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June 23, 2009

Orioles: Losing well

It's always tough to lose when you play that far into extra innings -- especially on the road -- but I don't think this one is going to linger. The game was essentially lost before the Orioles battled back in the eighth and ninth, and it was all but over when closer Matt Linstrom got the first two outs of the ninth with a three run lead.

The positives: Koji Uehara pitched well. Chris Ray pitched very well upon his return from Norfolk. Jim Johnson was overpowering. The Orioles showed great resilience. Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie scored the tying run in the ninth as a pinch runner. Pitcher Rich Hill had a good at-bat as a pinch hitter. Ty Wigginton and Oscar Salazar each had two big hits after coming off the bench.

The negatives: Danys Baez gave up five runs in the seventh. Adam Jones struggled at the plate all night. Wigginton made a critical baserunning mistake. Brian Bass walked the leadoff hitter in the 12th.

Except for the final score Mrs. Lincoln, it was a pretty entertaining night.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 10:29 PM | | Comments (38)
Categories: Just baseball


Pete--You forgot perhaps the biggest positive--Oscar Salazar's game-tying base hit to center in the 9th with two out. Oscar is one clutch dude.

Pete's reply: You're right, but I updated that a few minutes later. Oscar was terrific again. He has been clutch several times over the past week.


Don't you think we have to find some time for Ty? I really think he needs the start tomm at 3B. Also, when is Cesar being activated?

Pete's reply: Cesar is still two or three weeks away.


I was never sure why we signed Wigginton to begin with. I never liked him. I still don't. Despite his clutch hits, he just doesn't play good ball in my mind.

I call him part of the O's (annually refreshing) Veteran Oaf Squad. This year it has included Ty, Hendrickson, Eaton, Zaun... older players who don't really bring much to the team but a stand-in. Time for them to stand down.

Maybe I'm being hard on Wigginton, but I simply don't see what he brings to this team (the experiments with him at SS and 2B will backfire soon enough). Perhaps he's insurance or the possible Huff trade to come?

Pete's reply: Well, I liked the two hits tonight. They were done in the ninth without him.

The O's definitely showed heart coming back in this one. But lack of hitting early and some bone head plays late were their undoing.

I am very perplexed about Guthrie pinch running for Wieters. Why risk injury on a pitcher like Guthrie for a slight difference in speed. Originally I though Wieters might have gotten injured, but then Zaun would have just pinched run for him in that case. Doesn't make sense to me to use a pitcher to run especially in the AL when they rarely do that.

I guess I see your point about "losing well" - but I am not sure there's such a thing...that may just be my frustration over the outcome? I'd like to see Mora on the bench - and we may all get our wish because he has been very unproductive - no way they pick up that option next year...I think they can move Huff and resign him next year...let him go play for the Mets for awhile...not being in contention I don't see why they can't get asolid prospect for heim..and he's been hitting the ball well even though the results are not there of late.

Maybe we have things backwards--maybe the pitchers should be regulars at coming off the bench.

Peter: off subjec.

What happened to Dean Jones and On Deck? Did I miss something?

Pete's reply: He's still doing it. I just saw him a few hours ago.

There were definitley some positives to come out of this game such a Koji and Ray's pitching performances, Wieters going 2 for 4, Scott showing he can do more than just hit (although Zaun has GOT to make that play), and the bottom of our lineup stepping up. I was kind of expecting a let down in this one coming off of the dramatic weekend but we played well enough to win the game- except for in the 7th inning. I have been talking lately about a chanigng culture in Birdland and it is really refreshing to see these guys believe that "it's not over until the fat lady sings." As a fan it is much easier to believe in the players when it is obvious that they believe in each other.

Hey Pete, what do ya think of that guy, Taylor Jungmann, the freshman Texas pitcher - 9 IN 5H 0ER 2W 9K?? He manhandled those Louisiana juggernauts, allowing just one extra base hit to a team where 7 of 9 starters were batting at .319 or better. In this, his freshman year, he posted a 2.21ERA, had 92Ks in 85.2 innings, a .197BBA and was tied with the team lead in wins - 10 - with half as many starts as the other guy. He was drafted in the 24th round by the Angels last year, but what was the deal this year? Was he on no one's radar or are teams not allowed to draft freshmen? The Texas team site lists him as 6-6, 195 and his accolades:

2008 Class 5A Player of the Year by TSWA
2008 Gatorade Texas Player of the Year
2008 Louisville Slugger Texas Player of the Year
2008 Baseball America High School All-America First Team
Louisville Slugger All-America last year

And he played the AFLAC All-America game in 2007. Any clue why people didn't look at him more or why he wasn't a big guy in this draft?

I was and still am a fan of the Koji signing. The O's will never get "the better" Japanese players if we've never had one. With that being said, I am finding it hard to keep making excuses for Koji. He pitched well tonight, but like Pete and other posters mentioned, he was running out of gas a few innings before his exit. Pete, do you know if the O's F.O. is disappointed in Koji's work ethic? He seems to be in good shape, but why is he getting gassed by the 4th inning? I hear that he works out in the stadium, not outside so do you think that perhaps that has something to do with it? No matter how hard you try, you can't simulate game time temperatures. If this is going to be the case, he might be better off in the pen.

I can not remember ever seeing a run of so many opposing left handed pitchers in my life. I don't have the exact stats on me but I'm willing to bet in the last 20 games we've seen something like 15-16 left handed starting pitchers. The starting line up was terrible again tonight for the most part. The thing I would look for with Wigginton (I haven't been able to watch many games lately) is if he is starting to show more patience at the plate. Early in the year when Mora was out he would continually pop up the first pitch he saw. If he is showing more patience I say he needs to be the starting third baseman. He's been a notoriously streaky hitter his entire career and it looks like he's warming up. Whereas couldn't hit a homer on a little league field right now.

Whereas Mora......sorry

Dave Trembley gets the Loss hung squarely on his shoulders tonight and I can't wait for him to be sent packing. It was obvious from the moment Baez took the mound that he was struggling to use his splitter and did no more than serve up hit after hit. There were several balls landing well in front of the plate that Weiters did a good job of blocking and in a tie game with our offense stuck in Philly somewhere there's no way that he stays in after the first two guys get on base. I know he's been on a roll lately but he got hit pretty hard in his last outing. Then after loading the bases and Andino missing the bag on a potential double play there still hadn't been at least a visit to the mound as every ball had been hit hard outside of the hit where Huff seemingly fell asleep and didn't even bother to get his uniform dirty. In the replay you could see him check how far away the bag was cause he knew that should have been caught. Anyway, this team is right on the cusp of turning things around but keep getting knocked back by piss poor management decisions. I thought he was pushing it by letting Koji go into the sixth but it worked out ok and then to just let batter after batter reach base was frustrating to watch. The team battled back but should've gotten more for their efforts. You can't help but think decisions like that take the wind out of their sails and I don't know about anyone else but I'm ready for the next losing streak to start since thats what seems to happen after games like tonight.

I knew there would be a Trembley hangman out there somewhere...brutal.

As with both Baez and Bass tonight, I just don't understand why a manager so often leaves a relief pitcher in to face batter after batter when it's clear to everyone watching he just doesn't have it on this night. I've seen the Orioles lose so many games that way. But it's not just Trembley; every manager does it. Why not have the reliever on a shorter leash?

Pete, This is one of the few losses where the positives outweigh the negatives. The ninth inning comeback just strenghthens the Orioles' sense of resilience. I don't think they'll let this loss get them down.

Question: I was just listening to the game, and the announcers didn't elaborate on this point, but had Wiggy not made the second out, would Hill's fly have been deep enough for Mora to score (please tell me no).

Birdland Todd, I totally disagree with you, Pete and others about Koji getting gased. Simply put, he wasn't.

Yes, he had a rough inning in the fifth, but battled through it to only give up a run. In the sixth, he gave up the lead off double to Ramirez (who hit's a lot of pitchers pretty well, I hear), but then gets a strikeout sandwiched between two popups. That's not gased.

Furthermore, he'd only thrown 79 pitches through six and his command was impeccable, as usual (in fact, other than the fifth, he was averaging only around 10 pitches an inning). This wasn't about Koji losing it out on the mound, but Dave Trembley losing it in the dugout. He's seen a few late inning blowups by Koji in the past, so now he's micromanaging every time the guy takes the mound. (Shesh, Dave, let the guy pitch, for crying out loud. You may have been pleasantly surprised.)

My apologies for the multiple postings. It wasn't intentional, but rather the result of me not getting the usual notice saying that my comments had been received for review. Instead, after clicking the post button, in a few moments I was being moved back up to the top of this page. So, there seems to be a glitch in the system. Not totally my fault, but again, sorry for the mixup.

Honestly, too many Ken Francis repeats...


Here's my issue: Koji was gassed in the 4th! He chugged 2 gatorades after coming out in the 6th. Baez should have not come in. Bass should have. If we were trying to win, I'd rather have the ground ball pitcher as opposed to Baez. I was incredibly pumped about the comeback, but we should have worked the bullpen appropriately. Bass, then Johnson, then Sherrill. Done and done. If I am wrong, I am sure someone will let me know.

And for the record... Koji is NOT a starter! We have obviously learned that. It's not a bad thing, he'd be a great middle reliever. But he seemed to struggle more when his hair got wetter... Kind of ridiculous.

Sorry for the venting, Pete!

Meghan, you're not wrong. The problem is that Trembley had Baez penciled in for the 7th inning of tonight's game two weeks ago. Not sure about Bass coming in though. He should probably stay in his long relief/weird National league game situational role. You could've used Ray there though, but it's understanable that he probably wants to take it easy with him for a while and keep him pitching in less pressure filled situations like a 1-1 game. It'll be interesting to see how the most predictable guy on the planet handles the bullpen moving forward now with Ray back, and I think Sarfate isn't too far away.

I don't see any positives in losing a winnable game.Especially when it all goes back to terrible baserunning and Trembley mismanaging the bulpen.Bass should have been in the game instead of leaving Baez out to dry.Adam Jones needs to sit until he figures out how to take the right approach at the plate again.Mora should be benched indefinately.

This team will never win as long as the lapdog sports media in this town go along with praisning McPhail and Trembley regardless of the outcome..Stan the Fan is the only guy calling them as he sees them.

I don't see an issue with Guts pinch running. He's in tremendous shape. Palmer used to pinch run all the time and he was a true staff ace. It's national league baseball--which we used to play in the AL before the DH. Then again, our pitchers used to pitch complete games as part of four-man rotations. Koji couldn't have even been a reliever back then with what was expected from pitchers.

It's time to get Wigginton and Salazar in the lineup on a daily basis. AM should see what he can get for Mora, Huff and Roberts and really set this team up for a great second half. Salazar, Wiggy and Andino at 2nd base when Izturis returns would be a much more productive infield, and Mora, Huff and Roberts would bring an additional influx of talent. And move Koji to the bullpen - he's only good for 5 innings, but that would be a great middle reliever. Bring up some more of the kid pitchers. This team needs to continue rebuilding, and we're wasting some really good players leaving them sitting on the bench.

The O's continue to battle all the way to the end, but I was ready to throw my radio out the window when Wiggy got thrown out at second last night.
AAArrrgghh! Will the boneheaded baserunning on this team ever improve?

This team has character to it - we didn't used to get back into games like the one we did last night, and didn't beat the K-Rod's of the world in years' past. That said, this is still a young team that makes young mistakes that cost us a chance to win last night. In the 12th - Markakis walks on 5 pitches - the guy couldn't find the plate. Adam Jones swings at the FIRST PITCH he sees and grounds into a DP. Make the guy throw a strike, Adam. It looks like Ty Wigginton's baserunning idiocy has been well covered in this blog, but he had no business going for two there, even if there was a good chance he would make it, which there wasn't. Instead of first and third with the pitcher up next, there's two outs with a runner on 3rd. Others have counted the various ways that a runner on third with less than two outs can score, but there's only one way with two outs. These gaffes didn't cost us the game, but even .500 teams don't play like that. Please tell me Wiggy got ripped by Trembley, coaches, teammmates, someone! Lessons learned, I guess.


Adam Jones is in a slump because he doesn't handle the inside pitches and that is what they are feeding him. Cal went through the same thing until late in his career he finally made the correct adjustment with his hands which allowed him to get the fat of the bat to the inside part of the plate. If he wants to know the correct way for a big man to handle the inside pitches tell him to watch old tapes of Frank Robinson or Jim Rice. Two hall of famers who let the pitchers know that the inside part of the plate belonged to them and they crowded the plate too. Jones is using his arms too much to try in handle a pitch that can't be handled that way. Cal tried it most of his career that is why he was a .260 hitter most of the time. A simple hand adjustment to get him to use his wrists more and Jones will take off again I believe.

That loss is on Wiggington and Zaun

Losing well? What is this, little league?

I'm done with moral victories and praising losses that are a direct result of stupid plays.

It's not unfortunate what Wigginton did. It's stupid, inexcusable, and happens far too often with this team.

As I layed in bed last night fuming over the loss, I kept asking myself what John Shelby was saying to Wigginton on that play. Nothing? Stay? Go to second?

I dunno what he was saying but it's incredible that this team continually pulls this BS and Trembley needs to SERIOUSLY address it. All I hear is that he "stresses" fundamentals etc.... Well you know what? How about making some serious statements by benching guys who pull this crap. Something.

Pete, Gotta know, was Hill's fly deep enough?

Meghan, Your defense for Koji being gassed was that he "chugged 2 gatorades after coming out in the 6th." Ooh, poor baby, send in the medics! The last time I heard, Gatorade is supposed to help you keep going. No, he definitely should have kept going, having only given up one run in six innings (would that all the Orioles' starters could do that consistently).

Pat, I don't think it was just Wigginton and Zaun, but they were two of the main culprits. That was Gregg's worst defensive game as an Oriole and he would be the first to admit it.

Mark, I agree with you in a way, especially the bad baserunning part. (Remember, it was Trembley who made a point in Spring Training that the team was going to be more aggressive on the basepaths this year; aggressive is one thing, foolhardy is another.)

I still believe there's a certain merit to Pete using "losing well" to describe the game, because their were so many positives. It is a game they should have won, though, after battling back, and I honestly expected them to win at that point. Overall, the play of the team is vastly better than a month, if they could just start using their heads when running the bases.

A loss is a loss. 1-6 hitters were roughly 3-25, pitchers running for 20-somethings, pitchers pinch hitting, poor base running (again and again). I've watched a lot of baseball games, but is it "normal" for a team to use up ALL its bench so fast (or w/out a realistic plan for extras)? We've had some good runs before and I'm usually optomistic, but I believe in the law of averages...long losing streak ahead.

They should be good at losing by now. A decade ought to have them just about trained. Base running mistakes? Go figure. Glad to see Baez is back in form too before we could trade him. Is there any reason on God's green Earth why Koji isn't in the bullpen and Tillman isn't here? I understand we're rebuilding. Apparently it took 5 years to demolish the old foundation and we're in year six of redesigning, but I'd like to see more building blocks and less hacks.

I've heard that Koji is having trouble adjusting to the Summer heat here in the U.S. Is there any truth to that? I know I'd be chugging gatorade in South Florida after pitching 6 innings (of course no manager in his right mind would let me on the mound, but that's another story).

What's happened to Adam and the strike zone? All you have to do is throw the ball low and outside of the strike zone and he'll swing at it - especially if he has 2 strikes on him. Earlier this year, Adam wasn't chasing those bad balls and now he's reverted to last year's form, in which he did chase those balls. Maybe batting 3rd has put too much pressure on him. Keep him at #2 in the lineup, or drop him down to 5th or 6th. I sure hope he comes around - it was fun watching him hit earlier in the season!

Hill's fly was not deep enough to score Zaun from 3rd base. It was medium-shallow and outfielder was moving toward the plate when he caught the ball.

Pete if any pitcher in this league throws anything but a outside slider to adam Jones he should be fined and released. He would bat about 056 if they didn't throw him a fastball. He has really reverted back to last year when he was really struggling.I also think that he might have a slight Ego problem which the orioles better start to reign in before it gets out of hand. All this talk about being a All Star and being a superstar in this league might have gone to his head. I know he is still batting over 300 but it's a soft 300 if there is such a thing. His Power numbers and Rbi's have really tailed off.

It's amazing that people can say that Koji is not a starter, when he's been the O's best starter all season. What makes you say he can't start Meghan? His 4 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio? His lower than league average homerun rate? The fact that he's pitched even better than his already solid 4.05 era? Taking the defense out of the equation his era is 3.53, not bad huh? He's averaging 5.5 innings per start and he's been worth 16.7 runs above an average mlb pitcher. All in all I'd call that exceptional performance for a mlb rookie and particularly for someone who's new to this country and doesn't speak english. Lastly it was his return from the dl that stabilized the rotation and helped start the O's on their win streak. Yes he struggled his first start back but since then he's been outstanding. Also for those who want to bench Adam Jones, who would you play in his place? Yes he's slumping a bit and looks a little pull-happy, but he's one of our 3 best players, he needs to play.

LOL this thread is a microcosm of what we get from posters on here daily.

One poster says Jones cant hit the inside pitch and gives his technical explanation. Later two other posters declare that Jones cant hit the OUTside pitch.

Meghan uses the gatorade observation to support her assertion that Koji was gassed and is criticized for using it as a defense??? I didnt see her try to defend anyone!

Another poster bemoans six years of a rebuilding process that only started 2 years ago.

And everyone is so damned sure that they and only they see the truth. All I know for sure is that the organization is vastly improved since Joe Jordan started running the drafts and moreso since Andy took over. That the team is run in a competent, organized manner, run by good baseball men using sound baseball principles and judgement. That the direction of the whole organization is reversing the trend of the last decade. I dont know that we can win the division. I dont know which prospects will reach our expectations. I dont know if our post Mora 3B is in the organization or not. I dont know if our OF is full of perrennial all stars, hall of famers, or shooting stars like Joe Charbonneau. I don't know if Tillman, Arietta and Matusz will be more like Palmer, Cuellar and McNally or McDonald, Coppinger and Ponson. But I DO know that we are turning the whole organization around, doing it in a sound, methodical manner and no matter how any one prospect or trade or decision turns out, the organizational restructuring will serve us in good stead.

I just wish that folks would take a step back from the micro analysis on a game by game, play by play, pitch by pitch basis and take a look from the macro view where it is just incontrovertible that the organization is on the right track. Ten teams can all be on the right track and still only one can win the World Series but out of ten teams OFF the right track, it is a good bet NONE will win the World Series.

An exciting, if infuriating game, and a galling loss.

The positives--a lot of life from Wieters, Salazar and Wigginton, a splendid (if brief) show of control pitching from Uehara, and an admirable fighting spirit from the team as a whole.

That said, this game seemed to showcase most of the Orioles' major weaknesses: the lack of front-rank, big-league hitting power (especially right-handed power); rotten base running; sporadic defense; shaky bullpen; ineffectual coaching; and terrible game management.

Why a manager would leave in a reliever until he's given up five runs in a tied game is beyond comprehension, especially when it was obvious from the first two at-bats in the 7th inning that the pitcher had nothing. This manager seems to cling to preconceived plans, even when unfolding events demand that he think on his feet, a sign of insecurity and fear. The same rigid adherence to plan is evident in the design of his line-ups. We lose the last game of almost every series because he fields the weakest roster he can come up with.

Some suggestions for 2010:
Hire a big-league manager.
Let him bring in some tough, successful coaches.
Find some reliable, big-time power at 3rd base, at right-handed DH, and, if Huff is traded, at 1st base.
Find a solid back-up catcher.
Bring up more of the young pitching talents quickly, so that they can get their feet wet, start learning opposing hitters, and make their rookie mistakes THIS year.
Cleanse the team of the several streaky and/or unproductive players that are still on it (Pie, Hendrickson, Albers, Sarfate, Zaun, etc.).

Of course this will mean spending some real money, something neither the GM nor the owner have shown any (recent) inclination to do. Perhaps if the local baseball media were less complaisant and more demanding, everyone's sights might be set considerably higher. Let's all keep in mind that this was once the most feared franchise in baseball.

Lucky Horsehoe, Amen!!

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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