Baltimore Orioles: Death by 1000 cuts – again

In 2014 the Baltimore Orioles were swept in the ALCS by Kansas City. However from the perspective of the power-hitting O’s, Kansas City barely had to try. They scored runs on bloops, flukes, and broken bats so it seemed. Death by 1000 cuts, as the title indicates.

And we’re seeing that same phenomenon this weekend so it seems. Somehow the Orioles get dupped into playing Kansas City’s small ball game, and they get beaten with experience. Well, perhaps not exactly; the Birds did hit three home runs last night. However all three came with nobody on base. Kansas City smacked one out also, for what ended up being the winning run.

The stats show that Chris Tillman struggled last night, however I would submit that he was better than the box score indicates. Tillman’s line: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Tillman had a couple of epic at-bats which were upwards of 8+ pitches, which got his pitch count elevated. After the game Tillman said he felt good throughout the outing, but that he might have tried to do too much (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

I felt pretty good. I think early on, I physically felt good and as the game went on I tried to do too much because I was feeling good. I kind of got out of my delivery and started falling behind guys and staying behind them as opposed to making my pitch early on and getting into a count that favors pitchers. I don’t think it was a step back. I think every one going forward is a step forward as long as you physically feel good. Mechanically, I got (in) my way this start. I was trying to do too much later in the game.

The Orioles trailed after the last of the second when Perez’s soft RBI-single to left field found a hole and brought in a run. Again, Kansas City doesn’t hit the ball hard and they don’t try to. But they get the most out of what they are able to do – and them some. But the Orioles did try to show Kansas City how AL East baseball is played one inning later, as Francisco Pena smacked a solo homer to tie the game.

The rumor is that before the game Pena said that he was going to homer, and then wish his Mom a Happy Mother’s Day in the dugout. Whether he said that beforehand or not, he got the opportunity to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day after his home run. He also got to do it again after his second home run of the game, which game in the top of the fifth. And that home run gave the Birds a 2-1 lead.

Unfortunately for the O’s however, both of these homers came with nobody on base. The old saying is that solo home runs don’t beat you – and from Kansas City’s standpoint that was certainly true. Tillman got himself into trouble in the last of the fifth, and Cain’s sac fly-RBI tied the game back up at two. Kansas City would take the lead back later in the inning on a sac fly-RBI by Bonifacio.

I mentioned that the O’s hit three home runs. The third came in the top of the sixth off the bat of Chris Davis. He muscled a pitch the opposite way that carried it’s way out of the ballpark and tied the game at three. So it appeared that the O’s were rising in the game in a way, however for the second consecutive night it was a solo home run by Moss that did them in – this time in the last of the sixth. And the Birds fell 4-3.

Above I said that solo home runs normally don’t beat you. But Kansas City turns stats on their heads sometimes. When you’ve sac flied and blooped your way into runs for the whole game, sometimes solo homers can beat you. Either way, the Orioles need to find a way to flip the script and hit for power in today’s game if they’re going to avoid being swept. Because getting dupped into playing Kansas City’s game isn’t working.

The series concludes today at Kauffman Stadium. Kevin Gausman gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Chris Young. Game time is set for 2:15 PM.

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