O’s aim to raise bar for de­fense

Play in field not up to level that helped club suc­ceed in re­cent years, Showal­ter says

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

Be­hind a pitch­ing staff whose 25,199 pitches this year were the most in base­ball, the Ori­oles de­fense is plenty taxed by the sheer amount of work a ro­ta­tion with a mid­dling strike­out rate and some frus­trat­ingly long in­nings pro­vided it.

And as the sea­son wore down, man­ager Buck Showal­ter made it clear that the de­fense — in some cases in­di­vid­u­ally, but mostly as a whole — wasn’t up to the level that had helped the Ori­oles suc­ceed in re­cent years.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’ve got to im­prove on the start­ing pitch­ing,” Showal­ter said last month. “That falls un­der Cap­tain Ob­vi­ous, and I think we’ve taken a step back de­fen­sively, re­ally, the last year or two at some places. I think we need to get that back in or­der — es­pe­cially with a pitch­ing staff that didn’t strike out that many peo­ple. That’s not go­ing to change overnight. That’s some­thing we were re­ally good at, and I thought it kept us from play­ing a home game in the play­offs last year.

“I think we’ve dropped our guard a bit de­fen­sively. I re­ally do. We try to make a point of em­pha­sis, and I think we’ve kind of low­ered our stan­dards in a cou­ple of ar­eas.”

As a team, the Ori­oles tied for 20th in base­ball with -17 de­fen­sive runs saved,

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Ori­oles short­stop Paul Jan­ish was part of an in­field whose de­fense dropped off sig­nif­i­cantly this past sea­son.

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