Baltimore Orioles: 14 strikeouts and small wonders beat the Birds (updated)
The Baltimore Orioles got another good effort out of Dylan Bundy this afternoon. This one of course in less-than-great conditions. Bundy’s line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R (1 earned), 2 BB, 6 K.
It took Bundy nine pitches to record the first four outs of the game. And by that time they already had the lead. Manny Machado‘s RBI-double in the first inning gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. And that of course came because Trey Mancini once again got on board to lead off the game. The Birds have their lead off hitter; they just need to gain some steam in the bats behind him.
Boston would mount a bit of a rally, or an attempt at one at least, in the second. Bundy gave out a one-out double and a walk. He then struck out the third hitter, and induced the next one to pop out to third base. In case you’re scoring at home, that’s how you kill a rally!
Boston’s Lin would get credited with a single in the fifth inning, however in my personal opinion it was a play that third baseman Danny Valencia could have and should made. Valencia muffed what appeared to be a routine ground ball, allowing a one-out base runner. (Lin would later be replaced at first base by Bradley, who reached on a fielder’s choice.) While the ball did appear to kick up just a bit on the heel of Valencia’s glove, that’s a play that he has to make…
..especially seeing that Benintendi’s RBI-triple a moment later tied the game at one. It’s those little things which will eat a team alive. Not to mention later in the inning when Bundy uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Benitendi to score from third. That gave Boston the lead, which was later extended to 3-1 on Lin’s sixth inning RBI-double.
And the Orioles couldn’t muster much else, so they fell once again on this cold Sunday afternoon in Beantown. All in all, the Birds struck out 12 times. It’s tough to win a game when doing that. On top of the twelve strikeouts, the O’s almost stubbornly looked at pitch after pitch in the later innings, adding to the massive strikeout totals. Why is that an issue more than anything else?
And the answer is because many of those pitches weren’t strikes. The zone expanded as the game wore on, probably because of the weather. If it was remotely close to the strike zone, it was getting called a strike. Boston seemed to recognize this, and was able to muster a few base runners. However the Orioles seemed stuck on what they interpreted as the strike zone. And admittedly what they interpreted as the strike zone was in fact the strike zone. But you have to adapt to game conditions; one of those is the strike zone of the home plate umpire.
Also keep in mind that all things being the same, this game is 1-1 of not for some untimely mistakes by the Orioles (the Valencia muffed ball and the wild pitch). Now these mistakes themselves didn’t cost the Orioles the game. The Orioles being unable to overcome them is what cost them the game. But the moral of the story is not to make them in the first place.
On that note, what exactly do the Orioles do at third base? Is Valencia now the everyday third baseman with Tim Beckham filling in for Schoop at second? I would consider telling Machado to put his yearn to play shortstop aside and move him back to the hot corner. That has to be an option for the Orioles. But time will tell.
Weather permitting, the Orioles will conclude the series at Fenway tomorrow in a late-morning Patriot’s Day matinee. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Brian Johnson. This game is in serious jeapardy given the forecast, but if it’s played (on time) it’s set to begin just after 11 AM.
UPDATE: Tomorrow’s game has officially been canceled. It will be made up on May 17th at 7:10 PM at Fenway Park.