Orioles Welcome Back Machado (but not the rain)
By Steve Katz
Sep 20, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) reacts after he was left on base during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
I don’t remember any state law saying it is required to be cold and rainy in Baltimore any time the Pirates play the Baltimore Orioles, but that seemed to be in effect last night and today. Good old April in Baltimore.
The weather delayed the already delayed debut of Manny Machado, so fans will just have to wait, maybe until Thursday, the makeup date for Tuesday’s rainout, to see him standing at third base.
That’s only one of a few roster adjustments the Orioles were in the process of, with Chris Davis having been put on the 15-day Disabled List Sunday with a strained oblique. That left the roster at 24, awaiting Machado’s reactivation. T.J. McFarland was a candidate to be sent back to Norfolk when Troy Patton came off his 25-game suspension for Adderall use.
Also last night, the team reclaimed Steve Pearce, whom they’d put on unconditional release waivers last Tuesday. Toronto claimed him, but he rejected the claim, becoming a free agent again, and the Orioles re-signed him. So that’s one candidate to fill the void at first. That still leaves the matter of whom to send to Norfolk, Jemile Weeks, Ryan Flaherty, or Jonathan Schoop.
All caught up? It is what Manager Buck Showalter has always liked to call a moving target, but this time it got a bit ridiculous.
The injury to Davis put to an early end a month he’d like to forget. He finally figured out how to go with the pitch and hit home runs to left field last year.
That figured to happen a lot less this year, with pitchers offspeeding him to death and working him inside, as we’ve already seen. Logic suggested he would see a lot fewer fastballs on the outer half of the plate, even though he has gotten hits on the few that he’s seen thus far. But he was only hitting .250 with 2 home runs and 13 RBI when he left Friday’s game after two at-bats with the injury.
I heard a friend suggest Davis back away from the plate, so that his arms are extended even on inside pitches. We’ll see what changes, if any, the time off brings.
I sometimes try to soften my critiques of Adam Jones, because I’ve said it so often, and because I see many others saying the same things I feel. I take that to mean what my eyes tell me is happening is really happening.
The slider fools a lot of hitters, even the best of them. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t have the reputation it does. Jones has actually shown some improvement there, and has been doing the little things and taking more pitches thus far.
But he is hitting .265 (OBP .291) with one homer and 13 RBI after a portion of April spent around .300. He pulls a you-gotta-be-KIDDING-me at bat at the worst possible time sometimes, such as a 3-pitch strikeout with the bases loaded in the 7th inning of last Tuesday’s 9-3 loss at Toronto. Inasmuch as the league knows how to get him out, there’s no need to pitch to Davis.
Jones was supposed to have the protection of Nelson Cruz hitting 5th, but Cruz had a red hot April hitting second with Machado missing and became the team’s offensive leader.
I hope I’m at least somewhat wrong, and adjustments are made. I’d like to think the home runs aren’t there yet because of the weather, and because the Orioles have played only the very good teams thus far. I’d like to think when Manny gets back, the entire dynamic of the lineup will change, and realistically, it probably will to a degree.
And that’s just my take on the offense.
The hunch is that with Manny on the field, not only will the lineup tend to average more runs, but even without that, the number they score may win more games, because his defense will cause the Orioles to gift the opponent one less run a game. That’s just me.