Orioles and Cashner need Saturday's gopher balls to be an aberration and not a trend - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Orioles and Cashner need Saturday’s gopher balls to be an aberration and not a trend

Photo credit: Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports

This obviously wasn’t what Andrew Cashner wanted from his Orioles debut.

The big right-hander, whom the Orioles signed to a two-year, $16 million deal in February to help stabilize the rotation, lasted five innings and allowed five runs (four earned) in the Orioles’ 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards.

One game is one game.

In the big picture, nothing really can be gleaned from Cashner’s outing Saturday.

But there is one nugget of concern: Cashner allowed three homers in his O’s debut. That’s concerning because we all know balls fly out of Camden Yards, but that usually doesn’t start in earnest until the heat and humidity kick up in the summertime.

It’s also concerning because Cashner was coveted by the Orioles because the sinkerballer doesn’t give up lots of longballs. He surrendered just 15 last year in 166 2/3 innings while pitching half his games in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

The most he has allowed in one season in his career is 19 in 2015 – and he was third in baseball among all qualifiers in homers per nine innings last year (0.89). He hadn’t allowed more than two in a game since serving up four to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 8, 2016 while he was with the San Diego Padres.

Keeping the ball in the park is his calling card. And that’s huge for someone who is going make a living at Camden Yards.

And then he allows three homers in five innings Saturday.

“Yeah. I mean, it’s frustrating,” Cashner said. “It’s a small park, but I feel those balls, if they go a couple inches in or a couple inches away, it’s an out. It just comes down to making better pitches.”

In baseball terms, Cashner said the homers were products of not getting more on top of his sinker. The pitches, consequently, were elevated and found too much of the plate.

He said he wasn’t surprised that the balls flew out on a cold night in Baltimore.

“I’m just surprised that a few of my sinkers didn’t run more, but other than that, it’s baseball,” Cashner said.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter stressed that he views Game 1 of the Cashner Era as a blip.

“As the season goes on, guys will reach for their track records, especially a guy like Cash,” Showalter said. “I don’t dwell on it a whole lot. He feels good, he had a good spring. A little late start, but I think he’s only going to get better and better.”

That’s the hope. And there’s no reason Cashner can’t be a whole lot better.

When a sinker isn’t sinking properly, bad things can happen. That can happen to anyone.

So, dismiss this for now as just one shaky start for Cashner.

But keep an eye on the home run totals. Because as we head into summer, that’s something that all pitchers at Camden Yards have to handle.

The hope, and the reason the Orioles opened up their wallet for him, is that Cashner was built for this place.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 1, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Dan, point taken, however I seriously doubt that anybody was “built for this place”.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 1, 2018 at 1:15 pm

      Fair enough. Built for this place as much as any pitcher can be.

  2. Orial

    April 1, 2018 at 10:09 am

    You here about Camden Yards but is anybody built for pitching in Philly or Yankee Stadium 2 stadiums as bad if not worse? It’s one game so we’ll see. I do like his “Bulldog” mentality out there which may be to his advantage considering past(some present) Orioles pitchers I’ve seen rolling their eyes or dropping their head after giving up a homer.

    • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

      April 1, 2018 at 12:14 pm

      I’m with you, Orial. OPACY is not the only offensive-friendly park in the league, nor is it at the top of the list. Also, how many of Cashner’s homers would have been out of any park in the league? I don’t know, and don’t have the time to research it. But it’s an important question that is often overlooked.

      Camden Yards actually had the lowest average number of runs scored per game a few years ago! I think it was 2015 IIRC. And last year, even with horrendous, historically bad starting pitching from the home staff, the Yard was mid-pack for runs scored per game. Such pitching friendly parks as Target Field gave up more runs per game.

      I blame the pitcher, not the stadium. Sure, some pitcher will get burned with the occasional fly ball that lands in the first row or two of the left field stands. But the more common ones that land 10-20 rows back would be out of any stadium, with maybe Fenway being the exception due the Green Monstah.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 1, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      In the summers it’s one of the three most hitter parks in baseball. It evens out in the spring and fall usually. That’s why there’s a little concern imo

  3. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    April 1, 2018 at 10:40 am

    He didnt pitch well for sure. The six hits he gave up – five were xtra base hits. All the homeruns were solo’s, which prevented a big crooked number. His command must improve for sure but as noted he hung in there for sure. Our offense concerns me more at this point than the pitching.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 1, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      The offense will be fine. One dimensional but fine.

      • jkneps63

        April 1, 2018 at 1:28 pm

        Not so sure the offense will be fine, I hope you are right.

  4. MAGICEJS

    April 1, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Looks like our offense stayed in Florida

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