Baltimore Orioles fans get the game they’ve waited for

It would be a tough sell to suggest that Jonathan Schoop and the Baltimore Orioles exorcised all of their demons last night. But needless to say, they wowed their fans for the first time this season. Andrew Cashner picked up his first win at Camden Yards, and it was a rout. Cashner’s line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Following an 80 minute rain delay, there was a sign early in the game that this would be the Orioles’ night. It was subtle, but it was there. Adam Jones came to the plate with a runner on third and one out – Tampa already led 1-0. Conventional wisdom says that in a situation like that you play the infield back and sacrifice the run for an out – because it’s early in the game.

The Orioles of course are nothing if not conventional. And conventional wisdom has gone belly-up on them this year. Instead Tampa’s one of these teams that thinks they can reinvent the wheel. They do nary anything in a conventional manner. So Tampa played the infield in (to cut the run off at home plate) – whereas “the book” says not to do so. Not only that, but Jones got a first pitch fastball, which he smacked into center field for an RBI-single (hitting it right by where an infielder would have been had Tampa gone by ‘the book.” If you’re going to play the infield in, the idea is you want to induce a ground ball to cut down the run. Tampa out-thought itself there.

The Orioles took a 3-1 lead in the fourth on Danny Valencia‘s two-RBI single. And in a way, they were off to the races. Schoop smacked his fifth home run in as many games (tying a franchise record) in the fifth. Tampa would inch closer by putting runs across in the sixth and seventh, this before the Orioles put up a crooked number and then some in the last of the seventh.

The Orioles got an RBI-single from Schoop, a three-run homer from Jones, a bases-clearing double from Joey Rickard, and another RBI-single from Schoop. The Orioles batted around in the inning, and they led 12-3 when the smoke cleared. Keep in mind that Tampa had started to chip away in the sixth and seventh innings. But that last of the seventh shut the door and ended the competitive portion of the game.

And when the smoked cleared for the entire game, the Birds had themselves a 15-5 victory. Thus far in 2018 we’ve seen the Orioles on the other side of games like this. Not last night. For once it felt like old times at Camden Yards, as the Orioles bludgeoned a small ball team.

Ironically the final score indicates that perhaps Tampa played their infield in back in the first inning on the Jones RBI-single with good reason. Obviously they had no way of knowing that then, but that sticks in my mind as an interesting decision on the part of Tampa. Mainly because it makes no sense, although that wiry type of thinking has worked for them most of the time this year. It didn’t on Friday night.

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Kevin Gausman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Ryne Stanek. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

2 Comments

But Jones did hit a ground ball in the infield. So didn’t Tampa’s plan work in a way?

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You’re right in that they did get a ground ball. But when you pull the infield in you’re sending a message that you want to cut the run down at home plate. With a runner on third, that only happens if you get a ground ball. The best way to induce a ground ball is by throwing a breaking pitch or slider. They started off with a first pitch fastball, which while yes it did net a ground ball (which was a base hit and an RBI), would in theory be easier to induce a liner or a pop fly. Thanks for reading!

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