Tag Archive | "dave"

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Rain drops Koji: Birds lose to Mariners 6-3

Posted on 11 June 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

My new favorite Oriole, Matt Wieters, was the featured Bird tonight but didn’t play. Koji Uehara looked pretty good until the rain came. The Orioles lost again.

Mired in an offensive slump, tonight’s Birds lineup was another head-scratcher with Ty Wiggington, Gregg Zaun and Robert Andino at the bottom of the order. To their credit (and perhaps Dave Trembley, who filled out the card) they combined for 3 of the Orioles’ 7 hits tonight in a 6-3 loss.

Uehara gave up three runs in the sixth inning and another in the fifth, while Brian Bass pitched 1 2/3 of rocky relief.

Uehara looked like he was affected by the rain and Trembley’s postgame indicated that as well. He said the hamstring wasn’t an issue.

The Mariners got a big night from Russell Branyan, who hit a home run off Bass further than any ball I can remember, landing the last row of the bleachers below the scoreboard in deep, deep right centerfield. They called it 450-feet. They said it’s the sixth furthest shot in the history of Camden Yards. I don’t believe it. It looked like it was at least 475 and was just amazing.

The Orioles had a semi-rally in the first inning that got them two runs but could’ve been much worse. Former Oriole Garrett Olson was on the ropes yet survived five innings and got his first win of the season, which must’ve tasted good coming against the team that shipped him out for lowly Felix Pie back in January. After Luke Scott homered in the first, Olson settled down and did enough to survive.

Trembley lamented in the postgame about the offensive struggles of the team. “When it rains it pours” is how Trembley put it. “You stick with your guys, you back them up and there’s not a whole of other things you can do.”

As an aside, I think Ichiro Suzuki is one of the best baseball players I’ve ever seen. He exciting to watch, even when he strikes out looking silly at the hands of Brian Bass. I wish he was an Oriole!

The Orioles will welcome the Atlanta Braves to Camden Yards for three games.

Please feel free to join Bob Haynie at The Next Friday night before the game for an ice cold Bud Light.

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Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy: Birds give finale away in 3-2 loss to Seattle

Posted on 04 June 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

While we’re all drinking the orange Kool Aid these days in hopes of “better days ahead,” it’s losses like last night’s in Seattle that keep anyone who appreciates good baseball scratching our heads in disgust. After a series of boneheaded baserunning blunders and mental mistakes, the Orioles finally succumbed to the Mariners in a 3-2 loss at Safeco Field when Adrian Beltre hit a seeing-eye single past Cesar Izturis off Jim Johnson in the 9th inning to win the game.

Aubrey Huff – allegedly a veteran – not only got picked off of third base by Mariners catcher Rob Johnson in the sixth inning to kill a rally but was also caught stealing in the ninth to thwart any chance of a go-ahead run. To his credit, Huff faced the music afterward, telling The Sun: “There’s no reason to get picked off right there. That’s just a stupid rookie mistake by a veteran guy. It can’t happen. There’s no reason for me to be off the base that much. If Wieters gets a hit, I’m scoring anyway. It was really, really stupid.”

At least he’s showing some accountability for his losing behavior.

Perhaps sometime soon someone will ask Dave Trembley why the team insists on “hit and run” situations with the game on the line?

But aside from the general lack of offensive production and oppotunity, there were plenty of goats to go around in the Pacific Northwest. Nolan Reimold also got caught stealing earlier in the game and the situational hitting has been non-existent. Matt Wieters hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded early in the game and Brian Roberts is now mired in an 0-for-17 slump heading into Oakland for tomorrow’s series with the A’s.

So how bad has the offense been since Friday night’s “Matt Messiah” game?

The Orioles have stranded what few runners they’ve had over the past week and have scored only five runs in 27 innings in Seattle and were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Add in the weekend brilliance of the Detroit staff and they’ve now scored only five runs in their past 39 innings and have scored three or fewer runs in 9 of the past 19 games.

Hitting slumps are acceptable. Mental mistakes are not.

Trembley, who is usually dour even when the team wins, looked downright distraught last night during a terse post-game press conference because he knows this was a very winnable game that got away.

The whole team might want to hit the cage in Oakland with outfielder Luke Scott, who continued his torrid pace with a home run in the second inning and an RBI double in the sixth. He’s now registered five home runs this week while no one else on the Birds has hit a homer since last Friday.

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Matt Messiah has arrived…now will the wins follow?

Posted on 01 June 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It was a fun weekend to be a real Orioles fan. The kind where the joy of baseball, if it’s ever mattered in your life at any point, comes back in a rush. Sure, all of the steroids and losing and empty nights at Camden Yards have taken their toll over the past 12 years, but the Orioles finally can say they are in the business of “selling hope.”

You know why? Because, this time, the fans actually believe in Matt Wieters and what the Orioles are selling.

How do I know? Because they announced the three-game crowd this weekend at 108,000 people and for once it didn’t look like they were padding their numbers.

The Orioles are selling hope. The Orioles are selling youth. The best minds in baseball say they’re on the right path. The fans are buying the hype and – for the first time – the tickets to the games.

People dropped everything and ran to the ballpark this weekend to see the orange Messiah in person.

Yes, it was a fun weekend despite the gruesome pair of losses on Saturday and Sunday (not to mention any flaming criticism of manager Dave Trembley, who befuddles many of us on a day-to-day basis with his decisions). Friday’s night’s rainbow, spirited crowd and big victory made for a rare memorable night at Camden Yards.

The Orioles are off to the West Coast for the week. They’ll play well into the night. Will Matt Wieters matter to you on Wednesday night around midnight in the sixth inning?

We’ll see. Will you be chasing him around all summer and following the box scores or the live game action to monitor his progess? Again, we’ll see.

But for one weekend – successful or not – a kid named Matt Wieters gripped the city’s water cooler talk and created a stir downtown with traffic, cheers and thousands of people reacquainting with their orange laundry. Whether he lives up to the hype and whether the Orioles will ever win because of it remains to be seen.

But right now, that doesn’t really matter. Matt Wieters – he will be referred to as Matt Messiah in this space from this point forward – represents hope in the form of a 6-foot-5 switch hitting catcher from Charleston, S.C.

But with this kind of an introduction this can only go one of two ways: very well or very poorly.

Time will tell. He’ll either hit .300 and become a stalwart, franchise rock or he’ll be a .260 hitter and continue the disappointment of what’s left of the Orioles diminished fan base (see McDonald, Ben; Dauer, Rich; Bonner, Bob; Fuller, Jim; among many, many others who didn’t pan out as superstars and Hall of Famers).

But for now, as the Orioles begin June of 2009 in their 12th year of ineptitude and are again mired in sole possession of last place, even though he only went 2-for-11 in his weekend debut at home amidst the sea of flashbulbs and media hype, Matt Messiah will be given the benefit of the doubt.

At least that’s the way I feel.

What’s good for Matt Messiah is good for Baltimore.

The whole city needs this kid to be the real deal.

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Wieters fever: Will he be the savior that this franchise needs?

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Wieters fever: Will he be the savior that this franchise needs?

Posted on 28 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

We fully expect that Camden Yards will be packed tomorrow night for the debut of Matt Wieters. It’s a Friday night, the forecast is good and this is probably the most unique evening of baseball in Baltimore since “Fan Appreciation Night” back in May 1988, when the team was greeted with unconditional love after an 0-21 start.

Clearly, the Orioles marketing folks have finally put the “WNST Cap” on and used an evening to create an “event.” They were already guaranteed about 30,000 on a $6 student/fireworks night. And after a couple of years of press, accolades and hype, the can’t-miss-kid is coming to town. They could’ve made his debut tonight, but they’ve chosen a night when they were already en route to a full house. This alone, is a departure from some of their foolish decisions related to getting people interested in the team.

Here’s where you can make all of the jokes about how few people still DO go to Orioles games. Yesterday, the Orioles battled back from an 8-3 deficit to win a game in dramatic, 11th-inning style with a walk-off home run by young Nolan Reimold and there weren’t 5,000 people in the stadium to witness it. On Tuesday night, it was truly a “friends and family” night with less than 3,000 people there in the rain to watch young Jason Berken pitch his debut.

That won’t be the case tomorrow night when the flashbulbs glow all over Camden Yards for the coming of the catcher/messiah. It will be a virtual “sea of orange.”

(ONE FAIR WARNING: If you’re planning on “walking up” tomorrow at 6:30 and getting in, think again! The Orioles have one of the most inept game day staffs in the universe. You will be standing line until the 4th inning trying to get in if you roll up there at any point after 6 p.m.)

Oh sure they’ll say Wieters is “just another ballplayer” and one of the many “fine young prospects in the organization.” Andy McPhail and Dave Trembley have already begun calling for “calm” and have made the “give the kid some space” pronouncements.

They’ll say all of the “right” things because they don’t know if he’ll hit .300 or flop once he gets to the big leagues. No one ever knows but Wieters is about as much of a sure thing as we’re going to get in this lifetime in an Orioles uniform.

All of the indicators of maturity, pedigree and ability are there for Wieters to literally be a Hall of Famer.

Wieters HOF

Go to www.mattwietersfacts.com for more fun like this above…

He was the best player in the draft, who was made hard to draft because of the Scott Boras factor and signability issue. But at the 11th hour two years ago, Peter Angelos found a way to get it done and get him into an orange jersey.

Wieters has come into the organization and literally earned every promotion he’s received over the last two years.

But the franchise needs “saving” as much OFF the field as on the field. Sure, winning will be the ultimate tonic for all that ails the Orioles. (At least that’s what the current ownership believes.)

But what will Wieters’ impact really be in Baltimore over the next four months?

Or four years?

Or for the next decade or so, if he’s truly “The Chosen One” for the organization?

Will he be a guy who does charity work and lives in the community?

Will he be another guy who lives “out of town” during the offseason?

Will he be stupid enough to go on a radio show and call Baltimore a “horseshit” city? (Doubtful, by the way!)

Will he be able to hit .300 and have the kind of impact that Joe Mauer has had in Minnesota?

Will we be comparing him to Mike Piazza or Earl Williams in 2011?

Will he be Cal Ripken or Jim Fuller?

Will he be Eddie Murray or Craig Worthington?

Where will he bat in the order?

Will fans flock to see him after tomorrow night? Will Wieters be playing in front of 40,000 empty green seats once the “shine” wears off his star?

Will he be a “reason to come to the ballpark” more so than Nick Markakis or Brian
Roberts, who have both exceeded any reasonable expectation over the past five years yet still play in an empty stadium most nights when the Red Sox or Yankees aren’t in town booing the home team?

What’s going to make this promotion of Matt Wieters “special” somewhere down the line?

Here’s hoping that all of our wildest dreams or fantasies as Orioles fans are realized with this promotion on Friday. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of the end of the 12 years of hell and the 16 years of lousy ownership and leadership and accountability. (I’m in no way holding my breath that the Angelos clan will ever learn how to be a quality community partner and civic leaders for the greater good of Baltimore, but I never say “never.”)

So, I’m drinking the orange Kool Aid for the time being. (Hey, I’m at least sipping from a Dixie cup until Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz get here.)

If Matt Wieters is here to save us all, then I’m the first convertible soul to sign up for the congregation. But it’s going to take more than just rolling the ball onto the field at Camden Yards to change what has been a generation of despair for anyone in this region who loves baseball as much as I do.

Here’s my message to Wieters:

Change the losing culture here in Baltimore, Matt!

Hit .300 and drive in runs. Be a fiery leader and say and do the “right” things here. (In other words, stay away from Aubrey Huff!)

Buy, don’t rent, here in Baltimore and get to know the people and heritage and history of the city. Put a little effort into being special and you’ll get special treatment! And whatever you do, don’t take marketing or human relations advice from Peter Angelos or any of his kin.

We want a hero. We want another Cal or Brooks. We’ve been patient but it’s now all on you. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it goes when you get a $6 million signing bonus and negotiate til the 11th hour and you’re the No. 1 prospect in all of the major leagues according to anyone with a baseball website.

We’ve been waiting a long time for you kid!

I’m not a Wieters beater.

I’m more in line with “Going to bat for Matt!”

Come on up, do your best, make us proud to have “Baltimore” on our chests and give us a fun summer.

After all, if it’s ever going to change here – this sea of ineptitude, mean-spiritedness and arrogance this ownership has wreaked upon Baltimore since 1993 – it has to begin somewhere.

They tell me you’re “The Savior.”

For once — at least — I hope they’re not lying.

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Adam Jones wins one: Orioles outlast Nats 4-2 in 12 innings

Posted on 23 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Somewhere, there’s a Bob Hope like joke here somewhere. Ya know, “What the only thing worse than watching two last place teams play for nine innings?”

Of course, deadpanned: “Watching them play for 12 innings.”

But that’s what I did tonight as the Orioles and Nationals pitching staffs combined to duel well into the night in a 2-2 deadlock until Adam Jones hit a two-run double, improbably scoring pitcher Danys Baez who also vultured the victory in Washington D.C.

Nolan Reimold got the “Battle of The Beltway” started with a homer in the first inning off of rookie starter Jordan Zimmerman but that was all of the offense the O’s could manage before the 12th inning.

O’s starter Rich Hill was decent, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing just three hits although he walked four Nats as well. Manager Dave Trembley used four members of the bullpen — Matt Albers, Jim Johnson, Baez and George Sherrill — so there will be an extra tax for the extra baseball tonight.

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Orioles make it two in a row with mini-sweep of Twins

Posted on 08 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It wasn’t a textbook victory last night for the Orioles (12-17) but they’ll take wins anywhere they can find them. After an evening of soggy weather and a six-inning win on Wednesday night, the Birds came back to Camden Yards and finished the mini-sweep with a 5-4 win over the Twins led by Melvin Mora and unlikely Lou Montanez.

Mora homered in the second and got on base in the eighth before Montanez singled to left to account for the game-winning RBI.

The usual speedy work of Brad Bergesen on the hill picked up the pace of the game, but he was in trouble most of the evening and worked some Houdini magic to avoid big innings. All told, the Twins managed 14 hits off of O’s pitching — including 11 off Bergesen in just six innings — but could never plate runs in bunches.

Reliever Chris Ray struggled in the 7th inning, allowing the Twins to tie the game after inheriting a one-run lead, but Jim Johnson was stellar in the 8th inning to vulture a victory and George Sherrill managed to finish a sweaty 9th to earn fifth save of the year.

Afterward, manager Dave Trembley gave praise liberally, especially to Mora whom he discussed in his pre-game speech.

Prepare the pinstripes: the Yankees (13-15) come to town mired in an early-season funk for three games at Camden Yards this weekend.

Tonight it’s a rematch of the Opening Day starters: C.C. Sabathia (1-3. 4.85) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (2-2, 5.05).

On Saturday, it’ll be Phil Hughes (1-1, 2.70) and Adam Eaton (1-3, 7.18) and Sunday afternoon Joba Chamberlain (1-1, 3.77) will face Koji Uehara (2-3, 4.42).

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O’s are slip, sliding away…

Posted on 28 April 2009 by 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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Bottom half is bottoming out for O’s

Posted on 26 April 2009 by Keith Melchior

Not that anyone noticed last night, but the Orioles dropped a 6-5 heartbreaker to the Rangers falling short of tying the game with 3 in the bottom of the 9th. Mark Hendrickson couldn’t get out of the 5th inning, but hey look on the bright side, Brian Bass lowered his ERA to a respectable 7.20.

The O’s are now 8-10 after starting out at 6-2. The bottom half of the lineup STINKS. It’s time to make some changes.

Gregg Zaun is close to falling below .100. Something is wrong with this guy and either he’s not saying what it is or the Orioles aren’t telling. He’s definitely sitting out today as Dave Trembley will use his “final game or Sunday” lineup. Last time I looked, the Orioles are 0-2 on Sundays.  Here we go again!!!

If Moeller goes 2-4 with an RBI, I’d have to keep him in there.  Felix Pie is batting .156 and is more like Felix PU. Andy McPhail really sold us a bill of goods on this guy, didn’t he?

Cesar Izturis was touted as a slick fielding SS.  Well, he has made 2 errors and is barely hitting .215 . I’ll take the 2 errors over 18 games but the average needs to come up.

The top 5 hitters are holding their own and with Ty Wigginton producing, Trembley cannot afford to have 3 slugs at the bottom of the lineup. They have no bench strength at all.

So this afternoon if it comes down to needing a pinch hitter, who does he have to choose from? Try these, .109, .156, .215..

If I am the opposing pitchers facing the 4,5,6 batters, I intentionally walk the bases loaded to get to the 7,8,9 hitters and take my chances, at least until these raggamuffins show up and prove  they can get the job done.

Speaking of showing up, were there really 41,160 there last night or do they now start to count the empty seats? At least today the home fans get another chance to see Brad Bergeson and a chance to actually win a game on Sunday.

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The Orioles try to avoid ‘the broom’ for breakfast

Posted on 20 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

To say the weekend in Boston has been counterproductive would be an understatement. Yesterday at Fenway, Koji Uehara was very, very good, allowing just two runs in 7 innings in what was the best start of the year for any Orioles starter. But unfortunately, Jon Lester was even better, stifling the O’s bats and holding them to just four hits in seven innings while striking out nine Birds. Even Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff stuck out twice in trying to solve the young lefty.

Prior to yesterday’s quality start by Uehara, which also gave the bullpen a much-needed respite, the starting pitching has been dreadful of late but yesterday it was the bats that fell silent in taking the O’s down to defeat. The top of the order has been phenomenal but the bottom has been unacceptable, even on a bad NL team where the pitcher would be batting in the No. 9 hole.

Gregg Zaun is hitting .129.

Felix Pie is hitting .161.

Cesar Izturis is hitting .162.

And the one thing you never can count on but always looms large — good health — has become an issue with red-hot Adam Jones now out of the lineup with a tweaked hamstring joining Norfolk Tides catcher/superstar-in-waiting Matt Wieters on the shelf temporarily.

At some point, this can only get better, right?

Today at 11 a.m. the Orioles will try to avert a four-game sweep at the hands of the BoSox before coming back home tomorrow night to open a homestand against the Chicago White Sox. It’s always weird — baseball for brunch — but it’s Patriots Day in Boston and the runners will be tearing up the route of the Marathon all morning in Beantown.

Utility player Ryan Freel was angry regarding playing time last week and approached Dave Trembley and the organization about the issue. Maybe he should consider hitting more than .071 when he does get a rare start as he did against Lester yesterday.

The Orioles are now 6-6 and send Mark Hendrickson (1-1. 3.00) to the hill against Justin Masterson to avert not only a sweep but a sub-.500 return to Camden Yards.

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Eaton beaten badly, Bass was a fish — Birds lose 11-3 to Rays

Posted on 12 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

All was not completely lost. The Orioles managed some offense — too little, too late — in the 9th inning as they eliminated the doughnut from behind a bad effort today in an 11-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays to cap their opening homestand at 4-2.

Orioles pitching allowed a whopping 17 hits today and the Rays looked almost vengeful for the two beatings handed out by the Birds behind good pitching on Friday and Saturday. Keep in mind, the Rays beat the Orioles 15 of 18 times last year. A win today would’ve matched last year’s total.

I wrote a live blog as I’ve turned an eye toward The Masters this afternoon, the one day of the year that I attempt to appreciate golf and culture.

Below are my observations from a day of baseball with the O’s.

4:01 p.m. — I’ve been monitoring Phil Mickelson’s miraculous run this afternoon with one eye on the game. But I’ve now managed to switch over fast enough to see back-to-back homers by Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena. Brian Bass is making Dave Trembley and Andy McPhail look bad for sending Matt Albers away last night. It’s 11-0. The O’s have managed just three hits on the day off of James Shields.

The good news: the “Baltimore” grey sweaters will be on the team’s crests tomorrow night in Dallas. We’ll be watching the game from Padonia Station as we talk football and draft with Eric DeCosta and Brian Billick.

3:09 — Well, I thought Adam Eaton stunk today but Brian Bass has been an arsonist of the highest order, allowing four MORE runs in one inning coming out of the bullpen and this one is becoming a snoozer. I’ll continue to monitor while I watch The Masters and follow Drew’s blog there. It’s 8-0 and “relief” is not what Bass has brought to the hill today.

3:04 p.m. — Jim Hunter just said that the Rays “have exploded.” Well, Ben Zobrist just made Brian Bass look like he’s next on the Norfolk Express, with a three-run homer after Bass allowed two of his first three hitters aboard. It’s now 7-0. The Masters is calling me…

2:59 — Mercifully, it’s over. Adam Eaton has left the game with a nauseating line and it was worse to actually witness:

100 pitches, 4 IP, 8H, 4ER, 2W, 6K

His ERA to start the season is 9.00.

2:56 p.m. — I like Adam Jones but I’ll call that what it was: stupid base running. If the flyball from Markakis gets down and goes to the wall, Jones could limp in from second base. And instead, CF Ben Zobrist ran it down and Jones got hung up at second instead of being at third with one out. With Huff coming up and a fly ball meaning a run, it wasn’t good baseball by Jones. The Orioles end the fourth quietly, still down 4-nil.

2:45p.m. — Alright, watching Adam Eaton stinks. Like watching most of the Orioles’ pitching over the last decade, today’s game has been long, frustrating and is making me consider the azaleas of The Masters here any second with Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry teeing off soon. Adam Eaton has thrown 94 pitches, allowed nine baserunners and isn’t even holding runners on base. Only a miracle “phantom” tag and tripping at the plate from Chad Moeller on Gabe Gross has saved the Orioles and now Moeller was shaken up but stayed in the game. Miraculously, it’s still 4-0. Eaton ends the fourth having thrown 100 pitches.

2:32 p.m. — Nice of the idiots at MASN to feed me a commerical pimping how great the game is in HD complete with Nick Markakis promos. Yeah, I know how great baseball in HD is. Wanna know HOW I know? Because I’m watching the game in this crappy “low def” presentation, morons, and it makes me long for ESPN and Sunday Night Baseball tonight! (It’s like comedy. You can’t make this stuff up…)

2:24 p.m. — It’s taken Adam Eaton almost 80 pitches to get nine outs in less than 51 minutes. At least there’s no mystery: the bullpen knows it’s going to be seeing plenty of action and quite early today. James Shields is perfect and here come Felix Pie, Chad Moeller and Robert Andino to start a rally in the 3rd. I’m not expecting any offensive production from the bottom of the order today.

2:06 — I’ve called him Adam “Eaton-up-innings” but it doesn’t appear to be the case so far given his propensity to throwing a ton of pitches. He’s gone deep into counts with virtually every batter the Rays have brought to the plate. It took him 49 pitches to get through the first nine batters and he had only secured four outs. He loaded the bases with a laborious pace and then allowed Carl Crawford to stroke a lazy three-run triple into the right field corner. Longoria then followed with a 370-foot double to right.

The Orioles are losing 4-0 and Eaton is on pace to get the bullpen moving by the fourth inning. He’s thrown 60 pitches and gotten six outs.

1:51 — The Adam Eaton era has begun in Baltimore. Looks like “lots of baserunners” will be a tag that follows him to his fourth big-league destination. Despite allowing two on with one out, he escaped like Houdini, even after it looked like he had struck out Pat Burrell to end the inning on a 1-2 inside pitch. Burrell eventually skied to Adam Jones and ended the threat. Evan Longoria now has a six-game hitting streak and the O’s will not begin this one in the hole.

With Felix Pie, Chad Moeller and Robert Andino at the bottom of the order, a good start will be necessary to take the sweep today against the Rays.

P.S. When I see No. 24 on an O’s pitcher from the centerfield camera, I think about Dave Schmidt. (Don’t ask me why?) There are many other 24′s — including Rick Dempsey — but Schmidt’s name was like “number association” for me.

1:35 p.m. — So much for HD promises of the Angelos family and MASN. For the third day in a row, I’m watching the Orioles on the “poor little cousin” of MASN HD, which is Channel 17 on my Comcast featuring the 1985-style production of Major League Baseball. The double whammy? We’ve also got the B-team of Jim Hunter and Buck Martinez snoozing us through the action. The good news? The freaking team is beating the best the AL East has to offer to start the season. Adam Eaton and James Shields. This one figures to run long…

Between this and the Masters, it’s gonna be a great afternoon on the couch. Especially, when it looks sorta chilly at the ballpark. Feel free to comment. I’ll post them all!

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The brooms will be in tow at Oriole Park at Camden Yards this afternoon but will they be put to use? For the second time in as many series, the Birds have a chance to take three in a row from an AL East favorite to close the homestand before donning the “Baltimore” script for the first time in 37 years in Texas tomorrow night. I’ll be live blogging during the game today so join me for a chat if you’re watching the game with your laptop nearby on this chilly Easter Sunday.

Here are the lineups for today:

Rays

Akinori Iwamura 2B
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Pat Burrell DH
Dioner Navarro C
Ben Zobrist CF
Gabe Gross RF
Jason Bartlett SS

James Shields RHP

Birds

Brian Roberts 2B
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Aubrey Huff 1B
Melvin Mora 3B
Luke Scott DH
Felix Pie LF
Chad Moeller C
Robert Andino SS

Adam Eaton RHP

Last night’s masterful effort by Jeremy Guthrie (6IP, 5H, 0 runs) has continued a “magical” run for the Orioles to beging the season. Melvin Mora’s grand slam in the first set the tone and the Tampa Rays went quickly and quietly on a Saturday night. Even Chris Ray, who struggled against the Yankees, got into the act with a trio of strikeouts in his one inning of work.

Today the Birds will send Adam Eaton to the hill against James Shields. Eaton, who was not on the active roster and will activated later today, will replace Matt Albers who got some work last night before his expected option to Norfolk after last night’s win. Brian Bass was an other candidate for the AAA demotion, but he’s out of options and will remain with the club.

I’ll be sharing thoughts — kind of like I do on live radio — in my live blog at 1:35 p.m. today. Drew will be watching the Masters all afternoon as well. It’s a great holiday, Sunday and weekend of sports as the Stanley Cup playoffs beckon. Some would say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially with the better weather en route.

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