Baltimore Orioles: Nibbling causes walks which costs you games
The Baltimore Orioles were unable to muster much in the Bronx this afternoon on Opening Day. Andrew Cashner got the start of course, and was ambushed early. And I mean early. Cashner’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 K.
New York didn’t take long to get the lead. With two on in the first inning Voit smacked a three-run home run. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise to the Orioles or Orioles fans. Voit tore up the Birds in Spring Training the past two seasons. That’s not to say that the Orioles should be expecting to fail when Voit’s at the plate, but he seems to thrive against Oriole pitching.
If there’s a silver lining it’s that the Orioles seemed to minimize the damage after that…for the most part. New York would load the bases against Cashner in the third, but he induced a ground ball double-play. That surrendered another run, however it also recorded two outs for the O’s. That’s a win for Cashner.
The Birds did at various points look like the offense was going to do something. They cut the lead to 4-1 in the fourth on Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-single. However New York came right back in the last of the fifth and loaded the bases yet again – once again with nobody down. That brought Voit back to the plate, and Cashner promptly hit him with a pitch. A sac fly-RBI later, and New York had extended it’s lead to 6-1.
Trey Mancini sacked an RBI-double in the eighth to cut the lead to 6-2. Mancini had a great game on Opening Day, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. He immediately cemented himself as a “veteran” leader on this team at the beginning of the spring, and that seems to have continued right into the regular season. However Bird’s solo homer in the eighth extended the lead to 7-2, which was the eventual final. It certainly wasn’t the Opening Day that the Orioles wanted, but it left them with a few tough lessons.
And one of those lessons was that pitchers shouldn’t nibble. Both Cashner and Mike Wright (who followed Cashner in the game) seemed to want to nibble on the corners. That’s a textbook symptom of an inexperienced team playing a team with a lot of power. It shows a certain hesitation, and a certain angst. Can it work on occasion? Sure. And on occasion it’s something that pitchers should do.
But nibbling shouldn’t be the way that you think you’re going to get guys out. In effect, you’re relying on the home plate umpire to give you the call. And you never want to rely on someone else when you can take matters into your own hands. Oriole pitching walked eight hitters today, which isn’t conducive to winning games.
Here’s an example; Voit’s first inning home run came on a 3-1 count. The 2-1 pitch was a low slider, which according to replays did in fact catch the bottom of the strike zone. In an ideal world, the next pitch would have come on a 2-2 count and would have then been a pitcher’s pitch. (In fairness, Jesus Sucre probably also could have brought that ball up just a bit, and framed it in the strike zone.)
Instead Cashner ended up with a 3-1 count on the next pitch, and with two runners on base knew that he needed to throw a strike. Voit knew it also, and came up swinging – the ball ended up in the seats. Now ironically that’s a situation in which Cashner in theory nibbled successfully. However again when you decide to nibble intead of pitching, you’re relying on ol’ blue to give you the call. It should have happened in that instance, but it didn’t.
The O’s of course are off tomorrow, which would have been a rain date for Opening Day had there been foul weather in NY today. But they’re back at it Saturday afternoon.