Cobb can’t catch a break and Orioles can’t get on track

Alex Cobb will get crushed on social media again today because he lasted only 3 1/3 innings, a shorter outing than his debut in Boston, and left with the Tigers ahead 7-3. One fan on Twitter referred to him as “garbage.” Meanwhile, Cobb couldn’t get a strike call from plate umpire Larry Vanover down in the zone and the Tigers dinked and dribbled him to pieces in the first two innings before Jeimer Candelario’s two-run shot in the fourth.

Cobb’s second start with the Orioles concluded with his ERA at 15.43 in seven innings, but let’s take everything into account while critiquing his performance.

All of the hits counted, of course, but I’d say only one of seven over the first two innings had a legitimate exit velocity attached to it. Probably won’t provide much comfort to Cobb or a team that’s threatening to lose its sixth in a row, but it’s a fact.

So is Cobb’s personal game of catchup after signing on March 21. We’ll never know how he would have fared with a normal spring training, but he understood the risks of waiting out the market.

Ground balls kept finding holes today. Plays weren’t made behind him, which is going to intensify the criticism over Manny Machado’s move to shortstop. Even the usually dependable Trey Mancini missed the cutoff man and allowed José Iglesias to reach third base on a play generously scored a triple.

Tim-Beckham-swing-gray-sidebar.jpgThat’s a two-base hit and an error on another ground ball that got past Tim Beckham down the line.

James McCann led off the inning by reaching on Beckham’s throwing error. JaCoby Jones grounded a single into left field. Both runners scored on Jones’ hit, another ball that didn’t get airborne.

Second baseman Luis Sardiñas couldn’t knock down Jeimer Candelario’s chopper into right, the ball nicking his glove and giving Detroit a 4- 2 lead. Miguel Cabrera reached on an infield hit to load the bases on a ball that Beckham charged but failed to barehand, and another run scored on a fielder’s choice after Beckham bobbled Nick Castellanos’ grounder and lost the chance at a double play.

Two runs were unearned in the inning.

Beckham didn’t retreat to the bag in the fifth on a ball that Machado backhanded in the hole, loading the bases with no outs, and Mike Wright Jr. hit Dixon Machado to force in a run and served up a grand slam to Leonys Martin.

It may seem unfair to keep comparing Beckham to a Platinum Glove and two-time Gold Glove recipient, but the Orioles ignited that debate by returning Machado to his original and favored position.

Meanwhile, Vanover’s strike zone starts at the top of the head and ends at the bottom of the chin. He’s giving new meaning to the phrase “FaceTime.”

Cobb was trying to work down before elevating his splitter in the fourth, and Vanover wouldn’t cooperate with him.

No wonder his pitch count stood at 48 after two innings, with 34 thrown in the second. The defense and plate umpire wouldn’t let him off the mound.

Martin grounded a single up the middle to lead off the bottom of the first inning and Candelario followed with a ground ball into right. Of course, Martin ends up scoring on Victor Martinez’s two-out line drive single to left.

Was anyone really surprised?

The Orioles have been outscored 23-5 in the first inning despite Mancini batting .346 as the leadoff hitter prior to today and Machado crafting a .319/.402/.528 slash line. Machado homered in the third inning.

Cobb will get better. He hasn’t suddenly lost it. But the Orioles might already be buried in the division if they don’t improve in every facet of the game.

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