Baltimore Orioles: Trouble in paradise?


As the Baltimore Orioles head to Boston, they find themselves having lost two straight games that they probably should not have. One troubling statistic is that in all six of the Orioles’ games thus far in 2013, they’ve held the lead early only to have the opponent come back and either tie or take the lead. On one hand, the O’s could be 6-0 right now, but on the other they could be 0-6. So are some of the less than savory things we’ve seen turning into trends with this team, or can we still sit here and say “we’re only six games in?”

The fact is that we are only six games in, and it’s fair to assume that the players aren’t quite yet in mid season form. However neither are the Minnesota Twins, and they managed to leave Camden Yards after taking two-of-three from the Orioles. While we’re only six games into the season, that’s not to say that some of the issues the Orioles have been having can’t be fixed at this early stage.

Jason Hammel got the start in yesterday’s game, and took the loss. Hammel’s line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 3 K. Hammel probably pitched just a bit better than those statistics indicate, however he told the media after the game that he wasn’t happy with his fastball command, as he left a few pitches up that ended up burning him. J.J. Hardy opened up the scoring in the game with a two-run homer (his first of the season) in the last of the second, plating Adam Jones who had walked. Nick Markakis would later single home Nolan Reimold, who had been on following a single.

Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The O’s hit the ball well early on, however that seemed to wane as the game went on. Justin Morneau “doubled” in the top of the third which scored two runs, cutting the Orioles’ lead to one. I put that in quotations due to the fact that he hit a shot to left center which caused Jones and Reimold to mis-communicate, allowing the ball to fall in. After the game Jones admitted that he needed to take more of an initiative on plays like that, as well as make sure to run balls out on the base paths. One might argue that Jones shouldn’t have to call himself out like that because he should hustle and play hard on 100% of the plays. That’s very true, and Adam Jones would be the first to tell you that. However the fact that he said what he said in the clubhouse is a good sign. As opposed to deflecting the criticism, he held himself accountable. None of that matters unless he atones for these mistakes, and if his past is any indication he will.

Jason Hammel was probably left in the game one or two batters too long, and after Minnesota took the lead on a sac fly-RBI and an RBI-single, Buck Showalter decided to lift him. The Orioles would manage to get base runners aboard on a few other occasions throughout the rest of the game, but they just couldn’t get them home; the O’s were 1-for-6 in the game with runners in scoring position. The Orioles potentially sustained another injury yesterday, as Nolan Reimold was lifted from the game after the sixth inning with tightness in his hamstring. He’ll be re-evaluated today and according to Reimold, he won’t miss any time. However the Orioles have summoned Yamaico Navarro to Boston and are prepared to call him up if Reimold has to head to the DL.  Luis Ayala also was sent to the hospital in the middle of yesterday’s  game due to dizziness. He was released and has joined the team in Boston.

Offensively the O’s are probably pressing just a bit too much. This allows opposing pitchers to take advantage of the Orioles’ aggressiveness, in a sense using it against them. In fairness, Minnesota’s starter yesterday (Pedro Hernandez) was making his second big league appearance, so the scouting report on him might have only been a paragraph as opposed to a book. Defensively it’s probably a bit more complicated than that. Hammel and a few other pitchers are struggling with fastball location, which was not something we saw last year. This could well be something that would normally have been worked out in spring training, however starting pitchers saw very little time in major league games. The team needs to in effect re-dedicate itself to basics as well as to concentrating on getting the job done.

The Orioles will send Wei-Yin Chen back to the mound this afternoon in Boston, and he’ll be opposed by Clay Buchholz. The game will begin at 2 PM, as it’s Boston’s home opener at Fenway. The O’s will have Tuesday off (rain date) before resuming the series on Wednesday and Thursday at 7 PM on each day. It’s also worth mentioning that the Orioles at 3-3 have the exact same record as they did after six games last year. A win today in Boston would put them in sole possession of first place. That means nothing at this point of the season for the record. However while the Orioles shouldn’t have lost the past two games, if being in first place after a week means nothing the same can be said for one game along the way.