I would like to start off by thanking the BSR crew for welcoming me onto their staff to write for the website. I actually found BSR through a tweet from the ESPN Zone in Baltimore. When I first came to the site and started commenting on articles and engaging in conversations with others, it was the first time I had ever seen a sports blogging site that has actual fans having peaceful, yet intellectual, conversations. If you go to the O’s website, MASN’s, or even The Sun’s, all you will find is people complaining about the Orioles. On general sports sites like ESPN or general sports blogs, they are full of people just bashing on the O’s. BSR brings people that, yes, may have issues and may complain at times, but people that are willing to talk and have solid debates with others to just discuss the Orioles, Ravens, and all Baltimore sports.
When a team starts 1-8, fans have plenty reason to be perturbed. Questions about Dave Trembley’s job security and Andy McPhail’s plan to resurrect the Orioles abound. I found it disappointing that so many fans directed their ire at unseated and now injured closer Mike Gonzalez. That made no sense to me. I was annoyed at his performance, but give they guy a chance people. I am proud to say that on a previous post on the site, I did predict that he had nagging injuries and I also said I thought his delivery was different. Well, the Orioles saw the mechanic failures to fix and then did something about the injury. Let’s hope he can recover and be effective in the ‘pen. It is sorely needed.
Well, the O’s have lost 6 in a row, now 0-6 at home, and are off for a 3 series road-trip, including 7 games out on the west coast. The first four of which are in Oakland.
Aside from Brad Bergesen, Orioles starters have thrown the ball well. Brian Matusz and Kevin Millwood have looked very sharp at times, and Jeremy Guthrie seems close to regaining his 2007 and 2008 form. The bullpen looked strong in Tampa last week except for Gonzo, but they are just breaking down as of late.
The Orioles offense, however, has been putrid, hitting only .237 as a team, with the outliers of Felix Pie (.438) and Matt Wieters (.345). After being 2nd in the AL in average with RISP, the O’s are a woeful 10-63 with RISP position. Even worse, with RISP and 2 outs, they are 1-29 (.034!!!). This is just unacceptable for an offense that was expected to be the strength of the team.
Looking at those 4 match-ups in Oakland, there are some key things the Orioles need to focus on now that they have already lost their support when at home. The way that they play determines how much support will show up at OPACY when they come back at the end of the month for the Yankees and Red Sox.
This series is important for so many reasons. The A’s have come out of the gate on fire, with their starting pitching being quite forceful an pulling off a 6-3 record despite some bullpen faults. That is all more the reason that the Orioles need to get their bats ready and be ready to score late in games, hopefully racking up some late heroics and come from behind wins. With only 4 teams that have less runs scored on the year than us, the Orioles could really use not only some wins, but some lopsided ones at that.
The key to hitting is the heart of the team. Markakis, Jones, and Tejada all need to step up and hit .300 like we know they can. Jones is a slugger supposedly, and other than the first game of the season and then last weekend with a triple, hasn’t shown much of it. Wigginton has stepped up big time in the utility role, and Pie and Wieters seem to be the Orioles only hopes at this point in terms of every day guys at bat.
Trembley needs to restore some sort of order to a bullpen in disarray. Now that Gonzalez is gone, Trembley needs to quickly find roles guys can succeed in. Does he have enough faith in a guy like Kam Mickolio to run him out in save situations, or is Jim Johnson the guy for the job. Our guys need to get back to the fundamentals. Go out there, field well (been doing a sincerely great job before today’s Izturis/Tejada error), make smooth baserunning moves (which has been a problem twice now this season, once with Wiggy/Scott, then just last night with Pie), and rack up base hits. Each guy needs to just worry about doing his job, not about trying to get the Orioles back in the game with one swing, or by being foolishly aggressive on the bases.
Well, thanks for reading, and I hope everyone can stay up late over the next few days and cheer on the O’s! Bring home some wins!!! Here are the pitching match-ups:
David Hernandez (0-1, 3.00) vs. Ben Sheets (0-0, 4.09), 10:05pm MASNHD
Kevin Millwood (0-1, 2.13) vs. Dallas Braden (1-0, 2.77), 10:05pm MASN2HD
Jeremy Guthrie (0-2, 4.05) vs. Justin Duchscherer (1-0, 3.46), 4:05 no tv
Brian Matusz (1-0, 4.38) vs. Brett Anderson (1-0, 0.00), 4:05pm MASN2HD