There are a lot of reasons why the Orioles are a bad baseball team, all of which were on display in Baltimore on Wednesday night.
They were only credited with two errors but their fielding was sloppy all night and kept giving the Yankees extra chances and extra bases that turned into runs. Their pitchers exacerbated the problem by not throwing enough strikes, but the worst problem was the way their hitters bailed out CC Sabathia.
Eight Orioles reached base in the first three innings but the team could only bring two of those ducks home from the pond. They had a pitcher on the ropes but couldn't deliver anything more than a couple of glancing body blows. Anyone who has seen Sabathia knows that it is going to take more than a couple of soft shots to the gut to stop him from doing his business and anyone who has seen him face the Orioles knows better than to expect a different outcome.
After Wednesday night's 4-2 win, Sabathia is 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA against the Orioles this season. He's 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA against everyone else. Those four wins have all come in his last 10 starts, while the other six have resulted in three losses and a 5.64 ERA.
Those early troubles that the Orioles failed to turn into a crisis are just what Sabathia has been unable to avoid when facing teams that don't have cute little birds on their caps. His walk rate's up, his swinging strike percentage is down and he's been prone to giving up homers more often than in past years. The Orioles don't take advantage of that, but other teams have been and that's why Sabathia's results have been a bit disappointing so far in 2010.
So we should be worried that CC won't see the Orioles again until September, right? Or should we be worried that years of heavy use are finally catching up to his left arm?
You'll always worry about such things a little bit, but there's not much evidence that his arm is fatigued. His velocity is good, he's working deep into games and, per Pitch F/X, his pitches are still moving a fair amount.
Sabathia also had patches in 2009 where he wasn't particularly effective before bouncing back for a terrific last few months, including the postseason. He may be feasting only on Orioles right now but plenty of reason exists to believe that he'll be adding other items to the buffet table in the weeks to come. He just has to make it happen because he'll be going hungry until September otherwise.