Where are the Fundamentals
All preseason long all we have heard from Trembley was how this year’s Orioles team was going back to the basics. They are going to be playing fundamental ball and that is how the team will become a contender once again in the American League.
While the Orioles have started an impressive 4-2, especially when you consider those first six games came against the Yankees then the Rays, the fundaments for this team have been missing. To many times I have seen this team make boneheaded decisions on the bases which leads me to question the fundamentals that this team is suppose to be predicated on.
The season is still young but in every game this year there has been some sort of poor base running decision that has cost the Orioles base runners or advancement on the bases. Greg Zaun has been the culprit for many of those type of mistakes. In only four games he has been able to get on base 5 times, 3 hits and 2 walks. One of the times he some how managed to get doubled off of second on a line out to right field. As Zobrist made a diving catch in right center Zaun was caught hanging off the base and was consequently doubled off. One might say he was trying to get a jump thinking the ball would fall in but look at the situation. There was nobody out and if that ball got by Zobrist it goes to the wall and Zaun scores. If Zobrist does not come up with the ball but knocks it down then the Orioles have first and third with no outs. That is fundamental baseball. Know when to take chances and when not to. On the opposite side of the spectrum two games earlier Zaun hit a ground rule double which sent Pie to third with no outs. Izturis hit a grounder up the middle and the second baseman makes the playing throwing him out at first. Pie scores but for some reason Zaun is still sitting on second. Why? Some will say he got a bad read on the ball. But if he were following the fundamentals of base running that would not have mattered. The ball was hit up the middle and Pie broke for the plate. That should have been the only thing that Zaun was paying attention too. If the pitcher catches the ball he throws Pie out at the plate and Zaun would have advanced to third. If the pitcher misses the ball, as was the case, then Zaun is on third with one out. The point being here is that all Zaun needed to do fundamentally was keep an eye on the runner in front. If he runs Zaun runs. It is that simple.
I am not just picking on Zaun here. It seems like every game we have had some one thrown out on the bases and we have also witnessed several other players fail to make the fundamental decisions on the bases. Just yesterday Adam Jones failed to tag up on a ball hit to deep left center with nobody out. He stayed at second and as a result never scored in the inning. Roberts, who usually is a very effective base runner, has also victimized this team with poor decisions on the base paths. In the opener he took off for second while the pitcher still had the ball and thus he got picked off. The next day after drawing a four pitch walk and watching a wild Wang fall behind 2-1 on Jones he attempted to steal second. The throw from the catcher was short of second and he would have made it easily. But he did not. For some reason he stopped half way and got thrown out when the ball was relayed to first before he could get back. I guess it was a botched hit and run but with a player with the speed, and base running skills of Roberts, this should not happen. If he is going to run he needs to commit to stealing the base and the Orioles will be forced to live with the results should he get doubled off.
The Orioles have come out of the gate quickly this year but if they hope to keep their success going it will be because they play the game fundamentally well. So far they have been able to overcome some fundamental mistakes but over the course of the year this team is not talented enough to be able to consistently do this. The Orioles need to start concentrating, especially on the bases, to make sure they are not costing themselves opportunities to add runs to the scoreboard.