What comes first, the chicken or the egg? That might be the best way to ask yourself whether or not the Baltimore Orioles keep running into great pitching, or whether or not those pitchers are looking great due in large part to the O’s. Houston starter Lance McCullers was brilliant in the Orioles’ 3-1 loss last night. But was he brilliant because he was good, or because the Orioles swung at almost every first pitch?
In fairness, the team is pressing right now because all of the players want to make things happen. So contrary to what some fans say and think they believe, the O’s aren’t just going through the motions and collecting their paychecks at the end of the day. If anything they’re probably trying too hard to make things happen, which is part of the problem in a sense. And the worst part is that their opponents know that and are doing their part to ensure that it continues.
Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez didn’t pitch too shabily either. Gonzalez’s line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Gonzalez gave up three solo home runs – that’s it. Chris Carter hit two (one in the second and one in the fifth), and George Springger added one in the last of the sixth. All three homers were “no doubters,” however as I said they were solo shots.
The Orioles did mount a brief rally in the fourth inning. Adam Jones made a valiant attempt at his first home run since May 11th, sending a deep shot to left field. However he missed a home run by about four feet, but ended up on third base. After Chris Davis struck out, Delmon Young sent a tight RBI-single down the line in right field, which at that moment tied the game at one. However Houston took the lead right back in the fifth inning, and that was the end of that.
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After the game Jones himself addressed the offensive struggles, even though he’s been one of the bright spots at the plate (quote courtesy of Brittany Ghiroli and Chandler Rome of mlb.com):
"We try to say we’re a high-powered offense. Right now we ain’t got no ammo. It’s the game. We go through stretches. … It’s not over. We’ve got a long way to go."
Jones went 2-for-4 in last night’s game, also smacking a base hit in the ninth
Courtesy of Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
inning when the Orioles were trying to extend the game. However one player can’t carry the team through the wilderness, so something is going to have to change. Having said that, this stretch in which the Orioles find themselves also shows how tough baseball can be. It’s not for the faint of heart.
The O’s have also seemed to struggle to hit the ball over the fence at Minute Maid Park, even though Houston seems to do it with ease. As I said, Jones barely missed a homer on what ended up being a triple. Chris Davis had a similar shot which fell into a fielder’s glove, and there have been a few other like those over the course of the series. It’s easy enough to say at Camden Yards that would have been a home run and so forth, but the fact is that they aren’t playing at Camden Yards. That doesn’t mean that the strange dimensions and quirks at Minute Maid Park have been kind to the Birds.
J.J. Hardy was out of the lineup once again, and there’s now increasing concern that he might be bound for the DL with an oblique strain. There’s also a slight chance he might be able to return to the linuep in Cleveland if things improve by then. However he’s feeling pain each time he tries to swing the bat – that’s kind of a problem.
The Orioles do have some seemingly moving parts right now, not just limited to Hardy. Brian Matusz had his suspension appeal heard yesterday in Houston, and the word is that a decision from the league could come tomorrow. (That’s not set in stone, mind you.) So if that’s true, the Birds should prepare to be without Matusz in Cleveland and beyond, but their hope is that it’ll be for a reduced number of games. Matt Wieters is also on his way to meet the team in Cleveland, where he’s expecte to make his season debut behind the plate tomorrow night.
The Orioles will attempt to not get swept out of the Lone Star State in the series finale this afternoon. Wei-Yin Chen will be on the mound for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Dallas Keuchel – the AL player of the month for April and May. Their task is not an easy one. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.