There can be no doubt about the fact that the Baltimore Orioles are happy to be out of New York City. The Birds fell yesterday 6-2 in the Bronx, meaning that Saturday’s was the only game they won in either Queens or the Bronx. While the O’s and manager Buck Showalter won’t use this as an excuse, but the road trip certainly was a lot longer due to the trip to Tampa, as well as the unrest the week prior.
It was unclear whether or not Bud Norris was initialy going to be able to start the game, as he left Yankee Stadium early on Saturday with chills. However he was feeling well enough to pitch come game time, and while he eventually struggled he was solid early on. Norris appeared to get into a groove, but appeared to quickly wear down under the pressure of the pinstripes. Norris’ line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 2 K.
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The Orioles got out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second when J.J. Hardy
Courtesy of Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
sent a solo home run into the left field seats – Hardy’s first of the season. However that wasn’t the only “first home run of the season” that was seen yesterday. Carlos Beltran smacked his first of 2015 in the last of the fourth, tying the game at one. Beltran had been struggling a bit coming into the series, but he certainly seemed to find his bat against Oriole pitching.
Later in that fourth inning with Chase Headley at second, Didi Gregorious sent what ended up being an RBI-single to right field giving NY a 2-1 lead. I say that it ended up being an RBI-single because Headley didn’t appear to be running on the play. When Delmon Young hesitated a bit in right field, he started going around third base and heading for home. Unfortunately there was nobody there to cut off Young’s throw, otherwise the O’s would have had a very good chance to nail Headley at home plate.
You might look at that as a run that could have been prevented had the defense been a bit swifter behind Norris. The same is true of Jacoby Ellsbury‘s RBI-single later in the inning. He hit a soft line drive to left, and initially Alejandro De Aza broke in on the ball. However it started to carry, and it went right over his head and all the way to the wall. Both of these runs of course go down as earned runs charged to Norris, but his corner outfielders didn’t help him out as the O’s might have liked.
Brian McCann would add a solo home run in the fifth, and he would also score on Gregorious’ RBI-double in the seventh. The Orioles would net their second run of the day on Adam Jones‘ RBI-single in the eighth. However at the end of the day that wasn’t enough as the O’s fell 6-2.
The big story of the day more so than anything else was NY starter Michael Pineda and his 16 strikeouts. It’s tough to beat a guy when he strikes out 16 hitters. Quite frankly I’ve never been that impressed by Pineda, but he certainly showed his worth yesterday. Overall the Orioles set a new franchise record with 18 strikeouts on the day.
The Orioles seemed to have numerous problems with home plate umpire Mark Carlson’s strike zone, which seemed to extend up to past the writing on their jerseys at times. At one point Manny Machado angrily slammed his bat in the dirt, and Adam Jones walked away from home plate jawwing at the umpire after another strikeout. While many of those pitches did in fact appear to be in the far upper fringes of the zone, part of the frustration seemed to be that Oriole pitchers weren’t getting the same large strike zone. You’d have to look at a pitch chart to know for sure, however that’s the perception the Orioles had.
Tonight the Orioles will return home for the first time since the “no fans game” on April 29th – in the wake of the unrest. (Technically they were at home briefly in between the Tampa series and heading to New York, but you get the point.) Tomorrow’s game has been dubbed “Re-Opening Day” in Baltimore, by a grass-roots group of fans trying to drum up support for the team. (Click here for a link to their Facebook page.)
The idea of course is to pack the yard to welcome the team home after what ended up being an overly-extended road trip. It’s also going to be a show of civic pride for the city, and one of support for the team. The hope of course is that the Baltimore community can move past what happened and be strong and united as one. And I think that’s what you’ll see out there tonight.
Ironically, Ubaldo Jimenez will get the start for the O’s tonight – he started the home opener (also against Toronto) as well. He’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Marco Estrada. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.