Thursday, April 4, 2013

When the Field of Dreams becomes a Nightmare

New seasons are filled with hope of unqualified success. Starting off with a win only serves to heighten the expectations for the future. But with 162 games in the season, a loss is bound to happen in there somewhere. Like last evening.

A hotly contested game last evening in Tampa saw the Orioles take an early 4-0 lead which they relinquished during the 6th inning, subsequently falling behind by two runs entering the eighth inning.  After tying the game in the top of the ninth, a walk-off home run by the home team ended the contest.

What when wrong? Two things:

The bull pen had an uncharacteristic meltdown by allowing six runs. None of the relievers did their jobs. Each of the relievers had a job to do and they were not up to the task last evening.

I also fault the "shift" employed against left handed batters during the seventh inning. It seems Tampa's left handed batters are more capable of beating the shift than are the Orioles big guns.

What is the shift? It is a defensive posture where a portion of the field is left uncontested to move a defensive player into another area where a particular batter overwhelmingly hits the ball. In the case of the Orioles last evening, the third baseman moved to right short field in between the first and second baseman, leaving the area down the third base line uncontested.

During the decisive seventh inning, two Tampa lefties in a row beat the shift for singles and were on base when a home run scored them allowing the Rays to take a two run lead.

What went right?

The team battled back. After the initial three runs were scored via home run, the other four runs were scores with timely hitting in each of the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. Still, 4 for 11 with runners in scoring position is a bit low.

So after two games, the Orioles are 1-1. Let's see how resilient this team is.

The bottom line is grab the handle bar and BUCKle UP! The season is underway.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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