Blach roughed up in series opener vs. LA

September 11th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Hours before the Dodgers mathematically secured their playoff hopes with a 7-3 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards, two of Baltimore's top decision-makers publicly lauded what they've watched Los Angeles accomplish this decade from afar. Manager Brandon Hyde called the Dodgers "a model franchise." O's executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias put their player development proficiency in the same breath as the Astros', whose system Elias helped build and hopes to duplicate in Baltimore.

The comparisons -- between where the Orioles are and where they want to be -- have come frequently this year with regards to the Astros and Cubs, Hyde's old franchise. But in many ways, similar parallels can be drawn to what the Dodgers have done, especially in scouting, analytics and other key spaces.

"Their front office has made great decisions," Hyde said. "They just have a really good thing going. They have a ton of talent, some cream-of-the-crop veteran guys, and they just continue to roll."

So it was Tuesday, when their superiority was plain to see in the opener of a rare series between two franchises currently on opposite ends of the competitive spectrum. The Dodgers celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse postgame, having officially clinched their seventh consecutive National League West title. For the rebuilding Orioles, their ninth loss in 10 tries came on a day that brought more significant structural change to their organizational ranks.

"I was saying in the third or fourth inning, 'I'm glad our guys are watching this,'" Hyde said. "Because this is what it looks like in October."

On the field, Tuesday's loss came largely at the hands of Walker Buehler and Corey Seager, the latter of whom twice homered off over the game's first two-plus innings. Seager entered play 4-for-23 (.174) lifetime against Blach; he promptly pulled a three-run shot in the first, lofted an opposite-field two-run tater in the third, and the Dodgers cruised from there. Buehler padded his mid-ballot NL Cy Young Award candidacy by fanning 11 across seven shutout innings, before the Orioles scratched three runs off reliever Casey Sadler in the eighth.

"That was a clinic, from the first pitch through the seventh [inning]," Hyde said. "That was a straight pitching clinic tonight."

It marked the latest in a string of rough outings for Blach, who'd enjoyed some of his best career moments against the Dodgers, and famously beat Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day in 2018. From 2016-18 with the Giants, Blach pitched to a 1.88 ERA over 60-plus innings against LA. But this season, he's now allowed 13 runs in just 5 2/3 frames to the Dodgers. Since joining Baltimore in mid-August, Blach is 1-2 with a 12.00 ERA in seven appearances.

"They're a good hitting team, they always have been," Blach said. "Every guy in that lineup can hurt you. You have to be on top of your game when you face them."

Blach would know as well as anyone else on the Orioles, who, historically, match up with the Dodgers ultra-infrequently. Tuesday marked Blach's 14 regular-season appearance against LA; the Orioles and Dodgers met for the first time in the regular season in 2002, and have played just 13 times since. Prior, they'd only squared off in the 1966 World Series, which Baltimore swept.

Which is why it was with odd timing that the Dodgers arrived in town Tuesday, not only with a chance to clinch, but with Elias having so recently taken sweeping steps toward re-calibrating Baltimore's player development operations. He spoke directly about his desire to more heavily implement technology and data down on the farm, where the Dodgers are seen as industry leaders in doing so.

Later, Hyde extolled how the fruits of those development initiatives so routinely bloom at the big league level, praising Los Angeles' ability to stockpile talent, versatility and depth. For his inexperienced group, it provided an up-close-and-personal teaching moment.

"It just shows you how good you have to be," Hyde said. "Look at the athleticism on the field, and [Max Muncy and [Justin] Turner aren't even in there. They have so many movable pieces. They've put together a really good roster the last handful of years."