Baltimore Orioles letting opponents off the hook

Part of the Baltimore Orioles’ problem is that they’re letting their opponents off the hook too often. Yet, they aren’t getting that same courtesy in return. And why in reality should they expect to get it? This is supposed to be the real world, right?

Wade Miley gave the Birds his typical outing, filled with pitches that were fouled off, and a few bloop hits. Miley’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K. That type of outing has been Miley’s trademark thus far in 2017, and while he’s had his good moments most of these five-inning stints are struggles. Not all of that is necessarily his fault or within his realm of control (such as these epic nine-pitch at-bats where opposing hitters foul off pitch after pitch), but it’s still been a struggle.

The Birds took an early 1-0 lead when Seth Smith worked his magic yet again and led the game off with a solo home run. However Cleveland almost immediately struck back, with an RBI-triple by Jackson in the second. Gomes followed with a softly hit RBI-single the opposite way to right field, giving Cleveland a 2-1 lead.

And right there, you almost see the story of this series for the Orioles. First off Gomes’ RBI-single was very softly hit, while the Oriole outfield was playing back. Secondly it was the opposite way. Cleveland seemed to have this uncanny ability to hit it where they ain’t, no matter how the Orioles played.

The Birds loaded the bases however in the last of the second. With nobody out, it looked like they were poised to pounce on Cleveland. However…the O’s let them off the hook (in a sense). Seth Smith sent a tapper back to the pitcher, who threw home for a force out. The catcher then threw to first base to complete a 1-2-3 double-play – keep in mind also how rare of a double-play that combination is. Yet the O’s manage to ground into one.

However the O’s re-loaded the bases, and for once it was an Oriole (Jonathan Schoop) who had an epic at-bat, He drew a walk, which forced in a run and tied the game. But that’s all the Orioles were able to get off of that sequence. They had the bases loaded twice in the inning (including once with nobody out), and they mustered one run.

But at that point it appeared that things were smoothing out for the Birds, Miley recorded two quick outs in the third inning, and was all but heading back into the dugout. And that could potentially be part of the problem. Sometimes you wonder if the O’s aren’t letting up just a little with two outs or even with two strikes. Because two walks and a single later, the bases were loaded.

That brought Jackson back to the plate, and once again he placed the ball perfectly – into the hole. His two-RBI single gave the Tribe a 4-2 lead. Gonzalez would smack a solo homer in the sixth, and Encarnacion an RBI-single in the ninth. The O’s would get a run back on Machado’s RBI-double in the last of the ninth, but it was too little too late. The Birds fell to Cleveland, 6-3.

To me the bases loaded situations early in the game show part of what’s been going on with this Baltimore Orioles team of late. Granted the O’s did net a run. And it was a big one at that, because it tied the game. But when you have the bases loaded and nobody out in an inning, you kind of have your opponent on the ropes a bit. By grounding into a double-play which doesn’t even allow a run to score, and then only scoring one run, you’re letting the other guy off the hook.

Instead, Cleveland held the Orioles accountable for loading the bases. And again, part of this is due to the fact that the O’s are probably swinging for the fences a bit too much. Now I’m on record as saying that I do believe that power is how the game should be played and won these days, but teams are using the Orioles’ aggression against them. The good news is that the run the O’s scored with the bases loaded came on a good at-bat by Schoop in which he worked the count and drew a hard-earned walk.

The Orioles now open a six-game road swing as they head to Tampa for three games. Ubaldo Jimenez will get the start for the Orioles this evening at the Trop, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Chris Archer. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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