Tag Archive | "Vladimir Guerrero"

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Guthrie gets overdue help from offense in Orioles’ 7-5 win over Reds

Posted on 26 June 2011 by Luke Jones

It was far from Jeremy Guthrie’s best performance in a 7-5 win to give the Orioles their first series win since June 6-8.

But the bats owed him one.

Guthrie pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs and six hits while uncharacteristically walking four batters in an afternoon in which deep counts caught up with him, forcing an early exit against the Cincinnati Reds. However, five runs in the first four innings and two late insurance runs proved to be enough despite eight walks by Baltimore pitching.

Receiving the ninth-worst run support in the American League entering Sunday, Guthrie was grateful for the extra hand in securing his third win of the season despite a very respectable 3.93 earned run average in 16 starts. It marked the first time since May 26 that Guthrie had received five or more runs and just the fifth time all season.

“Winning three games in three months, it’s frustrating,” said Guthrie, who improved his record to 3-9. “I want to be better; I want to have better results. At times, momentum seems to swing against the Orioles, so it’s nice to have held on and won this game. It’s important for the team.”

Though not his sharpest outing, Guthrie’s stuff removed any shred of doubt that might have lingered after straining his back two starts ago in Toronto. His fastball sat in the mid-90s and struck out five Cincinnati hitters despite giving up his 13th home run of the year to Brandon Phillips in the fifth inning.

Racking brains over Reynolds

No Oriole in recent memory has sparked more debate — or created more frustration — than third baseman Mark Reynolds.

Despite raising his batting average from .190 to .227, clubbing seven home runs, and walking 20 times in the month of June, Reynolds’ defense continues to suffer after committing two more errors on Sunday, giving him 18 for the year. Manager Buck Showalter is preaching patience with Reynold’s glove and arm, but the miscues haven’t yet affected his performance at the plate.

“I can’t think that way,” Reynolds said. “I have struggled over there at third base, it’s no secret. Just have to stay focused and not carry my at-bats into the field with me. Just keep going out there and making all the routine plays.”

Casual observers cringe at the low average and the high strikeout numbers (78 in 242 at-bats), but Reynolds’ .819 OPS is better than any regular in the lineup not named J.J. Hardy (.907) or Adam Jones (.823). His .356 on-base percentage makes him a strong candidate to be moved higher in the batting order if Showalter wants to maximize his return.

Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee were brought to Baltimore to be run producers for the middle of the order, but Reynolds has done a far better job than either veteran if you can look past the unconventional numbers.

Unfortunately, the glove has overshadowed what he’s been doing at the plate.

“I am working every day with [third base coach Willie Randolph] at it, trying to get better,” Reynolds said. “It’s just one of those things I can’t really explain. Hopefully, I can be more consistent in the future and keep getting better.”

Markakis on the rise

Following a three-hit afternoon in which he drove in two runs, Nick Markakis is riding a 16-game hitting streak that includes eight multi-hit games. He’s elevated his average from .236 to .277 over the 16 games in what many are hoping is a sign of better things to come for the struggling right fielder.

“He’s letting the ball travel, getting deep,” Showalter said. “He’s making them get him out. He’s not getting himself out as much, and he’s taking what they give him. Nick’s not going to sneak up on anybody. Everybody in baseball knows what kind of hitter he is, and they’re pitching him tough. Also, some of the guys around him swinging the bat better with J.J. and Jonesy and D-Lee coming on have made the focus less on him.”

Markakis has recently been choking up about an inch on the bat, with the knob noticeably taped. His 14 extra-base hits are still far below his yearly average of over 60 over the first five seasons of his career, but a homer on Saturday and three hits Sunday are encouraging to see as the All-Star Break approaches.

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Hardy and Reynolds are key pieces of Orioles’ future

Posted on 20 June 2011 by Peter Dilutis

Andy MacPhail’s 2010-2011 offseason has been criticized by many. MacPhail went out and overpaid for Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee, two veterans on the downside of their respective careers who were unlikely to play on a contending team in Baltimore, unless of course that contending was going to occur in 2011.

He acquired an average pitcher in Kevin Gregg who happened to rack up a bunch of saves the previous four seasons, thus making him a $5 million man.

MacPhail also traded for J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds. Hardy was set to become a free agent after the 2011 season, while Reynolds could be under team control through 2013 if the Orioles exercise their club option for ’13.

Throughout the early stages of the season, Reynolds and Hardy weren’t looking so great. Hardy was injured again, a problem that has overshadowed his production the past few seasons. Reynolds was striking out way too much, while homering at a career low clip.

However, both of these players have really gone on a tear throughout the month of June. Hardy is arguably the team’s best player right now, and has produced with the best SS’s in baseball. In fact, Hardy’s numbers are better than they were in 2007 when he hit 26 HR’s and drove in 86 with Milwaukee. His defense has also been better than advertised. In short, he has been the best outside acquisition for the Orioles since Miguel Tejada in 2004.

Reynolds has picked up his offense of late, hitting 6 HR’s in June, while raising his average from .186 to .217 in just one month. He also has an on-base percentage of .335, which while not wonderful, it isn’t awful either, and it is actually extremely impressive for a guy who is hitting just .217. Reynolds, despite his strikeouts, has a very good eye at the plate, and at the very least is someone who Jim Presley can count on to work the count and make the pitcher work a bit.

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Orioles on cusp of .500 (again), other random thoughts

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Orioles on cusp of .500 (again), other random thoughts

Posted on 11 June 2011 by Luke Jones

1. Déjà vu all over again.

After Friday’s 7-0 win over Tampa Bay, the Orioles once again find themselves on the brink of the .500 mark with a 30-31 mark entering Saturday night’s test against Tampa ace David Price. A win would put Baltimore at the .500 mark for the first time since May 26.

The problem was the Orioles responding to the achievement with a disastrous 1-5 West Coast trip from which they have yet to fully recover in the win-loss column. They are 2-4 this season when entering the day with a record of one game below .500.

“We understand the math of common denominators of teams that have a good season,” said manager Buck Showalter before the Rays series. “At some point, we’ve got to get to and pass that threshold as an organization.”

Of course, Showalter knows .500 is not the top of the mountain — notice how he said to “pass that threshold” — but it’s still a significant step for a franchise lacking a winning season since 1997. The Orioles have not been above the .500 mark since April 14 when they fell to 6-5 after suffering a two-game sweep to the Yankees in the Bronx.

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2. Hardy the offseason prize

The signings of veterans Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero grabbed the headlines. Third baseman Mark Reynolds was acquired via trade three days earlier in December.

But is there any doubt that shortstop J.J. Hardy — even after missing a month with a strained left oblique — has been the offseason prize for the Orioles?

Entering Saturday, Hardy has more home runs (six) than Guerrero (five) in only half the at-bats (118 to 236). He has more runs batted in than Lee (19 to 15) in 57 fewer at-bats, many coming far lower in the lineup.

His defense has been superb after replacing the slick-fielding, light-hitting Cesar Izturis of the past two seasons.

With Brian Roberts continuing to miss time with concussion-related symptoms, Hardy has recently taken over leadoff responsibilities and responded with two leadoff home runs this week. His .370 on-base percentage entering Saturday’s game is a welcome change at the top of the order from the impatient Felix Pie and allows Robert Andino to hit more comfortably in the ninth spot.

Though there are more than three months remaining in the season, the Orioles should already be contemplating a new contract for Hardy, who is scheduled to become a free agent. Manny Machado may be the future at short, but Hardy has been a pleasant surprise in the present.

3. Arrieta racking up wins while Guthrie and Britton bite the bullet

After pitching seven shutout innings Friday night, Jake Arrieta recorded his eighth win of the season, becoming the first Baltimore pitcher to record eight wins by June 10 since Sidney Ponson in 2003. A season ago, no Orioles pitcher recorded his eighth victory until August 29 (Jeremy Guthrie).

Arrieta’s eight wins equal the total number by Guthrie (two) and Zach Britton (six) despite both holding lower earned run averages. Entering Friday night’s game against the Rays, Arrieta benefited from the fourth-best run support (7.14 runs per game) in the American League. Wins are a poor indicator for how well — or how poorly — a pitcher is performing, but Arrieta has done what’s necessary to win in most instances.

The 25-year-old still walks too many hitters and needs to be more economical with his pitches, but no one can deny his array of four pitches and overall makeup. His strikeout rate per nine innings has increased from 4.7 his rookie season to 7.5 this year, but his walks per nine innings have increased from 4.3 to 4.5.

Britton and Guthrie have been better overall in 2011, but Arrieta has solidified his position in the starting rotation. His command issues may always keep him a notch or two below the seemingly more-polished Britton and Brian Matusz, but you have to be pleased with Arrieta’s progression through 14 starts in 2011.

4. Interleague Vlad

With interleague play set to pick up again next weekend, the Orioles will travel to D.C. to take on the Nationals followed by a three-game trip to Pittsburgh the following week. That, of course, means the Orioles will be without the designated hitter spot.

What do you do with your cleanup hitter?

Showalter will not reveal his plans just yet, but admitted Guerrero hasn’t made a strong request to play the outfield in National League ballparks. Anyone who watched Guerrero hobble around right field as a member of the Texas Rangers in the World Series last October should hardly be surprised.

Though hitting .288 entering Saturday, Guerrero hasn’t exactly provided the power (.394 slugging percentage and five home runs) that suggests the Orioles absolutely need his bat in the lineup. The defense lost in right field or first base — the only two positions you could conceivably imagine Guerrero playing — creates a simple decision.

The Orioles will likely have “one heck of a pinch-hitter,” as Showalter quipped on Friday, but it’s hard to justify putting Guerrero in the field for any reason.

5. Adams’ splinters continue

If you asked most fans, they probably couldn’t even tell you if Ryan Adams was even on the 25-man roster. The rookie second baseman has 16 plate appearances since being recalled on May 20.

Sixteen.

Instead of an anticipated platoon, Andino has solidified his job at second base, and the 2006 second-round pick continues to waste away on the bench while veteran infielders Brendan Harris and Nick Green hold spots for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

Showalter has conceded that Adams needs consistent at-bats somewhere, but the manager has also said the young infielder is gaining exposure to life in the big leagues by being in the clubhouse and dugout during games.

Maybe a hint of truth, but I’m not buying it.

Whether it’s Baltimore or Norfolk, Adams needs to be getting regular at-bats. It’s not helping the future of the club — especially with Roberts’ status becoming cloudier every season — to have Adams sitting on the bench on a nightly basis when he could be playing everyday for the Tides.

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Orioles’ struggles becoming not so ‘early’ after weekend sweep to Rays

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Orioles’ struggles becoming not so ‘early’ after weekend sweep to Rays

Posted on 08 May 2011 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The old baseball adage is heard countless times in the early weeks of every season, whether a team or player is off to a smoking start or struggling to clear the spring training cobwebs when the games begin to actually count.

It’s early.

Or, it’s still early.

The Orioles dropped their sixth game in seven tries on Sunday, falling 5-3 as the Tampa Bay Rays completed a three-game sweep at Camden Yards. The club now finds itself with a 14-19 record and in last place in the American League East. After a 6-1 start to spark early-season excitement, Baltimore has now dropped 18 of its last 26 games as the lineup continues to sputter and the back of the starting rotation and bullpen struggle to get the opposition out.

After losing 11 of 13 in mid-April, the Orioles and optimists insisted it was simply a bad stretch, claiming it was too early to panic. A brief run of five wins in six games to close April looked like the start of better baseball, but that idea vanished after the Orioles flamed out in Kansas City and the Rays extracted revenge for the Orioles’ sweep in Tampa Bay to begin the season. The lineup has now scored three or fewer runs in the last five games to continue the early-season frustration after the offense was expected to be much better this season.

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At some point — 33 games into the season, or roughly a fifth of the season — you have to ask yourself when it stops being “early” and concerns become more legitimate. And while many — including me — have pointed to the Orioles’ 2010 woes as a sign that things could be a lot worse to begin 2011, should a historically-terrible pace through the first fourth months last season really be the standard by which a supposedly improved club is judged?

“Just keep grinding,” said manager Buck Showalter about the club’s struggles following a third straight loss to the Rays. “What do you do, give in? Pull the dirt around you? That’s not going to happen. I was proud of the effort and the way they came back today. [The Rays are] pitching well and our bullpen came in and gave us a chance to get back in there. It just didn’t happen.”

After a 34-23 finish put him in unique, mystical territory entering last winter, Showalter sounds far more like Lee Mazzilli or Sam Perlozzo or Dave Trembley these days, unable to explain the short-circuited lineup that has done nothing to help alleviate pressure on the pitching. Of course, Showalter can do a lot of things, like change up the lineup as many have suggested, but he doesn’t swing a bat. Entering Sunday, the Orioles ranked 12th in the American League in batting average, 13th in on-base percentage, 11th in runs scored, and 10th in slugging percentage.

Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero have looked old, Mark Reynolds hasn’t hit his weight (.187 after going 0-for-2 Sunday), and J.J. Hardy has 15 at-bats all season. Even worse, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis aren’t getting on base consistently, the two players counted on the most in that department. Looking up and down the lineup, Luke Scott has really been the only player to produce what you would have expected entering the season. Roberts, Matt Wieters, and Adam Jones have had brief stretches, but the collective result has amounted to a very underwhelming lineup through the first five weeks of the season.

If Scott’s comments following the game were any indication, players are beginning to realize it’s no longer that early in the year. The frustration is mounting.

“I take a lot of pride in what I do and I speak for a lot of these guys,” he said. “We come prepared as a group and we want to see fruit from our labor on the field. For me, I lose sleep over this stuff, it bothers me. Do I have peace during it? Yes, because I know I have done everything I can possibly do. Get in the weight room, get in the cage and take care of my body.

“It’s going to turn for us. If these are our low moments — with everyone struggling — imagine what it’s going to be like when we are clicking. That is what we are looking forward to.”

For now, everyone can only wait, but the poor on-base percentage and lack of plate discipline — despite drawing walks on Sunday — doesn’t exactly scream a turnaround is imminent.

Of course, the pitching hasn’t been much better as the Orioles continue to cringe every time they get to the back end of the rotation. Brad Bergesen again allowed a start to get away from him on Sunday, allowing five combined runs in the fourth and fifth innings in a fifth career loss in five career starts against the Rays. He has now allowed 24 earned runs in 23 2/3 career innings against Tampa Bay. His earned run average ballooned to 5.57 after the loss, and the right-hander will be a strong candidate to be moved to the bullpen when Brian Matusz returns later this month.

However, Bergesen isn’t even the worst — statistically speaking, anyway — pitcher in the rotation through the season’s first 33 games. Chris Tillman’s 7.16 ERA, diminished velocity, and poor command don’t exactly scream for the 23-year-old to remain in the rotation either. The two have a combined 6.30 ERA in 60 total innings this season, a painful duo to continue sending to the hill, but who else is there to turn to with the minor leagues bare?

Baltimore starters have allowed 23 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings in the last four days, with Jeremy Guthrie and Zach Britton also taking it on the chin this weekend. With the collective struggles at the plate and on the hill, the Orioles will benefit from Monday’s day off before the Seattle Mariners come to town to conclude a six-game homestand off to an 0-3 start.

“It shouldn’t matter mentally,” said Showalter after the Orioles were swept in a three-game home series for the first time since he became manager last August, “but it’s a challenge to be mentally disciplined and not let that be a ‘Here we go again’ mentality. And that will change, too. We’ll pitch better.”

Showalter continues to remain upbeat, insisting the “worm will turn” as he often likes to say. But despite popular belief last season, the Orioles skipper doesn’t hit, pitch, run, field, or even walk on water. Juggling the lineup or making another pitching change only goes so far; the players aren’t producing.

And it was the same problem all the previous managers had.

Everyone — players included — keeps waiting around for the Orioles to start playing better. Their brief stretches of strong play have been dwarfed by longer periods of bad baseball.

There’s still plenty of season, but it’s no longer “early.”

If the Orioles are truly a better team, it’s time they start showing it.

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Orioles Series Preview: Home vs. Yankees April 22nd – April 24th

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Orioles Series Preview: Home vs. Yankees April 22nd – April 24th

Posted on 22 April 2011 by John Collingsworth

The Baltimore Orioles (8-10) host the New York Yankees (10-6) this weekend for a 3-game set beginning Friday night.

Last week, these two ball clubs were disrupted due to rain and one of the games has been postponed to a later date. But the extra inning loss to the Yanks last Thursday night in New York was like a bad hangover the Birds could not shake until this past Tuesday against the Twins.

As the Bronx Bombers bats are heating up in mid-April, the O’s are just trying to find some offensive consistency game-in and game-out. With the young starting pitching beginning to show signs of stability, and life from the lineup, the bullpen has to hold up their end. Perfect example was Monday nights loss to the Minnesota Twins. SP Chris Tillman went 6.2 IP and gave up 3 runs, good enough to keep the Orioles in the ball game. After a solid relief appearance by RP Clay Rapada for the Birds,  RP Kevin Gregg came in and gave up 2 runs in the top of the 9th, and the Orioles lost by 1 run. This has to change, and fast.

The New York Yankees have a problem of their own, and it deals with one of the fan-favorites, OF Brett Gardner. He has been struggling since the start of the season (15 Games / 47 AB / 1 2B / 0 HR / .128 AVG / 2 RBI ), so manager Joe Girardi benched Gardner in the final game of the Toronto series this week in favor of OF Andrew Jones.

No Transactions for either team in the last three days.

Well, I was right! The Orioles accomplished all THREE of my “Keys to the Series” vs. the Twins:

1. The offense has to come alive vs. the struggling Twins pitching staff. - CHECK

2. Britton must shine on national television Wednesday night. - CHECK

3. Buck needs to get the Birds back on track and find a team leader for this ball club. - CHECK

Here are the Orioles “Keys to the Series” vs. the Yankees:

1. Take last Thursday night’s extra inning loss personally and play with vengeance.

2. Silent the Yankee fans at Camden Yards quickly.

3. The young pitching has to shut down the hot bats in the Bronx Bombers lineup.

The official ‘WNST Weather Predictor’ this weekend vs. the Yankees

Friday 7:05pm : PM Rain – High 51 / Low 44 – With the likely chance of Friday night’s game being a rain out and Yankee fans coming down, look out for them doing this!!!!

Saturday 7:05pm : Scattered T-Storms – High 72 / Low 61 – As the weekend night game comes around, look forward to seeing this particular Yankees fan at Camden Yards!!!

Sunday 1:35pm : Scattered T-Storms – High 74 / Low 59 – Supposedly the sun breaking out in the afternoon, I’m hoping for this O’s fan to be in attendance!!!!

Baltimore Orioles vs New York Yankees

( 8 – 10 )                                                                                     ( 10 – 6 )

Friday April 22nd, 7:05pm EST

Orioles vs. Yankees- Camden Yards

Brad Bergesen (0-2, 3.38 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (0-1, 2.52 ERA)

Saturday April 23rd, 7:05pm EST

Orioles vs. Yankees- Camden Yards

Chris Tillman (0-2, 6.16 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (1-0, 1.29 ERA)

Sunday April 24th, 1:35pm EST

Orioles vs. Yankees- Camden Yards

Jake Arrieta (2-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (1-2, 7.63 ERA)

Baltimore Orioles Projected Lineup & 2011 STATS

1. Brian Roberts- 2B

18 Games / 75 AB / 21 Hits / 3 2B / 3 HR / .280 AVG / 14 RBI

2. Nick Markakis- RF

18 Games / 69 AB / 14 Hits / 2 2B / 2 HR / .203 AVG / 6 RBI

3. Derrek Lee- 1B

18 Games / 67 AB / 14 Hits / 2 2B / 1 HR / .209 AVG / 6 RBI

4. Vladimir Guerrero

18 Games / 75 AB / 21 Hits / 2 2B / 3 HR / .280 AVG / 9 RBI

5. Luke Scott- LF

14 Games / 42 AB / 8 Hits / 2 2B / 2 HR / .190 AVG / 4 RBI

6. Adam Jones- CF

17 Games / 63 AB / 14 Hits / 1 2B / 3 HR / .222 AVG / 8 RBI

7. Mark Reynolds- 3B

18 Games / 59 AB / 11 Hits / 2 2B / 1 HR / .186 AVG / 10 RBI

8. Matt Wieters- C

16 Games / 52 AB / 14 Hits / 4 2B / 3 HR / .269 AVG / 11 RBI

9. Robert Andino- SS

9 Games / 25 AB / 8 Hits / 0 2B / 0 HR / .308 AVG / 0 RBI

New York Yankees Projected Lineup & 2011 STATS

1. Derek Jeter- SS

16 Games / 64 AB / 14 Hits / 1 2B / 0 HR / .219 AVG / 4 RBI

2. Nick Swisher- RF

16 Games / 55 AB / 15 Hits / 2 2B / 0 HR / .273 AVG / 8 RBI

3. Mark Teixeria- 1B

16 Games / 58 AB / 15 Hits / 4 2B / 6 HR / .259 AVG / 16 RBI

4. Alex Rodriguez- 3B

13 GAmes / 41 AB / 15 Hits / 5 2B / 4 HR / .366 AVG / 10 RBI

5. Robinson Cano- 2B

16 Games / 66 AB / 20 Hits / 6 2B / 4 HR / .303 AVG / 13 RBI

6. Andrew Jones- LF

6 Games / 16 AB / 4 Hits / 1 2B / 1 HR / .250 AVG / 2 RBI

7. Jorge Posada- DH

15 Games / 50 AB / 8 Hits / 0 2B / 5 HR / .160 AVG / 9 RBI

8. Russell Martin- C

15 Games / 51 AB / 16 Hits / 3 2B / 4 HR / .314 AVG / 11 RBI

9. Curtis Granderson- CF

16 Games / 55 AB / 15 Hits / 3 2B / 6 HR / .273 AVG / 9 RBI

If you are home or out this weekend and want the latest information during the O’s game from the experts, then head online and enter the Orange Crush Live Chat with Luke Jones this entire weekend!!!!

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Resilient Britton overcomes bug to beat Twins

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Resilient Britton overcomes bug to beat Twins

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Luke Jones

The final stat line tells you how Zach Britton pitched in a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.

Good enough to win, but not overly impressive.

Britton earned his third win in four starts but struggled with his command at several points, including two walks in the sixth inning that led to two runs and turned a comfortable 5-1 lead into a two-run nail-biter that was handed over to the bullpen. He departed after six innings and 88 pitches, giving up three earned runs, five hits, and issuing three free passes while striking out three.

However, listening to his post-game comments provided a new appreciation for the outing after learning he was under the weather and even wheezing on the mound at several points, according to manager Buck Showalter. And it reaffirmed what many have suspected despite the 3-1 start to the 23-year-old’s infant career.

His best work is still on the way.

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With a scratchy, hoarse voice, Britton expressed disappointment in his control issues and credited five early runs — thanks to home runs from Matt Wieters and Vladimir Guerrero and a two-run double by Adam Jones — for putting him in position to pick up the victory. It certainly helped that he faced a hapless Twins lineup that hasn’t scored more than five runs in a game all season, but Britton made key pitches when it mattered most, pitching out of jams in the second and third innings and minimizing the damage in his final inning of work.

Instead of patting himself on the back after his third quality start of the season, Britton viewed the outing as a learning experience for pitching with a sizable lead — and what you can’t afford to do with one.

“It could have been better,” he said. “I wasn’t happy with the walks, especially with the 5-1 lead, and you put guys on base and it ends up being a close game like that. So I wasn’t happy with the wildness, but we scored a lot of runs and kept us in the game.”

Of course, as Showalter pointed out after the game, players compete at less than 100 percent all the time, and the opposition doesn’t care if you’re not at the top of your game. Competing against a lineup without Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and allowing three runs in six innings, Britton may have been more fortunate than anything else, but it’s hard not to like his makeup, both physically and mentally.

In 25 2/3 innings, Britton has allowed only nine earned runs (3.16 ERA) with four of those coming in one disastrous inning in Cleveland last Friday. He’s pitched at least six innings in all four of his starts.

Hearing his thoughts after each start, you get the sense that he’s far from satisfied. The road to success will unquestionably get tougher as scouts and opposing teams view more game tape and gain a better look at his repertoire of pitches and his tendencies.

Yes, it’s only April and only four starts, but the early return on Britton is impressive, even when he hasn’t been at his best.

“That’s what he’s going to have to do,” Wieters said. “He’s a sinkerball guy, and he’s not going to throw a sinker at the knees every time, so he’s going to give up some ground-ball hits and some broken-bat hits. That’s the life of a sinkerball pitcher. He’s going to have to get through that.

“When your bad nights are six innings and three runs, that’s not too bad.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Britton, Showalter, Wieters, and Kevin Gregg following the Orioles’ 5-4 win and remember to join us in the Orange Crush live chat for every weeknight home game at WNST.net.

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Orioles make it look easy in snapping 8-game slide

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Orioles make it look easy in snapping 8-game slide

Posted on 20 April 2011 by Luke Jones

Following a 10-day stretch in which they couldn’t do anything right, the Orioles made it look simple in an 11-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday.

Scoring just 20 runs over the eight-game losing streak, Baltimore plated 11 runs in two-out situations, thanks in large part to four runs batted in from catcher Matt Wieters and three from leadoff hitter Brian Roberts. The pair drove in three in the bottom of the second to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead, their first advantage at any point since the end of the eighth inning in New York last Thursday.

Cleanup hitter Vladimir Guerrero put a cherry on top of the offensive explosion with a three-run homer to right field in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Orioles a season-high 11 runs and their third extra-base hit with two outs and runners in scoring position for the game. They had only one total in the first 15 games of the season.

Jake Arrieta mowed down the feeble Twins lineup in six shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out four. As he often has in his brief big league career, the 25-year-old struggled with his command, pitching into deep counts and walking three, but made quality pitches in thanks to Wieters’ calls behind the plate. Arrieta allowed the leadoff man to reach only once, providing some cushion when pitching into trouble in the fourth and fifth innings.

It was quite the contrast to the 7.71 earned run average posted by Orioles starters and the 53 earned runs allowed by the entire staff over the last eight games.

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For a group shell-shocked by the violent U-turn following its hot start, the effort couldn’t have come at a better time.

“You go through things like this with real good clubs and with bad clubs,” said manager Buck Showalter after the Orioles snapped the longest losing streak of his brief 73-game tenure in Baltimore. “This one had a different feel to it for me, and I still feel that way. Who knows what tomorrow brings? It doesn’t mean anything. We all want to know about something before it happens. We don’t know what tomorrow brings.”

His words couldn’t ring any truer about a team that started the season 6-1 and followed with an eight-game losing streak before disposing of the Twins in easy fashion in the second of a four-game set. How the Orioles will respond Wednesday night with Zach Britton taking the bump after his first career loss last Friday in Cleveland is anyone’s guess.

Showalter has always voiced his pride in focusing on the little things, the intricacies that can make the difference between winning and losing on any given night of a 162-game season. Tuesday was no exception early in the game despite the lopsided final score.

With two outs and no one on in the second, Adam Jones beat out an infield single to keep the inning alive and set the table for what turned into three runs before the final out was recorded.

In the fourth, Wieters was hit by a pitch after Carl Pavano retired the first two hitters of the inning. Then, Robert Andino — who has seven hits and two walks in his last 10 at-bats in place of the injured J.J. Hardy at shortstop — singled up the middle to enable Roberts to come to the plate to double in another run.

Two innings where the starting pitcher was on the verge of getting to the dugout unscathed suddenly yielded four runs for the opposition. Things spiraled out of control from there for Minnesota.

A common theme over the previous eight games, only with the Orioles on the wrong end every night.

“There is a lot more talent in the clubhouse than we’ve had in the past,” said Wieters, who scored a career-high three runs and posted his second career four-RBI game. “And with the track records all these guys have, you know they are going to do some damage at some point.”

It’s amazing how easy it looks when you’re getting productive at-bats throughout the lineup and making quality pitches on the hill.

Whether it was the law of averages simply swinging in the opposite direction for one night or the start of another hot spell — would you be surprised with either at this point? — the Orioles needed this one, regardless of how different this year might feel in their minds.

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New Orioles coming up empty as losses continue to mount

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New Orioles coming up empty as losses continue to mount

Posted on 18 April 2011 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — There’s plenty of blame to go around.

Over the current losing streak, which grew to eight games with a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Monday, the Orioles haven’t hit or pitched well. Whether talking about young players or veterans, mainstays or newcomers, the Orioles simply haven’t performed, transforming a harmonious 6-1 start into a 6-9 crisis in a matter of only nine days.

No one is absolved from the last eight games, but it’s hard to overlook the newest Orioles and their struggles to begin the season.

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President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail set out to improve a club that finished 34-23 under manager Buck Showalter by adding offensive pieces to provide protection for developing positional players and alleviate the pressure on a young starting rotation. He also looked to add a veteran to the back-end of the bullpen after the disastrous early-season results from Michael Gonzalez a season ago.

The architect was applauded for signing two former All-Stars, Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, to fill the third and fourth spots in the lineup. MacPhail traded for third baseman Mark Reynolds and shortstop J.J. Hardy in separate deals to complete the infield transformation.

Kevin Gregg — along with his 37 saves — was lured to Baltimore with a two-year, $10 million contract and a not-so-secret agreement to be the closer despite Koji Uehara’s success in the role last season.

After 15 games — yes, only 15 games — it’s not looking too hot.

Lee and Guerrero have looked the part of two aging sluggers with their best years long behind them. Lee’s average dipped to .204 after an 0-for-2 night in which he drew two walks. The first baseman’s plate discipline and defense are as good as ever, but his bat has looked slow, with only two extra base hits and struggling to get around on good fastballs.

The free-swinging Guerrero’s average fell to .242 after going 0 for 4 against the Twins. The slugger has yet to draw a walk in 62 at-bats this season and is slugging an anemic .306 with only two hits going for extra bases. Entering the night, his 2.97 pitches seen per plate appearance was the lowest among American League hitters with 50 or more at-bats.

Meanwhile, Guerrero’s occupation of the designated hitter’s spot has pushed Luke Scott to left field on an everyday basis, weakening the defense and putting more pressure on the inexperienced pitching staff.

It’s not exactly the return the Orioles had in mind after spending $15.25 million for the third and fourth spots in the order.

Reynolds has fared better than the latter two with a .692 OPS, but his .224 average isn’t going to make anyone forget his struggles from a season ago in Arizona. His defense has also been erratic, looking like a Gold Glover on one play but then struggling to make the simple throw on the next.

Of course, Hardy is currently rehabbing a strained oblique in Sarasota, leaving the Orioles with a giant hole in the No. 9 spot in the order currently occupied by the combination of Cesar Izturis and Robert Andino.

With an offense sputtering near the bottom of the American League in numerous statistical categories, the offseason discussion of the Orioles having one of the best lineups in the league seem downright preposterous.

“I’m still excited about [the lineup],” said center fielder Adam Jones, who hit his third home run of the season in the seventh inning. “You’ve never heard about anybody going in a slump? It’s [15 games] into the season or however many games. Not everybody is going to rake the entire season, so it’s a spell. Let’s get it all out of the way now and come back tomorrow ready to swing the bats.”

The Orioles hope the struggles of Gregg are also just a spell as he melted down again in the ninth inning on Monday, allowing two runs — one coming on a wild pitch — and walking two batters to transform a narrow 3-2 deficit into an insurmountable three-run hole. The right-hander left to a showering of boos reminiscent of Gonzalez’s early-season struggles last season.

The Orioles paid handsomely for Gregg’s 37 saves a year ago, ignoring his career 4.02 earned run average and 1.33 WHIP that suggest he’s a solid enough reliever, but not the guy you’re going to feel comfortable with in the ninth inning, night in and night out.

While shopping for inexpensive, short-term solutions in the lineup, MacPhail has  invested $22 million over the last two offseasons on middle-of-the-road closers in Gonzalez and Gregg. Regardless of how the duo fares the rest of the season, giving multi-year contracts to pedestrian relief pitchers just doesn’t pay off.

Of course, I realize it’s still early. The Orioles weren’t as good as their 6-1 start and aren’t as bad as the current 0-8 spell sparking nightmares of last season among the frustrated fan base.

Lee and Guerrero deserve — and will undoubtedly get — plenty of time to snap out of their early-season slumps. Their track records speak for themselves.

Perhaps Gregg will figure out his issues and rebound to become the closer the Orioles envisioned in the offseason.

But these were the guys brought to Baltimore to prevent these types of losing streaks and late-inning meltdowns from taking place as they did a season ago.

And so far, none of it has worked.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman, and Adam Jones following the 5-3 loss to the Twins on Monday night.

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Orioles Series Preview: Away vs. Indians April 15th- April 17th

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Orioles Series Preview: Away vs. Indians April 15th- April 17th

Posted on 15 April 2011 by John Collingsworth

The Baltimore Orioles (6-5) travel to the ‘The Forest City’ and face the Cleveland Indians (8-4) Friday for a 3-game weekend series.

After a disappointing loss to the Bronx Bombers in extra innings Thursday night, the Orioles have to re-group and focus on the next opponent. This should be a test for the Birds and Buck Showalter to see how they rebound from a crushing 2-game set in New York.  

Welcome to the AL East.

Now the Birds will be challenged day-in and day-out for the rest of April taking on the red-hot Cleveland team this weekend and up-coming series-sets at home against the Twins, Yankees, Red Sox and away versus the White Sox to round out the month.

On the other hand, Manny Acta’s ball club has shocked the league so far by jumping out to an early lead in the AL Central, already compiling a 7-game win streak. The Tribe are led by the arms of Justin Masterson (2-0, 1.35 ERA), Mitch Talbot (1-0, 1.46 ERA), & Josh Tomlin (2-0, 2.63 ERA), all of whom are scheduled to start against the O’s this weekend.

Due to the unconvenient weather during the O’s and Yankee’s series, decisions have been made to include the first ‘WNST Weather Predictor’. This will give fans, who live in Cleveland or plan on traveling there to dress accordingly.

Friday: Partly Cloudy- High 59, Low 48 – Chance of Cesar Izturis hitting a HR 30%.

Saturday: Rain/Thunder/Wind- High 55, Low 41 – Moderately to heavy K’s for Jeremy Guthrie.

Sunday: Partly Cloudy- High 54, Low 45 – Sunshine breaking through in the afternoon cause Buck Showalter called for it.


(6 -5 )                                                                                  (8 – 4)

 

Friday, April 15th 7:05pm EST

Orioles @ Indians- Progressive Field

Zach Britton (2-0, 0.66 ERA) vs. Justin Masterson (2-0, 1.35 ERA)

 

Saturday, April 16th 1:05pm EST

Orioles @ Indians- Progressive Field

Jeremy Guthrie (1-1, 0.64 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (2-0, 2.63 ERA)

 

Sunday, April 17th 1:05pm EST

Orioles @ Indians- Progressive Field

Brad Bergesen (0-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. Mitch Talbot (1-0, 1.46 ERA)

 

 

Baltimore Orioles Projected Lineup and 2011 STATS

1. Brian Roberts- 2B

.213 AVG / 1 2B / 3 HR / 10 RBIs

2. Nick Markakis- RF

.268 AVG / 2 2B / 2 HR / 6 RBIs

3. Derrek Lee- 1B

.195 AVG / 1 2B / 1 HR / 2 RBIs

4. Vladimir Guerrero- DH

.283 AVG / 1 2B / 1 HR / 4 RBIs

5. Luke Scott- LF

.211 AVG / 2 2B / 0 HR / 0 RBIs

6. Adam Jones- CF

.195 AVG / 0 2B / 2 HR / 5 RBIs

7. Mark Reynolds- 3B

.250 AVG / 5 2B / 1 HR / 9 RBIs

8. Matt Wieters- C

.212 AVG / 2 2B / 1 HR / 4 RBIs

9. Cesar Izturis- SS

.300 AVG / 0 2B / 0 HR / 1 RBIs
 

Cleveland Indians Projected Lineup and 2011 STATS

1. Michael Brantley- CF

.311 AVG / 4 2B / 0 HR / 6 RBIs

2. Asdrubal Cabrera- SS

.286 AVG / 2 2B / 4 HR / 10 RBIs

3. Shin-Soo Choo- RF

.200 AVG / 0 2B / 1 HR / 4 RBIs

4. Carlos Santana- C

.205 AVG / 0 2B / 1 HR / 6 RBIs

5. Travis Hafner- DH

.282 AVG / 1 2B / 2 HR / 6 RBIs

6. Orlando Cabrera- 2B

.295 AVG / 1 2B / 1 HR / 7 RBIs

7. Travis Buck- LF

.136 AVG / 2 2B / 0 HR / 0 RBIs

8. Matt LaPorta- 1B

.189 AVG / 1 2B / 2 HR / 6 RBIs

9. Jack Hannahan- 3B

.235 AVG / 1 2B / 2 HR / 6 RBIs

 

 

 

 

 



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Orioles Series Preview: Away vs. Yankees April 12th- April 14th

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Orioles Series Preview: Away vs. Yankees April 12th- April 14th

Posted on 11 April 2011 by John Collingsworth

The Baltimore Orioles (6-3) battle against the New York Yankees (5-4) in a 3-games series beginning Tuesday.

These two teams have not a played a meaningful series in New York (in the Orioles eyes)… well… since This tragic moment in Baltimore history.

With the first full week of the MLB season in the books, it is still premature to make predictions, but the Orioles have impressed many around the league and may even break the 13-year consecutive losing seasons this year (who said it was too early to make predictions). Oh yeah, here is one more prediction… This ‘Already’ retired player will be the next to be linked to steroids… can’t you tell!!!

The Birds enter the mid-week series atop of the AL East, and the Pinstripes in second place. But with superb outings by their young starting pitching, timely hitting, and strong defense, it is no coincidence that the O’s have an early 1-game lead.

RHP Chris Jakubauskas joined the Orioles 25-man roster as the club sent RHP Brad Bergesen down to AAA-Norfolk Saturday. Jakubauskas is in the running to make his first 2011 start this Wednesday against the Bronx Bombers. He made only one start in 2010 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and went 6-7, with a 5.32 ERA in 35 games for the Seattle Mariners during the 2009 campaign.

SS J.J. Hardy is inevitably heading to the 15-day DL, mostly likely early Tuesday, with a strained left oblique, leaving INF Cesar Izturis and INF Robert Andino to hold down the position during his absence. Buck Showalter has said that the two will split time until Hardy returns. The club plans on bringing up another pitcher to fill the roster spot left by Hardy, many are speculating that RHP Brad Bergesen, who was just sent down to AAA-Norfolk, is the choice and the front-runner to start Wednesday’s contest.

(6-3)                                                                              (5-4)

 

 

Tuesday, April 12th 7:05pm EST

Orioles @ Yankees- Yankee Stadium

Chris Tillman (0-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. AJ Burnett (2-0, 4.09 ERA)

 

 Wednesday, April 13th 7:05pm EST

Orioles @ Yankees- Yankee Stadium

Chris Jakubauskas (0-0, 15.00 ERA) or Brad Bergesen (0-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (0-1, 16.50 ERA)

 

 Thursday, April 14th 7:05pm EST

Orioles @ Yankees- Yankee Stadium

Jake Arrieta (1-1, 8.68 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (1-0, 6.10 ERA)

 

 

Baltimore Orioles Projected Lineup and 2011 STATS

1. Brian Roberts- 2B

.189 AVG. / 1 2B / 2 HRS / 8 RBIS

2. Nick Markakis- RF

.250 AVG. / 1 2B / 1 HRS / 3 RBIS

3. Derrek Lee- 1B

.219 AVG. / 1 2B / 1 HRS / 2 RBIS

4. Vladimir Guerrero- DH

.270 AVG. / 1 2B / 1 HRS / 3 RBIS

5. Luke Scott- LF

.167 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 0 RBIS

6. Adam Jones- CF

.212 AVG. / 0 2B / 2 HRS / 5 RBIS

7. Mark Reynolds- 3B

.241 AVG. / 3 2B / 1 HRS / 8 RBIS

8. Matt Wieters- C

.192 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 2 RBIS

9. Cesar Izturis- SS

.167 AVG. / 0 2B / 0 HRS / 1 RBIS

 

 

New York Yankees Projected Lineup and 2011 STATS

1. Brett Gardner- LF

.167 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 2 RBIS

2. Derek Jeter- SS

. 206 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 2 RBIS

3. Mark Teixeira- 1B

. 182 AVG. / 0 2B / 4 HRS / 10 RBIS

4. Alex Rodriguez- 3B

.321 AVG. / 2 2B / 3 HRS / 5 RBIS

5. Robinson Cano- 2B

.324 AVG. / 4 2B / 2 HRS / 5 RBIS

6. Nick Swisher- RF

.219 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 6 RBIS

7. Curtis Granderson- CF

.172 AVG. / 1 2B / 2 HRS / 3 RBIS

8. Jorge Posada- DH

.138 AVG. / 0 2B / 3 HRS / 6 RBIS

9. Russell Martin- C

.300 AVG. / 1 2B / 3 HRS / 8 RBIS

 

 

 

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