Game of threes has Orioles on wrong end


Nelson Cruz (23) celebrates a home run with second baseman Stephen Lombardozzi (12) and right fielder Nick Markakis (21) during the sixth inning against Toronto at Rogers Centre Tuesday night. Photo: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The threes just weren’t on the Baltimore Orioles’ side last night. They left the bases loaded twice, and even though Nelson Cruz hit a 3-run homer to stake Miguel Gonzalez to a 3-0 lead in the top of the 6th, they gave up three of that variety to the Jays.

Jonathan Schoop flailed at a high, outside R.A. Dickey pitch to strike out with the bases filled and bring the top of the 6th inning to a close with just those three runs in. The emotions went from what-might-have-been to the worst fears being realized when Toronto promptly got a 3-run bomb from Edwin Encarnacion in their half of the 6th. The normally reliable Steve Lombardozzi gave the Jays’ rally impetus when he misplayed a grounder to get things started. The next runner reached, setting up Encarnacion’s blast.

This in turn set up Gonzalez’s departure after 5 2/3, which also set in motion the same old refrain about Oriole starters failing to be good to the last drop, or anywhere near it.  Except for Chris Tillman, who pitches Wednesday night, it continues to be an awful lot to ask of this staff to pitch beyond the 5th or 6th inning.

The Jays feasted on the Orioles’ bullpen for two more 3-run shots in the 8th, by Brett Lawrie (off the usually spotless Evan Meek) and Melky Cabrera (off Josh Stinson).

As these things usually have a way of happening, the Orioles failed to plate a run in the top of the 7th, wasting scenarios of second-and-third, none out, and bases loaded, one out. As these things also have a way of happening, Chris Davis was walked to load the bases, and Adam Jones swung and missed at three consecutive breaking balls for the second out, before the Oriole 7th ended on Steve Clevenger‘s whiff. This gave impetus to great teeth gnashing and consternation on the social media.

Jones has been doing the little things creditably thus far in April even while only hitting one home run. But with the maximum number of runners on the bases, something happens to his approach. The league knows how to get him out. Davis’ frustrations are another story, as he tries to adjust to pitchers throwing him slop and jamming him.

Cruz has mostly jammed opposing teams in the season’s first three weeks. Last night’s home run was his team-leading fourth, giving him a team-leading 16 RBI. Clevenger is delivering in his backup catching role, hitting .294 and slugging .588 after a 2 for 3 night.

Just to touch on the weekend series in Boston, the review system has made the umpires call the transfer rule the wrong way. Well, something has made them call it the wrong way. If the middle man on a double play catches the toss, and the drop occurs while taking the ball out of the glove with the throwing hand, that has always been an out. But apparently sometimes not.

The most regrettable aspect is that this issue may not have a chance to be addressed until after the season, speaking of teeth gnashing and consternation.