It's time for Orioles hitters to be accountable

May 31, 2014|By Peter Schmuck | The Baltimore Sun

It might be good baseball etiquette to give a tip of the cap to the pitcher who tied your lineup in knots, as manager Buck Showalter has done after his club's last two losses, but no one seriously believes that Astros starters Brad Peacock and Brett Oberholtzer suddenly morphed into twin Justin Verlanders just in time to welcome the Orioles to Houston.

The Orioles have scored two runs in the first 18 innings of their four-game series against the last-place Astros, and it's about time for the key hitters in the everyday lineup except maybe Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis to take a long look in the mirror and accept responsibility for their abysmal approach at the plate.

Let's review: Peacock entered Friday night's game with a 1-4 record and 5.20 ERA. He also had walked 30 batters in his first 45 innings of work this season, but somehow managed to get through the start without walking anyone for the first time in his three-year major league career. Because the Orioles have drawn fewer walks than any other major league team this year, that is probably not a coincidence.

Oberholtzer entered Friday night's game with a 1-6 record and a 5.32 ERA, which also made him a great candidate to hold the Orioles to just one run. They've made a number of bad-stat guys look good this season. He came in having allowed an average of 14 base runners per nine innings, then did did not allow a walk as he held the once-intimidating Orioles lineup to just one run.

This isn't to suggest that either Houston pitcher is undeserving of credit. Both did what the Orioles hitters obviously didn't: They paid attention during the scouting meetings and knew that several key Orioles hitters have, under the pretext of being "aggressive," become very proficient at getting themselves out. Meanwhile, no one in the Orioles lineup seemed to have any understanding of the tendencies of two pitchers who came into the series with a combined 2-10 record.

Let's be brutally honest: The Orioles swing at more bad pitches than any other team and, as a result, get fewer hittable ones. They also make too many first-pitch and second-pitch outs, which buy extra innings for opposing starters. For some reason, they seem to believe that if they keep doing so, their fortunes eventually will change. That is a prescription for a very long summer.

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