Maybe I’m delusional, but had the Orioles been able to pull off a win last night, I sensed a little momentum building as they headed out of town. Had they beat Tampa Bay, they would have been a four game sweep away from .500, could have claimed an extremely successful homestand at 5-2, and actually would have been winners of 6 of 9.
Instead it was a ho-hum, 4-3 homestand, they’ve gained a measly game on .500 since that nightmare weekend in Toronto, and they’ve just embarked on a ten game, eleven day road trip through Kansas City, the Bronx, and D.C.
It’s still not clear whether Adam Jones’ aggravated hamstring will keep him out of the lineup for an extended period, but anyone watching last night couldn’t help but feel the life being sucked out of them seeing him struggle down the line on that run scoring single. It was obvious that he was in pain early in the game, but tried to shrug it off, just like those of us watching. It’s not that Markakis, Roberts, and Huff haven’t given us anything to be excited about, but Jones is the hot ticket right now. Watching a game without him in the lineup is like having tickets to a show the night the star actor gets the flu. You’re stuck with the tickets and the ill-prepared understudy- one Felix Pie.
Not that you’d ever wish injury on anyone, but if somebody had to get hurt, you can’t help but wish it was one of the Orioles’ catchers who pulled up lame last night. I’ve made no secret about my feelings on the Orioles’ reluctance to promote Matt Wieters, and unless the towel has already been thrown in on this season (couldn’t be, right?), I can’t imagine a better time to get him up here. Of course, I couldn’t imagine a better time than yesterday, or the day before that, or the day before that, either.
Back to last night, Bergesen didn’t pitch great, but you could accept that performance out of your number five starter. The problem is that with three number five starters (at best) in your rotation, there’s just no margin for error.
McCrory may have been the goat, but Mark Hendrickson was the real culprit in that mess of a ninth inning. Hendrickson’s failure to pitch into the third inning on Tuesday apparently wasted all of Dave Trembley’s viable options, leaving him with only Chris Ray, match-up guy Jamie Walker, and McCrory fresh for last night.
That said, at some point these guys have to be able to pitch back-to-back nights. I’m starting to think Trembley is getting a little too hung up on this role definition thing in the bullpen. The way I see it, those guys have one role, and that’s to get outs. You aren’t going to fill up the S column without filling the W column.
There’s no telling what Joe Maddon would have done in the home half of the ninth had the lead held at 4-2, but my impression is that Trembley failed to use his bullpen effectively again, and allowed Tampa Bay to get out of town easy, with an undeserving split.
If Rich Hill is ready this weekend, he has to be given a shot. Hendrickson has proven his worth, and it ain’t much.
Still, I guess there’s some reason to tune it at 8:05 tonight. Nolan Reimold will be with the club in Kansas City, and if Jones and/or Luke Scott can’t go, he’ll likely be the starter in left. They’re also playing the Royals, which never used to make for very good television, but I’ve gotta tell you, they’re fun to watch this year. I’ve probably caught six or seven games via the MLB package (mostly when Greinke pitches), and, not to insult the Royals, they’re what the Orioles should be aspiring to right now.