Teams are getting fat off of the Baltimore Orioles. In this case it was a first inning error charged to Jace Peterson – but in reality should have been in Manny Machado‘s column. But one way or the other, one mistake a game shouldn’t decide. Yet that’s what’s going on with the 2018 Orioles.
Andrew Cashner actually didn’t pitch that poorly, despite what his stats say. Cashner’s line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R (3 earned), 3 BB, 5 K. However what can ultimately happen when you allow a statistical or in-game oddity dictate the terms of your season is that things aren’t allowed to be what they seem. After a rough first inning, Cashner really settled in.
Adam Jones, playing in his 1500th game as an Oriole, actually gave the Birds a brief lead with a solo homer in the first inning. Of course Cashner didn’t do himself any favors by walking the lead off batter. But the best way to combat a walk is by inducing a ground ball double-play to the next hitter. And to his credit, Cashner appeared to do that…
…until a faux pas made it so that he didn’t do it. The next hitter (Semien) grounded the ball to Manny Machado at short, beginning what would have been a text book double-play, leaving Oakland with two outs in the first inning and nobody on. However when Machado tossed the ball to Jace Peterson he did so to his hand side; on top of that, the ball was wide of Peterson. In short instead of two outs and the bases empty, Oakland had no outs and runners on first and second.
Cashner did induce a pop up for an out on the next hitter, which all things being equal would have been the end of the inning. That brought Davis to the plate, who smacked a three-run homer, giving Oakland a 3-1 lead. On top of that Olson’s solo home run ran it to 4-1.
But the sixth inning put the Birds back in the game. RBI-singles by Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and Danny Valencia got Cashner off the hook. And that’s the silver lining in this game. The O’s made a good run of it, showing that they can plate runs. However Oakland took the lead back in the last of that sixth inning on a Lowrie RBI-single. Semien would add one of his own in the eighth, leaving the Birds with a 6-4 loss.
All wins and losses are team efforts. I don’t want to be overly critical on Peterson or Machado, because you have to overcome errors like that. Especially that early in the game. And in some manner they did overcome it, by coming back and tying the game.
However as I said above, all things being the same Cashner gets the Orioles out of that inning unscathed. That’s always a tough argument to make because it’s almost unfair to hypothetically change one thing about the inning and not others. But you get the point. The two guys who homered wouldn’t have even come up in that inning.
The stat line says that only one of those runs were unearned. (And for the record it was the run scored by the lead runner – you can never assume the double-play.) However in reality none of those runs should have crossed. The Orioles are allowing their mistakes to dictate who they are and what they are becoming. Normally you can almost laugh off a first inning error and say that there’s a lot more game to be played. But the O’s are allowing it to become not a part of their identity, but they’re allowing it TO BE their identity.