What I liked / Didn’t like about the Orioles’ three-day run at Progressive Field against the Indians.
Game 1: 5-2 win on Friday night (June 5)
Game 2: 2-1 loss on Saturday (June 6)
Game 3: 7-3 win on Sunday afternoon (June 7)
What I liked:
1. Success away from home – The O’s, believe it or not, won an official road series for the first time since taking two of three at Tampa Bay in their first series of the season (the O’s won two of three at the Rays as the “home” team in early May). The O’s are 11-18 away from Camden Yards this year.
2. The returns of Matt Wieters and Bud Norris – Wieters, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in June 2014, played in a major-league game for the first time since May 2014 on Friday night. He went 5-for-12 in the series, providing an RBI double in Game 1 and a solo homer and a triple in Game 3.
Norris started Game 3 after missing nearly a month due to bronchitis. He allowed one run in five innings, recording seven strikeouts.
3. Adam Jones – Jones went 5-for-13, blasting a solo homer and an RBI triple in Game 1 and a solo homer in Game 3.
4. Chris Tillman’s start in Game 1 – Tillman allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings for just his fourth quality start in 11 starts this season.
5. The bullpen – Orioles relievers combined to allow three runs in 9 2/3 innings, recording 12 strikeouts.
What I didn’t like:
1. Much of the offense – Wieters, Jones and Manny Machado (4-for-9 over Games 2 and 3) had good series, but the O’s still went just 4-for-23 with runners in scoring position and worked just six walks.
2. Ubaldo Jimenez’s start in Game 2 – Ubaldo was way off, allowing six hits and six walks on an astounding 107 pitches over five innings. But he deserves credit for allowing just one run over the five innings.
3. Everth Cabrera being designated for assignment – Among the six roster moves made by the O’s on June 5 was Cabrera being DFA’ed. He has been terrible offensively this season, posting a .479 OPS over 29 games. The O’s signed Cabrera in late February as J.J. Hardy and/or Machado insurance. Cabrera joined Alejandro De Aza, who was traded to Boston on June 3, as notable Orioles designated for assignment this month.
4. Brian Matusz’s suspension sticking – We learned on Friday that Matusz’s eight-game suspension was upheld by MLB. Matusz was ejected in the bottom of the 12th of a 1-0 13-inning loss at Miami on May 23 for having a foreign substance on his right arm. Matusz’s suspension was the same that was given to Milwaukee’s Will Smith, whose suspension for having an illegal substance on his non-throwing arm on May 21 was reduced to six games had. Each player is believed to have had the same “substance:” a combination of rosin and sunscreen.
This all falls under the weird unwritten rules of baseball. It is accepted that pitchers use foreign substances, which are illegal, because they help for a better grip on the ball. Most batters would prefer a pitcher use a foreign substance and have better control than not use the substance and potentially unintentionally hit that batter on the helmet or wrist with a pitch. But this understanding makes for an impossible-to-define gray area. How much foreign substance is too much? If the substance is obviously visible, as was the case with Smith and especially the Yankees’ Michael Pineda in April 2014, should that warrant an ejection? MLB needs to define once and for all what is and isn’t permissible and stop with “wink-wink” rules. Things like pitchers using foreign substances, phantom tags and fielders not actually stepping on second base for force outs should either be officiated according to the rules or those rules should change.