C.C. Sabathia’s record-setting number of pinstripes and the Yankees bats brought the O’s crashing back down to earth last night, defeating the Orioles in game two of the homestand series. Despite the setback, the Birds enters Thursday night’s game with Brian Matusz on the mound and a chance to do something they haven’t done all season – - win a series.
With a win in Boston and a series-opening win against the Evil Empire, the O’s are starting to look like they won’t be a record-setting bad team but merely a run of the mill bad team. And every bad team has good players. Let’s take a look at three Orioles who have had good weeks in Orange and Black, and three who have struggled.
Three O’s Up
The only rookie move the Orioles newest 1st baseman has made so far is breaking the news of his promotion of AAA Norfolk via facebook: “OMG, I am totally going to be in the MLB!! Yay!” Since then, he’s had five hits and an RBI in each of his first three games. He’s swinging a hot bat right now, and the O’s will try to keep him in the lineup until it cools down
The lone bright spot of Wednesday night’s loss to the Yankees is that Nick Markakis hit his first dinger of the season. Hopefully it won’t be another 80 at bats until he hits his second. The big money right fielder needs to start hitting for some power if he is going to live up to his long-term contract. He is currently hitting .284 for the season with a .379 OBP.
Last season, Simon may have been the worst number three starter on any major league ball club. He went down early in the season and had Tommy Johns surgery. Now he’ll have an opportunity to reinvent himself as a closer. Simon gave up a couple of runs in his first closing opportunity, though Cesar Izturis’ fielding kept the inning alive. Simon didn’t look overmatched against the most expensive lineup in the world, inducing an Alex “Centaur” Rodriguez grounder to end the game. Bonus: he throws strikes!
Three O’s Down
Manager Dave Trembley told Mickolio in Spring Training that a bullpen spot was his to lose. With a 7.16 ERA and a 2.18 WHIP, he lost it. Mickolio was sent back to AAA Norfolk on Tuesday. He’ll work on his form and try to hop an express back to Baltimore soon.
The Atkins signing is starting to look more and more like a head scratcher every day. After Atkins’ unimpressive Spring, the O’s started giving left fielder Nolan Reimold practice reps at first. With Atkins struggling at the plate, especially with runners in scoring position, the club decided to call up Rhyne Hughes, who will take playing time from the 1st year Oriole. Atkins had two hits on Wednesday, but he’ll need to get his average over .238 if he wants to keep his corner infield job. He’s a long way from his 2006 .329 with 29 homers season.
Guthrie showed signs of the old Guts on Wednesday night, and not in a good way. Guthrie gave up six hits and seven runs against the Yankees, who looked like they were taking batting practice in the early innings of Wednesday’s game. With Guthrie’s rough outing, the O’s never had a chance against Sabathia’s Yankees.