Some observations from the Orioles' 9-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox last night
1. Manager Buck Showalter made it clear following Tuesday's win in the series opener over Boston that he stretched relievers Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara a little to make sure that they secured the victory. He even brought up the fact that Jon Lester was pitching for the Red Sox the following night. The implication was clearly that the Orioles had to cement a victory because you obviously can't count on beating Lester. That loomed large last night. Wanting to stay away from Johnson, Uehara and Michael Gonzalez, Showalter tried to get some big outs from Mark Hendrickson and Alfredo Simon and they couldn't hold a two-run lead.
2. One of the things that Jake Arrieta should focus on heading into next season is improving his tempo. He kind of put a choke hold on last night's game with how slow he was working. It's something that has been discussed with him. Working that slow puts his defense on its heels and it lulls the rest of the team to sleep. His pace in his last two starts have been painful.
3. This is just my opinion and not based on anything that I have heard, but I really wonder if the team could shut down Simon early this season. He's obviously had his struggles of late, giving up homers in five of his past eight outings. Simon obviously worked his butt off to come back from Tommy John surgery in less than a year and he should be applauded for that. He also pitched very well for a long stretch, helping to stabilize a decimated bullpen. His velocity also doesn't indicate that he is tired as he was popping 97 miles an hour on the stadium radar gun last night. But his location has been very bad and it's pretty obvious that he's not getting the late movement on his pitches that he was earlier in the year. It probably wouldn't be the worst thing to shut him down a little early and give somebody else an opportunity, like a Dennis Sarfate.
4. Center fielder Adam Jones wasn't available for comment after the game, but I'd be surprised if he plays in tonight's series finale. Jones was removed in the seventh inning last night because of recurring upper back soreness from getting hit by a Gavin Floyd fastball more than a week ago. While it was believed that Jones aggravated the injury by slamming into the center-field wall while making a catch, Showalter actually said that it was on a swing during his strikeout in the fifth inning. Corey Patterson is also a little banged up, so it wouldn't be shocking to see Nolan Reimold in left field tonight, perhaps with Felix Pie moving to center.
5. Showalter appears fond of taking the occasional jab at the Red Sox and Yankees, two of the heavyweights in the American League East. He brought up the Yankees a couple of weeks ago, pointing out the leeway they get with umpires to make a point on the night the normally mild-mannered Nick Markakis was ejected. Last night, he mentioned the amount of questioning of home plate umpire Tom Hallion's calls that the Red Sox were doing. Asked about Arrieta's tempo, Showalter said, "His tempo is something we’ve got to get better with, too. Of course, Boston dictates that a lot, as much as they step out of the box and they talk to the umpire a lot about calls.”