Baltimore Orioles: Tiger balm


The Baltimore Orioles had a tough road in front of them when they took the field yesterday afternoon in Detroit due to it being a day game after a night game with travel in between. However throw in the fact that the team’s plane was late getting to the airport causing them to get into their hotel 2-3 hours late, combined with lousy conditions (including a 30+ minute rain delay in the fourth inning), and it probably would have taken a miracle for the Orioles to be ready to play. Not to mention the fact that J.J. Hardy became the second Oriole to fall victim to spasms (lower back in his case) on the team’s flight, f0rcing him out of the lineup.

If Buck Showalter and Adam Jones were to read this, they’d call the aforementioned paragraph an excuse. And they’d probably be right in doing so. Ultimately each person and each team is responsible for overcoming whatever challenges that are thrown out there. And you either overcome them, or you don’t. If you’re unable to overcome those challenges, you come back the next day and try to do so again. In the case of yesterday’s game, Miguel Gonzalez breezed through the first inning, and struggled in the second. Gonzalez’s line: 3.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

The O’s took an early lead when Chris Davis doubled home two runners following a Jones walk. And that in and of itself is worth mentioning as a positive on a day when things seemed to go against the Orioles. Jones has been much more patient at the plate, and it’s paid off.  However that was the full extent of the Orioles’ offense yesterday. Gonzalez struggled through the last of the second giving up an RBI-double to Castellanos, an RBI-single to Kinsler, and allowed a third run after hitting a batter (to load the bases) and a wild pitch. Detroit never looked back after that, although the O’s did put across a two runs in the ninth inning.

You don’t lose by eight runs and point at one thing, however the rain got to be too much in the

Courtesy of Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

last of the fourth inning and the umpires called for the tarp. The teams sat through 30 plus minutes of a rain delay, and Buck Showalter sent Gonzalez right back out after the rain delay. Granted the delay wasn’t long, however as much as Gonzalez was struggling prior to the “pause” I would have considered lifting him. Managers will often do that, albeit normally after lengthier delays than what the Orioles had. How the game would have played out, we’ll never know; but we do know that Rajai Davis hit a three-run homer, and Tori Hunter a solo shot following the delay. Hunter would also add an RBI-single in the last of the third, and Victor Martinez netted his 2,000th hit as a major leaguer in the form of a two-run homer in the eighth.

If there’s a silver lining for the Orioles, it was the ninth inning.  Following a Nelson Cruz single, backup catcher Steve Clevenger (who started for Matt Wieters in a day game after a night game) drove in the Birds’ first run since the first inning with an RBI-triple. He would later score on Jonathan Schoop‘s RBI-single, however the O’s didn’t have an eight-run comeback in them as they fell 10-4.

Offensively my personal opinion is that other teams are in fact afraid of Oriole bats in a sense. Their only shot around the likes of Davis, Jones, etc. is to get them to chase. Unfortunately, the Orioles are obliging them. Jones is starting to sit on pitches, and that’s a positive sign. However the entire lineup needs to find a way to get on track. 1-3 is nothing in baseball, however you have to be careful that 1-3 doesn’t turn into 2-16 as it did in 2010. (And the fact is that this team has much higher expectations than that one.) As I’ve said previously, it begins and ends however with starting pitching. Thus far that has been suspect. However all it takes is one good game and/or one good start to get things rolling the other way.

This game was noteworthy in the sense that it was the first one that featured a challenged play involving the Orioles. Albeit Detroit was the team that made the challenge, however in the fifth inning Steve Lombardozzi slid hard into second base to break up a possible double-play, and the shortstop bobbled the ball – after having touched the bag. Lombardozzi was ruled safe, which was challenged and upheld. I would tend to think that he should have been called out, however needless to say in the first replay challenge involving the Orioles, the Birds emerged victorious.

Bud Norris will get his first start of 2014 this afternoon, and will do so in hopes that he can be the team’s stopper. Norris will be opposed by Rick Porcello, who Detroit had penciled in as going to the Orioles prior to last season when they had their eyes on J.J. Hardy. We’ll see who got the better of that non-trade later this afternoon.