For eight innings on Tuesday night, Baltimore pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Darren O’Day held the Detroit Tigers in check at Camden Yards. Jimenez was dominant in tossing seven shutout frames and O’Day threw a perfect eighth as the Orioles took a 1-0 lead into the ninth.
Then Oriole manager Buck Showalter called for closer Tommy Hunter and things went downhill from there.
Hunter blew the save and the Birds were handed a disappointing 4-1 loss to the AL Central leading Tigers. It’s only May, but Tuesday’s defeat has to rate as the toughest–so far–in 2014.
“High-Wire” Hunter surrendered four runs in that fateful ninth inning as he was touched for back-to-back home runs by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. An overturned caught stealing call benefited Detroit earlier in the inning and a walk to Torii Hunter preceded the HR’s.
It’s easy to lambast Hunter. His ERA has ballooned to 6.60 and he has yet to pitch a clean inning this season. He should now be referred to as “former Closer.” Will Buck make that call? It will be interesting to see.
The Orioles, however, had issues beyond Tommy Hunter on Tuesday night.
As Glenn Younes, Joe Orsulak and yours truly talked about on Baltimore Baseball Tonight, the defensive shift was going to bite the Birds eventually. Tuesday night it happened as Detroit’s Alex Avila poked a single down the unmanned third base line. Of course, all of the fun started after that.
The Orioles have lost consecutive 4-1 games to Detroit. They are a combined 0-12 with RISP in the two games. Offensively, the Orioles are still an inconsistent bunch.
Heading into Wednesday’s finale against the Tigers, the Birds rank 24th in all of baseball in runs scored, 22nd in OBP and last in walks. They are tied for 19th in HR’s with 32. Not exactly what was expected from a team that had bashed 426 home runs over the last two campaigns.
Yet, despite all of this, they are in first place in the American League East.
If they want to stay there, they need to tighten up in certain areas. One of the areas of need has to be at the back-end of the bullpen.
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