Buck Showalter's decision to walk Mike Trout and Albert Pujols backfires

Keep in mind Buck Showalter once ordered an intentional walk to Barry Bonds with the bases loaded, so the decision on Sunday to walk Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to load the bases with two outs in the 11th inning shouldn't have shocked anyone.

That doesn't mean I agree with it.


Buck's the expert here and he's right a whole lot more than he's wrong, but putting Brian Matusz in a position where he couldn't afford to fall behind in the count created a scenario in which David Murphy could expect a fastball at the critical moment in the game.

Of course, Matusz is way better against left-handed hitters than right-handers, and both Trout and Pujols had good head-to-head numbers against him, so the percentages were in the Orioles' favor going into the final at-bat of the game. Walking Trout was a no-brainer, since his run wasn't relevant, but pushing the winning run to third backed Matusz into a corner he could not escape.


He fell behind in the count, 3-1, after he did not get the called strike on a close pitch and then had to split the plate three straight times. Murphy took the first one, fouled off the second and drove the third over drawn-in left fielder David Lough to win the game and the series.

"All three of those guys have had good success against Brian, so you're picking your poison,'' Showalter said on the MASN postgame show.

That's true, but even the best hitters in baseball are statistically twice as likely to make an out than not, and there was no guarantee that Angels catcher Carlos Perez would have scored from second base on a base hit by Pujols.

Factor in that Murphy was the man on Sunday. He already had hit a two-out, three-run homer off starter Miguel Gonzalez after Gonzalez had struck out both Trout and Pujols with runners at second and third.

The game-winner was a fly ball that landed short of the warning track, but the Orioles were playing Murphy shallow because he can morph into a slap hitter against left-handed pitchers and they apparently were more concerned about him getting a dink hit than hitting a long fly ball.

So it goes. The Orioles were in extra innings on the road, so it's not like getting Murphy out was going to guarantee them a victory. Still, it's got to be frustrating for them to come into Anaheim, Calif., and lose a series to the struggling Angels while the Toronto Blue Jays were sweeping the first-place New York Yankees.

This was the first game since the July 31 trading deadline that the Orioles appeared to miss Tommy Hunter. Showalter had to turn the game over to inexperienced reliever Chaz Roe in the 11th and he gave up the leadoff hit that would eventually become the winning run.

It's not all gloom and doom. The Orioles have split the first six games on this nine-game West Coast road trip and still have a chance to make good things happen in the final series against the Seattle Mariners.