With the Orioles falling 2-1 on a walk-off home run from Kendrys Morales on Saturday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. You won’t find a worse breaking ball than the one Tyler Wilson threw to Morales. Since Brad Brach warmed up in the top half of the inning, I was surprised to see Wilson still out there, but Brach was only available to close, according to Buck Showalter.
2. Marco Estrada labored early for the Blue Jays, but the starter gave the Orioles lineup fits with his changeup over seven shutout innings. Baltimore consistently has problems against pitchers who are more about finesse and changing speeds than velocity.
3. You never want to lose, but the performance of Alec Asher in his Orioles debut was an encouraging development for the big picture. Showalter couldn’t have asked for more from the former Philadelphia hurler, who was only acquired late in spring training.
4. Asher threw an impressive breaking ball to get some big outs when he needed them. He’s not going to overpower you with the two-seam fastball, so he needs his secondary stuff in order to compete.
5. The right-hander left a few too many fastballs up in the zone early as he benefited from some good defense behind him. The transition from the four-seam fastball to the two-seamer last year has paid dividends, but Asher clearly wants to live lower in the zone moving forward.
6. Asher certainly earned another opportunity as the fifth starter, but it’s fair to wonder how much of his success was the result of a Toronto offense that’s been woeful so far in 2017.
7. The Orioles certainly wasted early chances against Estrada, leaving five runners on over the first three innings. They went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday.
8. Jonathan Schoop missed a golden opportunity to double off Jose Bautista with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. I’m still not sure what happened there as Darwin Barney then picked up the go-ahead RBI single off Donnie Hart two pitches later.
9. Adam Jones made a strong throw to the plate on Barney’s run-scoring hit to almost nail Bautista, but the one-bounce throw skipped away from Welington Castillo. The Orioles likely would have gotten a cleaner hop if that game were being played on grass instead of turf.
10. Craig Gentry showed in the ninth why the Orioles like him, stealing second and tagging up on a fly ball to go to third before scoring on Schoop’s game-tying sacrifice fly. His speed is an asset if he can hit a little bit, but that’s a big question right now.
11. You could tell by Mark Trumbo’s reaction that he missed a very hittable pitch from Estrada as he flied out to end the top of the third with two runners on. He was 0-for-4 and doesn’t have an extra-base hit since his walk-off homer and double on Opening Day.
12. Seeing all uniformed personnel wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day has become one of my favorite traditions in recent years. The importance of this man to both baseball and America needs to be celebrated and remembered.