Playing percentages, O's bested by Moreland

April 15th, 2016

ARLINGTON -- Reams of data help teams predict what certain players will do -- for instance, where they're most likely to hit the ball -- but there's no way the Orioles could have foreseen their fortunes in the sixth inning of their 6-3 loss to the Rangers on Thursday.

Clinging to a 3-1 lead in the sixth with two men on and one out, Baltimore was following the probabilities when it had the outfield shifted toward right field against the left-handed-hitting Mitch Moreland. But the decision backfired, as Moreland hit a towering fly ball that sliced toward the left-field line and fell between left fielder Joey Rickard and J.J. Hardy for a double that drove in the first of six Rangers runs that inning.

"Moreland is a dead pull hitter and you've got [Rickard] over at the [390-foot sign on the wall] -- he's got to run a couple football fields to get there," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's probably the only ball he's ever hit there in his career."

Rickard took a straight angle to the ball, but he couldn't cover so much ground in time. Hardy, with his back to the plate and an awkward view of the ball, slowed and backed off as Rickard attempted to field it on a hop before it trickled out of his glove for a moment. Adrian Beltre probably wouldn't have made it to third base had Rickard not bobbled the ball.

After Moreland's blooper, Ian Desmond tied the game with an infield single. Rougned Odor drove home Moreland and Desmond with a double into the left-field corner to give the Rangers a lead they never relinquished.

"It's one of those things. It's perfectly placed, we have our reports on him and he beat us on that one," Rickard said. "Right away, yeah, you feel like you can catch everything. Maybe a better jump, or something like that, I come up with it. But it got me that time."

Starter Chris Tillman surrendered all six of the Rangers' runs. He wound up with the loss, in large part due to the seeing-eye fly ball from Moreland.

"He makes a great pitch to Moreland but doesn't get the return that you normally get," Showalter said.