Whatever is wrong with the Orioles, four days off for the All-Star Break was not the cure for it. They came out of the break on Friday night to kick off a crucial nine game road trip heading towards the non-waiver trade deadline. The game was awful. I hope you did something else with your night, like go watch Ant-Man or Trainwreck or anything else that interests you. If you, like me, watched this 7-3 O's loss to the Tigers, I'm sorry. At least we suffered together.
You kind of had the feeling it was going to be that kind of party almost from the get-go. Manny Machado swung at the first pitch and grounded out. The O's went down 1-2-3 to Anibal Sanchez (who started the day with a 4.63 ERA) in the first inning and then it was time for the season's best O's starter, Ubaldo Jimenez, to head to work. Detroit's Ian Kinsler hit a seeing-eye single that snuck past J.J. Hardy's left - an unfortunately common occurrence this season.
But that wasn't the bad part. The bad part came after an ill-advised Yoenis Cespedes bunt attempt, when one half of the Mashing Martinezes came to the plate. (No one actually calls them that.) Victor Martinez was thrown a fat pitch by Jimenez and he did not miss the opportunity to blast it over the fence in right field to give the Orioles an early 2-0 deficit.
They scratched out a run in the bottom half of the inning, although if things were going better they really should have gotten more. Chris Davis poked a single into left field, opposite the shift. He ended up on third base after a questionable hit-and-run that worked out OK - Matt Wieters roped a single over the infielders into center and Davis took third on the play. Hey, a man in scoring position! The Oriole entered the game 0-22 and 7 for their last 81 with RISP. How would they fail tonight?
The answer: J.J. Hardy, batting sixth in the lineup despite entering the game with a .584 OPS, popped out to second, followed by Travis Snider fouling out to third. It all came down to Jonathan Schoop, who at least did not disappoint. Schoop hit a single to right field, easily scoring Davis and cutting the Tigers lead to 2-1. Hooray!
Unfortunately, Jimenez had not settled down by the second inning. A pitch snuck inside and hit Jose Iglesias on the arm. Iglesias stole second because Jimenez does not excel at holding runners, and also Wieters made a poor throw. The extra base cost the O's a run. Anthony Gose hit an automatic double over the fence in left center, bringing Iglesias home to give Detroit a 3-1 lead.
The Orioles came inches away from tying the game up at 3-3 the next half-inning. Manny Machado led off with a single. He still stood on first base when, with two outs, Davis flicked his wrists and gave a ball a ride to right field. The ball soared just far enough for Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez to leap at the fence and bring the ball back into the yard. That's the third home run Davis has had robbed this month; according to ESPN Stats & Info, no other player in MLB has had more than one home run taken away all season.
A promising scoring opportunity in the fourth inning was similarly snuffed prematurely. The Orioles actually managed to load the bases with nobody out. Wieters beat the shift by singling against it into left field. When Hardy smoked a double past Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos, Wieters made it to third base despite the refrigerator strapped to his back. Sanchez walked Travis Snider to load the bases. Hey, another good shot!
Sanchez left a pitch out over the plate for Schoop, but instead of crushing the pitch as the Tigers kept doing to Jimenez, Schoop only fouled out to the catcher. That was followed by a Chris Parmelee chopper that very nearly turned into a GIDP. Parmelee barely beat the ball to first base, perhaps only because he was running like a man who was afraid he would get a mid-game DFA for blowing that opportunity. Machado kept the rally going with a walk. It ended on a sharp liner to right by Jimmy Paredes, one that Martinez almost overran, but only almost.
Had the score stayed at 3-2, maybe the Orioles would have had a chance. It did not stay at 3-2. Jimenez continued to struggle in the game. Not all of it was his fault. After a one-out Alex Avila single in the bottom of the fourth, a ground ball by James McCann was mishandled by Parmelee at first, putting two men on. Jimenez promptly allowed a three-run home run ... to Jose Iglesias, a man who had one other home run all year in 283 plate appearances. How do you do something like that? Very carefully.
Jimenez was finally bounced from the game after giving up a solo home run to J.D. Martinez with two outs in the fifth inning. That's less ridiculous. It was Martinez's 26th home run of the year. The line on Jimenez ended up being seven runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. But hey, he didn't walk anybody! Pardon me while I go and cry forever.
With how the Orioles were hitting before the break, the game was over right then. And indeed, it was effectively over. They got one more run when Kinsler muffed a double play ball, turning an inning-ending GIDP into an RBI fielder's choice for Davis. That was all she wrote.
The O's had their chances. They had ten hits and walked four times - more than the Tigers had in the game, actually, since Detroit only had eight hits and two walks. They just didn't capitalize. They went 1-14 with RISP, extending their abysmal stretch of hitting in those situations.
They fall below .500 for the first time since June 11. The trade deadline is just two weeks away. Tough decisions must be made. And they're probably not getting any easier with tomorrow's 7:08 game, because the scheduled starters are Chris Tillman and David Price.