Baltimore Orioles: Was Maikel Franco a victim of the moment?

Baltimore Orioles’ pitching was solid in the series with Seattle, including in today’s game two of the doubleheader. For the most part, that is. And for the most part, Oriole bats were dominated by an equally strong showing by Seattle pitching. In this afternoon’s second game, it was Bruce Zimmerman who was a hard-luck loser at the hands of Seattle. Zimmerman’s line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

After the game Zimmerman claimed that his fastball command wasn’t as good as he would have liked, but his breaking pitches seemed to be working (quote courtesy of Rich Kubatko, MASNsports):

I definitely didn’t have as good of fastball command, so that kind of put me behind from the get-go as far as just having to battle more each at-bat. Kind of relied on my off-speed a little bit more today, for the most part I was able to get it over. The breaking ball was a little sharper than last outing, which helped, because we made an adjustment working on that this week, and that was good to see. Just didn’t have quite the command that I normally do, especially with being able to go in on guys, which sets up everything else for me.
But there wasn’t much to criticize overall in Zimmerman’s outing. He gave up two solo home runs, one to Moore in the third and one to Haniger in the fifth. Freddy Galvis smacked a solo homer in the last of the third for the O’s, who fell 2-1. The dropped three-of-four in the series at home against Seattle.

The old saying is that solo home runs don’t hurt you. But the fact is that they do hurt you when your team isn’t putting runs on the board. That’s what happened to the the Birds and Zimmerman today.

One thing that might not sit well with the coaching staff was Maikel Franco‘s at-bat in the last of the seventh (the final inning in a doubleheader). With the O’s down by one, you’re looking to get a runner on base in any manner possible. Get the tying run aboard to extend the game.

Franco led off the inning, and worked the count to 3-0. Now if it’s me, I want to make the pitcher prove he can throw the ball over the plate before I’m going to swing. And that’s in ANY situation, much less one like that where you absolutely need a base runner. So I wouldn’t have considered taking the bat off my shoulder unless the count was 3-2.

Instead, Franco swung on 3-0, and lined out to short. That’s the sort of thing that can make or break you in a game. And a veteran like Franco should know that. Did that single-handed my lose the game for the Orioles today? Absolutely not. But it’s small things like that which can often make a difference in games, especially in a big spot.

The Orioles now leave home and head for Texas for a three-game set with the Texas Rangers at the new Globe Life Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start tomorrow night for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Mike Foltynewicz. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

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