Tag Archive | "brad bergesen"

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Live from Camden Yards: Gregg, Ortiz begin suspensions as Orioles welcome Boston to town

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Luke Jones

**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as the Orioles welcome the Boston Red Sox to town for a three-game set**

BALTIMORE — For those anticipating Kevin Gregg-David Ortiz II with the Boston Red Sox rolling into town for a three-game series, they’ll have to wait.

Their suspensions were reduced to three games this afternoon, and both will begin their sentences tonight as the Orioles (38-54) hope to make it three wins in a row and extract some revenge after the Red Sox embarrassed them in a four-game sweep at Fenway Park prior to the All-Star break.

Gregg agreed to drop his appeal of a four-game suspension after Major League Baseball offered a three-game penalty starting Monday in Baltimore. The respective fines of Gregg and Ortiz were also reduced.

“It’s principle, I want to fight for principle,” Gregg said. “But at this point, in regards to the team, I’m trying to take the best interest of the team right now, using what MLB has presented.”

With Gregg serving his suspension against the Red Sox, manager Buck Showalter said the Orioles could go with a few different candidates to potentially to close, presumably Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara, or the volatile Michael Gonzalez. Uehara, however, pitched in each of the final three games of the Cleveland series, making him unlikely to pitch in the opener against the Red Sox.

Gonzalez has not heard an update regarding his three-game suspension, but the lefty hopes to receive a reduction in the line of Gregg’s being reduced from four to three. He doesn’t expected there to be any further repercussions or bad blood over the three-game series against the Red Sox.

“It’s water under the bridge already,” Gonzalez said. “What was done was done. We’re over it, we’re starting a clean slate today, and we’ll go from there.”

The Orioles officially made an array of roster moves earlier in the day, placing Alfredo Simon on the restricted list as he deals with his legal matters in the Dominican. The club has recalled third baseman Josh Bell and selected the contract of reliever Mark Worrell from Triple-A Norfolk. Worrell will likely exit when Simon returns as early as Tuesday.

Bell is no stranger to Baltimore after playing 53 games for the Orioles last season. He was hitting .254 with 16 home runs and 47 runs batted in for the Tides prior to being recalled. However, the big third baseman also had 100 strikeouts in 343 at-bats.

Luke Scott will make his second start for Double-A Bowie on Monday night as they Baysox travel to Harrisburg. Scott homered in last night’s game and could be activated as soon as Tuesday when he is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list. Bell or recently-promoted outfield Matt Angle would be the likely candidates to return to the minors in that scenario.

The Orioles will send Brad Bergesen to the hill against veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. It’s Bergesen’s first start in the big leagues since May 28 in what amounts to a golden opportunity for the 25-year-old sinkerballer to reclaim his spot in the starting rotation.

In seven career starts against the Red Sox, Bergesen is 2-3 with a 3.27 earned run average in 44 innings. He has the only complete-game shutout for the Orioles this season when he shut down the Tampa Bay Rays in a 6-0 win on May 14.

The Orioles hope to put aside the nightmarish four-game series in Boston and keep the focus to what’s happening on the field — only this time with a better outcome.

“How you stand up to them is you play (better), you win,” Showalter said. “They’re good, they’re real good. … It’s not something they handicap beforehand. Nobody really cares.”

To hear more from Showalter, Gregg, and Gonzalez, visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

DH Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Kevin Youkilis
CF Josh Reddick
LF Carl Crawford
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
RF J.D. Drew
SS Marco Scutaro

SP Tim Wakefield (5-3, 4.74 ERA)

SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Derrek Lee
3B Mark Reynolds
DH Nolan Reimold
LF Felix Pie
2B Robert Andino

SP Brad Bergesen (1-6, 5.65 ERA)

As we do for every weeknight home game, join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 7:00. Talk about the game with us as an array of WNST.net personalities visit the cyber sports bar throughout the evening! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis regarding the happenings from Oriole Park at Camden Yards!

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Picking up the pieces for the Orioles’ second half

Posted on 13 July 2011 by Luke Jones

Despite rumors to the contrary and the wishes of many, the Orioles will play the remaining 74 games of the 2011 season.

Over the Orioles’ current stretch of losing 21 of their last 27 games that’s left them 18 games behind first-place Boston, I’ve constantly thought back to the spring of 2009. Former manager Dave Trembley made proclamations of the cavalry being on its way, labeling Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Jake Arrieta as “three legitimate top-of-the-rotation talents.” He gushed over the development of wunderkind catching prospect Matt Wieters, coming off a historically-great minor league season in 2008.

The Orioles were coming off their first last-place finish since 1988, but with young pitching and the club’s best prospect since Ben McDonald, fans finally had hope that didn’t center around aging veterans, middle-of-the-road starters, or reclamation projects. The fortunes of 2011 or 2012 looked more promising than at any other point since the Orioles’ last winning season in 1997.

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Questions remained, but there was real hope.

Light at the end of the tunnel.

Over two years later, Matusz and Tillman find themselves languishing in the minor leagues — along with Zach Britton as a result of a service-time decision — and Arrieta tries to fight off elbow inflammation while posting a mediocre 4.90 earned run average. The group has more closely resembled the Mets’ failed “Generation K” of the mid-1990s than the Atlanta Braves’ staff of the early 1990s.

Matusz, Tillman, Arrieta, Britton, and Brad Bergesen have pitched to a combined 5.05 ERA in 340 2/3 major league innings this season.

Wieters was just named to his first All-Star Game and has displayed excellent defense, but anyone in the organization would be lying if they weren’t disappointed with the catcher’s slow development offensively. Though far from a draft bust, the Orioles didn’t give Wieters a $6 million signing bonus in 2007 for great defense and slightly above-average offense.

Instead of getting better after a 34-23 finish under Buck Showalter in 2010, the Orioles entered the All-Star break with the second-worst record they’ve had over the last 14 seasons. Only last year’s team — on a historically-terrible pace over the season’s first four months — was worse.

As many have pointed out, morale is at an all-time low, which is no simple feat for a fan base seemingly hitting rock bottom as often as a basketball dribbled against a hardwood floor.

Dreams of a .500 season and avoiding a 14th straight losing season are all but dead, but the Orioles have issues to resolve and questions to answer in the second half. Much will hinge on the ability of the young pitching to get up off the mat and start fighting back to salvage the remains of this season — and beyond.

None of these will turn around a lost season, but here’s my list of what needs to happen in the second half:

1. Decide what to do with Hardy

Shortstop J.J. Hardy has clearly been one of the bright spots in a very deflating season. Emerging as the leadoff hitter in the absence of Brian Roberts, Hardy (13 home runs, .836 OPS) has provided the Orioles with their best all-around play at shortstop since the early stages of Miguel Tejada’s first tenure in Baltimore.

However, Hardy is set to become a free agent after the season and represents the Orioles’ most valuable trade chip. Despite his stated desire to remain in Baltimore, it’s hard to envision the 28-year-old signing a reasonable two- or three-year contract when he can simply wait until the off-season when several teams will be after his services.

On the other hand, the oft-injured Hardy may find it too big a risk to play out the rest of the season and has cooled considerably in July (6-for-40) after a blistering June. Hardy’s injury history has to weigh on the mind of Andy MacPhail or any other general manager looking to lock up the shortstop long-term.

One factor that shouldn’t be overemphasized is 19-year-old prospect Manny Machado. As the Orioles have painfully learned with the collapse of their young pitching, you can’t look too far ahead in lieu of helpful short-term options. The youngest player in the Carolina League at Single-A Frederick, Machado should have two more years of development before becoming a realistic option in Baltimore.

If the Orioles are unable to extend Hardy prior to the July 31 deadline, they could simply elect to have him play out the season and take the risk that he might leave as a free agent, which would then bring draft compensation. With that in mind, if Hardy’s interest in signing an extension is lukewarm, the club shouldn’t be willing to just give him away for spare parts at the deadline, either.

2. Clear out the dead weight

Despite a brilliant career, Vladimir Guerrero’s time as a middle-of-the-order hitter has come to an end. Showing little power since the first half of last season with Texas, Guerrero ranks seventh (.700) in OPS among Baltimore regulars and has been little more than a singles hitter despite manning the cleanup spot all season.

Showalter said he would consider dropping Guerrero in the order following the All-Star break — Mark Reynolds would be my choice in the cleanup spot — but the club must look to move Guerrero as soon as possible in a dignified way. Considering his pedigree and how admired he is in the clubhouse, it’s a delicate situation for the organization to handle.

Paying a large portion of his remaining salary may allow the Orioles to fetch a long reliever for the future Hall of Famer, but a 36-year-old who can’t run, play the field, or hit for power isn’t exactly an attractive option for even the most desperate contenders.

Assuming he returns from the disabled list, Luke Scott would become the regular designated hitter after Guerrero’s departure, completely freeing up left field and protecting Scott’s injured shoulder.

The same argument about Guerrero can be made for Derrek Lee (.666 OPS), but the veteran has at least provided good defense at first base. If Lee is able to be moved — in a similar Aug. 31 waiver deadline deal — the Orioles could elect to give Scott extended time at first or give a starting audition to Brandon Snyder to see if he can stick as a bench player in the future.

Continued on next page >>>

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Morning Reaction Orioles Midseason Report Card

Posted on 06 July 2011 by Glenn Clark

The Baltimore Orioles are now two games into the second half of the 2011 season. On Wednesday’s edition of “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, Drew Forrester and I gave our grades for Orioles players during the first half of the season.



Matt Wieters-Glenn Clark B+, Drew Forrester B
Jake Fox-Glenn D, Drew D
Craig Tatum-Glenn C-, Drew B



Derrek Lee-Glenn D+, Drew D
Brian Roberts-Glenn D, Drew D
JJ Hardy-Glenn A-, Drew A
Mark Reynolds-Glenn B-, Drew C-
Robert Andino-Glenn C+, Drew C
Blake Davis-Glenn C, Drew B-
Cesar Izturis-Glenn D, Drew D
Ryan Adams-Glenn C, Drew D
Brandon Snyder-Glenn C-, Drew C-



Luke Scott-Glenn D, Drew D
Adam Jones-Glenn B-, Drew B+
Nick Markakis-Glenn B-, Drew C-
Nolan Reimold-Glenn C+, Drew C-
Felix Pie-Glenn F, Drew D-
Vladimir Guerrero-Glenn D+, Drew D+



Jeremy Guthrie-Glenn C+, Drew C+
Jake Arrieta-Glenn B-, Drew C
Zach Britton-Glenn B, Drew B
Brian Matusz-Glenn D, Drew F
Chris Tillman-Glenn D, Drew D
Brad Bergesen-Glenn D+, Drew C-
Chris Jakubauskas-Glenn C-, Drew D



Koji Uehara-Glenn B, Drew B+
Jim Johnson-Glenn B+, Drew B-
Pedro Viola-Glenn C, Drew C
Kevin Gregg-Glenn C-, Drew C+
Alfredo Simon-Glenn C-, Drew C-
Jeremy Accardo-Glenn D, Drew D
Mike Gonzalez-Glenn D, Drew D
Josh Rupe-Glenn D, Drew D
Jason Berken-Glenn C, Drew C-
Clay Rapada-Glenn D-, Drew B-
Troy Patton-Glenn D, Drew F



Buck Showalter-Glenn C-, Drew B+

If you missed the breakdown of our midseason grades on Wednesday’s edition of “The Morning Reaction”, hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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In miserable day for Orioles, concerns over Matusz growing

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In miserable day for Orioles, concerns over Matusz growing

Posted on 12 June 2011 by Luke Jones

There’s little point in belaboring an awful day of baseball for the Orioles in a 9-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday to conclude a 5-4 homestand.

Fielding miscues, baserunning mistakes, and missed opportunities at the plate were disheartening enough but pale in comparison to the growing concern over starting pitcher Brian Matusz.

The hideous final line included 1 1/3 innings pitched, four earned runs, five hits, four walks, no strikeouts, and a home run allowed in the shortest outing of his career not including a one-inning stint cut short after being hit by a line drive against Toronto last Sept. 13.

However, the numbers only begin to explain why manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles are concerned with Matusz, who was making his third start of the season after missing the first two months of the season with an intercostal strain. As was the case in his first two starts, Matusz only threw his fastball in the 86-88 miles per hour range. Unlike the first two starts, however, the lefty was all over the place with his command, looking uncomfortable from the start.

“From the get-go, I didn’t get a good feel warming up in the bullpen,” Matusz said. “It’s just one of those days where you’ve got to be able to battle without your good stuff. They were able to find some holes and get some things going early, and I was just unable to get on track today.”

Statistically speaking, Matusz was effective enough in his first two starts since being activated from the disabled list on June 1. He entered Sunday’s game with a career-high seven-game winning streak dating back to last August after picking up his first victory of the season against Oakland on Monday.

The story was much different against the Rays as Matusz was visibly frustrated throughout his brief outing in which he left the game trailing 3-0 with the bases loaded and one out in the second inning. His body language suggested a pitcher searching for answers and feeling uncomfortable on the mound.

In fairness, Matusz’ start to the 2011 season has been anything but smooth. A wart on his finger and a line drive to the forearm interrupted his spring training routine before he was ultimately placed on the disabled list on Opening Night. However, with a few extended spring training outings, three minor league rehab starts, and three starts with the Orioles, it’s reasonable to think there should be improvement with his stuff by now, right?

“There should.” Showalter said. “Yeah. He’s telling us he feels fine. Just not a whole lot coming out right now.”

Matusz claimed he was “100 percent healthy” when asked after the game, but only the 24-year-old really knows the truth at this point. Whatever the case, it’s clear the Orioles manager was unhappy with the pitcher’s performance on the mound, including his inability to hold runners.

The Rays stole four bases in the first inning alone with Matusz’s slow delivery to the plate barely giving backup catcher Craig Tatum a chance to throw out runners. Improving his ability to hold runners is a topic the club has discussed with Matusz, but Showalter questioned whether the message is getting through.

“He keeps telling us he can read them,” Showalter said. “It’s been a challenge for him. Maybe we’ll be able to get his attention a little bit more.”

Matusz’s struggles Sunday are certain to grab everyone’s attention, especially with the news that Zach Britton’s next start will be pushed back to Friday in an effort to limit his innings, so he’s available to pitch in September.

The Orioles need Matusz to be healthy and effective if they want to continue to hover around the .500 mark as the summer advances. As terrific as Britton has been, he’s likely to experience growing pains as teams see him more than once, and he’ll likely be shut down at the 175- to 180-inning mark after pitching 153 1/3 innings in the minor leagues last season.

Jake Arrieta leads the club with eight wins, but his command issues makes him an uncertainty to pitch deep into games with any consistency.

And Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen continue to work through their respective issues at Triple-A Norfolk.

Entering the season, Matusz and Jeremy Guthrie were assumed to be the two “sure things” in the Baltimore starting rotation.

Showalter wouldn’t commit to saying with certainty that Matusz would make his next scheduled start. He had yet to talk with the young pitcher when the manager spoke to the media following the game.

Judging from his comments, you can bet Showalter will be asking — with conviction — whether Matusz is truly alright.

“I’m fine confidence-wise,” Matusz said. “I know I have the stuff and what it takes to get outs and be successful. It’s just a matter of getting locked in and getting on a roll.”

For now, the Orioles can only take the pitcher at his word, but the eyeball test was troubling in a frustrating day in all regards at Camden Yards.

It’s a testament to Matusz that a small sample size of diminished velocity and one horrid start raises such concern, but it also speaks to just how important the left-hander is to the present — and future — state of the Orioles. He needs to get himself on track as quickly as possible for the club to have its best chance to remain competitive over the season’s final 100 games.

“He didn’t have his stuff working for him,” Luke Scott said. “He had an off-day. Usually Brian is crisp with his pitches and his location. He just didn’t have a good feel. That happens, that happens in this game.”

Not a good feel at all.

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Live from Camden Yards: Orange Crush chat at 7 as Britton seeks run support against Kansas City

Posted on 24 May 2011 by Luke Jones

**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as the Orioles welcome the Kansas City Royals to town in the opener of a three-game set with rookie Zach Britton taking the hill in search of his elusive sixth win.**

BALTIMORE — What’s a guy have to do to get a little bit of run support?

Despite a string of 19 1/3 innings in which he hasn’t allowed an earned run, rookie Zach Britton has been stuck on five wins since May 1, the last time the Orioles managed to score a run while the lefty was still in the game. His 2.14 earned run average ranks sixth in the American League, and Britton will look for a little run support as he faces the Kansas City Royals in the first of a three-game set at Camden Yards.

Britton will be opposed by fellow rookie southpaw Danny Duffy, who will be making his second big league start after allowing two runs and walking six in four innings against the Texas Rangers in his debut last Wednesday. Duffy is a former third-round pick of the 2007 amateur draft and one of the more heralded prospects in the Kansas City system.

With three games against the Royals — losers of seven of their last nine — preceding a six-game West Coast trip against Oakland and Seattle, the Orioles have a golden opportunity to string together wins and eclipse the .500 mark for the first time since mid-April. Simply put, these are the opponents a young team has to thrive against if it wants to be taken seriously as a team on the rise.

In other news, Brian Matusz will make his third rehab start Friday at Norfolk. The lefty is expected to pitch six or seven innings or eclipse 90 pitches, whichever comes first. If all goes well, Matusz could join the club on the road trip and make his 2011 debut to begin June, a welcome sight for Orioles fans. Of course, the Orioles could elect to have him pitch one more rehab start before activating him from the disabled list.

In other injury-related news, Derrek Lee will head to Sarasota on Wednesday to continue rehabbing his strained oblique. He is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on June 1 if he’s deemed ready.

Second baseman Brian Roberts has seen a specialist regarding his lingering symptoms stemming from a concussion sustained in Boston last Monday night. He has not taken part in any baseball-related activity since the injury, and the club awaits word regarding his status.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Kansas City
LF Alex Gordon
CF Melky Cabrera
1B Eric Hosmer
RF Jeff Francoeur
DH Billy Butler
3B Wilson Betemit
2B Mike Aviles
C Brayan Pena
SS Alcides Escobar

SP Danny Duffy (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

2B Robert Andino
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
DH Vladimir Guerrero
C Matt Wieters
LF Nolan Reimold
3B Mark Reynolds
SS J.J. Hardy
1B Brandon Snyder

SP Zach Britton (5-2, 2.14 ERA)

As we do for every weeknight home game, join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 7:00. Talk about the game with us as an array of WNST.net personalities visit the cyber sports bar throughout the evening! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis regarding the happenings from Oriole Park at Camden Yards!

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Yankees put Orioles in familiar place in 13-2 beatdown

Posted on 20 May 2011 by Luke Jones

It took an extra 48 minutes for Thursday’s game to begin but less than 10 minutes after first pitch to see what kind of night it was going to be for the Orioles.

After rain pushed back the start of the series finale against the Yankees, Buck Showalter and the Orioles must have been wishing the tarp had remained on the field as New York plated five runs in the first inning off Brad Bergesen. Five days after pitching a four-hit shutout in Tampa Bay, Bergesen surrendered three extra-base hits, hit a batter, walked two, and uncorked a wild pitch before even escaping the first inning.

The game was over before CC Sabathia even took the Camden Yards mound. In the Yankees’ 13-2 beating, the burly left-hander improved to 10-1 with a 2.73 earned run average in Baltimore.

After Orioles starting pitchers had allowed only eight earned runs over the last 56 innings pitched, Bergesen gave up eight in just 3 1/3 innings to drop to 1-5 on the season. The outing erased all the good karma from his dominating start against the Rays and firmly placed him back on the rotation bubble as Brian Matusz moves closer to his season debut.

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Hoping to rebound from a 4-1 heartbreaker in 15 innings on Wednesday, there was plenty of blame to go around as the Orioles couldn’t pitch, hit, field, or run and barely even registered a pulse throughout a rain-soaked affair in which they fell to 0-6 against the Yankees in 2011.

For all the talk in the offseason of competing and refusing to lie down to the Yankees, the results look no different. Despite losing three of the six in extra innings, the Orioles have been outscored 51-18. The Orioles have already lost two games to New York by 11 or more runs after the largest margin of defeat last season was only eight runs when they went 5-13 against the Yankees.

There isn’t much more to say than what I wrote less than four weeks ago when the Orioles were swept in an abbreviated two-game series in Baltimore to fall to 0-4 against the Yankees. Despite the optimism of an improved club entering 2011, the Orioles still have no answers for the guys in pinstripes.

It remains the men against the boys.

Since taking over as manager last August, Showalter is now 3-9 against the Yankees, showing no more magic than Dave Trembley, Sam Perlozzo, Lee Mazzilli, or Mike Hargrove. Showalter always downplays the significance of facing his former club, but you know it has to eat at him to fail against his former employer, especially in the embarrassing fashion in which it happened over the last two games.

Thankfully, the Orioles won’t play the Yankees again until late July. But where they go from here will be the bigger question.

After building a 6-0 lead before a bullpen meltdown led to an 8-7 loss against the Red Sox on Monday night, it was only natural to question how the Orioles would respond from the latest collapse at Fenway Park. Coming home to drop two to the Yankees only makes that sinking feeling grow even stronger.

If recent history is any indication, a tailspin could already be underway, even with the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals coming to town for the next six games. To make matters worse, the injuries are mounting with Derrek Lee and Brian Roberts now on the disabled list.

The Orioles won’t lay down, but it’s only natural for that “Here we go again” mentality to seep into the subconscious of the clubhouse after the events of the last three games. After climbing to within one game of the .500 mark with five wins in six games before going to Boston, the Orioles have lost three straight and are now 19-23.

Not terrible, but also not indicative of any dramatic improvement in the big picture of working toward contention, aside from comparing the results to last season’s historically-poor first four months.

The Orioles will have their chance to capitalize against some beatable opponents over the next two weeks to climb to the .500 mark, or even above.

We’ll see how they fare, but this week’s events feel all too familiar to what we’ve come to expect.

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Live from Camden Yards: Lee, Roberts to DL; pitchers Jakubauskas, Patton recalled

Posted on 19 May 2011 by Luke Jones

**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as the Orioles take on CC Sabathia to close a two-game set with the New York Yankees**

BALTIMORE — Fifteen innings later, the state of the roster grew only cloudier.

As if the sting of a 4-1 loss wasn’t bad enough, the Orioles today placed first baseman Derrek Lee (left oblique) and second baseman Brian Roberts (headaches) on the disabled list. The Orioles have placed Roberts on Major League Baseball’s new seven-day disabled list, retroactive to May 17, with a concussion. Lee has been placed on the traditional 15-day disabled list.

However, Wednesday’s 15-inning marathon left the Orioles’ bullpen in shambles — forcing tonight’s originally-scheduled starter Jeremy Guthrie to pitch in relief — and the club had no choice but to recall relief pitchers Troy Patton and Chris Jakubauskas for extra arms against the Yankees. The roster moves currently leave the Orioles with 14 pitchers and 11 positional players.

The decision to send Guthrie to the mound after Michael Gonzalez was ejected for striking Chris Dickerson in the head with a pitch forces the Orioles to send Brad Bergesen to the hill against the Yankees. Keep in mind, however, that Bergesen will be working on regular rest due to Tuesday’s postponement in Boston.

The Orioles will likely make an additional roster move — or two — before Friday’s opening game against the Nationals to remedy the unbalanced roster.

Who it might be is anyone’s guess at this point.

An infielder such as Ryan Adams or Brendan Harris would be a likely option to take Roberts’ spot on the roster. The Orioles could also elect to bring another catcher to Baltimore, allowing Jake Fox to receive more opportunities at first base in place of the injured Derrek Lee without creating shallow depth behind the plate.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

New York
SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
C Russell Martin
1B Jorge Posada
RF Nick Swisher
LF Brett Gardner

SP CC Sabathia (3-3, 3.47 ERA)

2B Robert Andino
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
DH Vladimir Guerrero
CF Adam Jones
LF Felix Pie
3B Mark Reynolds
C Jake Fox
1B Brandon Snyder

SP Brad Bergesen (1-4, 4.35 ERA)

As we do for every weeknight home game, join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 7:00. Talk about the game with us as an array of WNST.net personalities visit the cyber sports bar throughout the evening! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis regarding the happenings from Oriole Park at Camden Yards!

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Live from Camden Yards: Orange Crush chat at 7; Markakis, Reynolds out of lineup against King Felix

Posted on 11 May 2011 by Luke Jones

**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as the Orioles battle King Felix in the second of a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners**

BALTIMORE — Following one of the craziest games in recent memory, the Orioles face the daunting task of battling against 2010 Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez in the second of a three-game set at 7:05.

The challenge grew even greater this afternoon with the news that right fielder Nick Markakis is out of the lineup due to a stomach virus. It hurts even more when looking at Markakis’ past success against the dominating Seattle right-hander, a .464 average in 28 career at-bats. The high-energy Felix Pie will take his place and bat second in the Baltimore order.

Another lineup change comes via Buck Showalter, who has replaced the struggling Mark Reynolds with Robert Andino at third base this evening. Reynolds is mired in a 9-for-71 slump (.127) and has just five runs batted in in his last 23 games. To say the season’s first 34 games have been a struggle for Reynolds would be an understatement, so a mental break — perhaps for everyone involved — is definitely in order.

Chris Tillman takes the bump for the Orioles as the young right-hander will try to reverse his early-season struggles. His 7.16 ERA ranks last among Orioles starters, and with Brian Matusz’s return — and possibly the return of Alfredo Simon as well — right around the corner, his or Brad Bergesen’s days in the starting rotation may be numbered.

With Baltimore relievers pitching seven innings in Tuesday night’s 13-inning contest, the Orioles are dealing with a taxed bullpen, with Jason Berken and Clay Rapada the only relievers not to work in the series opener against Seattle. Showalter revealed in his pre-game comments that Bergesen will be available in a long-relief role. The right-handed starter skipped his regular bullpen session this afternoon and can pitch in relief if needed. He is still slated to start Saturday’s game in Tampa Bay, but that could change depending on how Tillman fares against the Mariners.

Considering the state of the Orioles bullpen and Tillman’s tenuous hold on a spot in the rotation, an encouraging start is long overdue. A win against King Felix, however, might be a lot to ask.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

RF Ichiro Suzuki
3B Chone Figgins
1B Justin Smoak
C Miguel Olivo
DH Jack Cust
2B Adam Kennedy
LF Carlos Peguero
SS Brendan Ryan
CF Michael Saunders

SP Felix Hernandez (4-2, 3.02 ERA)

2B Brian Roberts
RF Felix Pie
1B Derrek Lee
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Robert Andino

SP Chris Tillman (1-3, 7.16 ERA)

As we do for every weeknight home game, join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 7:00. Talk about the game with us as an array of WNST.net personalities visit the cyber sports bar throughout the evening! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis regarding the happenings from Oriole Park at Camden Yards!

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Orioles’ struggles becoming not so ‘early’ after weekend sweep to Rays

Posted on 08 May 2011 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The old baseball adage is heard countless times in the early weeks of every season, whether a team or player is off to a smoking start or struggling to clear the spring training cobwebs when the games begin to actually count.

It’s early.

Or, it’s still early.

The Orioles dropped their sixth game in seven tries on Sunday, falling 5-3 as the Tampa Bay Rays completed a three-game sweep at Camden Yards. The club now finds itself with a 14-19 record and in last place in the American League East. After a 6-1 start to spark early-season excitement, Baltimore has now dropped 18 of its last 26 games as the lineup continues to sputter and the back of the starting rotation and bullpen struggle to get the opposition out.

After losing 11 of 13 in mid-April, the Orioles and optimists insisted it was simply a bad stretch, claiming it was too early to panic. A brief run of five wins in six games to close April looked like the start of better baseball, but that idea vanished after the Orioles flamed out in Kansas City and the Rays extracted revenge for the Orioles’ sweep in Tampa Bay to begin the season. The lineup has now scored three or fewer runs in the last five games to continue the early-season frustration after the offense was expected to be much better this season.

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At some point — 33 games into the season, or roughly a fifth of the season — you have to ask yourself when it stops being “early” and concerns become more legitimate. And while many — including me — have pointed to the Orioles’ 2010 woes as a sign that things could be a lot worse to begin 2011, should a historically-terrible pace through the first fourth months last season really be the standard by which a supposedly improved club is judged?

“Just keep grinding,” said manager Buck Showalter about the club’s struggles following a third straight loss to the Rays. “What do you do, give in? Pull the dirt around you? That’s not going to happen. I was proud of the effort and the way they came back today. [The Rays are] pitching well and our bullpen came in and gave us a chance to get back in there. It just didn’t happen.”

After a 34-23 finish put him in unique, mystical territory entering last winter, Showalter sounds far more like Lee Mazzilli or Sam Perlozzo or Dave Trembley these days, unable to explain the short-circuited lineup that has done nothing to help alleviate pressure on the pitching. Of course, Showalter can do a lot of things, like change up the lineup as many have suggested, but he doesn’t swing a bat. Entering Sunday, the Orioles ranked 12th in the American League in batting average, 13th in on-base percentage, 11th in runs scored, and 10th in slugging percentage.

Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero have looked old, Mark Reynolds hasn’t hit his weight (.187 after going 0-for-2 Sunday), and J.J. Hardy has 15 at-bats all season. Even worse, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis aren’t getting on base consistently, the two players counted on the most in that department. Looking up and down the lineup, Luke Scott has really been the only player to produce what you would have expected entering the season. Roberts, Matt Wieters, and Adam Jones have had brief stretches, but the collective result has amounted to a very underwhelming lineup through the first five weeks of the season.

If Scott’s comments following the game were any indication, players are beginning to realize it’s no longer that early in the year. The frustration is mounting.

“I take a lot of pride in what I do and I speak for a lot of these guys,” he said. “We come prepared as a group and we want to see fruit from our labor on the field. For me, I lose sleep over this stuff, it bothers me. Do I have peace during it? Yes, because I know I have done everything I can possibly do. Get in the weight room, get in the cage and take care of my body.

“It’s going to turn for us. If these are our low moments — with everyone struggling — imagine what it’s going to be like when we are clicking. That is what we are looking forward to.”

For now, everyone can only wait, but the poor on-base percentage and lack of plate discipline — despite drawing walks on Sunday — doesn’t exactly scream a turnaround is imminent.

Of course, the pitching hasn’t been much better as the Orioles continue to cringe every time they get to the back end of the rotation. Brad Bergesen again allowed a start to get away from him on Sunday, allowing five combined runs in the fourth and fifth innings in a fifth career loss in five career starts against the Rays. He has now allowed 24 earned runs in 23 2/3 career innings against Tampa Bay. His earned run average ballooned to 5.57 after the loss, and the right-hander will be a strong candidate to be moved to the bullpen when Brian Matusz returns later this month.

However, Bergesen isn’t even the worst — statistically speaking, anyway — pitcher in the rotation through the season’s first 33 games. Chris Tillman’s 7.16 ERA, diminished velocity, and poor command don’t exactly scream for the 23-year-old to remain in the rotation either. The two have a combined 6.30 ERA in 60 total innings this season, a painful duo to continue sending to the hill, but who else is there to turn to with the minor leagues bare?

Baltimore starters have allowed 23 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings in the last four days, with Jeremy Guthrie and Zach Britton also taking it on the chin this weekend. With the collective struggles at the plate and on the hill, the Orioles will benefit from Monday’s day off before the Seattle Mariners come to town to conclude a six-game homestand off to an 0-3 start.

“It shouldn’t matter mentally,” said Showalter after the Orioles were swept in a three-game home series for the first time since he became manager last August, “but it’s a challenge to be mentally disciplined and not let that be a ‘Here we go again’ mentality. And that will change, too. We’ll pitch better.”

Showalter continues to remain upbeat, insisting the “worm will turn” as he often likes to say. But despite popular belief last season, the Orioles skipper doesn’t hit, pitch, run, field, or even walk on water. Juggling the lineup or making another pitching change only goes so far; the players aren’t producing.

And it was the same problem all the previous managers had.

Everyone — players included — keeps waiting around for the Orioles to start playing better. Their brief stretches of strong play have been dwarfed by longer periods of bad baseball.

There’s still plenty of season, but it’s no longer “early.”

If the Orioles are truly a better team, it’s time they start showing it.

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50 words or less .... Thursday, April 28th

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50 words or less …. Thursday, April 28th

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Rex Snider

Welcome to what promises to be a pretty busy Thursday in the Baltimore sports community. The Ravens are primed to welcome their newest member of the fold and the Orioles are hoping to break out a broom on the Red Sox.

But, challenges exist.

There will be 25 obstacles standing in front of Ozzie Newsome and company and the birds lineup must deal with Boston ace, Jon Lester …. while Adrian Gonzalez and his lineup mates will face a likley easier task in figuring out Brad Bergesen.

Here’s today’s edition of “50 Words Or Less ….”

The Forgotten Piece ???

A daily conversation revolving around the Orioles always seems to regard the hitting attack or young starting pitching. I get it …. it’s “sexier” than discussing defense, baserunning and the bullpen.

But, last night served as another reminder that this team does not have a SHUT THE DOOR closer, nor do they have that coveted formidable 8th and 9th inning tandem. It’s a weakness that’s plagued the Orioles for a number of years.

Ask yourself this question …. were you comfortable heading into the top of the 9th inning with a 5-4 lead, last night?
That’s “Mr. Cover Model”

Well, Twitter certainly served as the ideal “LET’S PILEUP ON PEYTON HILLIS” social format, yesterday afternoon. As soon as news broke of the breakout back’s throttling of Michael Vick in the Madden-2012 cover matchup, the detractors and haters surfaced …..

“One Shot Wonder” …. “Overrated” …. “Another Mistake By The Lake” …. indeed, we saw and read it all. I think it’s kinda funny. A process that allowed people to manipulate results is what availed Hillis and Vick to reach final consideration in the first place.

Hey, it’s just a video game and a very popular one. Nobody buys it for the cover anyway. But, rest assured, there are some relieved souls in EA Sports hierarchy today.
Reaching Rock Bottom

Yep, today’s the day. It’s the 23rd anniversary of the one distinction the Baltimore Orioles would rather forget. On April 28, 1988, in the artificial confines of the Metrodome, the birds set a new mark for frustration and failure.


We always hear Dimaggio’s 56 game hit streak and Ripken’s 2,131 consecutive game streak will never be broken. Well, you can probably toss this distinction behind both of those marks. I can’t foresee another team doing it …..
With The 26th Pick …..

I’ll say it again, NOBODY really knows what the Ravens will do during tonight’s 1st round of the NFL Draft. But, plenty of opinions exist …..

Peter King – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Drew Forrester – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

Matt Bowen – Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple

Glenn Clark – Mike Pouncey, C, Florida

Brian Billick – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Who do I side with? King has NFL connections … Drew has LOCAL connections … Bowen played the game … Glenn is a “Ravens Insider” … and the coach possesses all four qualities.

I’m gonna trust Glenn. He was right on the money with Sergio Kindle, in 2010. And, he thought the Ravens would drop down to snag him. That’s money …..
Greatest Debut Album

I’ll start this rant by admitting my feelings are still smarting. One of these days, I might be considered for the MORNING REACTION’S Hall Of Fame. I’ve only been listening and contributing, in one way or another, for 7 freakin’ years …..

Regardless, I’ve gotta offer an opinion on yesterday’s conversation about the “Greatest Debut Album”. The Cars’ self-titled debut album bests the original Van Halen offering?

Come on …..

The truth in simple sports-related terms; The Cars couldn’t carry Van Halen’s jock. The Cars debut album sold 6 million copies and Van Halen’s debut has sold nearly 11 million issues. But, let’s forget sales and talk about the music …..

Would you rather listen to “My Best Friends Girl” or “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” ???

Case closed …..
Keep An Eye On …..

Yeah, I’m finishing up with more NFL conjecture. If Blaine Gabbert slips past the Buffalo Bills at #3 overall, will Marvin Lewis grab him? It’s an interesting debate, especially given the Bengals’ fractured relationship with Carson Palmer.

Many expert minds believe Gabbert is the best “NFL quality” quarterback in this class. I think they’re onto something. The talent is untapped and unrealized, but I don’t like the potential prospect of facing the next Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, twice a year, for the next decade.

So, I’m hoping Buffalo doesn’t screw this up. But, they probably will …..

Happy Thursday …. I’ll chat with you at 2pm

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