Sunday, October 2, 2011

O's 2011 Season In Review

The O's 2011 season has come to an end. The Birds started off the season on a tear, going 6-1 over the first week of play. After that, though, the team went into a slide and never recovered, finishing last in the AL East with a 69-93 record. I was convinced that the O's would finally break .500 for the first time since 1997, but the Birds have now lost 14 consecutive seasons.

So, what went wrong? Obviously, it was a multitude of things...poor starting pitching, unexpected injuries, an inconsistent offense and just plain bad luck were all factors in a disappointing season.
As promised, I'm going to break it down position-by-position in anticipation of the 2012 season:

  • First Base: The O's started the season with Derrek Lee at first before trading him and picking up Chris Davis. But it was Mark Reynolds that was most impressive at the position. Reynolds was an error machine at third but looked like a Gold Glover at first. If the O's don't go for Prince Fielder, they have a big-bopper with a great glove at first.
  • Second Base: The O's thought this position was covered, but Brian Roberts injured himself early in the season and never returned. Blake Davis, Ryan Adams and Robert Andino all filled in admirably, but they don't bring what Roberts does to the game. Roberts still has a year left on his contract, so the O's won't be shopping for a second baseman over the off-season. Hopefully Roberts returns in 2012, if not, Andino has improved over the last few months and would probably get the nod.
  • Shortstop: J.J. Hardy was an absolute beast this season, setting a career-high with 30 homers. He missed a month of the season due to injury but put up solid numbers and was nearly flawless on defense. The O's signed him for the next three years, so if he stays healthy, this position is covered.
  • Third Base: Mark Reynolds was brought in as the starting third baseman but was a defensive liability at the position and looks much better at first. Josh Bell hasn't progressed and would be a long-shot. Chris Davis was given a few opportunities and looked decent. Again, this all depends on whether the O's go for Fielder...
  • Catcher: Matt Wieters went to his first All-Star Game and progressed both offensively and defensively this season. He is finally living up to the initial hype surrounding him. I wasn't impressed with Craig Tatum at back-up. The Birds should look for a replacement for Tatum, but Wieters has emerged as one of the best catchers in the game.
  • Left Field: Luke Scott was the starting left fielder but missed most of the season due to injury. Felix Pie was a bust and was released. Matt Angle doesn't have much power but his speed is impressive...I'd keep Angle as the fourth outfielder and give Nolan Reimold a chance to begin next season as the starter.
  • Center Field: Adam Jones continues to progress and put up his best numbers of his career this season. Jones was voted as the Most Valuable Oriole after his solid year. Hopefully the Birds offer him something long-term as he is one of the better center fielders in the league.
  • Right Field: Nick Markakis owns this position for the next few seasons. Markakis was as solid as ever on defense but his power numbers declined drastically this season. Hopefully Nick puts in some work during the off-season and gets some productivity back in 2012.
  • Designated Hitter: The O's signed an aging superstar to bat fourth in the lineup, and for the most part, Vladimir Guerrero was a solid hitter. He led the team in batting average but lacked the power of a true cleanup hitter. His lack of speed cost the Birds on many occasions, and he grounded into far too many double plays. He was signed for only one season, and I'd be shocked to see him back in 2012. The O's have plenty of options at DH: Mark Reynolds, Chris Davis, Luke Scott and maybe even Prince Fielder?? We'll see what happens over the winter...

  • Starting Pitching: This was supposed to be the year that the starting pitching came around. It wasn't. Staff ace Jeremy Guthrie led the league in losses for the second straight season. Brian Matusz was injured early and never regained his 2010 form, winning just one game and setting a record for the worst-ever ERA in all of baseball. Jake Arrieta looked good but needed season-ending surgery. Zach Britton led the team in wins, but I was hoping for better than an 11-11 record in his rookie season. Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen failed to make any progress. Justin Duchscherer never made it to the Majors. The O's were forced to use Alfredo Simon, Chris Jakubauskas, Mitch Atkins and Jo-Jo Reyes to fill glaring holes in the starting rotation. I said it last year, but hopefully with another year of experience under their belts this young staff will gel and become a force to be reckoned with in 2012. Regardless, the O's need to bring in an experienced ace of staff next season...maybe even two. Let these kids earn their spots and take some of the pressure off of them in the process.
  • Relief Pitching: The bullpen was inconsistent throughout the season. It seemed like if the starters excelled the 'pen would implode, or vice versa. Koji Uehara was amazing, and thus was traded to a playoff-caliber team. Michael Gonzalez was finally looking like the pitcher we expected him to be, but he was traded as well. Kevin Gregg was signed to be the closer, but his "style of pitching" is not what the O's need in the ninth inning or later (or any inning, really). Jim Johnson was a bright spot in the rotation...there was talk of him being stretched out as a starter but the team leaned on him heavily as the closer over the final few weeks. Pedro Strop emerged as a power arm but was never used in the closing role.
So that about covers it. Obviously, the 2012 Orioles are a work-in-progress, but it seems as though the core nucleus in the field is set. I'd like to see the Birds go for a few proven starters, especially an ace of the staff, over the winter. Jeremy Guthrie, if he remains with Baltimore, would probably have more success as a number two or three in this rotation. If the young arms can come around next year, the O's should be able to break the barrier and become a winning club. This is my last official post of 2011, but I'll be following the club and will update you with any news I come across. Thanks for reading, and Go O's! See you in February 2012...

Friday, September 30, 2011

O's End Season With A Bang

What a way to end the season...the Birds sunk the Red Sox 4-3 on Wednesday night, nearly eliminating Boston from the playoffs. Just one minute later, the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Yankees in extra innings to take the Wild Card and send the Sox home crying.

It was simply amazing...I've honestly never seen a better ending to the regular season in my lifetime. You couldn't have scripted the fight for October any better.

Boston went up 1-0 in the top of the third, but J.J. Hardy gave the Birds a 2-1 lead with his 30th homer of the season in the bottom of the frame. The Sox tied it in the fourth, scoring on a balk called on Alfredo Simon, and went ahead in the fifth on a Dustin Pedroia solo shot.

Boston led 3-2 before the game was delayed for nearly an hour and a half due to thunderstorms. Both clubs were then able to watch as Tampa Bay clawed their way back from a 7-0 deficit, tying the game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. It was do-or-die for the Red Sox...

Play resumed, and the score stayed the same before the O's broke through against Jonathan Papelbon in the bottom of the ninth...after Papelbon struck out Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds, Chris Davis doubled to give the Birds life. Nolan Reimold followed with a game-tying double, and Robert Andino won the game with an RBI single to left field. Orioles Magic.

The crowd in St. Petersburg went wild when they saw the news, and a minute later Evan Longoria's blast barely cleared the left-field wall to give the Rays an 8-7 walk-off win over the Yankees. The playoff scene was set...

The Orioles celebrated on the field like they were going to the playoffs...hopefully, after this amazing September, they will know that feeling soon.

It's been a blast covering my team all season, but it's all over now. I will return this weekend for a final post, the Orioles' Season-In-Review. Stay tuned. Go O's!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Birds Fall Just Short

The O's came close but fell to Boston 8-7 at Camden Yards on Tuesday night.

With the tying run on second base and a run already in, Adam Jones worked a ten pitch at-bat against Jonathan Papelbon before grounding out to third to end the game and keep the Red Sox's playoff hopes alive.

Zach Britton took the loss and finished his rookie season with an 11-11 record...I was certainly hoping for better, but the young lefty still shows plenty of promise and hopefully will continue to grow and improve. Britton allowed five runs on seven hits (two homers) and two walks in just 4 1/3 innings, fanning two. Jason Berken and Zach Phillips both served up a long ball to the Sox as fact, all eight of Boston's runs came via the home run.

The Birds knocked Erik Bedard out in the fourth inning and went deep twice in the game: Matt Wieters slapped his 22nd homer in the fourth and Adam Jones went yard in the sixth. Jones celebrated two personal milestones in the game, hitting the 100th double and 75th homer of his career. It just wasn't enough...

The Rays beat the Yankees, so Tampa Bay and Boston are still tied for the Wild Card with just one game left in the regular season. Alfredo Simon takes the mound for the Birds on Wednesday night, while Jon Lester will start for the Sox. Lester has never lost to Baltimore in his career...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Andino Powers O's Past Sox

Robert Andino's three-run inside-the-park-homer lifted the Orioles to a 6-3 victory over Boston on Monday night.

Andino became the first Oriole to accomplish the feat at Camden Yards, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next season. The O's had just taken a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning before Andino stepped to the plate with two on and two outs and drilled a ball to deep center field...Jacoby Ellsbury caught the ball but it squirted loose as he slammed into the wall. The inning started with another milestone, as Vladimir Guerrero's single gave him 2,587 hits, the most ever for a Dominican-born player.

The loss was a devastating blow to the Red Sox (89-71) who now share an identical record with Tampa Bay. The two clubs are tied for the Wild Card with two games remaining. Zach Britton takes the mound on Tuesday night...

Birds Fall In Finale

The Orioles fell to the Tigers 10-6 on Sunday afternoon, splitting the four-game set with Detroit.

It seemed like the Birds were pretty much conceding this game, resting key players for the final series against Boston. Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds and Matt Wieters were all out of the lineup...

Brian Matusz looked better in his final start of 2011, but he still took the loss. Matusz (1-9) allowed six runs on seven hits (two homers) and three walks in five innings, fanning five. Brad Bergesen surrendered a three-run blast in the sixth, and the Tigers went deep once more in the eighth. Detroit launched four homers and scored nine of their ten runs via the long ball.

The Birds now head home to host the Red Sox for three games...the O's have no chance at the postseason, but will have a say in whether Boston goes or not.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

O's Stop Verlander, Tigers

The Orioles put an end to Justin Verlander's streak of 12 straight victories with a 6-5 win over the Tigers on Saturday night.

Matt Angle led-off with his first Major League homer and the Birds scored five runs off Verlander in the first three innings. Mark Reynolds slapped his team-leading 37th home run in the third, as the O's denied Verlander of win number 25 this season.

Jeremy Guthrie failed to pick up his tenth win of the season with a no-decision. Staked to an early 5-0 lead, Guthrie (9-17) allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings of work, striking out two in his final start of 2011. Kevin Gregg picked up his 22nd save and second straight...

With the score knotted at five and a man on third in the top of the ninth, Matt Angle executed a perfect bunt as the Birds pulled off a successful suicide squeeze to take the lead. The win guaranteed the O's will at least split this four-game series with the Tigers.

Brian Matusz takes the mound for the last time this season on Sunday afternoon...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

O's Fall To Tigers In Extras

It took Detroit 11 innings to finally topple the surging Orioles with a 4-3 walk-off victory on Friday night at Comerica Park.

It was a great battle, one that could have gone either way before Victor Martinez's walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th sealed the win for the Tigers.

Alfredo Simon went eight strong innings (tying a career-best), allowing just three runs on six hits and a walk while fanning five. The 'pen went two scoreless but couldn't hold off Detroit's potent offense in the end...

Jeremy Guthrie (9-17) takes the mound on Saturday night in search of his tenth win of the season. He'll be opposed by Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander (24-5).

Friday, September 23, 2011

O's Just Keep Winning

The Orioles won their third straight game on Thursday night with a 6-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

The O's gave Zach Britton an early 5-0 lead; J.J. Hardy slapped his 29th homer in the third and Adam Jones crushed a two-run bomb in the fourth. But in the end, the Birds won by playing "small ball."

Britton (11-10) became the first Orioles pitcher to reach 11 wins this season. Jeremy Guthrie (9-17) will have a shot at win number ten on Saturday night...

Britton didn't look particularly sharp, giving up five runs on six hits, four walks and two wild pitches in just five innings. But the bullpen was magnificent once again, allowing only two hits over the final four frames. Even Kevin Gregg joined in, retiring the side 1-2-3 in the ninth to record his 21st save.

With the score knotted at five in the sixth, Adam Jones led-off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a ground-out and scored on Nolan Reimold's infield single. After the Birds powered their way to five runs, it was a weak check-swing single that plated the winning run...

Alfredo Simon takes the mound Friday night for the O's.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reynolds Powers O's Over Sox

The Orioles beat Josh Beckett and took three of four from Boston after a 6-4 victory at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

It sounds unbelievable, but it's true. The Orioles hadn't won a four-game series at Fenway since 2003.

The Birds have now won three straight series, something they hadn't accomplished since last season...all three series have been against contending teams.

I wish we could restart the season now...

Tommy Hunter went 6 2/3 strong innings, allowing four runs on nine hits and a walk, fanning four. Hunter left after straining his groin but hopes to make his final start of the season on Monday...

The bullpen was brilliant yet again, holding Boston hitless over the final 2 1/3 innings. Jim Johnson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his ninth save this season...the O's were going to stretch JJ out to be a starter but it looks like he will be the closer for the remainder of the season.

Mark Reynolds launched a solo homer over the Green Monster and into the parking lot to give the O's a 1-0 lead in the second inning. He went deep again in the seventh, slapping a two-run bomb just over the Monster to tie the game at four. Vladimir Guerrero's two-run single in the eighth gave the Birds a 6-4 lead they would never relinquish...

The Orioles now travel to Detroit to face the Tigers for a four-game series. Zach Britton looks to become the first (and probably only) 11-game winner for the Birds this season as he takes the mound Thursday night...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Andino Lifts O's Over Sox

Robert Andino slapped a three-run double with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, propelling the Birds to a 7-5 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

O's starter Rick VandenHurk wasn't particularly sharp, surrendering all five of Boston's runs on seven hits and three walks in just three innings of work. But the bullpen was fantastic, allowing just three hits over the final six frames. Jo-Jo Reyes actually allowed all three of those hits in three innings of relief, striking out five in the process. The Sox were no-hit over the final three innings, with Jim Johnson picking up his eigth save of the season.

The Birds knocked ex-Oriole Erik Bedard in the third inning, scoring four runs in the frame to take a 4-1 lead. But the lead was short-lived, as the Sox struck back and led 5-4 heading into the seventh inning...that's when Andino's two-out, full-count, bases-clearing double off Jonathan Papelbon lifted the O's to their second win in three games at Fenway.

Tommy Hunter takes the mound Wednesday night as the Birds look to take their third straight series.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

O's, Sox Split Doubleheader

Jeremy Guthrie and the O's beat Boston 6-5 in the first game of a doubleheader...the Red Sox crushed the Orioles 18-9 in Game 2.

Guthrie (9-17) has now won three straight starts and has a chance at becoming the third starter this season to hit the 10-win mark. Guthrie gave up four runs on ten hits and a walk over six innings, striking out three in his first-ever victory at Fenway Park. Jim Johnson pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save of the season...Kevin Gregg was nowhere in sight.

The Birds slapped three homers in the contest...Robert Andino and Nolan Reimold went deep, and J.J. Hardy set a new career high with his 28th homer of the season.

The offense stayed hot in Game 2...the O's scored three runs in the first inning but it wasn't nearly enough for a struggling Brian Matusz. Matusz allowed four runs in the bottom of the frame and was charged with six runs on six hits and two walks in just 1 2/3 innings of work. Matusz (1-8) has now lost eight straight...

Chris Jakubauskas was just as bad in relief, surrendering five runs on five hits and a walk in just one inning...the O's had cut Boston's lead to two runs before the bullpen imploded yet again, allowing seven runs to cross the plate in the seventh inning.

Still, a split with Boston is hard to complain about, especially when you consider it was the first time all season the Birds won a game at Fenway. The win also guaranteed the O's (63-90) will not lose 100 games this season. Ahhh, the little things in life.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Birds Blown Out

The O's were spanked on Sunday afternoon, falling to the Angels 11-2 at Camden Yards.

Alfredo Simon looked awful, allowing six runs on eight hits and a walk in just five innings. Simon (4-5) struck out five but allowed three homers, including two two-run shots in the fourth inning. Brad Bergesen struggled in relief, allowing another two runs in just 2/3 of an inning. Bergesen also beaned catcher Jeff Mathis in the helmet with a fastball...replays looked eerily similar to Mark Reynolds' HBP the night before. Jo-Jo Reyes allowed another three runs in the eighth.

Vladimir Guerrero accounted for all of the O's offense, slapping an RBI triple in the first before launching a solo shot in the sixth.

The Birds now travel to Boston to face the suddenly-reeling Red Sox for a four-game set. The two clubs play a day-night doubleheader on Monday...Jeremy Guthrie is slated to start Game 1 and Brian Matusz will take the mound in Game 2.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Britton Sharp As O's Topple Angels

My wife and I were in the stands as Zach Britton dominated the Angels in a 6-2 Orioles victory Saturday night.

With just four home games left this season, I finally took advantage of a pair of free tickets and a parking pass courtesy of WBAL. The seats were great, but the first inning was even better...

The Birds scored five times in the bottom of the first off Angels' starter Ervin Santana. J.J. Hardy launched his career-best 27th homer to start the scoring, and Mark Reynolds capped it with a three-run bomb, his 34th of the season.

Zach Britton took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and set a career-high with seven strikeouts. Britton (10-10) allowed just one run on three hits and two walks and is now tied with Jake Arrieta for the team lead in wins.

Mark Reynolds took a fastball to the helmet in the third inning and although he hopped right up and took the field in the fourth, he was pulled from the game in the fifth. The word right now is that he is ok...

The Birds have now won four straight games against contending teams (Tampa Bay and Los Angeles) and look for a rare sweep on Sunday afternoon. Alfredo Simon takes the mound for the O's...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

O's Win Third Straight

The Orioles put on quite a show Friday night, spanking the Angels 8-3 at Camden Yards.

Tommy Hunter went seven scoreless innings, and the Birds blanked the Halos before Kevin Gregg allowed three runs in the ninth. But a win is a win, so let's not focus on Gregg's dismal performance...

Hunter (4-4) allowed seven hits (six singles) and two walks (both in the seventh inning) while fanning five in his most impressive outing in an Orioles' uniform. Willie Eyre pitched a perfect eighth before Gregg ran into trouble in the ninth.

Meanwhile, the O's bats were on fire against Angels' starter Dan Haren. The Birds scored twice in the third before erupting for three runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. J.J. Hardy went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and both Nolan Reimold (11) and Mark Reynolds (33) went yard against Haren (15-9).

The O's are relishing in the role of spoiler, taking two from Tampa Bay before Friday night's convincing victory over the Angels. The Birds look to win consecutive series as they send Zach Britton to the mound on Saturday night.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

O's Take Series Over Tampa

It's been way too long, but the Birds finally secured a series win with a 6-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.

Jeremy Guthrie won two straight starts for the first time this season, holding the Rays to just two runs over seven strong innings. Guthrie (8-17) allowed just three hits and three walks while tying a career-best with ten strikeouts. Jim Johnson picked up his sixth save of the season with two scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one walk.

The O's smacked three homers...Nolan Reimold put the Birds on the board with a solo shot in the third, Chris Davis connected for a three-run bomb in the fourth, and Matt Wieters went deep with a man on in the eighth. Wieters has now homered in three straight games and has 20 long balls this season...

The Birds have Thursday off before hosting the Angels for a three-game set starting Friday night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wieters Lifts O's Over Rays

The O's snapped a three-game losing streak with an uplifting 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night at Camden Yards.

Matt Wieters broke open a tie ballgame with a towering blast to left field, a two-run bomb that gave the Birds a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth. It was Wieters' 19th homer of the season and second in as many games.

Alfredo Simon was nearly perfect, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks over seven innings, striking out a career-high nine batters. Simon's lone mistake was a slider that Evan Longoria deposited over the right field wall, giving the Rays a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning.

Jake Fox tied the game with a pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh before Wieters' big blast in the eighth...

Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound on Wednesday night...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Britton Falls To Rays

Zach Britton couldn't contain the surging Tampa Bay Rays, as the O's dropped their third straight game in a 5-2 loss on Monday night at Camden Yards.

Britton (9-10) lasted just five innings, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks while striking out two.

Robert Andino's RBI double in the fifth put the Birds on the board, and Matt Wieters slapped a solo homer (his 18th) in the sixth. The O's managed just six hits through nine innings.

The two clubs battle again on Tuesday night...the Orioles are once again 30 games under .500 while the Rays are just three games behind Boston in the race for the Wild Card.

Adam Loewen's Blast Lifts Jays Over O's

The Orioles had a chance to win a series at Rogers Centre for the first time since 2008, but a pair of solo home runs in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Toronto Blue Jays a 6-5 lead and eventually the series victory.

The O's struck first, scoring in the first inning on Vladimir Guerrero's sacrifice fly. Toronto scored twice in the bottom of the frame to take an early 2-1 lead. The game see-sawed, with the Birds and Jays swapping the lead until the O's went ahead 5-3 in the top of the sixth.

Tommy Hunter was unable to hold onto the 5-3 advantage, allowing three runs in the fateful seventh inning. Hunter (3-4) allowed two solo homers in the bottom of the frame, including one to former Oriole Adam Loewen. It was Loewen's first long ball of his career.

The Birds now head home for six games; they face the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gregg Blows Another One

The O's needed just one more out to win their fourth straight game and their first series at Rogers Centre since 2008, but yet another Kevin Gregg meltdown gave Toronto a deflating 5-3 walk-off victory over the Birds on Saturday afternoon.

The Birds were up 4-3 in the ninth and turned to Kevin Gregg, nicknamed Captain Chaos for good reason...

Gregg came into the game needing just two outs for a save, but loaded the bases with a walk, a single and a hit batter before allowing the tying run to cross the plate with a wild pitch. Two pitches later and the Blue Jays were celebrating their walk-off win, and more than likely laughing at the O's brass for picking up their "lights-out" closer last off-season.

Gregg is not the answer, especially in this division. I get nervous every time the man takes the mound. I guess I'm just not used to his "style of pitching," as he stated. Not so, Kevin...I'm used to the Orioles losing at this point.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guthrie Dominant As O's Blank Jays

Jeremy Guthrie went seven strong innings and the O's scored just enough runs as the Birds blanked the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 on Friday night.

Guthrie (7-17) allowed just three hits and three walks while fanning five in an impressive 104-pitch outing. With three possible starts remaining, Guthrie could finish the season with 10 wins, but the possibility of a 20-loss season still remains...

The O's managed just seven hits but were able to plate two runs for Guthrie. The Birds took advantage of a throwing error to score an unearned run in the sixth, and Nick Markakis' hustle to first in the eighth broke-up what could have been an inning-ending double play, allowing Ryan Adams to score from third.

The O's have now won three straight over divisional foes, and send Rick VandenHurk to the mound to make his first start of the season on Saturday afternoon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

O's Take Another In Extras

It took only ten innings for the Orioles to notch their second straight extra-innings victory over the Yankees, as the Birds walked-off with a 5-4 win at Camden Yards on Thursday afternoon.

Robert Andino was the unlikely hero, tying the game with an RBI single in the eighth before delivering the game-winning single in the tenth.

Alfredo Simon allowed four runs on six hits and six walks in just four innings, but the O's bullpen no-hit the Yankees over the final six frames, allowing just one walk while fanning eight. Pretty impressive...

Vladimir Guerrero went 3-for-5 with a double and a solo home run, but it was Andino's two late RBIs that were the difference for the Orioles.

The Birds now head north to battle Toronto for three games; Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound for the O's.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

O's Sink Yanks In Extras

The Orioles avoided a sweep in New York with a 5-4 win over the Yankees in 11 innings on Wednesday afternoon.

After Zach Britton allowed four runs in five innings, the O's bullpen held New York scoreless through the final six frames. Seven relievers combined to allow just four hits and two walks while striking out six. Pedro Strop picked up his first win as an Oriole, and Jim Johnson survived a scary 11th for his third save of the season.

Nolan Riemold slapped a two run homer in the third inning, but Mark Reynolds was the hero of the game. Reynolds had already struck out four times before connecting for an RBI single in the 11th that put the Birds on top to stay. Nick Markakis was intentionally walked with one on and one out, and Reynolds took the gesture personally, delivering the game-winning single.

The Yankees and Orioles meet again in Baltimore on Thursday; Alfredo Simon looks to make it two straight.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Birds Soaked In New York

The Orioles waited-out a four-hour rain delay only to fall to the New York Yankees 5-3 in a wet and sloppy game on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

Tommy Hunter turned in a solid performance, allowing just a solo homer and an unearned run before back-to-back solo jacks ended his night in the deciding seventh inning. Hunter (3-3) went 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out six.

Jorge Posada broke open a scoreless game in the third with a solo homer, and the Yankees scored an unearned run in the fifth after the Birds committed two errors in the inning.

Matt Wieters tied the game with a two-run blast (his 17th of the season) in the sixth, and after the Yankees took the lead again in the bottom of the frame, Nick Markakis' RBI double in the top of the seventh knotted the game once again.

But Hunter ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh, allowing two solo homers after recording two outs to give New York a two-run lead they would not relinquish.

The Orioles (55-85) are now 30 games under .500 and square-off against the Yankees again on Wednesday afternoon. Zach Britton takes the mound for the Birds.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Yanks Out-Slug O's

It was an entertaining battle of the bats, but the Yankees came out on top with an 11-10 win over the Orioles on Monday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

The two clubs combined for 21 runs off 29 hits, with the Orioles out-hitting New York 17-12. The Birds slapped three home-runs while the Yankees connected four times, once with the bases loaded.

As entertaining as a slugfest can be, I'd much rather see a well-pitched game, or at least have my team come out on top. Obviously, neither of those things occurred on Monday afternoon.

Brian Matusz continued to struggle, recording just four outs while surrendering five runs on five hits and two walks. Matusz still has just one win this season, and there's a strong possibility he just made his final start of 2011.

The rest of the staff didn't fare much better, surrendering six runs on seven hits, three walks and a hit batter.

The offense was amazing, but in the end it all boiled down to this...the Birds scored a run in the ninth, stole four bases in the inning and had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with J.J. Hardy at the plate. Hardy struck out swinging.

The Birds send Tommy Hunter to the mound on Tuesday...

Guthrie, O's Fall Again

The Birds lost yet another series, falling 8-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon.

Jeremy Guthrie lost his 17th game of the season, giving up seven runs on seven hits and four walks in just five innings. Only three of the runs were earned, thanks to a fielding error by Mark Reynolds in the third inning.

Reynolds, playing third base, committed two errors in the game and continues to lead the league with 26 errors this season. It may be time to put Reynolds at first base permanently...

The O's managed just four hits; Adam Jones went 2-for-4 with a double and a solo home run.

Brian Matusz faces New York on Monday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Orioles:Losers 14 Years And Counting

With a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday night, the Orioles (55-82) ended any hope of snapping a 13-year losing streak. When the 2011 season started, I honestly believed this would be the year the O's would contend with the rest of the division. But Saturday night's loss put an end to that dream; the Birds have now put a losing team on the field for 14 straight seasons.

The O's could win all 25 games left on the schedule and still finish 80-82, which would be a vast improvement. But the reality is that the Birds will more than likely lose half of those games, but at least a 100-loss season seems unlikely at this point.

Nick Markakis put the O's on top early on Saturday, slapping a two-run homer in the first inning. But Alfredo Simon struggled from the start, allowing two runs in the bottom of the frame and six runs on seven hits and four walks in only five innings of work. Simon (4-8) struck out two in the loss and never looked comfortable on the mound.

The O's have had some success against the Rays this season, going 7-7 against Tampa Bay with four games left to play. The Birds have gone just 11-29 against New York, Boston and Toronto...which is so bad I could barely believe it until I checked the stats. Sad but true...

Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound Sunday afternoon before the Birds head to New York to battle the Yankees.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Three-Run Seventh Lifts O's Over Rays

Zach Britton survived a shaky first inning and the O's used a three-run seventh to topple the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Friday night in St. Petersburg.

Britton (9-9) gave up two runs in the first but settled down to pitch six strong innings, allowing just four hits and three walks while striking out six. It was Britton's third straight win; he's pitched to a 1.50 ERA over his past three starts.

J.J. Hardy's clutch two out, two-run single in the seventh inning gave the Birds their first lead of the game, and the O's survived another scary outing by Kevin Gregg in the ninth to seal the win.

Gregg allowed a lead-off single and walked the bases loaded before inducing a game-ending ground ball to escape with his 20th save of the season. Hardy made a strong throw and Mark Reynolds made an amazing scoop at first on a bang-bang play...Reynolds looks like a Gold Glover at first base since taking over the position.

Alfredo Simon takes the mound for the O's on Saturday night.

O's Fall To Jays in Finale

Toronto scored twice in the eighth inning and went on to beat the Birds 8-6 on Thursday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Tommy Hunter surrendered six runs in six innings and was taken to the hospital after he started vomiting after leaving the game. Hunter began feeling ill in the third inning, and gave up five earned runs on nine hits and a walk while fanning three.

Vladimir Guerrero had a big day at the plate, driving in a season-best four runs. Guerrero went 3-for-4 with a single, a double and a solo homer. But it just wasn't enough...

Willie Eyre pitched a 1-2-3 seventh before running into trouble in the eighth. Eyre (1-1) walked the first batter he faced before serving-up a two-run bomb to Brett Lawrie, snapping a tie ballgame and giving Toronto an 8-6 lead they would not relinquish.

The Orioles (54-81) now travel to Florida to take on the Rays. Zach Britton takes the mound for the Birds on Friday night.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Birds Blown Out

The Orioles lost 13-0 to Toronto on Wednesday night.

Ouch. What more can you say?

Jo-Jo Reyes was pumped to face the team that designated him for assignment...maybe too pumped. Who knows what was going on in Reyes' mind, all I know is he gave the Blue Jays an early cushion that they continued to build on.

Reyes (7-11) gave up seven runs on eight hits in just 2 2/3 innings, and the bullpen was no help at all, allowing another six runs on 12 hits over the final frames.

The Blue Jays finished the game with 20 hits. The Orioles had four, with three coming in the final two innings.


The Birds still have a chance to win the series Thursday afternoon. It looked like the momentum was on their side after the extra-innings win on Tuesday, but after this game the Jays certainly have the edge. Tommy Hunter takes the mound for the O's...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

O's Topple Jays In 10th

It certainly wasn't the prettiest game to watch, but in the end the Orioles came out on top, beating Toronto 6-5 in ten innings Tuesday night at Camden Yards.

Jeremy Guthrie put the O's in an early hole, walking two batters before serving up a three-run homer in the second inning. Matt Wieters launched a two-run bomb in the bottom of the frame, trimming the Jays' lead to one run. Nolan Reimold slapped an RBI single in the fourth to tie the game, and Vladimir Guerrero gave the Birds a 4-3 lead with an RBI double in the fifth.

Guthrie settled down and lasted six innings, giving up just those three runs on six hits, walking two and fanning five. After Jim Johnson pitched two scoreless innings, Guthrie was in line for his seventh win, but Kevin Gregg was unable to hold a one-run lead in the ninth...

Gregg blew his sixth save in 25 tries after giving up a run on one hit and three walks (one intentional). With the score tied at four, Willie Eyre let the Jays take a 5-4 lead after giving up a run in the top of the tenth. But Eyre (1-0) was awarded the win after the Birds broke through with two runs in the bottom of the frame...

Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds both drew walks, and after Robert Andino struck out, Jake Fox slapped a pinch-hit single to tie the game. Rookie Ryan Adams then launched a ball over the center-fielder's head, scoring Reynolds and giving the O's a come-from-behind victory.

Jo-Jo Reyes takes the mound against his former team on Wednesday night, as the Birds try to secure a series win against their Northern neighbors.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

O's Bats Fail Simon

Alfredo Simon did his job, but the Birds managed just two runs in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Monday night.

Simon (4-7) allowed just four hits over seven innings. Unfortunately, one of those hits was a two-run shot, and Simon took the loss despite walking only two while striking out six.

Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy both went yard for the Birds, but they were both solo home runs.

The O's now take on Toronto for three games...Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound Tuesday night.

O's Split Doubleheader With Yankees

Zach Britton led the Orioles to a 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon. Brian Matusz handed the Yankees an 8-3 win later that evening.

Britton (8-9) was amazing, shutting down New York on four hits and a walk, while fanning five. This is the Zach Britton I see leading our team into the post-season.

The Birds broke open a scoreless game with a run in the seventh and another in the eighth. That proved to be enough as Jim Johnson pitched a perfect eighth and Kevin Gregg picked up his 19th save in the ninth.

The win gave the Orioles six straight victories, something they had not accomplished since 2008.

Brian Matusz took the mound later that evening, but couldn't keep the streak intact.

Matusz (1-7) pitched well, but was hurt by the long ball, as the Yankees went deep three times of the young lefty. Matusz showed signs of his former self, retiring nine in a row at one point and striking out five in 5 1/3 innings, but he still needs work.

Alfredo Simon takes the mound Monday night as the Birds attempt to take the series against New York.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

O's Launch Three Homers In Rout Of Yankees

The O's struck early and often in a 12-5 rout of the New York Yankees on Friday night at Camden Yards.

The Birds tagged A.J. Burnett for six runs in the second inning; Mark Reynolds started the scoring with his 30th homer of the season, a solo shot with one out. The O's then slapped four consecutive doubles before J.J. Hardy blasted a two-run bomb to left field. Burnett allowed six hits in the inning, and all went for extra-bases...

Nolan Reimold added a two-run triple in the fifth, and Matt Wieters crushed a three-run bomb to left in the sixth to give the O's an insurmountable 12-1 lead.

Tommy Hunter held the Yankees to just one run (a solo homer) through the first six frames before running into some trouble in the seventh. Hunter (3-2) gave up a lead-off homer, a single and a two-run blast to give the Yankees fans in the stands something to cheer about. But Hunter retired the next three batters on ground balls to squash any hope of a comeback. Hunter went seven innings, allowing four runs on five hits (three homers), walking none and fanning four.

The Orioles have now won five straight, tying a season-high, and the 12 runs scored was a season-best. The Yankees committed four errors and managed only six hits in the loss...

The two clubs were scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday, but Hurricane Irene's impending arrival forced MLB to cancel baseball in Baltimore until Sunday. A doubleheader is planned for Sunday, and Monday evening's game will go on as planned. The two teams will make up the postponed game on September 8. Zach Britton will take the mound in Game 1 on Sunday, followed by Brian Matusz in Game 2.

Friday, August 26, 2011

O's Sweep Twins In Four Games

For the first time in over a year, the Orioles swept an opponent in four games on the road, as Jo-Jo Reyes and the Birds took down the Twins 6-1 on Thursday afternoon.

The Orioles allowed just a single run in each of the four victories, giving the pitching staff a nearly flawless 1.00 ERA over the four-game stretch. The last time the Birds' staff did that well was in the first four games of the 2011 season, back when I thought the team was destined for far more than last place in the division.

Reyes (7-10) allowed just one run on five hits and four walks over six innings, striking out three. The bullpen allowed just two hits over the final three frames.

Craig Tatum's two-run double in the sixth broke open a 1-1 game, and Mark Reynolds' 29th homer, a three run blast, gave the O's a comfortable cushion in the seventh inning.

With the sweep, the Birds actually had a respectable ten-game road trip, going 5-5. They now head home to face the Yankees for five games over four days. New York set an MLB record with three grand slams on Thursday night. Tommy Hunter will try to keep the Yankees off the board on Friday night.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

O's Win A Game But Lose A Legend

There was no post-game celebration after the O's beat the Twins 6-1 on Wednesday night.

Mike Flanagan, an Orioles legend, was found dead earlier at his home.

I never met him, so I don't have much to say...he was a legend to me, a 20-game winning lefty that helped the Birds win a World Series title. But just watching the MASN squad post-game was hard; the man was a hero and a friend to many. He will be missed.

It was hard to hold back tears listening to Rick Dempsey talk about catching the Cy Young winner. Flanagan was an Oriole through and through, and his passing has ripped through the entire organization.

Anyone who reads this post should take a look at Peter Schmuck's post, as well as WBAL's report, which includes audio from a very somber Joe Angel and Fred Manfra reflecting on the loss. John Eisenberg, my professor at Towson University, also wrote a very moving piece. I only wish I had had the privilege to have met Mike Flanagan.

The Orioles close-out a 10-game road-trip Thursday afternoon. Jo-Jo Reyes takes the mound, as the Birds attempt to sweep the Twins in four games. I'm sure the players will all have heavy hearts, but I hope they play with the passion Flanagan had for the game of baseball.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Simon Cruises As O's Stomp Twins

Alfredo Simon allowed just one run over eight innings, and the Birds' bats backed him early as the O's cruised to an 8-1 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night.

Simon (4-6) allowed only three hits (one a solo homer) and a walk while striking out a career-best eight batters in his career-high eight-inning outing. Simon wanted to take the mound in the ninth, but Showalter shut him down after 114 pitches...

The O's offense exploded early, with the club scoring four runs in the second inning and another three in the third to take a commanding lead. Nolan Reimold's three-run shot in the second was the big blow, and Mark Reynolds' two-run triple kept the rout going...both Riemold and Reynolds finished the game with three RBIs each.

The Birds and Twins still have two games left in the four-game series, and the O's are trying to win a road series for the first time since late May. Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound for the Orioles on Wednesday night, and Jo-Jo Reyes is slated to start on Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Britton, O's Snap Five-Game Skid

Welcome back, Zach.

Zach Britton held a struggling Minnesota Twins squad to just a run over five innings, as the Birds snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory on Monday night.

Britton (7-9) allowed only a run despite allowing six hits and four walks while striking out four. His relief corps was brilliant...the 'pen allowed only two hits over the final four frames, striking out six.

Michael Gonzalez continues to impress...he struck out all four batters he faced.

J.J. Hardy broke a 1-1 tie game with a solo homer against his former it turned out, that was all the insurance the O's needed. Matt Wieters also homered, his second in as many games.

Alfredo Simon takes the mound Tuesday night...

Angelic Sweep

The Orioles were swept out of Los Angeles after falling to the Halos 7-1 on Sunday afternoon.

Brian Matusz allowed six runs (five earned) in just four innings of work.

The defense committed two errors in the first three innings, and three through nine frames.

Matt Wieters slapped a solo home run in the seventh to give the O's their first and only run of the game.

Zach Britton gets the nod Monday night as the O's take on the Minnesota Twins for a four-game series before heading home.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gregg Blows Two-run Lead In 12th Inning

I wish I could say the tragic ending to Saturday night's ballgame was shocking. At this point, though, nothing the Orioles do surprises me anymore. This club just continues to find new ways to lose games, and that was apparent after a crushing 9-8, 12-inning loss to the Angels.

The Orioles blew an early 3-0 lead but managed to tie the game at six runs a piece with two runs in the eighth inning. The game stayed knotted at six until the Birds scored twice in the top of the 12th, taking an 8-6 lead.

Kevin Gregg took the mound to record the final three outs, but he couldn't even get one...a single, a hit batter and an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt later and the Angels had runners on the corners with none down and had trimmed the deficit to one run. Gregg allowed another single to load the bases before walking the tying run in. Troy Patton relieved Gregg but gave up the game-winning sac fly to the first batter he faced...

Honestly, what more can you say about that sorry performance?

Gregg (0-2) took the loss and blew yet another save; he's now 17 for 22 in save situations this season. That's not going to cut it. Add a closer (again) to the O's wish list next year...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reyes Puts O's In Too Deep Of A Hole

Before he recorded an out, Jo-Jo Reyes had put the O's in a 4-0 hole that they never crawled out of, as the Birds eventually fell to the Los Angeles Angels 8-3 on Friday night.

Reyes (6-10) actually lasted five innings, but gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks, striking out six while surrendering two home runs. Brad Bergesen was the only O's hurler to pitch a scoreless frame; Willie Eyre served-up a two-run bomb in the eighth and Kevin Gregg allowed a solo shot in the ninth.

While the Angels were busy slapping homers, the Orioles wasted a 12-hit offensive outing. Twice the O's loaded the bases with just one out, and both times they came away with nothing to show for it...Josh Bell grounded out to end the threat in the second inning and J.J. Hardy's fly ball to center ended the "rally" in the eighth.

Matt Wieters put the O's on the board with an RBI single in the third, and Adam Jones had two sacrifice flies to increase his team-leading total to 75 RBIs.

The Birds send Tommy Hunter to the mound on Saturday as they attempt to stop the bleeding...again.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

O's Woes Continue Out West

The starting pitching stunk. The defense stunk. The offense stunk. Yet the Orioles still had a chance in the ninth inning...but Blake Davis, representing the tying run, was tagged out at home for the final out in a 6-5 loss to the Oakland A's on Wednesday afternoon.

Alfredo Simon took the loss. Spotted two runs before taking the mound, Simon (3-6) gave up three in the first inning and lasted just 5 1/3, surrendering six runs (five earned) on eighth hits and two walks.

The defense didn't help him out...though the O's were officially charged with just a single error it could have easily been three. Nolan Reimold misjudged a ball in the first inning and Adam Jones bobbled a ball in the third to give Oakland life.

The bats went cold after scoring twice early. After scoring a run in the seventh, the O's had runners on the corners with none out...Craig Tatum popped-up to shallow right before Robert Andino and J.J. Hardy went down swinging.

All would have been forgiven and forgotten had the O's come back in the ninth. With runners on first and third (again) with two down, Nick Markakis slapped a single to right field, which scored Andino easily. Blake Davis, running for Hardy, tried to score from first after the ball was bobbled in the outfield, but was tagged out at home to end the game.

The Orioles now rest on Thursday before beginning a three-game set with the Angels on Friday night. Jo-Jo Reyes is scheduled to take the mound, replacing Jeremy Guthrie, who will rest a sore shoulder...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Matusz Falls In Return

Brian Matusz took a loss in his first start for the Birds in nearly a month, but his outing was better than his final line would suggest.

Matusz (1-5) pitched into the seventh inning, and left with the O's trailing by just one run in a game they eventually lost 8-4 to the Oakland A's. Matusz went 6 2/3 innings, his longest outing of the season, and was charged with six runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out five. Matusz gave up three runs in the second inning and a solo homer in the third before settling down...he recorded the first two outs in the sixth before giving up back-to-back singles and exiting in favor of Troy Patton, who let both inherited runners score.

Josh Bell, playing third due to Chris Davis landing on the DL with a shoulder strain, drove in two runs and has four RBIs in the past two games.

The O's turn to Alfredo Simon on Wednesday afternoon as they attempt to win the series against Oakland.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

O's Win Again!

It had been nearly a month since the Birds won back-to-back games, but the Orioles snapped that slide with a 6-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

Tommy Hunter pitched into the seventh inning, and earned his first win as an Oriole after the Birds scored four times in the top of the frame. Hunter (2-2) scattered ten hits over 6 2/3 innings, walking one and fanning three. Michael Gonzalez recorded the final out of the seventh before striking out the side in the eighth, and Kevin Gregg gave up a lead-off single before retiring the side in the ninth.

Matt Wieters put the Birds on the board with a solo homer in the second was one of only two hits the O's managed to collect through the first six innings. But the bats came to life in a four-run seventh; Robert Andino connected for a two-run double and Josh Bell smacked a two-run single to put the O's on top. Mark Reynolds connected for his team-leading 27th home run, a solo shot in the ninth that gave the club some breathing room but took Gregg's chance at a save away.

The Orioles hadn't won consecutive games since July 16-17 and look to make it three straight on Wednesday night. Brian Matusz, fresh off a complete-game shutout at Triple-A Norfolk, takes the mound for the O's.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

O's Avoid The Sweep

The rain held off, the bats warmed up and the pitchers held on as the Birds took down the Tigers 8-5 on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Jo-Jo Reyes picked up his first win as an Oriole, pitching six solid innings of one-run ball. Reyes allowed just four hits and two walks while fanning four. The one run he surrendered, a solo shot, came one pitch after Nick Markakis and Robert Andino allowed a foul ball to drop in-between them.

Markakis more than made up for his poor judgement on the play...Nick went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs in the win.

The rest of the club held their own... the Birds collected 14 hits overall and scored in four of the eight innings they were at the plate.

After Reyes was pulled, Willie Eyre pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while fanning two. With the O's up 8-1, Kevin Gregg took the mound for the ninth. That's when things got ugly...

Gregg allowed three straight singles before walking the bases loaded not once, but twice, before being pulled in favor of Jim Johnson. Suddenly, a blow-out became a save situation, and Johnson bailed Gregg out with a strikeout, a grounder, an intentional walk and a fly-out. I'm still amazed it came to that...Gregg is decent in save situations, but he has been horrendous when the game isn't on the line.

Regardless, a win is a win. And I'll take it. The O's went 3-7 on the homestand and now head West to Oakland to begin a ten-game road trip. Tommy Hunter gets the nod Monday night...

O's Blow Five-Run Lead

Jeremy Guthrie and the Orioles proved once again that no lead is ever safe, as the Birds took an early 5-0 lead but eventually fell 6-5 to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.

The O's got on the board in a big way in the second inning...Vladimir Guerrero stroked his tenth homer of the year to give the Orioles a two-run lead, and Blake Davis' three-run bomb, his first Major League blast, gave the Birds a comfortable five-run cushion.

Jeremy Guthrie cruised through the first five innings, allowing just one run on two hits, before everything fell apart. Guthrie (5-16) retired the first two batters he faced before the Tigers unleashed six straight hits, scoring five times and taking a 6-5 lead in the process.

The 'pen held Detroit to just one hit over the final three frames, but the O's couldn't get anything going after the big second inning...

Jo-Jo Reyes and the Birds hope to avoid a sweep on Sunday afternoon in the finale of the 10-game homestand. The O's have won just two of the past nine at Camden Yards...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hardy's Homers Not Enough

J.J. Hardy homered twice, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Orioles from falling to the Detroit Tigers 5-4 on Friday night at Camden Yards.

Hardy went 2-for-4 at the plate and drove in three of the O's four runs, as well as making a couple of outstanding defensive plays in the field. Hardy's 23 long balls trail only Mark Reynolds' 26 for the team lead, and he is third on the club in average (.277) and RBIs (58). Smart move locking this guy up for three more years...

Alfredo Simon was unable to take advantage of Hardy's help, allowing solo runs in the first and second innings to nullify Hardy's first-inning two-run shot. Simon lasted just 4 2/3 innings and gave up four runs on 11 hits and three walks, striking out one in the 97-pitch outing.

Troy Patton (0-1) came on in relief and was tagged with the loss despite allowing just one run on four hits in 2 2/3 innings. Willie Eyre, called up after Chris Tillman was sent down, made his Orioles' debut and pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out one.

The O's send Jeremy Guthrie to the mound on Saturday night...

Tillman Lit Up, Sent Down

Chris Tillman allowed five straight hits to start the game, and the White Sox took a 4-0 lead before he was able to record an out in a game the Birds eventually dropped 6-3 on Thursday night.

Tillman gave up a lead-off single, followed by a two-run tater to put the Birds in an early hole. He then surrendered three straight doubles before escaping the first inning with "only" a four run deficit. Tillman (3-5) lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks and was once again demoted to Triple-A Norfolk after the game. I had commented that after Tillman's stellar performance against Toronto, he should remain with the club...but his lack of consistency pretty much forces the O's hand on this one.

Offensively, there's not much to write about. The Birds managed just six hits all game, went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded three men on base. Nick Markakis slapped his 100th career home run, a two-run bomb in the third, but that was pretty much it...

After taking three of four against the Sox in Chicago, the White Sox returned the favor here at Camden Yards. The O's have now gone 2-5 on this homestand. Alfredo Simon takes the mound for the Birds on Friday night to begin a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reimold Gives O's Walk-Off Win

Nolan Reimold's two-run shot to left field gave the Orioles a 6-4 victory in ten innings over the visiting Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.

After Chris Davis blooped a one-out single, Reimold launched the first pitch he saw 436 feet to snap the O's three-game losing streak in dramatic fashion. Reimold was in the lineup as the designated hitter, giving slumping Vladimir Guerrero a day off, and had gone 0-for-4 before connecting for the walk-off bomb.

Tommy Hunter was stellar through the first five innings before allowing a run in the sixth and three more in the seventh, knotting the game at four. J.J. Hardy's first-inning homer put the Birds on the board, and Adam Jones' solo shot in the fifth gave the O's a comfortable 4-0 lead. But Hunter ran into trouble and was pulled with two on and two outs in the seventh, and Jason Berken allowed both inherited runners to cross the plate before recording the final out of the inning.

The score remained the same until Reimold stepped to the plate in the bottom of the tenth...

Chris Tillman takes the mound Thursday night, as the Birds try to split the four-game set with the Sox.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reyes Gives Up One Too Many

The last time I watched a game from the press box, the Orioles were facing the White Sox and Gavin Floyd...the Birds won in extra-innings on Adam Jones' walk-off single.

Ironically, the same team and the same starting pitcher took on the O's on Tuesday night, and I had the opportunity to take in the game from the press box once again. Unfortunately, the results were a bit different, as the Birds fell to Chicago 4-3 in front of nearly 15,000 at Camden Yards...

Jo-Jo Reyes made his first start in an Orioles' uniform, and it wasn't a good one. Reyes (5-9) allowed four runs on five hits (two homers) and two walks in just four innings of work. Chris Jakubauskas pitched four scoreless innings of relief, and Jason Berken pitched a perfect ninth, but the four runs were one more than the O's could overcome.

The Birds got on the board in the fifth, scoring three runs off Floyd, and the damage could have been greater if not for a blown call. With one out and Vladimir Guerrero at the plate, it looked as if Adam Jones and Nick Markakis had pulled-off a perfect double-steal. Markakis was called out at third, though replays clearly showed he slid under the tag. Buck Showalter ran out to argue and was ejected for the second time this season...the fans' reaction was priceless: Camden Yards got LOUD! It was all for naught though as Guerrero grounded out to end the threat...

Still, it was a great experience. I finally got to meet Joe Angel, Fred Manfra and "The Mighty" Casey Willett and got to check out the WBAL radio booth. I only wish my second trip to the press box had ended like the first...

The Orioles send Tommy Hunter to the mound Wednesday night, as they try to snap a three-game losing streak.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hardy's Return Almost Enough...

J.J. Hardy went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs, but the Orioles fell to the Chicago White Sox 7-6 on Monday night at Camden Yards.

Jeremy Guthrie put the Birds in a hole early after giving up four runs in the second inning (three runs crossed on two homers in the frame). But Guthrie regained his composure and didn't allow another run to cross the plate until the sixth inning.

It was strange to see the bats come to life to support Guthrie...the O's managed to score six runs in the first seven innings, putting Guthrie in line for the win...but it just wasn't enough.

Jim Johnson allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in the eighth, earning a blown save and a loss in the process. Kevin Gregg pitched a 1-2-3 ninth but the Birds' bats went quiet after the three-run seventh gave them a brief lead.

I'll be there on Tuesday as Jo-Jo Reyes makes his first start as an Oriole...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Reynolds Not Enough In Loss

Mark Reynolds slapped two solo home runs, but Toronto took the series with a 7-2 victory over Alfredo Simon and the O's on Sunday afternoon.

Simon ran into trouble in the third inning, when an error by third-baseman Josh Bell led to two unearned runs. Simon (3-5) lasted just 5 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on ten hits, walking none and fanning three.

Brad Bergesen pitched three stellar innings of relief, allowing just a run on three hits while walking none and striking out four.

The O's once again had no answer for Jay's starter Ricky Romero, who allowed just four hits and no walks over eight innings. Two of the four hits came off the bat of Reynold, who leads the club with 26 taters.

The Birds now host the Chicago White Sox for a four-game series. Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound for the O's on Monday night...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tillman Sparkles As O's Snap Streak

I haven't had a chance to get to many games this season, but I was there on Saturday night for a thrilling Orioles 6-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

My wife and a couple friends waited out a rain delay in the Warehouse Bar...we had arrived early to get the coveted Brian Matusz bobblehead. We had no trouble getting our hands on a few...the paid attendance was under 20 thousand on a wet, hot and humid evening.

Things looked bad early...the O's were no-hit through the first five innings, and the Birds were trailing 2-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth.

Nolan Reimold snapped the perfect game with a single in the sixth, and the O's scored four runs in the frame, three coming off Adam Jone's 20th homer of the season, a career-best (I called the shot by the way).

Chris Tillman was impressive to say the least, allowing just two runs on four hits and a walk over seven innings, striking out five. Tillman (3-4) has shown marked improvement over his last two starts, and should remain in the rotation for the remainder of the season in my opinion...

Mark Reynolds took over at first base and looked like a Gold-Glover at the position...Reynolds went 0-for-3 at the plate with three strikeouts but made up for the lack of offense with a handful of amazing plays in the field.

The O's send Alfredo Simon to the mound on Sunday afternoon for the rubber-match against the Jays...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hunter Falls in Starting Debut

Tommy Hunter ran into the same trouble the majority of O's starters have encountered this year...too many early runs allowed and too many pitches thrown. Hunter allowed four runs and lasted just four innings in his first start as an Oriole, as the Birds fell 5-4 to the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

Adam Jones gave Hunter an early cushion with a two-run blast in the first inning, Jones' 19th of the season, tying a career-high. But Hunter (1-2) let the Jays tie it up in the second before surrendering another pair of runs in the third, giving Toronto a 4-2 lead they would never relinquish. Hunter needed 79 pitches to get through four frames, giving up eight hits, walking none and striking out one.

The 'pen allowed just a run off three hits and a walk over the final five frames, but the O's managed just a run in the sixth and another in the ninth and dropped their third straight contest. Nick Markakis slapped an RBI double with two outs in the ninth, but Adam Jones popped-out to end the game.

Chris Tillman has been recalled and is slated to take the mound on Saturday night. I'll be there to pick up my Brian Matusz bobblehead...I'm hoping he pitches in the Majors again.

Friday, August 5, 2011

O's Slink Home On Another Losing Streak

Zach Britton managed to make it through the first inning, but the sixth inning proved to be his downfall as the Birds fell to the Royals 9-4 on Thursday night.

Britton (6-9) allowed three runs to cross the plate in the first inning, though only one was earned due to his own throwing error on a sacrifice bunt. Britton was able to keep Kansas City off the board until a disastrous sixth inning did him in...

The Orioles offense had fought back, scoring single runs in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. J.J. Hardy's 100th career home run tied the game in the fifth, and Chris Davis' RBI double in the sixth gave the O's their first lead of the game.

It was short-lived. Britton retired the first batter he faced in the bottom of the frame before allowing the Royals to tie the game on three straight hits (Britton gave up 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings in the loss). Jim Johnson was summoned to stop the rally, but he was strangely ineffective, allowing three runs off five hits in just 2/3 of an inning. Michael Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg held Kansas City hitless over the final two frames, but the six-run sixth was more than enough for the Royals.

The Birds finished a horrific 10-game road trip with a dismal 3-7 record. The most amazing (or depressing) stat...the club took the opening game in each series before dropping the rest. The Orioles now start a 10-game homestand beginning Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. Tommy Hunter will start for the first time since last years' World Series.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Guthrie Falls To Royals

Jeremy Guthrie looked nothing like the pitcher who shut down the Yankees in his last start, and the O's offense did little to help him out in a 6-2 loss to the Royals on Wednesday night.

Guthrie (5-15) allowed a run in the first and two more in the second before settling in. The Birds scored once in the first and again in the third to make it a one-run game.

That's how the score stood until Guthrie served up a three-run bomb to Billy Butler on a 3-0 count in the bottom of the seventh, almost assuring the Orioles would not be able to start a winning streak. Guthrie ended his outing after allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks over seven innings, striking out two.

The offense managed just four hits throughout the game, two in the first inning and two more in the eighth...the Birds actually loaded the bases with just one out in the top of the eighth, but J.J. Hardy struck out swinging and Nick Markakis grounded out to end the only real scoring threat of the game.

Zach Britton takes the mound on Thursday night...the Orioles have lost six of nine on this 10-game road-trip and can only hope for a series win before heading to Baltimore for a 10-game homestand beginning Friday night against Toronto.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Reynolds Backs Simon In Kansas

Alfredo Simon pitched a gem and Mark Reynolds drove in five runs in an 8-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.

Simon (3-4) out-dueled ex-Oriole Bruce Chen, going seven innings and allowing just one run off four hits and a walk, fanning three. Simon gave up two doubles, a walk and a run in the first inning before settling down, at one point retiring 11 straight batters. After the two hits in the first, Simon didn't allow another hit until the seventh...

Mark Reynolds grounded into a bases-loaded double play to end the first inning, but made up with it with a two-run double in the third to put the O's ahead for good. Reynolds mashed a three-run bomb in the ninth and finished the game 3-for-5 with five RBIs, tying a career-best.

New first baseman Chris Davis picked up his first hit and RBI as an Oriole with a single in the fifth. Davis slapped a solo homer in the ninth, his first with his new club...

Tommy Hunter also made his Orioles' debut, taking the mound in the eighth in relief of Simon. Hunter allowed a run on two hits, and is expected to start in place of Jake Arrieta on Friday. Arrieta most likely will need surgery on his elbow and will miss the rest of the season, a big blow considering he leads the team in wins (10) and strikeouts (93).

Jeremy Guthrie will take the mound on Wednesday night...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Four-Run Fourth Sinks O's

The Orioles limped out of New York after a 4-2 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, the Birds' third straight loss after Jeremy Guthrie's win Friday night.

Jake Arrieta just wasn't good enough, and the rest of the club didn't help him out. Arrieta (10-8) allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits over five innings, walking six and fanning four. All four of the Yankees' runs came in the fourth inning...J.J. Hardy let a possible double-play ball squeak through his legs and New York took advantage of the error, Hardy's fourth all season but second in the four-game series. Hardy, my personal O's MVP, has yet to record a hit against the Yankees this season...

The O's enjoy Monday off before taking on Kansas City in a three-game set starting Tuesday night. Alfredo Simon looks to end the O's most recent slide...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

O's Embarrassed In Twin-Killing

The Orioles were absolutely humiliated in a day-night doubleheader in New York on Saturday, falling to the Yankees 8-3 in Game 1 and 17-3 in Game 2.

Unfortunately, that last number isn't a typo. The Birds were outscored 25-6 in the two losses...

Chris Tillman took the loss in Game 1...Tillman looked impressive for the first two innings, retiring six straight batters, four via the strikeout, but he fell apart after that. Tillman (2-4) allowed seven runs (five earned) on eight hits and a walk, fanning six.

Zach Britton started Game 2, and he looked horrible. Britton managed to record just one out and allowed nine runs (six earned) on seven hits and a walk. The defense didn't help him out, as the O's committed two errors in the Yankees' 12-run first inning. That's right...the O's were down 12-0 after one inning. Absolutely pathetic...

Britton (6-8) has lasted just one inning in his last two starts combined, giving up 17 runs (13 earned) over that span. I remember when Britton was Rookie of the Year material...he's certainly no longer in the running.

Jake Arrieta takes the mound on Sunday afternoon. Incredibly, a win would let the Orioles slip out of New York with a series split.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guthrie Dominates Yankees

If that was Jeremy Guthrie's last start as an Oriole, it was quite a way to go out. Guthrie held New York's potent lineup to just one run over seven innings, and the O's beat the Yankees 4-2 on Friday night.

Guthrie (5-14) allowed just four hits (one a solo homer off the bat of Mark Teixeira) and three walks while striking out five in one of his best performances of the season.

The Orioles needed Guthrie to go deep...Friday night was the first game of a four-game series that will be played in less than a 48-hour timespan. The O's needed to use just two arms out of the 'pen: Koji Uehara (who also could be traded this weekend) struck out two in a scoreless eighth and Kevin Gregg pitched a chaotic ninth but managed to record his 17th save.

For once, Guthrie received ample run support. Mark Reynolds put the Birds on the board with a two-run bomb in the second inning, and Derrek Lee slapped an RBI double in the fourth before drilling a solo homer in the sixth to give the O's a 4-0 lead. The Orioles managed only five hits against Yankees' starter A.J. Burnett, but all went for extra-bases.

I, for one, will miss Guthrie if he is traded. He has certainly pitched better than his record indicates, and has been a constant in a rotation full of question marks. He may not be an ace on any other staff in the AL East, but he has been reliable and healthy since taking on that role for the Orioles. I wish him the best of luck, as long as he isn't pitching for any divisional foes...

The O's and Yankees face-off for a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. Chris Tillman was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to start Game 1, and Zach Britton came up from Bowie to start Game 2.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hardy's Homers Can't Stop The Bleeding

This time, J.J. Hardy's two home runs weren't enough, as the Birds fell to Toronto 8-5 on Thursday night.

On Tuesday, Hardy blasted two homers in a 12-4 rout of the Jays. Hardy led-off the game on Thursday with a bomb to left, and launched a solo shot to left in the ninth to give the O's their final run. But it wasn't enough...

Brad Bergesen gave up six runs (four earned) off six hits and three walks in just three innings of "work." Handed a 2-0 lead after Hardy and Vladimir Guerrero homered in the first, Bergesen (2-7) let the Jays tie the game in the first before giving up four runs in the third, two off back-to-back solo homers.

The 'pen held Toronto to two runs over the final five frames, but the hole was too deep as the O's dropped yet another series. Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound on Friday night as the Birds begin a four-game series in New York against the Yankees. The Orioles have yet to beat New York in six tries this season...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bats Go Cold Up North

After scoring a season-best 12 runs on Tuesday, the O's were shut out in a 3-0 defeat to the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

There is no rhyme or reason to this 2011 squad. In the back of my mind, as happy as I was Tuesday, I was telling the team to save a few runs for the next game...they didn't listen. After slapping 16 hits, eight for extra-bases, the O's managed just four hits the very next day.

I don't care if the pitcher was a lefty. The Jays' starter on Tuesday night was one of the hottest pitchers in all of baseball over the past month, and the O's spanked him.

Buck Showalter scolded Alfredo Simon, who gave up all three runs, for only lasting five innings while throwing just over 100 pitches. Jake Arrieta lasted only five innings on Tuesday, and allowed four runs. But he won.

It's funny what happens with a little support.

After 100 games, the Orioles are still stuck in last place, and carry a 41-59 record into Thursday night's contest.

I wanted a winning season, but I would take .500 ball at this point. That seems so far off now...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

O's Offense Awakens Against Toronto

The Orioles started the road trip with a bang, mashing four home runs and scoring a season-high in runs as they cruised to a 12-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

Every starter picked up at least one hit, and five had multi-hit performances as the O's slapped 16 hits, eight for extra-bases (another season-high). J.J. Hardy homered twice and drove in four runs, Derrek Lee went 4-for-5 with a double, a homer and five RBIs and Nolan Reimold doubled and homered in the offensive outburst.

The Birds never trailed in the game, giving starter Jake Arrieta more than enough support. Arrieta lasted just five innings, giving up all four of Toronto's runs via the long ball, but became the O's first 10-game winner this season. Jason Berken shut down the Jays for three innings, and Mark Hendrickson pitched a perfect ninth inning to seal the Orioles second straight win at Rogers Centre after dropping 16 straight over the past three seasons...

Alfredo Simon looks to keep things rolling as he takes the mound Wednesday night.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bullpen Struggles As O's Fall

For seven innings, Jeremy Guthrie kept his club in the game. Once Guthrie left, the game was over. The Angels erupted for six runs over the final two innings in a 9-3 victory over the O's on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Guthrie (4-14) allowed three runs on six hits and four walks through seven innings, striking out one, but was once again plagued by a lack of run support in the loss. With the Angels ahead 3-2, reliever Mark Worrell took the mound in the eighth and gave up five runs off four hits (two were homers) and a walk to put the game out of reach for the O's. I raved about Worrell's last appearance against Boston last week, but he looked lost as he watched his ERA soar to 36.00 in a forgettable outing.

Adam Jones put the Birds on the board with a two-run bomb in the sixth inning...Jones has homered in back-to-back games and actually connected five times over the 10-game homestand. Nick Markakis slapped a solo shot in the ninth, but the game was pretty much over at that point.

The O's finished the homestand with a dismal 4-6 record, and now head north to kick-off a 10-game road trip. It all starts in Toronto on Tuesday night...Jake Arrieta takes the hill for the Birds.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bats Back Bergesen In Win

Brad Bergesen ran into trouble early but bounced back, turning in an impressive start in a 3-2 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.

Bergesen (2-6) gave up a two-run homer to Vernon Wells in the first inning before shutting the Angels down for the next six frames. Bergesen allowed only the two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three in his first win since May.

The bullpen was equally impressive: Jim Johnson needed just seven pitches to get through the seventh inning, and Koji Uehara breezed through the eighth on nine pitches. Closer Kevin Gregg made things interesting after allowing a two-out double in the ninth, but he struck out the final batter to pick up his 16th save of the season.

Adam Jones put the O's on the board with a solo homer in the fourth and gave the team the lead with a sac fly in the fifth. Jones is having a career year...he's second on the club with 17 dingers and leads the Birds with 58 RBIs.

The O's wrap-up a ten-game homestand on Sunday afternoon, and a win would give them a 5-5 record over that stretch...Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound, looking for consecutive wins for the first time this season.