The Baltimore Orioles were looking to be in the driver’s seat for awhile last night. Dylan Bundy seemed to be dealing, and they actually had an early lead. However one faux pas was seeingly all it took to reverse all of that momentum and had the Orioles another loss. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 4 K.
The O’s got on the board first on a two-run homer by Mark Trumbo in the second inning. You kind of saw that as a trend-setter at the time, because perhaps it would set the tone for the game. And as I said, Bundy seemed to be pitching well, and the outlook was bright for the Birds in this game. Then the third inning happened.
For starters, the O’s had the bases loaded (with two outs) in that third inning, and Trumbo ended it by grounding out. It seems that leaving the bases loaded angers the baseball God’s these days, and they quickly took their wrath out on the Orioles. As is usually the case, it started innocently enough…with a hit batsman to start the last of the third.
But after a base hit and a strikeout, Minnesota had two on and one out. That brought Grossman to the plate, and he rolled over on a pitch and sent a grounder to Trey Mancini at first. And while this doesn’t go as an error, Mancini did commit an unforced rookie mistake. He tried to throw to second base to either nail the lead runner or hopefully start a double-play which would have ended the inning.
However Buxton (who was previously on first) is a fast runner, and he was safe at second base. There just wasn’t time to relay the throw back to first to nail the runner, and the bases were suddenly loaded with one down. Now mind you, had Mancini just taken the out at first there still would have been two runners in scoring position. However there would have been two outs.
Subsequently, Minnesota took advantage of the Orioles’ mistake – because of course they did. Sano’s RBI-single cut the lead to 2-1, and a moment later Kepler’s two-RBI single gave Minnesota a 3-2 lead. Escobar then smacked a two-RBI triple, that almost became an inside-the-park home run with the strange way it bounced off the wall and rolled around in the outfield. And in that sense on that play the O’s were victims of circumstance; when you’re going poorly those are the things that happen.
Polanco would later ground into a force out which scored Escobar, running Minnesota’s lead to 6-2. It’s important to note that all things being equal, most of these runs would have scored had Mancini taken that out at first base. While that mistake seemed to spook Bundy a bit, he also needed to pitch out of that jam. And he couldn’t do it.
And the sad thing is that Minnesota managed to score only in that third inning. The Orioles dropped this game after giving up runs in only one inning of the game. However they did battle back, which is a good sign. Janish’s RBI-groundout in the fourth cut the lead to 6-3, and Kim’s sac fly-RBI in the sixth cut it to 6-4 – the eventual final. And perhaps they also had an opportunity to take the lead in the seventh, but they once again left the bases loaded.
I don’t want to beat Mancini up too badly over that one mistake, because in fact it was a rookie mistake. He had a lapse in judgement as a result of trying to make a play that would have helped his team. And I’ll be honest; when the ball was first hit I thought it would be a double-play to end the inning. So while I’m not a big league first baseman, I would have made the same mistake had I been there.
As I said, Bundy still was tasked with pitching out of that, and he couldn’t do it. However this shows you one of the areas in which the Orioles miss Chris Davis. I suspect that had he been there he probably would have made the veteran move and taken the out. But you have to play the hand you’re dealt; and the O’s are doing their best to do just that.