BALTIMORE — The good vibes of Opening Day and the first week of the season are one of the few occasions when Orioles fans are typically allowed to feel good.
Spring is in the air, the Orioles are back in town, and the standings look a little better—at least for now.
However, as Mike Gonzalez walked off the mound following another terrible performance and his second blown save in three chances, optimism quickly transformed into ugly frustration as Baltimore fans pounded the left-hander with a chorus of boos only reserved for former Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller in recent Baltimore sports history.
It was a troubling display from the home crowd, regardless of how lousy Gonzalez has been in his first week as an Oriole. Twelve years of losing will do that to you.
The Orioles and Gonzalez have to be looking at themselves with utter disbelief. A team fully expecting—or at least saying so anyway—to be improved now finds itself with a 1-3 record when it very well should be 3-1, or could be 4-0.
But they’re not, and therein lies the rub with the fans at Camden Yards.
Couple that with the comments made by general manager Andy MacPhail to USA Today about competing in the American League East, and this season already feels just like the previous 12.
So much for feeling positive on Opening Day.
Gonzalez continues to claim he isn’t injured, and it’s a matter of simply trying too hard. At this point, Orioles fans might prefer he not have the chance to try at all.
Whatever the case, it’s hard to recall a newcomer with relatively high expectations that struggled as much as Gonzalez has in his first three appearances. You almost had to feel for the guy as Dave Trembley pulled him from the game after Jose Bautista hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly, essentially throwing Gonzalez to the wolves and exposing him to the jeers of an angry crowd.
“I think more than anything right now I just have some built up energy. I want to go out there and get it done,” Gonzalez said after the loss.
Dave Trembley was clearly irritated with his closer’s performance but appears committed to sticking with him in the ninth inning for now. The manager reiterated the frustration of failing to close another game that was theirs for the taking.
“You should win this game today, and we didn’t do it,” he said. “The game is ruined because we don’t close it out.”
As frustrated as fans might be, we’re still in the middle of the first week of a 162-game marathon. Every team in the big leagues, from the Yankees down to the Nationals, will lose three out of four at least a few times this season.
Still, the way in which they’ve lost has destroyed optimism in even the most apologetic of fans. And it only figures to get worse with the always-challenging west-coast trip and 12-straight games against the Yankees and Red Sox looming over the next few weeks.
Gonzalez and the Orioles still have plenty of time to right the ship and start playing better baseball to avoid the 90-plus loss plateau, but they better start very soon.
It might only be four games, but it’s already feeling just like the last 12 years.
– Brian Roberts left the game in the top of the second inning with a strained abdominal muscle. The Orioles second baseman was injured stealing second base and came out of the game after scoring on a Miguel Tejada single.
Trembley had no update on Roberts’ status for Saturday night’s game.
– In his return to Baltimore after spending two seasons with the Houston Astros, Miguel Tejada drove in four runs on Friday, his first four-plus RBI game since July 28, 2009. Tejada’s two-run homer in the fifth inning tied the game at 5-5.
“I’m honored to come back here and try to do the job for the fans,” he said.
It was Tejada’s first home run as an Oriole since September 21, 2007.
– Brad Bergesen was not sharp in his 2010 debut, giving up five earned runs and eight hits in 4.2 innings and becoming the first Baltimore starter to not get out of the fifth inning.
“Bergesen didn’t have a lot of sink [on his pitches],” Trembley said. “I thought his tempo was really slow today.”
– The Orioles have now allowed at least one run in the eighth inning or later in each of their four games this season, giving up a total of six runs in that span. It was also the third game in which they gave up the tying or go-ahead run in those innings.
– With Friday’s loss, the Orioles fell to 37-20 overall and 13-6 at Oriole Park at Camden yards in home openers. This was the first ever home opener against the Blue Jays.
– Today’s paid attendance was 48,891, which set a new record for an Orioles Opening Day crowd, surpassing the 48,607 mark set against the Yankees last season.
– The Orioles will send David Hernandez to the mound against Dana Eveland on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Check back right here at WNST.net for all of your Orioles coverage this season.
Check out the final box score here.
Good afternoon from Oriole Park at Camden Yards! It’s Opening Day (the home variety anyway), and the Orioles (1-2) are set to take on the Toronto Blue Jays (2-1) at 3:05 p.m.
Here is the starting lineup for the Orioles this afternoon:
2B Brian Roberts
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
LF Luke Scott
C Matt Wieters
DH Nolan Reimold
1B Garrett Atkins
SS Cesar Izturis
SP Brad Bergesen (2009 stats: 7-5, 3.43 ERA)
And for the Toronto Blue Jays:
RF Jose Bautista
SS Alex Gonzalez
DH Adam Lind
CF Vernon Wells
1B Lyle Overbay
C John Buck
3B Edwin Encarnacion
LF Travis Snider
2B John McDonald
SP Brandon Morrow (2009 stats with Seattle: 2-4, 4.39 ERA)
I’ll be providing updates and tidbits throughout the afternoon leading up to the first pitch at 3:05. Just scroll below the break for the latest updates (time-stamped for your convenience). Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and join us in the Orange Crush chat, hosted by Nestor Aparicio!
3:54 p.m. — Our Orange Crust chat is in full force, but just wanted to pass along some injury news. Brian Roberts left the game in the top of the second inning with a strained abdominal muscle.
Just when it looked like the second baseman was getting into the swing of the regular season, he comes down with another injury.
Tough news for the Orioles.
2:40 p.m. — Opening Day festivities are underway and not surprisingly, Cito Gaston received an unfriendly welcome. It’s hard to believe the 1993 Mike Mussina All-Star Game snub was 17 years ago.
Don’t forget to join us in the Orange Crust Chat during the game. Nestor Aparicio will be your host, and I will be chiming in with in-game thoughts throughout the afternoon.
And remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for musings and analysis as well.
2:15 p.m. — The Orioles and Blue Jays split their 18 games in 2009. Baltimore was 8-1 at Camden Yards and 1-8 at Rogers Centre. Pretty interesting breakdown right there.
With the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays expected to be three of the best teams in the American League, the Orioles must take care of business against Toronto this season if they hope to approach the .500 mark. We continue to hear the Orioles are an improved team—and they are on paper—so they need to beat up on the rebuilding Jays.
2:05 p.m. — Matt Wieters is clearly off to the best start of any Oriole regular, and it’s clear Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz have more confidence in the second-year catcher to handle the pitching staff, leading to the decision to keep Craig Tatum as the backup catcher in lieu of veteran Chad Moeller.
Wieters is now calling pitches on his own, and Trembley credited the tutelage of Gregg Zaun and Moeller to prepare the young catcher for that responsibility.
“It’s helped him a lot with the experience he got last year,” he said.
In just three games, Wieters is hitting .500 with a home run and two RBI, including the game-tying single in last night’s big four-run sixth inning. He also became the first catcher in club history to open the season with three consecutive multi-hit games.
1:55 p.m. — As we inch closer to the pre-game festivities, we begin to turn our attention to the Toronto Blue Jays. Most preseason prognosticators have picked the Orioles ahead of the Blue Jays in the American League East, but of course, both teams are considered afterthoughts after the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays.
The Blue Jays, managed by Cito Gaston, won their opening series of the season against the Rangers in Texas. Toronto earned the series win with a 3-1 comeback victory yesterday.
Brandon Morrow takes the hill for the Jays in his first start since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the off-season. The 25-year-old right-hander shuttled back and forth from the starting rotation and the bullpen in Seattle, but it appears Toronto is committed to making him a starting pitcher. He will be on an 85-pitch limit in today’s game, according to Gaston.
You may remember Morrow’s name in the Erik Bedard trade discussions a couple years ago before Andy MacPhail settled for a package of Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, and two others.
1:05 p.m. — Despite a tough turnaround after playing the series finale against Tampa Bay last night, Baltimore’s Opening Day starter shouldn’t have any issue with fatigue. Bergesen flew home early to prepare for this afternoon’s start against the Blue Jays.
While some fans have debated whether Brian Matusz should have received the nod for the home opener, Trembley never considered it, telling the media he told Bergesen three months ago that he’d be getting the ball today.
Of course, those plans became uncertain after Bergesen famously injured his pitching shoulder filming a MASN commercial in the off-season.
“He really caught up in a hurry,” Trembley said. “I think he’s the right guy to represent us on Opening Day.”
12:35 p.m. — The Orioles are currently taking batting practice, and the Opening Day festivities are scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.
Manager Dave Trembley said in his pre-game press conference that Felix Pie is closer to returning to the lineup after battling a tender throwing shoulder in the opening series in Tampa Bay.
“He’ll play in this series, and you’ll see him start in this series.”
Trembley also mentioned in his pre-game presser that closer Mike Gonzalez will be available today if needed despite throwing 26 pitches—only 12 of them for strikes—in last night’s nerve-wracking 5-4 victory at Tropicana Field.
The skipper also mentioned he preferred to rest situational lefty Will Ohman after the newcomer saw action in all three games of the Tampa series. The other left-hander in the pen, Mark Hendrickson, has yet to throw a pitch this season.
In injury-related news, Trembley had no update on the status of Koji Uehara who is on the disabled list (hamstring) and still in Florida at extended spring training. It is believed that Uehara has not thrown off a mound, so it doesn’t appear his return is imminent.