the year.
I have nothing against these players’ defensive abilities; although nobody can play third base quite like Machado. Nevertheless, baseball is a “double-sided sword.” You must be able to hit just as good as you field.
Here is the Orioles batting order from yesterday’s game at Detroit.
The first five players have proven themselves as good batters. Yet the next four have not in any way to me. Yesterday those four did not produce. I do not look at their ninth inning hits, because at that point the Tigers were up by a score of 10-2 and when the score is that lopsided, I consider any hits and scoring in that time insignificant.
In the first eight innings, these four batters went a combined 1-12 with Lombardozzi hitting a “bloop” single to right field in the top of the fifth inning. These players also struck out five times in the ball game.
On Opening Day Monday, ESPN analysts said the Orioles have one of the most formidable lineups in the Majors right now. This is true… when all the pieces are in the right spot. For that to come into fruition, Machado needs to come back healthy and Wieters and Hardy need to be in the batting order as well.
I am not trying to “bash” the Orioles in any way nor am I “jumping off a cliff” for a lack of a better term. What I am saying is this is a cause for concern for Showalter and O’s fans to keep their eye on.
I am not asking for all the backups to be these “diamonds in the rough” that are able to come off of the bench every couple weeks and bat .300. That is highly unlikely. Yet, when two or three players have to sit out for a game, the lineup should never go from the most formidable to the most laughable.