Manager Brandon Hyde‘s said it on numerous occasions: the Baltimore Orioles need to keep the ball in the ballpark if they’re going to win games. This evening against Tampa, they gave up several solo shots (and a multi-run homer as well). Starter David Hess probably figured those solo homers wouldn’t hurt him – but obviously if you give up several, that’s a different story. Hess’ line: 2.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 0 K.
Lowe smacked a three-rum homer in the first inning, and Tampa was off to the races. Zuni o would add an RBI-single in the second, and Tampa led 4-0. The Orioles hung a lot of pitches in this game, and when they weren’t hanging pitches Tampa was guessing right. That said, the Orioles probably aided them a bit in guessing what was coming.
The O’s went down 1-2-3 in the top of the third, and all three were strikeouts and called strike three’s by home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor. All three pitches were low and inside – well out of the strike zone, and well beyond the point where a hitter should swing with two strikes. The Oriole bench was beyond livid.
Tampa’s a team who uses just about every piece of analytical data that they can to win games. Every team uses analytics now, but their usage is almost shameless. So they saw that the Orioles were overly jazzed up about the strike zone. And they used that piece of “data” to their advantage.
It didn’t take a genius to think ahead and figure that Hess was going to try to pitch low and in. Hess and the Orioles figured that since Tampa got those calls, so why shouldn’t they? And sure enough, the Orioles pitched down and in – resulting in back-to-back solo homers by Choi and Diaz.
To add insult to injury, Bucknor ejected Brandon Hyde in the last of the third. But it wasn’t Hyde who was complaining – once the smoke cleared it was Tim Cossins who was ejected. Bucknor has such a bad night that he couldn’t even eject the correct guy.
Tampa would add two additional runs on RBI-doubles, and Rio Ruiz would get the O’s on the board with a solo homer. So message to the Orioles; keep the ball in the ballpark, and try to contain your anger even when an outburst is justified. Sometimes that can telegraph your eventual intentions.
The series concludes tomorrow at Tropicana Field. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.