Baltimore Orioles: Things unraveled quickly


Make no mistake about the fact that Chris Tillman pitched more than well enough to allow the Baltimore Orioles to win last night’s game. Tillman’s line: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 4 K. One might look at those numbers blindly and ask how I could say that he pitched a great game and left the Birds in a good spot to win. Mind you that his final pitching line only includes five earned runs due to a technicality in scoring. However he has no control over mental lapses behind him.

Through the first two innings of the game, Tillman only needed 16 pitches to send Toronto down 1-2-3 twice. His fastball command was good, and he was throwing strikes. The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the last of the third on Jimmy Paredes‘ two-RBI single. Toronto cut that lead in half on Chris Colabello‘s RBI-single in the fourth, which included Russell Martin getting caught in a rundown between second and third and getting tagged out. However Edwin Encarnacion tied the game in the sixth with a solo homer off of Tillman. 

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Tillman hung a slider on the Encarnacion homer, and he paid for it. However the good news was that nobody was on base. The Orioles got the lead off runner to second in the form of Manny Machado‘s double in the last of the sixth, however they were unable to advance or score him. It was almost as if the powers-that-be in baseball told the Orioles you’ve had your chance. They couldn’t take advantage of that, and as we found out a few moments later the thing about the Orioles being made to attest to every mistake or lapse they make was alive and well.

Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With one on and nobody out in the seventh, Justin Smoak grounded into what should have been a 3-5-1 double-play. Chris Davis flipped the ball to Manny Machado (who was covering second base) for one out, and Machado went to relay the ball back to Chris Tillman who was covering first. It should have been an easy two outs that would have left the bases empty. However Machado’s throw was errant, and it went into the Orioles’ dugout – so not only was there no double-play, but Smoak was awarded second base.

Josh Donaldson‘s RBI-single gave Toronto the lead a few moments later. Jose Bautista‘s double would leave two runners in scoring position, which ended Tillman’s night. However after Tommy Hunter came in a passed ball by Caleb Joseph allowed Smoak to score. Edwin Encarnacion would proceed to smack another home run, which gave Toronto a 6-2 lead. As I stated above, five of those runs were charged to Tillman because of a technicality. You can’t assume a double-play so while Manny Machado was charged with a throwing error on the Smoak play, those runs are technically earned. Hard-luck day at the office for Chris Tillman, who definitely deserved better.

In the eighth it got worse; Kevin Pillar went to third on what should have been another double-play. This time however Chris Davis’ errant throw left runners at the corners for Toronto. Devon Travis came to the plate, and grounded to J.J. Hardy at short (with Pillar running on the play from third). Hardy fired home…errantly. The throw was off and Pillar was safe. Ryan Goins scored on a wild pitch by T.J. McFarland, and Josh Donaldson added a two-run homer to run the score to 10-2.

Make no mistake about the fact that the Orioles are better than this. However I think what we saw last night was potentially a moment of doubt creeping into their minds. When things snowball to that extent it’s usually indicative of a mental problem more than anything else. That one error in the seventh inning caused a donnybrook, which as I said above snowballed out of control. To his credit, Machado didn’t run from criticism after the game (as told to’s Brittany Ghiroli)”

"We are just making too many errors, plain and simple. Dumb mistakes that we shouldn’t be doing, and they took advantage of it completely. So, got to tip your cap, that’s what we do to other teams. Just got to play better defense."

I did find it interesting that while Machado was tipping his cap to Toronto for taking advantage of his team’s mistakes, Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson told reporters (unsolicited) that he wasn’t going to feel badly for the Orioles:

"In the Major Leagues, in general, when you start giving extra outs to the other team, it’s going to come back and bite you. When we’re on the side of them helping us out a little bit, we’ll take it every time. I’m not going to feel sorry for them, they’re not going to feel sorry for me when I throw one into the stands, which I’ve done a couple of times."

I’m not sure that anyone was asking Donaldson for sympathy, but those two contrasting comments also shows the different cultures in the two clubhouses. Incidentally, there’s also a fine line between taking opportunities afforded to you, and shamelessly being a bad winner. Now having said that, if as a team you start wallowing in self-pity when things like this start happening, you’re going to be forced to interpret comments like Donaldson’s above more oten than not.

The series concludes this evening with Miguel Gonzalez on the mound for the Orioles. He’ll be opposed by Aaron Sanchez of Toronto. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.