Through the first six games of the season, we have seen the potential the O’s have at being a .500 team as well as what O’s fans like to call “the same old O’s.” They looked like world beaters in their first series, outscoring the Twins 15-5 on their way to three dominating victories. The starters in those games (Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Jason Hammel) only allowed one earned run between them, which came in the eighth inning of the third game. They hit well with runners in scoring position and the bullpen did their part as well.
The second series against the Yankees, however, was very much a different story. Brian Matusz left off where he did last season, allowing four runs in four innings and not having any command of his pitches. His “stuff” looked better and he did have some velocity behind his pitches, but he just couldn’t locate them. The next two games were extra inning heartbreakers as the O’s had bases loaded in the ninth in both games, but couldn’t seal the deal. It’s the same old story, though. The O’s don’t have the clutch hitter they need to get the job done in crucial situations (Prince Fielder would’ve been nice to have at the plate in those situations, but Peter Angelos won’t spend money to make his team better). Anyway, here are a few of the O’s that are hot along with a few that aren’t too hot.
Matt Wieters – Wieters leads the team in batting average (.364), home runs (2), RBI (4) and OPS (1.122). He carried his strong spring into the regular season and is looking to repeat the defensive presence he brought last season after winning the Gold Glove. It would be nice to see Wieters continue to hit for power especially with Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis struggling in that department in the early going.
Jake Arrieta – In his first game against the Twins, Arrieta looked like the O’s ace, pitching seven strong shutout innings of two-hit ball. He didn’t fare as well against the loaded Yankees lineup, allowing four runs on five hits in 6.2 innings including a first inning two-run homer to Curtis Granderson. But he still is posting just a 2.63 ERA in two starts and looks to be the O’s best pitcher thus far.
Jim Johnson – The O’s closer already has two saves on this young season and has been dominant in his three appearances. Granted, he has only pitched 2.2 innings, but this guy just looks like a closer. Every time he is on the mound, he looks calm and collected and ready to go. He has allowed two hits, struck out three batters and walked just one. Let’s just hope the O’s give him the opportunity to close out 30-35 games because I think he will be able to get the job done.
Adam Jones – The O’s center fielder has hit safely in every game this season and carries a .292 average into the O’s 10-game road trip. He has seven hits already, including a home run and a double, and has scored four runs. I see Jones being the most consistent O’s hitter this season and finishing with around a .300 average on the season.
Nick Markakis – This may be a little bit of a shock considering the fast start he had, but Markakis is hitless in his last 14 plate at-bats after going 5-for-7 in the first two games, racking up two homers, a triple and four RBIs. He also has six strikeouts in as many games, which is just one behind the strikeout king Reynolds.
Mark Reynolds – If it’s not striking out, it’s making errors at third base. Any way you look at it, Reynolds is struggling mightily this season. He is batting a measly .176 and has struck out seven times already. He also two errors in five games and has looked like a complete hack at times.
Kevin Gregg – What else is new? Gregg continues to allow base runners at an alarming rate and seems to raise everyone’s blood pressure when he enters a game. He has allowed four hits and two earned runs in just 3.1 innings while posting a 5.40 ERA. And to think he was upset about not being named the closer this season.