Baltimore Orioles desperately trying to stay above water in the playoff race

With their 5-1 loss in Toronto, the Baltimore Orioles are now only ahead of Detroit by one game in the wild card race. The Toronto series continues tnight.

The Baltimore Orioles’ frustrations boiled over in the seventh inning last night when Chris Davis was ejected for aguing balls and strikes. While the pitches he took were borderline all night, according to pitch track technology they were in the strike zone. Manager Buck Showalter wasn’t far behind, as he was tossed a few moments later.

Those ejections were partly due to frustration over losing ground in the wild card race, as the O’s dropped two behind Toronto for the top wild card spot. They also saw their lead over Detroit reduced to just one game. Now with that said, some of Davis’ frustration could have also been due in part to the fact that many of the pitches that were called strikes on him were nibbling on the corners. Were Oriole pitchers afforded those same locations

Kevin Gausman turned in a so-so type of start, although he gave up all of the Orioles’ runs. Gausman’s line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 6 K. Toronto took an early 2-0 lead on Josh Donaldson’s two-run homer in the first. That of course followed a walk, which as we know is a big no-no. However the Orioles cut that lead in half in the third with an RBI-single by Mark Trumbo.

The Birds appeared poised to do something, but Toronto pounced on them again. Carrera smacked a solo homer in the last of the third, and then an RBI-single in the fifth. And ironically, Toronto’s decision to send Kevin Pillar from first base was probably a poor one. I suspect that Pillar would have been dead in the water at home plate – but the throw was up the line. Edwin Encarnacion would also score on a Machado throwing error later in the inning to cap off Toronto’s 5-1 lead.

The Orioles are a fairly conventional team in terms of how they do things. While sometimes they do gamble and send runners on closer plays, I can’t see them taking what I would deem a stupid risk and sending a runner on a routine base hit from first base. So in my view Toronto took an unnecessary risk – and not only did they get away with it, but they benefited.

And perhaps that’s kind of reverse psychology in a way. It’s well known that the Orioles do things fairly conventionally. So the Orioles would never expect a team to send a runner in that instance – because it just doesn’t make sense. So Toronto banked on the fact that the O’s wouldn’t be expecting it, and sure enough the relay throw was way up the line.

Am I saying that the O’s should be less conventional? Not in the least. But this is actually a phenomenon I’ve seen in all walks of life. You’re so stunned that your opponent does something so against the grain, that it catches you off guard and it actually works out for him. You just have to be ready for anything I suppose.

The series will continue this evening in the great white north. Chris Tillman will try to rebound from his previous start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Francisco Liriano. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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