Orioles struggle to do the small things


Admittedly I’m a “big picture” kind of guy. I don’t pay as much attention to small or individual things, as I’m wary of the whole idea of “winning the battle but losing the war.” Yet I suppose that it’s always possible to take ideas too far; one mistake on a “small thing” may have cost the Orioles last night’s game in Anaheim. Mark Trumbo led off the fourth inning with a single to left field. Xavier Avery allowed the ball to roll underneath his glove in the outfield, allowing Trumbo to get to second base (ruled an error). Just to further illustrate how fine the line between winning and losing can be, the ball didn’t get very far away from Avery; perhaps two or three feet. However that brief lapse granted Trumbo an extra base, and Trumbo would later score.

That error was not the deciding play in the game per se. However when you don’t score any runs in the game there’s no chance of winning. Oriole starter Jason Hammel provided another A-List performance last night. Hammel’s line: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R 4 BB, 4 K. (The first run scored by Trumbo on the heels of the error would have been unearned if not for the fact that Alberto Callaspo sacrificed him to third.) Hammel pitched better than those numbers indicate, inching his way out of several different jams along the way. In fact, his outing combined with the results made him look a lot like the guy for whom he was traded in Jeremy Guthrie (who played the role of hard-luck loser on various occasions). However ultimately, when your offensive output is zero all the opposing team needs is one run.

Let’s give some credit to Anaheim however; Jared Weaver was his normal self last night. In earning his tenth win of the season, Weaver limited the Birds to three hits and a walk over eight innings. Again it’s tough to win when you can’t score, but it’s equally tough to score when you’re going up against a guy that’s dealing like that. Anaheim would later put two more runs on the board in the seventh in support of Weaver. From the Orioles’ standpoint the sickening thing is that those two insurance runs came with two outs. Mike Trout scored from first on Tori Hunter’s RBI-double, prompting manager Buck Showalter to call for an intentional walk of Albert Pujols. That was probably the right move, however Kendry Morales made the Orioles pay for their common sense by singling to right field and scoring Hunter from second.

In this afternoon’s series finale the Orioles will be facing Anaheim’s Brad Mills, who will be making his first major league start with Anaheim. He’s started nine games with triple-A Salt Lake City this year, and he has a record of 3-3 with a 4.47 ERA. He has pitched in the big leagues in the past, most recently with Toronto in 2011. The Orioles will counter with Wei-Yin Chen, who’s fresh off of a virtuoso performance in Seattle earlier this week. After the game the team will disperse a bit for the all-star break. Some of the players will return to Baltimore on the team charter, some will head to their homes around the country for a few days, and of course Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Jim Johnson will head to Kansas City for the all-star game. With a win this afternoon the Orioles would split the series with Anaheim after taking two-of-three from Seattle. At the beginning of this road trip had you told Buck Showalter that result, I suspect he would have taken it.

Birds Watcher news: First off, a few weeks ago I was given a change in title; I’m not the Senior Editor of Birds Watcher. We will continue to cover the Orioles here at Birds Watcher throughout the all-star break, including going over what the three Oriole all-stars do in Tuesday night’s game. With three players on the roster, it stands to reason that at least one of them might make a bit of an impression!

I’d also like to thank one of our staff writers, Olivia Witheright, for the great job that she did during the first half of the season representing Birds Watcher (and the Fansided network) as a guest writer for MASN. Since the beginning of the season Olivia has posted once a week on MASN’s Orioles’ site, and she’s done a great job with it. This has brought lots of new exposure to Birds Watcher and to Fansided, and for that we are very thankful. I pity the person who has to fill her shoes in that regard for the second half of the season (when they re-shuffle the guest writers)…

…incidentally, the person filling those shoes will be yours truly! Fans can catch me writing a guest column (on behalf of Birds Watcher and the Fansided Network) every Monday on MASN (link here) for the remainder of the season. If you’re unfamiliar with MASN’s site, you might catch the column in our Hub Section also! I’ll still be handling all of my normal duties here at Birds Watcher including updating the aforementioned Hub, and game recaps/previews. However the MASN columns will be more opinion-oriented, and I know how people look forward to my opinions! The first column will be on Monday, July 16, 2012, and as I said it will run every Monday for the remainder of the season. You can click on the link embedded above to take you to MASN’s Oriole page, or you can direct your browser to http://orioles.masnsports.com. Tell your friends!

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala