Grichuk beats Orioles again; Means notes improvement; Aggressiveness on bases hurts - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Grichuk beats Orioles again; Means notes improvement; Aggressiveness on bases hurts

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Randal Grichuk did it again. Grichuk, who hit four home runs against the Orioles to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a three-game sweep last week, hit a two-run, 10th -inning home run to beat them again.

Grichuk’s homer came on a 1-0, two-out pitch from Cole Sulser and delivered a 5-4 Orioles loss to the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field in Buffalo on Friday night.

It was the Orioles’ third straight loss and their fourth in a row against Toronto, and they fell to 14-17. It’s the first time this season the Orioles have been three games below .500. They trail the Blue Jays by 2 1/2 games for the final-wild card spot as the second half of a 60-game season got under way.

The Orioles scored a run in the top of the 10th on Hanser Alberto’s looping RBI single. Rio Ruiz began the inning at second, moved to third on Cedric Mullins’ sacrifice bunt and scored when Alberto dropped his fourth hit of the game into short right field.

With Ryan McGuire starting the bottom of the 10th on second, Cole Sulser caught Joe Panik’s popout and retired Cavan Biggio on a fly to center before Grichuk homered.

Grichuk has 17 home runs and 39 RBIs in 34 games against the Orioles. In four games this season, he has five home runs and 13 RBIs.

Manager Brandon Hyde elected not to walk Grichuk, who would have been the potential winning run because Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was up next.

“There’s a pretty good hitter hitting behind him, too,” Hyde said in a video conference call.

“I know that Grichuk has been doing damage against us, but I like the matchup of Sulser against him. Guerrero’s swinging the bat well against right-handed pitching this year, better than left-handed pitching.”

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“Sulser was throwing the ball great. He just didn’t execute a pitch.”

Sulser falls to 1-3 and has a 3.68 ERA.

Alberto is among those tired of seeing Grichuk beat the Orioles.

“Every time I see this guy in the batting box, my heart feels a little weary because he’s been good against us,” Alberto said. “Pretty much, he knows what we’re going to throw, and he’s ready for the pitch.”

Means’ night: Orioles starter John Means gave up back-to-back home runs in the fourth by Guerrero and Teoscar Hernandez.

In four innings, Means threw 77 pitches, his high for the year, and allowed two runs on four hits. He’s allowed four homers in his last two starts, and his ERA fell to 8.59.

“It was progress,” Means said. “It still wasn’t good enough. I’ve got to stop giving up the long ball. I thought the changeup was better tonight. Still a lot of work to do on it, but it was better. Fastball command wasn’t great, but I thought I pitched well enough to get by.

“I thought the [home run] to Guerrero was a good pitch, and the next one [to Hernandez] was a little just up the middle.”

The back-to-back homers were the second against the Orioles in three games. On Tuesday, Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot hit consecutive home runs against Tommy Milone.

“I thought it was improved over his other outings,” Hyde said. “He gave up those two solo homers, but other than that he threw the ball really well … I thought he gave us four pretty good innings.”

Means’ next outing probably will be on Wednesday against the New York Mets.

“It hasn’t all come together,” Means said. “I think I really am close. I’m starting to get the pitch count up. That’ll help get everything back to normal.”

Pitching at Sahlen Field was different.

“People are saying it’s a hitters’ park,” Means said. “Honestly, I can’t really tell. It can’t compare to Camden Yards.

“It’s definitely a hitters’ park. It’s cool here. We’ve got a tent where the locker room is. It’s actually really nice. They’ve done a good job of keeping everything up.”

Orioles overly aggressive on the bases: The Orioles tied the score at 2 on Ryan Mountcastle’s two-run single in the sixth against Toronto starter Hyun Jin Ru.

Guerrero scored on Tanner Scott’s wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth to put the Blue Jays ahead, 3-2, and Renato Núñez’s seventh home run of the season tied it at 3 in the eighth. It was Núñez’s second in three games.

In the top of the top of the ninth, Mountcastle was out stealing after reaching on an error by Biggio. After Pat Valaika singled, he tried to take second when Anthony Bass’ pitch was caught by catcher Danny Jansen after hitting the ground.

“Valaika was a dirt-ball read,” Hyde said. “He was just reading, trying to be aggressive with the bottom of the order, trying to do something to get into scoring position. Pat just read a dirt ball, and it didn’t get away from Jansen very far.”

In the top of the seventh, Mullins was thrown out stealing by Jansen, who was exceptional.

“That was a straight steal,” Hyde said. “There was a tag on the butt that was pretty unlucky. He didn’t get his best jump there.” Biggio took Jansen’s throw in front of the bag and made a good a sweep tag on Mullins.

Jackie Robinson Day: Normally, Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated on April 15th, the day that he broke baseball’s color line in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Because of the pandemic, Major League Baseball decided to celebrate Robinson on Friday with all players on every team wearing his No. 42, which has been retired.

With the protests this week, the occasion took on more significance.

“It shouldn’t be more significant,” Orioles reliever Mychal Givens said in a pregame video conference call.

“It should be eventful every day, supporting Jackie Robinson and what he’s done for us … and gave us the opportunity to play baseball. For all African-Americans and little kids, it’s an opportunity to support and bring back the history of what he’s done.”

Hyde lauded first base coach Anthony Sanders for leading discussions in the clubhouse before the Orioles decided not to play on Thursday.

“I’m speaking from my heart,” Sanders said. “It affects everybody a lot of different ways. I don’t know how much change is going to happen overnight … the awareness, the tough conversations that need to be had.

“We’ve got a really good group here, a lot of young kids who need direction a little bit and need a platform to be able to speak their thoughts.”

Schedule changes: The Orioles will make up Thursday night’s postponed game with Tampa Bay as part of a doubleheader on September 17th. The Orioles will be the home team in the first game, and the Rays are the home team in the second game. Both games are seven innings, and first pitch is at 5:05 p.m.

Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets will begin at 4:05 p.m. instead of 7:35 p.m.

Coming up: Alex Cobb will face Taijuan Walker in the second game of the four-game series with Toronto on Saturday at 6:37 p.m.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Bhoffman1

    August 29, 2020 at 8:00 am

    Bad execution is a under statement. I know Guerrero is up next but if your not going to walk him you pitch him very carefully. This guy is a closer on a bad team not a good team. Give the hall to Harvey once he’s activated. Cedric Mullins does a lot of nice things but those strikeouts for a guy with no power are terrible.

  2. Tony Paparella

    August 29, 2020 at 8:30 am

    I wouldn’t let Grichek beat us anymore after this last disappointment last nite. Need a closer with velocity as well as control and movement on the ball.I think there are better in the organization. Just saying, games like last nite are happening more often than not.

  3. CalsPals

    August 29, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Sulser is not a closer on ANY other team in MLB, I’d really like to know what Severino tries telling him on the mound, it was either bad advice, or poor execution, my guess, execution…pitching away the playoffs, pretty bad when you “lower” your era to 8.59, again, think Means best days are behind him…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 29, 2020 at 8:48 am

      Hey Sulser simply served some soft cheddar in the middle of the plate. I agree, he’s not a closer. Maybe the Mullet King can fill that role for us.

      On a personal note, hope you got enough sleep last night!

    • CalsPals

      August 29, 2020 at 2:04 pm

      I may fall asleep in the game tonight…lol…go O’s…

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 29, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Speaking of Means, Hyde said … “I thought he gave us four pretty good innings.”

    Au contraire mon fraire … I think he gave you only 3 good innings … that 4th was well … let’s just say it was less than good.

    And I know it’s tough getting thrown out 3 times trying to steal bases .. and I know I”ll be in the minority … but I like the intent and strategy. I say keep running. If nothing else, at least the abnormally higher than average LOB factor will be lessened. Hah!

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 29, 2020 at 10:15 am

      Ken, Valaika’s play wasn’t a caught stealing. He thought it was a wild pitch, so it’s not charged as a CS.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 29, 2020 at 10:25 am

        Thanks Rich, I knew he went of the throw into the dirt, but am/was unaware they don’t rule it as an attempted steal. Funny, but I think the catcher actually picked that ball before it hit the dirt, I’m surprised it’s ruled a wild pitch (or perhaps it wasn’t?). Great play by the catcher. In any case, I love the running game … keep it up !

        A thought just occurred to me Rich .. .does the catcher get any kind of statistic for his play? (obviously it can’t go into the books as him throwing out a would be base stealer?)

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 29, 2020 at 11:14 am

      It’s not a wild pitch if the runner is thrown out. It’s simply called out 2-6, and the catcher is credited with an assist.

    • ClayDal

      August 29, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      Question about the Valaika play. How would it have been ruled if he were safe? The ball didn’t get past the catcher so it wouldn’t be a wild pitch or passed ball. If it’s ruled a stolen base, then how could it not be ruled a caught stealing. Would it be a fielders choice?

      • Rich Dubroff

        August 29, 2020 at 4:02 pm

        Here’s the rule, John:

        When a runner starts for the next base before the pitcher delivers
        the ball and the pitch results in what ordinarily is scored a wild
        pitch or passed ball, the Official Scorer shall credit the runner with
        a stolen base and shall not charge the misplay, unless, as a result
        of the misplay, the stealing runner advances an extra base, or
        another runner also advances, in which case the Official Scorer
        shall score the wild pitch or passed ball as well as the stolen base.

        Valaika was not running with the pitch, so it can’t be a stolen base or caught stealing. Because it wasn’t fielded clearly by the catcher, it would have to be a wild pitch or passed ball.

  5. Orial

    August 29, 2020 at 8:45 am

    I don’t know everybody says they should have walked Gritchuk but in actuality Guerrero is a more dangerous hitter(Gritchuk just the O’s). Again–I don’t know. Hyde was right,without calling Hyde out and coming right out and saying it–Sulser laid a meatball in there. Is Hunter Harvey ready yet? Read somewhere that Severino is below average in framing pitches. I wonder if setting targets falls under that category(Sulser aiming for a “bad” spot). Is Rutchsman ready yet? Has Hyde lost faith in the offense when he has these runners taking off with reckless abandon? Valaika has that 2019 “bonehead” mentality in his approach but he’s gutsy and tries(better than Stevie with more pop). Can one of these starters give us at least 6 innings please! Means–really?

    • Bhoffman1

      August 29, 2020 at 9:19 am

      Everybody is down on Sisco but he seems to frame pitches better then Serverino. We are not in Camden yet two home runs beat us in two straight games we could have won. Could be the pitchers not the fences.

      • NormOs

        August 29, 2020 at 10:26 am

        THERE IS NO PITCHING!

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 29, 2020 at 11:13 am

          The relievers aren’t that bad. They’re inconsistent sure, but they’re OK. It’s that there are no starters where the problem lies.

  6. mmcmillan1123

    August 29, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Look on the bright side. We are playing tightly contested games and not getting blown out on a regular basis. Until we develop better stating pitching we are going to lose more of these close games than win them. The glass is half full guys!

    • Birdman

      August 29, 2020 at 12:21 pm

      O’s are playing closer games this year. Last season, O’s ranked 29 out of 30 teams in “Run Differential” (only Tigers were worse). So far this year, they rank 20 out of 30 … not great, but definitely progress.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 29, 2020 at 3:16 pm

        Heck, last year we’d be down by double digits by the 5th inning!

  7. dlgruber1

    August 29, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    I see the hitting machine had 4 more last night, including what could’ve been the game winner if Grichuk played for a different team. I really hope they don’t trade him. As for Valaika, he’d had a tough couple games with the two errors the other night and the what I’ll call baserunning mistake last night, but I like the guy. He reminds somewhat of Steve Pearce. He’s a gamer, can play all over the field and can give you good AB’s. As others have mentioned I just like the fact that they’ve been in most every game, they play hard and also are an entertaining team. Simply put, it’s been fun watching O’s games again.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 29, 2020 at 1:30 pm

      Offensively, he’s no Steve Pearce.

  8. TxBirdFan

    August 29, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    I’m looking for Cobb to go 8 innings tonight with Harvey cleaning up. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    • CalsPals

      August 29, 2020 at 2:02 pm

      Agree, not gonna happen…lol…go O’s…

  9. B.C. Bird

    August 29, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    Am I the only fan who thinks Sulser is only good for one inning, wish Hyde agreed with me
    keep the faith

    • CalsPals

      August 29, 2020 at 2:27 pm

      Can’t argue that, just not the 9th…go O’s…

  10. willmiranda

    August 29, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Re: Grichuk. I think every team has its “killers,” guys who play way over their average against them for some reason. But shouldn’t analytics be helpful with analyzing why and planning a response? The present strategy seems to be 85-mph straight pitches –hardly fastballs– down the middle of the plate. Perhaps we need new algorithms.

    • dlgruber1

      August 29, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      Here’s my take. When I watch a guy like a Grichuk, or Torres and Sanchez last season, just stand in the box waiting to launch a pitch, what stands out to me is one very simple thing that used to be a regular part of the game, the brushback pitch. I’m not saying to drill the guy in the ribs but there’s no way a batter should be as comfortable at the plate as he is in BP before the game. The problem is if a pitcher does throw one too tight next thing you know the umps are warning both benches. My God do I miss the game I grew up watching.

    • CalsPals

      August 29, 2020 at 8:24 pm

      Agree, they don’t play the game anymore like they should, miss it…go O’s…

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