The Orioles of recent sicken me. The last two nights, just a bit more. Not as much with the specifics, because the hitting has actually been at its best all season. The problem with this is that the O’s are showing the potential, but are starting to lose games even closer now. AT least we could blame the lineup before for losses, but now it is only the bullpen to blame for these 2 in Boston. Those lyrics just came to me, reminding me of the last few seasons when every piece has been together in games yet we lose because of relief pitching. I wish we would lose the other way, where I could blame the hitting. Ugh.
There were a few story lines coming into tonight’s game:
-Matusz’ first start in Fenway
-Hughes MLB debut
-Brady Anderson with his first MASN TV broadcast
To start, I’ll address those 3 items.
Subject 1: Matusz pitched yet another gem. In Fenway, with the horrendous record that this team has, Matusz came out of the gate on fire throwing strikes (70 strikes in 102 pitches). He had a solid stat line of 6 IP 6 H 3 ER 4:3 K:BB. Overall, it was a good outing for him. Well, good in terms of his stuff, maybe not so much for his mental stability. Then again, he is probably feeling the best emotionally out of anyone on this team except Ty Wigginton. Matusz got the no decision unfortunately when Albers came in and gave up the lead. Too bad, because the O’s were up 3-1 when Matusz left.
Subject 2: Rhyne Hughes got the surprising call last night in Norfolk that he would be flying up to Boston for the end of the series and was being promoted to the O’s 25 man roster. Turner was sent down, and due to Atkins’s recent slump, Hughes got the start in his first game up at 1B. He made no errors at the bag, and actually made a smart move after receiving a throw on a double play, running off once he caught it to act as if it was an out to hope the ump would go with it, although he didn’t. At the plate, well, there are mixed emotions there. On the first pitch of his first at bat in the 2nd, Hughes hit an RBI single on the ground to right field, which scored the Orioles first run of the game. He also had a single on his second at bat with a blooper that dropped in short left. After that, he went 0-3, including the strikeout in the top of the 9th with 2 outs and 2 men on. Yea, he might have felt a little bit of pressure, but then again, he looked poised and unnerved, and fought hard in the at bat, only striking out after working Papelbon to a full count.
Subject 3: Brady Anderson did a pre-game interview with Luke Scott, where he sounded very bland in my opinion asking very basic and rhetorical questions like “How does it feel to be on a hot streak?”. Seriously, what type of unique answer were you looking for on that one? During the game, though, his commentaries were very intellectual in terms of baseball smarts, especially his talks on Tejada’s OBP and about how the toughest pitch to decide on as a batter is a fastball in the high outside corner.
Onto the game. The O’s looked very solid at the plate. The bats are definitely picking up, no doubt about it. 11 men were left on base, as opposed to Boston’s 5, which is still a worry and concern for the team, not being able to get the clutch hits. Our firepower showed again, outhitting the Red Sox 17-9, or even 12-9 if you don’t include the top of the 9th. Montanez and Izturis failed to get hits, but the 2-8 batters all had multi-hit games. We haven’t had more than 3 guys have multi-hit games in the same game this season, so 7 in one seems to be a pretty good stat. Offensive standouts:
Markakis went 2-3 with 2 walks, including yet another double off the wall. He would have been 3-3, actually, but his first hit was a screaming groundball up the middle that Pedroia made a huge dive for to make the out at 1st.
Jones had a 2-5 night with another homerun. Glad to see he finally got a hit other than the long ball, and the hit happened to be a beauty. He bunted a fastball down the 3rd base line. What was so special about it was that it died in the grass about 8 feet out. So perfectly located, Lackey and Lowell both saw Jones flying down to 1st that both just jogged over, neither tried to even charge it.
Wieters went 2-5, extending his hit streak to 7 games. He has been a good pick for anybody recently playing MLB.com’s Beat for the Streak game.
Wigginton went 4-5 with a solo homerun. He is still on fire. Too bad he struck out in the 9th when we needed it most. Perfect example of when we have hitting but not in the clutch.
Scott and Tejada went 3-5 and 2-5 respectively, coming out of their slumps a little bit with solid games. And then a last shout out to Hughes once again on an above average 2-5 day for a first timer, with that RBI also.
It’s sad when your starting pitcher throws so well, and you have a stacked lineup for a night that hit a stellar .404 as a team on the night. The only part that could have gone a little smoother for Matusz was the outcome of leadoff batters. Usually, Matusz has been getting about 75% of leadoff men out. Tonight, leadoff guys went 4-6 with a walk. The bottom of the 7th is when he issued the leadoff walk, which was followed by a base hit, and that is when he was pulled. Well, that’s about the only good decision Trembley made on the night in terms of pitching.
The call to the bullpen was for Albers. Well, let me just show the pitching stats for the night:
IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA
B. Matusz 6.0 6 3 3 3 4 1 1.30 4.38
M. Albers (L, 0-3; BS, 1) 0.1 2 3 3 1 1 1 1.96 9.35
K. Mickolio 0.2 1 1 1 0 1 1 2.18 7.36
A. Castillo 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.00
I don’t need to repeat the stats. It is obvious by looking at that chart that Albers sucked. Just flat out couldn’t get his stuff together. The worst part of it wasn’t what he did, but the overall decision to put him in the first place. Trembles has him in last night, where he blew the game for the O’s and got the loss. So then why put him in again tonight with the lead on the line!? WIth Castillo, Mickolio (both of which got to pitch after Matt), Hendrickson, Berken, Meredith, and Ohman all sitting around, why use the guy who already got the loss in the first game of the series. I get that Berken is long relief, along with Hendrickson. So why not go with Castillo or Mickolio then? I just don’t get it. I loved Trembley pre-season and since he joined the team, but since MacPhail has obviously decided that this needs to be a winning team, Trembley’s failing decisions are becoming more obvious to everybody. Something needs to be done with him.
Otherwise, we got back to striking out some batters, which was a good note since we got 0 Ks last night. I liked seeing the stat on TV that showed how both Matusz (T-1) and Millwood (T-5) are top 5 in strikeouts in the AL this year. Matusz is actually top 5 in MLB overall (T-5). No one will ever reach the likes of Lincecum.
The patience factor was good tonight, but just not as crisp as last night. Markakis, Wieters, and Scott all got out on first pitches at one point, and I know a few others did too. We got Lackey out of there earlier than most, but it could have been even earlier if we took some first pitches a few more times.
No main notes section. Just this:
Can we come out tomorrow and put all the damn pieces together. Another big hitting game. A big start for David Hernandez. Solid relief, using guys that aren’t named Matt Albers. And go into the off day and then come home for 6 straight prime games with a damn win. Thank you.