With y First off I appreciate the patience of Birdland and all of Birds Watcher’s readers this morning. Normally I try to publish my column first thing in the morning, but given that my computer finally died today that wasn’t possible. However like the Baltimore Orioles, I’m resilient; I managed to buy myself a new computer this morning – and a tablet at that! So bear with me folks, as I break this new piece of technology in…!
The Orioles’ offensive struggles seemed to creep up again in Cleveland last night. It’s tough to win when you only score one run. It’s possible, but difficult. But the good news is that this team is battle-tested and resilient; they’ll come around. Luckily for the Birds, the good streak of starting pitching continued as Wei-Yin Chen was incredibly solid in his outing last night. Chen’s line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K. In effect, Chen made one bad pitch; a hanging fastball in the last of the fifth that was hit out of the park by Zach Walters.
Overall offensively, the Orioles went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. That makes it tough to get the job done for sure. They stranded the bases loaded early in the game (second inning), which seemed to set the tone. But against a pitcher like Cleveland’s Kluber, the Birds knew that runs would be tough to come by. As I’ve said many times, good pitching will often shut down good hitting. That was true both of Kluber and Chen.
With the Birds still trailing 1-0 J.J. Hardy sent an RBI-single to center field which scored Nelson Cruz, and gave the Baltimore Orioles a second life with the score tied 1-1. However the Birds were unable to put anything more across, although Darren O’Day was incredibly strong for the Orioles on the mound in the ninth and 10th innings. However Buck Showalter matched up with Brian Matusz in the last of the 10th, and sent Matusz back out to pitch in the 11th. With nobody gone and an 0-2 count Mike Aviles sent a walk off homer over the fence in left field, sending the O’s home losers on this night.
You take one game at a time and you try not to fret over losses, which is how the O’s have played most of this season. The good news for them is that both Toronto and New York lost, which means that nobody of note gained any ground on the Orioles. Buck Showalter was not happy with a sequence in the 8th inning involving Adam Jones, who appeared to be hit by a pitch when he squared to bunt. Jones pulled
the bat back almost immediately, however the ball seemed to hit his finger (causing Showalter and Richie Bancells to come out to check on him)…and was ruled a foul ball.
Showalter asked for an umpire review to see if Jones had been hit, and ironically the umpires seemed to agree that he had been. However the first base umire also said that in his opinion Jones had offered at the pitch, which apparently supercedes whether or not he was hit by the pitch or even whether or not it was a foul ball. There was a brief – albeit somewhat spirited – argument between Showalter and the umpiring crew, but to no avail. This is the type of incident which got Showalter angry last weekend (when he was ejected) against St. Louis. From the Orioles’ perspective when they challenge something there’s always some excuse as to why the play can’t be overturned. But it does seem that when opponents challenge something against the Orioles they’re getting the benefit of the doubt.
The series in Cleveland continues tonight, with Ubaldo Jimenez making his first start in Cleveland since leaving last season and coming to the Orioles. He’ll be opposed by Carlos Carasco, with game time being 7 PM.