Bats Back on Track

The Orioles took the frustrations of an 8-game losing streak out on journeyman Carl Pavano last night and cruised to an 11-0 win. Brian Roberts was 2-3 with 3 RBI, Vlad was 2-5 with a 3-run HR, and Matt Wieters was 2-4 with 3 runs and 4 RBI. As a team they hit .361 and had 13 hits as they forced Pavano to an early exit after 4.2 innings.

A welcome sight for sure on two counts.¬†First we got to see what the lineup is capable of and second a much needed victory was added to the win column. It seems only fitting that they day after I was at the ballpark the streak ended. I’ve seen old ladies have better winning streaks when they play bingo than that team. I’ll take it either way though as I’m just glad we got one and hopefully can start a new streak.

What was lost in the beat down of the Twins pitchers was the fact that Jake Arrieta put together his best start of the season going 6 innings without allowing a run. He gave up only 4 hits and walked 3 in his 108 pitches. Jason Berken came in to throw two scoreless innings in relief, and Josh Rupe came into get the final three outs.

Back to Reality?

After starting the year 4-1 the Orioles have come down off of cloud 9 a bit by going 2-5 since the hot start and now sit at 6-6 and have been knocked off their perch atop the AL East. The reasons behind the losses have been varied, but for whatever reason the team can’t seem to buy a win right now.

From an offensive standpoint, they’ve scored 2.5 runs in the losses, a number that many thought would be much higher with a revamped offense losses or not. On the season Baltimore is batting .226, 11th in the league, with a .282 on-base percentage which has them 13th. With a lineup containing Roberts, Markakis,Lee, Vlad, and Jones you would expect that number to be much higher. While the OBP is low, in looking at the lineup there aren’t alot of high career numbers in the OBP category which leads one to believe this may be a problem all season. The 29 walks through last night’s game had the Orioles tied for last in the AL with the Twins. Is 12 games into the season enough to gather a large enough sample size? It just might be.

From a pitching standpoint it’s just as simple as they’ve given up more runs. In the 3-game sweep at the hand of the Yankees the O’s gave up 7 runs a game. Obviously that won’t get it done, but in looking at the Yankees lineup it’s hard to be that upset. The double header against the Rangers was a microcosm of the season so far for the pitching staff. The 5-0 win in the first game was a continuation of the hot start the staff got off to. The 13-1 loss in the second game ended up being a prelude to the week that was to be ahead

After 2 more games against the 9-4 Indians, 4 games in Minnesota against the 4-9 Twins await. This could be a good chance for the O’s to get some swagger back heading into a brutal stretch that stars Easter weekend with the Yankees, Red Sox, and White Sox all on the schedule the following week.

Jeremy Guthrie Visits MLB Fan Cave

Jeremy Guthrie made use of his off-time in New York by stopping by MLB’s Fan Cave and answering a few questions from O’s fans.

Next Stop: The Bronx

After a day off on Monday and a rain out on Tuesday, the Orioles were back in action last night in the new big ballpark in the Bronx. We found out early on what kind of night it was going to be as Chris Tillman struggled from the first pitch, giving up four straight singles to start the game and the score was 3-0 Yankees before you could blink. The second inning wasn’t much better for Tillman as he gave up three more runs and his night’s work came to an abrupt end.

A.J. Burnett didn’t give the Orioles bats much to hit all night. That’s not completely surprising as April is generally Burnett’s best month. For the first six innings he pitched as well as I had seen him pitch since he’s been with the Yankees. He didn’t appear to be fighting himself, he wasn’t shaking off Martin and his pitches had movement on them.

The lone runs for the O’s came in the seventh, when Matt Wieters and Brian Roberts both hit two-run homers.

Notes

Before the game, J.J. Hardy was officially placed on the DL and Brad Bergesen was recalled and promptly came into pitch 2 scoreless innings in relief.

Orioles in the Power Rankings

We far enough along in the season that web sites are beginning to post their Power Rankings. It’s interesting to see where the Orioles are placed in them:

ESPN has them at 7th in their latest list.

Yahoo! Sports currently has them at 11th.

CBS Sports has them 8th

No matter where you go, it’s good to see the O’s in the upper portion of the list, a far cry from where they’ve been the past few season. I know it’s early and baseball is a long season, but is it realistic to think that they can stay in the top 15 all year? We’ll have to see, but they’re certainly off to a good start.

Split Decision

It was an interesting day at Camden Yards yesterday as the Orioles experienced both ends of the spectrum. In the first game of the double header just about everything went right. In the nightcap, well barely anything went the O’s way.

The Orioles won the first game 7-1 to give the Rangers their first lost and knock them from the ranks of the last unbeaten team in the MLB. Zach Britton left the game after 7.2 innings to a standing ovation after allowing no runs and striking out two in a 103 pitch performance that silenced one of the most potent offenses in the AL. After the game Rangers manager Ron Washington was quite complimentary of Britton saying, “He kept the ball off the fat part of the bat, Give him credit. He did a good job.” Nick Markakis and Mark Reynolds took Colby Lewis deep for their first homers of the year and the Birds cruised to a 5-0 victory.

As well as the first game went, the second game was just as bad. Jake Arrieta was roughed up to the tune of 6 hits, 2 walks, and 8 earned runs in 3.1 innings. The game got off to a good start as Adam Jones got the scoring underway with a solo shot in the bottom half of the second, but then the Rangers bats that were silenced in game one woke up. Josh Rupe came in to pitch 2 scoreless innings before giving way to newly recalled Chris Jakubauska who came in and had about the same amount of success that Arrieta did. The result was a 13-1 loss and a split for the day.

To make things worse, shortstop J.J. Hardy left the game after the second inning of the second game with discomfort in his rib cage. Bad news looks likely as Orioles MLB.com writer Brittany Ghiroli is reporting that he could be out for an extended period of time, perhaps as long as 6 weeks.

The final game of the series is underway right now with no score as Texas bats in the top of the second. A bounce back win will do alot for confidence heading into the off day tomorrow and the team heading to the Bronx for three with the Yankees.

No 162-0

Okay, so now we can extinguish the 162-0 talk and fire up the 161-1 talk. Just kidding on that last part. Something had to give. Justin Verlander had never lost to the Orioles and the Orioles were 4-0. The result, a 7-3 Tigers victory. As much as I would have loved to see an O’s victory, the loss might have come at a good time. There’s a difference between optimism and unrealistic. Anytime I’m seeing ESPN talking about whether or not Baltimore has a legitimate shot at winning the AL East it’s time to put the brakes on. Just a side note, the last Orioles team to start the season 5-0 was the 1970 team that won the World Series. Yeah those comparisons were sure to come out next.

There were some positives to come out of the game though. Derrek Lee hit his first home run, Vlad drove in his first run, and we realized the pitching staff was human and would give up more than one run in a game. To be fair, Verlander has won 17, 18 (twice), and 19 games in the past five seasons so in no way did they lose to an inferior pitcher.

There were a few signs that it wasn’t going to be the Orioles’ night. Their three best hitters so far this season (Roberts, Markakis, and Wieters) went a combined 0-10. In the first four games they committed one error. They committed two in the second inning last night, which led to two Tigers runs. Then there’s the obvious, they gave up more than one run.

All things considered, the O’s are still in great shape. Boston’s 0-6 (that sounds almost good enough to repeat…numerous times) and so is Toronto so there’s plenty of cushion there. And we have games against the Yankees and Red Sox this month so there’s the opportunity to do damage head-to-head, which will go along way. Let’s hold off on the the predictions for a few more weeks. We’ll have a much better idea of what we have then.