Baltimore Orioles: Close but no cigar


Needless to say, there’s probably nobody happier than the Baltimore Orioles in seeing American soil this morning. After last night’s 7-6 loss in Toronto, the Birds had to be ready to high-tail it out of Canada after being swept at the hands of a team that seemed bent on making sure the Orioles knew where they stood with each other. However if there’s a silver lining, it would seemingly be that the Birds seemed to come to life late in the game – a trend that one hopes carries over into this weekend’s series with Boston at home.

Chris Tillman‘s command was shaky from the start, causing Buck Showalter to resort to the bullpen much earlier than necessary once again. Tillman’s line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 5 BB, 3 K. The walks were what did Tillman in, which is very uncharacteristic of him specifically. Now granted my personal opinion is that he threw more pitches in the strike zone than he got was credited with. But that’s also a tough sell when you’re command’s off to begin with. 

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Walks and errors have been a huge problem for the O’s all week, however the good news is that the Orioles broke a string of three straight games with an error last night. (Catcher Ryan Lavarnway was charged with a pass ball.) That may not sound like a feat, however when you aren’t playing well you look at things like that.

With Toronto already leading 1-0 after a FC-RBI (resulting from a lead off walk), Josh Donaldson smacked a two-run homer to give Toronto a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Kevin Pillar would add a two-RBI double, and Russel Martin an RBI-double of his own in the fifth. The Orioles weren’t even able to register a hit until the sixth inning, which was when they broke up Toronto starter Drew Hutchinson’s perfect game bid.

But once that was taken care of, things started to happen for the O’s. The perfecto was broken up on Manny Machado‘s lead off, first-pitch home run in the top of the sixth. An inning later, Travis Snider grounded into a FC-RBI to cut Toronto’s lead to 7-2. The Birds would get the first two runners on base in the top of the ninth, which brought Snider’s spot to the plate once again. He delivered for a second time, with an RBI-single that scored Adam Jones.

Courtesy of Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Later in that ninth inning Machado came to the plate once again, this time with one out and two runners on base. He picked a grand time to register his second homer of the game, this one of course of the three-run variety. That closed the gap to 7-6, making a previously comfortable lead for Toronto turn into a dog fight. However the Orioles weren’t able to get any closer than that, and they were swept back to the US with a four game losing streak.

Again, it’s tough to sugarcoat a three-game sweep. However if you’re looking for silver linings that ninth inning last night is certainly one. Even at a diminished strength due to injuries, these 2015 Birds still have that play ’till the last out gene that’s common in Buck Showalter’s teams. While the result is still the same at 7-2 as opposed to 7-6, you never know what’s going to happen.

The Orioles have summoned infielder Rey Navarro to join them in Baltimore this weekend, in anticipation of Ryan Flaherty heading to the 15-day DL. Flaherty injured his groin running the bases on the Rogers Centre turf on the final out of Wednesday night’s game. That turf has come under increased scrutiny through the opening weeks of the season, as it doesn’t come off as having the best traction, and balls seem to die once they hit it. Now that someone might be destined for the DL as a result of it, perhaps Toronto will be forced to change it out.

One of the big parts of any Duquette/Showalter team is depth, but the Orioles are now finding some of their depth (in Flaherty) joining their starters on the DL. You have to believe that once this team is back together and complete they’ll start firing on more cylinders. The Birds are hoping that in the next couple of days J.J. Hardy can begin a rehab assignment, after taking 75 swings in the cage yesterday in Norfolk. Getting Hardy back in the near future will probably stablize the infiled and streamline the batting order just a bit.

The O’s open up a three-game weekend series with Boston tonight at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This is the season’s only weekend set in Baltimore between these two teams, which is an odd scheduling quirk. Miguel Gonzalez is taxed with being a stopper for the Orioles, who need to snap a four-game losing streak. He’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello.

Next: Baltimore Orioles: Losses fortunately free of theatrics