The Orioles are a bad baseball team. For much of the season it has been quite clear that there are none worse than them. Apparently, all the O’s needed to do was step right up and meet the Mets. They closed out a modest two-game sweep in Queens on Wednesday afternoon with a 1-0 victory. This is the first O’s sweep of the season.
Alas, the Orioles do not get to inhabit the NL East. They will see these Mets only four times all year. And it may be that they just got to play the Mets at the right time. The younger brother New York squad is in the middle of a stretch of offense even more woeful than the O’s, now having scored two runs in their past four games combined.
Even the Birds might be embarrassed by that. Though they won these past two games, they have not exactly broken out of the “can’t score more than three runs” disease that has plagued them in all but two games since May 16. One of those oft-spoken baseball sayings whose truth is irrelevant is that good pitching beats good hitting. It seems from this series we also know that bad pitching beats bad hitting.
The teams combined for ten hits, only two of which went for extra bases - and the Orioles had neither of the two doubles. There were only six at-bats all game with a runner in scoring position. As it ended up, the one time a team got a hit with RISP, a run didn’t even score, with O’s third base coach Bobby Dickerson throwing up a rare stop sign. It took a sacrifice fly to plate the lone run of the contest. Yes, even the Orioles can do that, sometimes.
It took until the eighth inning for this breakthrough. Before that, the game was a reminder of baseball’s capacity to be extremely boring. Most of the time it is interesting. Often even in failure there is something compelling going on for one team or another. A masterful pitching performance, perhaps, or some particularly putrid displays of defense. The O’s have excelled at losing in such ways this season. Yet here was a ho-hum win.
The Mets are such a mess that it’s hard to say whether Dylan Bundy was good or whether the Mets are just bad. You have to like Bundy’s pitching line regardless, with three hits and three walks scattered over seven innings while collecting five strikeouts. This lowers his season ERA to 4.04, so with another good outing next time he can get back into the 3s.
Until the seventh inning, Bundy was never even really in trouble at all. A fourth inning leadoff double amounted to nothing. It was only when catcher Kevin Plawecki doubled with two outs in the seventh that things got a little hairy. The O’s chose to issue an intentional pass to Adrian Gonzalez in order to bring up the pitcher’s spot, effectively forcing the use of a pinch hitter.
This was a plus for the Orioles. They were not good against Mets starter Zack Wheeler, similar to how they have not been good against most starting pitchers this season, even the bad ones. Wheeler had been a bad one thus far, entering the game with an ERA over 5. Naturally, he too held the Orioles to just three hits over seven innings, with five strikeouts against one walk, though he also hit two batters.
Back to the seventh: The pinch hitter was a familiar face for O’s fans, the joyless Jose Bautista. Bundy got an 0-2 count quickly on Bautista, then threw four straight out of the zone, with the last two just barely missing the zone. A masterful outing was in danger with the bases loaded. Not to worry. Bundy struck out Amed Rosario to put a stop to that situation.
With Wheeler finally out of the game, the Orioles finally scored in the top of the eighth. O’s pinch hitter Pedro Alvarez beat out an infield single (really). Pinch runner Craig Gentry relieved Alvarez of the burden of running any more. He stole second base with one out and advanced to third when Adam Jones picked up his second single of the day. This was when Dickerson surprised everyone by throwing up a stop sign. Of course he should have done this: Manny Machado was on deck.
Machado responded by hitting a fly ball almost to the warning track in center field, a sacrifice fly that allowed Gentry to trot home easily with the O’s first, and the game’s only, run. Not that pitcher wins mean anything, but this run put Bundy in position to pick up the win, since he had not yet officially been relieved on the mound.
Runs batted in do not tell us much about player quality, either. It still stands out that Machado has 49 of them - second in the majors - on the team that has scored the fewest runs in the whole American League. Machado has driven in 22.5% of all runs scored by the Orioles. It’s almost absurd how much better he is than the rest of these jabronis.
The bottom of the eighth saw the Mets leadoff hitter, Brandon Nimmo, pick up a single against Richard Bleier. The Mets followed with the tactically-questionable command of having #2 hitter Asdrubal Cabrera, then slugging .500, bunt to try to advance Nimmo. Cabrera popped up the bunt enough for Bleier to make a nifty catch on the fly, doubling off Nimmo easily. Thank you very much for the free double play.
Brad Brach also gave up a leadoff single in the ninth inning before collecting three straight outs. Jay Bruce gave a scare by pulling a ball into the outfield seats but about ten feet to the wrong side of the foul pole. This would have been a game-ending two-run home run if it had been fair. It amounted to nothing. Brach closed out his tenth save of the season and the Orioles were in the win column.
Chris Davis got a hit. That happens so irregularly to be worth a mention. He reached base twice this series, also walking last night. Davis also struck out twice, which is far less noteworthy. He will pass Cal Ripken for the Orioles franchise strikeout lead with 26 more strikeouts and needs just 14 more to tie Mark McGwire for 44th place on baseball’s career list.
It all adds up to a .155/.236/.237 batting line for Davis, with his last extra base hit coming on May 18.
The Orioles are now on pace to win 51 games.
Who was the Most Birdland Player on June 6, 2018?
This poll is closed
Adam Jones (only Oriole with a multi-hit game)
Manny Machado (game-winning RBI)
Dylan Bundy (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K)