The Orioles entered Monday afternoon’s game against the Brewers looking to get a win and get back to .500. They left the game with reliever Jimmy Yacabonis recording two at-bats and collecting the only Orioles RBI in the game. That paints a grim picture of a baseball game in just a few words. The full game was even worse as they fell 8-1 to the Brewers.
You can’t even exactly call it a surprise any more. This is who the Orioles are this year. On the road, during the day, against soft-tossing spot starters, these are just not scenarios in which they excel. Why is that? I’m sure the people whose job it is to figure that out have been hard at work for months trying to do so.
The answer has eluded them thus far. It certainly wasn’t found in time for today’s game, when the Orioles had one of those regrettably predictable flat and lifeless efforts against 27-year-old Brent Suter, a lefty making the fourth MLB start of his short big league career.
A team like the Orioles that was supposed to have a potent offense should not get shut down by a guy with an 86mph fastball. That is exactly what ended up happening. Suter pitched for six innings, gave up just four hits and a walk, and the only run that crossed the plate against him was unearned after an outfielder botched a routine play. Sheesh.
You didn’t have to wait very long into the game to get an idea of what kind of game it was going to be. Joey Rickard led off the top of the first inning with a single. Manny Machado attempted to bunt him over to second base and in the process he lined into a double play back to the pitcher.
Come on. What the heck are you doing? What in the world would make you think that it’s a good idea to play for one run when freaking Wade Miley is going to be on the mound? To be sure, Machado is struggling mightily in the 2017 season. Perhaps he was trying to execute the old “help bust out of a slump with a bunt hit” maneuver. That isn’t a bad idea, but if you’re going to do it, you better do it.
That was the first sign that it was going to be that kind of game. It was hardly the only one, as once Miley took the mound for the bottom of the inning, he quickly reinforced the impression. After getting out the first batter he saw, Miley allowed the next five Brewers to safely reach base.
That was three singles and two walks - how do you walk two guys in the first inning? - to load the bases with two runs already across the plate and still just one out. Miley has had jams like this in nearly every one of his starts this season. That was true even back in April and May when he had an acceptable ERA. Since about a month ago, that Houdini act has failed, repeatedly, and batters have just been punishing him.
Miley nearly escaped that first inning, but the infield just couldn’t turn a ground ball into a double play. After that and another base hit, two more Brewers runs crossed the plate and Milwaukee had batted around in the first inning of the game. The Orioles trailed 4-0 after one inning. With what the Orioles offense would go on to muster, the game was effectively already over.
Just to make sure you never felt any hope if you were unfortunate enough to be watching, Miley kept going in the second inning. A pair of singles and a hit by pitch loaded the bases with just one out. Between a sacrifice fly and a ground rule double, the Brewers plated all three runs.
That bounced Miley from the game with seven runs allowed on seven hits and two walks. He did not even get out of the second inning. Just... ouch.
That’s where Yacabonis came in. He did the job the Orioles needed him to do, chewing up the middle innings of the game to save the rest of the bullpen. Yacabonis saddled up and powered through 3.1 innings, at least getting the team into the sixth inning. He held the Brewers to three hits and just one run. The run wasn’t even his fault.
The thing about the Orioles this season that’s impressive in an awful way is the way that they make sure that when they fail, they fail in big, almost unbelievable ways. Which is how you end up with a play where the pitcher attempts a sacrifice bunt with a runner on first base and the runner ends up scoring on the play. Wait, what?
No, it’s not a joke. Brewers shortstop Oswaldo Arcia reached base with a single. The pitcher, Suter, was due up next, and he just squared for a bunt to get Arcia into scoring position. Suter bunted one of those perfectly placed rollers that got past the pitcher’s mound and had to be fielded by the shortstop. The Brewers pitcher beat the throw to first.
That’s not what is horrible. What’s horrible and also amazing is that Arcia aggressively rounded second on the play and headed for third base, where Machado, having expected the bunt, had vacated in order to play shallow.
O’s first baseman Trey Mancini fired over to third base to try to catch Arcia. There was some confusion as both Machado and Welington Castillo were in the vicinity and neither one was really on the base. Arcia’s slide carried him way over the third base bag, but Machado, who had the ball, wasn’t able to get right to Arcia to tag him out since both the third base umpire and the third base coach were in the way.
So Arcia just ran for home. He was in a rundown. Machado tossed the ball to Yacabonis, who was covering the plate, allowing Castillo time to get back to his home position. Yacabonis tossed back to Machado and Arcia reversed course and headed to the plate... where both Castillo and shortstop Ruben Tejada were standing almost right on top of one another. Tejada took the throw and was blocked from even attempting to tag Arcia by Castillo’s body.
This run did not have any material impact on the outcome of the game. All it really did was illustrate yet another time that when the Orioles fail, they really, really fail. On Monday, that’s exactly what they did.
The Orioles will try to declare independence from losing baseball with a 4:10 rematch against the Brewers on the Fourth of July. Ubaldo Jimenez pitches against Jimmy Nelson.