It's all too easy to sit here and be a blogger and play the armchair manager. We try to avoid this in game recaps here on Camden Chat, but every now and again a game comes along and it leaves me smoldering with impotent rage. If you missed the game, you missed a lot of frustrating Orioles moments that led to the 6-5 loss in extra innings against the Royals.
Let's go to the top of the 9th inning. Pop quiz. The score is tied 5-5, and Cesar Izturis has just led off the inning by getting a hit. This is a miraculous occurrence in and of itself. Robert Andino, your (small sample size) team OBP leader, is coming up to bat next. No one is out, and your next two batters are hitting .207 and .255, respectively. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?
You don't bunt, that's for sure, and yet that's exactly what Andino was apparently ordered to do, even after getting two strikes. Predictably, he bunted foul and struck out and Markakis and Lee followed by going quietly into that good night.
Next item: bullpen usage. Brad Bergesen went only five innings, so we had to get some innings out of the 'pen, which Jim Hunter on the MASN post-game helpfully told us has the worst ERA in the AL. Do you play reliever roulette, letting each man go one inning until you panic and suddenly you're in extra innings and stuck using a shaky guy for a second inning, or do you ride a solid-looking pitcher for a second inning?
If you're Buck Showalter tonight, you're playing reliever roulette, waiting until the chamber comes up with a pitcher who's due for a crappy night and blows your hopes for the game against the wall. Jeremy Accardo did not look good, so fine, one inning for him. Michael Gonzalez looked relatively strong (and that's praise coming from one of the biggest Gonzo haters on the site), and so did Koji Uehara. Why not give either of these guys a second inning? Instead, our multiple-inning reliever was Jason Berken, who escaped having the winning run on third base with one out in the bottom of the 9th and came back on for the 10th.
Berken walked the leadoff man, gave up a single to Billy Butler and was facing first-and-third with none down. Berken actually induced a not-too-deep fly ball to right from Jeff Francoeur on which Alex Gordon tagged and I thought Nick Markakis should easily throw him out. I don't know what was up with Nick, but he threw a three-hopper well up the third base line and that was game over. I can't stress this enough: I don't see how that fly ball should have been deep enough to score anyone. And yet that was the ballgame.
Markakis is really making me sad lately. He doesn't look good at the plate, racking up an Izturisian .207/.276/.288 up to this point, and he isn't looking great in the field either, missing a catchable ball in the game and with the terrible throw at the end. I hope he turns it around soon because it's getting painful seeing him out there.
As for earlier in the game, Brad Bergesen started and it looked like it was going to be Bad Brad, giving up three runs before an out was recorded in the second inning, but he toughed it out through five innings and didn't surrender another earned run. The fourth Royals run scored after an Izturis error - a play where he bobbled an easy grounder and then made an awful throw. Izturis was playing second base tonight because Brian Roberts had gotten a root canal this morning. Take care of those pearly whites (and everything else), Brian! We can't take any more Cesar.
The Royals' offense in the game consisted of a lot of them continuing to flaunt their good fortune in the face of the BABIP mean, and one home run by Francoeur that Accardo surrendered as soon as he got into the game.
With the Orioles at the plate, it wasn't pretty late in the game, but they did what they should have done: banged up a crappy pitcher like Jeff Francis for five runs in 5.2 IP, highlighted by a Luke Scott three-run home run, his sixth homer of the year. Adam Jones got three hits and walked once and only scored once, on the Scott bomb. If they only had the other two thirds of the Weaver trinity, that should have been enough for a win. Instead, we ended up with another one of *those* losses.
Shout out to Matt Wieters, though, who destroyed another would-be base stealer. The word hasn't gotten around yet that you don't run on Matt Wieters, but they keep trying, and they keep dying on the basepaths. That guy is pretty good.
Vladimir Guerrero finally walked.
In the end, though, it was another 2010 loss in 2011, and those always punch me in the kidneys a little. The Orioles could have been back at .500, but instead they'll be looking to halt the slide at two games tomorrow. Jake Arrieta starts against Kyle Davies, who is even crappier than Jeff Francis with a career 5.59 ERA. I expect to be perfect gamed.