Clay Buchholz ruined Juan Samuel’s first game as O’s interim manager, tossing a complete-game five-hit shutout as part of an 11-0 victory on Friday night. The Orioles have now lost nine consecutive games and enter play on Saturday at 15-40. They currently sit an incredible 21 games behind the first-place Rays in the American League East.
It doesn’t look like things are going to get magically better any time soon, but Samuel’s sense of humor is still intact. For now, anyway. (via Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com).
“Well, we got the first one out of the way for me.”
Friday’s starter Chris Tillman was only able to record four outs before he was yanked
after 57 pitches, giving up four runs on five hits while walking two and
striking out two. It was only his second start back in the big leagues, but the young right-hander is symptomatic of a core of young players — including Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen — who have taken a “giant step” backward this season, according to team president Andy MacPhail.
It’s hard for MacPhail to preach patience when the team needs to try to sell tickets — especially with the excitement in the region tilting in the Nationals’ favor — but let’s just say that the young core mentioned above isn’t the only thing that has diverted off course in the past year. I believe the Orioles unfairly raised the expectations of their fanbase by bringing in veterans like Kevin Millwood, Mike Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins this winter when they really didn’t need to.
The injuries to Gonzalez and Brian Roberts haven’t helped their plight, but contending should never have been a consideration this season anyway. The Gonzalez signing was especially absurd at the time and looks even more egregious now. With that being said, I still trust MacPhail’s overall vision for the franchise. I just hope it isn’t much longer before we see names like Millwood and Ty Wigginton give way to promising youngsters like Jake Arrietta and Josh Bell.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: