With the Orioles losing their third straight game in a 6-1 final at Houston, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. The starting pitching has allowed 14 earned runs in 13 innings since Dylan Bundy’s season-opening gem, but Baltimore could have pitched quite well over the last three games and still lost them all with the lineup remaining scoreless in 27 innings against opposing starters in 2018. Absurd.
2. Chris Tillman must start showing meaningful signs that he’s moving closer to being more like the pitcher he was prior to last season. He followed a poor statistical spring with a season debut that looked like his 2017 body of work. A $3 million leash shouldn’t be very long.
3. His average fastball velocity was 89.7 miles per hour after averaging 90.7 last season. In the process of throwing 84 pitches, Tillman recorded two swinging strikes and not a single strikeout. Again, not good.
4. Pitchers can succeed with underwhelming stuff if they’re able to hit their spots on the edges of the strike zone. Tillman just wasn’t hitting Caleb Joseph’s target nearly enough to expect any prolonged periods of success.
5. Charlie Morton’s transformation over the last couple years has been nothing short of remarkable. The 34-year-old’s fastball velocity has spiked substantially from his Pittsburgh days to go along with a nasty curve that was on full display for the Astros last October.
6. Trey Mancini’s home run prevented the Orioles from being blanked for the second straight game. At least they’re swinging it fairly well in the ninth inning when there’s been next to no hope for a comeback?
7. Derek Fisher’s triple to center in the fourth was a good example supporting those opinions of Adam Jones needing to move to a corner spot sooner than later. He had to run a long way, but that’s one Jones runs down a few years ago.
8. Jonathan Schoop collected his second hit of the season to raise his average to .118. In case you needed a reminder of how meaningless spring numbers can be, Schoop posted a 1.081 on-base plus slugging percentage in the Grapefruit League. Of course, he’s not alone.
9. You can nitpick the location choice on an 0-2 count, but Jose Altuve flicking a 98 mph fastball from Miguel Castro that was seven inches off the outside corner for a run-scoring double was impressive. The Astros second baseman and 2017 AL MVP is fun to watch.
10. We’re clearly looking at very small sample sizes, but only one Orioles regular is currently above the Mendoza line. Six are hitting .118 or worse. Goodness.
11. Dan Duquette may need to start working the phones to trade international signing bonus slots for some runs if this continues much longer.
12. On a brighter and much more significant note, Orioles Hall of Famer and former Astros first base coach Rich Dauer throwing out the first pitch was quite a moment. His presence at Minute Maid Park after what he went through these last several months borders on the miraculous.