O’s are slip, sliding away…

April 28, 2009 | Nestor Aparicio

It seems that no one noticed over the weekend while the NFL Draft was going on, but the Orioles are still playing baseball. And they’re actually fun to watch most nights. It’s been a strange start to the season in a lot of ways.

Just the crowds — one night there’s a “friends and family” gathering of 5,000 or so like last night, and then on Friday and Saturday night the place was almost full — are kinda strange. But so is the weather these last few days. Global warming at work, no doubt.

It’s 2:52 a.m. and I’m watching the end of the replay of the Orioles game in HD. I fell asleep on the game at 8:35 and again at 9:10 earlier this evening in low definition. I woke up, and it was the 3rd inning all over again, this time in HD.

They lost again. They blew a 4-0 lead again. With the “Number 1″ starter on the hill in Jeremy Guthrie an early four-run lead wasn’t nearly enough. This time it was Matt Albers’ turn to take a spanking, getting shelled for 3 earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning.

Tonight the Angels come to town for two quick games. The Orioles have lost three of four and are now 9-11.

Matt Albers stood at his locker and took the heat. He seems like a stand-up kid (and I remember many nights in that locker room where “run and hide” guys were more the norm).

Guthrie’s pitch count — he was nearing 90 pitches in the fourth inning — did him in and he walked off the hill after the fifth with a slim 4-3 lead. Albers’ blow-up was only answered in the 9th inning when the Orioles threatened with two on and two out before Robert Andino struck out swinging. (He, too, answered questions after the game, which I respect.)

So it’s another night when they’ve blown a huge lead, which is becoming a trend en route to a habit. Look, no one expects them to go to the World Series, but at least play capably and keep it interesting for us in 2009!

But it’s so frustrating and bad, it’s almost comical. It’s like a Greek tragedy. You just wait on bad things to happen it seems after 12 years. And then — voila — once a week Adam Eaton will throw a gem or they’ll score 12 runs and hit four homers, and you’ll be shocked that they can win.

Every night you can count on the top of the lineup to hit the ball. Every night the pitching is an adventure. And even when they get behind, they have shown an ability to score runs 4 or 5 at a time. Even tonight, they were two runs down and Andino represented an opportunity to win the game.

But that’s part of the problem. This team has no “bench” to speak of, which is embarrassing. Opposing bullpens and managers never have to worry about any late-game adjustments. What decisions does Dave Trembley even have to make? Insert Felix Pie to pinch hit? Or Andino? Or Chad Moeller?

If the team were serious about winning this year they’d have Matt Wieters up here just to get his stick in the lineup so they could score more and so the fans will have a reason to go to the ballpark.

Brad Bergesen looked pretty ordinary on Sunday. Gregg Zaun is hitting .120. Pie, who they’re married to for a while it seems, is hitting .167. And virtually every pitcher on the staff has had issues along with the marvels of the rare gem, like Adam Eaton’s effort last Thursday.

I still think Koji Uehara is going to be pretty decent, which is saying something for any “outsider” who has ever come to the franchise. Most of the imports have just stunk. I think Koji will keep them in most games and won’t be taking third-inning exits as frequently as some of his co-workers.

But I’ve been watching and watching a lot. No one has been calling my show to even discuss the team, which makes me wonder if anyone is actually watching the games or just reading the boxscores. Or maybe not even noticing when they play or how they’re doing in the standings.

Tonight’s crowd was a disgrace by any measure, especially on a 80-degree “Short sleeves” kinda night.

It’s been a bit of a lost weekend for the O’s, even when the Ravens pimped them and spent a ton of cash buying more than 14,000 tickets for Saturday night’s game and providing only 10,000 of those fabulous purple hats. (Why they didn’t give away 45,000 of them, I have no idea…??)

Everyone in town was watching the draft and dissecting the selections on Saturday and Sunday.

But I’m still watching baseball and the Orioles. Sometimes, it’s on “DVR-delay,” like when I watched Bergesen pitch “Sunday Night” baseball after I caught up on the Caps and the NFL Draft, which have become a priority for me as a sports fan this week.

But I’m watching the Orioles. I care. Do you?

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