Small ball, big debate (big homer, big controversy, O’s lose 5-3)

J.J. Hardy has batted twice tonight against Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander. He’s laid down two sacrifice bunts.

Good execution. Bad idea?

Neither bunt led to a run, though some of the blame lies at the feet of plate umpire Tim Timmons, who blew a call in the first inning. Nick Markakis clearly was safe, beating Prince Fielders’ throw, but Timmons wouldn’t remove the blindfold.

Manager Buck Showalter didn’t call for Markakis to bunt last night, and there’s no way to know whether he’s pushing the buttons with Hardy tonight. I’m assuming that Hardy wouldn’t have bunted in the third inning if Showalter objected to the first one.

Should the Orioles be giving up an out with Hardy at the plate? Should they be playing for one run against Verlander?

Markakis doubled in the third inning to score Omar Quintanilla and tie the game, 1-1. Hardy moved him to third base, but Adam Jones struck out with runners at the corners and Chris Davis struck out with the sacks full.

The Orioles are 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and have stranded six through four innings.

Miguel Cabrera homered off Tommy Hunter in the first inning. Hunter has served up 28 of them this season.

Down on the farm, Triple-A Norfolk’s Jake Arrieta has allowed two runs and two hits in four innings, with two walks and four strikeouts. Gwinnett’s Rusty Ryal hit a two-run homer off him.

Update: Matt Wieters belted a two-run homer off Verlander in the fifth to give the Orioles a 3-1 and give himself the team’s RBI lead with 61.

Then it got interesting.

Showalter and first baseman Mark Reynolds were ejected in the bottom of the fifth, leaving bench coach John Russell in charge and rookie Joe Mahoney at first.

Reynolds appeared to keep his foot on the bag while lunging for Manny Machado’s throw, but the umpires reversed the call and ruled Jhonny Peralta safe. Reynolds slammed his mitt to the ground, and second base umpire Vic Carapazza ran him.

Reynolds can be fined for equipment abuse, but he didn’t have to be ejected. Carapazza’s the only umpire who saw it. What’s the eye equivalent of rabbit ears?

Meanwhile, Peralta shouldn’t have been on first base.

Otherwise, the umpires got it right.

They need to find a T-ball game to work tonight, and they should take the Tigers’ official scorer with them. How did Machado get charged with an error?

Here’s Arrieta’s final line: 6 2/3 innings, three hits, two runs, two walks, eight strikeouts, one home run. He threw 98 pitches, 62 for strikes.

Update II: Prince Fielder tied the game with a two-run homer in the sixth. Hunter now has served up 29 this season.

If he waits long enough, the umpires might reverse a couple of them.

Update III: J.C. Romero replaced Darren O’Day in the eighth inning with a runner on first base, two outs and Fielder at the plate. Romero shook off Wieters, threw a 90 mph fastball and watched it land in the right field seats for another two-run homer that broke a 3-3 tie.

Romero tried to wave the ball foul. It didn’t work.

Machado doubled in the ninth inning, giving him 10 major league hits, seven for extra bases. The Orioles stranded him.

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