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  • May
    01

    In and Out of Glove: Orioles lose 8-to-3

    Written by Mike Laws

    Porous defense, subpar effort from Chen conspire to undo O’s in rubber match

    Orioles 3, Seattle 8

     

    You kind of wonder how Wednesday night’s finale in Seattle might’ve played out had Adam Jones only been able to make a couple of catches in Oriole starter Wei-Yin Chen’s first two innings of work. Because prior to Unmade Play No. 1, Chen seemed poised to carry over that good stuff from his last start — the eight-inning two-hit effort in Oakland — needing six pitches to ring up Michael Saunders and pop Kyle Seager out in foul ground. And, had Jones gotten a better read/jump on Kendrys Morales’s sinking liner to center, or maybe dived for the ball rather than attempt a tough shoestring catch, keeping it in the webbing instead of having it pop out when the glove smacked against the turf — if any of the above had occurred, it would’ve been a nine-pitch frame to get the Oriole starter out of the gate. Instead, Michael Morse worked his way on with a walk, Jason Bay doubled down the left-field line to plate a run, and Justin Smoak walked. Chen would hold the M’s to just the one run, freezing Dustin Ackley for his second caught-looking K of the frame, but he’d needed an additional 19 pitches, making 28 total, to retire the side …

     

    And it wouldn’t get much better from there. Let’s get this over with. The bullet points:

     

    • Unmade Play No. 2: On Chen’s second delivery of the second inning, catcher Jesus Montero drills a ball to deep left-center. Jones, getting a better jump this time, races back to the warning track and gets under it — problem is, the ball’s starting to tail back toward center, and Jones overruns it, having to reach back up over his head to stab at it. The ball ticks off his glove and falls to the track as Jones smashes into the wall, tumbling awkwardly in the Safeco outfield for the second time this evening. And by the time the ball’s fielded by a covering Nate McLouth, Montero’s moseying into third with a leadoff triple. I’m not saying either play was easy or routine, but this continues an alarming pattern of plays where the Oriole center fielder has, commendably, gotten to a ball, but not been able to flag it down. (And that he was blowing another of his infamous bubblegum bubbles, while circling under the drive, will surely garner enough comment on the message boards that I don’t need to address it here.) In any event, gifted another extra out, the Mariners would again make the Orioles pay, with Michael Saunders roping an RBI single into right, after which he’d steal second and come in to score on another single to center from Morales. And while Chen, visibly frustrated (with himself, it appeared, mostly), would somehow evade damage in the third, stranding a double and a walk, he’d have no such luck in the fourth, allowing a leadoff bunt single from Saunders and an eventual homer from Morse to right-center. 5-0, M’s, and Chen’s night was through. 

     

    • Which is not to say that the Orioles didn’t have their own chances. Largely stifled by Aaron Harang — through five he’d surrendered only a double to Matt Wieters and a walk of Chris Davis — in the sixth, out of the blue, the Baltimore bats came on. And all with two out. Manny Machado smashed a double to deep left-center. Nick Markakis singled up the middle, scoring Machado. Jones, capping off an impressive at-bat, doubled into the alleyway in right center, plating Markakis. 5-2, and now with Davis coming up. Well, well, well; what have we here? … Not much, as it turns out. Davis strikes out swinging to end the threat. Maybe next time, dude.

     

    • … Except that by next time, the Birds would be in an even bigger hole. Having enjoyed a relatively smooth debut frame, Zach Clark — the 29-year-old righty only recently called up to join the big club — faltered in his second inning of mop-up work, conceding a leadoff single from (ugh, enough already, pal) Saunders, a subsequent single off the bat of Seager and a two-run Morales double well over Jones’s head to center. Tellingly, all three hitters had been in a two-strike count; Seager and Morales had been 0-and-2. A Morse fly-out to right advanced Morales to third; another fly ball, from Bay, scored him. 8-2, Seattle.

     

    • Which made the final O’s offensive threat, another two-out rally in the eighth, a too-little, too-late proposition. Still, it was good to see Machado connect with a Carter Capps fastball, walloping the thing over the wall in left-center to bring the Birds a run closer. And when Markakis and Jones followed with singles, bringing Davis to the dish, you thought maybe, just maybe … But sadly, it wasn’t to be. Facing lefty matchup man Charlie (“No Joke Required”) Furbush, Davis went down swinging for the second straight at-bat — and third time overall, tonight — and this one was, for all intents and purposes, over with.

     

     

    AND JUST THINK, IT COULD’VE BEEN EVEN WORSE: The line for Pedro Strop is going to reflect a scoreless inning of work in which he struck out two batters. It’s also going to show that he walked a pair and had to deliver twenty pitches. That’s because one of those K’s reached on a third strike that was also a wild pitch. And predictably, not recording what should’ve been the second out of the inning appeared to get under Strop’s too-thin skin; that’s when the walks came, five pitches apiece to Morse and Bay. Bases loaded, and Strop falls behind Smoak, 2-0. That Smoak then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play might’ve helped save Strop’s numbers from ballooning even further, but for anyone actually watching (that is to say, suffering through) his performance, you’d have to admit it did nothing to promote job security … 

     

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