Despite losing two of three to the Red Sox, the O’s still sit at 28-17 and hold a one-game lead in the AL East heading into their three-game set with the Royals. The O’s comeback effort fell short yesterday as they couldn’t manage to get to Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves in the bottom of the ninth and ended up with a 6-5 defeat. The O’s did manage to take the second game in the series behind a strong effort from Brian Matusz and the bullpen, which collectively held the Sox to just one run on two hits. Next up for the AL East division leaders is the Royals, who saw the O’s steal two victories in Kansas City just over a week ago. The pitching matchups look favorable for the O’s, as they have Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Tommy Hunter set to start. Hopefully the bullpen can get back to form as well after a couple shaky outings against Boston. But for now, let’s take a look at who’s been hot and who’s not been too hot.
Brian Matusz – After starting the season 1-4 and looking visibly uncomfortable on the mound, Matusz has bounced back nicely by winning his last three starts. He now sits at 4-4 and is tied for second on the team in wins. He has allowed just six earned runs over his past 18 innings and has struck out 16 while walking just three. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Matusz, who is really starting to look like the guy we thought he could be.
Nick Johnson – I must admit, I wasn’t sure if I would ever be including Johnson in this category this season. But I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt even after just two good games in a row. He is still batting just .206, but he is 3-for-6 with two home runs and three RBI in his last two games. Let’s hope he is able to continue that tear (if you can call it that) and provide the O’s with some more timely hits.
Adam Jones – What else can you say about this guy? He leads the team in batting average (.311), home runs (14), RBI (29), OBP (.357) and hits (57). He currently has a 15-game hit streak, which includes six multi-hit games. He is batting .316 with four home runs in “Late and Close” games, which are described by Baseball-Reference.com as “plate appearances in the 7th inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.” Basically, he’s been one of the best clutch hitters in baseball this season.
Matt Wieters – Wieters is just 1-for-23 in his last six games and hasn’t hit a home run since May 13. He is still playing well defensively whether it’s calling a great game or throwing out baserunners. His average has dropped to .238 and his power numbers have pretty much been at a standstill for past couple weeks. The O’s really need him to step up at the plate and go back to the hitter he was at the beginning of the season.
Kevin Gregg – I’m basing this decision off of Gregg’s most current outing in which he gave up three hits and two runs in just one inning of work. When he entered the game in the seventh inning, the game was tied 5-5. Of course, when he left, the Red Sox had a two-run lead and went on to win 8-6. Gregg earned the loss, dropping is record to 2-2 and raising his ERA to 4.50. Despite pitching well in his previous seven outings, he is once again is on the O’s fans s*** list.