Tag Archive | "Felix Pie"

Who is the Orioles’ Most Productive Bat?

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Who is the Orioles’ Most Productive Bat?

Posted on 28 June 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

The official halfway point in the Major League Baseball season is all but upon us and by now we have a pretty healthy body of work to scrutinize. When it comes to scrutiny, no one has seemingly gotten more, from an Orioles perspective, than 3rd baseman Mark Reynolds. While his defense has been an exercise in frustration and has to improve going forward, Reynolds’ offensive numbers have seemingly polarized the fan base. Those whose cup of Orange Kool-Aid is half empty are having a tough time getting past the strikeouts and batting average. The half full Orange Kool-Aid crowd looks at his walks, runs, doubles, homeruns and RBI while getting less at bats in the bottom of the lineup than many less productive O’s and try to quantify his production.

While the science of Sabermetrics has pervaded baseball in a big way, and attempted despite great resistance from the establishment to educate and enlighten baseball fans – and they have too- baseball is still scored based on the number of guys who cross home plate. WAR, OPS, PECOTA and BABIP do a great job in helping to identify trends and tendencies and to quantify what we’ve seen and can therefore expect going forward, but games are still scored in runs and identifying credible run producers in the era of modern stats can be a confusing endeavor to say the least.

 

At the end of the day, baseball is and always will be largely a function of luck and timing. Offensive prowess can certainly help to tip the scales in the favor of one team or another, but timely hitting still beats good hitting on most nights. Consider the old Strat-O-Matic baseball game; it assigned probablitites to dice rolls and reduced the game of baseball to a board game. It worked because like weighted rolls of the dice, over time the probabilities in baseball are bound to play out, but on any given game or roll or at bat, the improbable was and is possible.

 

Since stats are skewed based on numbers of at bats, plate appearances, RBI opportunities etc., comparing them without an Ivy League degree can be challenging. So in Strat-O-Matic baseball, or more comparably simple lottery calculations I offer the following.

 

Below is a chart listing the production of the regular members of the Orioles’ lineup based this seasons numbers per 100 plate appearances. As opposed to at bats, plate appearances take into account everything including walks, sac flies HBP’s etc. Think of each member of the Orioles lineup as a bucket of 100 lottery balls. Each time a player goes to the plate they pull one. For my money, it’s a lot like the luck and timing necessary to baseball success.

 

When Nick Markakis goes to the plate for example 67 of his 100 lottery balls are outs (10 of those strikeouts); he also has 21 singles, 2 doubles, 2 homeruns, 6 walks 1 sac fly and 1 HBP to pull from. Does that make him a better bet to produce runs than Mark Reynolds who has 64 outs in his bucket (26 of those K’s) and only 9 singles, but who also has 5 doubles, 4 homeruns, 16 walks 1 HBP and 1 sac fly to draw from? Some of the numbers were surprising to say the least.

 

The 2011 Orioles per 100 plate appearances:

 

 

 

 

 

Player

 

 

 

1B

 

 

 

2B

 

 

 

3B

 

 

 

HR

 

 

 

BB

 

 

 

HBP

 

 

 

SF

 

 

 

OUTS

 

 

 

K

 

 

 

RUNS

 

 

 

RBI

 

 

 

Markakis

21

2

0

2

6

1

1

67

10

9

9

A.Jones

18

4

0

4

5

1

2

66

18

12

14

Reynolds

9

5

0

4

16

1

1

64

26

13

13

Guerrero

21

5

0

2

3

1

0

68

11

9

10

Wieters

16

5

0

3

7

0

0

69

17

10

13

D. Lee

20

4

0

2

8

0

1

65

22

11

9

Scott

12

5

0

4

10

0

1

68

22

10

10

Hardy

16

6

0

5

9

0

1

63

15

14

14

Pie

19

4

1

0

2

0

0

74

15

11

5

Reimold

14

2

0

5

14

2

2

61

20

11

14

 

 

 

 

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Live from Camden Yards: Orange Crush chat at 7 as Orioles try to reverse 2010 misfortune against Toronto

Posted on 03 June 2011 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — After a forgettable 1-5 West Coast trip, the Orioles return home to host the Toronto Blue Jays in the first series between the teams in 2011.

The Orioles (25-29) can only try to forget about the nightmarish 3-15 showing against Toronto (28-28) a year ago in which the Blue Jays took the first 12 before Baltimore could finally taste victory. Thankfully, this weekend’s series will be played in the friendly confines of Camden Yards and not Rogers Centre where the Orioles have dropped 14 straight games and 23 of their last 25.

Rookie Zach Britton will take the hill in search of his elusive sixth win after giving up a career-high six earned runs in his last start against Oakland. His last win came on May 1 against the Chicago White Sox.

The Orioles received a brief scare prior to the game when Felix Pie fouled a ball off his foot during batting practice. He limped into the tunnel with trainer Richie Bancells, but the left fielder deemed himself well enough to play and will occupy the leadoff spot despite not having a walk all season.

In injury-related news, first baseman Derrek Lee will make a rehab start for Double-A Bowie tonight, serving as the designated hitter and leading off for the Baysox. There is no firm date for his return, but the veteran appears close to returning to the Baltimore lineup.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Toronto
SS Yunel Escobar
LF Corey Patterson
RF Jose Bautista
1B Juan Rivera
C J.P. Arencibia
2B Aaron Hill
DH Edwin Encarnacion
CF Rajai Davis
3B Jayson Nix

SP Carlos Villanueva (2-0, 2.62 ERA)

Baltimore
LF Felix Pie
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
DH Vladimir Guerrero
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
1B Luke Scott
3B Mark Reynolds
2B Robert Andino

SP Zach Britton (5-3, 2.93 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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Memorial Day Weekend …. O’s run outta wins, Tressel runs outta time & Earnhardt runs outta gas

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Memorial Day Weekend …. O’s run outta wins, Tressel runs outta time & Earnhardt runs outta gas

Posted on 31 May 2011 by Rex Snider

I suppose one of the true benefits of doing these daily “bullet blogs” is that a three-day weekend usually offers up a host of stories and topics to re-cap when beginning a new – and abbreviated week.

That’s right …. just 4 days until we kick off another Saturday/Sunday combination !!!!

In looking back over the Memorial Day weekend, as well as to the week ahead, there are numerous noteworthy subjects to cover. I’ll get to many of them during this afternoon’s show.

In the meantime, here’s a handful for your enjoyment and response:
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Remember This Guy ???
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When yesterday’s news regarding Jim Tressel’s resignation started seeping thru social media and every known sports-related news source, one distinct impression resonated in my mind:

The man simply ran out of places to take cover and people to hide behind …..

Of course, suggesting that Tressel is a living example of Warden Samuel Norton of Shawshank Redemption fame is an inequitable and stretched comparison. However, some similarities exist, to include, preaching the good book and operating by another guide, and orchestrating a supposed transparent system for one’s selfishly clandestine desires.

Speaking of books …. I’m pretty certain the final edition on Jim Tressel’s career is far from reaching the depths of his true influence on an era at THE Ohio State University.
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Junior Goes Down In Fumes
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To say Dale Earnhardt Jr. needs a win is a huge understatement. Its been a long time for the namesake of a legend. To be exact …. Junior has gone nearly three years since his last visit to victory lane, on June 15, 2008.

In Sunday’s Coca Cola 600, it appeared the drought was coming to an end. What happened? Well, it would’ve helped if the folks at Coke preferred a 599 mile race, as Junior ran out of gas on the last turn of the final lap.

If you’re a casual viewer or constant critic, you’re probably wondering “HOW IN THE HELL DOES A GUY RUN OUT OF GAS ???” Well, you can throw your rational thinking cap away on this one …..

NASCAR has a revamped points system that heavily rewards victories. Combine such a reality with the complicated art of computing gas mileage to the fraction of a lap, especially at high speeds, and a hunger to win and you’ll find that some guys are better off taking a risk.

After all, he still finished in 7th place.
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Many Happy Returns? I hope so …..
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Today will mark the first time I have ever been on-air for my birthday. Yes, I’m actually one of those screwballs who looks forward to this day … or any day that emphasizes on ME.

I have been acting like this for 44 years and counting …..

Indeed, I share this day with some distinct individuals, to include Clint Eastwood (81 yrs), Joe Namath (68), Brooke Shields (45), Jenn Aparicio and my dad – who is celebrating his 68th birthday.

I’m quite blessed with a beautiful family, fantastic friends and a career that I cherish. Thus, I don’t want for anything. But, I’m also not above pandering for gifts. Ideas would include, Three Olives Cherry Vodka, unused gifts cards of any variety, key lime pie and suggestive pics of Jen Aniston.
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Scratching My Head
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As a custom, I try to refrain from criticizing sports executives and coaches for their professional decisions. They know more than me, YOU and the next guy.

That said, they can be wrong in their decision making. And, I don’t think anyone who gets paid to do something is beyond reproach.

I’ll be blunt …. penciling in a leadoff hitter (Felix Pie) who has NO WALKS in more than 60 plate appearances sounds like a recipe for losing baseball to me. I’m also a bit perplexed by the demotion of Chris Tillman. One of the final appealing qualities to Tillman’s prospects is he had one minor league option remaining.

Translation: if the Orioles spend the off-season peddling Tillman’s services to bidders, every big league executive will know Andy MacPhail is in a tough spot …..
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A Lack Of Class
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Well, you didn’t think I would finish this up without citing some reference to the true meaning of Memorial Day, did you? I never take the sacrifices of our true heroes for granted …..

Thus, I was a little disturbed to see Sarah Palin exploiting the significance of Memorial Day with her publicity stunt and bus visit to Ft. McHenry. This is not a political blog or statement …. and I’m a registered Republican.

Leave the holiday (especially at our monuments) to our nation’s fallen; who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Just my two cents …..

Have a GREAT Tuesday, and remember …. I will be collecting birthday gifts between 2pm and 6pm at the WNST studios !!!!

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Jones’ walk-off bomb better late than never for Britton in Orioles’ 5-3 win

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

Somewhere around the fifth inning of Tuesday night’s game between the Orioles and the Kansas City Royals, I quipped there was only one thing missing from Zach Britton’s repertoire during an amazing first two months of his big league career.

Developing a pitch that would score some runs to help his cause.

Though his six innings of work against the Royals paled in comparison to his prior two starts in which he didn’t allow an earned run over 16 innings, Britton walked off the mound trailing 3-0 after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by getting Alex Gordon to pop to short. The Baltimore lineup had failed to score a single run for the young lefty in his last 27 1/3 innings of work.

Britton appeared on his way to suffering his third loss after allowing three runs and a career-high nine hits on a night in which he struggled to command his sinker and changeup. However, he had managed to keep his team in the game against opposing rookie Danny Duffy, who had stifled the Orioles through the first five innings of the game. Much like his prior three starts, scoring opportunities had been there — particularly a botched fifth inning in which Robert Andino bunted into a double play with two runners on and no outs — but the Orioles continued shooting blanks.

That is, until Britton reached the dugout in the middle of the sixth with his night finished after 101 pitches.

After wasting back-to-back brilliant outings from the young southpaw, the Orioles finally broke through in the sixth as Matt Wieters and Luke Scott plated the first two runs with Britton still in the game since his victory over the Chicago White Sox on May 1. At the time, it wasn’t enough to get the starter off the hook, but it put the Orioles in position for the ninth-inning heroics to follow.

Facing Royals closer Joakim Soria, who hadn’t allowed a run in 12 career outings against Baltimore, pinch-hitter Felix Pie tied the game with an RBI-double and Adam Jones blasted a two-run homer to dead center to give the Orioles an improbable 5-3 win, their first win of the season when trailing after eight innings. Though it didn’t net Britton a victory, it was a small token of support after nearly a month of attrition.

And it came against one of the better closers in the American League, albeit one who’s struggled in the first two months of the season.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to do it against the good guys,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We talk about it all the time. I don’t want to hear people talk about, ‘Oh, we face such good pitching in the American League East every night.’

“Guess what? That’s what it is. You’ve got to beat the good guys, too. That’s why they call it the big leagues. I don’t like our chances every night down by one run against [Soria], I can tell you that, but we were fortunate.”

As Jones was mobbed by his teammates at home plate in celebration, the Orioles had finally broken through to pick up their rookie pitcher.

And earn their most exciting victory of the season.

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Live from Camden Yards: Injuries shuffle lineup as Orioles host Yankees, Orange Crush chat at 7

Posted on 18 May 2011 by Luke Jones

**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as rookie star Zach Britton and the Orioles begin a brief two-game set with the New York Yankees**

BALTIMORE — As if an 0-4 start in the season series against the New York Yankees wasn’t enough, the Orioles return home with a plethora of injury issues as they try to secure their first win against the Bronx Bombers at 7:05 p.m.

Leadoff hitter Brian Roberts and first baseman Derrek Lee are missing from tonight’s lineup as neither veteran escaped Boston without ailment. Roberts is suffering from headaches after diving into first base during Monday’s 8-7 collapse at Fenway Park in which the Orioles blew a 6-0 lead. Of course, Roberts dealt with headaches and concussion-related symptoms to close 2010 that failed to subside until the middle of the offseason.

Robert Andino will take his place at second base and hit ninth against Bartolo Colon and the Yankees.

Lee (oblique) may be placed on the 15-day disabled list, but manager Buck Showalter said before the game that the club may choose to wait a few days before making a decision. Luke Scott will slide from left field to first base, with Felix Pie taking his place in the outfield and hitting leadoff for the Orioles. Left-handed reliever Troy Patton is in Baltimore if and when Lee heads to the disabled list.

In a move anticipated before Tuesday’s postponed game against the Red Sox, the Orioles have officially placed utility infielder Cesar Izturis on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow ulnar nerve injury. First baseman Brandon Snyder has been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take Izturis’ place on the 25-man roster.

In other news, pitcher Alfredo Simon is expected to be activated from the restricted list on Sunday and will likely pitch in a long relief role with the return of left-hander Brian Matusz right around the corner. Matusz is slated to make a second rehab start in Bowie on Saturday.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

New York
DH Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodgriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
LF Andruw Jones
SS Eduardo Nunez
C Francisco Cervelli

SP Bartolo Colon (2-2, 3.74 ERA)

Baltimore
LF Felix Pie
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
DH Vladimir Guerrero
1B Luke Scott
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Mark Reynolds
2B Robert Andino

SP Zach Britton (5-2, 2.42 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 prevail over Mariners in wild 13-inning affair

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Orioles prevail over Mariners in wild 13-inning affair

Posted on 11 May 2011 by Luke Jones

Maybe it was as simple as J.J. Hardy’s return to a struggling lineup.

After all, the Orioles were 6-1 when the shortstop left the second game of a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers on April 9 and had gone 8-18 before he made his return from the disabled list Tuesday night. Hardy collected four hits, including a home run in his first at-bat, as the Orioles prevailed in a wild 7-6 final in 13 innings over Seattle.

Hardy’s back and all is right in the Orioles’ world, right?

Of course, you’ll excuse my delirium after what will surely be remembered as one of the craziest games of the season.

What started as a solid pitching matchup through six innings between Jake Arrieta and Seattle’s rookie sensation Michael Pineda transformed into a contest filled with comebacks, mishaps, close calls, and a near brawl.

Baltimore’s two favorite relievers, Mike Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg, surrendered leads after the Orioles had fought from behind on two separate occasions to take the lead. Adam Jones’ two-run double in the bottom of the sixth gave the Orioles their first lead in 40 innings before Gonzalez promptly gave the lead right back to Seattle in the seventh.

Gregg blew a ninth-inning save opportunity with two outs thanks to a bloop single to left by Justin Smoak to score Michael Saunders and tie the game, 5-5.

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What followed was inexplicable.

In the last of the ninth, Hardy led off with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brian Roberts, putting the winning run in scoring position. Nick Markakis lined a hard single to left fielder Mike Wilson, who fielded the ball quickly with Hardy slowing his stride into third base. Instead of logically holding Hardy at third with Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero due up with one out, third base coach John Russell sent the runner and Hardy was gunned down at the plate by 10 feet.

Being aggressive is one thing, especially when you’ve struggled to score runs all season, but running yourselves out of an inning — and a potential win — is another story.

“I don’t want to say it was a late call,” said Hardy, choosing his words carefully about Russell’s decision to send him home in the ninth, “but I guess it did surprise me a little bit.”

The game went to extra innings, where the action turned chippy in the bottom of the 10th when Felix Pie hit a harmless grounder to Smoak. Seeing he was about to be tagged, Pie momentarily ran back toward the plate — perhaps trying to create the first rundown between home and first in baseball history — before turning back to first and charging into the Seattle first baseman, who was blocking the baseline.

The two exchanged words as both dugouts emptied and the bullpens came charging in before order was quickly restored without any punches being thrown.

Asked after the game whether he was surprised that the altercation caused both benches to empty, Pie delivered the line of the year, drawing laughs from the gathered media.

“I’m not surprised. I play winter ball in the Dominican, so a lot of those things happen.”

Is that right?

In the top of the 12th, the Orioles benefited from a favorable call at the plate as Miguel Olivo appeared to slide under the tag of Matt Wieters on a relay throw from Roberts. Instead of the play giving the Mariners the lead, the teams played into the 13th.

After playing 10 seasons in the minors before being called up to the Mariners, Wilson’s first major league hit to left-center plated Jack Wilson to give Seattle a 6-5 lead in the top of the 13th and seemingly their first extra-inning win of the season.

However, the Orioles had one final rally in the bottom of the 13th as Felix Pie singled in Markakis with the tying run, and two batters later, Wieters collected the walk-off hit to score Pie and give the Orioles a 7-6 victory. It marked the third time in the game the Orioles had come from behind to take the lead.

“As long as we keep getting opportunities, you have a chance to win,” said Wieters about the club’s 20 hits and 16 men left on base. “Until that final out is made, you’ve always got a chance. To get that win I think is going to be big for this ball club moving forward.”

Big in a number of ways.

The victory snapped a four-game losing streak and gave the Orioles their first win in extra innings after losing their first three this season.

And with the bullpen taxed after pitching seven innings and the struggling Chris Tillman taking the hill against Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez on Wednesday night, it was a game the Orioles couldn’t afford to lose. After the game, manager Buck Showalter would not rule out a possible roster move to add another arm to the bullpen with Jason Berken now the only long reliever on the 25-man roster after Josh Rupe was designated for assignment earlier Tuesday.

All in all, just another night at the ballpark.

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Orioles-Rangers postponed, will play doubleheader Saturday

Posted on 08 April 2011 by Luke Jones

(Updated 9:50 p.m.) — Tonight’s game has been postponed and will be made up as part of a straight doubleheader beginning at 4:35 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Here’s the official press release regarding the cancellation and ticket exchanges:

Tonight’s game between the Orioles and Texas Rangers has been postponed due to rain. The teams will play a single-admission doubleheader tomorrow beginning at 4:35 p.m.

Tickets for tonight’s game may be exchanged for seats of equal value for tomorrow’s doubleheader or any remaining non-prime home game during the 2011 season, subject to availability. Ticket exchanges must be made by May 31. Student Night tickets may be exchanged for tomorrow’s game or any other non-prime Friday home game during the 2011 season.

Tickets for tomorrow’s game will be valid for both games of the doubleheader.

Original ticket purchasers residing outside a 75-mile radius of Camden Yards may request a refund because of the postponement. Refund requests must be submitted in writing along with the original tickets and mailed via certified mail by May 31 to:

Baltimore Orioles
Attention: April 8 Rainout
333 West Camden Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

BALTIMORE — With the Rangers coming to town for the opener of a three-game set at 7:05, Camden Yards would certainly benefit from the dry Texas heat this evening as rain has fallen in the area all day. The Orioles are hoping to get this one in, but the tarp remains on the field less than an hour before gametime.

Coming off a 9-5 victory over the Tigers on Thursday, Baltimore (5-1) sends rookie Zach Britton to the mound for his home debut against Rangers veteran Colby Lewis, who returned from two years in Japan to go 12-13 with a 3.72 ERA in 2010.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy is out of the lineup again as he continues to deal with a left ribcage injury that forced him out of Thursday’s game only minutes before first pitch. Hardy is not expected to go on the 15-day disabled list at this point, according to manager Buck Showalter.

In other injury-related news, Jeremy Guthrie’s bullpen session in the indoor tunnel went well earlier this afternoon, but the Orioles will hold off on making an announcement regarding his status for Sunday. If Guthrie is unable to make the start, he would likely be pushed back to Tuesday’s game against the Yankees in the Bronx. Of course, if Guthrie’s stamina isn’t where it needs to be — anyone who’s ever had pneumonia can empathize — the disabled list could be an option and would be retroactive to April 2.

More concerning than anything for the first-place Orioles is the current state of the rotation and bullpen. With Josh Rupe and Jeremy Accardo each expected to be unavailable for tonight’s game, the Birds may be forced to make a roster move for another bullpen arm.

But who goes in return?

The Orioles would have likely elected to go with a short bench under normal conditions, but Felix Pie, Robert Andino, and Jake Fox are all out of options. They could also elect to temporarily send down a starting pitcher such as Chris Tillman or Brad Bergesen, but any player optioned to the minor leagues must remain there for 10 days unless recalled due to an injury.

Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Texas
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mike Napoli
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Julio Borbon

SP Colby Lewis (1-0, 4.50)

Baltimore
2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
1B Derrek Lee
RF Vladimir Guerrero
LF Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
3B Mark Reynolds
C Matt Wieters
SS Cesar Izturis

SP Zach Britton (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

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Live from Camden Yards: Orange Crush chat at 7 as Orioles go for series win over Detroit

Posted on 07 April 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 7:00 as the Orioles host the Tigers in the finale of a three-game set at Camden Yards***

BALTIMORE — Coming off their first loss of the season in a 7-3 defeat at the hands of Detroit ace Justin Verlander, the 4-1 Orioles go for the series victory with Chris Tillman hoping to build upon his impressive debut in Tampa Bay last Saturday.

The 22-year-old held the punchless Rays without a hit for six innings before being lifted after throwing 101 pitches in the eventual 3-1 victory for the Orioles. Tillman will be opposed by veteran Brad Penny, who signed with the Tigers after an injury-shortened season with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2010.

Tillman still struggles with his command of the four-seam fastball, leaving it up in the strike zone far too often — including his start against the Rays, according to the pitcher — and has not shown the velocity scouts raved about during his climb up the farm system chain. He continues to work with a two-seamer to generate more movement, but did not throw it very much in his six-inning stint on Saturday.

As for Penny, he is beginning his second stint in the American League after spending a season with Boston in 2009 in which he went 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA. At 33 years old, Penny fits the description of a National League pitcher who could be overmatched against AL hitters. His first start of the season seemed to confirm that opinion as Penny surrendered eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Yankees in the Bronx on Saturday.

Despite the 4-1 start, the Baltimore lineup continues to struggle in the opening week of the season, entering the day 13th in the American League in on-base percentage (.253) and has just 11 extra-base hits in five games. With the powerful Texas Rangers and New York Yankees looming next on the schedule and the Orioles relying on an undermanned starting rotation, the bats need to heat up soon if the positive early-season vibes are to continue.

Tonight seems as good a night as any to break out with the veteran Penny on the mound for the Tigers.

In other news, Jeremy Guthrie is back at the ballpark and will throw a bullpen session tomorrow to determine whether he makes the start on Sunday against the Rangers. Guthrie was hospitalized with pneumonia earlier this week.

Despite not being in the original lineup posted by Buck Showalter, left fielder Luke Scott returns to the lineup tonight after missing the last three games with a groin injury. He will hit fifth behind Vladimir Guerrero.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Detroit
CF Austin Jackson
2B Will Rhymes
RF Brennan Boesch
1B Miguel Cabrera
DH Victor Martinez
3B Don Kelly
LF Ryan Raburn
C Alex Avila
SS Ramon Santiago

SP Brad Penny (0-1, 16.62 ERA)

Baltimore
2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
1B Derrek Lee
RF Vladimir Guerrero
LF Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
3B Mark Reynolds
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy

SP Chris Tillman (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

As we do for every weeknight home game, the Orange Crush live chat will be open for business as the Orioles try to take their second straight series of the season. Talk about the game with us as an array of WNST.net personalities visit the cyber sports bar throughout the night! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis from Oriole Park at Camden Yards!

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Several ‘O’-bservations from Monday’s 5-1 victory over Tigers

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Several ‘O’-bservations from Monday’s 5-1 victory over Tigers

Posted on 04 April 2011 by Ryan Chell

Well, the weather could have not nicer on an Opening Day in Baltimore. 80+ degrees and the Orioles fans were out in support of their first place team.

A day like Monday certainly proves that God is a baseball fan.

And the first-place Orioles did their part in their home-opener defeating the Tigers 5-1, as starter Jake Arrieta continued the trend of quality starts by Orioles pitchers, as the fourth-starter in the rotation scattered six hits in six innings of work while only allowing one run to pass home plate.

Jake Arrieta

He struck out three and only walked two Tigers.

The Orioles offense also did its part in the bottom of the fifth against Tigers starter Rick Porcello, whose only mistake was giving up a three-run bomb to Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts after shortstop JJ Hardy doubled and left fielder Felix Pie walked.

Roberts has both of Baltimore’s home runs this year.

Jason Berken came in to relieve  Arrieta, and continued his fantastic start to the season as he struck out another three batters in his two innings of work.

In his two games to start the season, Jason Berken has six strikeouts in three innings pitched.

The Orioles are now 4-0 and still sit atop first-place in the AL East.

The last time the Orioles finished with that unblemished record was 1997, when Davey Johnson’s team reached the ALCS to lose to the Cleveland Indians in six games.

If the Orioles were to take two of three from the Tigers on Wednesday with Brad Bergesen taking the hill for a sick Jeremy Guthrie, the Orioles’ 5-0 start would be the best since 1970, when the team won the World Series.

And like I’ve said, it may be early-especially with the defending AL Champs-the Texas Rangers-coming in over the weekend, but it’s better than being 0-4 that’s for sure.

Some ‘O’-bservations from the team so far four games into the season:

1. Starting Pitching

Jake Arrieta kept up with the pace that Jeremy Guthrie, and rookie pitchers Chris Tillman and Zach Britton set over the weekend in Tampa, as he earned yet another quality start for the Orioles starting rotation.

In 26 innings so far in this early season, the Orioles’ four starters have an ERA of 0.69.

As a whole, the pitching staff has an ERA of 1.00 allowing four runs in as many victories. They have struck out 30 opposing batters, which is tied for third in the majors.

We’ve seen before in recent years young pitching staffs who had to go through some growing pains before taking the next step, and the Orioles young staff ( Guthrie-31, Tillman-22, Britton-23, Arrieta-25, along with Matusz-24, Bergesen-25) could be in a position to take the next step.

And don’t forget. Both starters Justin Duchscherer (hip) and Brian Matusz (back) are on the DL and should pose intriguing questions to manager Buck Showalter when they return.

A problem I would like him to have by the way.

2. Bullpen

There could be concerns toward the back end of the bullpen after closer Kevin Gregg faced five hitters in the top of the ninth Saturday in the Orioles 3-1 victory.

In the same game, lefty Michael Gonzalez-who struggled last year as the Orioles closer-had similar issues with his control as he only lasted a third of an inning and walked two.

A big concern considering as of now “Gonzo” is the only lefty in the bullpen-one making 6 million dollars.

But, on the bright side, Jason Berken appears to have made the right decision to rehab his labrum injury in the off-season as opposed to have surgery.

He and late-inning specialist Koji Uehara-also re-signed in the off-season-have combined for 4 2/3 innings of work, seven strikeouts, while only allowing one hit.

Koji Uehara

If Gregg and Gonzalez continue to struggle, could these two be the guys to lock down the eighth and ninth innings? Uehara closed games for Showalter last year, and Berken has always thrived in his one-inning-of-work appearances.

3. The Outfield

I saw this “proposal” in the baseball preview of Sports Illustrated, and at first I disagreed with Ben Reiter, who wrote the AL East preview for SI.

His “proposal” was along the lines of leaving the outfield of Pie in left, Jones in center, and Markakis in right the way it is to make sure the defensive range in the outfield remains at a peak variable.

Felix Pie

Clearly, Felix Pie doesn’t offer the pop at the plate Luke Scott or Vladimir Guerrero would should they be in the lineup, but his range so far has been an asset to this Oriole pitching staff. Reiter’s proposal dealt with leaving Pie out in left on a regular basis and having a “streaky” Luke Scott-who clearly doesn’t have the speed and range Pie possesses-and an aging Vladimir Guerrero split time at DH.

Pie had a huge outfield assist in Saturday’s game pitched by Tillman, gunning down B.J. Upton at the plate to keep the game tied at 0-0.

And Markakis saved the game later with his up-against-the wall catch to end the game.

At short glance, the defensive outfield could be an asset to this team and young pitchers. It could be in their best interest to take a hit at the plate (pun intended) while making sure opposing hits don’t drop in front of Luke Scott.

4. Home-grown hitters on fire

The Orioles three first-round picks in their lineup (2B Brian Roberts, RF Nick Markakis, and C Matt Wieters) right now are hitting .294, .429, and .385 respectively.

Roberts has both of the team’s home runs, and Markakis appears to be very comfortable in the two-hole in front of Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, where all he needs to worry about is getting on base.

Both he and Wieters recorded their first doubles Monday against the Tigers, and if you’ll notice with Wieters, there is a small change in his batting stance from a year ago.

Last year, Wieters stood straight up the batters box, and now it appears as if he has a small bend in his knees, which not only will help a tall 6’5” catcher shrink the strike zone, but hopefully will get his lower legs more involved in his swing-hopefully bringing that power Baltimore fans have waited for.

5. Free-agent thumpers-are not

Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee meanwhile have not been able to provide that huge spark in the three-hole and cleanup spots in the lineup. Neither of them have an extra base hit, an RBI to their credit, and the two’s batting average is .214 for Lee and .125 for Guerrero.

But, I wouldn’t expect their hitting struggles to continue though. It may only take a week for them to return to their true form.There are still 158 games to play gentleman.

Lee even got a stole base Monday. At least that’s something.

-Chell

ryan@wnst.net

(photos courtesy Rob Carr-Getty Images)

WNST-We Never Stop Talking!

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Live from Camden Yards: An Opening Day edition of the Orange Crush at 3!

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Live from Camden Yards: An Opening Day edition of the Orange Crush at 3!

Posted on 04 April 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 3:00 as the Orioles take on the Detroit Tigers in the home opener!***

BALTIMORE – Fresh off a sweep to begin the season in Tampa Bay, the 3-0 Orioles return home for Opening Day to take on the Detroit Tigers (1-2) and to begin the 20th season at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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Jake Arrieta takes the hill hoping to continue the pitching success from the weekend — specifically with the starters — after allowing only three runs in three games. Manager Buck Showalter downplayed the overall significance of the hot start but acknowledged the benefit of a good start for a young team short on winning experience.

“It’s certainly not a bad thing,” Showalter said. “I don’t think anybody will have higher expectations than, hopefully, our players have of themselves and them as a group.”

However, all is not rosy on Opening Day as Jeremy Guthrie has been hospitalized with the flu. His fever spiked overnight and underwent tests on Monday morning to determine the nature of the illness, according to Showalter. Brad Bergesen would start in his place on Wednesday should Guthrie be unable to go.

“We’ll see what the next couple days bring,” Showalter said. “We’ll probably make a decision on that [Tuesday].”

It’s not exactly the news Orioles fans wanted to hear after Brian Matusz was placed on the disabled list over the weekend and veteran Justin Duchscherer continues to work his way back from back and hip issues on the 15-day DL.

In other injury news, Showalter said Luke Scott (groin) would be available this afternoon, but the manager’s preference is to rest his regular left fielder until Wednesday in “a perfect world” scenario. Felie Pie will start in Scott’s place.

Here are this afternoon’s starting lineups:

Detroit
CF Austin Jackson
2B Will Rhymes
RF Magglio Ordonez
1B Miguel Cabrera
DH Victor Martinez
LF Brennan Boesch
SS Jhonny Peralta
C Alex Avila
3B Brandon Inge

SP Rick Porcello

Orioles
2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
1B Derrek Lee
DH Vladimir Guerrero
C Matt Wieters
CF Adam Jones
3B Mark Reynolds
LF Felix Pie
SS J.J. Hardy

SP Jake Arrieta

As we do for each weekday home game, please join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 3:00 as the Orioles look for their first 4-0 start since 1997. Drew Forrester and an array of WNST.net personalities will be chatting and offering their thoughts on the red-hot Orioles. Remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest news and analysis from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Showalter, Jake Fox, J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds, and Chris Tillman as we welcome the Orioles back to Baltimore on a beautiful April afternoon!

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