Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Manny's hard slide; a run of lefties; Mookie's quiet bat - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Paul Folkemer

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Manny’s hard slide; a run of lefties; Mookie’s quiet bat

Photo credit: Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports

Friday night’s most controversial play happened in the bottom of the eighth, when Manny Machado slid hard at second base on a force play. Machado’s slide carried him past the bag, and his spikes caught second baseman Dustin Pedroia in the leg.

Pedroia had to leave the game with a calf injury, and some Red Sox fans and media on Twitter criticized Machado for what they perceived to be a dirty slide.

Machado, for his part, said he was simply playing hard and had no ill intent on the slide.

“I was trying to do everything possible to be safe and get ourselves in a good position in a two-run ballgame,” he said. “We know how good they are. We want that cushion. It wasn’t intentional. I was trying to get on the bag. If you see the replay, you see how my body comes off the bag and hits him right in the path.

“I don’t wish bad upon nobody. I don’t want to go out there and hurt someone. I know what it is to be in that position. We’re just trying to hustle and play for our team and do what we’ve got to do.”

Machado said he texted Pedroia after the game to make sure he was OK.

“I hope everything’s all right and nothing’s too serious,” Machado said. “It always sucks when a situation like that happens. Me as a player and as the guy I was raised to be, you never wish that upon anybody. You never want to ruin someone’s career like that.”

Some in the Boston media insinuated that the Red Sox might retaliate against Machado later in the series. Machado said he’s prepared for whatever happens.

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“I don’t expect anything. I’m going to play baseball. What happens, happens. …They’ve got to protect their players, they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do on their side. It’s up to them,” Machado said. “I know what I’m going to do over here on this side and I know what I’ve got behind me. There’s 25 guys plus the coaching staff on our side. So, I’m not expecting anything. I’m going out there and just playing and trying to win more ballgames.”

A slew of southpaws

With his outing Friday, Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz continued the parade of southpaw starters against the Orioles this year. They’ve faced left-handers in nearly half their games — seven out of fifteen — and are scheduled to face another Sunday, former O’s prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. The club has yet to play more than two straight games against righty starters.

The early-season onslaught of lefties is unusual. Last season, only two of the Orioles’ first 15 games were against southpaws, and they didn’t face their seventh one until game 26. Two years ago, they didn’t face their seventh lefty until their 38th game. All told, the Orioles have faced an average of 45.8 lefty starters per season the last five years, representing 28 percent of their games.

The lefty-heavy schedule has meant plenty of playing time for righty-swinging rookie Trey Mancini, who has started against all seven southpaws and hit so well that he’s earned opportunities against right-handers, too. It’s also put reserve outfielder Craig Gentry in the lineup five times, and he reached base three times from the leadoff spot Friday.

On the flip side is Hyun Soo Kim, who has found starts hard to come by. Kim has yet to record a hit against a lefty in his major league career, albeit in a very small sample size. He was 0-for-18 against them in 2016 (including a hitless at-bat against switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, throwing lefty) and hasn’t faced a southpaw yet in 2017.

Kim, who was an everyday player in the Korean Baseball Organization, seems to be relegated to a strict platoon role for the Orioles until further notice. When he’s out of the lineup, the Orioles are missing their top on-base man from last season (.382 OBP). They’d be well served to get him more frequent playing time once the run of left-handed starters simmers down.

Getting the best of Betts

Three games into their season slate against the Red Sox, and the Orioles have been able to do something they couldn’t last year: contain Mookie Betts.

In 2016, Betts was a one-man wrecking crew against the Orioles. He set a Camden Yards record by crushing eight home runs — the most ever by a visiting player in a single season — including five homers in back-to-back games May 31 and June 1. By contrast, he didn’t homer more than once at any other road ballpark, and none at the other three AL East road parks. Betts also had 15 RBIs in Baltimore last year, almost twice as many as at the other three AL East venues combined (eight).

In total, Betts torched Oriole pitching for a .408 average and 1.293 OPS in 19 games last season, including .514/1.771 in 10 games in Baltimore.

This year, it’s been a different story. Betts went 0-for-4 Friday, including a popout against Mychal Givens to end the eighth inning with the possible tying run on base. Betts is now 2-for-14 against the Orioles so far.

Again, it’s early. The Orioles have 16 more games scheduled against the Red Sox this year, and Betts could easily erupt.

If he does, feel free to blame me for the jinx.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Eldersburg Enigma

    April 22, 2017 at 7:54 am

    This start makes me marvel at the ’84 Tigers 35-5 start. It seems fictional!

  2. claudecat

    April 22, 2017 at 8:29 am

    The Kim vs lefties thing really gets my goat. 17 AB’s is simply too small a sample size for a guy that had consistent success in the KBO. Also pertinent is that many (most?) of the lefties faced by Kim were late inning/LOOGY guys, presumably somewhat above average. And though I used small sample size in my argument, I’ll point out that Kim was 3 for 8 against lefties this spring, better than he hit against righties.

    I don’t begrudge Mancini his chances, but if I were Buck I’d be doing as much as possible to see that Kim gets his as well. We’ll likely only have him for 5-6 more months (why would he want to come back?) and he could be our best on-base guy!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 22, 2017 at 8:54 am

      I’m with you Claude.

      • DPG0124

        April 22, 2017 at 9:59 am

        Piling on the Kim bandwagon – I would imagine Kim would hit/get on base against lefties better than Gentry, who is basically a quad-A player. Although I trust Gentry in the OF more but if you’re playing Gentry he should not be leading off

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 22, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Agreed. I’m surprised Kim hasn’t gotten more opportunities against lefties. I understand wanting to get Mancini into the mix, but consistently starting Gentry ahead of Kim? Gentry has hit well in his last two starts and is a very good defender, but historically he’s not a great hitter. I’m not sure he’s a better offensive option against lefties than Kim. But it seems as if the Orioles have made up their minds that Kim’s not a good fit against lefties.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 22, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Mow ’em down Manny! There was absolutely nothing dirty about that play. It was simply a little old timey baseball and the Sox should stop whining. Peedy reminded me of a soccer player the way he crumbled to the ground in “agony”. Mark my word, he won’t miss any time because of this.

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 22, 2017 at 10:04 am

      I don’t think the slide was dirty, either. It was a sloppy side (he was going too fast and couldn’t stop his momentum in time), but not a malicious one. The fact that he tried to prevent Pedroia from falling over (and got himself tagged out in the process) suggests to me that he had no ill intent.

      But I certainly don’t think Pedroia was milking the injury, if that’s what you’re suggesting. I know I wouldn’t want to get spiked in the leg. He wouldn’t have come out of the game unless he was really hurt.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        April 22, 2017 at 5:30 pm

        Milking the injury? Dear sir, I don’t know whatever you could be talking about.

        OK … that’s a prevarication. Milking the injury is exactly what I was suggesting. Isn’t a good spiking usually accompanied by some fabric on the uniform or sock being torn? I don’t buy that he was spiked. Heck, to quote Farrell … “That probably could have been a whole lot worse from what we’re seeing right now in the training room.” Does this not imply that the trainers aren’t seeing much of an injury? I”ll take it all back if Peedy isn’t in the lineup tonight.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          April 23, 2017 at 10:16 am

          OK … I”m a Richard and I take it all back.

  4. charmacharm

    April 22, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Reading the Boston Globe today which includes comments from Pedroia. The man is a class act despite his dramatic side. He takes the high road. He’s merely upset because no runs were scored by his team. Farrell could take a page out of his second baseman’s book. Maturity is part of good sportsmanship.

    • claudecat

      April 22, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      Not so sure he’s such a class act. His comments after last night included this gem, which I’ve sanitized:

      “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the major leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a f—ing rule.”

      Humility!

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