Memo that Orioles hitters did not read: This man throws a lot of balls; do not swing at them.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Orioles were mystified by a lefty starter, there were defensive miscues leading to a pair of unearned runs, a couple of rallies were snuffed out by GIDPs, and were it not for a couple of meaningless FUHRs (Eff You Home Runs), the game would have been a shutout. Yeah, I thought it sounded familiar, too.
I mean, it's not like we expect any other outcome, although it would be nice if there were a bit less failure. The defensive misplays du jour were thanks largely to Josh Bell at third base, who had one error and another ball that ended up getting by him that probably shouldn't have. We've said it before and it will be said again: it's tough to say if you can quantify the effect of the defense of this team on the starting pitchers, both in terms of direct influences on outcomes of certain plays in specific games, and especially in terms of mindset. Maybe Alfredo Simon just turned into a pumpkin.
Ricky Romero was dealing today, although the O's were not helping their own cause by hacking feebly at pitcher's pitches, making soft contact easily fielded by Blue Jays fielders. On the whole, guys on this team just don't take the balls that are out of the strike zone. In a particularly frustrating sequence in the 4th inning, Robert Andino led off with a double and Nick Markakis was hit by a pitch, so there were runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out. On a 1-1 pitch, the Orioles put on a double steal, and Jones fouled off a ball out of the strike zone. He finished the AB with a GIDP, hamstringing a potential rally, which Vladimir Guerrero killed off by swinging at the first pitch and lining a ball right to Jays CF Colby Rasmus.
Romero threw 94 pitches over 8 innings of work, striking out five O's batters. Two solo home runs by Mark Reynolds are all that stands between this game being a complete disaster as opposed to merely another in a string of sad, disheartening losses. Special credit to the second Reynolds HR, which landed in the first row of the club level. The estimated distance was 450 feet, which Gary Thorne on the MASN telecast said is tied for the 6th-longest home run in the history of Camden Yards.
After that second Reynolds homer, MASN also informed us that the Orioles have the highest percentage of runs scoring via HR in MLB - a total of 43% of their runs coming on home runs. The long ball is not a problem for the team and it never has been. Getting guys on base for the long balls is the problem. Of course, when you are batting your best home run hitter between 5th and 8th, behind crappy hitters like Guerrero (0-4 with a total of 8 pitches seen, and the game-ending GIDP), well...
Here's a stat for you. The Jays 6-9 hitters racked up 8 of the 13 hits the team recorded today. Orioles 6-9 hitters managed a total of one base hit - and that was a double by Blake Davis, who didn't even start the game. Cesar Izturis was the original 2nd baseman and 9th-place hitter, though he had to leave early due to a groin injury.
Simon pitched 5.2 innings, giving up ten hits - including five doubles and a home run - and six runs (four earned), striking out three. That kicked his ERA back up to 4.08, so the Orioles once again have no starter with a sub-4.00 ERA. Brad Bergesen pitched three innings of relief, giving up one run on three hits and racking up four strikeouts. Not a bad relief outing by Bergy, who did all we could have hoped for, chewing up some innings and not giving up too much damage. If we only had a lineup full of competent major league hitters, it might have meant something on this day.
Romero was finally out of the game for the 9th inning, but the O's 2-3-4 hitters didn't manage much more. Markakis led off with a solid single, then Jones struck out on some garbage and Guerrero came in with the GIDP to put the game out of its misery.
That's it for the Blue Jays for now. Chicago comes into town tomorrow for a four-game series. Jeremy Guthrie goes up against John Danks for the opener. After that, God only knows, because I sure don't.