If this were not a rebuilding year, the way the Orioles lost to the New York Yankees on Saturday night would have been quite discouraging. They were leading in the eighth inning until light-hitting Clint Frazier lined a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers to send them to a 6-4 loss.
Never mind that Frazier had not hit a home run in the major leagues since 2017 or that Orioles reliever Miguel Castro pretty much put the ball on a tee for him with two outs, two strikes and two men on base.
Instead of a devastating loss, manager Brandon Hyde just chalked it up to a learning experience. The Orioles (4-4) are trying to win, but nobody is going to get an ulcer if they don’t.
“I like Castro in that spot with a row of right-handed hitters coming up,’’ Hyde said. “He was throwing the ball good. He just made a bad pitch in a bad spot and Frazier made him pay for it.”
It’s an easy second guess because of the result, but it’s still a head scratcher. Castro was throwing his sinker at 97 mph. Frazier is just up from the minor leagues and he stepped to the plate with just two singles in his first 11 at-bats.
Castro got ahead with the heat and then gave Frazier a fighting chance by slowing the ball down by 11 mph. If you don’t execute an 86 mph slider, it’s got a pretty good chance to become a souvenir. If you don’t execute a 98 mph sinker, the hitter still has to catch up to it.
The young pitcher said through interpreter Ramón Alarcón that it was the right pitch in the wrong spot. Hyde said it was just one of those things.
“I liked the Castro-Frazier matchup. … It just didn’t happen tonight,” Hyde said. “He got him with two strikes. That’s kind of how things go. He might have overcooked the slider a little that backed up to the inner half of the plate. I think we’ll learn from those mistakes and I’m going to continue to throw him out there. It’s just one of those tough breaks.
“Again, it’s how you deal with it. You take a blow. You deliver a blow. That’s what this week has been, a lot of back and forth. Sometimes we’ve given up home runs in tough spots and then we’ve responded the next inning offensively. That shows the character of a club and I hope we’ll take that for the next six months.”
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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