Trying to put a glove on defensive letdowns

The recent box scores tally the seven errors committed by the Orioles in the first three games of their series against the Indians. Ample reason for a manager to grow concerned, and worse.

What’s missing, however, are the other breakdowns in fundamentals and execution, such as the rundown last night with no one covering second base and a trapped runner dashing to third. Players standing around, as Brandon Hyde noted after the 8-7 loss.

There are missed cutoffs or poor decisions to let the ball travel. Throws to the wrong base. Miscommunications between players tracking popups.

The same look from Hyde in the dugout - equal parts disbelief and despair.

Hyde-on-Dugout-Rail-Home-Sidebar.jpgThere isn’t much more to do beyond repeating the process. The players are coached. They’re outdoors early for fielding drills, the same ones applied at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Fla. Mistakes are replayed in team meetings, the viewings meant to remind and remedy.

“You continue to talk and show video and teach, with little plays that come up here and there that we’re just not executing,” Hyde said today in his Zoom call.

The Orioles have committed 37 errors this season. The Red Sox are first on the dubious list at 50 and the Nationals and Astros last at 27.

Errors have been made in a season-high five straight games; the longest stretch since June 15-19, 2019. The Orioles have been charged with 10 in their last five games, 27 percent of their season total.

The Orioles have a .983 or .984 fielding percentage, depending on which site you check, that puts them in the middle of the pack.

Seems like it could have been a lot worse, but again, numbers don’t tell the entire story.

“To be able to win games you have to be able to execute defensively and make the routine play and be in the right spots, hit the cutoff man, especially,” Hyde said. “There’s some things that we’re just continuing to talk as a group, show video. Do a lot of that in our advance work with opening series that we review. We show good plays, show plays we need to get better at, etc. It’s a daily thing.”

The perception that coaching is lacking or to blame is a false one. Anyone within eyeshot can see that mistakes aren’t ignored.

So why are professionals who have been doing this for most of their lives failing at the job?

“That’s tough to answer,” Hyde said. “You have the personnel you have and you do the best you can with teaching and work and spring training, and it’s up to them to perform. We probably throw to bases as much as anybody in the game, and sometimes the game speeds up on some of our players, so you’ll see a wide miss or not cut the ball, like we should have last night. But we have guys on the field that have played in the big leagues for a while now, so to not understand to cut the ball or not understand to run a guy hard on a rundown, that’s reminders that us as coaches ...

“We show advance meetings and show all of our positive and negative plays and continue to teach and learn. But it’s also personnel, too. You do the best you can with what you have.”

Anthony Santander was held back to pinch-hitting duties last night due to soreness in his left ankle, but he’s in right field this afternoon.

“I’m trying to manage it, he’s managing it,” Hyde said.

“I think you’re seeing that he’s not running like he normally does. It’s sore, so I try to get him off his feet as much as possible, DH days. He wants to be in the lineup every day. I can tell that he’s not fully healthy, but he really wants to play and I want him to play. I like watching him play. So it’s just something we’re going to have to manage for a while and hopefully it gets better with everyday treatment, but it’s hard during the season because you have to play so much.”

Bruce Zimmermann, Dean Kremer and Matt Harvey are starting in the weekend series against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.

For the Indians
Bradley Zimmer CF
Amed Rosario SS
José Ramírez DH
Eddie Rosario LF
Bobby Bradley 1B
Ryan Lavarnway C
Josh Naylor RF
Yu Chang 3B
Ernie Clement 2B

Eli Morgan RHP

Note: This is my last post of the day. Be back Friday.

blog comments powered by Disqus