Tag Archive | "Melvin Mora"

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Koji, Bergesen and some other Orioles musings

Posted on 01 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

The Orioles had the greatest comeback in team history on Tuesday night bailing out Rich Hill who was once again ineffective. Today the Orioles placed Koji Uehara on the DL while Brad Bergesen was once again stellar.

Here are some thoughts on Koji, Bergesen and other Orioles musings:

Changes likely plentiful in the Orioles rotation:

Earlier today news came in that Koji Uehara would be sidelined for 7-8 weeks all but ending his stay as a fixture in the Orioles rotation, for the present and future. Koji is not scheduled to return until early September and by that point the Orioles will likely just decide to shut him down for the season. As of now David Hernandez will take over for Koji but if he struggles, he may be moved down.

Koji may not be the only starter that will not be in the rotation by season’s end ; in fact I believe that nobody but Brad Bergesen is “safe” to keep their spot. Rich Hill has been flat out awful of late and a few more poor outings could land him in the bullpen.

The most intriguing situation is that of Jeremy Guthrie. Anointed the Orioles’ “ace” before the season( a role now occupied by Brad Bergesen), Guthrie has been incredibly inconsistent but could be a major trade tool for the Orioles. Guthrie has won his last two starts and will only cost a team $650,000 if they were to acquire him. With pitching being at a premium throughout the league it is likely many teams will be calling Andy MacPhail asking about Guthrie. If the Orioles like what they hear, don’t be surprised to see Guthrie dealt.

If Guthrie is dealt and Berken continues to struggle expect Chris Tillman and Troy Patton to be in the rotation earlier then expected, probably  sometime in early August. In addition to these two there are any number of pitchers at Norfolk and Bowie like Jake Arrieta that could be September call ups.

Who is the Orioles best trade chip?

By no means are the Orioles going to have a Florida Marlins like fire sale but they will be sellers as opposed to buyers at the deadline. Many names like Aubrey Huff, George Sherrill, Danys Baez, Melvin Mora and Jeremy Guthrie have all had their names floating amidst trade talks. Andy MacPhail is not going to give these players away for nothing but I expect to see at least two players that are starters or major contributors to the club, playing elsewhere come August 1st.

The players that the Orioles are likely to get offered the most for are Aubrey Huff and Jeremy Guthrie. Huff is power left handed bat that has shown he can play first base better then people expected which now has him garnering interest from National League teams. One of the teams supposedly interested is the Mets, who have the reputation of parting with prospects to win now. If the Mets are in contention for the Wild Card and the Division and Carlos Delgado is still on the DL expect them to offer a lot to the Orioles to acquire Huff.

Jeremy Guthrie, as I mentioned earlier, should peak the interest of many teams due to his low salary and the fact that pitching is at a premium. Despite being 6-7 with a 5.11 ERA Guthrie is more then a serviceable major league pitcher who could be a very effective 3rd or 4th starter for a contending ball club.

Is Ty Wigginton the answer at hot corner?

Ty Wigginton hit another home run on Wednesday afternoon giving him six on the season which is four more then Melvin Mora. Wigginton has 16 fewer at bats then Mora and has the same number of RBI’s on the season. Wigginton is starting to look like the 20+ home run bat that the Orioles hoped he would be, while Mora is having his worst year in an Oriole uniform. I do not believe Wigginton is the 3rd baseman of the future but he is better currently then Melvin Mora and he should play more because of this. Mora will continue to start because of his tenure with the club, but how long can his anemic run producing bat be plugged into the number 5 hole in the lineup before the Orioles realized it is time for a change.

Base running blunders galore!!

Felix Pie was thrown out by five feet while trying to “stretch” a first inning single into a double, quelling any chance for a big inning. Pie joins the long list of Orioles that have made base running blunders to run the Orioles right of the inning, a problem that looks to be getting worse before it gets better.

Poor fundamentals are a direct result of poor leadership and I believe Dave Trembley is a major part of the Orioles poor fundamentals. I know every big league player should know how to run the bases, but if they can go out there and continue to make mistakes with out repercussions from the manager, then they will continue to make those same mistakes. Maybe instead of having the promotion where the kids run the bases after the game, the Orioles should be the ones running the bases instead.

There are still many questions marks about the ball club and it will be interesting to see how things play out after the deadline.

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Weekly Question, Comments and Concerns

Posted on 27 June 2009 by Marco Romanell

Since my Sunday blog is going to be about the USA/Brazil soccer game I decided to move my weekly questions, comments and concerns blog up to Saturday.

Here are my questions, comments and concerns for this week:

Questions:

What should the Orioles do with Melvin Mora?

 

Melvin Mora is longest tenured Oriole on the current roster, but many believe his days in Baltimore may be numbered. Currently hitting at .276 clip with just two homers and 22 RBI, Mora is off to his worst in recent memory and his 23 home run and 104 RBI season of last year is a distance memory. Mora is 37 and becomes a free agent at season’s end but there are a couple factors that could lead to him returning to the Orioles next season.

First, the Orioles really have no 3rd baseman in the farm system that they would consider an upgrade over Mora and I don’t believe they see Ty Wigginton as the 3rd baseman of the future. Second, Mora has a no trade clause, and likes Baltimore so he is likely to veto any trade the Orioles might pull off because he does not want to move his family. Lastly,and  this is just  an opinion, but I believe that the Orioles brass really still believes that Mora is a more then capable 3rd baseman and they are reluctant to part ways with him. Baseball is a business but there is a bit of a sentimental aspect with releasing or trading Mora, even though it maybe in the best interest of the club.

When it is all said and done I believe we will see Mora sign a two year deal and remain an Oriole until he retires.

How much is Dave Trembley to blame for the Orioles woes?

 

The Orioles are now 33-40 on the season, yet many fans are calling for Dave Trembley to lose his job. I have always been of the mind set, that the players, especially in baseball, are the ones who win and lose the game and the manager often takes too much blame. In baseball the manager really only needs to make about 4 or 5 major “decisions” per game, however, more often then not, Trembley makes the wrong  decision.

I believe that Trembley is too “by the book” and that has cost this team many times this season. You don’t have to rest your catcher on Sunday, but Trembley sticks to this adage like it is one of the 10 commandments. Trembley also tends to hit and run in the wrong situations.

All season the Orioles have shown a lack of fundamentals and that begins and ends with the manager. When was the last time you saw any Oriole lay down a sacrifice bunt?

The main problem that I have with Trembley is that I do not believe his personality meshes with this team. The Orioles are still a young team and I believe they need a fiery manager that is not afraid to speak his mind. Trembley showed this personality when he first got the job but has become complacent and comes off as very pompous and arrogant.

I am one of the many that believes Dave Trembley should be on his way out of Charm City at the end of the season.

Why do the Orioles insist on keeping Koji in the rotation?

 

The love affair with the Orioles first ever Japanese player seems to be over with everyone but the Orioles decision makers. How many times do Andy MacPhail and Dave Trembley need to see Koji wilt away after four or five innings before they decide to move him to the bullpen where everyone knows he belongs. Just because the Orioles promised Koji he would be a starter doesn’t mean that they need to hold this promise and sacrifice wins.

Koji can’t pitch in the heat, lacks durability and struggles the second time through the opposing team’s lineup, any other pitcher with these traits would be coming out of the bullpen not taking the bump every fifth day.

Personally, I cringe in agony every time I see Koji take the mound and after his typical fourth inning exit, I regret that the Orioles ever acquired him.

Hopefully, whoever pitches for Koji on Sunday, pitches at least 7 good innings and becomes a permanent fixture in the rotation.

Comments:

The NBA Draft is the completely meaningless.

 

I am a die hard college basketball fan but I do not have the same love for the NBA. Thursday night, I watched 7 picks in the second round and every one of those picks had their rights traded away by the team that drafted them. In the NFL Draft I find draft day trades exciting but during the NBA Draft I just find them to be bothersome. If a team is going to trade away the player they draft  less then 24 hours after drafting him, then why draft him in the first place. It is more like the NBA “potluck” then it is the NBA draft.

American Men’s tennis is in a sorry state.

 

From the 1960’s until Sampras and Aggassi’s retirement’s the Americans were a major factor in Men’s Tennis but those days are long, long gone. Jimmy Connors, Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Andre Aggassi were all superstars on the Men’s Tennis circuit and helped make tennis relevant in the United States. Today’s current crop of James Blake, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and rest of the “no names” are more known for their off the court lives then they are for their games on the court. Until men’s tennis can find the next American star then it will be nothing more then an afterthought to the American sports fan.

Concerns:

These look to be the same old Orioles:

 

Just when you thought the Orioles have turned the corner, they go to Florida and get embarrassed by the Marlins falling further away from the .500 mark. The Orioles have the talent to be much better then their record but seem to make blunders the remind fans of the Orioles of the early part of the decade.

The 2009 Baltimore Orioles seem to take one small step forward then two giant steps back. Until they can get a winning mind set and get some consistency it won’t matter how much talent they have.

These are my questions, comments and concerns for the week, please fell free to give me yours.

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Despite improved talent, O’s still making same old mistakes

Posted on 25 June 2009 by Luke Jones

When looking from afar, it seems nothing has changed this year from the last 11 seasons of baseball.  Stuck in last place with a 32-39 record, the Orioles appear destined to complete their 12th-straight losing season of baseball.

But despite the lack of improvement in the win-loss department, anyone paying close attention this season can see the improved talent level at several key positions.

The outfield of Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Nolan Reimold appears set for the future, and Matt Wieters—you may have heard of him by now—may be the new face of the franchise if numerous scouting reports from all around baseball are legitimate.

And, of course, there’s the pitching.  We’ve already seen promise from Brad Bergesen and David Hernandez, and a plethora of arms waits at Triple-A Norfolk.

While the talent level is vastly improved from the teams of the past decade composed entirely of over-the-hill veterans and undeserving young players, a major problem still plagues the Orioles despite the promises made by manager Dave Trembley two seasons ago.

Stressing the importance of playing the game the right way, we heard reports of the team taking infield practice before games and focusing on fundamentals in spring training.

So where are the fruits of their labor?

Much like the last 11 seasons, the Orioles continue to display poor fundamentals, lack instincts, and make mental mistakes—areas that are completely inexcusable at the big league level.  Slumps and lack of execution are unavoidable parts of the game, but being fundamentally sound is an absolute prerequisite for winning baseball.

The last two losses to the Florida Marlins are a microcosm of what continues to plague this ball club.  In case you missed it, here’s a brief summary of the lackadaisical play and mental mistakes that were made:

–  In the top of the 11th of Tuesday night’s game, Ty Wigginton singles with a man on first and one out.  With the pitcher’s spot on deck and no pinch hitters available, Wigginton inexplicably gets thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.  Instead of first and third with one out, the Orioles send Rich Hill to the plate—with Brian Roberts waiting on deck—with two outs.  The Orioles do not score, and they lose in the bottom of the 12th inning despite a remarkable comeback in the ninth.

–  On Wednesday, in the top of the first, the Orioles have runners on first and second with none out.  Felix Pie gets a poor jump on the backend of a double steal and gets thrown out at second base.  Pie’s jump was so poor that he actually stopped halfway between first and second.  Instead of simply staying put and leaving the club with a first and third and no out situation with Markakis and Aubrey Huff coming up, it turns into a runner on third with one out.  The Orioles do not score.

–  Later, in the bottom of the fourth, the Marlins’ Dan Uggla scores from first on a double by Cody Ross into the left-field corner.  Left fielder Luke Scott seemingly takes forever—even by his standards—getting to the ball and digging it out of the corner, allowing Uggla—who doesn’t run particularly well—to score despite a good relay.

–  And finally, in the bottom of the seventh, Florida’s Emilio Bonifacio attempts to steal second on a pitch outside and in the dirt.  Instead of simply holding the ball, Wieters makes an ill-advised throw that sails into center field.   Topping it off, Pie—making the embarrassing mistake of a little leaguer—holds onto the ball in center and then lobs a throw into Brian Roberts, allowing Bonifacio to score, putting the Marlins ahead, 4-2.

While the mistakes of the last two nights haven’t occurred quite as frequently over the entire season, the same mental mistakes have been made far too many times.

The baserunning has been most problematic—too many runners caught stealing or not knowing the situation when trying to take an extra base on a hit.

Entering Wednesday night’s game, the Orioles ranked last in the American League in stolen base percentage with only 64 percent of attempts being successful.  The club has also had 27 runners thrown out on the bases (not including pick offs, caught stealing, or force plays), fourth-highest in the American League.

Veteran and longest-tenured Oriole Melvin Mora has been one of the poorest base runners—as he has been for much of his otherwise good career in Baltimore.  The third baseman has been thrown out on the bases five times this season.

Where is the accountability with the same mental mistakes being made repeatedly?  Why do the veterans get a free pass?  Sure, these are grown men playing in the big leagues, but where does Trembley and the coaching staff fit into the equation?

For all of the talk we’ve heard over the last two years about playing the game the right way and stressing fundamentals, it sure does not reflect in the play on the field.

Whether it takes a screaming session in the clubhouse, sending a player like Pie packing, or simply spending more time on infield and baserunning drills, the message needs to be sent that the lackadaisical play will not be tolerated.  With so many talented young players in the fold, they need to be taught to play the game the right way.

Physical tools may take individual players a long way, but strong fundamentals and baseball instincts are an absolute necessity for building a winning franchise.

The message needs to be sent that anything less will be unacceptable.

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O’s Offense, Hill take the usual Sunday beating

Posted on 07 June 2009 by Luke Jones

The Orioles completed a 1-5 road trip with a 3-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

Oakland rookie Vin Mazzaro was outstanding, stifling Orioles hitters for 7 1/3 innings and scattering five hits.  He is now 2-0 and has yet to allow a run in 13 2/3 innings of major league work.

Here are a few thoughts, as the Orioles will make their way home to start a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday:

– The good vibes of Matt Wieters’ major league debut last Friday have quickly faded away.  The rookie catcher is hitting .143 (4-for-28) and has yet to drive in a run.  The Orioles are 2-7 since Wieters was promoted.

– To say the Orioles are slumping offensively would be an understatement.  The offense has managed just 13 runs in their last eight games.  I don’t care if you have the 1971 starting rotation; you’re not going to win many ballgames with that output.

The hitters’ approach at the plate varies from listless to trying to hit a five-run homer with the bases empty.  It’s painful to watch, quite frankly.

– Who would have thought Brad Bergesen would be the team’s most reliable starting pitcher at the beginning of June?  With Koji Uehara on the disabled list, Bergesen hasn’t been great (2-2, 4.64 ERA), but he’s been a steady contributor to the rotation—something that’s been sorely lacking.

– Six Sunday losses in a row.  I suppose the Orioles are the anti-Tiger Woods; Woods always shows up on Sunday (as he did at the Memorial today) while the Orioles…well, at least nobody got hurt today.

*****

Update (4:35):  If you just turned on MASN and wondered what happened to Rich Hill, no, he wasn’t a late scratch or injured in the first inning.

Hill lasted just 2/3 of an inning, surrendering three runs, walking four batters, and throwing 39 pitches (15 of them for strikes).

This was the type of start that infuriated Cubs manager Lou Piniella last season and landed Hill in Triple-A Iowa.

The Orioles have now had two starters—Jeremy Guthrie on Friday and Hill today—fail to make it out of the first inning this weekend in Oakland—not exactly the way to keep fans interested for late West Coast games.

Thankfully, Brian Bass came on and stranded the bases load, keeping the early deficit at three runs.

*****

Adam Jones – CF
Nolan Reimold – LF
Nick Markakis – RF
Luke Scott – DH
Melvin Mora – 3B
Oscar Salazar – 1B
Matt Wieters – C
Ty Wigginton – 2B
Robert Andino – SS

No, there are no typos, glitches, or errors in today’s lineup.  Maybe Dave Trembley is taking a page from Billy Martin and drew the names out of a hat.

Brian Roberts and Aubrey Huff get the day off, and we get our first look at Oscar Salazar in 2009.  Let’s hope the new lineup can generate some much-needed offense.  Of course, it’s Sunday, so I wouldn’t expect too much, especially with the “B” squad lineup.  The Orioles have scored just 13 runs in the last seven games.

Rich Hill (2-0, 4.15 ERA) goes to the hill against Vin Mazzaro (1-0, 0.00 ERA) who pitched brilliantly against the White Sox in his first major league start on Tuesday (6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER).  On a positive note, at least he isn’t left-handed.

The Orioles will try to snap a four-game losing streak while Oakland hopes to continue its trend of five-straight victories.

In case you were keeping track, the Orioles have lost five Sunday games in a row with their last victory coming on April 26 against the Texas Rangers.

Suddenly, I’m having visions of Bill Murray and Punxsutawney Phil.

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Matt Wieters

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Who’s this Matt Wieters kid?

Posted on 26 May 2009 by Luke Jones

Matt Wieters

I suggest checking out http://www.mattwietersfacts.com/ to get an idea of what kind of hype—and pressure—this 23-year-old kid is facing as he makes his major league debut on Friday night.

While we all hope the above plaque will one day be a reality in Cooperstown, let’s just enjoy watching him grow as a big league catcher without expecting him to turn water into wine—this year anyway.

When was the last time an Oriole rookie’s debut received this much attention?  You would have to go back to Jeffrey Hammonds in 1993 (fourth overall pick in the 1992 draft) or Ben McDonald in 1989 (first overall pick earlier that year).  It would be hard to top the hype for Big Ben, but Wieters is certainly in contention.

The organization handled the Wieters’ situation correctly.  As much as Orioles fans wanted the instant gratification of seeing the young catcher on Opening Day, Andy MacPhail likely saved millions of dollars and an extra year before free agency by waiting to promote him.

And remember, don’t feel too badly for Wieters through all of this.  Critics easily forget the Orioles gave him a straight $6 million signing bonus in August 2007—the highest up-front payment in draft history.  The organization has more than taken care of him financially.

>  Tonight’s win has to make you feel good as an Orioles fan.  It’s well and good when players like Melvin Mora or Gregg Zaun—veterans with no future on this team—are the big offensive contributors, but the key performers tonight were all below the age of 26 and figure to be in the future plans of the organization.

Jason Berken looked like he belonged—already an improvement over Adam Eaton—and picked up his first major league win.

Adam Jones continued to pound the baseball, hitting his 11th home run of the season to put the Orioles ahead in the fifth inning, 3-2.

And not to be outdone, Nolan Reimold hit a two-run shot to the right-center bleachers to add to the lead in the sixth.  The young outfielder has shown very impressive power in his first two weeks of big league ball.

Quite a change from the meaningless wins of the past few years when Steve Trachsel would pick up a stray victory with Jay Payton and Kevin Millar hitting home runs.

At 20-26, it’s obviously been a frustrating year and doesn’t figure to get much better record-wise, but these types of wins have to make you feel hopeful.  It’s one thing to see the younger players in Baltimore, but it’s even better to see them actually contributing.

>  Please come out to Padonia Station tomorrow night at 7 PM for the Coors Light King of Baltimore Sportstalk Finals.  It’s been a fun and challenging competition, and I’m sad to see it come to an end.

I would like to thank Nestor Aparicio and the WNST staff for their vision and creativity in giving amateurs like me a chance to talk sports with the great city of Baltimore.  I’ve also enjoyed meeting the other competitors and wish them nothing but the best of luck tomorrow night.

From the time I was a little boy turning down the sound on the TV to broadcast the Orioles game and then writing an article about it for my dad to read, I’ve always had a passion for sports and media—and more specifically, Baltimore sports and media.  WNST has given me enough of a taste to continue pursuing this passion beyond tomorrow night.  There’s no doubt that it’s very hard work—especially in the dramatically evolving world of journalism and media, but if you truly love sports and love communicating, I cannot think of a better job in the world.

I hope to see you tomorrow night at Padonia Station.  It should be a lot of fun!

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Tonight's Orioles - Yankees Lineups

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Tonight’s Orioles – Yankees Lineups

Posted on 08 May 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Orioles will play host to the New York Yankees this weekend for a three-game series at Camden Yards with the action starting tonight at 7:05.  The O’s enter the set with a record of 12-17 and in last place in the A.L. East, but just a game and a half behind the reeling fourth-place Yankees, whom have lost their last five coming into Baltimore.  Both squads have struggled tremendously against their division opponents, the O’s are 5-10 in such games while the Yankees are just 3-10.

The O’s come in winners of three of their last four and fresh off a two-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins.  Lou Montanez played the role of hero in last night’s 5-4 win; he had a bottom of the eighth, two-out RBI single that drove in Melvin Mora for the game’s winning run, breaking a 4-4 tie.  Brad Bergesen gave the home team six productive innings from the mound and only gave up three earned while doing a nice job keeping his squad in the game.  However, he did allow 11 base hits and eventually took the no-decision.  The win went to the bullpen for the second consecutive night, this time it was Jim Johnson who threw a shutout 8th frame to register the W.  George Sherrill induced Justin Morneau to hit a soft fly ball to left field for the game’s final out, and in the process stranded Joe Mauer, the game’s would-be tying run at first base to preserve the victory.

Jeremy Guthrie, the O’s 30-year old ace, will take the ball against the Yankees for the second time this season in front of the home crowd.  On Opening Day, all the way back on April 6th, Guthrie gave up three runs over six innings and picked up the win.  Since, he’s been nothing better or worse than OK.  He’s got a 2-2 record with a 5.16 ERA, but the Orioles are just 2-4 in games he’s started.  Guthrie’s achilles heel this season has been surrendering the dreaded two-out rally.  In his last appearance five days ago in Toronto, Guthrie gave a great effort and threw a complete game, but the Jays hit three two-out doubles and two, two-out home runs in the eventual 4-3 Baltimore loss.

The pitching match-up tonight will be the exact same as it was on Opening Day as the Yankees will throw out their rather expensive yet so far underwhelming ace, C.C. Sabathia.  The 28-year old husky left-hander has yet to show the dominating form that earned him his record-breaking free agent contract this off-season; he’s just 1-3 with a 4.38 ERA and coming off a not-so-hot performance against the Angels, where he allowed five runs.  On their Opening Day win, the O’s knocked him out after only 4.1 innings and tagging him for six earned on eight hits.

Those going down to the ballpark tonight will certainly have their opportunity to boo their most hated Yankee players.  Not only will Mark Teixeira be back in town, but Alex Rodriguez will be making his season-debut this evening.  He missed the first month of the season with a torn labrum in his hip.

Tonight on the Mob Town Sports Beat at 6:45, Thyrl Nelson and I will be previewing the series with Roger Rubin of New York Daily News  and talking to him about the return of A-Roid back to baseball.

Dave Trembley and Joe Girardi chose nine players to represent their teams, those men are:

Orioles

Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Melvin Mora – 3B
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Ty Wigginton – DH
Lou Montanez – LF
Chad Moeller – C
Cesar Izturis – SS

Yankees

Derek Jeter – SS
Johnny Damon – LF
Mark Teixeira – 1B
Alex Rodriguez – 3B
Hideki Matsui – DH
Robinson Cano – 2B
Nick Swisher – RF
Melky Cabrera – CF
Francisco Cervelli – C

On Opening Day, Mark Teixeira heard it from O's fans (Courtesy: Karl Merton Ferron)

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Tonight’s Orioles – Angels Lineups

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have traveled all the way east to take on the Orioles tonight at Camden Yards for the first of the teams’ short two-game mini-set.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 this evening and 12:35 tomorrow – after losing nine of their last twelve, the Orioles could desperately use a couple W’s.

Good news for the Orioles… veteran third basemen Melvin Mora will be back in uniform and batting fifth in tonight’s order after being activated from the 15-day DL earlier this afternoon.  Mora was hitting .313 before exiting the lineup with a sore right hamstring, causing him to miss the last 15 games.

Adam Eaton will get the start for the O’s and will bring a good amount of confidence to the mound from his last outing.  Just five nights ago, Eaton wowed the home crowd by throwing 7.1 innings of quality Major League level baseball.  Only allowing six hits and two earned is impressive, but what’s amazing was the dominance he showed in striking out nine White Sox batters, while not issuing a walk to even one.  Though even with the solid performance, his ERA is still above 7.00, which illustrates his struggles in previous starts in an Oriole uniform this season.

Joe Saunders, the Angels’ 26-year old lefty, will take the ball against the O’s for Manager Mike Scioscia’s club.  The All-Star from a year ago has a 2-1 record with a 3.51 ERA so far this year and was roughed up a little in his last start when he gave up five earned over five in a no-decision at home against the Tigers.  Saunders in his career has been very successful when facing Baltimore; he has a perfect 4-0 record in four starts.

Overall, the Angels as a group have been staggering a bit in the early stages of ’09.  Injuries and out-of-character inconsistent play have left them with a 7-11 record and a last place standing in the American League’s West Division.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Orioles

Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Melvin Mora – 3B
Ty Wigginton – DH
Lou Montanez – LF
Gregg Zaun – C
Cesar Izturis – SS

Angels

Chone Figgins – 3B
Macier Izturis – DH
Bobby Abreu – RF
Torii Hunter – CF
Kendry Morales – 1B
Mike Napoli – C
Howie Kendrick – 2B
Juan Rivera – LF
Eric Aybar – SS

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This Morning’s Orioles – Red Sox Lineups

Posted on 20 April 2009 by Chris Bonetti

Good morning Orioles fans, it’s Patriots’ Day in Boston, and that means the O’s and Sox will be getting underway extra early with today’s first pitch coming at 11:05AM at Fenway Park.

Yesterday the Orioles struggles continued with a 2-1 loss in Boston, where they have now lost eight straight ball games dating back to last season.  They’ll need a W to avoid the four-game sweep to their division opponents and falling under .500 for the first time this season.

The man entrusted to try and break the O’s overall four-game losing streak will be Mark Hendrickson.  The tall lefty has split his first two starts of the season and has pitched to an ERA of 3.00.  His season started well with a solid outing at Camden Yards in a win over the Rays, but Hendrickson gave up nine runs, two earned, in 4.2 innings in a loss at Texas.  The Orioles’ starter will pitch against the Sox for the first time in an Oriole uniform, but is no stranger to the Red Sox lineup.  In 14 career starts against Boston Hendrickson has an ERA over 8.50 and a 2-6 record.

24-year old right-hander Justin Masterson will get the start in place of Daisuke Matsuzaka for the Red Sox.  Masterson came out of the Boston bullpen last Tuesday and pitched 4.1 scoreless innings after Matsuzaka left the game with shoulder fatigue, which has now landed him on the 15-day DL.  Last season Masterson faced the Orioles twice in relief and gave up just one hit over four scoreless innings.

With Melvin Mora on the 15-day DL, Adam Jones day-to-day (both with hamstring injuries), and Aubrey Huff DH-ing, the Orioles will have an interesting new look to their lineup:

Orioles

Brian Roberts – 2B
Cesar Izturis – SS
Nick Markakis – RF
Aubrey Huff – DH
Ty Wigginton – 1B
Luke Scott – LF
Gregg Zaun – C
Ryan Freel – 3B
Felix Pie – CF

Red Sox

Ellsbury – CF
Pedroia – 2B
Ortiz – DH
Youkilis – 1B
Baldelli – RF
Bay – LF
Lowell – 3B
Varitek – C
Green – SS

Here’s a little historic note for everyone out there…

Patriots’ Day is a civic day of remembrance and celebration in Boston annually on the third Monday of April and commemorates the Battles of Concord and Lexington from the Revolutionary War.  Traditionally it’s been the date of the running of the Boston Marathon and of a Red Sox home game.  The unique morning start of the baseball game allows both events to finish around the same time.

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Your 6-0 final…

Posted on 11 April 2009 by Luke Jones

Here are my final thoughts on the Birds’ 6-0 victory over Tampa Bay tonight:

– Jeremy Guthrie pitched well, turning in six shutout innings.  His velocity was right around 91-92 miles per hour according to the stadium radar gun, which should ease some concern about his health entering the season.

After a terrible spring, Guthrie is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA.  He would probably be no more than a good third starter on a contending team, but the Orioles are certainly glad to have him at the top of the rotation with so many question marks behind him.

– Melvin Mora’s first-inning grand slam was the third of his career and his 82nd career home run at Camden Yards, fourth all-time.  Only Rafael Palmeiro (124), Brady Anderson (91), and Cal Ripken (85) are in front of him.

– Jamie Walker looked like the pitcher from two seasons ago in his 1 1/3 innings, striking out one and getting Evan Longoria to ground into a double play in the eighth.  The left-handed specialist would be a huge lift to the bullpen if he can regain his 2007 form.

– Chris Ray struck out the side in the ninth inning and looked very impressive.  His slider was especially effective in fooling Tampa Bay hitters.

His velocity was up to 94 miles per hour tonight, an improvement from his last appearance but still not where he was a couple seasons ago.  Overall, it was an encouraging outing for the 27-year old right-hander.

– The Orioles will be faced with a roster decision tomorrow when Adam Eaton is expected to make his first start of the season.  My best guess is the club attempts to sneak Brian Bass through waivers.

(UPDATE: Roch Kubatko is reporting the Orioles will option Matt Albers to Triple-A Norfolk.  The move makes sense, as the Orioles will likely need several long relievers throughout the season due to the shaky rotation.  This allows Bass to give the team some more innings without exposing him to waivers.  Albers will probably be back sooner rather than later.)

– Two series wins against the Yankees and the Rays to begin the season.  Not a bad start against two of the best teams in the American League.

We’ll see if the Orioles (4-1) can earn the sweep tomorrow before starting a seven-game road trip.

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Rays and Niemann Steamin’ Early

Posted on 11 April 2009 by Luke Jones

The Orioles just put up a five-spot in the bottom of the first with Melvin Mora hitting a grand slam into the Orioles bullpen off Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann.

Though the offense is bound to cool off off, the Orioles will be one of the better hitting teams in the American League.  It’s scary to think how good this offense can be if Matt Wieters is as good as advertised.

Jeremy Guthrie has a nice 5-0 lead and has retired the first six batters of the night as we head to the bottom of the second.

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