The bad news is that the Orioles turned in another laughably pathetic offensive performance in the game, striking out more than ten times for the ninth time in the 11 games they have played this season and for the seventh game in a row. That included nine strikeouts in six innings against Jays starter J.A. Happ, who, in fairness, is a good pitcher.
The Orioles are, so far this season, in one of those modes where they seem incapable of scoring runs without hitting home runs. On the radio broadcast, Jim Hunter noted that 21 of the 38 runs that the Orioles have scored so far this season, including the Manny Machado solo home run that was the lone run the Orioles scored tonight, have come via the home run.
Some good news is that the home run was Machado’s third of the season. Machado himself is the lone well-rounded Oriole at the plate so far this season, with a batting line after this multi-hit game of .326/.415/.565. Too bad for the Orioles that the home run came to lead off an inning, because Trey Mancini, who batted ahead of Machado, went 3-4 and drew a walk in the game.
Further bad news is that the hitters behind Mancini and Machado combined to go 3-26 in the game. This included a regrettable 0-12 in opportunities with runners in scoring position, with Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones each taking an 0-3 in those situations. It also included an 0-4 batting line by Chris Davis, who pulled off the impressive feat of making five outs while coming up to the plate just four times.
Davis struck out twice, grounded into an inning-ending double play once, and later, in an apparent fit of desperation so severe that he attempted to bunt during a plate appearance even after there were two strikes, bunted the ball right back to the pitcher. He now sports an .088 batting average on the season. He does not look like he deserves anything better. As long as he looks like this, batting him as high as fifth in the lineup seems tough to justify.
After the double play, Davis slammed his helmet into the ground in frustration. Following one of the strikeouts, he broke his bat over his leg. On television, on the radio, and from beat writers on Twitter, this was remarked upon in this way, as if they all read from the same script: “It’s good to see Davis showing some frustration.”
Knowing a thing is wrong and being able to do anything about it are two different things. I don’t doubt that Davis really is frustrated. Belief that he will be able to fix it in time to stop being a hindrance to the early portion of the 2018 Orioles season is in shorter supply.
Still more bad news is that Mychal Givens remains erratic to begin the 2018 campaign. He was summoned into what was, if you can believe it, a 2-1 game after seven innings, and proceeded to load the bases before he ever retired a batter. In the eighth inning, Givens escaped this jam by getting a shallow fly ball that turned into a double play when the Jays challenged the arm of Mancini, followed by a harmless fly ball for the third out.
Unfortunately, in the ninth inning, Givens was still pitching and he loaded the bases with one out thanks to a walk, a single, and a hit by pitch. Manager Buck Showalter pulled Givens for lefty Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes with two outs, with Cortes having the assignment of retiring Jays lefty batter Curtis Granderson.
Givens faced ten batters and retired only five. That’s still better than Cortes, who walked Granderson on five pitches to force in a run, and then, just to close the barn door after the horse had already bolted, gave up a grand slam to the AL East’s second-worst haircut, Josh Donaldson. This salami set the score where it stayed until the end: 7-1 in favor of Toronto.
Cortes has pulled off the impressive feat of giving up two grand slams in the span of the first 23 batters he has faced at the major league level. Jim Palmer, he is not. One might take this performance as a sign that perhaps Cortes ought not to continue to be on an MLB roster, perhaps never should have been on one in the first place, and at the very least that he should not keep being brought in to bases loaded situations in games the Orioles are only narrowly losing.
There really was some good news, and the good news is this: Dylan Bundy is good. Don’t be fooled by his taking the loss according to outdated modes of judging starting pitchers. He spent the night wrecking Jays hitters, holding them to just four hits and two walks over seven innings of work, while notching ten strikeouts.
This outing came without the benefit of extra rest. If Bundy can still be doing this in June, the Orioles might be OK.
Unfortunately for Bundy, one of those four hits was the only mistake he made all night. In the top of the third inning, Bundy tried, and failed, for three consecutive pitches to locate the outside corner against former Oriole Steve Pearce.
With this 3-0 count, Pearce got the green light. Bundy challenged him with a fastball that was probably not supposed to be elevated and right in the middle of the plate. Pearce crushed this pitch 437 feet. The two-out home run came after Granderson had led off the inning with a walk, scoring the only two runs the Jays would need all night.
Through three games, Bundy has a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings and a 0-1 record. Remember always that pitcher wins and losses are dumb.
Bundy saved a bullpen so battered that the Orioles felt the need to call up pitching prospect Hunter Harvey just to sit out there tonight, just in case. After the long weekend in New York, that’s worth something, even in a sad and annoying loss for the team where only 7,915 poor sods paid money to see it and even fewer bothered to show up to the stadium.
Even the most annoying and/or depressing losses count as only one loss. That is also a piece of good news. The Orioles blew their share of chances tonight and wasted a Bundy gem, but they get to try again tomorrow with the slate wiped clean.
Andrew Cashner and Aaron Sanchez are the scheduled starting pitchers as the series resumes at 7:05 on Tuesday night. Short of getting no-hit, the Orioles offense can’t be much worse.