The Baltimore Orioles once again find themselves asking where their offense went in Oakland, as their lone run was an Adam Jones homer last night.
The Baltimore Orioles are once again finding themselves asking questions after a one-run loss in Oakland. We know how prolific this offense can be, because we’ve seen it all season long. So why has it been stalling of late?
As I said yesterday, part of it is the ballpark in which they’re playing right now; the Oakland Coliseum isn’t kind to hitters. However the fact is that you have to play to the dimensions of the park you’re in on any given day. Furthermore looking squarely at last night as a stand alone game, the Birds seemed to hit quite a few ground balls. When you’re putting the ball on the ground there’s no chance of having it leave the ballpark.
And the sad thing is that they got another quality start out of a starting pitcher, Wade Miley in this case. Miley’s line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K. In a way, you have to feel badly for Miley. Granted he had no say in being traded, however he had to assume that he was coming to a team that was going to put runs on the board for him. Through two starts with the Birds, that hasn’t been the case.
An RBI-double and sac fly-RBI in the third inning gave Oakland a 2-0 lead. The O’s countered however with a solo homer off the bat of Adam Jones one inning later. The Orioles had other shots to score in this game, but Oakland always managed to get out of the jam. At the end of the day, the O’s fell 2-1 an are still tied with Toronto for first place in the AL East.
One thing I noticed both last night and on Monday was that Oakland pitchers just aren’t “giving in.” And that’s true from the beginning in a sense. What do baseball people mean when they reference a pitcher “giving in?” In essence, that means that the pitcher’s giving the hitter a fastball, which is generally what he wants.
And the fact is that the Birds are a fastball-hitting team. Oakland knows this, and they know that the O’s are aggressive in the batters box. So they’ve used the Orioles’ aggression against them very effectively, throwing lots of balls off the plate. Their starter last night (Neal), had a scouting report on him which said that he didn’t walk too many people. He changed up his repetoire in a sense, basically risking walks by thwoing balls off the plate.
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And it worked. Being an aggressive team, the O’s wanted to make contact with the ball. Furthermore they knew the scouting reports – they knew that Neal didn’t walk too many guys. So when his slider started out as a strike and finished a ball, they’d swing. Which is exactly what Oakland wanted them to do.
It’s easy to say that Oakland outsmarted the O’s in a sense, and maybe they did to a degree. However in throwing a guy who doesn’t walk too many people and asking him to throw a lot of balls off the plate, you’re taking a calculated risk. But when you’re as far out of the pennant race as Oakland is, you can be a little more free and easy than one normally might be able to be in terms of strategy.
The series continues tonight in Oakland with game three of four. Yovani Gallardo will get the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Ross Detwiler. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.