With yesterday’s 5-2 loss, the Baltimore Orioles fell to 1-4 on the spring against their AL East rival Toronto. As I’ve said all spring, wins and losses don’t matter much until the games start to count for real. However given that this is an AL East team, is it something about which to be concerned?
Courtesy of Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
For starters, you have to look at how the games progress. Yesterday there were some fluky things that seemed to occur. Wei-Yin Chen wasn’t great, but he was probably good enough. Chen’s line: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 earned), 0 BB, 1 K. A fielding error by Manny Machado allowed a run to score in the first inning, and Steve Tolleson homered in the third to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. Machado isn’t going to committ too many errors, and that set the tone for the game. Afterwards Buck Showwalter was complimentary of Chen, courtesy of Rock Kubatko of MASNsports:
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"He could have gone as high as 80, 85, 90. It was good. We had those other four guys who needed to throw."
Caleb Joseph would get the Birds on the board in the last of the third with an RBI-double, which cut the lead to 2-1. However a Kevin Pillar two-run homer in the sixth would run the lead to 4-1 for Toronto, although an inning later Delmon Young would smack a solo shot of his own. Toronto would close out the scoring with a sac fly by Ezequiel Carrera in the eighth.
Again, wins and losses don’t mean anything at this stage. But some fans could pull that stat of 1-4 against Toronto and wonder if that’s not a harbinger of things to come for the Orioles in 2015. As great as 2014 was for the O’s, they were only 8-11 against Toronto. And this is a much better Toronto team than what we saw in 2014. So again, is there a reason to be concerned?
Perhaps – you never know. But mind you that Toronto is a team that relies heavily on fluky plays to win games, such as balls bouncing strangely off of the turf in their home yard and so forth. I’m not suggesting that they don’t earn the wins that they get, however over the years they’ve rarely just outslugged someone like the Orioles did last year.
And when I say fluky plays, you could throw a Manny Machado first inning error into that category, such as we saw yesterday. Machado’s skills as a third baseman cannot be questioned. Errors are going to happen at the hot corner, but luckily with him they’re going to be minimized. All things being the same, the O’s still lose 4-2 if that doesn’t happen. However it set the tone for the game for sure.
Incidentally, the O’s have a losing record against St. Louis this spring also – but they took two of three from the Red Birds last August. So it’s tough to say that the results in these games mean anything per se. Nevertheless, you always want to beat your division rivals, whenever you play them.
The O’s will travel to Lakeland, FL today to take on the Detroit Tigers at 1 PM – in a game that will be shown live on MLB Network. Chris Tillman will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s David Price. Pretty decent pitching matchup in a late spring game!