The least of Buck Showalter‘s concerns is the fact that the Baltimore Orioles were blanked by Kansas City last night, 5-0. Teams lose games all the time. The fact is that when you play 162 games, you’re going to have some clunkers in the mix. If you think about it, this game kind of set up well in Kansas City’s favor; they had a young guy named Yordano Ventura on the mound who threw straight heat, and there was in essence no book on him. Ventura was impressive, however I will say that if he wants to have success at the big league level in the long run he’ll need to develop some off speed pitches.
That aside, Ubaldo Jimenez struggled with his control early in the game once again, which is turning into a problem for the O’s. Jimenez’s line: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 3 K. However to his credit Jimenez did appear to make progress in terms of righting himself as the game wore on. Brett Butler gave Kansas City the lead in the first inning with an RBI-single (following a walk and a single). Alex Gordon followed up with a single of his own, and Jimenez and the O’s trailed 2-0. However again, Jimenez settled down a bit and somehow made it into the seventh inning – which saved a few bullpen relievers. Kansas City would put another run across in the 7th on an RBI-single before Jimenez would leave the game, and then T.J. McFarland would allow an inherited runner to score to run the lead to 4-0. Brett Butler would line an RBI-double to right in ninth to close out the scoring and the Baltimore Orioles’ 5-0 loss to Kansas City.
But neither that, or the miracle that the teams got last night’s game in (following a 50-minute rain delay) given the weather conditions is the big story from last night. The Orioles removed
Chris Davis from the lineup in the top of the fifth inning with an apparent oblique strain. Manager Buck Showalter had informed reporters in Toronto that Davis was bothered by some pain in his hip, although he was playing through it. However last night I suppose that pain got to be too much. Obviously this is something that could turn into a serious hitch in the Orioles’ giddyup in terms of the lineup and the batting order.
The first question is what will the Orioles do? And that remains to be seen. Last night Davis seemed to suggest that he wanted to wait until he came in today to see how he felt, which makes sense. But following last night’s game the Orioles optioned reliever T.J. McFarland back to Norfolk, which would lead one to believe that they’re probably going to call up a middle infielder. Ryan Flaherty took over at first base in the game last night, however whether or not he’s “the guy” in the long term is another story. Oblique strains can sometimes send players to the 15-day DL, and other times it’s a mere few days and the player is able to get back into the lineup. However the fact that the Orioles already sent McFarland (who was called up as an extra reliever to begin with) out tells me that they’re anticipating a DL stint for Davis.
And go figure that the O’s would have literally just sent Steve Pearce out earlier this week because he would have probably been the perfect guy to play first if necessary. Obviously if Peace somehow clears waivers he could go back to Baltimore, however in the interim I don’t think that’s an option. Norfolk first baseman Chris Marrero is hitting .201 with two homers thus far, so I’m not sure that’s an option either. Nick Markakis of course has also played some first base, however I’m not sure if that’s the right fix either. Again, we’re just going to have to wait and see if Davis truly ends up going to the DL. If not, then perhaps they could get along for a few days (especially with an off day on Monday) with Flaherty or even Markakis playing first.
While Davis is in the lineup mainly for his bat, the one thing that’s lost here is that he’s only hit two homers this season thus far. And the O’s have held their head above water with that production; so while this is not to knock Davis (because he’s produced in other areas such as walks), if you’re going to replace him in the batting order this might be the time to do it and still have a legitimate shot at maintaining the status quo. Perhaps that’s the Moneyball way of looking at things, but it does sound a bit better than the Orioles have to replace 53 home runs in the lineup. The series with Kansas City continues tonight, with the O’s sending southpaw Wei-Yin Chen out to the mound. He’ll be opposed by former Oriole and fan favorite Jeremy Guthrie.