Baltimore Orioles: Missed opportunities and a sketchy review

Sep 8, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Officials wait for final word on a instant replay call as the Baltimore Orioles take on the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning at Fenway Park. The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-0. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Officials wait for final word on a instant replay call as the Baltimore Orioles take on the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning at Fenway Park. The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-0. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Chris Tillman pitched a quality start for the Baltimore Orioles, however they fell 4-2 due to missed opportunities and a strange instant replay review.

Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles don’t want to find themselves on the outside of the postseason and looking in by one game when all is said and done. Certainly if they do, there’ll be much more than one reason or one game as to why that happened. However they might find themselves looking back to last night on the south side of Chicago and wondering what could have been.

Tillman turned in a quality start by the numbers, and thus put the O’s in a position to win. Tillman’s line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K. However in a game of inches, sometimes it’s the small things which define the line between winning and losing. The first two Oriole batters got on as a result of balls being misplayed by Chicago fielders. Before anyone could blink the Birds had runners at the corners with nobody out. And Chicago starter Rodon proceeded to strike out the side.

It’s missed opportunities like that which hurt teams. Now in fairness, nobody takes advantage of every opportunity they’re given. In a sport like baseball that’s virtually impossible. However plating a couple of runs there would have set the tone of the game, and given the O’s a second wind before Chicago even got their first. However the net result did in fact set the tone for the game.

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  • And in fact it was Chicago who took advantage of their opportunities. They knew that they had been gifted the act of getting out of the first inning unscathed, and with back-to-back doubles in the last of the first they held a 1-0 lead. That lead doubled to 2-0 in the last of the third on a Saladino solo homer. However one inning later the Birds were able to get on the board on an RBI-double by J.J. Hardy.

    That left two runners in scoring position, but the O’s couldn’t bring them home. That would have been a golden opportunity to take control of the game, but…another missed opportunity. Luckily for the O’s however, Hardy came to the rescue again in the sixth with a sac fly-RBI which tied the game at two.

    However it wasn’t the Orioles’ night. Chicago loaded the bases in the last of the seventh, and Navarez’s bloop RBI-single on the left field line gave them a 3-2 lead. Eaton would smack an additional solo homer in the eighth, and the BIrds fell 4-2 to the ChiSox.

    But let’s go back to that bloop RBI-single in the seventh for a moment. It was a soft pop up that sent Machado scurrying down the line to try to make the play. The ball hit near the line and was initially called foul. After a Chicago challenge, it was ruled fair and thus a base hit. Navarez was credited with a single and the runners placed accordingly.

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    Upon seeing the play live, my initial impression was that it was fair. So on that basis the umpires made the right call in my view. However the review itself was in the neighborhood of three minutes. My personal opinion is that if it takes that long, there’s not clear and incontrovertible evidence to overturn the call on the field. And upon review of the replay, I’m not sure that there was incontrovertible evidence to overturn the call.

    The ball lightly ticked off of Machado’s glove as it came down, before hitting the grass. Again, my personal opinion was that it was fair – and again, that means the umpires got the call right. But was Machado’s glove in foul ground when the ball ticked it? Furthermore some replays appeared to show chalk coming up when the ball hit, and others did not. This would have been the textbook definition of a replay being inconclusive. Yet it was overturned.

    Buck Showalter was diplomatic about his view of the call after the game, but it was clear he wasn’t really thrilled by the decision-making process (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

    "In today’s game, they’re just saying that’s what they told us in New York and that’s what we’ve got to do. It kind of takes the argument out of it. Hopefully I’ll get an explanation tomorrow. We were fortunate last night with a replay. It doesn’t matter where it hit the ground if it hit his glove, so where it hit on the ground doesn’t really matter. I’m hoping they felt like they had a replay that was definitive enough that he touched it in fair territory, because we don’t have one. Maybe they’ve got one."

    I’ve always been a proponent of instant replay. However I do think that sometimes in MLB (and this is across-the-board) the definition of clear evidence to overturn the call is being distorted. It’s gone from a textbook definition to I feel like it’s probably the right thing to overturn the call. The question is how do you fix that? I would recommend doing what the NFL does, and letting the crew chief review the play on a screen in the ballpark. Why involve another umpire sitting in a room in NY who isn’t even a part of the game?

    At the end of the day, that play didn’t beat the Orioles. Again, I think it was the right call. I just think that the right call was made for the wrong reason – if that makes sense. Perhaps to put it better, the call was correct but faulty methodology was used to make it. And again if it takes several minutes to reach a decision it should be ruled inconclusive.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: Pedro Alvarez runs the south side of Chicago

    The series will conclude today in Chicago. Dylan Bundy will get the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s James Shields. Game time is set for just after 2 PM this afternoon.