Baltimore Orioles: Only Chris Davis and Flaherty can plate runs
The Baltimore Orioles of late have had the tag of not being able to score runs except via the longball – as evidenced by Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty last night. However they seem to be backing that reputation up in games, and it’s coming at the most inopportune times possible. The fact is that even the crassest of the crass knows that this is a decent hitting team. They just need to start showing it.
Kevin Gausman had a rough first inning, which in retrospect might well have cost the Orioles the game. However he bounced back nicely and ended up with a fairly solid effort. Gausman’s line: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K. In general, Oriole pitchers seem to be pitching to contact much more of late because the walks have gone way down. Gausman was obviously no exception to that last night.
With one on and one out in the first, Adam Jones lined into a double-play. It’s easy to blame Machado (who was on second base) for that, however it’s really just one of those freak things that happens in games. Machado had a lead off of second and the ball went straight to second base. And those things happen when you’re struggling to score runs.
New York took a 1-0 lead on a Gardener RBI-single in the last of the first, in effect making the Orioles pay for the aforementioned double-play. Later in the inning Mark Teixeira added a two-run homer, and the Orioles trailed 3-0. For those who want to perpetually call the Orioles out for the situational hitting issues (and relying too much on the home run), it’s important to note that New York relies on homers also. The difference is that as elderly of a lineup as they have, common sense dictates that they shouldn’t – but they do, and it’s working for them.
For a short time, it appeared that Gausman wasn’t going to make it out of the first inning, however he did and then he buckled down. And for awhile it even looked like the O’s might take the game over for him. Ryan Flaherty tagged a two-run homer in the third which brought the Birds to within 3-2. In the fifth the O’s had two runners in scoring position with one out, and couldn’t muster anything. Ground outs by Machado and Snider ended the inning and New York players walked off the field pumping their fists.
Perhaps more so than talking about situational hitting and relying on homers, it’s fair to say that the Orioles are failing to take advantage of their opportunities. To take it a step further, when other teams get themselves into situations (such as two runners in scoring position with only one out), the O’s are giving them a pass. In turn, opponents aren’t being quite so cavalier in helping the Orioles out when they get into situations like that.
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In the last of the fifth New York put one more across – on an ARod solo homer. And that ended up being the fatal blow in a sense. However in theory once New York brought their bullpen into the game, it should have been a 4-2 loss for the Birds. This stood to reason, especially when Andrew Miller came out in the ninth inning. But the O’s did try to make it interesting…
…with two outs in the ninth, Chris Davis jumped on the first pitch and muscled it
Courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
over the wall in right field. However that was all the O’s could muster, and they fell to a 4-3 loss. The fact however that the O’s were able to get to Miller is a positive. Going into this series my personal opinion was that the O’s would be okay unless they got swept. And even if they did, it wasn’t the end of all things – just makes the road tougher. So that means that this afternoon’s game is a huge one for the O’s.
Prior to the game the Orioles sent Steve Pearce to the 15-day DL with a strained right oblique (this was the corresponding roster more for Kevin Gausman). While some may question the timing and validity of that injury, Showalter pointed out that opposing team doctors have the option of examining a player prior to the move being made. And even if the timing is somewhat questionable given the Orioles’ roster crunch, they’re far from the only team out there who uses the DL to circumvent the system. It’s almost a system that begs to be abused.
There was also some speculation before the game that Gausman could be on the trade block for the Orioles – a rumor that Dan Duquette didn’t shoot down, incidently. I would submit that it would take a heck of a deal for the Orioles to send Gausman to another team. But the fact is that it’s out there in public now; for the right return, the O’s would consider it. That doesn’t mean that it’s definitely happening – or not happening.
As I said, this all sets up a big game in the series finale this afternoon. The Orioles need to win to get back to within five games of first place and to avoid the sweep. Ubaldo Jimenez will be on the mound for the Orioles this afternoon, of course coming off of that poor outing in Detroit last week. The Orioles are hoping that this is a bit of a reverse-lock given that Jimenez won’t pitch poorly in two consecutive outings. He’ll be opposed by New York’s Masahiro Tanaka, with game time being set for just after 1 PM.
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