Baltimore Orioles: Trailing by a hair


Three of the four losses in the current four-game losing streak have been by one run, including last night. So in that sense the Baltimore Orioles aren’t withering away in la-la land while other teams take the fight right to them. However look at it in a term they use in boxing; if you can beat your man to the punch – even if it’s by a quarter-of-ann-inch – you’ve got him beat.

Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez was unable to make it into the fifth inning, as he got battered around by New York bats. Gonzalez’s line: 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 2 K. New York got started early on Gonzalez by putting traffic on the bases from the beginning. Alex Rodriguez netted a sac-fly RBI to give them the lead in the first, and Brian McCann smacked a three-run homer. So Gonzalez trailed 3-0 before the first inning was even over.

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Gonzalez next saw McCann in the last of the third, with two outs and two runners in scoring position. A struggling Carlos Beltran was also on deck, so Gonzalez and catcher Caleb Joseph appeared to pitch around McCann. And that’s the smart move in that circumstance. Why pitch to a guy that’s already hurt you when you can get a guy who’s having a tough go for the moment?

Unfortunately execution often has a way of unraveling sound judgement, and Beltran proceeded to smack a two-RBI double to right center field, giving New York a 5-0 lead. (McCann was also gunned down at home plate trying to score.) That appeared to bust the game wide open.

However the O’s fought back, as is their nature. Manny Machado’s RBI-single in the fifth got the Birds on the board, and Delmon Young grounded into a fielder’s choice-RBI as well. However the Orioles also stranded the bases loaded when Chris Davis struck out swinging to end the inning. Many people are becoming increasingly frustrated with Davis. There’s no doubt he strikes out a lot. However a slugger of his caliber also keeps the fear of God in the back of pitchers’ minds. Fans shouldn’t forget that. The Orioles also got a two-RBI single in the sixth from Jimmy Paredes to cut the lead to 5-4.

As I said, when you’re losing games by one run you could be looking at one play here or there that could have made the outcome different. As an example, the Orioles had two hits with runners-in-scoring position last night which didn’t net them runs. (After the second one a run did in fact end up scoring.) Delmon Young hit a soft single to shallow left field with Manny Machado on second in the first inning. New York left fielder Brett Gardener came up throwing as Bobby Dickerson waved Machado home – and he was out by a mile at home plate.

My point here is not to pile on the Orioles’ third base coach. However my personal opinion is that was a poor send. In what ended up being a one-run ballgame, that’s a tough way to run out of an inning. Gardener probably didn’t need to make a perfect throw per se, but he did.

The Orioles got three very solid innings from T.J. McFarland in relief, which put them in a position to come back. McFarland had been called up from Norfolk when Kevin Gausman went to the 15-day DL with shoulder tendonitis. The Orioles also got a scare when Adam Jones crashed into the wall in an attempt to nab what ended up being an Alex Rodriguez triple. He hit the wall hard in a valient attempt at catching the ball, but stayed in the game.

That injury worked against the Orioles in more than one way. It distracted Buck Showalter (who went out to center field to check on Jones with the trainer) was distracted enough not to have the opportunity to ask for a replay review. A kid stuck out his glove in an attempt to catch the ball, and in my view clearly impeded Jones’ ability to make the play (haven’t the O’s been down this road before in the Bronx?).

Keep in mind that ARod didn’t score so in that sense no harm no foul, however the

Courtesy of Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

replay was fairly conclusive in my view that the gloves touched. Afterwards Jones claimed he never saw the kid, but that could also be his way of not making an excuse – he swore that’s a ball he should have caught. Interestingly, Jones also seemed to indicate to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports that the call might have been incorrectly made anyways:

"They ain’t going to check it. They ain’t going to get it right. It doesn’t matter. I just wish I had that ball. I had a good bead on it. I just I would have had it."

Late in the game MASN cameras also captured Ryan Flaherty – just activated from the DL himself – running fairly gingerly around the bases and not looking too comfortable. The hope of course is that Flaherty doesn’t need to go back to the DL, especially given how hard he worked to get back to the bigs the first time.

The series continues under the sun this afternoon with Wei-Yin Chen on the mound for the O’s. The hope is that perhaps the switch to day games will reverse the Orioles’ fortunes, as today’s game is set to start just after 1 PM. Chen will be opposed by New York’s Chase Whitley.