In a game and on a night in which the Baltimore Orioles were in desperate need of a quality start, they finally got one. Ubaldo Jimenez turned in the type of performance that reminds the O’s why they signed him to a four-year deal. Jimenez’s line: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K. As dull as Oriole pitching looked in Milwaukee, it looked equally as sharp last night in Houston.
Unfortunately for the Birds, Houston starter Brad Peacock was almost equally as sharp. You could once again point to the fact that the Orioles ran into some great pitching in this game. Coming in, Peacock had a five plus ERA – and again, he picked a game against the O’s to kind of find himself.
Jimenez ran into a bit of trouble in the second inning, as he gave up a single and walked two batters to load the bases (with two outs). With Castro on third, Jimenez,uncorked a wild pitch that bounded barely away from catcher Nick Hundley. Castro Bcame in from thitd, and slid in safely – falling over Jimenez, who had moved to cover home plate. In a collision that kicked up a cloud of dust, Castro was ruled safe to give Houston a 1-0 lead.
Buck Showalter challenged the play, and after a very lengthy review the call was upheld. It was a bang-bang play for sure at home plate. However to say the least, if umpires have to spend more than two minutes reviewing a play, they should stick with the original call. There was every chance that Castro was out; however given the cloud of dust that was kicked up due to the play at the plate, it was tough to tell for sure. Again given that circumstance, they have to stick with the original call.
But the Orioles evened the game in the fourth when Steve Pearce remained hot at the plate and led off the inning with a double. With two
outs in the inning Nelson Cruz would continue to be the Orioles’ offense, as he smacked an RBI-single to right field. It’s also important to note that Cruz’s hit was against the shift. I’ve made a point of highlighting that the Orioles seem to struggle when teams use shifts against their players, but yet the same is not always true in reverse. (In other words, it seems that teams have a knack for hitting against the shift, or at least hitting them where they ain’t.) For what seems like the first time, the O’s got a runner on base with a hit to a spot where a player (the first baseman in this case) would have been if not for the shift.
Jimenez departed after six innings and was given a no decision. The O’s summoned Preston Guilmet from the ‘pen, and following a strikeout he promptly allowed Altuve to reach on a base hit. Altuve would steal second base, however it was almost pointless. Springer would smack a two-run homer to left field, and suddenly the Orioles trailed 3-1.
Unfortunately for the Birds, they were unable to move off of that one run as they fell in the first game of the series with Houston. Oriole bats appear to be very predictable at the moment in that teams seem to know exactly which pitches at which the O’s will swing. And I mentioned the shift thing once again above; if the Orioles are going to be successful this year they’re going to need to start hitting against the shift – like Nelson Cruz was able to do. Teams are employing that shift against them and for the most part it’s working wonders.
Teams go through ruts during the season all the time, so the hope here is that people aren’t hitting the panic button. Again, the Orioles seem to have a knack for running into hot pitching. Coming into last night’s game Peacock had an ERA north of five – so it would have stood to reason that the O’s would have been able to get to him.
The series continues tonight with Miguel Gonzalez facing Houston’s Brett Oberholtzer. Tonight’s game is the annual Civil Rights game in MLB, and it will be shown on national television via MLB Network. (It will also be available locally on MASN.)