Baltimore Orioles: Offense in turmoil


Let me be clear; as the season ebbs and flows, so does offensive output. That’s true of all teams. So I don’t think that fans should be overly concerned about the Baltimore Orioles in that sense. But the bats just weren’t there in the truncate two-game set in Queens against the NY Mets.

Part of this is easily explained by the loss of the DH. That’s only one hitter, however inserting the pitcher at the bottom of the lineup and removing a professional hitter has ramifications up and down the order. Everything is in effect out of synch. You also have to tip your cap to New York, as they pitched very well in this series. The one time the Orioles had something going last night, starter Jacob deGrom struck out Chris Davis with the bases loaded.

Orioles’ starter Ubaldo Jimenez wasn’t as effective as we’ve seen him, although he was pulled after the fourth inning. Jimenez’s line: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 K. Buck Showalter aditted after the game that Jimenez didn’t quite have the command that they’ve come to expect from him this year, but he was closer than he looked to being good.

NY took a 1-0 lead in the second when Dilson Herrera sent an RBI-single to center. They would expand that lead to 2-0 an inning later when Curtis Granderson homered to right field – a ball that didn’t waste any time getting out of Citi Field. Granderson would add a sac fly-RBI an inning later in the last of the fourth as well, and the O’s trailed 3-0.

As I said, Jimenez was lifted after four innings – for a pinch hitter when his turn came up in the order (in the fifth). Showalter sent up Travis Snider to pinch hit, however my thought process at the time was that he should have considered sending up another pitcher as the pinch hitter. It would have sacrificed the at-bat, however it would have kept an additional hitter on the bench potentially for later in the game. Show’s how much I know – Snider singled to right, and he later scored on Jimmy Paredes‘ RBI-single.

The Orioles however ran themselves out of a potentially bigger inning in that frame, as Everth Cabrera was caught in no-man’s land (off of third) when Alejandro De Aza laid down what appeared to be a failed squeeze bunt. Cabrera was picked off at third (for statistical purposes he was out at home plate), and a would-be run never crossed.

Herrera, who had a big series overall, would add a two-run homer that was reviewed after initially being called a double in the sixth. And it was the right call, as the ball clearly hit off of the “fencing” that was located over the wall. However Buck Showalter proceeded to have a lengthy discussion with home plate umpire Brian O’Nora, who then called for an equally lengthy umpires conference. At the time it was unclear why this was, however Showalter explained it after the game to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports:

"There were two things. One, they showed a replay before, which they can’t do. But the big thing was their batter got in the batters box, the pinch hitter, so he’s in the game. Two of the umpires went to look at replay, and the other two should have seen it, but didn’t. deGrom should have been out of the game, and he was coaching the runner, also. Once you get into the box, whether you report or it, you’re in the game."

Courtesy of Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The bit about the replay might well be semantics, however in this age of replay that could be important. In theory a slip-up like that could prevent a team from having to burn a challenge if the umpire sees it prematurely. However a pinch-hitter getting into the box is something that shouldn’t be overlooked by an umpire. One might argue no harm no foul in a sense, but it’s obviously that the crew knew they made a mistake because they huddled up and then reported back to Showalter.

The good news for the O’s is that they’re staying in New York City for their next series, a four-gamer with the NY Yankees beginning tonight in the Bronx. I suspect that the team will look vastly different, as both J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty appear poised to return. Hardy is expected to join the Orioles tonight, and Flaherty tomorrow.

The question of course now is who goes down? My personal opinion is that it’ll end up being Rey Navarro and Everth Cabrera – only because they have the “misfortune” of having options. Cabrera didn’t help himself with that base-running miscue last night, but I would submit that it’s more about the options than anything else. But nothing is really set in stone yet – someone could be sent to the DL, or they could pull some other type of move with the roster, for which Showalter and Dan Duquette are noted.

Chris Tillman will get the series started in the Bronx this evening as he takes to the bump for the Birds. He’ll be opposed by New York’s Nathan Eovaldi, with game time being set for just after 7 PM.