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.

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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.

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.

Off To A Good Start

After the Brian Matusz news this afternoon I’m sure the spirits of O’s fans were a bit down heading into the opener. 3+ hours later those frowns are upside down after a 4-1 victory over the division rival Rays.

The Good:

Jeremy Guthrie – You might not have been able to script a better start to the season for Guthrie than the 8 inning, 3 hit, 1 walk, 6 strikeout, and 0 ER outing he threw tonight. He mixed up his pitches well, was aggressive in the strike zone, and stayed ahead of hitters all night.

Brian Roberts – Had a key at bat in the 5th inning when he hit a triple that scored Wieters and Hardy. The most impressive thing about the at bat wasn’t even the hit itself. Watching him fight off pitches to keep the at bat alive is exactly what you want to see from your leadoff hitter. I’m sure I, along with many, watched Roberts rounding the bases wondering if we we would see him pull up due to those lingering back issues he had been fighting all spring. Test passed. He looked great rounding bases, a good sign for both Showalter and his fantasy owners.

Nick Markakis – In the third inning, like Roberts in the 5th, he worked Price into giving him a pitch he could handle and hit a clutch 2-out single to give the Birds a 1-0 lead. A great job of situational hitting in the 5th saw him lift the ball into the outfield over a drawn in infield for a sacrifice fly that plated the fourth and final run.

The Bad:

Not much. J.J. Hardy had the only walk of the evening. The Orioles struck out 7 times against David Price, but he finished 8th in the AL last year with 188 so that was probably expected. Jim Johnson gave up a leadoff homer to Ben Zobrist in the bottom of the 9th, but he came back and recorded the next two batters via strikeout before getting Manny Ramirez to ground out to Hardy to end the game.

Good start to a season that started with optimism coming out of spring training. Looks like the O’s are picking up where they left of last season after Buck Showalter took over. More of this please.

Notes:

Brittany Ghiroli, from mlb.com, reported that Matusz will be headed to the DL with a back strain. So we’ll see Tillman on the mound tomorrow in game two and Zach Britton will make his much anticipated debut on Sunday.

5/6 pre-game report- O’s vs Twins

The O’s are back home. They are taking on the Minnesota Twins today and tommorow for yet another 2-game series. The first game will be the Orioles Mark Hendrickson versus the Twins Kevin Slowey. The O’s are 10-17 and 8 games back from the lead in early May, and are trying to get back on track after losing 7 of our last 8 games. Now that you have the breakdown, i will give you the keys to the game.

#1- Shut down Slowey- The 25 year old Texan is doing well again in 2009. He is 4-0 with an unspectacular 5.17 ERA. He can eat innings, averaging about 6 a game, and you have to hit him hard and early to beat him to the punch. He also has 23 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. Actually, this isnt the biggest concern, ill show you why he is 4-0 despite the 5.17 ERA, and thats the Minnesota offense, as they have scored 35 runs for him in 5 starts. let me explain.

#2- Slow down the Twins offense- like i just said, the Twins are tearing the cover off the ball lately. They are averaging 6.8 runs scored a game in their last 5 games and the Minnesota Twins have six hitters over the .300 mark, and have 19 homeruns in the early season, if Hendrickson can hold these guys in check in the littlest bit, our offense can jump on Slowey.

#3- Hendrickson has to pitch decent- That brings me to my next point. Hendrickson is 1-1 and has a 4.97 ERA in two career starts versus the Twins. If he can just throw strikes and avoid getting hit with the longball, he should be good for 5 or 6 innings. The longball has been a problem for Hendrickson in 2009, as he has allowed 7 in 23.1 innings. He needs to let the defense, which has been great lately, exept for last night, to make the plays when they come to them. Hendrickson is trying to improve on his 1-4 record and his 5.79 ERA, and his 4 start losing streak.

#4- top of the line-up needs to stay hot- Espically Brian Roberts, who is hitting .313 in 2009,   is 3 for 8 after an 0-18 slump. He hit .423 in 26 at-bats versus Minnesota in 2008, and needs to keep that success. Adam Jones (.350 AVG) and Nick Markakis (.356 AVG) also need to stay hitting for the O’s to have a chance in this game.

Prediction- It will be a high scoring game today. Both offenses are very potent, and can put up runs in a hurry. It all depends on which pitcher controls the damage the most, and what offense strikes hard first. My projected socre, Orioles 7- Twins 5.

Thats it for now, check back tommorow for a new article.

                                                        Logan Quick

Post-series recap: O’s vs Rangers-4/24-4/27

Game 1 Rangers 6- O’s 5        Game 2 Rangers 6- O’s 5          game 3 O’s 8- Rangers 5      game 4 Rangers 6- O’s 4   OUTCOME- Rangers win series, 3-1

It was an up and down series for the O’s, who lost 3 of the 4 games, but they stayed competitive throughout the series. It was a good effort by the hitters, and the bullpen( with the exception of game 1) and, the starters struggled. I will break down all 4 games.

Game 1- It was a heartbreaking game for the Orioles. Koji Uehara pitched a great game, he went 6 and 2/3 innings, allowing just 2 runs and striking out 6. But in the 9th, closer George Sherill allowed a two-run bomb to perrenial all-star 3B Michael Young after losing Ian Kinsler after working a full count, the a single the batter before. Aubrey Huff had a heck of a game, going 2-4 with a 2 run double in the 4th inning to give the O’s the lead which they held onto until Sherrill blew it with 2 outs in the 9th.

Game 2- This was almost the game of the year. I actually attended this game, and it was very exciting at the end. Mark Hendrickson got roughed up early, allowing 4 homeruns in 4 and 1/3 innings. This could’ve been Hendricksons last start if Rich Hill gets back on time. Brian Bass was the star of the game, finally showing why he made the opening day roster. He pitched a clean 3 and 2/3 innings and struck out 4, and kept the O’s in the game. The game got interesting after Izturis drove in Gregg Zaun, and then Adam Jones drove in Lou Montanez and Izturis to make it 6-5, alas, Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff left Jones stranded.

Game 3- This was the one win for the O”s in the weekend series. Brad Bergesen got rough up, allowing 10 hits and 5 earned runs in 4 innings, but again, the bullpen impressed, going a scoreless last 5 innings and the O’s kept on hitting. Adam Jones got his 3rd homerun of the year, blasting a 3 run shot in the 6th inning, giving the O’s the lead 7-5, and Markakis closed it out, getting an RBI single in the 8th to make it 8-5, and then George Sherrill closed it out in the 9th, giving him his 4th save out of 5 oppurtunitys early on in 2009.Danny Baez also picted a clean 3 innings, 5 through 7,  and didnt even allow a hit and struck out 3. Definally a big win for the O’s.

Game 4- The potential series tie game was a good game. Staff ace Jeremy Guthrie went a decent 5 innings, allowing 3 runs and striking out 4. He left the game wuth the lead, but the pen could just not hold it, as Matt Albers couldnt hold in the 6th inning, and he got the loss. The O’s hitters went on a tear early, scoring 4 runs in the first 2 innings, and then went cold, not one run in the last seven innings. Brian Roberts had a 2 run single to center to make it 4-0 early, but Texas starter Matt Harrison toughened up, shutting us out until he was done after 7. The Orioles could have easily taken 3 of the 4 games, but the bullpen woes in game 1 and 4 made that flip, making it just 1 of 4.

O’s- Angels series preveiw- The Orioles look to win this series after losing the last one, just the second series loss of the early season. We are home again, and we need to take advantage of being at Camden. It is just a two game series, and we have Adam Eaton, who is looking for his 2nd win in game 1, then Uehara, who is looking for his 3rd.

Thats it for now, check back for more colums.

                                                                                                                                Logan Quick