Baltimore Orioles Problems: It’s Elementary My Dear Watson


Apr 19, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder

Adam Jones

(10) follows through on a three-run double against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles outhit the Blue Jays on Thursday evening eight to seven, while also hitting two home runs (both by Manny Machado) to only one (by Josh Donaldson) for Toronto. The O’s were 3-for-5 in RISP situations, while the Jays were a poor 3-for-16. So the Birds won the game, right? Nope, they lost it 7-6, and it wasn’t even that close.

Orioles pitchers surrendered a total of eight walks, eight!  They now lead the American League in free passes, taking over the lead from … wait for it … the Blue Jays! And they’ve done this without a large contribution from Ubaldo Jimenez.

Baltimore now drops to 7-9 on the season, good for last place in the Eastern Division. The good news is that they are only a game behind the Rays and two behind everyone else.

It will be good for the Orioles to return to the friendly confines of Camden Yards, having gone 2-5 on the road trip. Though the Birds pulled out two wins in Boston, they never seemed to really recover from the tossing of Jimenez in the first game.

But there is more to blame than the pitchers who puts too many runners on base. Not to repeat yesterday’s post that lamented these same themes, it is particularly grievous to see so many of the Orioles constantly throwing to the wrong base, missing cutoff men (who are often late to get into position), and simply not holding the base hit at first base.

Trying to cut down lead runners will most often fail, and instead of maintaining the double play possibility, there now exists two runners in scoring position, or even a runner who scored.

So the problems are elementary. A baseball team cannot succeed by freely putting men on base and then not containing their movement around the basepaths. With the Orioles coming back from a 7-0 deficit and scoring even four runs in the ninth inning, it illustrates how the Birds are never really out of a game. If only the pitching and defense can contain the expansion of early runs in the game, the offense has a shot at coming back.

If Rick Dempsey is correct that nothing good follows a walk, then eight not good things (at least) follow eight walks! This pitching staff needs some fresh eyes to figure out where the strike zone is hiding.

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Some other miscellaneous thoughts …

Chris Davis is totally lost at the plate.  Without a doubt, Drew Hutchinson had some good stuff last night, especially with fastballs tailing back over the plate. Nobody was more overmatched than Chris Davis who struck out four times. The problem is deeper than the pitching. You can see it all over Davis’ face and demeanor. Pitchers are able to jam him up and in, and they are simply blowing high fast balls past him. Will he figure out? Can he figure it out? It is no longer a “track record” from the past, but is rather becoming ancient history. I’m not ready to throw him overboard just yet, but until he gets if figured out, he has got to be placed in the bottom third of the order. Even worse news is that Steve Pearce is in a 4-for-42 slump, also looking rather lost.

Manny Machado is getting some return. Of course that line quotes a favorite “Buckism.”  Manny has been squaring up some balls for some time and hitting them right at people. I would not be surprised if he does not take off from this point forward.

Adam Jones has never looked better at the plate. In recent games it has been simply the greatest sight to see Jones slapping the outside pitches to right field and getting hits. If he takes away the low and outside pitch as an effective tool against him, Jones could indeed have a career year.

The collection of middle infielders is paying off. It was a strange sight in the offseason to see Duquette collecting so many middle infielders. As much as he did it for depth in the event of injuries, he also did it to fill a vacuum of such in the upper levels of the farm system. It is now paying off. Ryan Flaherty will be joining J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop on the disabled list, so that is the entire middle infield from 2014. Rey Navarro will be joining the team in Baltimore. If I told you last fall that the three middle infielders on the Orioles 25-man roster at the end of April would be Navarro, Jimmy Paredes and Everth Cabrerra, would you have believed it?

There is no better time to turn things around than today and this weekend against the Red Sox. As Sherlock Holmes would say, “It’s elementary my dear Watson!”

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