West Coast Not the Best Coast for the O’s

June 07, 2009 | Tom Clayton

Things looked great in birdland as the month of May ended.  The Orioles were 7-3 in the last ten games of May and the Achilles Heel of the team, the starting pitching, looked to be figuring itself out.  Starting pitchers were going deep into ballgames and rookies Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken were really throwing well.


Camden Yards was packed for the final series of the month when Matt Wieters made is major league debut.  The yard was drawing 40,000 strong for a non Yankees or Red Sox game for the first time in a decade.


Then came June and a six game West Coast road trip, and everything seemed to fall apart.  The Orioles have lost five of their last six games including five in a row against a pair of sub-.500 teams.


The stating pitching which had been so good of late seemed to implode before our eyes. 


While things looked bad in Seattle, the starting pitching became a horror show once they got to Oakland.  During the three game series two of the three Oriole starters didn’t make it out of the first inning and none of them made it past the fourth inning.


On Friday night staff “ace” Jeremy Guthrie was simply disgusting to watch.  He allowed six earned runs on seven hits while only recording two outs before he was mercifully pulled.


After allowing only three earned runs in his first two starts Jason Berken was shelled on Saturday.  While he was the “Ironman” of the starters this weekend going three and a third he allowed nine earned runs on seven hits while walking three and not striking out a single Oakland hitter.


Sunday was the strawberry icing on the crap cake that was the Orioles starting pitching this weekend.  Rich Hill lasted only two-thirds of an inning and allowed three earned runs on one hit but walked four Oakland hitters.  Hill looked clueless when it came to the strikezone; of the thirty-nine pitches he threw twenty-four of them were balls.  Hill looks like a pitcher that is going to be frustrating to watch, he has the ability to throw seven scoreless like he did Monday against Seattle but he will also have games like Sunday where he has no command of the strikezone and will be completely ineffective. 


The pitching has been terrible and unfortunately it has coincided with the disappearance of the Orioles bats.


Nobody has struggled as much as Brian Roberts, in the six games he played on the West Coast road trip he only had two hits in twenty two at bats.  In fact over the last ten games B-Rob’s average has dropped .27 points to .279.  On the basepaths Roberts has done absolutely nothing of late; he hasn’t had a stolen base in seventeen games.  In fact the Orioles leadoff hitter hasn’t swiped a base since May 19th against the Yankees.  I’m not sure what is going on the B-Rob but he looks disinterested right now.  This is the first time I can remember questioning Roberts effort and it isn’t like being on a losing ball club is something he unfamiliar with .


After Matt Wieters first eight games in the big league some Oriole fans seem ready to jump off the Bay Bridge.  He is hitting only .143 with no homers or RBI and he looks like he is struggling to figure out major league pitching.  I agree Wieters has struggled but I have full faith in his ability to figure out what he is doing at the plate and become the type of offensive player we are all expecting. While he has struggled to figure out big league pitching Wieters has had no problems behind the plate.  I have made mention before that I am extremely impressed with the level of athleticism and intelligence Wieters bring with him behind the plate.  I honestly see the making of a potential gold glove catcher, if you combine that with the offensive numbers that are eventually going to come and we may have something that’s going to be quite fun to watch for the next decade.


It hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the Orioles; Luke Scott is on a tear unlike any I have ever seen.  Since coming off the disabled list on May 27th Scott has hit eight big flies and driven in eighteen runs in just ten games.  The most impressive thing I have seen from Scott this year has been the fact over his career he has been a .278 hitter but he has upped his average to .324 this season.


The other thing that has been nice to see is Nolan Reimold take the left field position and solidify a young, very talented outfield.  In just twenty two major league games Reimold is hitting .280 with six jacks and fourteen RBI.  At just twenty-five years old Reimold looks like a guy who has big time major league power potential.  Reimold also already has a walk off homer in extra innings, signaling the fact he could also be a potential clutch hitter that the Orioles still need to find.


We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty this season but this past week has been about as ugly as it could get.  I’m still excited about where I think this team is going but after this week I feel like we are a little farther from our destination then I realized.