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Winning formula simple for Orioles when strong starting pitching involved

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Winning formula simple for Orioles when strong starting pitching involved

Posted on 07 April 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Though it doesn’t always come across that way on TV, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has a quirky sense of humor that the media typically enjoys when the cameras and recorders off.

But after Tommy Hunter pitched seven strong innings and the Baltimore lineup plated eight runs in a comfortable 8-2 win over the Minnesota Twins, it’s easier for the skipper to smile and laugh after a ballgame.

A reporter asked Showalter after Ronny Paulino — serving as the designated hitter on Saturday — collected four hits in his Orioles debut whether it was easier to get his backup catcher in the lineup or in the country, alluding to Paulino’s work visa problems during spring training. The manager smiled and laughed, which is easy to do after games when you get good starting pitching.

“You heard me talk about it in simplistic form,” Showalter said. “You see us getting deeper in the game with our starting pitching, we’ll have some fun this year. It’s two out of 162, but it’s a good way to start. We had good starts to start the season last year, so we’ll see if it continues.”

Following the Opening Day lead of Jake Arrieta, Hunter cruised through seven innings before loading the bases with no outs in the eighth, leading to his departure and two unearned runs to cross the plate. Hunter allowed six hits and a walk while striking out three to improve to 2-1 in three career starts against Minnesota.

The Baltimore starting pitching has yet to allow an earned run in 14 innings to begin the 2012 season.

But the 25-year-old Hunter didn’t view it as a great feat, but rather what he’s expected to accomplish when he takes the hill every fifth day for the Orioles.

“It’s fun,” Hunter said. “It’s what a starting pitcher is supposed to do. You’re supposed to go deep into a game and give your team a chance to win.”

As Showalter reiterated, it’s only two games. The last time the Orioles opened the season with consecutive starts of seven or more innings was 2001 when Pat Hentgen, Sidney Ponson, and Jason Johnson did it against the Red Sox to start the year.

The Orioles lost 98 games that season.

But the formula for improving upon a 93-loss campaign a year ago is the ability of the starting rotation to log more innings and give a respectable Orioles lineup a chance to compete every night out.

“Two games, we’ve gotten deep in the game, and it really creates a good atmosphere for the hitters,” Showalter said.

And that’s exactly what Hunter provided as the Orioles tagged Minnesota lefty Francisco Liriano for six runs in his four innings of work. Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters all hit solo home runs while Robert Andino drove in two runs to lead the Orioles to a 2-0 start for the second straight year.

With Jason Hammel making his Orioles debut on Sunday and trying to pitch the club to its first sweep over the Twins in Baltimore since 2002, the bar has been set pretty high by Arrieta and Hunter in the season’s first two games.

And that’s a good thing.

Hunter’s thoughts following the game rang like a sound piece of advice for Hammel, Brian Matusz, and Wei-Yin Chen, who will each make their first starts of the season over the next three days.

“Just throw strikes and let the defense play,” Hunter said. “They made some plays all night behind me.”

It sounds simple enough, but the Orioles have a long way to show that it can be done night in and night out and keep their manager smiling in 2012.

NOTES: Paulino’s four hits made him the first hitter since Sam Horn on April 9, 1990 to record four hits in his Orioles debut. … With his fourth-inning single, Andino recorded his first two RBI of the season. He didn’t collect his second RBI until May 21 last season. … Markakis went 3-for-4 and is now 5-for-7 to start the season, marking the second time in his career that he started the season with consecutive multi-hit games. The right fielder also homered in consecutive games for the eighth time in his career. … Showalter needs 13 more wins to be the 58th manager in major league history to reach 1,000 wins. … Saturday’s paid attendance was 31,532.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Buck Showalter, Tommy Hunter, Robert Andino, and Ronny Paulino following Saturday’s 8-2 win right here.

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Hunter shuts down Twins to lead Orioles to 8-2 win

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Hunter shuts down Twins to lead Orioles to 8-2 win

Posted on 07 April 2012 by WNST Staff

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Hunter Battles Liriano Saturday As Birds Look to Win First Series of Season

Posted on 07 April 2012 by WNST Staff

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Orioles 4, Twins 2 Final Box Score

Posted on 07 April 2012 by WNST Staff

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Arrieta’s deep performance exactly what Orioles need more of to improve in 2012

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Arrieta’s deep performance exactly what Orioles need more of to improve in 2012

Posted on 06 April 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Regardless of how impressive Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta’s performance was in the Orioles 4-2 win over Minnesota, the 26-year-old is a long way from becoming the ace of the Baltimore staff, at least in the truest sense of the role.

But his ability to pitch deep into the game — without allowing a run in seven innings — is exactly what manager Buck Showalter is looking for after a 2011 season in which starting pitchers struggled to simply get through five or six innings on many long nights. Arrieta’s superb showing not only gave him his first win since July 26, 2011, but it put his team in the win column in the season opener for the second straight year.

“I just want to be a guy who some of other guys can look at and say he will get us to the seventh and eighth inning and put us in a position to win the game,” Arrieta said. “I think I have a ways to go to really establish myself as that guy, but I’m willing to do that.”

Allowing only two hits while striking out four and walking two in his seven innings, Arrieta showed good command in the first outing of his third major league season after being plagued by elevated walk totals and high pitch counts in his first two campaigns. Only one Twins batter even reached second base against him as he shut down the Minnesota lineup in front of a sellout crowd of 46,773 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

While many believed the pressure of pitching on Opening Day might prove too much for Arrieta — especially coming off elbow surgery that cost him the final two months of the 2011 season — Showalter reminded everyone that the right-hander had been in a similar position before.

Arrieta started the home opener a year ago against the Detroit Tigers and turned in a similar outing, allowing one earned run in six innings of work in a 5-1 victory.

“He pitched maybe a little better than he did last year in the same venue,” Showalter said. “I thought he kept his emotions under control, which is always a challenge with everybody. Trusted his fastball — it’s still his best pitch. … He commanded all his pitches.”

It’s no secret that the starting pitching will determine if the Orioles can improve from their 93-loss season a year ago. Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair will rest easier if the starting rotation can turn in more performances like Arrieta’s on Friday than the shortened, labored outings seen last year that washed out the bullpen by mid-summer.

Too much uncertainty remains to know whether that starting pitching will improve, especially with two of the next four starters in the rotation – Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen — having not even been with the club last season. And that’s not even considering left-hander Brian Matusz coming off a historically-poor season in 2011.

But Arrieta did set the bar high for his fellow starters to try to follow suit. He accomplished exactly what he wanted in taking a step to prove why Showalter selected him to take the ball for the Orioles on the first day of the season.

“My mindset today was really to set the tone for our team in front of a great crowd — lots of excited fans for a new season,” Arrieta said. “It was important to come out and set the tone the way we did.”

It was a fun way to begin the season, a theme echoed by several players following the win.

One down and 161 to go, and the Orioles will view each game as an opportunity to start breaking down the assumptions that they can’t grow up substantially this season. Arrieta emphatically run the first round.

“As a team we take it personal that most people write us off from the get-go,” Arrieta said. “I think we made a statement today that we’ve got a lot to play for this year.”

 

 

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Live from Camden Yards: Orioles welcome Minnesota to town on Opening Day

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Live from Camden Yards: Orioles welcome Minnesota to town on Opening Day

Posted on 06 April 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Happy Opening Day as the Orioles begin the 2012 season by welcoming the Minnesota Twins to town.

With plenty planned for the 20th anniversary of the first Opening Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, there is sure to be a buzz in the air in what continues to be an event in Baltimore despite tempered expectations for the season. The battery that started the 1992 opener, pitcher Rick Sutcliffe and catcher Chris Hoiles, will handle the ceremonial first pitch.

After undergoing abdominal surgery in early January, right fielder Nick Markakis says he is healthy and ready to go for the start of the season. The 28-year-old was limited to just 24 spring at-bats but stated earlier in the spring he needed fewer than that to be ready for the regular season.

“Physically, I think I’m about as good as I can be right now,” Markakis said. It’s just a matter of getting out and playing. All the rehab and hard work in spring training is behind me and now I can focus on the season.”

While Markakis said he never doubted whether he would be ready for Opening Day, manager Buck Showalter felt uneasy after seeing how limited his No. 3 hitter was in the first week to 10 days of spring training.

Showalter also confirmed right-hander Jim Johnson will be his closer with Kevin Gregg settling into a less-defined late-inning role.

As anticipated, left fielder Nolan Reimold will begin the season as the Orioles’ leadoff hitter despite hardly looking like a conventional option. Entering his fourth season, Reimold is eager for the opportunity and wants to capitalize on what looks like a more defined role in the regular lineup than last year.

In 847 career plate appearances, Reimold owns a .328 on-base percentage — a number the Orioles would like to see increase if he’s going to remain atop the order.

“The goal’s always to get on base; the goal’s always to get hits” Reimold said about his new spot in the order. “In that aspect, nothing really changes.”

Here are today’s lineups:

Minnesota
CF Denard Span
SS Jamey Carroll
C Joe Mauer
DH Justin Morneau
LF Josh Willingham
RF Ryan Doumit
3B Danny Valencia
1B Chris Parmelee
2B Alexi Casilla

RHP Carl Pavano

Baltimore
LF Nolan Reimold
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
DH Wilson Betemit
3B Mark Reynolds
1B Chris Davis
2B Robert Andino

RHP Jake Arrieta

Follow @WNST on Twitter for the latest for Camden Yards and be sure to visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Buck Showalter, Nolan Reimold, and Nick Markakis prior to this afternoon’s game right here.

 

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Wada Struggles, Orioles Muster Just One Hit in Loss to Twins

Posted on 27 March 2012 by WNST Staff

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Chen Solid, Bats Alive in Orioles Win

Posted on 22 March 2012 by WNST Staff

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Tillman Shaky But Orioles Top Twins

Posted on 16 March 2012 by WNST Staff

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Bovada Sets Orioles Win Total At 69.5, Second Longest Odds to Win World Series

Posted on 14 March 2012 by WNST Staff

Odds to win the 2012 World Series     

Philadelphia Phillies                   11/2

New York Yankees                    13/2

Los Angeles Angels                   7/1

Detroit Tigers                             8/1

Texas Rangers                          10/1

Boston Red Sox                        10/1

San Francisco Giants                 15/1

Tampa Bay Rays                       18/1

Miami Marlins                            20/1

Cincinnati Reds                         20/1

Atlanta Braves                           22/1

St. Louis Cardinals                     25/1

Arizona Diamondbacks               28/1

Milwaukee Brewers                    28/1

Washington Nationals                30/1

Los Angeles Dodgers                 40/1

Toronto Blue Jays                      40/1

Chicago Cubs                            40/1

Colorado Rockies                       40/1

Cleveland Indians                       60/1

Chicago White Sox                    65/1

Minnesota Twins                        75/1

Kansas City Royals                   80/1

New York Mets                          80/1

Oakland Athletics                      80/1

Pittsburgh Pirates                      100/1

San Diego Padres                      100/1

Seattle Mariners                        100/1

Baltimore Orioles                       150/1

Houston Astros                          200/1

Odds to win the 2012 AL Pennant       

New York Yankees                    13/4

Los Angeles Angels                   7/2

Detroit Tigers                             4/1

Boston Red Sox                        11/2

Texas Rangers                          11/2

Tampa Bay Rays                       9/1

Toronto Blue Jays                      22/1

Cleveland Indians                       28/1

Chicago White Sox                    35/1

Kansas City Royals                   40/1

Oakland Athletics                      40/1

Minnesota Twins                        40/1

Seattle Mariners                        60/1

Baltimore Orioles                       75/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 NL Pennant       

Philadelphia Phillies                   9/4

San Francisco Giants                 7/1

Atlanta Braves                           9/1

Cincinnati Reds                         9/1

Miami Marlins                            9/1

St. Louis Cardinals                     11/1

Milwaukee Brewers                    14/1

Washington Nationals                15/1

Arizona Diamondbacks               14/1

Colorado Rockies                       18/1

Los Angeles Dodgers                 18/1

Chicago Cubs                            22/1

New York Mets                          40/1

Pittsburgh Pirates                      40/1

San Diego Padres                      50/1

Houston Astros                          100/1

Odds to win the 2012 AL East

New York Yankees                    2/3

Boston Red Sox                        3/1

Tampa Bay Rays                       9/2

Toronto Blue Jays                      12/1

Baltimore Orioles                       100/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 AL Central         

Detroit Tigers                             1/4

Cleveland Indians                       10/1

Kansas City Royals                   12/1

Chicago White Sox                    12/1

Minnesota Twins                        16/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 AL West

Los Angeles Angels                   4/5

Texas Rangers                          1/1

Oakland Athletics                      30/1

Seattle Mariners                        45/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 NL East

Philadelphia Phillies                   1/2

Miami Marlins                            11/2

Atlanta Braves                           6/1

Washington Nationals                8/1

New York Mets                          50/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 NL Central         

Cincinnati Reds                         7/5

St. Louis Cardinals                     2/1

Milwaukee Brewers                    11/4

Chicago Cubs                            18/1

Pittsburgh Pirates                      30/1

Houston Astros                          100/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 NL West

San Francisco Giants                 5/4

Arizona Diamondbacks               2/1

Los Angeles Dodgers                 11/2

Colorado Rockies                       7/1

San Diego Padres                      15/1

Over/Under Regular Season Win Totals

Arizona Diamondbacks               86½

Atlanta Braves                           86½

Baltimore Orioles                       69½

Boston Red Sox                        90½

Chicago Cubs                            73½

Chicago White Sox                    75½

Cincinnati Reds                         87½

Cleveland Indians                       78½

Colorado Rockies                       80½

Detroit Tigers                             91½

Miami Marlins                            85½

Houston Astros                          63½

Kansas City Royals                   78½

Los Angeles Angels                   91½

Los Angeles Dodgers                 80½

Milwaukee Brewers                    85½

Minnesota Twins                        72½

New York Mets                          73½

New York Yankees                    93½

Oakland Athletics                      72½

Philadelphia Phillies                   93½

Pittsburgh Pirates                      72½

San Diego Padres                      73½

San Francisco Giants                 87½

Seattle Mariners                        71½

St. Louis Cardinals                     85½

Tampa Bay Rays                       86½

Texas Rangers                          91½

Toronto Blue Jays                      81½

Washington Nationals                83½
courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

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