Including yesterday’s effort by Chris Tillman, the Baltimore Orioles have recorded seven consecutive games with a quality start. The flip side of that statistic is that out of those seven games the Orioles only won four of them. When your pitcher turns in a quality start, that means you should be winning the game – for all intents and purposes. That wasn’t the case yesterday, as Tillman and the O’s fell to Toronto, 5-2.
To be fair, most teams don’t like these four game sets because in general a lot of them seem to get split – which is what happened this past weekend.
Toronto jumped on Tillman early when he put the first two runners on base and allowed a run to
cross on Jose Bautista‘s RBI-single. In the fourth Dioneer Navarro would single home another run, and the Birds trailed 2-0. An inning later Melky Cabrera would sacrifice home a third run; having said this, Tillman did allow those three runs but he also minimized the damage in the innings. He induced double-plays, was able to get guys to fly out, etc.
However those three runs also meant that the Orioles would need to put at least four across to beat Toronto yesterday. For two teams that aim to hit every pitch out of the ballpark, the Orioles and Toronto played four pitchers duels this weekend. The Birds would get on the board in the last of the sixth when Adam Jones would score on Nelson Cruz‘s RBI-single, however another Navarro RBI (double) and a fielder’s choice by former Oriole Steve Tolleson would run that score to 5-1 in the eighth.
Adam Jones would bring the O’s to within 5-2 with a solo homer in the last of the inning, but it was too little too late. One thing that I noticed was that there was a decent amount of disdain directed at reliever Tommy Hunter both in the stands as well as on twitter during the game. Hunter relieved Tillman in the eighth inning, and gave up those final two runs. First off, it’s worth mentioning that Tommy Hunter wasn’t the reason that the Birds were behind yesterday. However many people’s point was that a four-run lead is much different from a two-run lead. And that’s certainly a valid point, however as Buck Showalter pointed out after the game it’s really a moot issue unless the Orioles get to three runs.
One thing I noticed about Toronto starter J.A. Happ seemed to go after Oriole hitters regardless of the circumstance, the count, etc. Oriole pitchers don’t always do that, obviously for fear of the big inning. I would submit that the O’s are largely successful in that they’re in most of the games down to the end; in other words, they stay out of the big innings and rarely get blown out. However if pitchers would start to go after hitters more often in hitters counts as opposed to in effect pitching around them, is it possible that they might shave a run or so off of their total given up along the way?
The Orioles will now head to Tampa for a three-game set against the last place team in the division. If you go by the standings this should be a walk in the park, but any baseball person with any amount of savoir-faire will know that it won’t be. Wei-Yin Chen will get the ball tonight in game one, and he’ll be opposed by Jake Odorizzi.