Twelve Orioles thoughts following weekend sweep to Boston

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With the Orioles suffering a three-game sweep to Boston in their first home series of the 2021 season, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Baltimore tried to make Sunday interesting with two three-run homers, but the Red Sox clubbed six homers and gave the Orioles payback with a road sweep of their own. Last weekend feels like a long time ago with Brandon Hyde’s club having lost five of six games. It wasn’t pretty.

2. Opponents have gone 3-for-17 with six strikeouts the first time through the order against Jorge Lopez in two starts, which tells you how horribly it’s gone for him after that with his ERA ballooning to 11.42 Sunday. That screams relief pitcher, but you need more innings from somebody. 

3. That “dead fish” changeup from Cesar Valdez can tie hitters in knots, but Saturday’s blown save reminded how vulnerable soft-tossing pitchers are when not commanding their pitches. Valdez just has a much smaller margin for error than someone like Tanner Scott.

4. It doesn’t get much better than seeing Trey Mancini hit a rocket into the bleachers for his first home run since Sept. 28, 2019 on Saturday. Anthony Santander greeted him with a big hug before hitting his own homer on the next pitch. What a cool sequence.

5. Aside from poor 0-2 and 1-2 pitches to Rafael Devers, Bruce Zimmermann pitched quite well over six innings on Saturday with roughly 50 family members and friends in attendance. The lefty owns two of Baltimore’s three quality starts on the young season.

6. In a fair world, a botched rundown in Saturday’s first inning would have resulted in an unearned run for Zimmermann as the Orioles infield made Devers look like Rickey Henderson in struggling to tag him before Xander Bogaerts scored. A major league club has to execute better than that.

7. Speaking of bad baseball, I’m all for occasionally dropping a bunt against the shift early in a count, but Anthony Santander trying that with a 3-1 count against a starting pitcher struggling to throw strikes early isn’t what you want. All that sacrifice did was sacrifice Sunday’s first inning. 

8. Cedric Mullins is 6-for-11 against left-handers after going 6-for-35 as a right-handed batter against southpaws last season. Despite hearing claims from players over the years that suddenly going left on left or right on right would be incredibly difficult at this level, I’d say Mullins abandoning switch-hitting was very wise.

9. Even with a 14-man staff, Sunday illustrated why it’s going to be difficult carrying two Rule 5 pitchers all season. Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells combined to throw 70 pitches and will be unavailable for a couple days, but you can’t just option them for fresh arms. 

10. Mookie Betts (2016), Aaron Judge (2017), Gleyber Torres (2019), and Randal Grichuk (2020) are among those who’ve put up insane single-season numbers against the Orioles in recent years. J.D. Martinez homered three times Sunday. Devers homered four times in the series. The race is on.

11. Abandoning the left field experiment would be premature after only 53 starts counting the minors, but giving Ryan Mountcastle a defensive break was a good call, especially with the rookie off to a slow start offensively. Then again, DJ Stewart doesn’t have the best reputation in the outfield either.

12. You had probably already abandoned Sunday’s game in favor of the Masters or preparing for Night 2 of WrestleMania when Ryan McKenna collected his first major league hit, a triple over Red Sox center fielder Enrique Hernandez’s head. That’s always a fun moment.