The Orioles opened the 2009 season by taking their first 2 series, one each from the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. A 4-2 first week leaves us little to complain about so far, and if it weren’t for the 5-1 start of the Toronto Blue Jays, we could even crow a little about being in first place. Lest we forget, the O’s teased us this same way with a hot start last year too.
Not unlike Mrs. Brian Roberts, the O’s lineup has been a bit top heavy so far. Roberts, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis are all off to sizzling starts, hitting a combined .382, with 8 doubles, a triple, and 19 runs scored.
Actually, the entire O’s order has been hitting pretty well…I just wanted an excuse to link to a picture of Diana.
Melvin Mora is hitting .421, and blasted a grand slam on Saturday. Aubrey Huff is at .360, Luke Scott at .300, and even Gregg Zaun is showing a little pop, with 3 hits in 14 at-bats, all of them doubles.
(An aside to Gregg, though – get your damn web team to update your fan site, which still seems to think you play in Toronto!)
The consensus coming into the season was that the O’s starters were going to be absolutely dreadful as a group, but the bullpen was much more reliable. If, by some miracle, the starters could hand a lead to the pen in the 7th inning or so, the rest was supposed to be gravy, what with Jim Johnson, Chris Ray, and George Sherrill back there to close things out.
However, after one week, that hasn’t really been the case.
The starters have pitched very well – Jeremy Guthrie, who had all of us scared after his horrific spring, is 2-0, and has given up only 3 ER in 12 innings; Koji Uehara was solid in his MLB debut, going 5 innings, giving up only 1 run and 5 hits against the Yankees on Wednesday; Alfredo Simon was fairly decent, giving up 4 to the Yanks over 5; and Mark Hendrickson surpassed all expectations, if only for one game, by throwing 5.1 of 1-run ball to Tampa. (Adam Eaton is another story…piss poor on Sunday – 4 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 2 BB)
The bullpen, though, nearly blew some decent leads last week, and was far from dominant.
Dennis Sarfate: 3 IP, 3 ER
Chris Ray: 2.1 IP, 4 ER
Jim Johnson: 2 IP, 2 ER
Hell, Danys Baez, who O’s fans love to hate (my friend who was at the game with me Friday, when Baez threw 1.2 innings of hitless ball, told me he was torn while watching Baez do well, because he really wants them to “ship him out”), is one of only 2 O’s relievers yet to allow a run after the first week (Jamie Walker being the other).
To Ray’s credit, he seemed to be back on his game Saturday night, when he fanned all 3 Tampa batters he faced.
Matt Albers, who had allowed only 1 run in 2.2 innings, was optioned out to make space for Adam Eaton on Saturday.
Sherrill saved 2 in the first week, including a nail-biter on Friday night when he struck out potential tying run, Akinori Iwamura, on a full count after giving up a solo HR to Dioner Navarro.
The tough April continues for the Birds, as they travel to Arlington to take on the hard-hitting Texas Rangers (3-3), before going to Fenway for a weekend series against the Sux. Texas, as usual, can hit with the best of them (3rd in the AL in runs scored), and can’t pitch a lick (2nd most runs allowed in AL). The O’s bats will need to stay hot, and given our own tenous pitching situation, we can probably put the over/under on total runs for each game in this series at about 14.5.