Baltimore Orioles: Not enough in the here and now and too much down the line?

The Baltimore Orioles were swept at the hand of the Detroit Tigers this afternoon at Comerica Park. It wasn’t the result the Orioles wanted, but there’s a lot of season left, and they have to move on. Alex Cobb was beaten around in his second start as an Oriole, although the fact is he didn’t get much help. Cobb’s line: 3.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R (5 earned), 1 BB, 4 K.

Detroit unofficially hit nine balls on the ground in this game which either ended up as close seeing-eye singles, errors, or were bobbled by Oriole defenders. It’s tough to put one’s finger on how many of those should have been outs and how much any of that would have mattered, but it all made a difference.

With Detroit already leading 1-0 in the second, it looked at first like it might finally be their day. Chris Davis‘ two-run homer gave the Birds a 2-1 lead. However the Orioles also left runners at the corners in that inning. When you can’t plate guys on base you play right into the hands of your opponent.

Detroit would get the lead back in the bottom frame of the inning off of a two-RBI triple by Iglesias, and an RBI-single by Candelario RBI-single. However by the time the smoke cleared, Detroit led Cobb and the Orioles 5-3. And again, part of that was due to a play in which the Oriole infield bobbled a ball which allowed a run to score.

But the teams would trade homers in the fourth, with that of the Oriole coming off of Manny Machado‘s bat. And Detroit’s came off the bat of Candelario, this one of the two-run variety. Throw in a HBP with the bases loaded, and the O’s trailed 8-3. But the coup de grace came in the last of the sixth when Martin smacked a grand slam, giving Detroit a 12-3 lead.

The O’s would get a run back on an additional homer off the bat of Machado in the sixth, Jones would add an RBI-double – running the score to 12-6. Detroit would put one more run on the board, and the O’s would actually mount a mini-rally in the ninth, putting two runs on the board. However a loss is still a loss – whether you lose 13-8 or 1-0.

The Orioles have now lost six straight and have fallen to 5-14 on the year. These are tough times in Birdland, however keep in mind that baseball people are superstitious. When things are going really well they tend to worry because at some point it’s going to bounce the other way. When things are going tough, they know that the same is true – at some point things bounce back the other way.

One thing manager Buck Showalter prides himself in is the ability to manage the game a few hitters or perhaps even a few innings down the way. And for the record, I agree with that type of management – in baseball, and in life’s affairs. Baseball’s a thinking man’s game, and the mental game is at times more important than finesse. And Showalter’s instilled that attitude in his Orioles as well. But is it too much?

The thing is that most people know that the Orioles manage games like that. As an example, did Buck Showalter err once again on Wednesday by not bringing his closer in, similar to the 2016 AL Wild Card Game? The results say he did. However in reality Showalter knew that being the visiting team, he would need his closer in the bottom of an inning if he was going to win that game.

So Minnesota knew not to prepare for the closer. Why do teams at times have relievers up in games at somewhat odd times? Because they know that in the next half inning Showalter might opt to pinch-hit a lefty, and they want to be ready. Things like that are what makes Buck tick in the dugout. And again, that’s proper management in terms of baseball.

And yet, a lot of guys don’t seem to do that. It seems that a lot of players nowadays try to live squarely in the moment, and not worry about what the future brings. And a lot of newer-age managers are just sitting back and letting things in games work themselves out. Could that possibly…be part of the problem?

My answer to my own question is that I quite frankly don’t know. Buck Showalter was relieved of his duties in other organizations because he obsessed over details. Speaking for myself, I like a detail-oriented guy. However is it not possible to that point to get so close to the forest that you can’t smell the trees?

Again, I can’t answer that. I refused to believe that something like this could happen, mainly because statistics said that this team was better than this. So even as an impartial observer and a writer, seeing this team going through what it’s going through is incredibly humbling. Because solidly great hitters have looked worse than poor.

But again, is it possibly to do with too much detail, and too much looking down the line? Anything’s possible. But I’d rather not think like that, because I refuse to believe that sitting back and taking it all in could somehow be better than paying close attention to detail in games.

Am I saying Showalter’s management style is the problem? I’m throwing the idea out there, but I’m also suggesting that’s not the case. And how is it not the case? Well, was it the case in 2012? Or 2014? Question answered.

Tomorrow evening the Orioles will open a four-game set with Cleveland at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

2 Comments

Interesting point about hands-on management of games. I would not be upset if they released Buck from the rest of his contract and hired a younger manager. That’s where the game’s going. Look at Alex Cora in Boston. He’s never managed before and he’s getting the job done big time.

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Pladdapus, you aren’t the first person to suggest that. I understand that sentiment stems from wanting to win as a fan. However keep in mind that you’re rolling the dice with any manager or coach – but especially one who’s never done the job. Alex Cora at least had paid his dues as an assistant. It was inevitable that he was going to be a manager some day. But for every Alex Cora, there are hundreds of Aaron Boone’s. He’s never coached a day in professional baseball, yet he was hired as the manager of the New York Yankees. The only benefit of letting go of a manager in Buck’s position now is that he’s in the final year of his contract, and the O’s would only be on the hook for the rest of his salary this year. But firing your manager is quitting in a sense – such as what Cincinnati did. And if there’s one thing Buck Showalter’s taught many of these players as well as Orioles fans, it’s that you play until the final out. Thanks for reading!

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