Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen many Orioles who can flat-out run in the past decade-plus: Michael Bourn, Nate McLouth, Brian Roberts, maybe a few others.
But newly acquired shortstop Tim Beckham has impressed me so far with how quickly he gets out of the batter’s box, especially from the right side. I noticed it Tuesday in his debut and, on Wednesday, he practically flew to second base on an opposite-field double in the second.
And then, in the eighth Wednesday, he hit a ball into the right-center gap and shifted into another gear.
Call it ‘Burn it like Beckham.’ He made it to third for an easy triple. How often have we said that about an Oriole? An easy triple.
“Oh, yeah. I know I can run, man. I can bring energy to the club, and if that hits the right-center gap and touches the wall, I expect to be on third,” Beckham said. “Anything to bring some energy and get my club going, man. Just doing what I can.”
He’s been here two nights. But, yes, there’s an excitement and energy to his game that’s fun to watch. He’s even too fast for his helmet, which invariably gets left behind on the basepaths.
“I’ve added some extra padding, and it’s still flying off,” Beckham said. “I’m going to have to get a chinstrap or something.”
The weird thing is, Beckham’s blazing speed hasn’t translated into stolen bases in his career. He’s just 10 of 16 in stolen-base attempts in parts of four seasons in the majors and his career high for one season is 22 in 2010 while at High-A (and he was thrown out 14 times that year).
The Orioles obviously could use more speed on the basepaths, and Beckham is certainly an upgrade there. Especially when you compare him to incumbent shortstop J.J. Hardy, whose beaten-up body might make him the slowest player on the team now (thanks to Matt Wieters’ departure).
However, Beckham does offer something the Orioles have plenty of: free swingers. He struck out twice Wednesday and once Tuesday and has now fanned 114 times this season. So, he’s not always getting on the basepaths – or making productive outs.
And that could be problematic in a lineup of strikeout collectors. But, for now, the need for speed trumps any deficiency in his game.
These Royals ain’t, well, royal in Charm City
That phrase is tired, and miswritten in the headline, but many of you will get the reference.
The Royals schooled the Orioles in a four-game sweep in the 2014 American League Championship Series (when former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie wore a T-shirt paraphrasing a crass rap song, ‘These O’s Ain’t Royal’). And the Royals swept the Orioles in three games in KC in May, which really began the Orioles’ tailspin after a hot start.
But, in Camden Yards, the Orioles are still kings of the Royals.
Consider the Orioles have beaten the Royals in seven straight at Camden Yards dating back to August 2015. They’ve now won 28 of their last 41 regular season games against KC in Baltimore.
And this week’s sweep was particularly impressive because the Royals entered play Monday winners of 10 of their last 11.
The Orioles are now 2 ½ games behind the Royals for the second Wild Card spot in the AL.
“We talked about it in the advance meeting, with the pitchers and the position players, that we were facing probably as hot a team as there was in the American League,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m proud of that, knowing, as we get into August and September, knowing the opportunities to make up some ground are going to be fleeting. I don’t need to remind them of that. But it was a good team playing well, and we held our own against them.”
Harvey moving on to Aberdeen
Right-hander Hunter Harvey, who returned to pitching this month after 2016 elbow ligament surgery, threw two scoreless innings and struck out four for the Gulf Coast Orioles on Tuesday, and will now start pitching in Maryland again.
Harvey, the Orioles’ first round pick in 2013, will make his next start next week for the Aberdeen IronBirds at Ripken Stadium. Harvey, 22, pitched three games with the IronBirds last season before needing surgery.
In three starts for the GCL Orioles in 2017, Harvey allowed six hits, no runs and no walks while striking out six in five innings. He is pitching once a week, two innings at a time, until this season ends. He likely will pitch at Low-A Delmarva and perhaps at High-A Frederick this season. He’ll then rest in the offseason with the hope he’ll be ready for a full spring training in 2018.
Due to myriad health issues, Harvey has pitched in only 33 games since his pro debut in 2013.
With the lack of starting pitching in the Orioles’ system, getting Harvey, the son of former big leaguer Bryan Harvey, back on the mound is key. The guess is, if all goes well, he’ll begin 2018 with Double-A Bowie.