Orioles: Wrapping up the West Coast
Miscellaneous Midday Monday Musings
On the day after a really great Orioles win, a number of musings cross the mind.
A Great Win
Yesterday really was a great win. I’ll be honest and say I did not see it coming in the first half of the game. In fact, I ended up not seeing it at all. Matt Cain looked to be in total control, even when he gave up the one run in the top of the 6thinning. Call me a fair weather fan, but I turned it off at that point, thinking it was hopeless. Actually, the issue for me was indeed weather related … so call me a wet summer weather grass-cutting fan. I have a huge property and it had to be done or else call a local farmer to make hay. But I did check in from time to time on my iPhone while driving the tractor (probably illegal in the Peoples’ Republic of Maryland), and I was pleased to see more runs being scored every time I checked.
Aug 11, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielderAdam Jones
(10) after a three-run home run during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT
It is always said that wins in April count the same as wins in August or September … well, yes, but in any event, yesterday was a great win. The Orioles need to not just keep pace, they need to win consistently and gain ground. The ballpark there in San Francisco looked to be giving up few runs, and to have a breakout offensive day as yesterday may prove, at some future retrospective moment, to have been a critical event in the history of this 2013 season. In particular, the J.J. Hardy homer – at the moment of the game in which it was hit – cannot be applauded enough as a clutch event. And may it be that the Orioles will learn to enjoy and feast upon the great and bounteous pleasure of “tack-on runs!” They really make a fan’s life much easier (not to mention Jim Johnson … which I probably shouldn’t have mentioned!).
45 Games to Go
So, what do the Orioles need to do to get into the playoffs? Again, thinking that they need, at a minimum, about the same number of wins as last year, the Birds will need to go 28-17 the rest of the way (to compile a 93-win season). That is doable, but to put it into perspective, that is a winning percentage of .622. The best winning percentage in the game right now is held by the Braves at .610. There is not a lot of room for failure. The Orioles need clutch performances from all parts of the team.
Feldman – Gotta Show Up
A good place for a clutch performance would be one from Scott Feldman tonight. There are a lot of factors against that. The Orioles have a 3-9 career mark against the Diamondbacks. And Feldman himself has been rather short of “lights out.” His 5.70 ERA in six Orioles games has left fans wondering about the value of this trade. Actually, three of those six outings have been quality starts, but the other three games, including the last two, have been pretty painful. I have been entirely underwhelmed, but I certainly wish him well. He appears to be a perfect fit for this clubhouse, so I retain hopes for better outcomes – starting tonight.
Much is being made over an incident yesterday in San Francisco of a fan throwing a banana at Adam Jones. Jonesy has particularly picked up on this with his huge twitter following. If it has any racial overtones to it, that is certainly despicable. I’ll lean toward the benefit of doubt and presume it was an idiot throwing the first thing at hand at the guy who buried his team with a three-run homer in the top of the inning. Although I’ll grant the skeptical question that could be raised, “Who brings a banana to a baseball game?” Whatever, the bigger point should be that nothing should be allowed to be thrown onto the field, as the dangers are incalculable.
More should be, and will be, written about the unprecedented year the Orioles are having on the defensive side of the game. Who could have imagined this, even as recently as midway through last year? The additions of Manny Machado and Nate McLouth, and the change that it brought to this club, is among the more amazing things I’ve seen in my decades of watching baseball. It was a poignant moment this past week when, on the same day, Machado celebrated his first full year in the bigs, while Mark Reynolds was DFA-ed from the Indians.
The defense was huge in the first half of yesterday’s game. It prevented a larger lead from opening. Jones had a fabulous catch in centerfield that certainly minimized damage. And McClouth’s sliding third-out catch immediately saved one run, and possibly more. Additionally, the double-play grounder begun by Machado on Pablo Sandoval was consummated before the portly dude was even half-way to first base.
I have recently watched a number of other games of other teams that happen to be on, and I’ve been much struck at how poor the defense of most teams looks. I’ve been spoiled by seeing the Orioles so regularly.