Baltimore Orioles: Letting opportunities fly by the wayside
With the exception of Adam Jones, the Baltimore Orioles have to start working better with runners on base – and overall for that matter. The Birds went 3-for-11 with RISP in tonight’s loss to Tampa, specifically letting Tampa off the hook in the second and third innings with traffic on the base paths. If those things don’t happen, the game is much more competitive and looks entirely different.
It’s unclear exactly how many “sayings” the Birds will turn on their side, however the old saying is that solo homers won’t kill you. They’ve been major parts of rallies for Oriole opponents this year – often with two outs. Wei-Yin Chen missed his location on various pitches, however his outing was better than the numbers indicate. Chen’s line: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 4 K. I say this keeping in mind that the other two runs charged to him came off of broken bats and bloops – which this year has been par for the course against the Orioles.
The tone for the night was set when Manny Machado led off with a deep shot to center field. The ball was a home run, as it was over the fence. But Tampa center fielder Kiermaier made a leaping catch and saved it. By my count, that’s six homers this season of which the O’s have been robbed. Make no mistake about the fact that you ALWAYS tip your cap to your opponent in such a situation. But if you’re the Orioles that doesn’t make it any easier.
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa’s Forsythe reached base on a broken bat triple in the second. Yes, you read that right. Sometimes balls take funny hops in broken bat plays. Forsythe later scored on what amounted to a sac fly-RBI by Beckham. However call it a bloop sac fly-RBI, which meant that it wasn’t hit deep. Adam Jones threw home, but catcher Steve Clevenger couldn’t handle the throw and Tampa led 1-0.
Cabrera’s two-run homer in the fourth ran the lead to 3-0, and an inning later Joey Butler ran it to 4-0 when he got a run across by grounding into a double-play. Longoria and Beckham each added two-run homers, which closed out the scoring for Tampa for the night. However keep in mind that from Tampa’s perspective the run that scored on the double-play wasn’t a bad thing. It cleared the bases, but they operate “in the small” whereas the O’s try “for the big.”
However in the seventh the Birds made a comeback attempt. They finally started to get guys on base, culminating with Jones’ RBI-single. That brought Clevenger to the plate, and he added a two-RBI single. But at the end of the day, Tampa’s pitching was just too good and the Birds fell 6-3.
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All things being equal (which I know is always a tough sell), the game was lost in the second and third innings when the Birds left runners in scoring position. The O’s actually had a decent number of runners on base in this game. They just weren’t able to bring them home. However keep in mind that when teams start coming out of funks, it begins by getting runners on base. So in that sense fans should be encouraged – also by what happened in the seventh inning.
The series continues tomorrow evening, although the Birds haven’t announced a starter. Keep in mind that the team will look vastly different tomorrow night, as some new faces will be joining them with September call ups. Whomever starts for the O’s will be opposed by Tampa’s Drew Smyly. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Was Dan Duquette wrong to stand on principle?