The Orioles weren't without chances to get after Tommy Miloneand the Oakland A's bullpen on Friday night, but they fell victim to a familiar adversary – the double play ball.
Orioles hitters grounded into four double plays and squandered all sorts of opportunities to put left-hander Joe Saunders in a position to continue his great record of success against the A's. Give some credit to Milone for being a wily guy who can move the ball around the strike zone, but double plays have plagued the O's all year.
They rank third in the major leagues with 134 GIDPs, which works out to an average of slightly less than one per game. The Detroit Tigers (140) and Minnesota Twins (138) are the only teams that double down more often.
So, why are they so vulnerable to a play that gets struggling pitchers out of trouble and allows effective pitchers to hold down their pitch counts and stay in games longer? Well, you have to give some credit to the pitchers who bear down in tough situations, but you also have call out Orioles hitters for their pitch selection. Too many of those double plays come when batters are ahead in the count and fish for a pitcher's pitch instead of forcing the guy to throw the ball in the strike zone.
Not being ultra-critical here. The Orioles have played very well all year and have been resourceful enough to make a lot out of a little offense on a lot of occasions. But it's fairly obvious that advance scouts are telling their teams that it isn't necessary to throw a strike to Orioles hitters when they are behind in the count.