May 7, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter (29) talks with catcher Caleb Joseph (36) during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Baltimore Orioles defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: A Classic 2013 Win in 2014

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Apparently Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter pulled off a one-word joke last night by simply referencing the 4-3 win as “Textbook.”  By this he meant getting a two-run lead and nearly blowing it in the bottom of the 9th inning with a run in, with the tying and winning runs on base … but still somehow pulling it out.

I tweeted at the end last night that I don’t find anything charming about a “closer” who regularly puts runners on base before getting the necessary outs. Buck Showalter ALWAYS comments that this is a job that is “difficult to do, and most guys can’t do it.”

I don’t really have another answer or suggestion, since having a designated closer is clearly the strategy that is going to be used in Baltimore. At this pace, Tommy Hunter could be another 50-saves guys. Does that affirm the “closer” strategy or Hunter as a great reliever?  I’d say it depends how many blown saves are included. In 2012 there were few. In 2013, there were too many.

Speaking of 2013, last night’s game was a 2013-sytle win. Get all your runs on homers, have the starter go not quite deep enough into the game, use a list of relievers to get you to a heart-stopping closer in the 9th inning. Yep – textbook.

If this were the end of 2013, tonight’s final game in St. Pete would feature a clash of pitching titans in the matchup of Ubaldo Jimenez and David Price. And it could well be a 1-0 contest. But each of these lights-out guys from last season is off to a rocky start.

For Jimenez, he is coming off his best effort of the year, by far. At Minnesota last Friday he shut out the Twins over 7.1 innings with three hits and – get this – only one walk! He recorded 10 outs on strikeouts.

But for the season Jimenez is 1-4 with a 5.19 ERA.  The hits are not out of control – giving up about one per inning. His ball movement is fantastic. It is a matter of commanding the ball and not giving up an extraordinary number of free passes.

Over his career against the Rays he has the good record of 3-1 in his four starts, with a 2.73 ERA…

W

L

ERA

G

GS

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

2014 Stats

1

4

5.19

6

6

34.2

36

20

20

5

18

31

Vs. Rays

3

1

2.73

4

4

26.1

22

8

8

2

10

27

MLB Career

83

79

3.96

218

217

1310.1

1179

629

576

108

591

1203

 

His success against the Rays can be likewise seen in the chart of Tampa Bay hitters against him. James Loney has had 49 at-bats, but only 9 hits, including two homers.

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

BA

James Loney

49

9

2

0

2

9

3

8

.184

Desmond Jennings

7

1

1

0

0

0

1

3

.143

Ben Zobrist

7

2

1

0

0

0

2

1

.286

Jose Molina

7

3

0

0

0

0

1

1

.429

Evan Longoria

6

1

0

0

0

0

0

3

.167

Sean Rodriguez

4

1

0

0

0

0

1

1

.250

Matthew Joyce

3

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

.000

David DeJesus

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Ryan Hanigan

3

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

.333

 

What can be said about David Price other than that he is a great pitcher? He has success everywhere, even if his start to this season is a bit slow at 3-2 with a 4.44 ERA. In 48.1 innings he has 55 strikeouts and only 5 walks – an 11-1 ratio that is amazing. The problem is that he has yielded eight home runs. I think he will be facing a team that can hit homers? I think it is.

As can be seen, he has had a lot of good games against the Orioles also – 7-2 / 2.70 …

W

L

ERA

G

GS

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

2014 Stats

3

2

4.44

7

7

48.2

52

26

24

8

5

55

Vss. Orioles

7

2

2.70

16

16

103.1

96

34

31

5

28

97

MLB Career

74

41

3.25

159

154

1021.2

893

407

369

95

291

931

 

It is surprising however to see some really strong numbers from Orioles hitters against him. Matt Wieters will certainly be the DH with a .368 average. And Nelson Cruz is 9-for-25 with three homers.

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

BA

Nick Markakis

44

11

1

1

0

2

3

9

.250

Adam Jones

41

9

3

0

0

3

1

11

.220

Matt Wieters

38

14

6

0

1

4

3

13

.368

J.J. Hardy

34

11

4

0

0

3

2

10

.324

Nelson Cruz

25

9

1

0

3

5

2

4

.360

Chris Davis

15

4

0

0

0

1

2

6

.267

Delmon Young

16

5

1

0

1

2

0

6

.313

Steve Pearce

10

2

0

0

0

1

0

3

.200

 

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