4/24 vs. Blue Jays Random Thoughts

Some random thoughts & observations on last night's 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays at Camden Yards:

  • We had a rare weekday OPACY appearance from the YARD GUARD.  Yard Guard #1 had a wrestling championship belt with him that he hoisted up throughout the night.  It was a big gold belt, not unlike the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, which is currently used as the “World Heavyweight Championship” by the WWE.  Tim passed #1 later in the night in the tunnel and reported back that the belt didn’t have a name plate on it nor could he tell exactly what championship it was a replica of.  We’ll keep searching.  The title belt is a nice addition to the Yard Guard gimmick.  They are kind of working a hybrid Silver King/Villanos gimmick, if the Villanos were baseball fans instead of Luchadores.
  • Pre-game, it looked like the O’s might set a new attendance low.  I didn’t think there were more than 3,000 people in the stands at game time but estimated stadium attendance is not one of my stronger points.  The stadium filled in a bit later on, though there still looked to be far fewer people in the stands then the announced attendance of 11,000+
  • Endy Chavez made a nice, if not somewhat routine, running catch in the first inning to track down a line drive in the gap.  The rest of the night, he looked a step or two off on defense.  At one point in the game, the Jays had four hits and three of them had been soft line drives that fell in front of him in left-center.  I am not necessarily saying he should have caught any of those balls, but each time his read and initial jump appeared to be a tad late.  He was also playing very deep throughout the game.  In the 8th and 9th, he was practically standing on the warning track.  I know the Jays hit a lot of homeruns and in a close game, he was trying to keep the ball in front of him, but it seemed a bit excessive at times.  I get playing Jose Bautista at the wall with the tying runner on in the 9th.  I don’t get playing Jeff Mathis the same way with nobody on in the 8th.
  • Speaking of Jeff Mathis, we are hoping the O’s bring him as a backup catcher at some point just so we can attempt to get “Judge” over as his nickname. 
  • I’d prefer the stadium to be packed every night but if the O’s ever become consistently good again, I’ll sort of miss games like these.  You know, cold, Tuesday night games in April against the Jays where the only people that show up are the real dedicated fans with nothing better to do.  Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing better than games like Opening Day where OPACY is sold out with 45,000 enthusiastic, cheering O’s fans.  At the same time, I also like these games where the stadium is basically empty but everyone there is really into the game and having a good time actually be at and watching a baseball game.
  • The ball wasn’t carrying much last night, which shows just how well Wieters hit his opposite-field homerun.  The ball barely made out it, but there is no denying the power from Wieters to be able to drive the ball opposite field like that.  Thames’ miscue allowing the ball to bounce off of his glove and over the fence didn’t hurt, either. 
  • Speaking of Thames, as per usual with low-attended games, there was a lot of heckling of the opposing team's outfielders.  People in lower left field were already over Thames prior to his blunder on the Wieters homerun.  Needless to say, that miscue just invigorated the hecklers.  Thames caught the last out of the 7th inning and turned around to throw it into the stands.  Or so it seemed.  He faked the throw and ran back in towards the dugout, drawing a good amount of heat from the fans in leftfield.  Seemed a bit too much.  If you are an athlete being heckled, I’d think the way to “win” would be to avoid showing any signs that indicate the fans have gotten under your skin.
  • Only other memorable fan moment was what appeared to be a kid, taking a hard tumble over one row of seats while going after a foul ball hit in the lower level on the third base side.  He popped right up so I assume he was okay, but he really went over the seats hard.
  • Pedro Strop was way over with the crowd – at least more than I would have expected.  If he keeps pitching like he is, Pedro’s going to be a huge fan favorite in no time.
  • I question Buck’s use of the bullpen last night.  Patton faced a righty and a lefty, retired both, and then was removed so O’Day could face Jeff Mathis?  Is the Judge (might as well get started now getting that nickname over . . . just in case) really that much of a threat that you have to match up against him?  We then figured that O’Day would pitch the 8th, but of course that didn’t happen either.  Seemed a tad unnecessary to use four relievers in that game, especially with Jim Johnson unavailable with the flu.  The bullpen is getting a lot of work early and last night seemed like a good opportunity to get through a game using “only” three relievers.  If nothing else, I guess having Berken up for a few days should help to that end.  
  • All in all, a very good win from the O’s.  The offense continues to crawl along, but it WILL get better.  If the team can continue grinding out close wins like this in the meantime, that will be huge.  I wasn’t too optimistic about our chances after only getting one run in with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first.  That’s a missed opportunity that usually dooms this team.  Not to mention, Hunter still wasn’t as sharp as he has been.  Given all of that, the Orioles still game away with the win.  The importance of those types of victories cannot be overlooked.