Thursday Thoughts: Missed Opportunity Punctuates Trip Full of Them

This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl WeaverBrooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player stare at more called third strikes that end up right down the heart of the plate than Chris Davis in 2017. The Orioles first baseman has been an absolute mystery at the plate this season. Actually, he looks like he’s attempting to solve a mystery (and he’s not doing well).

Yesterday’s strikeout to end the game in Seattle was the most egregious I think I’ve ever seen.

It’s fitting that 10 days of mostly missed opportunities (more on that below) would end in a missed opportunity like this – bases loaded, down by one, highest-paid player in team history at the dish…and he leaves the bat on his shoulder.

Despite the fact that he spent a month on the disabled list, Davis still leads baseball in strikeouts looking. When you combine the circumstances, it’s unfathomable that Davis was even allowed to hit. Adam Jones sat on the bench, having been given the day off, and watched all of that go down.

I don’t know what Buck Showalter was thinking, only that it made no sense to leave Davis in the game for that spot. It’ll be a week before I’m finished stewing over the absurdity of that non-move.

2. The west coast trip for the Orioles was, on the whole, very bad. Going 4-6 with three of those losses coming by one run and another by two runs is just excruciating. There’s no real way to sugarcoat what the Orioles left on the table. While there’s still six weeks left in the season, opportunities like the one the O’s just had on the west coast won’t be there much down the stretch.

Outside of games against Toronto and a few more against the A’s, the Birds will be playing other teams in contention from here on out. Being a handful of games under .500 already and with so many teams to climb over, the Orioles are basically already in the playoffs.

Don’t get me wrong, there are worse places to be in mid-August. They could be well out of it. The last ten days just feels like a massive missed opportunity.

3. Speaking of opportunity, Anthony Santander is up with the club after being reinstated from the DL. Don’t expect Santander to become any kind of a savior or immediately start taking up playing time, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a limited role at some point over the next few weeks. Remember that he must remain on the roster the rest of this season and for more than a month of next season to shed his Rule 5 status.

Anthony Santander of the Orioles prepares to throw.

GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld

It should be easy for the O’s to hide Santander for the most part. They’ve successfully done it with Ruben Tejada over the last few weeks. I say that confidently because I had to double check that he was actually still on the 25-man roster.

Once September rolls around and the rosters expand, it’ll be even easier to hide Santander. What’s more interesting is that the O’s have already gambled to the point where they feel like he’ll be able to make the club out of spring training next year. This team is obviously starved for outfield talent still. Trey Mancini has developed himself into a great option, but there are still holes on this roster.

I’m not saying Santander is the definitive answer, but he could help fill in parts of the puzzle.

4. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, so hearing that members of the 1992 Orioles are coming back to Camden Yards this weekend to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ballpark has me giddy. Players like Cal Ripken Jr., Bill Ripken, Mike Mussina, Rick Sutcliff and Mark McLemore will be back for what I’m sure will be a good time.

Even better? There will be a home run derby! Brady Anderson, Mike Devereaux, Chris Hoiles, Sam Horn and Joe Orsulak will take part on Saturday in the event. I have no idea how that will play out, but I’m more than interested in hearing about it.

I’m of the age that my only real memories of Memorial Stadium were going to Ravens games there. I attended O’s games on 33rd Street, but was so young that I don’t remember them. I grew up at Camden Yards. I fondly remember being in attendance for the 1993 All-Star Game. I remember watching Cal trot around the warning track for 2131. I was there a year later when Eddie Murray slugged his 500th homer. I was at the game Felix Pie hit for the cycle. I also saw the big-league debut of Matt Wieters and the celebration of 60 years of Orioles baseball.

Camden Yards is 25 years old, and still has the charm of a new ballpark. It’ll always be home to me.

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