Apr 12, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles second baseman Steve Lombardozzi (12) reacts as he scores the game winning run on a one-run RBI single by David Louth (not shown) in the twelfth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Blue Jays 2-1 in twelve innings. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles – This is Feeling Like the 1960s


 

Unlike me, I realize most of you reading this cannot remember professional baseball in the 1960s, though you’ve heard the stories of Brooks Robinson, Paul Blair and Boog Powell, etc. You know of Frank Robinson’s Triple Crown in 1966.

What made the offensive exploits of these players so impressive is that much of it was done in an era where offense was at a premium. The statistics from that time show amazingly low numbers for pitching ERA, with correspondingly low numbers for top batting averages.

In 1968, the average total runs-per-game was 6.8, compared to about 8.5 in recent years. There were 1.2 home runs per game in 1968, compared to 1.8 or 1.9 recently. In 1968 – the year of Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA – the major league batting average was .237, compared to over .250 nowadays. The average MLB pitching ERA then was 2.98, compared to over 3.90 now.

In the Orioles’ first world championship year of 1966, here are the top five hitters and top five pitchers in the American League…

1. Robinson (BAL) .316

2. Oliva (MIN) .307

3. Kaline (DET) .288

4. Powell (BAL) .287

5. Killebrew (MIN) .281

 

1. Peters (CHW) 1.98

2. Horlen (CHW) 2.43

3. Hargan (CLE) 2.48

4. Perry (MIN) 2.54

5. John (CHW) 2.62

 

Here is my point: I grew up loving baseball at a time when it was more of a low-scoring, pitchers battle … where 1-0 and 2-1 games were much more common. After the ’68 season it was so much this way that the pitcher’s mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 inches in order to take away the huge pitching advantage.

So, these past two Orioles games – a 2-0 loss with unearned runs scored against them, and last night’s 2-1, 12-inning win – look and feel a lot more like the 1960s than the current era … though understand, I’m not craving any return to those days!

The Baltimore Orioles had the Blue Jays down to their final strike last night, and in fact it was after the final uncalled strike on a (non) check swing, by Colby Rasmus. The fans were standing, having gathered their belongings in the 9th inning with the Orioles winning 1-0, when Rasmus turned around a Tommy Hunter 97-mph fast ball and put it over the fence.

Fortunately a triple by Steve Lombardozzi put him at third base with one in the bottom of the 12th out so that David Lough could single him home for the 2-1 victory.  I’m not sure how many people noticed on the replay of the triple that the Orioles finally got a break. The ball hit on a seam between two outfield panels and bounced oddly to the side rather than straight back at the outfielder. Lombo saw this and kicked into an extra gear for the critical extra base.

More 60s-like baseball – where every base counts!

Baltimore’s Ubaldo Battles Buehrle

This afternoon, Toronto will send 35-year-old Mark Buehrle to the mound. The veteran is off to a very good start for this season as he has won both his previous outings by giving up only one run in 14 innings.

Looking at Buehrle’s career numbers is very impressive with 13 consecutive seasons pitching over 200 innings. His career record in 188-142 with and ERA of 3.83. In spite of being such an outstanding pitcher over his career, his record against the Baltimore Orioles is only 7-8

Career

W

L

ERA

G

GS

IP

H

R

ER

HR

vs. Orioles

7

8

3.42

21

19

129.0

134

56

49

15

at OPACY

2

4

4.47

9

8

50.1

64

28

25

10

 

Many of the Orioles actually have pretty good numbers against Buehrle. Delmon Young is .357 over 42 at bats with homers. Nick Markakis is batting .447 with two home runs and Adam Jones .391.  But Nelson Cruz is 0-for-14 and J.J. Hardy just 3-of-22.

PA

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

Delmon Young

44

42

15

1

0

3

6

2

4

.357

.386

.595

.982

Nick Markakis

42

38

17

4

0

2

6

4

3

.447

.500

.711

1.211

Adam Jones

25

23

9

2

0

1

4

2

3

.391

.440

.609

1.049

J.J. Hardy

23

22

3

1

0

1

5

0

3

.136

.136

.318

.455

Matt Wieters

23

19

6

1

0

1

4

2

4

.316

.348

.526

.874

Nelson Cruz

15

14

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

.000

.067

.000

.067

Chris Davis

15

14

6

0

0

2

4

1

3

.429

.467

.857

1.324

Steve Lombardozzi

4

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

.000

.000

.000

Steve Pearce

2

2

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

.500

.500

1.000

1.500

Jonathan Schoop

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

.000

.000

.000

 

The Orioles will be looking to see if this is the game where Ubaldo Jimenez can find some sort of consistent grove. It has not been unusual to see him get ahead of hitters 0-2 or 1-2 and then throw three or four consecutive balls to them. He has had some of the nastiest-looking pitches with incredible movement, but will then leave a flat pitch in the middle of the plate.

Jimenez is 0-2 as an Oriole in his first two starts against Boston and New York. His ERA for 10.2 innings is 6.75.

Against the Blue Jays in his career, Ubaldlo has pitched five games and is 2-1 with a 4.61 ERA. Though Colby Rasmus is 8-for-24, the other power hitters on the Jays have really been shut down by Jimenez in the past. Jose Bautista is only 1-for-19.

 

PA

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

BA

Colby Rasmus

26

24

8

4

1

0

1

2

7

.333

Jose Bautista

20

19

1

1

0

0

0

1

4

.053

Edwin Encarnacion

16

13

3

1

0

1

2

3

1

.231

Adam Lind

13

11

2

1

0

0

2

2

2

.182

Melky Cabrera

10

8

2

0

0

0

0

2

1

.250

 

The historic reputations of the two pitchers and the early results of 2014 would argue for the advantage to be with the Jays, whereas the head-to-head statistics would seem to argue for the Birds to have the advantage. In the end, the advantage will go to the team that scores the most runs – tends to work out that way … in the 1960s or today.

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