After surrendering two decisive unearned runs in Sunday’s loss to the Red Sox thanks in part to having a designated hitter playing third base, the Orioles have arrived in Detroit on Tuesday ready to deploy a lineup that follows a piece of radical new baseball thinking: Having an infield that consists entirely of infielders.
Switch-hitting infielder Luis Sardiñas has had his contract selected from Norfolk to join the team for the Detroit series, and he’s getting thrown right into the starting lineup at second base. Sardiñas is just 24 and is already with his fifth organization. In his professional career, he’s played mostly shortstop, and has also played enough second base to be worth noting. There was room on the 25-man roster when the O’s optioned righty David Hess back to Norfolk without having pitched in a game.
With regular Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop on the disabled list, he might as well be as good of a player as any to stick there. Is Sardiñas any good on defense? This might be the more important question. Although he’s played in 174 MLB games to date, only 268.2 innings have come at second base and he last logged more than 100 innings there in 2014. So even the total Defensive Runs Saved of -1 doesn’t say much.
Presumably, Sardiñas has interesting enough defensive ability that teams are willing to keep using him even though in his career he has batted .229/.278/.293. On the other hand, they must not like him that much since this will be his fifth big league club since he debuted in 2014. With hitting like that, he will fit right in with the Orioles offense and might just field better.
Sardiñas played most of last season for Triple-A Norfolk, where he rode a .352 BABIP to a .319/.348/.419 batting line over 83 games. It is a bit of a mystery why he wasn’t the first player called up when Schoop got hurt.
A separate radical strategy being employed by the Orioles on Tuesday night is the strategy where you take a struggling, possibly toast starting pitcher out of the rotation. Chris Tillman is in the bullpen, where he probably won’t be of much use except as emergency long relief insurance. If he is needed tonight or tomorrow night, that probably bodes poorly for the O’s chances of winning either game.
UPDATE: Buck Showalter told reporters before the Tuesday game that Tillman is starting again on Saturday. It seems that hopes of having someone else in the rotation will be put off until at least after that.
The rest of the Tuesday night lineup behind Andrew Cashner:
- Trey Mancini - LF
- Craig Gentry - RF
- Manny Machado - SS
- Adam Jones - CF
- Danny Valencia - DH
- Chris Davis - 1B
- Tim Beckham - 3B
- Luis Sardiñas - 2B
- Caleb Joseph - C
There are no good Orioles batting orders as long as more than half of their hitters are struggling mightily. Here’s hoping they do not continue their struggle against lefty Francisco Liriano tonight. At least this lineup has four infielders in the infield. Some day, maybe there will again be a lineup with three outfielders in the outfield.