Tag Archive | "Pitching"

Davis Oblique strain 4-25

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Rocky Start for O’s

Posted on 06 May 2014 by Tom Federline

Not exactly the start most Oriole fans were anticipating , now is it? Orioles are one (1) game above .500 at 15-14 and tied with the Yankees for first. Really? The Orioles have the same amount of wins as the last place team Toronto at 15-17.  Grant it the Orioles got a taste of all the teams in the East in the first month. Two-thirds of their games were against AL East. The entire division was going after each other in that first month. That is no excuse. Early in the year is no excuse. If you saw some of the games and not just O’s, you should agree, the caliber of play in the East is sub-par.  The AL East has started out looking like the battle of mediocrity.

The AL West may have surfaced as the more dominant division. Oakland, Texas and LA Angels are making a case as formidable opponents. Pitching is usually ahead of hitting and the Oakland A’s pitching staff is on fire. 4th in the Major Leagues with a 3.03 ERA, while the O’s are 22nd at a 4.28 ERA. The O’s pitching is suspect and the hitting comes in spurts, leaving to many runners in scoring position consistently. The way the O’s have started out, it looks like most teams are going to be formidable opponents this year.

After almost 30 games, let’s give an assessment, position-by-position:

Left field: Looks like we are going to have all hit and questionable fielding (Cruuuuuuuuz). Or all fielding and no hit (Lough). Cruz – is a bright spot. His hitting has saved many a game. Hopefully Brady has him on the “non-detectible juice diet”. Lough has been a disappointment. Needed him to step up as lead-off and that is not happening by a long shot.

Centerfield: Jones – I’m not a fan. He is over-rated as a fielder. He’s not hitting and he continues to be fooled by the low outside sinker/curve ball. He has gotten paid an awful lot of money to lose that habit. You would think after 8 years – he may have learned something. Clean-up hitter cannot be batting .250 with 1 HR.

Right field: Solid. Best right fielder in baseball. Has been robbed year after year on Gold Glove award.. Hitting over .300. Doing his job. He should not be leading off, but they have no one else to do the job. Nick is a better 3 or 5 hitter.

Third base: Heeeeee’s baaaaaack. They sure did lead us on that Machado was going to be ready for Opening Day, now didn’t they? That was an un-welcome surprise. When ole Manny jogged out onto that field on Opening Day, let’s just say he wasn’t looking sure footed. We’ll see how it plays out. Nice timing with him coming back and Davis going out. Flaherty and Schoop performed well. They just aren’t Manny.

Shortstop: The DL is inevitable for Hardy. You can see the pain and stiffness as he runs. Lower back spasms and hamstring problems. It’s only a matter of time. One of those two nagging ailments , is going to blow. That could hurt. He is the elder statesman and rock of that infield. His bat can do some talking also. Potentially another Flaherty/Schoop /Lambardozzi tandem.

Second base: Ouch, another questionable position. Schoop is close, but he’s not there yet. He needs to get through that first round of at bats. He’s another one fooled by the low sinker and steady diet of curve balls. He needs to make adjustments. I like Flaherty. Problem is you have to eat his bat. Just not consistent enough. I like Lombardozzi, but he is strictly a utility guy also.

First base: Just ouch  -

No HR or RBI title this year. Let alone will the threat still be there, when he gets back. When Davis gets back? That could be at the All-Star break. Team will miss his glove at first. He had a gold glove performance last year, but he fell victim to the unscrupulous GG voting also. Pearce is not the answer. Markakis should stay in right. Although, I believe first base is his ultimate position.

Catcher: Major surprise offensively. A blessing we were not expecting. Weiters, I don’t believe, has ever had a hot April. Well he had one this year. A pleasure to watch at the plate. Confident placing bat to the ball. What a relief when he comes up to the plate. The Orioles needed that. Defensively, still one of the best in the business. Don’t agree with him looking over at the dugout to get pitch call though. Maybe it’s to early, maybe him and some of the pitchers are not seeing eye to eye. But something isn’t right with the pitching.

Pitching: I’ll just keep it brief - Has NOT helped my blood pressure. Starting pitching has left us with “Suspicious Minds” – Elvis. Tilman is the only one who has come close to looking confident. Ubaldo finally had a decent outing last time out versus the Twinkies. Thank you Zach Britton for giving the middle relief some creds. I still don’t know half of the middle relievers. And I prefer a lights out closer. Hunter is no intimidator. That is not going to bode well, second time around.

Some positives and negatives to feed on. It seems like the O’s are hanging on a thread. I know it’s early. I know it’s going to be a long rough roller coaster ride. Maybe it will all come together in September? Your thoughts? Go O’s!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

 

 

 

 

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Dickerson walk off 5-30-13

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Orioles Season – 1/3 In

Posted on 04 June 2013 by Tom Federline

They are hangin’. They are a team. They have an offense. They have a defense. The “Comeback Kids”. “It’s not over until we say it’s over” or “unless Jim Johnson blows a save”.  Pitching is suspect – but they have arms down on the farm or Duquette will go find someone. It is encouraging. It is fun to follow. It is frustrating. All the makings of another run! Expected this year versus surprised last year.

54 games into the 2012 season, O’s were 31-23. The line-up at that time consisted of: Andino 2B, Chavez LF, Hardy SS, Jones CF, Wieters C, Reynolds 1B, Davis DH, Betemit 3B, Pearce/or whomever in RF (Markakis was out). Pitching was “en fuego”, minus Arietta.
54 games into the 2013 season, O’s were 30 -24. Current line-up: McClouth LF, Machado 3B, Markakis RF, Jones CF, Davis 1B, Wieters C, Hardy SS, Pearce DH, Flaherty 2b. Pitching is still finding it’s way. But give me the 2013 boys anyday. The only position player we are really missing from last year is Andino – 2b is the current weak link (offensively).

What is with the first 5 guys in the batting order around .300 or better? I do not recall that occurring on any Orioles team – ever. Hitting is contagious. Let’s just hope the pitching heats up, when (if) the bats cool off. Chris “the Hulk” Davis, is simply in a serious groove. Machado is living up to the hype – his own and the medias. McClouth leading off, Markakis in the 3-hole, with Hardy and Wieters taking turns getting hot. The offense is a pleasant surprise. Currently, they all appear to be on the same “Wavelength” – Van Morrison.

Now the pitching……….has the blood pressure escalating. We need Chen! Can we get Guthrie back? What is with Jake Arietta? Goodbye and good riddance – Strope Me Strope Me. Don’t come back until you know how to wear your hat and throw strikes. I think Troy Patton was complaining of a sore back also. Why can’t Darren O’Day pitch in every game? Why can’t anyone in the bullpen pitch everyday? “Whoever is hot”, according to Buck-Buck. Which he is not playing out. I am so tired of hearing – “The bullpen needs a rest, they are worn out.” Get out of town sports media and O’s coaching - the bullpen boys get paid to warm-up and throw at tops - 10 pitches a night. Get out there and pitch! Earn your pay! Sometimes the pitching is lights out – majority of the time it appears they are throwing batting practice.

The pitching and/or Wieters getting hurt are the only curve balls that could hurt the O’s chances for October ball. Or if Davis changes testing labs. But the O’s have Brady, so they should have that covered. O’s fever and more Orange Kool-aid is being served around the Baltimore area. Nice to see a predominantly orange hue around the ballpark. Still enjoy 15,000 O’s fans versus a packed house with people on the cell phone or in idle chit-chat.

AL East – Auuuugh! Gonna be a rough one. Anybody but the Red Sux. What happens when the steroid boys come back in Spankme land? It was only a matter of time for the TB pitching to take hold. I think classless Toronto will drop.
Positives: the offense and defense. The comebacks, last Wednesday night vs. the Nats, YKM? Negatives: Jim Johnson collapse -3rd week in May. Overall pitching not holding up. Gary Thorne “in our side”, is still announcing games.
Seize the Moment – O’s fans. The Orioles have a ball team and a manager. The summer of 2013 just got hotter.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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My Orioles Trip to Cleveland

Posted on 24 July 2012 by scottzolotorow

 

 

I arrived home late last night from Cleveland and Pittsburgh. I took in Friday and Saturday night’s Oriole wins at Progressive Field and a game at the beautiful PNC Park Sunday afternoon. These were two more stadiums on my journey to see an official game at every MLB park, numbers 17 and 18 respectively. But Cleveland was all business, with my Orange gear on I was there to see the Orioles play. The second night we actually sat with 5 Orioles fans and were louder than the Indians fans in our section which was in the bleachers. The Indians have some interesting traditions, none more unique then the drum guy. This guy plays his little bass drum all night long when the Indians have a runner in scoring position and everyone in return claps along.

In my last blog, i deemed this series against the Indians as the most important series of the season up to this point. I was right with the Orioles taking 3 of 4 and the Yankees getting swept in Oakland. The O’s are now just 6.5 games back of the Yankees and tied for the Wildcard lead with a huge two week period ahead with Tampa, Oakland, and the Yankees. Its now or never and the two games I saw in Cleveland along with Sunday’s was the start! But back to the trip, I was pleasantly surprised that my party of three wasn’t the only Orioles fans at Progressive Field. The fans in Cleveland were also very welcoming towards us Orioles fans. I did make the classic mistake of asking the woman next to me who was more hated, Model or Lebron. She got over it!

The highlight of the two games in Cleveland besides the obvious two wins that I got to see on the road, was hearing the roar of the crowd when Jim Thome took his first steps towards the plate of his first at bat Friday night. He went on to double, Homer, and single that night! Thus they didn’t cheer for him very much the 2nd night! His home run in Friday nights game put him alone at 6th all-time, passing short time Oriole, Sammy Sosa. This was the first significant home run that I had seen in person since Manny Ramirez’s 500th which took place May 31st of 2008 off of the submariner, Chad Bradford, at Camden Yards. The Orioles lost that game 6-3. Thome of course homered in the 2nd game of the trip on a solo shot off Zach McAllister. His first two home runs as an Oriole, in my first two games seeing him play in an Oriole uniform.

The MVPs of the trip are Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez who shut down the Indians in front of two gigantic Cleveland crowds. Both nights after the games the Indians put on an incredible firework show called “Rock N Blast.” This is a once in a year extravangza sponsored by the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was the only reason fans stuck around throughout the Orioles 10-2 beatdown of the Indians. Big round of applause to Ryan Flaherty as well for homering in back to back nights along with Thome. The Indians are getting ready to install a Jim Thome statue in center field already and he hasn’t even retired yet!  I’ll be back Cleveland for the Ravens-Browns game in November!

 

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Tea Party 7-14-12

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Orioles Back to Normal

Posted on 18 July 2012 by Tom Federline

Actually, the Orioles are playing worse than normal. How does 18 -27 sound since May 25th? 1 out of 5 pitchers are left from the Opening Day starting rotation. Reimold on DL, Andino on DL, Hammel on DL, Roberts on DL again – he’s done. They have no offense, they are running the bases as if they were playing sandlot ball and they have committed the most errors in the majors. Now there’s a playoff team for ya! “Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. You kidding me? Playoffs?” Thank you Jim Mora for one of the best post game speeches of all-time.

They lost their pitching and Markakis during the month of June and have not recovered. June and July are feeling quite different than April and May did. And it stinks. Actually, it’s worse than stinks but I won’t go there because those who know me …….know I would be ranting vehemently for 500 words and I would be banished from blogging in the northern hemisphere ever again. Buck-Buck has lost the team. There is no fire. There is a different atmosphere in the dugout. Earlier in the year, whether they were winning or losing, there was talk, unity and smiles in the dugout. Look in there now – you have seen it before – we have seen it for 15 years – dejection, 2-3 man groups huddled by themselves, numerous trips down the tunnel to the buffet table in the clubhouse.

I was at the Yard this past Saturday evening for the 5-hour 13 inning win. Which should have ended after 3 hours with an 8-1 win. No clutch hitting, lackadaisical base running, errors committed but not charged, ug-ly. There were some positives - throw out at home, clutch home runs, Miquel Socolovich, evidence of persistence. But man, talk about a roller coaster ride. Ended up being fun, because they won. The way they have looked this past month, I sure am glad I got to catch potentially the last glimpse of Orioles Magic this year.

 

I hope I’m wrong. There needs to be a radical change in the Clubhouse and Jim Thome is not the answer. What happened with the “grow the pitching concept”? Evidently the draught hit the Orioles farm team before it hit the countries farmlands. Arietta and Matusz – nice busts. They need more orange kool-aid or more orange-”juice”. Brady Anderson –  they need you now. Isn’t he the “how to take juice and not get caught coach?” Hey Brady – you might as well hit up Reynolds while you’re at it. Good ole Mark Reynolds, 7.5 million dollars worth of ineptitude. To make us all feel a little better – Reynolds makes $20,500 per day to play a game and “stink” at it. That’s $20,500 per day for 365 days. Athletes salaries and the amount of money spent on sports entertainment in this country is horrid. More evidence of just how screwed up our society really is (another blog  – on deck).

The only consistently good thing I have experienced these past two months with the Orioles is…………not as much Gary Thorne “In our Side”! Have you noticed? It has been quite a joy to turn on the tube and hear Jim Hunter’s voice instead of “I should only be doing bowling tournaments – Thorne”. Fred Manfra and Joe Angel are still top dogs and my preferred method of listening/watching a ballgame. It’s tough enough to watch the O’s annual extended losing streaks, but it is impossible to watch with bush league commentary. 

Enough doom and gloom. How about the weather? Yeah, another 100 degree cooker. ”Couldn’t Stand the Weather?” – Stevie Ray Vaughan. How about July 27th? Here’s something to look forward to – BSO plays Led Zep at Pier Six and the Olympics begin. The weather is going to stay hot, the Olympics are going to heat up our spirit and the O’s …………..well they need a heated Buck-Buck butt whoopin’ or they will be finishing below .500 and last…………….again. O’s need help, some back to the basics and alot of luck. Bring on the Summer Olympics.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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matusz

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Matusz falters, Johnson recalled – Who do the Orioles call up next?

Posted on 02 July 2012 by hopebirchfield

After the abysmal performance of starter Brian Matusz in Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Indians, he was optioned to Norfolk immediately following the game. In only four innings, Matusz gave up 7 hits on 5 runs (4 earned) and walked four. With the loss, Brian Matusz was awarded his tenth loss of season and fifth loss in a row. It was announced that Steve Johnson would be recalled from Norfolk to join the Orioles bullpen on the road in Seattle. In his last four outings cumulatively totaling 12.1 innings, Johnson has given up only five hits on no runs and has fanned 20. The Orioles are obviously looking to add a long-lasting reliever with the hesitant performances of the starting rotation as of late. Within the next week however, the Orioles will likely need to recall a starting pitcher. Who are the best two options to call up from the Norfolk Tides? Zach Britton and Chris Tillman (Read on before you send hate mail).

Zach “Sinker” Britton

Zach was the starting pitcher on Sunday evening as the Tides looked to best the Syracuse Chiefs. Watching him come out of the gate strong retiring the side in the first (including striking out two), you can not help but wonder whether Britton had heard of the upcoming rotation spot. In five innings, Britton yielded one earned run and struck out seven. There were times when his control and command were not at its best and times when he visibly struggled. All in all, it was not his best performance but it certainly was not his worst performance either. He exited the game losing so even though the Tides won, he did not register a decision.

In the last four games, Britton’s ERA is 4.80 and he has struck out 13 in 21 innings of work. Britton primarily relies on his sinker with velocities in the low to mid 90s, much to the chagrin of the opposing offense. His arsenal also includes an above-average slider and a below-average (but improved) changeup. Typically, Britton throws his sinker as he often has trouble commanding his changeup. With a sinker with such high velocity, when Britton is on his game, he is almost un-hittable. While pitching with the Baltimore Orioles last year; he split the season with eleven wins and eleven losses. His final ERA was 4.61 on the year and he recorded 97 strikeouts. Due to an impingement of his left shoulder, Britton was added to the disabled list in March and has been rehabbing with the Norfolk Tides since June 6th.

It is obvious that eventually Zach Britton will go back to the Baltimore Orioles but when is the more pertinent question. While he still is throwing well, his ERA is similar to the one that yielded a split 11-11 decision with the Orioles. In the most recent game against the Chiefs, Britton commanded the ball extremely well but he is still finding his rhythm. A few more starts at the Norfolk Tides could make him an even better addition for when down the stretch.

Why not Chris Tillman?

Before the collective sighs from Orioles fans who remember his 5.60 ERA, 7-15 record in the 2009 through 2011 season, let me just say that in his last four outings (21-plus innings), he recorded 27 strikeouts. No, that’s not a typo – He has fanned 27 people in 21 innings. Chris Tillman is a different player this year. Farm teams were created to develop player mechanics and before you discount him just because he’s Chris Tillman, his mechanics have greatly improved and made him an elite competitor.

In his recent performances, Tillman has won his last four decisions with a 2.57 ERA, including one shutout performance in Toledo. His fastball has picked up some stream and reaches 94-95 mph pretty consistently. He also has an above-average curveball and an average cutter. In the past, Orioles fans have seen Tillman struggle with commanding the ball, often flustered with runners on base and seeming to quickly unravel with base runners. This year, however, the Chris Tillman that takes the mound is more disciplined with better control. Often Tillman is overlooked because of his performances at the big club but he clearly lives by the mantra – “Practice makes perfect.” Surely his command and control have improved, as can be seen with his ERA dropping and shutout appearances. Like most pitchers, there are times when he still struggles, but unfortunately that can be said about the majority of pitchers currently on the Orioles. There is a reason why farm teams exist and Tillman may be the poster child for their success in developing mechanics of young players. At 24, Tillman may be one of the future pitchers in this organization if he continues to pitch as he has been in his recent outings. If the Orioles actually take the proverbial leap of faith and recall him, Tillman may surprise a lot of people. The numbers in his recent three seasons with the Orioles are not a good indication of his skill level or his recent development. Perhaps this is the case when it’s the 4th time that is a charm.

Final Thoughts

Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen cannot be the only reliable pitchers in the starting rotation. With the recent departure of Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz, Showalter has made it clear that sub par performances will only be tolerated for so long. Personally, I would like to see both Britton and Tillman at the big league level later this season. They both are dominating pitchers who can throw the ball well with good movement. Who knows? With Tillman being a righty and Britton being a lefty, perhaps they can create a duo that we can deem “Hammel and Chen, Version 2.0.”

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