Friday, April 30, 2010

(4-18) O's manage 1 vs. Yanks, worst in MLB

Everey team in the major leagues has at least 8 wins - except the Orioles. They have 4.

The 4th win came against the Yankees with Kevin Millwood on the mound. Millwood lasted just 5 1/3 innings, but kept the O's in the game by allowing just 2 runs and leaving with the score at 2-1, thanks to a bases loaded walk by Cesar Izturis. Yes, he does take walks occasionally. The O's had 3 RBI singles in the bottom of the 6th from Rhyne Hughes, Nolan Reimold, and Izturis, who somehow got his 3rd RBI with a single in the 8th. He's not exactly an RBI machine. Alberto Castillo kept his ERA perfect and picked up the win, as Alfredo Simon, called up in place of Kam Mickolio, picked up his first career save. The 2 runs he allowed were unearned because of Izturis' error.

The 2nd game was ugly, as Jeremy Guthrie (0-3) had his first poor start on the season, allowing 7 runs in just under 5 innings. Despite 11 hits, including a home run and 3 hits from Nick Markakis, the O's fell 8-3.

Brian Matusz (2-1) picked up his 1st loss in the finale, pitching decently over 6 innings. He allowed 3 runs on 9 hits and surprisingly had just 2 strikeouts. The O's had only 3 hists and lost 4-0.

In other news, Chris Tillman threw a no hitter for AAA Norfolk on Thursday. Brad Bergesen, who has pitched well, is expected to be recalled to make Saturday's start, and will be joined by Koji Uehara. I don't know who will be sent down. No clue. But the O's did designate lefty reliever Wilfredo Perez for assignment to make room for Simon. Stupid.

Monday, April 26, 2010

(3-16) O's end 10 game losing streak vs. Boston

The O's really make things harder than they need to be don't they?

Jeremy Guthrie started the opener, surrendering 3 runs in 6 innings. A 2 run homer by Adam Jones in the 7th and an RBI groundout by Luke Scott in the 8th were enough to time the game at 3, until reliever Matt Albers and Will Ohman combined to walk the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th. Jim Johnson was called in to finish the inning off, but walked in the go-ahead run. Albers picked up his 2nd loss, the final score being 4-3.

Brian Matusz picked up 4 more KS but had only a mediocre start, going 6 innings and also allowing 3 runs. Still, thanks to an RBI double by Scott, an RBI single by new callup 1B Rhyne Hughes, and a solo homer by Ty Wigginton, his 6th, the O's managed to stay close. Unfortunately Albers had a 2nd consecutive rough night, giving up 3 runs in just 1/3 of an inning. A 9th inning rally with another home run from Jones and RBI singles from Matt Wieters and Scott were not enough, as the O's fell a run short and lost 7-6. Albers picked up the loss and stands at 0-3. The O's had 15 hits but to no avail. Jones, Nick Markakis, Miguel Tejada, and Wieters each had 2 hits, Scott had 3, and Wigginton had 4. Markakis added 2 walks.

In the series finale, David Hernandez was unable to stretch his shutout performance into the 6th inning, being charged for 3 runs before leaving the game. Markakis and Tejada delivered with an RBI double and 2 run home run to tie things up and James Johnson sent the game into extra innings by throwing a scoreless 9th. Hughes and Wieters drove in another 3 runs with 10th inning singles, putting the O's in a position to win. Johnson returned for the 10th inning and allowed 2 runs before finally putting the team back in the win column.

Wigginton is really roaring, hitting ,327 and slugging .712 with 6 home runs, 10 runs, and 12 RBIs, all team highs. Wieters is batting .324 with 7 RBIs, Tejada, .283 with 9, and Markakis .282 with 9 runs scored. On the other extreme Garrett Atkins is struggling with a .220 average and 5 RBIs. In other news, the O's will need a starter on Saturday and the choice seems to be between Brad Bergesen and Jake Arrieta. Should be an interesting decision.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

(2-14) More bad news as O's swept by Mariners

Brad Bergesen's start in Game 1 of the series was enough to get him demoted. His 7 runs (4 earned) in 2 2/3 innings put the O's so far behind that Luke Scott's RBI double and Ty Wigginton's 5th home run went unnoticed in the 8-2 loss. Bergesen, who was 0-2 with a 12.19 ERA in 3 starts, will join Chris Tillman in the AAA rotation. Tillman, by the way, is struggling big time. If you remember, I said that sending him down would only mess with him. I'm just saying...

The second game produced only 4 Oriole hits and 1 run on a Nolan Reimold double. David Hernandez allowed 3 runs in 6 1/3 but took the loss, his third on the year. The final score was 3-1.

Kevin Millwood's complete game was not enough to win the finale, and the man with a 3.38 ERA is now 0-3 on the year. Opposing pitcher Felix Hernandez allowed just one run off an RBI single by Matt Wieters. All 9 of the O's hits were singles, led by Nick Markakis with 3. Lou Montanez and Garrett Atkins each had 2.

Left-handed reliever Alberto Castillo replaced Bergesen on the roster and the O's will go with 4 starters for the rest of April. Meanwhile, we saw a lot of lineup changes. Adam Jones and Montanez both took turns in the leadoff spot, while Wigginton has seen time in the 2 hole and everyone from Wieters to Reimold has batted cleanup. What will we see next? I'm just waiting for Kevin Millar to come back from retirement and save the day. Until then...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

(2-11) O's win 1 vs. A's! Hot Pie goes to DL

If you notice, there's been a theme to the last few blog posts. The template is something like the following: Orioles swept (or almost swept) by ___ (fill in the team), lose ___ (enter player's name) injured, put on the DL. But at least the O's ended a 9 game losing streak today, even if they did lose the first 3 games in the series. Ty Wigginton is on a roll by the way.

David Hernandez struggled in every inning of Game 1, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) in 5 innings. On the bright side, he struck out 6 and walked only 1, but he still fell to 0-2. Kam Mickolio allowed a run in his season debut and Adam Jones provided most of the offense, going 3 for 5 with a double, triple, and an RBI. The O's lost 6-2.

Kevin Millwood's ERA stands at 2.89, but his record at 0-2 after 6 innings of 4 runs (3 earned), 0 walks, and 9 strikeouts! Who saw this coming? The O's only runs came off a 2 run homer by Wigginton, although Nick Markakis, who is also heating up, added 2 doubles in the 4-2 loss.

Jeremy Guthrie also lowered his ERA to an impressive 3.15, allowing just 2 runs (1 earned and you can see that some errors are being made) on 6 hits over 6 2/3 innings. He left with the game tied thanks to a 2 run single by Garrett Atkins and the O's pulled ahead with a sac fly by Wigginton, but James Johnson was unable to convert his first save opportunity, giving up 2 runs and losing the game 4-3. Miguel Tejada, who was 3 for 3, left the game with an injury but does not expect to go on the DL...fortunately.

Brian Matusz remained the only Oriole with a win as he picked up his second, ending the losing streak and striking out 8 more in 6 1/3 and allowing 3 runs. Johnson recovered and picked up a 2 inning save, helped by Wigginton's 4 RBIs from a double and HR, and 2 hit performances from Jones, Markakis, and Cesar Izturis.

Felix Pie was placed on the 15 day DL. He had been hitting .400 and will be replaced by Lou Montanez.

Markakis is among the league leaders in doubles with 5 and is 8 for his last 25. Wigginton has 4 home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 23 at bats, in which he has 8 hits. Guthrie is among the league leaders with 20 innings pitched. Matusz leads the AL with 23 strikeouts and Millwood is not far behind with 21. Will Ohman has not allowed a run in 7 appearances.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

(1-8) O's drop 3 to Rays, solve Gonzalez problem by shipping him to DL

Felix Pie is hitting .471 and slugging .765. Matt Wieters is batting .345. Ty Wigginton, Luke Scott, and Miguel Tejada each have 2 home runs and Tejada 7 RBIs. All that being said, the Orioles record now stands at 1-8. Wow.

Jeremy Guthrie fell to 0-2 despite pitching effectively for a second consecutive start with 3 runs and 5 strikeouts in 7 innings. The bullpen allowed 2 more runs in the 8th and 9th and Pie's 1st inning solo shot was the only sign of offense in the 5-1 loss. Pie was 6 for 9 in the series.

Brian Matusz seven scoreless innings were undone by four straight seeing-eye singles in the 8th. The bullpen was unable to hold those runners and they all scored. Matusz did finish with 8 Ks and only 1 walk. Thanks to 2 home runs by Wigginton and a pinch-hit homer by Scott, the O's managed to force extra innings. Matt Albers ultimately picked up the loss, surrendering 3 runs and failing to record an out in the 10th inning as the O's lost 8-6.

The finales was an ugly 9-1 loss as Brad Bergesen survived only 3 innings and gave up 8 runs, 5 earned. Jason Berken did come in and pitch 5 innings of 1-run ball, but a Tejada homer was all the O's had to show.

Mike Gonzalez was officially placed on the DL with shoulder problems and Kam Mickolio was recalled. Mickolio, like he was in Spring Training, has been dominant but extremely wild for Norfolk. The bullpen is really looking like a mess...

Monday, April 12, 2010

(1-5) O's swept by Jays as Roberts goes on DL

The Orioles fell to 1-5 as the result of poor hitting and some late inning collapses.

Brad Bergesen struggled in the home opener, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits in 4 2/3 innings, but Miguel Tejada tied the game with a 2 run homer, his first of the year, and Cesar Izturis' RBI single in the 8th put the O's in a position to win. Unfortunately, Mike Gonzalez blew his second save in the 9th as the O's fell 7-6.

David Hernandez pitched well in the second game, striking out 5 in 6 innings and allowing just 2 runs despite his 4 walks, but it was not enough to overcome the O's complete lack of hitting. They dropped the game 3-0.

The O's got off to a hot start in the series finale with Miguel Tejada getting his team-high 6th RBI on a first inning double. Kevin Millwood threw seven innings with only a home run by Alex Gonzalez before giving up 2 more in the 8th. As a kind of bizarre side story, Nick Markakis picked up his league leading 9th walk, although he is batting just .167. Ultimately, the Jays won easily, 5-2.

Brian Roberts, who suffered an abdominal injury, was placed on the 15 day DL and the O's called up 2B Justin Turner, although Julio Lugo will continue to receive the majority of the starts.

For those of you who are starting to panic, I would ask why you had such high expectations to begin with...but you probably have good reason. The O's are hitting .236 collectively with only 19 runs in 6 games. Their closer has allowed 4 runs in 2 innings, blowing 2 saves and barely surviving his 1 successful save. Their franchise player just went on the DL.

That being said, their starters have a 3.89 ERA, which includes Bergesen's start. Their relievers, minus Gonzalez have a 3.52 ERA. As a team they have committed just 1 error. 3 of their 5 losses have been by 1 run. The Orioles are not a great team, but they are not as bad as their 1-5 record indicates. Given some time they should make their way back around the .500 mark - hopefully by the end of April.

Friday, April 9, 2010

(1-2) O's win last of 3 against Rays to start the season

The O's managed to grind the last game out and get off to a 1-2 start. Matt Wieters went 6 for 12 in the series, including his first home run. Garrett Atkins was 4 for 12 and added 3 RBIs, already surpassing the total I had predicted he would get in all of April.

Kevin Milwood pitched decently in the opener, giving up only 2 runs and striking out 5 but going only 5 innings and allowing 10 base runners. The O's hit well (11 for 37) but stranded a lot of runners and scored only on solo home runs from Adam Jones, Luke Scott, and Wieters. With a 3-2 lead in the 9th, new closer Mike Gonzalez blew his first chance at a save and the O's fell 4-3.

The second game also ended in a 4-3 loss. Jeremy Guthrie got off to a great start and faded some late, ending with 3 runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out 6. After Cla Meredith allowed a home run in the 8th, the O's almost came back in the 9th, scoring 1 but stranding a runner on 3rd with 2 outs. They managed only 6 hits over the game.

The series finale leaned more in the O's favor, as starter Brian Matusz struck out 7 in 5 innings of 2 run ball. He also allowed just 2 hits, but was a little on the wild side with 5 walks. Still, Nolan Reimold hit his first home run of the season and Atkins added 2 RBI's which were enough for Gonzalez to earn his first save, despite loading the bases in the 9th. The final score was 5-4.

Felix Pie suffered an injury in the first game and sat out the next two. He is day-to-day.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April predictions

It's Opening Day for the O's and Kevin Milwood will hopefully put the spring behind him and take on the Rays and James Shields. I have a few predictions to make regarding the first month of the season:

- Garrett Atkins will be pitiful. I'm thinking an average around .200-.220 with almost no power. The O's may just stick with him or try Ty Wigginton or Luke Scott at first base, but I predict that Brandon Snyder will get off to a hot start in AAA and be on the verge of promotion by the end of the month.

-Koji Uehara will be on the DL. He will either not have recovered by then or have come back only to reinjure himself.

-Miguel Tejada will not be the cleanup hitter. Look for someone else to emerge, maybe Nolan Reimold or even Adam Jones.

-Kam Mickolio
will be on the roster. There are too many iffy pitchers on this team for all of them to survive the first month of the season. That list includes Jason Berken, Matt Albers, and Will Ohman.

-Matt Wieters will be leading the team in home runs and Brian Matusz in wins.

Recipe for the AL East in 2010 – by Matt Hoyt, guest writer (and frequent commentator)

Though it’s not much of a surprise at this point, the Orioles will once again struggle to stay afloat in their tough division. The always competitive AL east features an aggressive fight for top, as well as a passive strain to avoid rock bottom. The top tier – of all baseball and not just the AL East – includes the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees. On the flip side, the Blue Jay and Orioles, birds of a feather, will struggle together in a season that may be more difficult than any in the last few years. With half the payroll of the 200 million Yanks and 170 million Sox, the Rays, Jays, and Os have no shot in the “pay-to-play” baseball arena. Instead, all three are testing the field with the “build-to-the-best” model. One of these clubs has succeeded.

1. SWEET: This next season, the talent-rich Rays have a legitimate shot of not only winning the division title, but also getting back into the Big Series come November. With their strong pitching, cost-efficient hitting and fielding, and balance of steals, homeruns, and a high OBP (.343), this is the team to watch. Expect their top four pitchers (Shields, Garza, Niemann, and Price) to succeed in front of a strong defense. Their relief corp should draw from the same flexibility that spelled success in 2008 (even if Soriano isn’t a long-term answer). Their starting lineup hasn’t changed a bit, which spells stability for an all-around great roster. If only the Os could be more like the Rays…

2. SOLID: Hitting improvements coupled with the best talent money can buy means the Yanks will give the Rays a serious challenge. But, that said, money isn’t everything. Pettitte is growing older by the second, Vasquez has already failed in the AL once, Burnett is all over the place at times, and I just don’t know about Hughes. Though their pitching looks like it improved, I’m not sure I’m ready to give the Yanks the benefit of the doubt. The level of talent beneath these starters has shown promise (Alfredo Aceves and Joba), but there’s plenty left to be desired. The infield, on the other hand, may be the best bar none. The beauty of Jeter, Teixeira (I’m jealous), and A-Rod playing at their peak is unmatched. Throw in come-back kid Cano, age-doesn’t matter Posada, and two solid acquisitions in Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson, and there’s oodles of potential. Though injuries could slow them down (as they could any team), watch out.

3. SPOILED: The truth about the confines of cash will hit the Sox particularly hard, as their aging talent and win-at-all costs spending won’t get them far enough. Though there’s some brilliance in their lineup (Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Youkilis offer plenty of bang for their buck), there’s also a lot of wasted space. I just can’t respect the aging wonders like Ortiz, J.D. Drew, and Beltre, who seem to get more mediocre as their careers get artificially extended by past success. Mike Cameron, though old, will probably be a good addition, as will John Lackey. Their pitching will be solid (with the exception of Dice-K), but I’m not sure it will be enough to pass the Yanks or Rays. There’s a lot of promise (and the team clearly wants to win it all now), but I don’t think it will be enough. PS: Victor Martinez can hit, but he really can’t catch. My advice for fantasy owners is to avoid Boston pitchers when he’s behind the plate.

4. SOUR: The Orioles have a young team with plenty of talent (well, at least in the outfield they do…), but some iffy acquisitions and a brutal schedule will keep them grounded. It must be bitter to be in the bottom half of the AL-east, seemingly trapped in the mediocre 3/4/5 spots of the division. Though I’ll leave most of the Oriole commentating to Tim, I have doubts about their additions of Tejada, Atkins, and Millwood. There’s a lot of up-and-coming talent, but their pitching last season was close to the worst of all the major leagues. There’s also a host of problems with their infield, but I’ll leave that for future commentating. If they want to be the next Rays, they’ll need at least two more seasons for everything to fall into place.

5. SUCKS: Last and least, the Blue Jays will struggle to find a flight path under their weak defense and questionable pitching. Without Halladay, there isn’t much worth celebrating for the team. It’s nice to see Marcum back (he has a lot of talent), but don’t expect any pitcher on the team to post a sub-4.00 ERA with the Jay’s miserable outfield defense (Vernon Wells is old and Lind/Snider are slow, and that’s that). I like young guys like Lind and Hill on the roster, but I can’t help but feel their stats are wasted. This team is like the Orioles, but with worst hitting, worst defense, and even more age issues. Ouch.

Though it’s only a slight departure from last year, this season’s AL East offers more-of-the-same for Os fans. Here’s the recipe (and some arbitrary records) that I predict:

1. Tampa Bay Rays (Sweet) – 99 - 63

2. New York Yankees (Solid) – 97 - 65

3. Boston Red Sox (Spoiled) – 92 - 70

4. Baltimore Orioles (Sour) – 74 - 82

5. Toronto Blue Jays (Sucks) – 60 - 102