The Baltimore Orioles seem poised to invent new ways to dodge wins on a daily basis. Today it was a botched rundown by Pedro Alvarez. Tomorrow or the next day it might be something else.
Alex Cobb pitched perhaps his best game as an Oriole, and he goes as a hard-luck loser. Cobb’s line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 earned), 1 BB, 5 K. Cobb dealt all afternoon, and certainly pitched well enough to win the game. But again, the defense behind him failed him.
The Orioles actually had a lead for a period in this game, as the aforementioned Pedro Alvarez smacked a solo home run in the second inning. However it was his miscue at third base which gave the lead and the game to Oakland. This is not to say that Alvarez and Alvarez alone is responsible for this game – it’s always a team effort. However his mistake definitely stood out today.
Following a lead off double in the fourth, Cobb induced a comebacker to the mound, which could have had multiple outs written all over if for the O’s. The runner Joyce was caught between second and third, and for a brief moment it appeared that the O’s would nail the lead runner on the base paths. In fact, Joyce even stumbled at one point, appearing to make it even easier to tag him out…
…but that stumble appeared to throw off Pedro Alvarez. He went to throw the ball back to second base, and ended up air mailing it into right field. Everyone was safe, and with nobody down Oakland had two runners in scoring position. Davis would ground out to tie the game at one, and Olson’s RBI-double would give Oakland a 2-1 lead.
Pedro Alvarez is a professional and he made a bad mistake in this game. He’s the first to admit that – so while I have to report it like I see it, I can’t be too hard on him. Especially when he was responsible for the Orioles’ lone run in the game. However as a team, the Orioles need to be able to overcome that. Alvarez’s miscue doesn’t attest for why the O’s couldn’t get anyone on base again until the ninth inning. In fact, they had the tying run in scoring position – and couldn’t bring him home.
I used to say that it begins and ends with starting pitching. But as seemingly everything I say has been proven to be incorrect, why stop with that? The Orioles got GREAT starting pitching both last night and this afternoon. Cobb was great out there today, and he was rewarded for it with a loss. I maintain that it begins and ends with starting pitching, and that you’re only as good as your next day’s starter. However the fact is that even while beginning and ending with starting pitching, there’s always more to the story.
The Orioles also need to figure out what they’re going to do with Manny Machado. I’m never in favor of a true sell off, because I think it sends a bad message. But regardless of the Orioles’ record, everyone knows his contract status. The Los Angeles Dodgers have a need at shortstop, and it’ll exist for the remainder of the season – the term of Manny’s current contract. For all we know the parties are already talking; please don’t disregard that possibility.
But I think they need to seriously consider sending him to Los Angeles in the name of getting something for him now. Granted you don’t want to undersell him and get peanuts in return – which is why a trade hasn’t happened yet. But we saw today in the ninth inning one reason it should happen soon.
Oakland walked Machado with first base open to pitch to Davis. And it worked – but I digress. With Davis and others struggling, that’s going to start happening more often. Heck, in doing it today, Oakland put the go-ahead run on base. That means that Machado’s numbers might start to suffer a bit, dragging his value down.
Certainly there’ll be instances where teams will have to pitch to Machado, so he’ll have his opportunities. However they may be minimized a bit. So every out he records will count a little more. And if you wait for the trade deadline teams might look at his stats and justifiably want to offer less.
He’s also had a bit of a rough go at shortstop thus far this season. He’s only fielding at a .965 clip, with five errors. I’m the first one to say that’s partially due to him being rusty at short. So I believe he’ll play out of it. But trades are very much about what the player’s doing in the here and now, and what they can offer in the future. So the more mistakes pile up for Machado in the field, the more the Orioles risk having his value diminish.
Ideally they re-sign Machado to a long-term deal for next season. But the good news for them is that if they traded him at some point they might still have a shot at doing that (unless he signs an extension with his new team, but he’s already said he wants to test free agency). But ultimately right now, I think he’s more valuable to them on the trade market. And that trade should happen soon. Not because he means nothing to them, is disliked, or wouldn’t be missed by the fans and in the clubhouse; but because there’s a team out there who needs him, and should be willing to give the Orioles some prospects in return.