Baltimore Orioles: Is Baltimore a black hole for players?
The Baltimore Orioles once again wasted a quality start by a starting pitcher, this time Dylan Bundy. Now with that said, Bundy would be the first to tell you that this start had mixed reviews. Granted he only surrendered three runs, but he also allowed 11 hits. But statistically he pitched a quality start, and it went by the wayside. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
Bundy threw a home run to Harper on the first pitch of the second at-bat of the game, and the O’s trailed early. However Manny Machado wasn’t about to be outdone by Harper, and he smacked a first inning homer of his own to tie the game. But Washington would come right back and take the lead in the second inning on a Difo bloop RBI-single. And believe me folks, it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was one of those very softly hit balls that barely made it over the second baseman’s head.
Washington would also get a solo homer from Reynolds in the fourth, running the lead to 3-1. Adam Jones‘ RBI-single in the fifth brought the O’s to within 3-2, and in fact they had a shot to get more. Third base coach Bobby Dickerson sent Jace Peterson behind Jones in an attempt to tie the game, and Peterson was thrown out at home plate.
In general, I think that Dickerson can be overly aggressive and in essence can run the Orioles out of outs. In that instance, he should have known that Machado was coming up and thus would have had a runner on third. Now with that said, Machado probably would have been intentionally walked – and odds are Dickerson knew that. With all of that said, it took a near perfect throw to get Peterson at home plate. And Washington did just that.
The Orioles had their chances, but were incapable of putting anything else across over the course of the rest of the game, dropping this one 3-2. Interestingly enough, the winning pitcher for Washington was Jeremy Hellickson, for whom the O’s traded last year. Many Orioles fans will remember how much he struggled when he got here. With Philadelphia (prior to the trade), he was 5-6 with a 4.73 ERA. Not great, but I digress. With the Orioles he was 2-6 with a 6.97 ERA.
You also have former Oriole Mark Reynolds with Washington. Reynolds of course did hit home runs when he was with the O’s in 2011 and ’12 – 37 and 23 respectively. He also hit .221 both years, and struck out 196 and 159 times respectively. Thus far with Washington, he’s hitting .406 and he’s struck out five times (in only 35 plate appearances).
It’s just very disheartening for Orioles fans to see things like this, as it makes one wonder why it happens. Reynolds has always been a home run threat, but also one who strikes out a lot. He’s only on the active roster due to injuries elsewhere, so he may or may not be with the team the entire season. But Hellickson really is a mystery. Granted when the Orioles traded for him last year he wasn’t having a career year by any means. But the wheels came off with the O’s. Now he’s seemingly found the fountain of youth.
Let’s take this a step further; look at Jake Arrieta. His struggles in Baltimore were well-documented. And when the O’s traded him I wrote that I thought it was a smart thing to do because he had gone as far as he was going to go with the Orioles – words I stand by to this day. At the time of the trade, he had a 5.46 career ERA, and a win percentage of .444. That’s what Chicago traded to get…
…and in what was left of that season (2013), Arrieta went 4-2 and achieved an ERA with 3.66 with Chicago. When he left Baltimore in 2013 his ERA was 7.23 on the season. And we know what he’s done since then. It’s really uncanny. I think it’s so easy to put this squarely on coaching, and yes the proof could very well be in the pudding. However Arrieta was “good” literally as soon as he set foot in Wrigley Field. Chicago’s coaches wouldn’t have had time to work with him and free him of whatever bad habits he could have formed from whatever bad coaching he was getting here.
Consequently, Hellickson started trending poorly as soon as he got to Camden Yards. Whatever poor coaching the Orioles would be giving him (if you buy into that argument) wouldn’t have had the chance to take effect yet. At the end of the day, apparently playing poorly here (or in Reynolds’ case playing to your career averages) and then playing off the charts afterwards is a thing. (Again, in Reynolds’ case it’s simply playing above your career averages with another team).
As I said, it’s easy to blame coaching, and that may well be a part of it. But as I said, we’re talking about things changing on a dime as soon as a guy walks in or out of the door. For whatever the reason, there just appears to be a pall over this franchise that makes guys not only underachieve, but also makes them overachieve once they’re gone. All I can say is that there’s no reasonable answer as to why any of that should happen. In essence, it defies logic. But then again, the splits of Bundy vs. Washington and Hellickson vs. the Orioles severely favored the Birds last night. And that stat got turned on it’s head, making people like me look fairly inept.