The Orioles bullpen performed spectacularly during Tuesday night's extra-inning loss to the New York Yankees, but Buck Showalter is right when he says that the O's have to play a near-perfect game to beat some of the big-money teams in the American League.
They certainly didn't do that on Tuesday night, squandering a 4-1 lead in a Yankee comeback that featured what amounted to a two-run error by third baseman Mark Reynolds. They also went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and lost the game on a clutch double by Raul Ibanez that should never have happened.
Normally, I don't second-guess pitch selection, since I never pitched or caught and I'm not the guy watching film and reading scouting reports on opposing hitters. But my instincts were quickly confirmed when Jim Palmer called out Matt Wieters and Pedro Strop for the offspeed pitch that Ibanez bounced over the fence to break the tie.
Strop had overmatched Ibanez with a 97-mph fastball for strike one. He had whistled a 96-mph fastball over the outer half of the plate which Ibanez just stared at for strike two. Then he did something that only makes sense if you you weren't paying attention to the rest of the at-bat. He threw an offspeed pitch right into the upper middle of the strike zone that Ibanez had time to drool over before he swatted it over the head of Nick Markakis for a ground-rule double.
It's a pretty simple concept. If the guy can't catch up to your fastball, don't slow down and wait for him. I'm still scratching my head.