Baltimore Orioles: Murphy’s Law Comes True for the O’s


Aug 9, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielder David Murphy (19) hits a walk off single in the eleventh inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The Angels won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The old adage that “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” became more than a mere saying for the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday in their season finale with the Angels. The Murphy that killed them was David Murphy, as he hit a three-run homer off O’s starter Miguel Gonzalez to give the Angels a 4-2 lead in the third inning, and then in the bottom of the 11th inning he stroked the hit that drove in the walk-off run for a 5-4 win.

As with many other Baltimore Orioles outlets and writers, we here at The Baltimore Wire have so often written about the consistency of Gonzalez. Unfortunately, his current consistency over the past 10 games has been to pitch poorly and not get the O’s very deep into games.

Since June 9th, when his ERA stood at 3.33, Gonzalez has had only two quality starts in these 10 outings. The earned run average has now expanded to 4.45, as he has pitched to a 5.68 ERA over these starts.

Another common statement and truism about Miguel and our coverage of him is to note that he needs strong command and precise placement of his pitches to be successful. He does not actually have high-level “plus stuff,” and he will therefore pay for mistakes.

But it is difficult to understand how a mistake can be made on an 0-2 pitch with two outs and two runners on base … while guarding a 2-1 lead. But somehow the pitch was in the middle of the plate and up in the eyes of Murphy — so yes, if it could go wrong, it would go wrong … and it did go wrong. The ball made it into the first row in right-center field for a three-run homer.

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But Murphy was not done. Having failed to come through with a game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth, he again had a chance against Brian Matusz in the 11th frame.

I like Brian Matusz. He’s a nice guy. If I had a daughter, I’d probably like her to bring him home as a keeper. But I’m not sure he’s high on my list as a foxhole companion in war.

So it is not quite clear to me why Buck would put him into the position that he was in — let’s call it a Murphy’s Law sort of position — by having him intentionally walk both Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to load the bases with two outs.

The first one I understand. Trout is as good as there is in the game, and first base was open. But Pujols is more of a mystery. Yes, he was 3-for-6 against Matusz; but Murphy was 5-for-12, even though he is a left-handed hitter. The whole scenario gave Matusz no margin for error.

But you might say, “But Pujols is one of the top power hitters in the majors.”  And that is true. But he did not look terribly scary in this entire series and is batting .226 over the past 15 games.

So, yes, it is one of those calculated risks that make a manager look like a genius when it works and a goat when it does not. But it strikes me as “over-calculated” and not cognizant of either Murphy’s Law or David Murphy.

It would not be so bad if this loss was in May. But here in August, against a Wild Card contender, on a day when the Yankees were beaten … this one hurt. And even though, in the big picture of things, the Orioles have played very well over the past two weeks, the teams they are chasing have played a slice better. Heck, the Jays have now won 11 of their past 12 games.

It gets more critical day after day to win baseball games. The O’s need a series win (at a minimum) in Seattle. And it looks also like the Orioles are going to have to beat the Jays and Yankees themselves to have a shot at getting back on top of the division. Every loss adds a few degrees of incline to the mountain that must be scaled.

Next: The Orioles as Base Runners