Baltimore Orioles: Second time through the order sinks Birds again

The Baltimore Orioles gave Miguel Castro a start out of the bullpen last night, and while he was only in the game for a short time he produced mixed results. Castro’s line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Castro retired the side 1-2-3 in the first inning to get things started. He also pitched out of a small jam in the third.

However he gave up base hits left and right in the fourth. He also uncorked a wild pitch, and one hitter later surrendered a three-run homer to Miller to give Tampa a 3-0 lead. And in doing so, he became only the most recent Orioles’ starter to struggle after going through the batting order once.

I have to believe that if the Birds are giving Castro a start here in the regular season (and considering sending him to winter ball), they’re viewing him as a potential candidate for a starting job next year. He’s going to be a fascinating guy to watch throughout spring training. If there’s a rotation spot to be had, he might have an opportunity to rise up and take it.

But it seems throughout September, the one constant has been that Oriole starters can’t get out of the third or fourth innings. Teams start beating them around, and they go from striking out the side to an early exit. Why is that?

It’s something on which I’ll probably touch here and there throughout the off season. I mean, I have to find something to write about, right?! But I have to believe that opposing teams are picking up on something with every Oriole starter after going through the order once which is allowing them to tee off on them the second time through. And mind you that the Orioles were very much in the thick of contention during Labor Day weekend. So whatever it is, it helped play the Birds right out of the play off race.

Tampa would add an additional run in the seventh on a sac fly-RBI. In fact, the runner was only at third because Donnie Hart balked him there – another unforced mistake. And that run ended up being big, because the Birds made a run.

The O’s got runners on in the top of the eighth, and Pedro Alvarez‘s two-RBI single brought them home. That cut the Tampa lead to 4-2. They would add a sac fly-RBI in the ninth off the bat of Santander, but the third out was recorded before they could tie the game.

All things being equal, if not for that balk the game would have been tied. It’s attention to details like that (or lack thereof) which win and lose you games. And that ties back to the first and second time through the order bit from above. Whatever opposing teams are picking up on after going through the order once, they’re paying close attention to detail. And perhaps the Orioles are not – in the sense that they’re allowing teams to pick up on something. Things to consider for 2018.

It’s hard to believe that this afternoon’s game is the end. It’s been a tough year for the orange and black, but it hasn’t been without it’s lighter moments also. But we can discuss all of that and more in the six months or so between now and Grapefruit League play. But needless to say, when you’ve been charting games since the end of February, it’s hard to believe it when you get to the final one.

The series and the season concludes this afternoon at Tropicana Field. Kevin Gausman will make the penultimate start of the year for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Blake Snell. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

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