Baltimore Orioles: Problems on the two’s

Starter Wade Miley pitched 4.1 halfway decent innings for the Baltimore Orioles last night. Not stellar or superior, but halfway decent in that he put his team in a spot to win after giving up two solo homers and an RBI-single. Miley’s final line: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R,  4 BB, 4 K.

However it was with two outs in the inning that Miley fell apart. After an IBB to intentionally load the bases, Miley gave up a bases-clearing triple to Heyward, who later scored on an RBI-single after Miley had departed. All of that with two outs.

Nine of Chicago’s ten runs came with two outs last night. Think about that for a moment; you get to two outs and you’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the inning. In the back of your mind you’re thinking, okay I recorded two outs, just one more and I can get back in the dugout. However that light at the end of the tunnel often ends up being an oncoming train for Orioles’ pitchers.

And it’s not just with two outs. Opposing hitters are thriving with two strikes, also. How many hitters do we see with 0-2 or 1-2 counts who find themselves able to battle back and draw the count full? And how many of those hitters end up walking? It seems like it happens quite often.

The question at hand is whether or not the tale of the tape is telling opponents that the Orioles handle themselves differently with two outs. And I’m not talking anything major; perhaps pitch selection at various points in the count, or maybe even the way that they position their defense. But one way or the other, the Birds struggle the most once they’ve induced two outs in an inning.

The overly-simplistic explanation is that the pitching staff is struggling across the board. Again, note my usage of the term overly-simplistic explanation. The starting staff is having it’s struggles, however often the first two outs of these innings are flying by. Pitchers will record two outs in very few pitches. So there has to be something that’s different with two outs – it just stands to reason.

And in fairness, Oriole bats didn’t really help matters last night. Caleb Joseph smacked a solo homer in the last of the fifth, followed two innings later by a Tejada RBI-single. Joseph would add on an RBI-single in the ninth – but that was the only scoring the Orioles could muster. You have to put up more than three runs in games against the defending world series champions.

The Orioles were in essence dominated by Jake Arrieta, who they brought through their farm system and then traded to Chicago in 2013. Many fans point to that as being such a horrible move, and of course they’ll use last night to back up that view. However Arrieta was your classic change of air guy in that he immediately thrived in Chicago. He had also run his course and gone as far as he was going to go in Baltimore.

The O’s will try to muster one game of three in this afternoon’s series finale at Camden Yards. Ubaldo Jimenez gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s Jose Quintana – for whom they just traded with their cross-town rival. Game time is set for just after 1:30 PM.

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