The cartoon bird logo certainly is smiling.
So here we are, the All-Star break. The halfway point of the season (though technically, at 85 games played, we’re beyond halfway through). The Orioles are 45-40, 5 games over .500, and currently have a grip on a post-season birth. If you’d told me in April this is where the Orioles would be in July, I’d have passed you off as delusional.
The team has found results in unexpected places. Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have been stand-outs in their first season in Orange, while Chris Davis and Wilson Betemit have provided added power to the line-up. Added in with one of the most effective bullpens in baseball, you’ve got a recipe for success.
But it seems the Bath Salts have started to wear off, and the carnivorous monsters the Orioles were in April and May have all but disappeared. And the poor defense of the O’s is no longer masked by run production.
June, the Orioles plummeted to earth. Struggles with young starting pitchers, a key injury to Nick Markakis, and a slumping offense, the O’s went 13-13. Tough match-ups against Top-Tier pitchers like Dickey and Santana on the Mets, Weaver and Wilson of the Angles will be sure to shake anyone’s confidence.
Lets take a look, position by position, at how the team has done. Rather than using a “Report Card” system, like I’m sure most other bloggers will, I’ll be using Beatles songs to describe how I feel.
Starting Pitching – Hello, Goodbye
You say goodbye, and I say Hello.
As previously stated, Hammel and Chen have been regularly effective every 5th day. Matusz, Arietta and Hunter, all of whom were in the rotation on Opening Day are now fighting for innings in the minors. Most recently, Chris Tilman and Miguel Gonzalez shined a ray of hope for a busted rotation. This still lends an empty (and as of yet, undetermined) 5th starter. Rumors would lead you to believe this could be for Grenkie of Garza, however, management has said they would address the rotation issues internally first, possibly with Jason Berken or Brad Bergesen, both of whom have started at the big league level. The song works as a metaphor for the recent shifting of players in and out of the roster.
Relief Pitching – Come together
Come together, right now, over me.
Johnson, Strop, O’Day, Ayala, Lindstrom, Gregg. These are not names that immediately come to mind when building a top-tier bullpen, but it’s worked. The most consistent aspect of the team has been the Bullpen’s ability to shut down an opponent in the late innings. The late innings is where our club really seems to come together. Their 2.75 ERA is best in the AL (though, the 11 Blown Saves is not to be overlooked). All-Star Jim Johnson’s 26 saves are best in the majors. Pedro Strop, tilted cap and all, is one of the best set-up men. Everyone else has been integral in situational match-ups. Hell, even Kevin Gregg hasn’t been a complete disaster in mop-up duty.
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