June 9, 2014

Game 61: O's Lose Control of Strike Zone

First off, I'm briefly mentioning the Machado incident in this recap for the purpose of writing an actual opinion article later today.

Sitting in the stands at yesterday's game I was extremely optimistic after watching Baltimore dismantle the A's on all aspects of the game Saturday night.  All the momentum they had seemed to gain was immediately dashed as Ubaldo turned in another miserable start at home.  Although he didn't allow a hit through the first two innings, Jimenez scattered pitches all around the plate, gradually increasing his pitch count with each batter. It appeared that Jimenez could only throw his fastball for strikes and it eventually got him in serious trouble. As for A's starter Scott Kazmir (circa 2008), he pitched a beautiful game, commanding the strike zone and effectively punching out several Orioles hitters with his fastball. Once again, the O's were able to get runners on but weren't able to cash in on these opportunities like the last two games.

Things started to unravel in the 3rd inning as Jimenez immediately walked the bases loaded. Fans were already calling for a new pitcher and the A's didn't even have 2 hits yet. You can sense that most Oriole fans have given up on the Ubaldo experiment and many seem to be counting down the days until we can get him off the payroll. Personally, I think this was just another case of Ubaldo pitching at Camden Yards.  This season, Jimenez's numbers at Oriole Park are atrocious while his stats on the road are above average. Over time, he'll be able to work out the kinks at home (fingers crossed) and can become the effective starting pitcher that we signed him to be.  Anyways, back to the game, as it was getting out of hands very quickly. With the bags full, Jimenez was finally able to get a pitch over the plate for a strike...except for the fact that John Jaso hit it 400 feet to dead center for a grand slam. Although it was reviewed and ruled a ground rule double, Brandon Moss would clean up the mess as he took Ubaldo deep for an actual grand slam, no review necessary. Jimenez's day was finally over and Buck turned to bullpen for mop up duty. Brad Brach was the first of two pitchers to finish the game and also had a hard time finding the strike zone. Although it wasn't as severe as Ubaldo, he also walked the bases loaded in the fifth causing Showalter to spell TJ MacFarland for long relief. Already 7-0, MacFarland gave up a hit and fielder's choice and a double to ultimately put the game out of reach in the top of the 6th.

Kazmir cruised through two more innings to finish out his day, relieved by Fernando Abad (....). MacFarland was one of the few bright spots for the Birds yesterday as he pitched 4+ innings of 1-run relief.  Steve Pearce collected 2 hits and that's about it...At least, the Jays and Yankees lost so we didn't lose any ground in the East. Unfortunately that's all the analysis I can muster from yesterday's game but if you thought it was bad to watch on TV, imagine being there.

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