Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The Orioles lost to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night in what may have been one of the more sickening losses I've ever seen from an Orioles team. The O's fell to 1-7, and 0-5 on their opening home stand. Yes, those numbers are correct.
I'm going to rattle off a few positives here:
Brian Matusz is absolutely the real deal. He pitched seven and a third innings of two hit ball and was completely dominant.
Felix Pie had three hits tonight and seems to be a much more confidant hitter than at any point last season.
Mike Gonzalez didn't have to come in and get booed after his wife delivered his first child yesterday (No, really she did).
Oh, and Ty Wigginton Homered twice
I don't know if it's karma, supernatural, or just a freaking curse. The team gets no breaks, can't create their own breaks, and when given an opportunity will not give themselves a break. More players in scoring position, and no runs scored.
If Adam Jones swings at another first pitch curveball in the dirt with men on base, I'm going to throw something through the television set. The guy is a tremendous talent and incredibly athletic, and you'd think he'd figure out how guys know how to bait him into swinging at garbage. Come on, Adam. You can't be serious. You don't have to swing at everything; That's why you get THREE STRIKES.
The base running is absolutely atrocious. What the heck was Felix Pie doing going to second on a single with the two, three, and four hitters coming up with a 3-0 lead? That out changed the entire momentum of the game. It's quite simply unacceptable and is losing team baseball. You just can't have stupid mistakes like that.
If we continue to let first pitch strikes down the middle go for strikes, I'm going to throw my dog through the wall. Yes, I'm talking about you, Nolan. I'm talking about you, Matt. Don't hide, Nick. There's being patient, and then there's being ridiculous. Being patient means you aren't swinging at garbage right away like Jones does. You three guys have three times the eye Jones has, and you don't even get garbage on the first pitch. Pitchers basically are aware that you don't swing at first pitches down the middle. Right away, you're down 0-1. Swing the bat. I'm begging you. You three are such terrific hitters in this league, and you are making it hard on yourself to hit. If you don't believe me, I urge you to watch the games back.
The defense. You are not off the hook. Wigginton let a ball go through the infield with one out in the eighth that my older sister would have knocked down. The ball was quite literally eight feet to the right of where you were. Ty, I know you aren't Brian Roberts, but I also know you are a professional infielder. It went from two out and nobody on, to Matusz tiring and having to work harder. We know what happened next.
The bullpen deserves special notice for sucking the life out of the city of Baltimore tonight, too. Thanks for holding the lead down and giving Matusz a win. If you're lucky, maybe he won't let you guys be so comfortable out there by cruising in the game and giving up two hits. It must be rough playing poker while sitting in the bullpen.
I won't forget you, Dave. You're a nice guy. In many ways I feel bad for you that this is your one shot to manage a big league team. The card you were dealt for two years was not a pleasant one. However, you manage baseball games worse than my 5th grade fall team coach. This team is not one with a bopper. You need to press the issue and create runs. A squeeze? A steal? You need to learn how to manufacture runs, especially with guys on who can run, and guys at the plate who aren't going to bop. I don't want to hear about moneyball. The whole use of saber-metrics and OBP is beyond ridiculous. If you want to know how a guy plays defensively, watch some games and you will get a good read. Don't look at baseball defensive statistics. That's just plain lazy of you. Moneyball is not effective unless you have two or three guys who will legitimately hit the ball out of the ballpark at any point in time. Why don't you understand that? WHY? Why do you continue to do this matchup garbage? I don't care if it's by the book and everyone does it. That's great. YOU CAN BE THE ONE WHO DOESN'T. IT HAS COST YOU SO MANY GAMES.
This was a game that the Orioles had no business losing. No other team would find a way to lose a game like this, but the Orioles found a way to give it to the other team in the late innings; just like they did five other times in the first eight games. Can you imagine what may have been had the closer closed the first win in Tampa? The seeds of doubt and "Here we go again" were planted right then and there.
If you know me and how I feel about baseball, you would know that I almost NEVER rip players. I understand how hard the game is. I understand that there are so many variables and explanations for almost everything in the game. I don't see a lack of hustle, and I don't at all believe there are guys out there for themselves. They just do not know how to win at this level, and it shows every single night. People think managing has no effect on a team or a game---THEY ARE COMPLETELY WRONG. Managing and coaching at any level in any sport is all about attitude and confidence. I had a basketball coach in high school that inspired confidence to go along with brilliant basketball tactics to mold a team of guys who weren't the best in the county into winners. I had a baseball manager who inspired confidence in us and knew how to win games. I also had coaches who were beyond clueless and lost games for my teammates and me. Don't ever think for one second that coaching has nothing to do with winning and losing. Is it everything? Absolutely not; but they set an attitude and the team will follow the leader.
I hate ripping players that I appreciate for how hard they've worked to get where they are. Unlike many people, I'm not at all jealous about what money they make. Frankly, I could care less. They deserve it because of many factors, and I am in no way hating on them. I'm just pointing out my observations.
This was a sickening loss in front of a disgustingly low home crowd on a Tuesday night in April. 13,000 people attended tonight's game. It's embarrassing that after 13 years it has gotten to this point. There is rock bottom, but I'm not sure they've hit it.
As Walter Cronkite would say, "And that's the way it is, April 13, 2010."