Games lead on a one way slide…
I went to the bathroom the other night at the O’s/Rays game, and I apparently picked the wrong time. Well, in perspective, I actually picked the right time. I swore I wasn’t even gone that long.
Nevertheless, by the time I had returned, a three-run Oriole lead had vanished quicker than a non-handicapped parking space within a mile of a Walmart entrance.
Over the weekend, in a nearly identical fashion, our leads not only disappeared in the 8th inning, but were literally obliterated from existence. A meticulous scorekeeper, I stopped recording the damage even before it was done; I merely wrote “BIG MESS” down the 8th inning column (a column that would have typically detailed the doings of Tampa Bay hitters).
To continue with lyrics borrowed (and modified accordingly) from AC/DC’s hit song, “Highway to Hell”:
Screw strike signs
Fans leavin’ won’t slow me down
Like a bubble
Gonna blow it
These guys gonna bat around
Anyhow, the floodgates were opened so prodigiously this past weekend as Oriole relievers came in to….wait a minute. Relievers? I usually don’t stop mid-sentence, but I just had a realization that to call any Oriole pitcher a reliever would be similar to calling a governor of New York a religious monk.
Well, sticking to baseball, it’s difficult to give the Orioles bullpen a break in terms of criticism; this is because, rather than live up to their duties and provide relief, they specialize in providing agony.
That agony is applicable to the Baltimore club and their dozens of supporting spectators, who stay to view the implosions in their entirety. However, if you are on the opposing team, you come to quickly find out that the incoming Oriole pitcher is, through a diet of walks, wild pitches (our catcher, to be fair, seems to have a ‘wild glove’ as well), and free batting practice, about to ease any difficulties associated with mounting a comeback rally.
Where was I? Oh, that’s right; floodgates.
After this past weekend, I have come to consider ‘floodgates’ too kindly a term when referring to the tragedies offered by O’s hurlers in latter innings. Rather, the bullpen seems to be guarded by fiery gates that house within fury and demise we can’t even imagine, until their (now daily wrath) is finished.
We’re on a Hydeway to Hell
Hydeway to hell….
From a pure baseball perspective, what bothers me the most is the fundamental principle that this gloom and doom ALWAYS stems from an ability to THROW STRIKES.
Bases on balls, free passes, not even making the opponent earn it with the stick that’s in their hands (it’s not easy to hit a small round ball at 95 mph with a thin, round piece of lumber; even the best ones still fail seven out of 10 times at the plate).
Yet, if you look up at the dreaded scoreboard that tallies balls and strikes, Oriole relievers are often throwing just as many out of the zone as they are in it. Ball one is much more common than strike one. Getting ahead in the count seems like a practice prohibited.
Yesterday, fans received some special treats, such as an at-bat where an Oriole pitcher, ahead two strikes in the count, thought it advantageous to then get behind in that same count. To top it all off, we got the ‘always cherished’ walk with the bases loaded, which was followed by a grand slam to put the Rays ahead in the eighth.
I have to stop. To speak any more of Oriole relief pitching goes against my doctor’s orders. The Oriole bullpen is not the place to go for relief, and that needs to stop.
What are your opinions on the Orioles bullpen? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and follow our podcast, The Walk-Off, on YouTube and Spotify! And, make sure to use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!
Follow Tomko on Twitter! @stomko367