Baltimore Orioles: In this game there are unwritten codes
The Baltimore Orioles lost their 100th game of the season last night in Tampa behind Dylan Bundy‘s latest lackluster starting outing. The story of the game and the loss? Walks. But there was seemingly a lot more than 100 losses to discuss. Bundy’s line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 3 K.
Bundy issued a two-out walk following a single in the second, and then proceeded to give up a three-run homer to Ciuffo. He also gave up two walks an inning later with two outs, and then gave up a second three-run homer to Kiermaier. That said, the O’s did appear to get out of the inning when they challenged what would have been the third out at first base. However the call on the field was upheld and the runner ruled safe – despite what the replays appeared to show.
Tampa would also get a grand slam after a couple of walks from Choi in the sixth inning. That wasn’t off of Bundy, but again the walks were the key. Nothing good ever happens after a walk. The lone Orioles’ runs of the game came on a two-run homer by Joey Rickard in the the top of the sixth.
Tampa led the Orioles 12-2 in the seventh inning. That game was over for all intents and purposes – right? Apparently not in Tampa’s mind. With a runner at third base, Ciuffo sent a foul pop down the left field line towards the Orioles’ bullpen. Left fielder John Andreoli hustled over and caught the ball. (Quite frankly, it was a long run for Andreoli and a great hustle – especially in a game that was basically over.) The runner from third tagged up and scored.
Anyone who’s read me knows that I do stand by baseball’s unwritten codes. You don’t manufacture a run when you’re up big (five runs plus) in the later innings (seventh inning or later). Personally I felt that was a run that didn’t need to cross the plate. I obviously don’t know if that directive came from the bench or if the runner tagged up on his own, however when you’re up by ten at that stage of the game it’s fairly poor form to tag up on a play like that.
Later in the inning Tampa netted their 14th run in what I would term similarly obtuse fashion. Smith appeared to ground out to first base with a runner at third to end the inning. (Incidentally, that runner was only at third base because he tagged up on the aforementioned sac fly-RBI when they were up ten.) However Tampa manager Kevin Cash decided to challenge the call. Replays appeared to show that at worst the ball and the runner tied in getting to first – which in theory would mean the runner was safe.
The call was overturned, giving Tampa their 14th run in a 14-2 game. Let’s be frank; there’s no old school unwritten rule about challenges in baseball because the instant replay system is only a few years old. But for the same reason you don’t tag up and score on a soft pop up when you’re up by ten, it’s probably pretty poor form to challenge a play to net yourself a 14th run – when you’re up by 11.
If the score’s 13-10 or something along those lines, I definitely would be challenging a close call like that. You have to play to the scoreboard, and quite frankly that’s something that Cash should have let go. And to the crowd out there who says that you never take your foot off the gas, or you never know if the opponent is going to put up eight or nine runs in an inning, or it’s not over until it’s over so you keep scoring, ask yourselves…would Buck Showalter ever pull stunts like that?
Piling on runs in that manner is designed to do one thing: embarrass the opponent. Or remove Buck from the equation all together; insert the name of any well-respected manager in baseball history. I’m talking the LaRussa’s, Torre’s, Francona’s, Weaver’s, etc. of the world. If a batter gets a base hit in a blowout and a run scores, that’s one thing. But I don’t see any of those managers, or Buck Showalter, doing something like that designed to run up the score.
One might say if you don’t want to be embarrassed, play better. Okay, point taken. But we all know that games like these happen. Both to good and bad teams. The Orioles beat Tampa 17-1 earlier in the season. But once it was evident that the game was out of hand, the Orioles didn’t try to manufacture runs. They may have scored on a base hit or something along those lines. But no tagging up, stealing, etc. And certainly no challenging a call to net one additional run.
To add injury to insult, tonight’s scheduled starter David Hess was apparently throwing a football around the outfield before the game, and got clocked in the face. The injury isn’t serious per se, but Hess was seen jokingly wearing an LSU football helmet on the bench during the game. Having said that, Hess’ status as tonight’s starter is now in question as a result. Talk about a team that can’t catch a break.
The series continues tonight at Tropicana Field. The aforementioned Davis Hess is currently scheduled to get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Diego Castillo. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.