Earlier this month, addressing his own struggles this season, Adam Jones gave an interview in which he offered this bit of wisdom: "It's life. It's sports. You suck sometimes." For the Orioles as a team, Sunday was one of those times. They lost to the Angels, 10-2.
There is surely some concrete reason why the O's potent offense was held in check by the slop thrown by Angels starter Jered Weaver. The guy averages 82.3 miles per hour on his fastball, according to Fangraphs. That is garbage that doesn't belong anywhere near the big leagues.
That's been on full display for Weaver so far this year. He entered the day with a 5.76 ERA in eight starts. Yet, just like the Orioles were almost completely stymied last night by Matt Shoemaker - who became the pitcher with the highest ever ERA to strike out 12 batters - they were absolutely horrible against Weaver.
Maybe it has something to do with their style of hitting just being particularly vulnerable against a pitcher whose arsenal isn't even MLB caliber. This is akin to a chess grandmaster losing to an untrained novice, someone who is somehow so bad that the grandmaster's extensive knowledge of strategy and ability to predict high-level moves is neutralized.
Theories to explain struggles against Weaver
Perhaps it has something to do with the particular theory cautioned by O's manager Buck Showalter before the game began. Showalter noted that Weaver has enjoyed success in day games at home because the combination of Weaver's position on the pitching rubber, his arm slot, and the rock pile out beyond center field creates a tough look for the batter: Weaver's arm action makes the white ball look to be coming out of the white rock pile.
It's a theory that has some truthiness, though as far as I can tell, the only factual basis for it comes from a day game Weaver pitched against the Rangers on April 10. That's thin evidence from which to draw any sweeping conclusions, though the Orioles hitters, by playing poorly today, offer another data point to support it.
Perhaps in the end it was really just further proof of The Adam Jones Theory of Everything. You suck sometimes. And they did. Weaver held the Orioles to five hits and a walk over seven innings of work, striking out six batters in the process. The guy had a 1.610 WHIP starting the day and the O's couldn't even muster a baserunner per inning.
The Orioles only output on offense came in the seventh inning, when a little two-out rally was sparked by a Nolan Reimold single. Jonathan Schoop followed with a towering home run into the bullpens out beyond the left field fence - an Oriole finally connecting on a Weaver pitch instead of just getting under it for a weak pop-up. That was Schoop's eighth home run of the season.
The bad version of Ubaldo, again
This was one of those games where the struggles of the Orioles offense almost don't even matter because there was an even greater struggle on the part of the pitching staff. You will not be shocked to learn that such a game occurred when the starting pitcher was Ubaldo Jimenez.
There has been much more Bad Ubaldo than Good Ubaldo this season. Sunday definitely saw Bad Ubaldo in the game. It was, if you are for some reason inclined to be generous, largely a result of one bad inning that Jimenez ended up wearing six earned runs.
Five of the eight hits that Ubaldo allowed came in that third inning. He has a tendency to turn his opponents into the Gashouse Gorillas from the classic Bugs Bunny baseball cartoon. If you only looked at his BABIP you might think that his .367 allowed was a sign of bad luck. It is atypical for a pitcher, even a struggling one, to have such a high BABIP.
If it is indeed bad luck, his luck did not start to turn today. He did little to help his own cause, with poor command doing him in. About all that you can say that's positive is that he rebounded from the disaster inning to end up pitching 5.2 innings. When he left the game, the Orioles were losing, 6-0.
Dylan Bundy came on in relief of Jimenez. He wasn't good either. After retiring Kole Calhoun for the last out in the sixth, Bundy came out for the seventh as well. Starting with a Mike Trout single, Bundy proceeded to give up four hits that plated four runs.
Most of the damage was done by a three run home run blasted off the bat of catcher Carlos Perez, who began today with a .179/.228/.274 batting line. The peculiar Orioles tendency to be destroyed by bottom of the lineup hitters continues. Perez was 3-4 on the day and drove in five runs. He raised his OPS 78 points today.
Elsewhere, the Red Sox beat the Indians today, so the loss sends the O's back into a virtual tie with Boston atop the AL East. They are actually ahead by percentage points, and in fact have the best winning percentage in the American League right now.
Not a bad thing to be able to say as the calendar heads towards Memorial Day. You might feel better about their chances of remaining that high up the standings if Jimenez had an ERA under 6. Presumably, 20% of all remaining O's games will be started by him. That's a tough handicap.
After an off day, the Orioles will next play on Tuesday in Texas, where they can hopefully put together some good games against the reeling Astros. Chris Tillman and Doug Fister are the scheduled starters for the 8:10pm series opener.