Adam Jones gets a pie in the face from Nelson Cruz after Wednesday night's game against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Yankees 5-3. Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Late longball lifts Baltimore Orioles; knee shelves Manny

Last night’s stunning reversal of fortune and win over the Yankees took most people’s breath away. Home runs by Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones in the bottom of the 8th may have relegated Manny Machado‘s trip to the DL to the back of most Baltimore Orioles fans’ minds, including mine. For just one night, the Manny-less lineup and infield alignment worked.

After Thursday’s off day, the Orioles embark on a two-city, nine-game road trip – Cleveland this weekend, then on to Chicago for three with the White Sox followed three with the Cubs at Wrigley. They can worry about Machado missing at least the next two weeks a little later. But sooner or later, he will be missed. Even though he’s capable of his share of mistakes and weak at-bats, to say he doesn’t bring something valuable to the table is not to be paying attention.

After the most recent stretch of games, one gets the feeling this club will get it done any way they can, either by bludgeoning teams to death, or if the longball is missing, by pitching, or if that doesn’t work on a given night, then by some other means. Just don’t expect it to be as easy with J.J. Hardy‘s sprained thumb nagging him most of the rest of the way, and Manny’s sprained knee hindering him to some degree even when he comes back.

The Rundown from Hell in the second inning of Monday’s game was significant until tonight came along, and it’s important that defensive breakdowns like that don’t become a habit, with the margin for error so thin in September and the postseason. It can’t happen unless you plan on hitting a million home runs against the good pitching in the playoffs to make up for it.

It’s important that defensive breakdowns such as Monday night’s botched rundown don’t become a habit
Steve Pearce‘s decision to throw to third so that Manny could then throw out Carlos Beltran at the plate probably trumps the comedy of errors that happened next. Pearce should have run toward Beltran, but that mistake still wasn’t the first domino to fall. What started the chain reaction was Jonathan Schoop not chasing the runner, Chase Hedley all the way back to Pearce first. It’s a common fundamental to run the runner back to the base he came from, but Schoop instead threw to Pearce. He compounded it by throwing across to Machado.

Also, after Machado’s throw caromed off Beltran’s helmet, one wonders if Bud Norris flipped it back to Joseph, even though far from the plate, so that Joseph could stop the madness, since the catcher’s job is to be the quarterback of the play. Norris’ flip was at Caleb’s knees, and it seemed as though Caleb wasn’t expecting it because he wasn’t anywhere near the plate.

That is the error that allowed the second runner, Hedley to come all the way home. Without that error, the runner would have stayed on third. Then would have scored on the following hit(s).

As Buck Showalter indicated, Joseph has to step outward and give Manny a throwing angle so the original throw home doesn’t hit the runner and cause all heck to break loose. Back to the drawing board all the way around.

On to other things, the Chris Davis phenomenon is not unusual, a cousin of mine who has followed the team for a long time told me. My cousin’s profession is conducting closely-monitored, scientific studies of the effects of drugs on monkeys. It is a commonly found result, he said, that an extreme value for one measurement will tend to be closer to the true average on a second measurement.

In Davis’ case, his results last year may be interpreted as far in excess of what his true performance or true average would be. The best assessment of true average would be lifetime stats. He will eventually do better, but at the end of his career we will see that last year was one of his absolute best years. Sometimes the phenomenon is called “reversion to mediocrity.”

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado

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