The issue of starters going deep into games has plagued the Baltimore Orioles all season, however in yesterday’s 5-2 loss in the series finale in Minnesota Miguel Gonzalez was unable to make it out of the fifth. Let’s be clear once again; Gonzalez gave the Birds some good innings yesterday. Gonzalez’s line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 7 K. The seven strikeouts are promising, however Miguel Gonzalez’s issue yesterday was a high pitch count. Ironically, it was the first two outs of the fourth inning that did him in. Gonzalez had roughly sixty pitches going into the 4th, but managed to throw between 30-40 pitches while recording two outs.
Trevor Plouffe, who killed the Baltimore Orioles all weekend, gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead in the last of the third. However Gonzalez ran into some tough luck in that second baseman Jonathan Schoop bobbled a ball that would have been a double-play and instead ended up a fielder’s choice – which ultimately was one of the reasons Minnesota got the lead. However the onus still falls on the pitcher to pitch out of that situation, which Gonzalez was unable to do.
With another runner on first base and one out in the second, Brian Dozier (previously on second base) took off to steal third – making it without a throw from Matt Wieters. The reason that there was no throw on the play was due to the fact that nobody was covering third base as the Orioles were in a shift. That in an of itself seemed to spook Miguel Gonzalez, who
ended up going from 0-2 to walking Jason Kubel. Gonzalez appeared to have Kubel struck out on a 2-2 pitch, however the home plate umpire called it ball three.That seemed to make things worse for Gonzalez, who later would walk in a run by issuing a free pass to catcher Kurt Suzuki (which ended his day).
However the Orioles managed to slug themselves right back into the game an inning later. Or perhaps I should say that Nelson Cruz slugged the Orioles’ way back into the game. Cruz’s two-run homer made it to the third deck, which was Cruz’s second trip to the third deck of the series. However a leadoff double and a balk in the last of the seventh gave Minnesota a runner at third base. (Replays were inconclusive, but many analysts on Twitter seemed to think it was a phantom balk call.) The Orioles intentionally walked Jason Kubel, which ended up backfiring. Kurt Suzuki’s two-RBI double all but iced the game, and extended the Orioles’ margin of defeat to 5-2.
The Orioles put eight base hits across in the game, however they struggled to get them in. The confines of Target Field weren’t very kind to the Orioles over the weekend, as it seemed that wherever they placed balls in the outfield a Minnesota fielder would make some incredible run and catch. Interestingly, the Orioles were defeated yesterday by Phil Hughes, a guy that they routinely seemed to have ease in beating when he was in New York.
A lot of this boils down to patience at the plate, and not swinging at the first pitch if it’s out of the strike zone. As I’ve said many times, it you swing at balls they’re going to throw you balls. The Orioles will have an off day today in Tampa, during which Buck Showalter will drive down to the team’s spring training facility in Sarasota to see Johan Santana‘s bullpen session.