Cole Hamels is good. I get that.
It also had plenty to do with an Orioles offense that simply can’t get anything going unless it puts together a barrage of homers.
“It’s both,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s the big leagues, we’ve figured out how to score off some of those people. But it’s been tough on our pitchers -- they know that runs are going to be at a premium. I was looking and we haven’t scored enough runs to give them much room for error. We've got to turn that part of it around. It’s tough.”
This problem has been in existence for the past few years. The Orioles have a lineup of primary all-or-nothing hitters. Guys that smash baseballs a long way, but also strike out a lot and don’t make consistent contact, and that’s not a great formula against good pitching.
It’s a roster flaw that was exposed in the 2012 and 2014 playoffs, and even more so this year.
Case in point: The Orioles struck out 12 times Friday, 14 times Thursday and 11 times in a win Wednesday. During their five-game road trip, the Orioles have fanned 54 times in 45 innings while going 1-4.
I don’t believe this is about teaching an approach or the fault of hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. Most of these guys are veterans who are difficult to change. This is the free-swinging roster that was built by Dan Duquette and Showalter, and the Orioles live and die by it.
And you know what they are doing right now.
** I thought one of Showalter’s comments Friday was telling. He was asked about Kevin Gausman’s outing and Showalter basically said it was tough to evaluate the performance -- four runs in 6 2/3 innings -- because the offense is giving all of his starters no margin for error.
It’s not a surprising concept, but Showalter is increasingly pointing the finger at the offense. And, frankly, he should be. Here’s what he said: “It’s tough for me to fault many of our pitchers when you are going out there knowing that runs are going to be at a premium. Especially with Hamels out there and you compound that with some of our offensive woes right now.”
** Speaking of free swingers, Dariel Alvarez saw just nine pitches in three at-bats in his major league debut, striking out twice and grounding out. He has offensive ability, but plate discipline is a concern (heard that one before?). He had 16 walks in 541 plate appearances this season in the minors.
But boy does this guy have an arm. He threw out Adrian Beltre at the plate on Friday night on a one-hopper from right. And he really didn’t have to air it out. The 26-year-old is gonna be fun to watch, but he might not be a whole lot different at the plate than many of his teammates. So be prepared for that.