Baltimore Orioles: Breaks don’t come for Manny Machado, O’s


We saw some of the Baltimore Orioles’ frustrations boil over last night on the final pitch when Manny Machado was called out on a check swing. My personal opinion on the play was that Machado checked his swing in time – and replays seemed to back that up. However when things aren’t going well for you, those are how the breaks in games go.

Machado immediately got in the fact of home plate umpire David Rackley, prompting Buck Showalter to come out of the dugout to bring him (Machado) back. While Showlater didn’t appear to agree with the call either, the last thing he needs is a player of Machado’s caliber suspended. But then again, with how things are going for the Birds right now would anyone be surprised if one drop of Machado’s saliva happened to make it’s way onto Rackley’s face – prompting a presumed suspension?

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  • Similar to Gausman the previous night, Ubaldo Jimenez didn’t turn in a quality start. But he kept his team in the game, and they even attempted a rally. Jimenez’s line: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 3 K. Texas struck first in the last of the third, in a squence that started with – go figure – an infield hit. Delino DeShields grounded to third base and reached first safely; he scored on Choo’s subsequence RBI-double. To make matters worse, Beltre came up later in the inning and smacked a two-run homer.

    But while the Birds are struggling to score runs or even to catch a break, they weren’t out of it just yet. Steve Pearce’s solo homer in the fifth put them on the board, and the Orioles put runners at the corners on a single and a double by Joseph and Alvarez. Paul Janish cut the lead to 3-2 on a sac fly-RBI, and the Orioles tied the score on Manny Machado’s RBI-single – giving us a new ballgame.

    Courtesy of Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    But again, the breaks were all going against the Orioles. With two outs in the sixth Elvis Andrus tripled, prompting Buck Showalter to order an intentional walk of Will Venable. Showalter then lifted Jimenez and brought in Mychal Givens from the bullpen to face Bobby Wilson. This type of thing of course is known as “matching up,” and Showalter’s noted for it.

    However Wilson turned the numbers and the strategy on it’s side with an RBI-double, and Texas took a 4-3 lead. The O’s would threaten a few times later, including in the ninth inning. And that’s why Machado got so animated when he was called out to end the game. What he was effectively saying at that moment was teams don’t need any help in beating us, so please don’t give it to them. But at the end of the day, those cries fell on deaf ears.

    To drive home the point of the breaks not going their way, at one point an Oriole lined out to third base and Beltre bobbled the ball – only to catch it in his bare hand as it came down. While the O’s often don’t do themselves any favors with their inability to get on base of late and/or drive runs home, they do come across as snakebitten right now. How does one reverse that? Getting on base and driving runs in? Easier said than done.

    Incidentally, I don’t want to come off as being critical of Showalter for matching up. Strategically, it was the right thing to do in that situation – especially with two outs. There are probably some overly crass folks out there who would ask why not be critical of him? But keep in mind that the result of the play doesn’t make any difference in terms of whether or not the strategy was correct or not. The numbers said that was the right thing to do. Wilson just turned those numbers upside down.

    The O’s will try to salvage one game of three in Texas this afternoon. They’ll be sending Miguel Gonzalez to the mound, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Derek Holland. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

    Next: Orioles revisit disturbing 2-year old trend

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