The Baltimore Orioles have no apparent answer for Boston’s Mookie Betts. At home, that is – after last night Betts has seven home runs in five games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It’s kind of unbelievable if you think about it. Is he seeing something the O’s aren’t, or is he just zeroed in at the plate in Baltimore? Tough to say.
Yovani Gallardo got the start for the O’s, and looked fairly decent. He was hit by a comebacker in the fifth inning, but managed to stay in the game. Gallardo’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 2 K. Gallardo plugged through the Boston lineup until the comebacker, and until he faced Mookie Betts in the fifth inning.
Betts’ first homer came in the aforementioned fifth inning with two runners on base. Suddenly Boston led 3-0. However while Gallardo had been touched up a bit by that comebacker, it’s also important to note that one of the baserunners had come as a result of a walk. Nothing good ever happens after a walk, right?
The O’s were unable to even draw a hit until the last of the seventh – and that has nothing to do with Mookie Betts, for the record. They got their first hit on a Pearce infield single which amounted to a swinging bunt. Now for the record, the O’s didn’t violate any unwritten codes (you’re not supposed to bunt to break up a no-no). A bunt and a swinging bunt are two different things; one’s intentional and the other not so much.
Before they knew it the Orioles had the bases loaded, and Matt Wieters‘ two-RBI single cut the Boston lead to 3-2. They managed to load the bases again later in the inning, and Adam Jones drew a walk which tied the game. That seventh inning gave the Orioles some momentum, however “Big Mo” as they say is apparently a tough thing to sustain when Mookie Betts is in the opposing lineup.
One inning later in the eighth, Betts smacked a two-run homer to give Boston a 7-5 lead which turned into a 7-5 loss for the O’s. As I said above, that was Betts’ seventh home run in five games at Oriole Park this year. Now with that said, I want to make one thing clear. A lot of Orioles fans are calling for the O’s to walk Betts intentionally as a result of these homers. While giving the guy first base is better than surrendering a home run, in my view it’s also disrespectful of the opponent. If you aren’t going to let the guy beat you, do it honestly.
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That’s not to say that you can’t pitch Mookie Betts away or low. You don’t have to throw pitches right down Broadway for the guy. But in my personal view walking someone simply because he’s beaten the living snot out of you is a cheap way out and it’s unbecoming of major league baseball. And I’m not suggesting that the Orioles would do that, I’m just saying that in my view that goes against the spirit of the game and of competition. (If the game situation warrants an IBB, that’s a different story. But intentionally walking someone just so they don’t hit a home run against you isn’t the way to do things.)
Buck Showalter addressed the issue of Mookie Betts after the game. He said that the issue is probably more on the Orioles’ side, but the fact is that Betts has had a great year (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
"I’m sure there are some numbers to dictate that it’s more us, but he’s been having that type of year against most everybody. He’s a really good player having a big year."
Showalter also said that Chris Tillman is experiencing some shoulder discomfort, so he’s being pushed from tonight back to pitching on Saturday night. The Orioles don’t appear overly concerned per se as of right now (Showalter mentioned that a lot of starting pitchers go through this type of thing at this point in the season), but their fingers are crossed Tillman will be able to go on Saturday. With the off day yesterday the Birds had the liberty of moving everyone up a day and remaining on normal rest.
The series will conclude tonight with Boston, as it was a short two-game affair. Dylan Bundy will be on the mound for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s David Price. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.