The Baltimore Orioles had an opportunity to sweep one of the best teams in the National League yesterday, however they couldn’t quite get over the hump. Kevin Gausman was fairly ineffective from the get go, however he did potentially put the Orioles in a position to win the game. Gausman’s line: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Perhaps the more surprising fact was that the Orioles’ bullpen gave up five runs; however if you’re going to have an off game, the time to do is when you’re already in the hole.
St. Louis took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a fielder’s choice-RBI, and an RBI-single by Jhonny Peralta. However Adam Jones gunned down Matt Adams at the plate on a sac fly, which prevented St. Louis from running the lead to three runs. Nelson Cruz‘s RBI-double in the last of the first cut the lead to 2-1, however the Orioles were unable to tie the game. Overall on the day, the Birds were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position – which isn’t going to get the job done in most games.
Jon Jay‘s RBI-single ran St. Louis’ lead back up to two runs at 3-1, however the O’s cut it back down to 3-2 when Nick Markakis scored from third on Lance Lynn‘s wild pitch in the fifth. The teams traded RBI-singles again in the fifth, and St. Louis added an RBI-double in the eighth inning and a three-run homer by Peter Bourjos in the ninth to run the final to 8-3.
As I said, the Orioles’ bullpen gave up five runs yesterday, including the aforementioned three-run homer thrown by Zach Britton. So should Orioles fans worry about the strength of the bullpen moving forward? People are free to think and wish what they’d like, however I would submit that the Orioles’ pen and this entire Orioles team has proven that they’re nothing else if not resilient. We love to say that certain pitchers are automatically going to record outs, but nothing could be further from the truth. Especially with Zach Britton, you’d much rather give up a three-run homer when the team’s already down in a game as opposed to when he’s in to protect a two-run lead.
This game will also be remembered as being Buck Showalter‘s first ejection of the 2014 season. With Jon Jay on first base in the top of the seventh, Jhonny Peralta grounded into what should have been a double play. However Jonathan Schoop bobbled the ball after hitting second base, and was unable to complete the play. Jay was ruled out at second base…until St. Louis manager Mike Matheny challenged the play.
According to various replays, it appeared that Schoop had touched second base with the ball in his glove and had bobbled the exchange into his throwing hand. However the umpiring crew got on the radios with the league office in NY and somehow the ruling came that Schoop didn’t have control of the ball when he touched the bag, thus meaning Jay was safe.
My personal opinion was that the call should have been inconclusive given the fact that the call on the field was that the runner was out. Buck Showalter emerged from the Orioles’ dugout and got into what immediately escalated into a heated argument. When he gestured that he wanted to get onto the headset and speak to the guy in New York personally, he was immediately thrown out.
The play itself shows that Buck Showalter had a reason to be ticked off. Furthermore it would stand to reason that the Orioles are getting tired of hearing inconclusive each time they challenge a call, only to see the opponent get the benefit of the doubt. The call came across as being reversed without ample evidence to overturn the call. That’s the kicker in the instant replay system; regardless of what’s right or wrong, there has to be indisputable evidence to overturn the call that was made on the field. I’m not sure that anyone who saw that replay can say they saw anything of that like.
Showalter got his money’s worth in a sense as he stayed and argued for a few extra moments before leaving the field. Again, I personally think he had a legitimate gripe with how that was handled. But it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he ends up getting a game’s suspension for this, as the league isn’t usually too forgiving towards managers who argue after a replay review. The saving grace might be that they decide that the ruling was made in error; but time will tell.
The Orioles now open an all-important series with New York at Camden Yards. New York is currently six games back of the Orioles, who remain in first place. Bud Norris will start for the Birds tonight, and he’ll be opposed by Chris Capuano.