Baltimore Orioles: From Four Home Runs to Four Base Hits


Sep 5, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Jorge Rondon (57) pitches against Toronto Blue Jays during the sixth inning at Rogers Centre. Jays beat Orioles 5 – 1. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

The mixed bag of results that have characterized the 2015 season for the Baltimore Orioles is seen rather fully in the first two games of this weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s a feast or famine sort of thing.

On Friday night was the feast. The Orioles outslugged the Jays 10-2 by hitting four home runs and cranking out 13 base hits. The starting pitcher for the O’s (Jimenez) was shaky for sure, but he held on enough to get the strong bullpen into the game and shut down the other team.

On Saturday, the famine side showed up in a 5-1 loss. The starting pitching (Mike Wright) allowed the Jays to get an early lead, while a top-of-the-rotation starter for the opposition (David Price) was simply untouchable by Orioles bats. There was practically no margin for error, and the few opportunities to score went by without the critical hit to turn the game around.

There is plenty with the Baltimore Orioles to complain about in terms of underperformance. But to be fair, why should we expect the O’s to win a game like this?  Why should we think they actually are a playoffs caliber team?

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Just think about the four pitchers the Orioles used on Saturday in Toronto: Mike Wright started the game in what was his seventh career start and eighth appearance. He was followed by this year’s Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia, appearing in the 16th game of his career. Next came Jorge Rondon in the seventh appearance of his career.  That adds up to 31 appearances.

Finally came the veteran of the four Orioles hurlers: T.J. McFarland — 2013 Rule 5 Draftee. He has now pitched in a whopping 97 games … so … 128 appearances between the four of them.

Now, compare that to David Price. Still only age 30, he has pitched in 214 lifetime games. By the way, the win was the 100th of his career, against 56 losses.

All of this is to say, why would we think the Orioles should win a game like this, and why should we see them as contenders?  All four of these O’s pitchers took to be on a trajectory for good and effective careers, they’re just still all beginners.

But here is another issue. You know you’re not going to get practically any chances to have a big inning off Price. So after breaking through and scoring a run in the seventh inning, there are two men on base and one out. This might be the last chance to change the complexion of the game and get back into it. Coming to the plate are those two offensive juggernauts Junior Lake and Paul Janish in the #8 and #9 spots! Time for pinch-hitters, right? Even if just for Janish. 

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One might have expected Matt Wieters, though we learned later that he was out for the game with a sore wrist. But why not Jimmy Paredes? Looking up his numbers, he is 1-for-2 against Price; but certainly he is a better hitter, at least for Janish. Ryan Flaherty (who is also a better hitter, even against the lefty Price) could go to shortstop. Or why not Steve Clevenger? Yes, he’s the backup catcher. But he could go to first, with Pearce moving to second, Schoop to third, and Manny to shortstop.

There is just too much holding players back for contingencies that never (or rarely) develop, while the season swirls down the bowl.

The fat lady is singing; the fork is out … pick your metaphor. Two games, two different personalities of a bi-polar team.

Next: It is up to Jones and Davis to carry the O's