With a 7-5 loss to the Angels tonight the Orioles fall to three games below .500 and just one game ahead of the Rays for last place in the AL East. On their current nine game home stand the birds are 3-5 with one game left against the Angels before heading up to Toronto for a three game series. Once again the pitching let them down; the offense would pull ahead and the pitchers would give up the lead the very next inning.
Watching Adam Eaton pitch is a lot like eating at Taco Bell; once in a while it is good but usually it sucks and makes you sick afterwards. After posting the best game of any Orioles starting pitcher Thursday against the White Sox; Eaton (L 1-3) was back to his usual ineffective ways on the mound tonight. His slider was hanging in the zone and his velocity was down in the high eighties. Eaton was doing a decent job of staying in the zone but it seemed like from the fourth inning on every pitch he threw was being driven hard. Even most of the outs he got after the third were caught on the warning track.
In the fourth inning with a two run lead Howie Kendrick jacked a two run shot into the left field seats on one of the countless hanging sliders Eaton was tossing. After being pulled after six innings Eaton had allowed five earned on six hits and walked four in his third unsuccessful outing in four starts this season.
Jamie Walker came in to pitch in a highly controversial seventh. Adam Jones made a spectacular throw to the cutoff man Cesar Izturis to gun down Chone Figgins as he attempted to leg out a triple for the first out of the inning. After a single by Cesar’s brother Macier Izturis umpire Angel Hernandez made one of the worst calls in recent memory when he called Walker for a balk on a successful pickoff attempt. Walker’s back foot never moved much less went behind the rubber and his only movement was to first. Dave Trembley came out of the dugout and exploded on Hernandez; Trembley resembled a gorilla as he pounded on his chest and scream in the face of the umpire who eventually tossed the Orioles manager. Once the situation had calmed down Walker struck out Bobby Abreu which should have ended the inning and kept the Orioles within a run. Instead the Angels took advantage of the extra out and after a Torii Hunter walk and Kendry Morales double off Chris Ray left the Orioles found them selves in a three run hole.
Brian Bass pitched two scoreless innings, his fifth straight appearance without allowing a run to cross the plate. Bass’ was impressive with his fastball sitting in the 92-93 range with good downward movement. His curveball also looked exceptional sitting in the
79-81 range with a huge, sweeping break.
Melvin Mora was schedule to fly to Norfolk this afternoon but after sitting in traffic he missed his flight. After missing his flight Mora called Trembley and said he felt good running the bases yesterday and rather then wait for another flight to Norfolk Mora was hitting fifth for the Orioles tonight.
In his first game in fourteen days Mora didn’t show any sign of rust going 3-5 with two RBI’s. Mora also contributed a beautiful back handed stop and throw to end the second inning; a play Ty Wigginton wouldn’t have had a shot at making.
Nick Markakis kept his 15 games hitting streak alive with a single to left in the first inning. Nick now has the longest active streak of consecutive games reaching base with 30; a streak that goes back to 2008. Jim Palmer made a great comparison during the telecast comparing Nick and his hitting prowess to Hall of Famer George Brett.
After watching the game I felt even more comfortable in my comparison of Adam Jones and Torii Hunter. If you just watch the way they move in the outfield you can see how uncannily similar they are.
As for the Angels Joe Saunders (W 3-1) wasn’t overly dominant allowing ten hits and two earned runs but he ended up with the win. After watching Saunders throw six innings tonight the one thing I picked up on was the fact he has a devastating changeup. Saunders made Brian Roberts look foolish twice with his changeup which looks identical to his fastball coming off his hand and has a lot of late breaking movement.
Angel’s outfielder Bobby Abreu is the most patient hitter I have ever seen. In his three at bats against Eaton he forced the Orioles starter to throw a total of nineteen pitches. Abreu single handedly made Eaton throw 17% of his 109 total pitchers. Overall in his five at bats Abreu saw twenty-six pitches, a little over five pitches per at bat.
In the end I guess this is what we should expect all season from the Orioles; ineffective starting pitching that relinquishes any lead the offense gets for them. Eaton is simply a seat-filler in the rotation right now but with another outing or two like the one he had tonight we may be seeing the next young arm in Baltimore to take his spot.
With Koji on the mound tomorrow afternoon hopefully the Orioles can get a split of this two game mini-series and gain some confidence before leaving on for five game AL East road trip.