Baltimore Orioles, Wade Miley squeezed in Cleveland

Wade Miley didn’t exactly pitch a horrible game for the Baltimore Orioles last night in Cleveland. The numbers might not indicate that, but once he settled down, Miley looked decent for the most part. Miley’s line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K. Miley pitched well enough to win, had the Orioles been able to put some runs on the board. But that’s not how the game went.

From the very beginning, the O’s seemed to have an issue with the strike zone of home plate umpire Dana DeMuth. In some cases, that was with good reason. It seemed that every borderline pitch was going Cleveland’s way. If the Birds were in the field, the borderline pitches were being called balls. If the O’s were at bat, suddenly they were strikes.

DeMuth’s strike zone did seem to be a bit erratic at times, which can be frustrating for pitchers and hitters alike. Furthermore, as a hitter it also makes you have to consider expanding the strike zone. So it potentially led to Oriole hitters swinging at balls. And if you establish that you’ll swing at balls, they’re going to throw you balls.

Here’s the flip side of this discussion, however. Cleveland also adapted to the moving target of the strike zone much better than did the Orioles. And quite frankly, that’s a problem that the Orioles have always had. You’ll see a lot of angry glares towards home plate umpires from hitters and from Buck Showalter in the dugout. And again, in some instances that’s with good reason. Sometimes the strike zone does seem to be a moving target. But as the innings go on opposing teams seem to adapt to whatever the umpire seems to be calling, while the Orioles don’t.

We also saw in this game how things can snowball in baseball. Jonathan Schoop muffed a tailor-made double-play in the first inning. It doesn’t go as an error because he did get the force out at first base, and you can’t assume the double-play. However that led to a two on and two out situation, which led to Encarnacion’s three-run homer.

Again, Miley seemed to settle down after that, which is to his credit. The O’s just couldn’t put anything across to counter the damage that was already done. Santana smacked an RBI-double in the sixth, on a ball that was barely fair. Again, in a game of inches, the break went Cleveland’s way there. Cleveland would put another run across in the last of the seventh on a wild pitch, closing out their 5-0 win.

The series continues this afternoon at Progressive Field. Gabriel Ynoa will make a spot start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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