Baltimore Orioles: Ball always bounces for Boston at the Fens

I would say that Ty Blach‘s day for the Baltimore Orioles was slightly more good than bad. However he certainly had an interesting game, getting six runs and then giving them back. Blach’s line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 6 K.

Some of the runs Blach surrendered behooved he and the Orioles in that they had a lead and they gave them outs. But they all add up. The O’s took an early 3-0 lead on Renato Nunez‘s three-run homer in the first inning. It looked like it might be a good day for the O’s at that point.

Trey Mancini‘s second inning two-RBI single extended the lead to 5-0. One inning later Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-double extended it to 6-0. But that’s a dangerous position in which to find oneself at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. It’s perhaps the quirkiest park in the majors, and those quirks usually play to the advantage of the home team.

Comebacks always start innocently enough. Boston better two runs in the last of the third on RBI-groundouts. And as I said, it somewhat behooved Ty Blach to surrender those runs. The Birds got outs out of the deal, and they were only one run at a time. Speaking for myself, as a coach I would take that 100% of the time. But in retrospect, Boston was piecemealing their comeback together.

The turning point of the game came in the fourth inning. Jonathan Villar was called out in an inning-ending play on the base paths when he contacted the Boston shortstop. The umpires ruled that he had impeded the fielder’s ability to field the ball.

My point would be what is he supposed to do, run around the guy? Either that or allow the fielder to make the play and then potentially tag him out? It’s a judgement call, but one that went in Boston’s favor. And as I said, the game all but changed on that moment, especially seeing that the bottom of that fourth inning brought a solo homer by Travis (cutting the Orioles’ lead to 6-3).

The last of the sixth was the nadir of the game. Vazquez’s RBI-double cut the lead to 6-4, and left runners at second and third. Moreland then sent a pop into shallow center field. And…the ball fell in the “Bermuda triangle.” This allowed both runners to score, tying the game at six. The ball always bounces Boston’s way at Fenway Park.

I did have a question about the tying run, however. The runner nic’d catcher Chance Sisco as he went by, making it tough for him to field the incoming ball and have a shot at tagging the runner out. Earlier in the game Villar had been called out on the base paths for contacting a fielder. Apparently that rule isn’t universally applied. Sisco would later leave the game after taking a ball to the groin. Again, the ball bounces Boston’s way at Fenway Park.

Bogaerts would smack a two-RBI single later in the inning to give Boston a lead, and they never looked back. Trey Mancini would smack a sac fly-RBI in n the ninth, but the Birds ended up falling 13-7 in Boston. They went 0-for-7 on the road trip.

Many of the tack on runs Boston scores came on singles which were either just slow enough, or against the shift. Oriole pitchers put out several good pitches which justifiably should have gotten them out of the at-bat. But Boston hitters managed to find the holes. Far too often the Orioles are using the shift and opposing teams are either finding a hole, or hitting the ball right where a fielder otherwise would have been had there been no shift on.

And there’s no science to that. It just happens. And it happens a lot to the Orioles. Ultimately it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t, regarding a shift. The ball just bounced the other way a lot today – and the bounces always go Boston’s way at Fenway Park.

The O’s now head home to open a three-game set with Kansas City. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Jorge Lopez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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