Baltimore Orioles: The Little Things That Pile Up


Perhaps it was because it was a West Coast game and 1:00 in the morning that it seemed like the bottom of the ninth inning between the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners went on and on and on.

Or perhaps that half inning did go on and on and on, and it would have felt like that at 9:30 Eastern time.

Yes, it was the latter of those. And this inning was, in a way, a microcosm of a season that is just a bit short here and there — an extra run not scored or an extra run allowed, the ground ball that was hit stupidly against the O’s defensive shift, the bloop that fell in, the third strike not called, etc. — that have piled up over this season.

Clinging to a 3-1 lead going into the final half inning, Zach Britton was being called upon to get a five-out save. Fortunately, it was not another one-run game. The O’s aren’t so good with them this year (15-18), and they were just 4-7 when scoring three runs. The third run had come in the sixth inning off the bat of the new Ron Burgundy look-alike also known as Chris Davis.

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Britton’s stuff looked typically good, and he had only pitched once in the first six games of this road trip. This should be no problem.

But you knew there was something amiss and not going to go well when the second pitch resulted in a Nelson Cruz ground ball to J.J. Hardy that he misplayed into only his second error of the season. But justice seemed to be served when three pitches later, Robinson Cano hit into a double play. It was now 17 pitches total for Britton with only one out to go.

Three pitches later it is 1-2 on Franklin Guitierrez. The game is almost done! But Guitierrez barely flicks fouls on the next two pitches — a 98-mph fastball and a 86-mph slider. Ball two is then followed by two more fouls, including a 99-mph fastball. Finally, on the 10th pitch, Guitierrez doubles over Adam Jones’ head.

Five pitches into an Austin Jackson at-bat (including a passed ball by Caleb Joseph that allows Cruz to third base), he has already fouled off three Britton offerings. He swings and misses a final strike! End of game!?!  No, it is another passed ball; Cruz scores and Jackson goes to first base. 

It took Jesus coming to the plate to put an end to this game!

Finally, it takes Jesus to come to the rescue of the Baltimore Orioles!  Yes, Jesus Montero, who thankfully strikes out on three pitches. Thank you Jesus; thank you Jesus!

Britton’s 28th save took a total of 36 pitches, 28 for strikes. That is the most he has thrown all year, so he won’t be available this evening.

This string of little things that pile up could therefore conceivably continue even into this evening’s game. Imagine a close scenario where Britton is needed at the end to win it, but he is not available because of the previous game’s extended outing. Truly, at this juncture of the season, EVERY pitch counts and every little event has meaning.

I love the Baltimore Orioles and have done so probably for about as long as any two of you reading this combined. But there is just something about this particular team that is lacking in the category of finishing off opponents and burying them when the opportunity is present. Wins are too difficult and losses are too easy. Yet we trust that this all works out into lots of October baseball.

Next: Finishing 2015 in the AL East

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