The Baltimore Orioles had a five-run lead in the fourth yesterday, and Kevin Gausman gave it back in one fatal swoop. But please folks, let’s not blame one player or one thing for yesterday’s loss, or for the Orioles being swept over the weekend in Kansas City. Every game’s a team effort, one way or the other. You rise and fall as a team.
Gausman had a tough day however, and was unable to make it out of the fourth inning – despite being gifted a big lead. Gausman’s line: 3.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K. Kansas City also used several epic-type at-bats which drove Gausman’s pitch count up. As the Orioles found out in the 2014 ALCS, Kansas City’s a pesky team that in essence forces you to play their game.
In order to give back a five-run lead, you have to have one in the first place. And the Orioles built that five-run lead off of a Chris Davis solo homer in the second. The Birds also got a two-RBI double from Flaherty in the fourth, followed by a two-run homer by Joseph (who quietly had a great series in Kansas City). Things seemed to be falling right into place…
…but part of Kansas City’s game is that they’re fearless. And whereas the Orioles look for the big inning, they’re fine with keeping things small. Because in their minds, sometimes small things can turn into big things. And they did, in this case.
They got an RBI-single from Butera and Escobar in the last of the fourth. Incidentally, the inning began with a walk. Again, power-hitting teams like the Orioles see that as one mere base runner, Kansas City sees it as a potential run. Later in the inning Moustakas came up with two runners on, and with one swing of the bat the game was tied after his three-run homer.
One inning later, Kansas City took the lead and wasn’t about to give it back. And it happened in the most shocking of ways: a Machado error. Machado had a potential play at third on Escobar’s sac bunt, however inexplicably he threw the ball to second base. The problem was that nobody was covering second; so it went as an error which gave Kansas City a 6-5 lead. That lead almost immediately went up to 7-5 on Moustakas’ RBI-ground out, and an inning later they opened it up to 8-5 on a Soler home run.
But the Orioles weren’t going down without a fight, even still. Davis’ RBI-single in the seventh drew the Birds to within 8-6, and Rickard would ground into a force out which scored a run and brought them to within 8-7. So the O’s never saw themselves as out of it, although Kansas City’s Butera would smack a solo shot in the last of the seventh. The O’s brought the go-ahead run onto the base paths in the ninth, and Joseph’s RBI-double brought them to within 9-8. However the rest of the runners died on base, and the Birds fell once again.
This was a strange game, and a strange series. Really funny things happen when the Orioles go to Kansas City. The Kansas City players seemingly become superhuman, and make amazing catches in the field no matter how hard the Orioles hit the ball. Then they find themselves getting on base via bloopers and softly-hit singles.
In one instance, the Kansas City pitcher sprinted off the mound and managed to catch a foul pop near the third base dugout to end a threat. How often does that happen? There’s something about the Orioles that brings that type of effort out in Kansas City, but it’s unclear why that is.
The Oriole bullpen took a bit of a beating this past weekend, however today is also the first day off that the team will have had since April 27th (not counting the rainout in Washington). So it’s fair to say that there are some tired arms out there. This day off (in Detroit) will do the bullpen, and the entire team a lot of good.
The main story of the game is probably Gausman losing the lead. However keep in mind that this was a one-run game. If not for the Machado error, this game is tied (all things being equal). While one might argue that error cost the O’s the game, you can accept that from someone like Machado; he’s going to win you more games than he’ll lose.
Again, the off day today will do a lot of people some good. Some of that is physical, but a lot more mental. Often times teams find themselves with a day off after dramatic series’ in which they’d just as soon as keep their momentum going. In this case, the hope from the Orioles’ perspective is that the day off will cleanse their collective souls.