Archive for the ‘Orioles Week Review’ Category

Why Can't We Hit AND Pitch Simultaneously?

June 5, 2009

If you feel like the O’s started off the season hitting the cover off the ball, and losing every game something like 8-6, but are now at the other end of the spectrum, losing every game 3-2, then well, the simple chart above certainly seems to support that feeling.

Admittedly, the sample size for June is very small compared to those of the other months, but you could probably add those few games from the Detroit series at the end of May and the trend wouldn’t noticeably change.

The bats have turned silent just when the pitching started to pick it up, which has been frustrating for us O’s fans to watch.  Especially from the top 1/3 of the order, which had been all the rage, but has fallen off dramatically.  Brian Roberts is 0 for his last 17.  Nick Markakis has seen his average dip below .300 for the first time all season.  Even the arrival of Matt Wieters has been a let-down so far, as the kid is hitting just .123 over his first 21 AB, and has yet to even drive in a single run.

Hell, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Luke Scott has BEEN the Orioles’ offense over the past week, having driven in 14 of the Birds’ last 17 runs plated.

Let’s hope the off day Thursday rejuvenates the bats a bit.

On the pitching side, you could probably make the argument that the downward slope on the above graph can be explained away by simply pointing to the dismissal of one Adam Eaton from the team.  While partly true, it’s probably not quite that simple.  O’s starters strung together five consecutive quality starts last week, a feat that most of us probably didn’t believe would transpire all season long.  Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned quiet bats, those starts went to waste, as we dropped three of the five.

The O’s look to get back on track tonight in Oakland, before beginning a 9-game home stand on Tuesday.

 

This is BirdLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLand

May 4, 2009

Well, is it 2010 yet?

Since, by the Orioles’ own admission, that’s the next time they have any plans to even try to be competitive, we might as well start the countdown now.

Especially since they are now, in early May, showing the kind of gusto that they usually reserve until late August or September, having lost 14 of their past 17 games after a 6-2 start.  Their 9-16 record ties them with Cleveland for the 2nd worst in the majors, and they are already 8 games out of 1st place and 6 out of the wild card.  Eight games out after playing 15% of the season.  By our calculations, that puts our O’s on pace to finish about 53 games out, and with a glorious 106 losses.

 

After being the first team in MLB to allow 100 runs this season, the O’s continue to lead the pack in that dubious category – 161 (6.44 per game) and counting.  The minus-34 run differential is also setting the gold turd standard.

Are there some bright spots?  Sure there are.  The top 3 hitters in the O’s lineup are tearing it up once again, but you just have to feel sorry for them at this point, as their efforts are for naught night after night.

Some stats for the top 1/3 of the O’s batting order (AL ranks in parenthesis)

Brian Roberts

.308 (25), 32 H (12), 19 R (15), 8 2B (9)

Adam Jones

.355 (11), 33 H (9), 28 R (1), 8 2B (9), 19 RBI (13), .419 OBP (12),  .624 SLG (10)

Nick Markakis

.358 (9),  34 H (7), 27 R (2), 9 2B (6), 24 RBI (4), .447 OBP (5), .547 SLG (21)

The top 3 hitters are accounting for nearly 60% of the runs scored, which is at the same time impressive and pathetic.  After those 3 (and to a lesser extent, Aubrey Huff), the crap show really begins.

If I happen to flip the game on, and Roberts, Jones, or Markakis are hitting, I am glued to the TV.  Gregg Zaun (.129), Felix Pie (.167), or Cesar Izturis (.237)?  Yeah, not quite “must see TV.”

All this, and the dog days of summer are still months off.

Again we ask, is it 2010 yet?

Or, better yet, when does training camp start?

All You Need to Know

April 21, 2009

Not A Bad Start

April 13, 2009

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.

Top Heavy

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!)

Pitching Reversal

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.

On Deck

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.

O's Week in Review: Just Sort of Hovering

June 30, 2008

The O’s followed up their sweep of Houston by dropping 2 of 3 in Milwaukee, taking 2 of 3 at Wrigley Field, then losing 2 of 3 in Washington over the weekend.

Huff and Puff and Make Us Forget All About “Bubba the Love Sponge”

Aubrey Huff, he of the eventful offseason, has been on an absolute tear lately, batting over .400 with 5 HR and 9 RBI in the previous 8 games (heading into the weekend). He now leads the team in RBI with 45 and is tied with Luke Scott for the HR lead with 14. With the Birds floating right around the .500 mark, and still not much of a threat in the loaded AL East this year, Huff may be one of the teams’ most valuable trade pieces as the deadline approaches.

Lots of Arms, Just Not Healthy Ones

Jaime Walker was placed on the 15 day DL with left elbow inflammation. This news on the heels of Matt Albers being diagnosed with a torn labrum after his spot start on Wednesday in Chicago, when he only made it through 5 batters. Albers is said to be seeking a second opinion before he decides whether or not to have surgery on the injury, which would shelf him for the season. Albers came to the O’s from Houston along with pitcher Troy Patton, who suffered the same season-ending injury last spring.

Albers is currently 3-3 with a 3.49 ERA.


To take Walker’s spot on the roster, the team recalled Adam Loewen from Bowie, where he just had his last (and worst) rehab appearance. Loewen pitched 2/3 of an inning, giving up 2 hits, 1 HR, 1 BB, and hitting a batter. Manager Dave Trembley says that Loewen will pitch from the bullpen for the remainder of the season, and there is no chance he will be reinserted into the rotation this year.

Seriously, That’s Enough of This Sunday Bullshit

With yesterday’s two-out, two-strike walk-off home run off the bat of Ronnie Belliard, the Birds have now lost TWELVE STRAIGHT games on Sundays. It’s gotten so bad that team brass is stepping in and offering free tickets to any fan at this Sunday’s game if they win.

O's Week in Review (A Bit Overdue)

June 18, 2008


Where did all this “O” come from?
Seeing as we called them out in the last O’s weekly review we did, it’s only fair that we now praise the team for rediscovering how to score runs. They are averaging 5.6 runs per game so far in June, and are now fourth from last in the AL in runs scored, a step up from the 3rd to last that we reported on Memorial day. The increase in offensive production from the Birds isn’t so hard to understand when you realize that Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts have each raised their averages nearly 30 points over the first 15 games of this month. The 1-2 punch at the top of the order (Markakis, for whatever reason, seems much more at home in that 2 spot) are now hitting .286 and .287, respectively.

Cardiac Kids
Having mentioned that the O’s are scoring 5.6 runs per game this month, we also have to point out, however, that they are allowing nearly 5.5 runs over the same stretch. With such a small scoring differential, its pretty amazing that they are 9-6 so far this month, and have won every series against teams not from Boston. The Birds have won the close ones, though, as they are 4-2 in 1-run games in June, and 16-10 on the year. With last night’s come-from-behind win, the O’s have now won 16 games when trailing by 2 or more runs, and 5 games that they’ve trailed after the 7th inning (thanks to Roch for that stat).

(I was watching highlights of last Saturday’s comeback on MLB.com, and their announcer declared that “If any team were to be known as the Cardiac Kids so far this year, it just might have to be the Baltimore Orioles. ” Nice to know that others are recognizing the heart this team has shown.)

Nicky Mark’s Visual Fielding Aides
Ok, so here’s something a bit off-the-wall. I went to the game against Pittsburgh Friday night to see the Earl Weaver and ’79 team tribute, as well as to watch the Birds in those sweet throwback unis. It was a great game to attend, obviously, as they rallied from a 6-1 deficit to win 9-6. From our seats in right-center field though, my dad and I noticed something a bit peculiar about Nick Markakis and his positioning during pitches. See if you notice anything:

Here is Nick lining up before Freddy Sanchez led off the game:

And now with Jason Bay batting in the 4th:

And finally with Xavier Nady up in the 7th:

Catch it?

HE NEVER LEAVES HIS LITTLE SQUARE!

Seriously, wtf is up with that? By comparison, Jason “Mullet” Michaels of the Pirates didn’t let himself be restricted to that little patch of newly-installed grass, and moved around according to the hitter. Nicky Mark, on the other hand, seems to be playing the childhood game of “the ground is lava” outside of his square. I imagine him climbing the walls and wandering around aimlessly before Dave Trembley and the grounds crew reached a compromise (the crew wasn’t very fond of Dave’s original suggestion of a giant “X” for Nick to stand on) about how to get Nick and his perpetual 5 o’clock shadow in an acceptable fielding position.

I kid because I love, Nick – I kid because I love.

O's Week in Review

May 26, 2008


The O’s were able to put an end to their 5-game skid by beating the Yankees today at the Yard, 6-1. Garrett Olson shut down New York’s bats for 7 innings, getting a bit of redemption after being roughed up at Yankee Stadium in his last outing, and the Birds’ put 5 on the board in the 7th, which is nothing short of an offensive explosion when compared to their struggles in the last week.

Punchless O’s
After beating up on the Yanks in New York 12-2, the Orioles did just what we’ve come to expect from them after scoring in double digits. That is, get shut out the next game. However, they took it a couple steps further this time, as they proceeded to score exactly 1 run over the next 3 games, all losses. They were able to put 4 on the board in the final two games in Tampa, but neither was enough to help them avoid the sweep at the hands of the Rays.

As of Memorial Day, only the Royals and Indians have scored fewer runs in the AL than the O’s.

Furthermore, no O’s regular is hitting above .258 (Markakis and Roberts, even with that crap average, are leading the team).

NicKKKKKKK MarKKKKKKaKKKKKKis
Nicky Mark still hasn’t been able to figure out how to regularly put the ball in play this year, as he leads the team and is tied for 4th in the AL, having gone down 48 times on strikes. It may be something we O’s fans will need to get used to though, as it comes with the territory of being such a selective hitter. “Eagle-eye” Nick, as he was known when he first came up, will absolutely not swing at a pitch that he considers to be borderline with less than 2 strikes. To his credit, he is also tied for 3rd in the AL with 32 walks, and as a result his OBP is higher than it was last year, even with that .300 average. Without anybody behind him to consistently produce though, the walks aren’t translating into runs on the board. Let’s get that average back up to where it belongs, Nick, and we’ll live with the strikeouts.

The O’s Have Road Woes, ‘Hon
With todays win, the O’s pushed their record at Camden Yards to 15-7. Only Boston has lost fewer games at home in the AL. However, they’re playing with no such gusto away from B’More (again – can’t score and play like crap on the road – are we talking O’s or Ravens here??), having compiled a 10-18 record on the road. Unfortunately, a 9-game road trip is just around the bend.

Ushers at OPACY SUCK!!!!
Alright, time to get angry. Read this piece from the Baltimore Examiner. I’ll wait.

….

What the hell is that shit?!? Those cockroaches from Boston and NY can come down here and raise hell in OUR STADIUM, and the few O’s fans that decide to fight back (100% P.G. fighting back, according to witnesses) get asked to leave for their troubles? Wow. Just….wow.

Another example of the Orioles having the absolute WORST public relations department in any of the 4 major sports. Way to go, O’s, you sure are showing the fans who’s boss.

And they wonder why nobody shows up….

On Deck
Two more games in the battle-for-the-basement against the Skankees

In The Hole
The Red Sux come to town for 4 this weekend. Let’s sweep ’em proper this time, boys!

Boston Red Suxwhat?

May 14, 2008

SWEEEEEEEEEP!

Don’t gimme that “its only 2 games” bull crap, either. Did you realize that its the first time in almost 3 years that the O’s have beaten Boston twice in a row? The fact that they pulled it off in a short, two-game series so that we are able to call it a sweep only makes it that much sweeter.

For the 2nd day in a row, the O’s overcame an early 3-0 deficit. Yesterday, the Sux put up 3 in the first inning off Jeremy Guthrie, never to score again. Today, D.Cab (who had lost 7 straight against Boston) scattered 10 hits very effectively through 7 innings, as 2 of Boston’s 3 runs off him came via the solo home run. Cabrera continued his newfound mastery of the strike zone, issuing not a single walk in the outing. Still, when he walked off the mound for the final time today, Cabrera, like Guthrie yesterday, saw his team trailing on the scoreboard.

However….

Jay Payton’s 2-Out, 7th inning GRAND SLAM, a screaming liner down the left field line, put the O’s up for good, and more solid relief from the ‘pen sealed up the ….. wait for it ….

SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP

of the sux, sending the hordes of migratory Sux fans (many of whom likely made an entire two-day event out of this whole thing – our local economy thanks you, by the way) to go cry in their beeahs back in Bean Town – hey, maybe they’ll be lucky enough to listen to the Celtics lose game 6 to the Cavs on the radio on their drive back). Better luck next time, suckahs.

Awesome.

Speaking of relief pitching, a HUGE B’More Birds Nest Ups goes out to Jim Johnson. In case you missed it, Jimmy and Manny Ramirez engaged in an epic 10 pitch battle with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 7th of Game 1, which culminated in Manny Bouncing back to the pitcher for the 1-2-3 double play. Johnson then got Mike Lowell to fly out – an outstanding performance in a very intimidating situation.

Anyway, so in case you didn’t hear, the Birds swept Boston this week. Also, they took 3 of 4 in Kansas City to finish their last road trip up at a decent 4-6. The Birds are now 21-19, 2.5 games back of the first place….Devil Rays??

You know what? I’m very much OK with that. If it’s not gonna be us this year (and yeah, I know, it’s more than likely not), then yeah, I’ll be a Rays fan by default. Lets hope they can keep up their stellar play and keep both the Sux and the Yank Offs out of the postseason this year. The upside down AL East is a welcome sight after all these years.

On deck: Another day off, then the Nats travel up 95 for the start of interleague play this weekend.

In the hole: The O’s travel to New York and Tampa next week.

O's Week (Weak?) in ReviEWWWWWW

May 7, 2008

                                                      The “O’s” are in a bit of a free fall….

Ew is right. Guess we really did jinx them – ever since we posted the shot of the standings with the Birds at the top of the AL East, the 2008 O’s have been WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!! That is, 1-7, and a team that looks like they will struggle to win 60 games. In quickly plummeting below the .500 mark, the O’s haven’t won a series since taking 2 of 3 from the Yankees nearly 2 weeks ago, losing 2 of 3 to Tampa Bay, then 2 of 3 in Anaheim, and finally having been swept out of Oakland in extra innings today. They’ve been the bizarro – O’s compared to what we saw during the first month of the season, going 1-3 in one-run games and 0-2 in extra innings over the past 7 days, and either not getting the clutch hits needed to win games, or having the bullpen squander a small lead late.

The main culprit, in typical B’More fashion, has been a disgusting lack of offense. The Birds have managed just 21 runs total over their past 8 games, were held to 2 runs or fewer in 5 of those games, and are now 12th in the AL in runs scored. The team’s 3 leading hitters are Luke Scott (.286), Nick Markakis (.270), and Aubrey Huff (.266). The Birds also had a couple brain farts on the basepaths that probably cost them the game Sunday in Anaheim, when Brian Roberts was picked off first base in the 9th inning and Ramon Hernandez was thrown out at 2nd when he went into his home run trot on a ball that bounced off the wall. Yikes.

A silver lining to the crap cloud that has been the last week has to be the starting pitching. Arguably the biggest question mark coming into the season, at least for now, the O’s rotation (with the glaring exception of Steve Trachsel and his 7.43 ERA) has looked to actually be a strong point of the team.

O’s starters over the past week (not named Steve):

Jeremy Guthrie: 12.2 IP 6 ER

Daniel Cabrera: 7.1 IP 3 ER 2 BB

Brian Burres: 11.1 IP 6 ER

Garrett Olson: 7.1 IP 1 ERA

Alright, so nobody is going to confuse them with the mid-90’s Braves, but those numbers are far from terrible. Just to reiterate: the team won ONE game out of all those starts.

On Deck: The O’s travel to the Barbeque Capital of the US to take on the 14-18 Royals for 4 games.

In the hole: A short 2-game series at Camden Yards looms against the defending World Series Chumps, the Red Sux.

O's Week in Review

April 30, 2008


Still on Top

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).

NicKKKK MarKKKKaKKKKis

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.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.