When a team is struggling offensively like Orioles, they can’t afford to give runs away. While the Orioles bats predictively stayed silent, the glove let the Birds down. Both Marlins runs were a product of Orioles players failing to make plays in the field. While they were not technically errors, they were both plays that the average baseball player should make.
The Marlins struck first in the fifth inning. Miguel Rojas led off with a double to left field, and eventually advanced to third on a pass ball. Kevin Gausman made two impressive plays on comebackers to hold Rojas at third, but the quality defense stopped there.
Brian Anderson hit a ground ball to third base that snuck by Danny Valencia and rolled into left field. MASN’s Jim Palmer was quick to point out that Manny Machado would have made the play. Realistically, it shouldn’t take a Platinum Glove award winner to stop that ground ball from making it out of the infield.
Miami added a second run with some two-out lightening in the top of the sixth. JT Riddle knocked a ball up the middle for a base hit, and Lewis Brinson chased him home with his second triple of the ball game.
While Brinson was credited with a triple, he easily could have been limited to two bags. Adam Jones failed to cut the ball off, and it rolled all the way to the wall. The play allowed Brinson to make it to third, and Riddle to score with ease. Riddle likely would have been held at third if Jones had gotten to the baseball.
With better defense, Gausman may not have allowed a run tonight. Still, the starter made his fair share of mistakes. He walked the first two hitters that he faced, but managed to work his way out of trouble in the first. After a fielder’s choice, Gausman struck out Justin Bour and Starlin Castro to end the threat.
The righty tempted fate again in the second inning. Brinson tripled over the head of Jones in center field, and Rojas worked a walk. But Gausman got J.B. Shuck to strikeout looking, and Derek Dietrich flied out to escape once again.
Gausman had three walks and four strikeouts after only two innings. The scoreboard still said zero, but he threw 49 pitches to record six outs. The high pitch count would eventually come into play, even after he set down eight straight batters.
After Brinson’s triple in the sixth, Gausman plunked Rojas with his 107th pitch of the game. The ball ricocheted off of Rojas’s hand and hit him in the face. With runners on the corners, Buck Showalter decided he had seen enough. Tanner Scott came in and got Shuck to ground out and end the threat.
Marlins starter Jose Urena demonstrated terrific control throughout the game, but he missed the zone by a mile with one pitch in the sixth inning. With two outs and nobody on, Urena drilled Chance Sisco in the backside with a 2-2 fastball. The HBP coming an inning after Rojas wore a pitch may or may not have been a coincidence, but Sisco jogged to first without a strong reaction.
The Orioles best scoring chance came in the bottom of the seventh. Adam Jones made a savvy veteran play with a leadoff bunt single to get things started. Manny Machado laced a single to left to put the tying run on base with no outs. But Valencia grounded into a double play, and Trey Mancini struck out to end the inning. Just like that, Baltimore’s closest thing to a rally had come and gone.
The highlights of the game came from players that have not spent a lot of time on the field for Baltimore. Corban Joseph recorded his first hit as an Oriole, and only the second Major League hit of his career, with a single to right field in the fourth. Zach Britton looked impressive with a one-two-three inning in the eighth. The Orioles closer threw nine of his 13 pitches for strikes, and struck out two Miami batters.
Baltimore managed only three hits in the ball game. Urena only struck out four, but pitched extremely effective through eight innings. Urena was 1-8 entering the contest, and had received the lowest run support in the National League. A start against the Orioles proved to be the perfect remedy for a victory.
Alex Cobb will start Saturday afternoon against the Orioles old friend Wei Yin Chen. Chen’s 6.13 ERA would look a lot less desirable if it was not compared to Cobb’s 7.23. Still, the Orioles should have a fighting chance to pick up their elusive 20th win of the season.