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"There is no joy in Mudville," goes the famous refrain. "Mighty Casey has struck out."

That poem, written by Ernest Thayer in 1888, has a particularly bitter resonance in Baltimore these days. After an exciting and wildly successful season, our Orioles struck out — both figuratively and literally.

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All sorts of reasons for their four straight losses to the Kansas City Royals are being advanced. The Royals outplayed them in almost every facet of the game, especially in clutch hitting, fielding and their "lights out" relief pitching. The Royals had the baseball gods on their side. Indeed, if you look back to the first two innings of the first two games in Baltimore, the Royals scored three runs and two runs with two outs on broken-bat, bloop hits. The breaks of the game, one must acknowledge, they do even out — but not necessarily in a brief, four-game series. The Orioles, as one commentator put it, noting that all four games were decided by one run or two, were "on the wrong side of history."

Make no mistake. The Royals deserved the victory, and now they have a strong shot at winning another World Series, their first since 1985. In a replay of sorts, the '85 Royals, the next to the worst hitting team in the American League that year, beat the St. Louis Cardinals, the best hitting team in the National League, largely on the strength of outstanding pitching

But Kansas City did not just win this American League pennant. The Orioles also lost it. And there is one telltale reason: The Orioles do not seem to understand that the best baseball teams make their own success. They don't seem to have the discipline to play the game one hit at a time, to manufacture runs with singles, walks, hit by pitch, and forcing the other team to make errors. It's called patience, doing basic things like cutting down the swing on two strikes, hitting the ball to the opposite field, even bunting. All the commentators, including Cal Ripken, said Buck Showalter does not believe in giving away an out. If true, it's one serious flaw in his otherwise brilliant baseball mind.

But the biggest deficit was in swinging from the heels, even on two strikes, and striking out, with men on base. One need only look at Adam Jones' poor performance and his number of strikeouts.

For proof of the latter, one has to look no further than the success of the San Francisco Giants in recent years. They have reached the National League Championship series for three of the last five years; they have won two World Series in the last four years, and appear headed for another golden opportunity with a 3 games to 1 lead on St. Louis.

With the exception of their catcher Buster Posey, the Giants do not have any hitters the equal of Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz, J. J. Hardy and Nick Markakis. But they know how to manufacture runs in the same way the Kansas City Royals do.

In the 2012 World Series won by San Francisco, the most valuable player was a journeyman infielder, Marco Scutaro, who repeatedly laced line drives to the opposite field, often with two outs. He hit the ball where it was pitched. It's basic Little League.

As for the bunt, stealing bases, putting the ball in play, ESPN's Jayson Stark pointed out that the Giants have scored 12 of their last 22 runs in this series against the Cardinals without the benefit of even one base hit. And in their 242 last appearances at bat, the Giants have not hit a home run. "They find a way to win, night after night," Mr. Stark noted. "It's been quite a spectacle."

Alas, any spectacle in Baltimore will have to wait another year — and perhaps a slightly different approach to scoring runs.

Frederic B. Hill, a former foreign correspondent for The Sun, pitched in the minor league organizations of the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies. Though a resident of Maine most of the year, he has been a season ticket holder for the Orioles for 32 years. His email is fhill207@gmail.com.

To respond to this commentary, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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