Jorge Lopez made his second half debut for the Baltimore Orioles tonight in Kansas City. The good news was that he was spotted a big lead. The bad news was that he predictably couldn’t get out of the fifth inning. Lopez’s line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 K.
Lopez’s issue has been the fifth inning all season. This evening he pitched four very solid innings. He then loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth, and started giving up runs. The O’s eventually were forced to go to the ‘pen to preserve the lead.
Ramon Urias put the O’s on the board in the second with an RBI-double. Domingo Leyba’s RBI-groundout later in the inning ran it to 2-0. And the Birds were off to the races.
But the real damage was done in the third. Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI-single ran it to 3-0. DJ Stewart, Anthony Santander, Pedro Severino, and Urias all added RBI-singles. Santana would tack on an RBI-double for Kansas City, giving the O’s a 7-1 lead after three.
Mountcastle would add a sac fly-RBI in the fourth. And as I said, it was the fifth where Lopez ran into trouble. He uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded, cutting the lead to 8-2. Kansas City would also add two more before the game ended, with the O’s winning 8-4.
My personal view is that Lopez’s issues in the fifth inning are mainly psychological. He knows he struggles in the fifth inning. This evening, he started going away from his best pitch (fastball) in the fifth, relying more on breaking balls off the plate. That shows a lack of confidence in that he didn’t want to get beat by putting the ball too close to the plate.
Luckily for the O’s they had a big lead. But what happens to Lopez moving forward is another story. My personal view is that he not only should be in the bullpen, but that he’d be a good reliever. But whether the Orioles can afford to put him there is another story.
The series concludes tomorrow at Kauffman Stadium. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Carlos Hernandez. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.