Blue Jays 5, Orioles 2: Attack of the NOOGY

When you only score two runs, you should not expect to win a lot of baseball games. Maryland's own Brett Cecil stymied the Orioles, with a four hit, no walk performance over eight innings in which he struck out seven batters and only gave up two runs. The Blue Jays, by comparison, had four home runs in the game, accounting for all five of their runs scored in sending the Orioles to their fourth straight defeat.

Chris Tillman made his first big league start of the season, and you can't ask for much more than 5.2 IP and 2 ER in that circumstance. While Tillman struck out the side in the first inning, he also ran a lot of three-ball counts and both of the home runs scored on pitches that stayed up too high in the zone. This Toronto ballclub swings aggressively at fastballs, striking out a lot but also racking up 85 home runs to date in 2010. Pitches left up leave the ballpark in a hurry.

Seemingly every loss that the Orioles have suffered this season has one of those innings that you see play out and you think to yourself, "Of course this would happen to the team this year." Today's inning was the bottom of the 8th. Jason Berken, who got the final out in the 6th and pitched the 7th, came out for the 8th, leaving me wondering if manager Dave Trembley had been fired when I was not paying attention. The score was tied 2-2 with one out when Vernon Wells stepped to the plate and blasted a hanging breaking ball into the third deck in left field - his 13th home run of the 2010 campaign.

All the damage that was needed was already done. No one who has watched this team this year would have expected the Orioles to score a third run, and indeed, they did not.

Still, two batters later, Berken had retired one and given up a single, and a lefty was coming up to the plate. Prime time for playing Reliever Roulette, and Trembley did not disappoint, summoning Alberto Castillo to face lefty Lyle Overbay. Castillo fits the profile of the LOOGY in that he comes in to face one lefty and leaves. Our problem is that he is a NOOGY (no out guy) and today he lived up to this reputation, serving up a homer to Overbay to truly put the game out of reach, and then walking the next batter for good measure.

Berken was not exactly sharp today, giving up two hits and two walks over 2 IP. Just for giggles, let's take a look at platoon splits against lefties between these two pitchers on the season:

Berken: .194/.216/.222

Castillo: .368/.400/.895

Sometimes, though, statistics be damned, "you've just gotta get the lefty-lefty matchup there". In fairness to Trembley, I did not hear him offer this defense during the post-game interview; but the question also wasn't asked, and we know that's the kind of thing he likes to say. Castillo's ERA on the year is now 11.57.

The Orioles' two runs came in the top of the sixth inning. With two outs, Cesar Izturis doubled to right, the first and only extra-base hit that the team has managed in this series. The backup second baseman grounded through the 3B-SS hole, scoring Izturis, and took second base when Toronto LF Fred Lewis committed the Oriole-esque move of missing the cut-off man, allowing B2B to go to second base, from whence he promptly scored after Nick Markakis followed with another grounder through the 3B-SS hole. Ty Wigginton then reached first on a throwing error by Encarnacion, leaving men on first and second with two down, but Miguel Tejada struck out swinging.

Tomorrow, the Orioles will try to avoid being swept as Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound against Ricky Romero.

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