Most of these articles have a certain rhyme and reason; we generally start out by talking about the starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. It all begins and ends with starting pitching, right?! Nevertheless, I want to begin this morning by focusing just a bit on the opposing starter, in this case Tampa’s Jake Odorizzi. The O’s only went 2-for-10 with RISP in last night’s game, forfeiting a one out bases loaded situation in the last of the fifth.
Odorizzi was out of the strike zone all night. After he managed yet another Houdini act in the aforementioned fifth inning, I tweeted that at some point if you don’t make a pitcher like Odorizzi pay, you’re going to end up footing the bill. When you have a pitcher on the rocks, you have to put him away. Granted, Odorizzi deserves some credit for getting out of that situation. As Buck Showalter often says, sometimes you just have to tip your cap. However at some point the Orioles need to realize that other teams are often making them pay for their mistakes (or perhaps more realistically they’ve done so over the years). Why shouldn’t the reverse be true?
The Baltimore Orioles did however get a great start out of Chris Tillman, who’s fastball was gunning into the strike zone all night. Tillman’s line: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Strike one was the key for Tillman; if you’re able to get hitters behind you, they’re fighting an uphill battle from the beginning. And the eight innings pitched are huge given that this game was the night cap of a twin bill. That means the bullpen probably has a bit more rest than the Orioles otherwise would have thought.
James Loney‘s home run gave Tampa an early lead in the second inning. The O’s had a few very hard hit balls in the early innings, and the park barely held them. Yet Loney’s smack just made it over the fence; “road field advantage, anyone?” Nick Hundley‘s RBI-single in the last of the inning tied the game for the Orioles, who as I said earlier had some trouble getting runners home early. Many fans will point to the aforementioned situation in the fifth inning in which Hardy fouled out to first, and David Lough struck out (after an eight pitch at-bat). The O’s do need to work on their hitting with runners in scoring position however, as it seems that teams’ attitudes are getting to the point that we have them right where we want them when the Orioles load the bases.
However in the sixth inning things finally started clicking for the O’s. Nick Hundley hit his first
home run as an Oriole to lead off the inning, and the O’s had a 2-1 lead. An inning later, Nelson Cruz followed an Adam Jones double with his 25th home run of the season, and the Orioles took a 4-1 lead into the ninth inning. Zach Britton allowed one base hit in the ninth, however he was erased on a game-ending double play.
It’s tough to say why the O’s struggle with RISP, but I did notice that Tampa pitchers seemed to work backwards at times. When hitters were expecting fastballs, they got change ups – and swing through them. So perhaps Oriole bats can be a tad predictable at times. It’s tough to say, but the bottom line is that this was a much-needed victory for the Birds in the wake of dropping game one of the twin bill.
The O’s will send Wei-Yin Chen to the mound in today’s late afternoon matinee to face former Oriole Erik Bedard. O’s currently sit in second place, a half game ahead of the NY Yankees, and two games behind Toronto who’s in first.