Despite some recent offensive struggles, the O’s remain in 1st place in the AL East, percentage points above the Red Sux. After taking 2 of 3 from the Yank-offs at home, the Birds proceeded to win the three game series in Seattle and go 1-2-1 in Chicago. Well not really 1 tie, but one game suspended in the 12th inning (which will be completed on August 25).
As expected from this lineup, the O’s have had a little trouble scoring runs at times. They are 11th in the A.L. in runs, batting average, and on base percentage.
Without a legitimate cleanup hitter, opposing teams have been very careful pitching to Nick Markakis. Although he has been admirably patient (he leads the AL in walks), Nick has shown some frustration with never seeing anything good to hit, chasing balls that he would usually let go by, and as a result he leads the team in strikeouts with 26. We don’t expect this to continue though, and Nick should be just fine.
Cool Hand Luke?
Well, not quite. It would have been ridiculous to expect Luke Scott’s bat to continue scorching the way it did to start the season. He has been slumping a little based only on how high he set the bar over the first few weeks of April, yet still leads the O’s with a .298 batting average.
Slow Starter My “Horses**t Town” A**
Notorious slow starter Aubrey Huff has bucked his career trend a bit this season, and has been the Birds’ most consistent run producer, as he leads the team in both home runs (5), RBI (19), and slugging (.473).
How About That Kranny??
So if they are having so much trouble scoring runs, how the heck are the Birds still in 1st place? Well, because they have been doing an even better job of keeping opponents off the scoreboard. Yes, new pitching coach Rick Kranitz has really made his mark on the team to this point. B-More is right in the middle of the pack in the AL in ERA (7th) but 3rd in opponents’ batting average. Enough can’t be said about the way the young guys especially have performed. Brian Burres is 3-1 with a 2.49 ERA, and gave up no runs and just 3 hits over 8 innings in Chicago over the weekend. Matt Albers is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA. Garrett Olson took a shutout into the 7th last night against Tampa Bay. As for the O’s “veteran” starters, Jeremy Guthrie is the latest to suffer from the ailment known as “Orioles’ Ace Syndrome,” whereby you pitch well but get zero run support (just ask Mike Mussina about that one).
On the down side, Adam Loewen was placed on the 15 day DL with what is being described as forearm soreness. Hopefully his teammates take it a little easier on him then they did that time you missed a start in your high school game because of “forearm soreness.” Seriously though, is anybody else extremely concerned about this? Although his bone scan came back clear today, it is still a bit unsettling that they cannot identify the source of his pain, and he is dangerously close to getting the “injury prone” label thrown on him before his career can even start. Cross your fingers for him. But don’t strain too hard, you might make your forearm sore.
And the enigma known as D.Cab? Well, he’s put together 3 impressive starts in a row. We certainly will not speculate as to how long this will last, but it is apparent that the new fastball-centric approach Krantiz has Daniel on has worked. For 3 games. That’s it. Let’s see 4 now.