Reliever says Martinez did not check his swing before hitting tying homer
By Jake Kring-Schreifels
Special to MLB.com |
BALTIMORE -- Orioles reliever Darren O'Day confirmed what his manager Buck Showalter suspected after the team's 6-5 loss to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. The righty submariner wasn't going to blame first-base umpire Mark Wegner for the deciding back-to-back home runs that he allowed to Detroit, but he was certainly angry with him.
Holding a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning, O'Day came out of the bullpen, struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ian Kinsler, and thought he retired the side -- he even walked toward the O's dugout -- on a slider to J.D. Martinez, who fished and appeared unable to check his swing. Home-plate umpire Jeff Kellogg deferred to Wegner, who believed Martinez held up.
The righty slugger roped the next fastball into left-center field to tie the game. Miguel Cabrera did the same to O'Day on the very next pitch.
"I thought I got him to swing at it, and I did," said O'Day, who gave credit to Kellogg for letting Wegner be the ultimate arbiter down at first base. "[The umps] have a tough job. It's a judgment call, but that was pretty egregious.
"I'll take the loss, I blew it. The pitch to Cabrera was especially bad. It's not like me. ... Games like that, assuming Zach [Britton] does what he normally does in the ninth inning, that's a win and a series sweep against a really good team. It cost us."
The Orioles' bullpen entered Sunday leading the league with a 2.24 ERA. Relievers had held opponents to a .226 batting clip, and during a series that featured a bounty of dangerous hitters, they were the glue that enabled Baltimore's success during its seven-game winning streak heading into Sunday.
Sunday was just the second time O'Day had given up runs during an appearance this season, having only allowed three hits in 4 2/3 innings of relief this month.
"It's unusual, because he's such a good pitcher; has been, will be," Showalter said. "It's more unusual to see the swing called a no-swing. [I'm] surprised the home-plate umpire didn't call it, it was that obvious. But after the fact, I'm sure Darren, he's disappointed."
Until Wegner waved his hands "safe," it looked as though the O's would continue to show their late-inning grit. Starter Kevin Gausman wasn't his effective self -- he survived two bases-loaded jams early as he labored through five innings -- but had O'Day escaped the eighth as he believed he had, Gausman would have still been in line for the win thanks to Manny Machado's fifth-inning go-ahead dinger.
"Obviously not one of my best outings, but just tried to grind," said Gausman, who was inside watching the game on television when Martinez's check-swing wasn't called a strike. "He obviously swung at that pitch. ... [O'Day's] been great for us and will continue to great for us. So that's more rare than anything."
Gausman was relieved by Mychael Givens, who offered two innings of shutout ball -- after maneuvering around a second-and-third situation in the seventh inning -- to set up O'Day for the eighth.
"The pitching has been solid," Showalter said. "It's the thing that's going to allow us to maintain the level we're going to have to compete in our division. You're going to have to take care of business every night and not expect any help. But the pitching has been as good as I could hope for it to be so far."
Showalter seemed measured in his frustration with the call, something he said needs to be more consistently handed out, but the missed opportunity to complete a sweep was something O'Day emphasized as he stood in front of reporters.
"Now I look petulant, whiny because I'm complaining about it, but there's no accountability," O'Day said. "That cost games. If we lost the division by one game, there's no telling what that cost."
Jake Kring-Schreifels is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Orioles on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.