Darren O’Day made headlines with two pitches on Sunday afternoon and then with his comments afterward, saying that first base umpire Mark Wegner, thanks to his call on a checked swing (that wasn’t checked), “absolutely embarrassed himself.”
I wrote Sunday night about how out-of-character those statements were for O’Day. But I just barely touched on how rare it was for him to give up those two, game-deciding home runs.
Consider that in 15 innings this year, he had surrendered just one long ball before giving up homers on consecutive pitches to J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera (directly following Martinez’s check swing on what would have been strike three) in the eighth.
Consider that it was just the second time in O’Day’s career, and first time as an Oriole, that he allowed back-to-back homers (the first was in 2011 when he was a Texas Ranger).
Consider the sidearmer has pitched in 476 games and has given up 44 homers – that means his ratio is one per every 10+ outings.
The weird part is that the unflappable O’Day looked rattled after the call and then the homer to Martinez. He admitted he threw a terrible pitch to Cabrera and then walked Victor Martinez on four pitches before being pulled.
“That would be the easy thing to say, but Darren’s a guy who’s a consummate professional when it comes to emotional things,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said when asked if O’Day lost focus. “There’s nothing you can do about a missed call. He’ll lament the other part of it.”
O’Day was asked after the game whether he felt the call made him come unglued.
“No, (Wegner) didn’t make me throw the next two pitches, or the next six. I went and walked Victor on four. It’s frustrating,” he said. “I take pride in my work. If a guy swings, it’s strike three, so yeah I was frustrated about it. But being a relief pitcher, being a good pitcher at all, (means) kind of blocking that stuff out, moving on to the next pitch, one pitch at a time.”
BRob’s pinch-hit as a TV analyst
Although I was in the press box for Sunday’s game, I did take a little time to listen to former Oriole Brian Roberts in his first regular season broadcast in the MASN TV booth. The former second baseman, who retired from baseball before last season, did one spring training game earlier this year. Sunday was his only scheduled appearance as a MASN color commentator, but said he could possibly do another one later this season.
I only heard a half inning of his broadcast Sunday. But he was good — really good for someone who hasn’t done much of it before.
Roberts had some good insight on trying to catch a fly ball/pop-up on the right side of the Camden Yards field on a sunny day (after Joey Rickard lost a fly ball in the sun). And Roberts also made an interesting observation about Kevin Gausman’s pitch sequences and the shaking off of catcher Caleb Joseph. Nothing groundbreaking, but interesting nuances that you’d want from a color commentator.
I covered Roberts through his entire Orioles career, from 2001 to 2013. I witnessed and chronicled all the peaks and valleys. And I’m not surprised that he would try his hand at broadcasting – and be a natural at it.
He’s always been articulate, one of the more well-spoken players I’ve covered. And he’s a son of a college coach, so he knows the intricacies of the game and always analyzed it as a player.
At some point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Roberts made broadcasting a profession. Right now, he’s just dabbling. But it sounded to me like it was a good start.
Roberts and Wegner
One thing I didn’t realize: Roberts had just one ejection in his entire career. It was on August 2, 2006 after the seventh inning in a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Camden Yards. And he was thumbed by Wegner. (I love when these little items all come together).
Roberts said he was called out on a third strike from Mark Lowe that was well off the plate. Roberts went back inside, looked at the video and it confirmed the missed call.
So when he went back onto the field, Roberts told Wegner what he saw. And Roberts said he held his hands apart to show Wegner just how far the ball missed the plate. And then he was tossed.
The funny thing is I don’t really remember that. If you had asked me if Roberts was ever ejected in his career, I would have said no. He occasionally complained about pitches, but was never vocal in those circumstances.
It made me laugh, though, that it was Wegner who did the honors.