BALTIMORE—The Orioles’ painful defeat in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader in Chicago has heightened attention on the team’s defense. In the two games, the Orioles made five errors. They committed three in the first game and won, and two in the second game, and lost.
They also made several misplays that didn’t count as errors, but were costly.
“I think we’re still learning the game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “A lot of guys are still understanding the speed of the major league game, understanding the preparation that has to come on a day like that.
“A lot of our guys are learning to be a pro at the big league level. I feel really good about the defense that we played up until that day. Those days happen…seven hours of [bad] defense.”
In the second inning, catcher Austin Wynns threw a ball to second—instead of to first—where he could have easily nabbed Chicago’s Ryan Cordell when Andrew Cashner’s strikeout got away from Wynns. The throw ended up in center field, extending an inning and costing the Orioles what turned out to be a vital run.
“I think up until that point, I feel like our guys have been real engaged, in tune, focused on making the routine play,” Hyde said. “We just didn’t do a real good job that day for whatever reason. I don’t want to blame it on cold, wet, no [batting practice], stuff. For me, that was just one of those games where we didn’t play well defensively.”
Hyde also defended the Orioles’ outfield depth. Because of outfielders playing deep, balls have been falling in between the infielders and outfielders.
“We are playing deep and a lot of it is personnel driven, but if you also look at any kind of defensive metric or stat, we’re at the top in the outfield,” Hyde said. “It’s pick your poison a little bit. I like our guys, but we don’t have a ton of team speed and you’re playing guys maybe out of position at times, you’re going to play more conservatively in the outfield.
“Couple that with starters that are fly ball guys. There have been a lot of balls on the barrel so far this year, and so we play a little deeper than league average.”
Another key play came when Jose Abreu singled to center with the bases loaded in the fourth, scoring three runs.
“That wasn’t a playing deep problem,” Hyde said. “That was a situation where a fast runner on first base on the other side of the bag, a right-hander up. They’re running, so you do play a couple of steps deeper in that situation because you’re not going to throw a guy out at the plate on a base hit anyway, so you’re trying to take away the double.
“That was more of an awareness and alert to and a communication issue of. On that kind of play, you’ve got to get to the ball fast, which we did. You’ve got to get the ball in fast, which we did. You’ve got to hit the first [cutoff] guy, which we did. At the same time, your head has got to be on a swivel in the infield, and you’re got to have awareness, and you have to understand the speed of the game, and you have to communicate. Infielders got to talk just like outfielders have to talk.”
In the ninth, first baseball Chris Davis, the Orioles’ most experienced defender, misplayed Adam Engel’s bunt attempt, leading to the winning run for the White So.
It was a frustrating end to a difficult day, when the Orioles could have had a doubleheader sweep,but ended up with a disappointing split.
“Those are the kind of plays we learn from and we grow from,” Hyde said. “I think you get better as an individual player by those things happening to you and all of a sudden you know next time that happens, that ‘I’ve got to understand the speed a little bit more,’ and ‘we’ve got to communicate a little bit more.’ I think a lot of our guys are still learning how to play team defense, and up until the other day, I thought they did a really good job.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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