You knew that at some point I was going to have to make this type of reference, so it may as well be now…Oriole bats were pretty much sleepless in Seattle for the majority of yesterday’s game. That is until the end when they sprung to life in a rally. More on that later, however – the Baltimore Orioles got one of those “in between (good and bad)” type of starts from Bud Norris yesterday. He left a few pitches up, but he was also the victim of a few extra-base hits against the shift. Norris’ line: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 6 K.
The O’s also ran into some of that quality Seattle pitching that we’ve heard so much about for the third game in a row; Chris Young shut the Birds down for the most part. Through seven innings, the O’s had two hits (both off the bat of Delmon Young). I’ve always been a big believer in the adage that good pitching will generally shut down good hitting.
With two runners on and one out in the last of the third, Norris intentionally walked Robinson Cano to pitch to Kendrys Morales (who Seattle just acquired in a trade). Morales was hit by a pitch which walked in a run. Incidentally Morales offered at the pitch, and television replays seemed to show that his bat was well into the strike zone.
Again, the key here was that Oriole bats were stymied by Chris Young for most of the afternoon. 3-0 is far from a safe lead after three, however if your starter is shutting down what the opposition is trying to do you’re probably in good shape. Seattle would add on another run in the last of the fifth on a Robinson Cano RBI-double to put the O’s in a 4-0 hole.
Seattle lifted Young after seven innings, and it was then that we found out just how good he had been. After two ground outs in the top of the eighth, Adam Jones was hit by a pitch. Nelson Cruz promptly drew a two-out walk to put two runners on base for the Baltimore Orioles. Jones and Cruz were able to advance on a wild pitch, giving the Orioles two runners in scoring position and a golden opportunity to cut into Seattle’s suddenly slim lead.
Chris Davis ripped a two-RBI single to left field, cutting the leadto 4-2. Kyle Seager committed a mental error in the field (and was given an error in the scorebook as well) by throwing home to try to get the tail runner, allowing Davis to advance to second base. Davis would later score on J.J. Hardy‘s RBI-single to left field, and the O’s were within one at 4-3.
David Lough drew a one-out walk in the ninth, and with two outs tried to steal second to move into scoring position. With the top of the order (Nick Makakis) at the plate, Lough committed a mental error by breaking from first base too early and was picked off which ended the game. Keep in mind that there are a lot of plays that make up the final result in any game, so while that was a big mistake on Lough’s part it didn’t cost the team the game any more so than did anything else.
Having said that, given that the margin of victory was one, I suppose that Morales HBP looks pretty big in the grand scheme of things. As I said, television replays seemed to back up the fact that the Orioles at least had an argument in that he offered at the pitch. Whether or not the third base umpire would have actually called it a strike given the fact that a run scored is another story. But that looked like a play where one could legitimately argue that the Orioles were debited a run on a bum call. Again, did it cost the team the game? Not anymore so than did anything else, but it certainly didn’t help.
The series in Seattle and the west coast swing concludes this afternoon at Safeco Field for the O’s. As of the moment this article is being written, Miguel Gonzalez is scheduled to start for the Orioles; he’s to be opposed by Seattle’s Roenis Elias. However Buck Showalter hinted at the possibility of shuffling the rotation a bit with an off day on Monday. He might want to line Gonzalez up to pitch Tuesday at home against Anaheim as opposed to this afternoon. It’s unclear whether or not that’s going to happen, and/or who would start this afternoon in Gonzalez’s place if in fact it does. As soon as I hear something I’ll tweet it out via my twitter feed which fans can follow, @DomenicVadala.