Baltimore Orioles: Problems with good pitching


As we’ve said all season long, good pitching will generally shut down good hitting. We’ve seen it all season long, and it’s generally been the case since the beginning of time in baseball. We saw it again last night with the Baltimore Orioles, as they fell 3-1 to Tampa – who’s starter Drew Smyly seemed to dominate the Orioles and in effect shut down everything they tried to do. The issue of course is that once they get into the postseason, the Birds will be seeing that caliber of pitching in every game.

Kevin Gausman was done in by a 34 pitch first inning, in which he yielded two runs. In typical Tampa style, they didn’t hit the ball hard, or too far (for the most part). And as I’ve said in the past, that’s kind of what frustrates teams about Tampa overall; it’s almost more acceptable to lose to a team that’s tagging pitch after pitch. But when you lose to guys who are just barely getting dropping the ball over the infielders’ heads for base hits, it’s borderline embarrassing. Gausman’s line: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 earned) 0 BB, 4 K.

Again, the 34 pitch first inning was the key for Gausman, who after the game insisted that he’s not starting to tire.

And I would tend to agree with him; as I’ve said in the past, Tampa’s hitters wear out your pitching with the number of times they foul pitches off, take pitches, and just hack at balls just to stay alive. (In turn, their pitchers seem to wear out your hitters when they’re at the plate.)

Tampa scored in the first inning when Matt Joyce grounded to Jonathan Schoop with Ben Zobrist on third. Schoop, I suppose recalling how

Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

often Tampa runners had already been nailed at the plate in this series, opted to throw home instead of taking the sure out at first base. Zobrist slid in under Caleb Joseph‘s tag, giving Tampa a 1-0 lead. That’s a rookie mistake on Schoop’s part, as eventually he’ll learn that you can’t try to force plays as such. Evan Longoria followed suit with a single, as did James Loney…at which point Longoria returned the favor with a bone headed play of his own. On Myers’ single Tampa held their runners as as not to test Nick Markakis‘ arm. Longoria apparently didn’t get the memo, and was tagged out at third base – where of course Joyce was already standing. Will Myers would add an RBI-single before the innnig was over to give Tampa a 2-0 lead, which an inning later would run to 3-1 on a Ben Zorist sac fly-RBI.

The lone Oriole run came on a Chris Davis line drive homer in the last of the second, which also closed out the scoring for the day overall. So you can look at it from the perspective that a bad two innings did Gausman and the Orioles in. And when you produce the caliber of pitching that Tampa seems to produce, you can afford to take the attitude that in scoring one run that means the other side has to score two to beat you. And that’s why they’re a frustrating team to play.

The series concludes tonight at 7 PM with Bud Norris on the hill for the O’s. He’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Jeremy Hellickson. The good news for the O’s is that New York plays at 1 PM today, so they’ll already know the result of that game going in. For what it’s worth, New York will head to Toronto for the weekend, while the O’s will welcome in Minnesota. Prior to the game the Orioles sent Wei-Yin Chen down to the Gulf Coast Orioles, and recalled catcher Steve Clevenger from Norfolk. Chen will be eligible to be recalled on September 1st when rosters expand, so call this merely a move on paper.