So instead of writing an article about the Orioles, I figured I’d switch it up and do something different for the fun of it.
I’m going to dedicate a brand new page, dedicated completely to the 2013 Baltimore Orioles, starting with what happened so far. I’ve never done anything like this before, and it seems counter-intuitive, but I think it would be easier to just keep updating this one post throughout the year since I spend so much time watching Orioles games and listening on the radio. Anyways, for all you Baltimore fans out there, add this blog to your Baltimore Orioles news, updates, comments, concerns, questions and opinions.
Hopefully you won’t mind the fact that my mind wanders all over the place, jumping from topic to topic like a rock being skipped across a stream.
Blip. Blop. SPLOOSH! Here we go:
– April 11th, 2013 12:41 PM
Before we get into what happened last night, let’s get something clear right off the bat. Get it? Right off the bat – Baseball? Haha. So far this season the majestic Orioles, which aren’t really an aggressive bird, not like an Eagle, or a Raven, or even a Seahawk (:P), but are so named since the Oriole is Maryland’s state bird, the Orioles season has only just begun. Now is not the time to freak out or press the panic button, I mean it’s only been like what, 8 games? Taking into account the fact that they’ve lost their 4 games by a combined 5 runs, this team could EASILY be 6 and 2 or 7-1 rather than 4-4. Granted they only got to 4-4 on the strength of a miraculous 9th inning. Or a disastrous meltdown for a Red Sox fan. I think people get too worked up over a couple of losses, as if they think the season is going down the toilet.
Well I’m not one of those guys. I don’t think a 500 record is half bad, especially since we’re still getting into the swing of things. Swing? As in, you know, actually nevermind. Half the teams in our division are hovering right around the .500 mark, including the Toronto Bluejays, the team that’s supposed to win the division according to the media. So relax, things aren’t so bad. Jake Arrieta isn’t the highly valued starter we all hoped we might turn into, and Tommy Hunter is Tommy Hunter, but at least we’ve got Adam Jones, and Chris Davis, right?
So that’s been the season so far.
The game at Fenway Park was looking pretty dismal with the O’s trailing by 2 runs at the start of the bottom of the ninth inning. Neither starting pitcher, nor the relievers on either side were very consistent with both teams taking turns in the lead, the game swinging back and forth on a number of errors and home runs. You could definitely see that many of the players were still getting into the groove of things, even though both had just went through a couple of months of spring training.
I mean you think they would be ready to play professional baseball after all that time spent playing against other professional teams in the grapefruit league.
Maybe it’s just not the same thing hitting dingers out of a little league ballpark.
If you didn’t already know, the O’s furious rally began at the top of the 9th. I had almost given up on them during the 7th and 8th, they were down 2 runs with an inning to go! You can’t really blame me for that, I’m sure many other O’s fans felt likewise. Unlike past seasons however, I felt the warm glow of a tiny seed of hope deep in my chest. There’s always a shot in the dark when your team relies on home runs as much as the Orioles do.
Luckily I kept the game on in the background, with the volume up, just in case a miracle happened at Fenway. The TVs at my bar sit on brackets high up on the side of the main bar area, above several tiers of liquor bottles and adjusted for the customer’s optimal viewing pleasure. This makes things difficult for me since I’m usually faced the other way, washing glasses or making drinks. The play-by-play guys on 105.7 The Fan were already gearing up to rip into Jake Arrieta’s stats for the night; 5 innings, 3 hits, 3 earned runs allowed.
Tommy Hunter was just as bad in relief, allowing 2 hits and 2 earned runs in a single inning. That’s not a fluke or just one bad inning. For the season Hunter has a 7.36 ERA after giving up 3 earned runs on 3 hits despite only pitching for 3.2 total innings. How the fuck do you throw that badly when you have a 100 mph fastball to rely on?
I’ve never liked Hunter OR and I don’t really understand why he’s still here. This is like his 5th chance at becoming a regular part of the Orioles rotation, and all he has done is underwhelm the fans with inconsistent pitching. It’s not like I’m saying he doesn’t have what it takes to make it in the MLB, except when he’s under even the slightest pressure, because he does. He has all the physical attributes, can make all the throws in practice, and can take command of innings when playing his A-game. The problem is he tends to walk too many players, and start to panic when he gets behind the count. This happens to EVERYONE who pitches in the major league, and is just part of the highs and lows of the season. The difference is that he doesn’t have much confidence in his abilities, which causes him to lose patience while working the strike zone. So all of a sudden he gives up a couple runs, and he’s pretty much done for the night (if not for a week).
For example, the two consecutive home runs he gave up in either the 5th or 6th inning against the Red Sox. I’m not talking about the beginning of the game, when neither team has scored a run, this was during a 3-3 tie game, and the pressure was on for him to keep Boston from scoring so that we had a chance to win the game during the later innings. Instead the Red Sox go up by 2, up until Baltimore’s last 3 outs of the night.
I know it’s really REALLY early in the season but it’s hard not to think about the importance of this game for the team’s psyche and confidence level. I feel like this game was a benchmark for setting the tone for the season, showing the rest of the AL East that the Orioles are ready to compete for the division.
Back to the beginning of the 9th inning, first up at bat, Chris Davis. This guy, who we all thought would be good but not this good, has been knocking bombs out of the park all year-long so far. He’s pretty much carrying the team on his back at this point of the year, with 7 HR and 18 RBI through 9 games. The only other consistent performer to date is Adam Jones, who’s batting .471 with 1 HR and 8 RBI. Jones also has successfully gotten on base safely in every game this season.
Chris Davis punched a solo shot into the stands off Closer Joel Hanrahan to start the 9th inning rally. Score 5-4 Red Sox. Hope flares like grease off a stove fire, Orioles fans immediately return to their designated seats. Red Sox fans feel a trickle of cold terror run down their collective spines. Matt Weiters was up next, and then J.J. Hardy. Neither of them manage to get the ball in play, giving Boston 2 of its 3 required outs.
The Red Sox fans blow sighs of relief. It doesn’t take a mind reader to hear their thoughts, “Now if only Hanrahan can get the last out, I mean how hard can it be?”
Next up at-bat, Ryan Flaherty, the second basement who hadn’t had a hit all season. After a 2 and 2 count, Flaherty just managed to get the ball to wiggle through a hole by the shortstop. It’s not much, but we’ll take 1-18 over 0-17.
Then It’s Nolan Reimhold’s turn. The worst part about how bad he’s been so far is that he’s not good enough to make the field, but his bat is supposed to be the reason the Orioles have him at DH. Until Wednesday the entire group of Designated Hitters had gone 1-for-26. At that point shouldn’t you change the name of the group to Designated Misser or Designated Dugout Hitter?
Somehow Reimhold managed to focus long enough to get walked, which was the only way he was ever going to get on base anyways. Leadoff man Nate McLouth also got a walk, which loaded the bases for star-prospect Third Basemen Manny Machado.
Most of you know what happened next.
Hanrahan throws a wild pitch on his first pitch to Machado, allowing pinch-runner Alex Castilla, who was playing in for Flaherty, to score from third. Game tied at 5-5.
With 2 men still on base, Hanrahan unleashed a 95 mph baseball through the strike zone on his next pitch. Machado blows it out of park, over the Green Monster.
With 3 outs to victory, star Closer Jim Johnson hangs on and efficiently did his job, earning his 4th save of the season.
Baltimore’s record now sits at 4-4. Hopefully this upward trend continues through tomorrow’s game against the Red Sox, again at Fenway Park.
(Editor’s Note: We can’t afford to lose anymore 1-run games. We’re already sitting at 0-3, come on guys, get it together!)
-April 12th, 2013 3:28 PM
Speaking of 1-run games, we finally won one!!! I’m stoked. With the quality of depth in our rotation and bullpen, our team should be playing at least adequately, if not as good as last year, in one run games.