Tag Archive | "Jeremy Guthrie"

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Live from Camden Yards: Orange Crush chat at 7 as Orioles go for two straight over Red Sox

Posted on 27 April 2011 by Luke Jones

**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as the Orioles play the second of a three-game set against the Boston Red Sox**

BALTIMORE — Looking for their second straight win against the consensus favorite in the American League East, most would love their chances sending their veteran ace to the hill.

However, taking a look at Jeremy Guthrie’s career numbers against the Red Sox and the Orioles’ attrition in his starts might cause you to rethink that philosophy. In 14 career starts against Boston, Guthrie is just 1-7 with a 4.95 earned run average. The 32-year-old has lost his last seven decisions and the Orioles have lost the last nine games Guthrie has started against the Red Sox.

Of course, consider the lineups the Orioles have trotted out there against Boston during Guthrie’s tenure in Baltimore before you write him off tonight.

Boston will give the ball to Josh Beckett, who will try to continue his success against the Orioles at Camden Yards. Beckett is 6-3 with a 3.53 ERA in 14 career starts against Baltimore, but his 5-2 mark with a 2.94 ERA in 10 starts in Baltimore is even more impressive.

It will be a tall order for the Orioles against the red-hot Beckett, but seeing Jon Lester and his 13-0 career record against the club looming on Thursday makes tonight’s challenge seem far more reasonable.

Brian Matusz will throw his first full bullpen session on Thursday before reporting to Sarasota this weekend. He is expected to pitch in at least one extended spring training game before departing on a minor league rehab assignment.

Injured reliever Chris Jakubauskas will also complete a bullpen session on Thursday.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy has experienced some soreness since resuming baseball activity, but it is not considering a major concern or anything abnormal. Hardy is eligible to come off the disabled list at any time, but his return is not imminent.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Boston
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH David Ortiz
RF J.D. Drew
SS Jed Lowrie
LF Carl Crawford
C Jason Varitek

SP Josh Beckett (2-1, 1.93 ERA)

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

SP Jeremy Guthrie (1-3, 3.12 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 as Orioles go for series win

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Luke Jones

**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as the Orioles go for the series win in the finale of a four-game set with the Minnesota Twins***

BALTIMORE — Needing a victory to secure their third series win of the season, the third-place Orioles (8-9) will send Jeremy Guthrie to the hill in the finale of a four-game set against the Minnesota Twins (6-12).

The Orioles didn’t win their third series last year until June 25-27 when they swept a three-game series against the Washington Nationals.

Right-handed pitcher Scott Baker will try to continue his overwhelming success against the Orioles as he tries to lead the Twins to a series split. Baker is 5-0 with a 2.53 earned run average in seven career starts against Baltimore. Orioles hitters hold a .214 lifetime average off Baker, who continues to give them fits at the plate. The Minnesota lineup will need a big start to as Twins hitters continue their season-long struggle and have yet to score more than five runs in any game this season.

Not to be outdone, Guthrie has enjoyed his own success against the opposition with a 3-0 record and a 2.96 earned run average in four career starts against the Twins. The 32-year-old hopes to rebound from last Saturday’s start in which he surrendered six earned runs in a loss to the Indians.

Injured pitcher Brian Matusz (intercostal strain) returned to Baltimore today and will remain with the Orioles through the duration of the homestand. The lefty is scheduled to throw 120-foot flat-ground sessions on Friday and Sunday as manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Mark Connor evaluate his progress. It has not yet been determined when Matusz will start a minor league rehab assignment.

He can go on assignment for up to 30 days and will need significant work to build arm strength and innings before returning to the Orioles rotation. Matusz only pitched 13 2/3 innings in the spring as he dealt with a wart on his finger and was struck by a line drive toward the end of Grapefruit League play.

In other words, his return to the 25-man roster is far from imminent.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Minnesota
CF Denard Span
SS Alexi Casilla
RF Jason Kubel
1B Michael Cuddyer
DH Jim Thome
3B Danny Valencia
2B Luke Hughes
C Drew Butera
LF Jason Repko

SP Scott Baker (0-2, 4.50 ERA)

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

SP Jeremy Guthrie (1-2, 3.32 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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< 50 words .... Monday, April 11th

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< 50 words …. Monday, April 11th

Posted on 11 April 2011 by Rex Snider

I could’ve easily written about a dozen different topics today. It was an eventful weekend and I will share additional hightlights during this afternoon’s show. Here are a half dozen of my observations:

TOUGHER Than Tough
.

Just four days removed from hospitalization for pneumonia, Jeremy Guthrie accepted the baseball and did what’s expected of a #1 pitcher. Heck, he did even more …..

Whenever a starter departs with surrendering just one run in 6 innings, he deserves to win. Andy MacPhail will regret penny-pinching this guy …..
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Congratulations, Rory McIlroy
.

Even I feel badly for this dude – and I don’t know why …. other than seeing him meltdown and drive balls with the accuracy of me, during yesterday’s final round of the Masters. To his credit, McIlroy handled it like a gentleman and a professional.

Hey, bigger choke jobs have occurred …..
.

Does Texas Miss This Guy?
.

Not a freakin’ chance !!!! With the start of the ’11 season, another prospect acquired in the Mark Teixeira trade has “hatched” for the Rangers. Matt Harrison joins Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus as former Braves prospects performing for Texas.

Saturday’s 2-hit effort against the birds was evidence of Harrison’s talent.
.

Is There A “BIKER” Look?
.

Without hesitation, spring’s arrival guarantees every dusty Harley stored in a dude’s garage will find local roadways on weekends. Yesterday, I noticed plenty of bikes, and the consistent observation, as always, was BIKER GEAR.

If you ride a Harley is it mandatory to dress like a Hells Angel? Just wondering …..
.

Sex-retariat?
.

I agree with Glenn Clark’s assessment of current movies; selection sucks. So, we celebrated Friday’s Orioles rainout by watching Secretariat on DVD. It was okay …. sappy rather than suspenseful; John Malkovic didn’t kill anyone (damn !!!) and Diane Lane wore far too many clothes on that sexy frame.
.

Welcome to Butler Cabin
.

Reporter: “Charl Schwartzel, you just won the Masters … where ya going?”

Charl: “Umm … Disney World?”

Reporter: “Nope, you’re headed to Butler Cabin.”

NFL, NBA & MLB champions get parades. NASCAR’S champ gets the Big Apple. The Masters victor gets a fireside chat in a CABIN, with other dudes.

Now, that’s tradition …..

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Orioles bats fall silent in series loss to Rangers

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles lineup started off with a bang against the Texas Rangers over the weekend, plating five runs in the first three innings of rookie Zach Britton’s masterful performance in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, but quickly dissolved after that.

Adam Jones’ solo home run in the second inning of Saturday’s nightcap was the only run scored in the final 23 innings in the series loss to Texas as the Orioles fell 3-0 on Sunday afternoon.

The Orioles entered Sunday afternoon’s game tied for 10th in the American League in batting average (.220), 11th in on-base percentage (.281), and 10th in extra-base hits.

“I can speak for myself and Brian [Roberts] at the top of the order, I think we need to do a little better job getting on base,” right fielder Nick Markakis said. “We’ve been facing some tough pitching. Other than that, I think we’re pretty pleased with our record right now considering the way we’ve been swinging the bats, which says a lot about our pitching. We’ll get the bats going.”

Considering the offense was considered the team’s strength entering the season, it makes the Orioles’ 6-3 start that much more remarkable. However, the Baltimore bats will need to heat up this week as the Orioles head to the Bronx to take on the powerful Yankees for a three-game set.

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Texas starters Matt Harrison and Derek Holland combined to hold the Orioles to one run over 13 innings of work in the final two games while the Rangers bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings over the three-game series.

“You face good pitching, that’s usually what tends to happen,” said left fielder Luke Scott, who flied out to center as a pinch-hitter representing the tying run in the eighth. “When that happens, you just tip your cap. You look at your at-bats as, ‘Did we give at-bats away against tough pitching?’ And no, we didn’t. We battled, and when guys needed to make a good pitch for the other team, they made good pitches.”

Gutsy Guthrie

It’s been an unbelievable nine-day stretch for Jeremy Guthrie. The veteran pitcher started with a masterful eight-inning performance on Opening Day, spent two nights in the hospital earlier in the week, and finally returned to the mound at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for his first home start of the year on Sunday.

Despite feeling deprived of his normal energy while still recovering from a bout of pneumonia, Guthrie gave the Orioles six innings against the Rangers, allowing one run on four hits. His fastball sat in the 91-92 mph range for most of the afternoon, but the 32-year-old was unable to reach back for something extra on several different occasions.

“It was a battle the entire time,” Guthrie said. “Was fighting, trying to make better pitches and didn’t always do that. I was fortunate a lot on some of the outs that they didn’t hit it a lot further than they did.”

Despite several screaming outs in his six innings of work, the lone scoring blemish came in the fourth inning when Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre homered into left-center to give Texas a 1-0 lead. Guthrie gave way after 84 pitches after feeling fatigued for much of the afternoon.

“I thought he gave us everything he had,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He was running out of gas there at the end. I was watching him when he backed up third on a fly ball for the last out. Gutty effort. [He] gave us a chance to win and you’ve got to have that with the pitching they run out there.”

The effort, however, was wasted as the Orioles couldn’t generate a single run of support as Guthrie fell to 1-1 on the season. He will next pitch on Saturday in Cleveland, with Monday’s off day providing an extra day of rest for the recovering pitcher.

“He threw great,” Markakis said. “You can’t ask for anything more from him. We couldn’t put up any runs for him, which as hitters is tough.”

Fox-hole at catcher

Spring training star Jake Fox made his second straight start on Sunday, but it came with the unconventional transition from catcher one night to left field the next. Showalter wants to get Fox’s bat in the lineup, but it poses a difficult problem when Matt Wieters is starting at catcher.

With no other backup catcher on the roster, the Orioles are left with a dangerous proposition when Fox is playing elsewhere in the field. In the unlikely scenario in which one of the two would be substituted and the other would have to leave the game, the Orioles would find themselves looking at another player on the roster as an emergency catcher.

Who it might be is anyone’s guess, including Showalter’s.

“[The emergency catcher] may not know it yet,” the manager quipped. “At one point, it was going to be [current Triple-A pitcher Rick] VandenHurk. That’d have been really tough. Take him out of the game pitching, put him behind the plate. Vandy was a catcher for three years, two years.”

Showalter pointed to the Detroit Tigers’ handling of Victor Martinez and Alex Avila as a similar situation. Ironically, the Orioles expressed interest in Martinez before the free-agent catcher signed with Detroit.

The Orioles found themselves without a backup to Wieters on Sunday when Scott hit for Fox in the bottom of the eighth when Texas closer Neftali Feliz entered the game with two men on base and a 3-0 lead.

“No, we’ve talked about that [emergency situation],” Showalter said. “It’s something we’ve got to be careful with.”

Fox’s struggles behind the plate continued Saturday night after allowing two stolen bases and catching a disastrous outing for Jake Arrieta, after which Showalter questioned the sequencing of pitches. Showalter made no secret this spring about Fox’s need to improve defensively if he is going to be a long-term solution as Wieters’ backup.

Last year’s backup Craig Tatum is currently catching at Triple-A Norfolk.

Short-stopped

With J.J. Hardy scheduled for an MRI and expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique injury on Monday, the Orioles will rely on the combination of Cesar Izturis and Robert Andino while Hardy rehabs the injury at extended spring training in Sarasota.

“Izzy and Robert, both, present us with a good option,” Showalter said prior to Sunday’s game.

Defensively, yes, but the offensive implications are exactly why president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail pried away Hardy from the Minnesota Twins in the offseason. Baltimore shortstops hit just .236 with a .549 OPS in 2010, with Izturis receiving 142 starts at the position.

With Andino or Izturis manning the ninth spot in the order, it will likely create fewer RBI opportunities for Roberts, who is currently tied with third baseman Mark Reynolds for the team lead in runs batted in (eight).

Good starts not so rare

The final two losses to drop the Texas series take some of the air out of the Orioles’ sail, but a 6-3 record has Baltimore talking baseball with much excitement. Hyperbole and overreaction are synonymous with the first week of the baseball season, but it’s hard to blame fans for feeling enthused about a club with a reasonable chance to end the current streak of 13 consecutive losing seasons.

“We come out prepared everyday, play the game smart, play the game hard,” Scott said. “We’ve had some success up and down the lineup, and our pitching staff has done a great job for us. I think that’s where everything started. We’ve been getting good outings from our starters. The bullpen’s been coming in and giving us quality innings. It’s a good formula for success and hopefully we can continue that.”

However, with the Orioles heading to Yankee Stadium and following that with a three-game series in Cleveland against the red-hot Indians, optimism could come back down to earth in a hurry.

And it wouldn’t be that terribly different than a number of occasions over the last 13 years. For all the talk of this year being different, the Orioles are no strangers to strong starts.

Strong starts since 1997
1998 – 10-2 (finished 79-83)
2000 – 15-10 (finished 74-88)
2003 – 15-12 (finished 71-91)
2004 – 20-16 (finished 78-84)
2005 – 42-28 (finished 74-88)
2006 – 11-7 (finished 70-92)
2007 – 11-7 (finished 69-93)
2008 – 6-1 (finished 68-93)
2009 – 6-2 (finished 64-98)

Of course, most would correctly argue this year’s team has far more talent than those clubs of the past, but things can fall apart very quickly. In reality, many of the superlatives tossed around over the last nine days aren’t that terribly different than ones uttered in past seasons after strong starts.

The true test for gauging how much progress the Orioles have made will be watching them succeed in the middle portion of the season and, most importantly, seeing them play well in August and September when pitchers — especially young ones — tend to wear down.

Last season’s 34-23 finish under Showalter bodes well for this team’s chances, but it’s important for fans to brace themselves for struggles, especially in the starting rotation while the Orioles await Brian Matusz’s return in a few weeks.

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Roberts’ stomach ailment the latest addition to Orioles’ MASH unit

Posted on 08 April 2011 by Luke Jones

When it rains, it pours.

Only it has nothing to do with the day-long rain that postponed the Orioles’ series opener against the Texas Rangers on Friday night.

There’s another name to add to the Orioles’ ever-growing infirmary report with the startling news of Brian Roberts being taken to a local hospital because of stomach pains. Roberts would have been the second starting infielder in as many days — the other being J.J. Hardy due to a ribcage injury on Thursday — to become a late scratch had the weather not forced a cancellation in what was supposed to be rookie Zach Britton’s home debut.

Roberts’ status for Saturday’s straight doubleheader is unknown, and Hardy was not going to be in the lineup for the second straight night Friday. Both Hardy and manager Buck Showalter said the shortstop’s status is day-to-day, and a trip to the 15-day disabled list does not appear to be necessary, but it’s hard to feel encouraged about anything given the recent chain of events in Baltimore.

If Roberts and Hardy are unavailable, the Orioles would be forced to go with the double-play combination of Robert Andino and Cesar Izturis.

This comes immediately after the return of left fielder Luke Scott who missed three games this week after going down with a groin injury last Saturday in Tampa Bay.

Roberts with stomach pain? Jeremy Guthrie with pneumonia? Brian Matusz going on the disabled list before even throwing a pitch in the 2011 season?

What’s next? Showalter tripping on the dugout steps making a pitching change?

The positive vibes of a 5-1 start only go so far before taking a look at the current state of the roster.

With Britton pitching the first game Saturday against Colby Lewis and Jake Arrieta taking the hill against Matt Harrison in the nightcap, the Orioles are desperately looking for two deep outings to save a tired bullpen that managed to receive a night off due to the rain. A heavy workload in the twin bill would place the bullpen in an even more vulnerable position than it was entering Friday. Troy Patton has been put on alert for a promotion, but the left-hander isn’t eligible to be recalled until Sunday due to the rule forbidding players on the 40-man roster to be recalled until 10 days into the regular season.

To further complicate the pitching situation, Guthrie’s status remains up in the air after he threw a successful bullpen session Friday. It’s unknown whether he’ll make his start Sunday as he continues to regain stamina after being hospitalized earlier this week.

If Guthrie is unable to go, the Orioles will likely turn to Norfolk pitcher Chris Jakubauskas to take the hill in his place. Who he replaces on the 25-man roster is anyone’s guess.

What a mess.

And with the powerful Texas lineup getting an extra night’s rest in rainy Baltimore Friday night, things could get ugly very quickly this weekend against the 6-0 Rangers.

Hold on tight.

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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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Live from Camden Yards: Join our Orange Crush chat at 7 as Orioles go for best start since 1970

Posted on 06 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 first home night game of the season***

BALTIMORE — With their sights set on their best start in 41 years, the Orioles (4-0) take on the Detroit Tigers in the second of a three-game set at Camden Yards.

It won’t be an easy task as Brad Bergesen — filling in for the ill Jeremy Guthrie — goes to the mound against one of the top pitchers in the American League in right-hander Justin Verlander (0-0, 4.50 ERA). Despite filling in for Guthrie, Bergesen ironically is the second-most experienced starting pitcher (47 career starts) in the Baltimore starting rotation.

Last season was one of peaks and valleys for Bergesen as the 25-year-old started slowly after injuring his shoulder while filming an offseason commercial and suffered through a demotion to Triple-A Norfolk due to ineffectiveness. Despite the uneven season, Bergesen finished strongly by going 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA in his final 12 starts of 2010.

Verlander is coming off an 18-win season that included an impressive 219 strikeouts in 224 1/3 innings and a 3.37 ERA. With the Baltimore lineup not exactly tearing the cover off the ball in the first four games, Bergesen will need to continue the trend of excellent starting pitching to give the Orioles much of a chance in this one.

Luke Scott is again out of the lineup as he continues to recover from a groin injury suffered in Tampa Bay. Buck Showalter said in his pre-game comments to the media that Scott would be available to pinch-hit and continues to improve. The Orioles manager had previously targeted a Wednesday return for the starting left fielder. Scott said he is very close to returning before the game.

Here are tonight’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 Justin Verlander (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

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

SP Brad Bergesen (2010: 8-12, 4.98 ERA)

As we do for every weeknight home game, the Orange Crush live chat will be open for business as the Orioles try to make it five in a row to begin 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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What a difference a year makes for Roberts, Orioles

Posted on 04 April 2011 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Brian Roberts doesn’t like to think about last year’s home opener.

After leaving the game in the top of the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays (a 7-6 loss thanks to a Mike Gonzalez meltdown of epic proportions) with the same back injury that had hindered him the entire spring, Roberts wouldn’t return to the Orioles lineup for over three months.

While rehabbing the herniated disc in Sarasota last spring as the Orioles got off to one of their worst starts in franchise history, Roberts occasionally pondered whether his health would ever allow him to regain his status as one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball.

"Not ability wise. There were times where certainly I got frustrated with my body, but ability wise, I knew if I was healthy I could still play. I’m not 80 (laughing)."

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The Orioles missed the 33-year-old’s bat as they stumbled to a 30-65 record last season before the veteran second baseman returned to the lineup on July 23. Manager Buck Showalter has been credited with the club’s remarkable 34-23 finish in the final two months, but the corresponding return of Roberts played a big part in making Showalter look even smarter in his new role.

That’s why panic sirens sounded again this spring when neck pain and back spasms limited Roberts for two and a half weeks in spring training. His presence in the lineup over the last decade has done so much for an Orioles team lacking the punch to score runs consistently.

If the first four games of the season are any indication, Roberts is making a strong claim to put a difficult season behind him. The second baseman’s three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth was the difference in the Orioles’ 5-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers, giving the club its first 4-0 start since 1997. Roberts’ eight runs batted in leads the major leagues and puts the 5-foot-9 infielder on pace for 324 RBI this season.

Despite early stats that resemble something seen in a video game, Roberts is far more excited about the club’s red-hot start in the win column after being a member of 10 straight losing teams as the longest-tenured player on the Orioles.

"It’s been awesome," he said. "Certainly, I’ve been through a lot. We all know that, and I think with [the team’s] expectations coming into this year, to still go out there and do that — it’s been great for us."

Despite the offseason acquisitions of Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero to add beef to the heart of the order, Roberts has been the one to pace the offense, providing game-changing hits on Friday and Saturday in Tampa and breaking the 1-1 tie on Monday afternoon. His three-run drive over the right-center fence in front of a sold-out crowd of 46,593 at Camden Yards came on a 1-2 pitch from Detroit starter Rick Porcello.

"For a long time in the Baltimore Orioles organization, he seems to be able, on the field, to dial up what was needed, whether it was a stolen base, a walk," Showalter said. "He’s got just a feel for being able to challenge the moment. He’s already had some big hits for us early in the year."

He’s a major reason why the Orioles are off to their best start in 14 years. Respected by his teammates as a disciplined player willing to set the table for the heart of the order, his absence at the top of the lineup last year led to a trickle-down effect in which the Orioles were 11th in on-base percentage and 13th in runs scored in the American League.

With the likes of low on-base percentage hitters such as Adam Jones, Corey Patterson, and Cesar Izturis hitting at the top of the order, the Orioles never recovered in the 103 games Roberts was out of the lineup.

"When he’s healthy, he’s what gets the offense started," said starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, who pitched six innings and gave up one earned run to earn the victory. "As we’ve all seen in these first four games, when he gets on base, that allows Nick [Markakis] to do what he does. He’s just a hitting machine. He’s come up huge for us."

The other aspect of the game coming up big for the Orioles has been the starting pitching, which was dealt another blow Monday when it was announced Jeremy Guthrie had been hospitalized with a case of pneumonia and will miss Wednesday’s start against the Tigers. Brad Bergesen will start in his place. Despite the absence of Brian Matusz and Justin Duchscherer — both on the 15-day disabled list — Baltimore’s starting pitching has combined to give up only two earned runs in 26 innings this season.

Arrieta was just the latest young starter to provide a quality start, allowing six hits, striking out three, and walking two despite struggling with his command at several points. The 25-year-old took notice of the work of Chris Tillman and Zach Britton over the weekend as he prepared to make the start in the home opener.

"It’s just one of those things where you want to kind of follow their lead," Arrieta said. "They set the tone the first three games, obviously started by Guthrie with his quality start. We just want to take the ball and run with it."

As concern mounts over the state of the starting rotation with three projected starters currently dealing with ailments, that pace will become more difficult to maintain, but it’s made for the most enjoyable start in Baltimore in quite some time.

And for a player like Roberts who’s been around to endure the losing nearly as long as Orioles fans, it’s a welcome change from the status quote, even if it’s short-lived.

"Coming off those two months last year, I felt like this city was excited, our team was excited, and it was an incredible atmosphere out there today," Roberts said.

To simply be able to finish the game was quite a contrast to the disappointment-filled home opener for Roberts last April and the disastrous first four months that followed for the Orioles.

What a difference a year makes.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear Brian Roberts, Buck Showalter, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, and Derrek Lee talk about the Orioles’ 5-1 victory over Detroit in the 20th home opener at Camden Yards.

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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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