The Orioles bullpen didn’t just squander Brian Matusz’ effort against the Indians, they torched it. Seven scoreless innings up in flames. Alfredo Simon blew his first save in 6 chances on Saturday night by serving up a three run homer to Austin Kearns.
On the bright side, Matusz had a strong bounce back effort after struggling in his last start against the Twins. Evidenced by the 4 walks, it wasn’t a flawless outing but it should have been good enough for a win.
That brings us to Kearns. After 3 lackluster injury-plagued seasons with the Nationals Kearns signed with the Indians as a free agent. The signing marked a return to the state of Ohio for Kearns, he broke into the Majors with the Reds in 2002 as a 22 year old boy wonder. Kearns posted a .907 OPS and drove in 56 runs in 107 games as a rookie setting up huge expectations. He never again delivered that kind of production for Cincinnati and was shipped to the Nats in a multi-player deal in 2006. After hitting .217 and .195 in the past 2 seasons in Washington it looked like Kearns career had bottomed out before the age of 30.
So far in the 2010 season Kearns, now mostly a platoon player, has 3 HRs and 20 RBI and a .941 OPS in 88 at bats. Perhaps Kearns has finally found a role that suits his talents, or perhaps the AL pitchers just haven’t figured out how to pitch him, like Alfredo Simon. Whatever the reason, on a beautiful Saturday night in Baltimore, Austin Kearns made like it was 2002 when he flashed all that promise.