The Orioles were never going to win every game. No baseball team ever does. Their bullpen was not going to carry a 0.00 ERA over the whole season. That doesn’t happen either. Perhaps the price of winning the first four games was saving all of the failure for a Sunday afternoon, because the Orioles finally lost to the Yankees, 7-3, with the kind of game that you’re absolutely supposed to lose.
The team whose starting pitcher walks seven batters, who walks a total of 11 batters in the contest, isn’t going to win very many games. The team whose bullpen gives up seven runs isn’t going to be winning many games either, nor is the team who allows the bottom of the other team’s lineup to drive in five runs.
Oh, and you know what other team probably isn’t winning a game? The team that got only six hits. All of these things were true of the Orioles, so when you get down to it, of course they lost. Most of the time, the team that deserves to lose because they play badly is going to lose.
Overcoming Wade Miley
That was Wade Miley who walked seven batters in five innings. At one point, he had walked six of the twelve batters he had faced. If you were worried about Miley going into this season, his first outing won’t be making you feel any better. But at the same time, he gave up just one hit and did not allow a run, somehow, in those five innings.
Maybe that’s a game the Orioles actually should have won, because they were also facing their nemesis, a lefty starter who doesn’t throw very hard. It was CC Sabathia’s turn for the Yankees and the Orioles managed to touch him up for three runs in six innings. Miley left with a lead! He was in line for a win.
In retrospect, of course, it would have been better for the Orioles to do more with the chances they did get. The second inning, Mark Trumbo led off with a walk and after a Chris Davis single, the O’s had runners at the corners with nobody out. Pile it on! But Trey Mancini hit a would-be 3-4-1 double play ball that only a wild throw by Yankees first baseman Chris Carter turned into an RBI fielder’s choice.
A rare Jonathan Schoop walk put two men on once again, and J.J. Hardy drove in the second Orioles run with another single. Hardy advanced on a wild pitch, so the Orioles had two more runners in scoring position with just one out.
Who should find himself with a chance to bat but Caleb Joseph, the RBI-less wonder of 2016? For the most part, all he had to do to get an RBI was get the ball out of the infield. Joseph grounded to third base, where the fielder was playing in, because it’s Joseph. No one scored on the play.
A third Orioles run crossed in the fifth inning. Adam Jones hit a ball that ricocheted off Sabathia, which Sabathia was unable to field. Jones advanced on a passed ball, then tagged up on a fly ball to right, putting him on third. He scored easily on a Trumbo single. This was the end of the good news for the Orioles in the game.
A revolving door of bullpen failure
The word “bad” is insufficient to describe the Orioles bullpen today. Of course, as mentioned above, they couldn’t be perfect forever, but maybe they could have spread out the failure a bit more judiciously over the rest of the week.
Tyler Wilson was the first out of the pen. That’s sensible enough, a righty long man after a short outing by a lefty. Wilson got two outs before the bottom of the Yankees lineup touched him up. Aaron Judge and Austin Romine hit back-to-back singles before #9 hitter Ronald Torreyes, who had a .680 OPS last year, tripled to drive in both runs.
Still, the Orioles led the game after seven innings. You expect the Orioles to win when they lead after seven. Maybe that’s a bit less likely when Brad Brach and Zach Britton are presumably unavailable after pitching in two straight games. Neither appeared in the game. In the long run, that’s for the best. For today, it meant trouble.
Mychal Givens did not prove to be up to the task of preserving the lead. After getting the final two outs of the seventh inning, Givens served up a hanging curveball to Judge that Judge blasted into the left field seats for the game-tying homer. Oops.
It was the ninth inning where the wheels really fell off. There’s hardly anyone to blame for that but Darren O’Day, who managed to walk three batters and give up four runs while retiring only two batters. I don’t even want to talk about it, but if the command struggles carry on for long, the Orioles are going to have a real problem to overcome.
Yankees designated hitter Matt Holliday walked five times in five plate appearances. That had no bearing on the game’s outcome, in that he scored no runs, but still, holy mackerel.
In short, the Orioles were bad and they lost. Hey, they’re still in first place in the division.
A Monday off day awaits before the Orioles travel to Boston for two games. They’ll next play on Tuesday night at the standard civilized baseball time of 7:05. Dylan Bundy will attempt to follow up his brilliance against the Blue Jays with brilliance against the Red Sox, while Boston will counter with lefty Drew Pomeranz.