Courtesy of Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles victimized by their own system

For at least one day, the north side wasn’t quite as kind to the Baltimore Orioles as the south side of Chicago had been, as the Birds fell in game one at Wrigley, 4-1. There are a million reasons why any team wins or loses a game over the course of a season, paramount among them yesterday being that the O’s only scored one run.

But as Buck Showalter often says, “…sometimes you just have to tip your cap.”
Chicago starter Jake Arrieta pitched out of this world – yes, the same Jake Arrieta that came through the Orioles’ farm system, was inconsistent at the big league level, and was traded to Chicago last summer.

I’ll touch on Arrieta a bit more later, but the O’s didn’t get a horrible start out of Kevin Gausman. Not great, but in my view he pitched well enough to win. Gausman’s line: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 7 K. The tail end of that stat line probably tells you the most about Gausman’s outing; he might well have been catching too much of the strike zone. One thing that was of interest to me was that Buck Showalter had Brian Matusz warming up in the bullpen in the third inning and was prepared to pinch hit for Gausman if the O’s had runners on base when his spot would have come up. There were two outs and nobody on when the time came, but ultimately that shows how important these games are becoming down the stretch.

Chicago netted a Valbuena homer and a Watkins RBI-single in the last of the fourth inning to take a 2-0 lead. An inning later the O’s

appeared to have tied the game when Caleb Joseph sent a single to right with Chris Davis on second. Davis didn’t appear to get the greatest jump on the base paths, and ended up being thrown out at home plate (with two outs). In hindsight, he probably shouldn’t have been sent; but hindsight is 20/20 as they say. However Buck Showalter requested a replay review (which ultimately ened up being an umpire’s review as opposed to a manager’s challenge). The call was quickly upheld after the umpires determined that the catcher had not blocked the plate prior to the ball getting there. Let’s just say that it was close enough to warrant more than 55 seconds worth of review time.

And Chicago took advantage of the fact that they hadn’t yielded a run, with Baez knocking a homer in the last of the inning. The Orioles did get one back in the sixth when Nelson Cruz sent a solo shot out of the Friendly Confines; the homer was his 34th of the season, which leads the majors. It also set a new career high for Nelson in home runs. However the fact is that the O’s ran into good pitching yesterday, and Alcantara would add an infield RBI-single in the 7th to close out the scoring.

A lot of people are now questioning the trade that sent Arrieta to Chicago last year. First off, keep in mind that the O’s were expecting to be in a pennant race down the stretch at the time, and while they faded after awhile they were certainly in the race. They thought that Scott Feldman could help them get to the playoffs. But that aside, even though Arrieta showed flashes of what we saw yesterday he was also incon.csistent. Do we think that the Jake Arrieta of 2009-2013 with the Orioles would have been able to help the O’s to the record they have today? The Jake Arrieta of today certainly could, however as yourself that question. Arrieta is your classic “change of scenery” guy, and it’s worked to his favor thus far.

Unfortunately the O’s also got some bad news yesterday in that Manny Machado has elected to have season-ending surgery on his right knee. Over the course of the week it became evident that Machado wouldn’t be back when his DL stint was up, but we didn’t find out about the surgery until last night. However fans should keep in mind that Machado was injured a week-and-a-half ago, and the Birds have faired very well since then. So while the road becomes a bit tougher, we know this team can win without Machado…

…they have a next-man-up mentality. Keep in mind that the deadline for waivers trades is next weekend. The Orioles could certainly look for a third baseman on waivers and attempt to make a trade with someone, however my vote would be to stay away from that idea. Chris Davis played more third base in the minors than he did first, and he’s looked very comfortable at the hot corner in Machado’s absence. Steve Pearce is in the same boat over at first. Is it really worth dumping a prospect when the solution is already in place?

The series at Wrigley Field continues this afternoon with Bud Norris getting the start against Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks. The folks back home in Maryland had to be thrilled to see the very large and noticeable pockets of orange in the stands at Wrigley Field yesterday. The Orioles don’t play at the Friendly Confines very often, so it looks as if Birdland took advantage of this unique opportunity to visit the venerable old park on the north side of Chicago.

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles Nelson Cruz

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