Written by Mike Laws
A game best forgotten
Hittable Arrieta, inability to convert in clutch conspire for Monday defeat
Orioles 1, Detroit 5
You know it’s gonna be a sad recap when it starts with the lone bright spot and moves right on to a whole bunch of depressing crap.
So let’s give a quick doff of the proverbial cap to Chris Davis, alone amongst the O’s in coming to Comerica Park ready to play in the Monday opener. Big man must’ve felt Miguel Cabrera nipping at his heels, after the Tiger third baseman stroked a first-inning two-run shot into the bleachers in right-center, good for his nineteenth homer of the season; Davis led the second frame off by taking one Max Scherzer pitch, a ball, just for good measure, then connected for his own big fly (#24) — which clanked on down into pretty much the exact same seat over the out-of-town scoreboard. Freaky.
And that, dear reader, was about the only positive to report from this one. Davis came through for a one-out single to right in the fourth — again answering Cabrera, who’d singled to lead off the Tiger half immediately preceding — but then there’s also the fact that that made the Oriole first baseman the only member of the lineup to record more than one base hit (with Nate McLouth, 1-for-3 with a walk, the only other to reach base more than once).
That, plus the Oriole hits, when they did come, simply weren’t of the timely/clutch variety. The Birds would strand eight baserunners, five of them in the fourth and fifth innings, which it probably goes without saying represented the most frustrating frames of the evening, as far as Baltimore fans were concerned. In the fourth Matt Wieters followed Davis with a one-out single; but J.J. Hardy fouled out down the right-field line and Chris Dickerson struck out swinging (if his flailing at a fooled-him Scherzer fastball can rightly be called a swing). The fifth was even worse: After Ryan Flaherty led off with a five-pitch walk — a rarity, from the Tiger right-hander — and McLouth laced a single to center, both Manny Machado and Nick Markakis struck out (the former hacking at an 0-2 slider, the latter looking at a perfect 3-2 fastball), putting something of a damper on the Orioles’ turn at the dish. Even so, Adam Jones kept things alive with an infield single (with props to a hustling McLouth for eliminating the force at second as Omar Infante struggled to find the handle from behind the bag). Which brought Davis to the plate. If ever there were a chance to capitalize against an otherwise on-point Scherzer, surely this was it — especially given the help Davis was receiving from home-plate ump Tim Timmons, who flatly refused to go along with the Detroit battery’s attempts to set up a good three inches into the right-hand batter’s box. Anyway, Davis took two ridiculously close/very hard-to-take Scherzer deliveries outside … and then waved meekly at a 97 mph fastball rising up and away (and very possibly, given Timmons’s conception of the zone, ball four). Dangit …
Meanwhile, Oriole starter Jake Arrieta, just recalled, looked essentially just like what we all probably thought he’d look like. As in, basically the same as the last time he got sent down: spots of brilliance, pretty obviously plus stuff (especially that big sharp overhand curveball), but absolutely no consistency. Well, and he was leaving an awful lot of pitches up in the zone — a real no-no against an offense like the Tigers’. Cabrera, as has been noted, hit a hanging breaking ball a long way. Infante (4-for-4) hit him hard. Austin Jackson, on three occasions, slapped him around. Just about the only Tigers not to partake of the feast were Victor Martinez, who’s done next to nothing all year (oh, except in game two of the last series with the O’s), and Brayan Pena, who none of us knew existed until today. Arrieta did have a nice, quick, eye-of-the-storm-type third inning, needing just eight pitches (six of them to Prince Fielder, who eventually struck out by swinging through a pretty terribly located changeup), and actually looked even sharper in the fourth, getting ahead 0-2 on every hitter except Andy Dirks (who popped Arrieta’s 0-1 pitch out to second). But the fifth would spell the starter’s doom, with Jackson and Hunter notching back-to-back singles to start things off; Cabrera striking out, weirdly enough, on a wild pitch that moved the runners up ninety feet; Fielder being issued an intentional pass; Martinez (hey!) rocketing a long sac-fly to deep center (nice play, incidentally, by Jones to track it down over his shoulder); and, back-breakingly, Jhonny Peralta singling to right to make it 5-1 and force Arrieta from the ballgame.
The rest of which hardly seems worth discussing. Scherzer continued to roll. Troy Patton retired the first five batsmen he faced, before flirting with trouble in the seventh in the form of consecutive one-out singles from Cabrera and Fielder, getting out of it by way of Martinez’s second GIDP of the night (that’s more like it, Victor). But no comeback here. Not even close. Spelling Scherzer, Drew Smyly faced nine Oriole hitters; none reached base. Make that eleven straight, by the time the game ended, a scant two hours and forty-five minutes after it’d begun, with 5-1 holding up as the sad, sad final. Better luck tomorrow.
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