Baltimore Orioles: What does Tampa do that the O’s can’t match?
Last night wasn’t exactly the start to the second half that the Baltimore Orioles wanted. Starter Dylan Bundy got lit up from the beginning. Bundy’s line: 1.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 0 BB, 1 K.
Bundy surrendered a solo homer to Pham (second hitter of the game), and Tampa never looked back. And they piled on the Orioles big time. To the tune of 16 runs.
Renato Nunez smacked a solo homer in the fourth, and an RBI-double in the ninth. However even the fourth inning home runners in essence garbage time. At the end of the day, the Birds fell 16-5 in the second half opened.
There’s something I just wrote above however which shows one of the differences between Tampa and the Orioles. I mentioned that even Nunez’s homer in the fourth inning (which cut the Tampa lead to 10-2) came in garbage time. I say that as a matter of fact, given how the game was ebbing and flowing. When you cut the deficit to eight runs in only the fourth inning the game is in effect over. Sure it’s fashionable to say that you can come back and so forth, but situations where that happens are the exception to the rule.
But that isn’t how Tampa looks at it. They look at every pitch as an opportunity to score another run. If anything, they go into overdrive in situations like this – whether they’re up or down big. They seemingly have a chip on their shoulder wanting to prove to the world that they aren’t like other teams. When other teams go into autopilot, Tampa’s still out there fighting the good fight.
And when I say autopilot, I’m not necessarily talking about games in a blowout situation. When most teams smack base hits, the hitter drops the bat and almost casually runs to first base, knowing that he isn’t going to be thrown out. Basically he’s guaranteed the base. The Orioles do it, as do all teams. Why risk injury on the base paths when as so said you’re all but guaranteed the bag?
That isn’t how Tampa does things. Their hitters sprint out of the batter’s box with reckless abandon. Many times, that type of fervor leads to a the runner taking a second base. Sometimes the pressure of the speed itself causes an error in the outfield, or sometimes the sheer speed of the runners gets them to second.
That sounds like a small thing. And it also sounds like a conviction of how the Orioles do things. Well, it is a small thing. But Tampa, dating back to when they were bad and the Orioles were good, is a small wonder type of team. There’s no detail to small in a game. And a small thing turns into big things. Someone hustling out of the box and getting to second (on what would have been a run-of-the-mill base hit) puts them in scoring position. That means another base hit (with another runner hustling out of the box and potentially getting into scoring position) scores that runner.
And it’s not a conviction of the Orioles – per se. all teams simply take the bases they’re all but guaranteed. Admittedly, Tampa runners sometimes look ridiculous sprinting around the bases when in fact they know they aren’t going to be thrown out. But end of the day, they don’t care. They only care about one thing: winning.
The teams of course will play a day/night doubleheader at the yard today. Both teams will be able to bring up a 26th man on the roster for game two. And in fact, Tampa’s fervor last night will adversely affect the Orioles today, as their now tired bullpen will have to work two games. As I said yesterday, fans will need two separate tickets for both the afternoon game and the nightcap.
So the series will continue this afternoon before this evening at Camden Yards. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Brendan McKay. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.