Baltimore Orioles find themselves in a sticky wicket


This might be the longest column for a 13-inning game that ended 1-0 in the history of the game – well, in the history of Birds Watcher to say the least. Many people want to blame the offense of the Baltimore Orioles for this loss. Obviously the offensive ineptitude did play a role. However speaking for myself I’d just chalk it up to being “one of those games.”

Point being that these types of games happen – just like sometimes you drop one 10-9. It’s part of the ebb and flow of the season. Yes it’s impossible to win when you don’t score. However does Miami’s offense feel any better about themselves? Probably, given that they won the game. And it all boils down to that.

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Mike Wright made his second big league start, and with very similar results to his first. Wright’s line: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K. Wright was unbelievably good last night. And unfortunately, circumstances being what they ended up being, he goes down as a footnote in the overall game story. But it’s tough not to stress how good Wright was in this game, even collecting his first major league hit.

The Orioles got runners on base here and there against Miami starter Dan Haren, but they also allowed him to work his way out of it. The first twelve innings or so of this game come down to two plays at the plate. Haren walked Caleb Joseph in the sixth inning with two outs and Travis Snider on second, which brought Wright to the plate. You figure that especially in an interleague game where the AL pitcher isn’t used to hitting (not to mention he’s a rookie), that’s a good bet…

…but in wasn’t. Wright collected his aforementioned first big league hit, and Snider was waved around by third base coach Bobby Dickerson. Miami center fielder Marcell Ozuna fired home, and Snider was tagged out at the plate. My personal opinion was that Buck Showalter should have challenged the play, as replays seemed fairly conclusive to me that the catcher (Realmuto) never tagged Snider – at least not before he touched home plate. Showalter later said that the Orioles’ replay people didn’t think it was a challenge they’d win

In the last of the 10th Miami had the speedy Dee Gordon on third base, and an Oliver Drake pitch trickled away from catcher Caleb Joseph. (Incidentally, Drake was fresh up from Norfolk, and he was incredibly good as well.) Gordon took off for home plate as Joseph flipped the ball to Drake, who tagged out Gordon to end the inning. Miami challenged the call, but the replays were about as conclusive as they could be. However of course the game lasted all the way to the last of 13th, when Martin Prado singled home the winning run and the O’s fell 1-0.

All of this aside, the main story of this game was Orioles’ southpaw Brian Matusz

Courtesy of Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

being ejected in the 12th inning for an apparent “foreign substance” on his forearm. After two quick outs, Miami manager Dan Jennings asked the crew chief Paul Emmel to check Matusz’s right arm; Emmel’s opinion appeared to be in lockstep with that of Jennings in that there was a foreign substance on Matusz’s arm, and he was ejected.

Jennings said after the game that they saw something glistening on Matusz’s arm from the bench. Yet TV cameras weren’t able to pick anything up anything shiny on his arm. Having said that, replays clearly showed Matusz going to his right forearm a couple of times during the inning. This of course is the second time this week that a pitcher was ejected for this, as Milwaukee reliever Will Smith had the same thing occur on Thursday night – Smith received an eight-game suspension, which is currently under appeal.

There’s really very little argument or discussion necessary in this, as the umpire checked Matusz and obviously felt that there was something there. The question now becomes whether or not he can expect a similar eight-game ban. That’s probably a guideline, however I wouldn’t put it past the league to give him longer since this had just happened and it might have stood to reason that perhaps players should have been more careful.

After the game Matusz and Buck Showalter were fairly tight-lipped on the situation, stating really just what everyone already knew (quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko of MASNsports). Brian Matusz:

"We’re not going to address the issue right now. Obviously, I have my own personal opinions about the issue, but right now with emotions running high we’re going to let this settle and address questions at a later time."

Buck Showalter:

"He (Emmel) just thought he had a sticky substance on his arm."

If nothing else, that should go as a lesson to players and managers who find themselves in similar circumstances. You don’t want to come off like Will Smith, who emphatically shouted profanities at the oppossing (Atlanta) dugout on the way out. The league pays attention to these types of things.

As I said above, for all I know they might take into account the fact that this type of thing had been in the news and decide to give Matusz a longer suspension that eight games. It’s really tough to know. (Bear in mind that the O’s have a doubleheader coming up on Thursday, however if he’s suspended before then presumably Matusz would appeal and be able to play.) However while the Orioles can’t control what happened on the field, the one thing they could control was ensuring that nobody (neither Matusz nor anyone else) gave the league any fodder.

The series wraps up with a rubber match this afternoon. The Orioles will send Miguel Gonzalez to the mound, and he’ll be opposed by Miami’s Tom Koehler. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Next: Baltimore Orioles vs. Miami Marlins: Live Stream, Start Time, TV Info, and Lineups (5/23/15)