Reliever O’Day disputes checked swing, Orioles’ win streak snapped behind back-to-back homers
— Darren O’Day’s appearance on the mound began with consecutive strikeouts.
The Baltimore Orioles’ relief pitcher thought he had retired his third-straight batter, but the first base umpire ruled Detroit Tigers’ outfielder J.D. Martinez’s checked swing ball three. It created a full count and was the first of a nightmarish three-pitch span for O’Day in the top of the eighth inning Sunday at Camden Yards.
“It was a good pitch. I thought I’d get him to swing
at it and I did. [First base umpire] Mark Wegner absolutely embarrassed himself,” O’Day said. “I have a great relationship with a lot of umpires, some I’d consider friends. They have a tough job, it’s a judgement call, but that was pretty egregious. [I] saw the replay, it’s a swing. Hitters that good don’t need extra chances.
“I like that he checked, I appreciate that [home plate umpire] Jeff [Kellogg] didn’t call it because that’s what the first base umpire is supposed to be watching. Strike three, I was headed to the dugout. It’s tough to be an umpire. It’s a tough job, but you’ve got to be better than that.”
Martinez sent the next pitch out of the park.
“When you’re out there trying to do your job to the best of your ability—I’m trying to pitch, he’s trying to unpire—somebody dropped the ball today. I consequentially dropped the ball after that,” O’Day said. “The pitch that Martinez hit out wasn’t a bad pitch, I’m not too frustrated by that. Like I said, he’s a really good hitter, so he doesn’t need extra chances.”
Two-time American League MVP, four-time AL batting champ and the last player to win the Triple Crown Miguel Cabrera followed with a first pitch home run. The back-to-back solo home runs erased Baltimore’s one-run lead and put the Tigers ahead by the final score of 6-5.
“I’ll take the loss. I blew it. The pitch to Cabrera was especially bad, it’s not like me, I’m pretty collected out there,” O’Day said. “I blew that. I’ll take the loss that’s with my name in the box score, but that was terrible. It’s terrible. Games like that, assuming [closer] Zach [Britton] does what he normally does in the ninth inning, that’s a win and a series sweep against a really good team.”
The Orioles (23-13) entered Sunday with a chance for a four-game sweep of Detroit (16-21). The loss also snapped a season-high tying seven-game win streak.
“I look petulant, whiny, because I’m complaining about it, but there’s no accountability,” O’Day said. “That costs games. If we lose the division by one game, there’s no telling what that costs.”
Manager Buck Showalter said he was “surprised the home-plate umpire didn’t call it. It was that obvious.” He made a case for checked swings to be reviewable.
“It’s a tough call. That’s why you see so much inconsistency in it, evidently,” Showalter said. “It’s something we could get right. Obviously, there’s so much discrepancy with it back and forth. It’s obvious the human eye has trouble with it. I’m sure somewhere in the future we’ll fix that, not in my time, though.”
O’Day walked the next batter on four pitches before he was replaced.
Starter Kevin Gausman also struggled, allowing a career-high 10 hits in five innings of work. He surrendered four runs and recorded only a single strikeout.
Gausman allowed one run in each of the first, second, fourth and fifth innings.
Baltimore put three runs on the board in the opening inning behind an RBI double from Adam Jones that scored Joey Rickard and a Jonathan Schoop single that drove in Jones and Chris Davis.
The Orioles took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run home run from shortstop Manny Machado—his 11th of the year, tying him with Mark Trumbo for the team lead. Baltimore held the one-run lead until the eighth inning.
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig