A lot of people like to talk about how the Baltimore Orioles seem to struggle in afternon games. I’ve never bought into that mindset, as I believe that if you should be ready to play at anytime (keeping in mind of course that all good teams lose games and all bad teams win games). But judging how the first two games at Wrigley Field have gone, perhaps there’s something to that notion. Granted, things seemed just little “off” in general yesterday. Dense fog rolled into Wrigley as the game started, reminiscient of the 1988 “Fog Bowl” game betw.een the Bears and Philadephia Eagles at Soldier Field. Then the teams got stuck in a three hour and nine minute rain delay – fun, you know?
The aforementioned rain delay hampered what Bud Norris was able to do as a starting pitcher. Norris’ line: 2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 K. That looks like an awful stat line, especially the two innings pitched. However Norris of course was lifted from the game after the lengthy rain delay, for his own safety more than anything else. I’ll get back to Norris in a moment, as he had somewhat of a fascinating outing…
…following a Nick Markakis strikeout the O’s got back-to-back doubles from Steve Pearce and Adam Jones which gave them a 1-0 lead. Jones would later find himself picked off of second base while creeping off the bag on a ball hit to his right, However Chris Davis grounded out to first to end the inning – even if Jones hadn’t been picked off, the inning would have ended in that manner. Norris would add an infield RBI-single in the second, and the Orioles led 2-0.
However in the last of the second a Watkins infield RBI-single and a Coghlan RBI-triple found the Orioles suddenly down 4-2 as the game went into the rain delay. Three hours plus later, the teams re-emerged from their clubhouses. Once the rain had cleared out, Ubaldo Jimenez (the now former starter) had taken the mound for the Orioles, and to his credit he pitched very well in relief. In fact, I would submit that he gave the Orioles a decent shot at winning – had the bats come alive later in the game, that is. Jimenez gave up a walk in the sixth, and after a Valaika RBI-single that walk came into score. Tommy Hunter would also give up a Baez homer and an RBI-single by Watkins later in the game, and the O’s found themselves on the short end once again, 7-2.
The real key to this game was the unsettled second inning by Bud Norris. And I don’t say that in an accusatory manner. Norris did
EVERYTHING in his power to get Chicago out. He actually looked like he had decent stuff yesterday in his limited appearance. However Chicago produced a few lengthy at-bats against him in that second inning, fouling off pitch after pitch after pitch. A couple of infield hits and soft liners later, and the bases were loaded. And by soft liners I mean that had they been hit just a little harder the outfielders would have caught the ball.
This is part of the game, and Norris and Buck Showalter would be the first to say that. But at a certain point it also becomes frustrating from the Orioles’ perspective given the fact that guys are getting on base on such softly hit balls. Not only that, but we saw Chicago hitters wear Norris down in that fifty-pitch or so second inning, when in fact it’s supposed to be the other way around. So Norris and in that sense the Orioles found themselves as victims of circumstance; but again, that’s part of the game.
The Birds will have to make a roster move prior to this afternoon’s series finale, activating Miguel Gonzalez who will make the start. They will probably option a reliever, although keep in mind that whomever goes down will probably come right back at some point after rosters expand on September 1st. The Orioles will face their former farmhand, Tsuyioshi Wada, who of course was in the organization for two years but never made it to the big leagues due to injury. So Orioles fans will finally get to see him pitch, but against the Birds as opposed to for them.