O's: The lost art of patience
What does it tell you when the most patient hitter on the Orioles roster is Mark Reynolds, a guy who struck out more than 200 times in each of the past three seasons? When Reynolds walked in the third inning today, it was his 36th base on balls of the season, which is 15 more than anybody else in an Orioles uniform.
I've got to give him some credit for that, since I was pretty critical of the two times he looked at called third strikes in big RISP situations on Tuesday night, but I've got to wonder what's going on in the heads of the other hitters. I'll give Ricky Romero all the credit in the world for pitching a terrific game last night, but the O's helped make it possible by rushing him through the first two innings on just 14 pitches.
Maybe I'm stretching this point, but I've never seen so many hitters bail opposing pitchers out of great hitters' counts with pop ups and double-play balls. There's a difference between being aggressive in good hitting situations and being overly aggressive to the point where opposing pitchers know they do not have to throw the ball in the strike zone when the count is 2-0.
The Yankees and Red Sox squeeze pitchers by taking first strikes. The Orioles squeeze themselves by fishing for questionable pitches early in counts. Vladimir Guerrero can afford to do that. Adam Jones can't.
If you;'re watching the game right now, you just saw Derrek Lee swing from his heels at a 2-0 pitch that was low enough to hit him in the ankle. Next time I see him, I'll thank him for illustrating my point.
Instant update: Today, Zach Stewart is making his major league debut, and they're being shut out through five innings. He might be that good, but how are we supposed to know when the Orioles seem to make everybody look like Cliff Lee.