It would be a tremendous upset if the Orioles don’t make at least one change to their pitching staff today after Stefan Crichton threw 59 pitches last night and Tyler Wilson threw 31. However, they may not be ready to settle the Ubaldo Jiménez debate.
As I wrote last night, the Orioles simply could skip his next turn and make him available in long relief. They’re off Thursday and can tweak the rotation.
Anyone who thought manager Buck Showalter was going to announce his plans for Jiménez during last night’s postgame interview on MASN hasn’t been paying attention. Jiménez will find out before the media and fans. And it wasn’t happening 10 minutes after the loss.
Chris Davis stepped to the plate last night, took four pitches from Twins starter Kyle Gibson, released his bat and trotted to first base.
The lumber never left his shoulder until he flipped it onto the grass. Fans would much prefer that scenario over keeping it on his shoulder and carrying it back to the dugout.
Davis began last night’s game tied with the Rangers’ Joey Gallo for the major league lead in strikeouts with 63. Thirty of them were called third strikes, according to a couple of sites, though someone with the Orioles checked and counted 31.
Whatever the exact total, it’s significant and a source of frustration - to put it mildly - with fans who want him to at least go down swinging.
Davis is loath to expand his strike zone and play into the pitcher’s hands. If he thinks it’s an inch off the plate, he’s more inclined to take it. And there are those times, of course, where a fastball down the middle fools him.
His eyes are fine. Gets them checked every spring, like the rest of his teammates, as part of the physical.
The strikeouts provide a storyline every season - along with the home run binges and Gold Glove Award-caliber defense.
“I’m not so sure he gets asked about it all the time. I know I do. I know Scott (Coolbaugh) does,” Showalter said. “I don’t want to say an out’s an out. Chris knows and it’s unfortunate. I’m sure it’s very - I don’t want to say ‘painful’ or whatever - for him because there’s some key spots there and we all know what he’s capable of doing when he makes good, solid contact, so it’s frustrating and it’s certainly something that he knows about, we know about.
“There’s a fine line of talking about it too much and just beating somebody up on something, because we’ve seen that two or three day period where he can just about carry a club offensively. And I think those are the periods that make the other ones so much more aggravating because you know what he’s capable of.”
The look of a club-carrier surfaced in Kansas City and Detroit. Davis hit five home runs in five games while going a combined 8-for-18. But he was 1-for-14 with nine strikeouts against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.
Davis swung at the first pitch from Gibson in the third inning and grounded to first, allowing Mark Trumbo to advance after a leadoff double. He took the first pitch for a ball in the fourth inning and grounded to first on Gibson’s next offering to strand Manny Machado at second base.
With Trumbo at first base and one out in the seventh inning, Davis fouled off an 82 mph changeup, took a 91 mph fastball for a strike and swung through a 92 mph fastball.
In case you were wondering, Davis was batting .248/.358/.483 with seven doubles, nine home runs and 17 RBIs in 41 games before last night. Gallo was hitting .184/.303/.504 with four doubles, 13 home runs and 29 RBIs in 44 games.
Davis is 5-for-28 (.179) with two doubles, three home runs and 11 strikeouts lifetime versus Ervin Santana, who starts tonight for the Twins. Seth Smith is 4-for-20 with seven strikeouts, J.J. Hardy is 4-for-17 with two home runs and Trumbo is 3-for-5 with a home run.
Santana is 4-5 with a 4.87 ERA in 15 career starts against the Orioles, with a 1.300 WHIP in 92 1/3 innings. He’s 2-3 with a 6.09 ERA in eight starts at Camden Yards, with a 1.398 WHIP in 44 1/3 innings.
Santana has been downright nasty for most of the season, going 6-2 with a 2.07 ERA and 0.885 WHIP in nine starts. He’s allowed only 29 hits in 61 innings.
There have been a few hiccups since a torrid start, when he allowed one earned run or fewer in his first six outings, including a one-hit shutout of the White Sox on April 15. He allowed six runs - including four home runs - in six innings against the Red Sox, no runs in seven innings against the Indians and five runs in seven innings against the Rockies.
Dylan Bundy’s streak of quality starts ended at eight in Detroit, but he’s still gone at least six innings in every outing and his 57 2/3 innings ranked seven in the American League before last night. His 1.13 WHIP was 10th and his 2.97 ERA ranked 12th.
Bundy has faced the Twins once in his career and it consisted of one scoreless inning in relief. Only three of the current players have stepped to the plate against him. Chris Gimenez is 0-for-2, Miguel Sanó is 1-for-1 and Joe Mauer is 0-for-1.