Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Britton Falls to Cardinals

Zach Britton wasn't at his best, and the O's offense was held scoreless until the eighth inning in a 6-2 loss to the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.

Britton (6-6) started off the season 5-1 but has just one win in his past 10 starts...his ERA is still a stellar 3.38 (the best of all the starters) but he hasn't had much run support lately, and that trend continued against the Cardinals, making their first-ever appearance at Camden Yards.

Britton was in an early hole after giving up three two-out runs in the second inning, but settled down before allowing a solo homer in the sixth. Britton was charged with four runs on seven hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, striking out three. He was pulled after a 28-minute rain delay in favor of Clay Rapada, who gave up a run in the seventh. Jason Berken, in relief of Rapada, gave up a solo homer to the first batter he faced and would have given up a two-run bomb in the ninth if it wasn't for a fantastic catch by Luke Scott, who injured his knee on the play...

J.J. Hardy put the O's on the board with his 11th homer of the season, a solo shot to left field in the eighth inning. Nick Markakis followed with a single and came home on Adam Jones' RBI double down the right field line. Markakis has now matched his career-best streak, hitting safely in 17 straight games...

The Birds (35-41) are once again a season-worst six games under .500, and turn to Chris Jakubauskas to right the sinking ship on Wednesday night. Jakubauskas will be facing Lance Berkman for the first time since Berkman struck Jakubauskas in the head with a line drive, ending his 2010 season...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Homers Lead O's Over Reds

The O's bats stayed red-hot on Sunday afternoon, as the Birds smacked three more homers in a 7-5 series victory over the visiting Cincinnati Reds. The Orioles scored 17 runs in the three-game series and swatted nine homers over that span...

Jeremy Guthrie picked up his first win since May 21 with a decent performance, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on six hits and four walks while fanning five. Guthrie (3-9) kept the Reds off the board until giving up a solo homer in the fifth, and was charged with three more runs in the sixth. Jim Johnson actually walked two runs in with the bases loaded, but the runs were charged to Guthrie (it wasn't all J.J.'s fault...the umpire's strike zone was absolutely horrendous).

Nick Markakis started the O's scoring with an RBI single in the third, and the O's used a four-run fourth to finally give Guthrie some support. Derrek Lee crushed a three-run homer and Mark Reynolds followed with a solo shot one out later. Reynolds now leads the team with 14 round-trippers but continues to be a liability in the field. Reynolds was charged with two errors and leads the Majors with 18 this season, and was picked-off of first base in the seventh. Markakis added another RBI single in the sixth, and Luke Scott went deep in the seventh.

Kevin Gregg allowed a solo blast to ex-Oriole Ramon Hernandez to lead-off the ninth but retired the next three batters in order to pick up his 14th save of the season. The Birds (35-40) are off Monday before wrapping up the homestand with a three-game set against the Cardinals starting on Tuesday...Zach Britton is slated to take the mound for the O's.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

O's Fall In Home Run Derby

The Orioles and Reds combined for nine long balls on Saturday night, but it was Cincinnati that came out on top with a 10-5 win at Camden Yards.

The Birds set a season-high with four homers...Adam Jones (13), Nick Markakis (6), Matt Wieters (7) and J.J. Hardy (10) all went yard, but all but Markakis' homer were solo shots...just two of the Reds' five dingers came with the bases empty. The first 14 runs of the game all came via the long ball...

Brian Matusz had a rough outing, allowing six runs on nine hits (three homers) and a walk while fanning five. Matusz (1-3) has now lost three straight contests since winning his season debut. Brad Bergesen allowed another four runs on three hits (two homers) and three walks over three innings of relief...

The best part of the game? The Buck Showalter bobbleheads. Only the first 20 thousand fans through the gates received one, and even though we arrived early they were all gone. But the wife and I searched for Reds' fans and ended up buying four, selling one and giving one to a friend as a birthday gift, so it all worked out!

The Birds send Jeremy Guthrie to the mound on Sunday afternoon. Guthrie (2-9) hasn't won a game in over a month but could give the Birds a series win with a victory...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lee's Blast Lifts O's in 12th

Derrek Lee made sure the O's didn't let this game slip away...

Lee's solo shot leading-off the 12th inning gave the Birds a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds in front of a sold-out crowd at Camden Yards on Friday night.

The O's jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. Blake Davis ripped a 2-run triple in his first game back since making a crucial error that cost the Birds the game on Wednesday. Adam Jones slapped a solo homer in the third, and J.J. Hardy's broken-bat single in the fourth gave the Orioles a commanding 4-0 advantage...

Chris Jakubauskas kept the Reds off the scoreboard until they erupted for three runs in the fifth...Jakubauskas allowed three runs on five hits and three walks in five innings, striking out three in an eventual no-decision. Jason Berken came on in the sixth and allowed the Reds to tie the game before both 'pens settled in for a few scoreless frames.

Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Koji Uehara and Michael Gonzalez combined to allow just five hits and no walks over the final six innings, striking out five and giving the offense a chance to reclaim the lead. After Lee's walk-off shot, Gonzalez (1-1) was credited with the win...

The Birds started off the homestand on the right they need to keep it going. Brian Matusz is slated to take the mound on Saturday night. I'll be there for my Buck Showalter bobblehead...and hopefully another thrilling Orioles' victory.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Fitting End To An Ugly Road-Trip

I miss Brian Roberts.

So do the Orioles.

The Birds fell to the Pirates 5-4 on Wednesday afternoon, but the final score may have been much different had Roberts been in the lineup...

Zach Britton was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk. Britton (6-5) struck out six Pirates, and could have escaped the fifth inning with a lead had it not been for yet another costly error.

Blake Davis was making his Major League debut at second base, giving the slumping Robert Andino a day off. The Pirates had runners at second and third with two down in the fifth inning when a routine ground ball was hit to went through his legs, and two runs crossed the plate, giving Pittsburgh a 5-4 lead that held up.

The Birds finally return home after a miserable road trip where the club went 3-6 and lost all three series. The O's (33-39) host the Cincinnati Reds for a three-game set starting Friday night; Chris Jakubauskas takes the mound for the Birds.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guthrie, O's Fall To Pirates

Jeremy Guthrie's back wasn't bothering him, but he certainly didn't have his stuff on Tuesday night as the Birds fell to the Pirates 9-3.

Guthrie (2-9) was down 2-0 before he recorded the first out of the game, and the O's were trailing 5-0 after three innings. Guthrie settled down after that, allowing just an unearned run in the seventh, but the hole was just too deep for the Birds to climb out of. Guthrie lasted 6 1/3 innings but gave up a season-worst 11 hits and is now tied with four others for the most losses in the Majors (though he has the lowest ERA of them all)...

The Birds got on the board in the fifth when J.J. Hardy led-off the inning with his ninth homer of the season. Nick Markakis followed with a single and Adam Jones plated him with a two-run bomb to right field, cutting the Pirates' lead to two. But that was as close as the O's would get, as the team went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 men on base in the loss.

The Birds could still take the series with a win on Wednesday afternoon. Zach Britton looks for his seventh win of the season and the O's look to end the nine-game road-trip with a 4-5 record.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bats Back Arrieta Early

This is what I want to see for the rest of the season...

The Orioles scored five runs in the first inning and never looked back in an 8-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night. The Birds were up 8-1 after three innings, giving Jake Arrieta more than enough support to pick up his ninth win of the season, tied for the Major League lead.

Arrieta helped his own cause, slapping an RBI single in his first career at-bat, extending a season-best first inning where the Birds batted around and notched six hits. Arrieta (9-4) went five innings, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks while striking out two. Arrieta wasn't at his best, but the offense picked him up as they have all season long...

The Orioles looked unstoppable early, slapping four hits and going up 3-0 before recording an out. The Birds collected 14 hits in the game, and Nick Markakis led the charge with a 3-for-5 night, scoring twice. Adam Jones went 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Every starter (including Arrieta) notched a hit except for Felix Pie, who went 0-for-5 with a strikeout.

The bullpen was spectacular, as Michael Gonzalez, Jason Berken and Kevin Gregg combined to allow just a run on two hits over the final four frames. Berken struck out three in his two innings of relief...

The Birds have now won two straight and send Jeremy Guthrie to the mound Wednesday night.

Monday, June 20, 2011

O's Snap Nat's Win Streak

The Orioles managed to escape D.C. with a victory after a 7-4 win over the Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Chris Jakubauskas picked up the win with a strong performance on the mound, and had a great day at the plate...Jakubauskas (2-0) allowed three runs on six hits and a walk over five innings, striking out six, and went 2-for-3 with two singles off Nat's starter Tom Gorzelanny.

The offense was clicking, and managed to turn hits into runs on Sunday...the Birds struck early and often, scoring single runs in the second, third and fourth innings, and twice in the fifth. They tacked on another run with Mark Reynolds' solo homer in the sixth and added an insurance run in the eighth. Reynolds went 3-for-4, scoring twice, and fell a triple shy of the cycle...

The bullpen held up, with Jim Johnson hurling two shutout innings and Koji Uehara allowing just a solo shot in two innings of relief. This was the second time in a week we've seen Koji come out to pitch two innings, and the second time he's given up a lead-off homer to begin the least this time it wasn't a walk-off shot.

The Birds now head to Pittsburgh to begin a three-game set with the Pirates. Jake Arrieta takes the mound in search of his ninth win...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Matusz Exits Early In Loss

The Birds were given yet another scare on Saturday afternoon when Brian Matusz had to leave the game in the sixth inning of a 4-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.

Matusz (1-2) took the loss after allowing four runs on six hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings, fanning five. Matusz allowed a solo home run in the first inning but settled down and held the Nats scoreless until things fell apart in the sixth...

Matusz recorded one quick out and then gave up a double, a homer and a single before being pulled from the game with what was determined to be hamstring was certainly a frightening moment to watch Matusz hobble into the dugout, but it appears he should be ready to make his next scheduled start.

It looked like the O's were in business after Adam Jones smacked his 10th homer of the season in the first inning, giving the Birds an early 1-0 lead. But the O's were kept off the scoreboard until J.J. Hardy slapped an RBI single in the seventh. Both clubs picked up eight hits on the afternoon, but the Nats were able to bunch a few together when it mattered.

The O's (31-37) are now a season-worst six games under .500 and need a win on Sunday afternoon to avoid being swept by the Nationals. Chris Jakubauskas takes the mound for the Birds...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another Wasted Effort

It doesn't get much uglier than this...

The Orioles squandered an 18-hit performance, scoring just four runs in an 8-4 defeat against the Washington Nationals on Friday night. That's not a typo...four runs on 18 hits. Unbelievable.

Sloppy defense and poor relief pitching wasted a fine effort by rookie starter Zach Britton. Britton (6-4) allowed just one hit through the first four innings before the game slowly unraveled in the fifth...

With the O's up 2-0 (one of the runs came on Britton's first Major League hit, an RBI double in the third) Britton allowed back-to-back singles to start the frame. The Nat's pitcher dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third base line, and Mark Reynolds scooped it up, glanced back at third to hold the runner, and then fired the ball past Derrek Lee, giving the Nationals their first run and some momentum. It was Reynolds' Major League-leading 15th error of the season, and by the end of the inning, the Nats had taken a 4-2 lead...Britton was charged with four runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks (one intentional) over his five innings of work, striking out three.

The O's scored two more in the sixth to tie the game at four, but that would be it offensively for the Birds...of their 18 hits on the night, 14 went for singles, and the team stranded 12 on base, going just 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position. It's futility at its finest, courtesy of your Baltimore Orioles.

Jeremy Accardo came on in the bottom of the sixth (Vladimir Guerrero pinch-hit for Britton in the fifth) and promptly gave up the lead. Accardo (3-3) took the loss after allowing three runs on two walks and one hit in 1/3 of an inning. Accardo actually walked the Nat's pitcher on four straight balls after the pitcher was attempting to give Accardo an out with a sac bunt...simply amazing. Accardo was designated for assignment after the game; Brad Bergesen will take his place on the roster.

The Birds (31-36) have now dropped two straight and are 10 games behind the division-leading Red Sox in the East. Brian Matusz takes the mound on Saturday afternoon. Here's hoping he can bounce back from his last start...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Monkey Off Their Back

The Orioles finally won a game against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, snapping a 16-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory on Thursday afternoon.

It wasn't easy...

The O's and Jays were locked in a scoreless game until the Birds finally broke through in the sixth inning. J.J. Hardy led-off with a solo home run (his seventh of the season, and third since taking over the lead-off spot). Nick Markakis reached first on a swinging bunt, and Vladimir Guerrero drove him home with an RBI double, the 1,500th hit of his storied career.

Up until that point, Jeremy Guthrie had silenced Toronto over five innings, allowing just one hit and a walk while fanning five. Guthrie was pulled after experiencing back pains, and Jim Johnson came on in relief....Johnson would have escaped the inning untouched but a fielding error by Ryan Adams extended the inning, allowing the Blue Jays to tie the game.

Adams had a chance to redeem himself in a wild ninth inning...with the score knotted at two, the O's pushed a run across before loading the bases with none out. Adams, who had already hit into three double plays, stepped to the plate and laced an RBI single to give the Birds a 4-2 lead.

After Kevin Gregg surrendered a solo homer to the first batter he faced in the bottom of the ninth, Adams' RBI single turned out to be the game-winning run. Gregg closed out the game, picking up his 13th save, and the Orioles finally picked up a win in Toronto...

The O's now visit two NL teams for the second round of Interleague play. Next up...Zach Britton takes on the Nationals in D.C. in the first of a three-game set.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Northern Plights

Jake Arrieta was solid, but his performance wasn't enough to prevent the Orioles from losing their 16th straight game against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, as the O's fell 4-1 to Toronto on Wednesday night.

Arrieta (8-4) missed his shot to become the second pitcher in the AL with nine wins after allowing three runs on nine hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five. Arrieta allowed solo home runs in the first and sixth innings and left with two outs in the seventh after walking a batter. Clay Rapada came on in relief and allowed a two-run bomb to Adam Lind to give Toronto an insurmountable 4-0 lead.

The O's were held to just four hits in the loss, and would have been shut out if not for Matt Wieters' RBI single in the ninth inning...

The O's (30-35) are now nine games behind Boston in the AL East, and look to Jeremy Guthrie on Thursday afternoon to end the recent four-game skid. A win against the Jays in Toronto would be huge...Let's Go O's!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jays Walk-Off In Eleven

That was a tough one to lose...

The Birds rallied late, but Toronto got the last laugh with a walk-off home run in the 11th inning, giving the Blue Jays a 6-5 win over Baltimore on Tuesday night.

It was the 15th straight time the Orioles have lost to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre...

The O's took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning but quickly fell behind. Chris Jakubauskas, starting for Zach Britton, allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings, striking out two. Jakubauskas didn't look nearly as crisp as he did in his first start against Oakland and was pulled after reaching 101 pitches.

Down 4-1, the Birds battled back...the O's scored twice in the seventh to cut Toronto's lead to one run. After Jeremy Accardo surrendered a solo homer to extend the Jays lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the Orioles answered yet again. Matt Wieters crushed a two-run bomb to left field to tie the game in the eighth, and from there it was a battle of the bullpens...

Jim Johnson pitched two scoreless frames before Koji Uehara took the mound in the tenth, striking out two and retiring the side in order. I've read many comments from fans who wonder why Uehara isn't the O's closer, or why even when he's dominant he pitches just one inning. This is why...Uehara faced one batter in the bottom of the eleventh. Adam Lind crushed Uehara's second pitch of the inning into the stands in right field, giving Toronto a wild win and extending the O's losing streak to three straight.

The Orioles (30-34) continue to dwell in the cellar of the AL East, and are now a full eight games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. Jake Arrieta is slated to take the mound for the Birds on Wednesday night; Arrieta looks for his ninth win of the season and the Birds look to snap the losing streak up North...Let's Go O's!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Matusz Exits Early As O's Fall

Poor starting pitching? Check. Shoddy defense? Check. A lack of clutch hitting? Check.

Sunday's 9-6 loss to the Rays had it all, which was unfortunate if you're an O's fan.

Brian Matusz lasted just an inning and a third, allowing four runs on five hits and four walks. Matusz (1-1) gave up a lead-off homer on his fifth pitch of the game, and things spiraled downward from there. The Rays stole four bases on Matusz before he could record three outs...

The defense hurt the Birds again, as Mark Reynolds committed two errors before leaving the game in the seventh with a "left forearm contusion". Reynolds now leads the Majors with 14 errors this season. Adam Jones missed a catch in the eighth that led to an inside-the-park home run...

Offensively, the highlight of the day had to be the back-to-back dingers in the bottom of the first courtesy of Adam Jones and Vladimir Guerrero. Luke Scott went yard in the eighth, but the hole was just too deep to dig out of. The Birds mashed 12 hits but went just 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

The O's are off Monday after a 5-4 homestand, and now head out for a nine-game road-trip starting in Toronto. Chris Jakubauskas will start on Tuesday night, giving Zach Britton a rest (the club hopes to have the rookie starting in September, so the move may make sense, depending on whether the O's are in contention or not).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Birds Battle Back But Fall In Extras

The O's were one out away from completing a comeback win against the Rays, securing a series win and getting back to .500 for the first time this month...

But Kevin Gregg allowed the Rays to tie the game in the ninth and Jeremy Accardo gave up two runs in the 11th, as Tampa took a 7-5 victory over the Orioles on Saturday night at Camden Yards.

Jeremy Guthrie (2-8) started for the Birds and was in an early 3-0 hole after allowing a run in the first and two more in the fifth. But the O's chipped away against Rays' starter David Price, scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth and twice more in the sixth to go ahead 4-3. Guthrie departed after giving up those three runs on eight hits and two walks over six innings, striking out two, and was in line for the elusive "W" but had to settle for a no-decision...

Mark Reynolds put the Birds on the board with a solo homer in the fifth and put them on top with a two-run bomb the very next inning. It was Reynolds' first multi-homer game as an Oriole, and he now leads the club with 12 round-trippers and 35 RBIs...we're finally starting to see the power bat we were expecting when Reynolds joined the club.

The bullpen, solid over the past few series, just wasn't able to hold the lead this time around...Jim Johnson was charged with his first blown save of the season after allowing the Rays to tie it with an unearned run on two hits over two innings of relief. The O's regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth, but Kevin Gregg was tagged with his fourth blown save after allowing the Rays to retie the ballgame in the top of the ninth. Gregg retired the first batter he faced before giving up a triple to Ben Zobrist to put the tying run at third. After a walk, Gregg induced a shallow pop-up and was just two strikes away from recording his fifth straight save before surrendering an RBI single to Casey Kotchman...Koji Uehara shut the door in the tenth but Jeremy Accardo wasn't as lucky...Accardo (3-2) allowed two runs on three hits and took the loss.

The O's (30-32) missed out on a chance to tie a season-best five-game win streak and reach .500 for just the second time since May 1. The Birds send Brian Matusz to the mound on Sunday afternoon for the final game of this nine-game homestand...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Arrieta, Markakis Lead O's Past Rays

Jake Arrieta took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and Nick Markakis knocked in six runs as the Orioles cruised to a 7-0 victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.

Arrieta allowed a lead-off double in the sixth to snap the no-hitter, but allowed just two hits through seven strong innings, walking three while fanning four. Arrieta (8-3) is now tied with Boston's Jon Lester for the most wins in the AL. Koji Uehara allowed a hit in the eighth and Michael Gonzalez escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to give the Birds their fourth straight win and second shutout against the Rays this season. The three hits allowed by the staff were the least allowed in a game this year...

J.J. Hardy led-off a game for just the second time in his career, and for the second time smacked a solo homer to give the O's an early 1-0 cushion. Hardy homered in his first at-bat on Tuesday as well. Hardy went 2-for-2 with two walks and was hit by a pitch, and looks to be the offensive spark the O's have been missing since Brian Roberts was placed on the DL.

Nick Markakis broke out of a season-long slump with a career high in RBIs. Markakis stepped to the plate in the second inning with two outs and the bases jammed, and slapped the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for the third grand slam of his career and first since 2009. Markakis had gone 88 at-bats without an extra base hit before going 2-for-5 with a grand slam and two-run double on Friday night.

The Birds (30-31) are just a game under .500 and send Jeremy Guthrie to the mound Saturday night...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Britton Brilliant As O's Sweep A's

Zach Britton was dominant, the bullpen was spectacular and the offense did just enough as the Birds completed a three-game sweep over Oakland with a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night.

Britton (6-4) picked up his first win since May 1 with a strong performance in front of a sparse crowd of 11,760 at Camden Yards. Britton went 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out six.

Britton was locked in a scoreless pitching duel before the Birds finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. Vladimir Guerrero led off with a single, but after two quick strikeouts, it looked as if the O's would squander another scoring opportunity...with J.J. Hardy at the plate, Vlad advanced to second on a wild pitch and came home on a long single off Hardy's bat. The next man up, Mark Reynolds, crushed the first pitch he saw over the left field fence to plate Hardy and give the Birds a 3-0 was Reynolds' team-leading tenth homer and his third in the past five games.

The bullpen, one of the strong points over the past few weeks, kept up their end of the bargain...Jim Johnson allowed an unearned run in the eighth before Kevin Gregg slammed the door with yet another 1-2-3 ninth, picking up his 12th save in the process.

The O's have now won four of the last five games and have inched closer to .500 with a 29-31 record. The club has Thursday off before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays for a three-game weekend series starting Friday night. Jake Arrieta is slated to take the mound for the Birds...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Birds' Bats Back Jakubauskas

Making his first start in over a year, Chris Jakubauskas led the O's to a thrilling 4-0 victory over the Oakland A's on Tuesday night at Camden Yards.

Jakubauskas, acquired as a free-agent in the offseason, last started for the Pittsburgh Pirates in April 2010, and was pulled from that game after being struck in the head with a batted ball. Jakubauskas had been used out of the bullpen this season before making the spot-start on Tuesday night, and used the opportunity to his advantage. Jakubauskas went five scoreless innings, striking out five and walking one while allowing just three hits. He was actually struck in the ankle by a line drive in the top of the fifth, but stayed in the game to record the final out of the inning and should be fine...

The Birds smacked three homers in the game to hand a struggling Oakland squad their eighth straight loss. J.J. Hardy, in the lead-off spot for the first time this season, stroked the second pitch he saw over the left field wall to give the O's an early lead. Luke Scott went Yard for the first time since early May in the fifth inning, and Adam Jones slapped a solo shot in the sixth. Mark Reynolds capped-off the scoring with an RBI-double in the seventh...

The bullpen shut the door over the final four frames, as Clay Rapada, Jeremy Accardo and Koji Uehara combined to allow just two hits while fanning two and walking none to preserve the shutout.

Zach Britton takes the mound on Wednesday night, as the Orioles attempt to complete the three-game sweep of Oakland.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Matusz Victorious Over Oakland

The Orioles avenged a sweep against the A's in Oakland with a series-opening 4-2 win against the Athletics on Monday night at Camden Yards.

Brian Matusz picked up his first win of the season after allowing just two runs in 5 1/3 innings of work. Matusz (1-0) didn't look as sharp as he did in his debut last week, giving up seven hits and two walks while striking out three in an 89-pitch effort. Matusz kept the A's off the board until giving up a two-run blast in the top of the fourth inning...

The Birds gave Matusz an early cushion, scoring once in the first and three times in the second to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Vladimir Guerrero slapped a two-out RBI single in the first to score Robert Andino to give the O's a rare first-inning run. The Birds used four singles, a walk, an error, a stolen base and a wild pitch to cross the plate three times in the bottom of the second...

In what has become a formidable 1-2-3 punch, Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg shut down the A's offense over the final 3 2/3 frames. Johnson came on in relief of Matusz with two on and one out and induced a double play to end the top of the sixth inning before retiring the side in order in the seventh. Uehara mowed through the next three batters in the eighth, striking out one before Gregg picked up his 11th save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two. Hopefully this is the bullpen we'll see over the rest of the seems as if the roles have been defined and everything is working right now.

The Birds send Chris Jakubauskas to the mound to make a spot-start on Tuesday night...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jays Fly Away With The Series

It could have been Nick Markakis' day...

Matt Wieters stood on second base with two down in the ninth, and Robert Andino stood at the plate with a 3-2 count...Andino took ball four and...oh no, a horrific call at the plate sent Andino and the Birds to the locker room with another loss.

There's no way of knowing what could have been, but the fact is this...the O's fell to the Toronto Blue Jays 7-4 in the rubber-match on Sunday afternoon.

Jeremy Guthrie was less than stellar, allowing five runs over six innings, and took the loss. Guthrie (2-8) also surrendered two homers and never looked comfortable on the mound as the O's missed out on a chance to take the series against their Northern rivals.

The game was back-and-forth over the first few innings before the Jays went ahead on a three-run bomb in the fourth and never looked back. Mark Reynolds tried to start a rally in the ninth, slapping his second homer in as many games, but the O's eventually fell to the Jays...

Brian Matusz takes the mound for the Birds on Monday night, as the Orioles attempt to avenge the three-game sweep in Oakland...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Reynolds' Slam Lifts O's Over Jays

Mark Reynolds slapped the first grand slam of his career in the sixth inning Saturday night, propelling the Orioles to a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Camden Yards.

Jake Arrieta was shaky early on but held on to pick up his seventh win of the season. Ex-Oriole Corey Patterson deposited Arrieta's fifth pitch of the ballgame over the scoreboard in right field to give Toronto an early 1-0 lead. The Jays tacked on another run in the second and fourth innings, but Arrieta was able to escape from a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the third without surrendering a run. Arrieta (7-3) held on and took the win after Reynolds' slam in the sixth.

Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara made things look easy before Kevin Gregg made all of Baltimore hold their breath in the ninth. Gregg eventually earned his tenth save of the season and the Camden Yards faithful went home happy...

The O's had a rough year against Toronto in 2010, but look to take the first series between the divisional rivals on Sunday afternoon. Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound for the Birds...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

O's Start Homestand With A Thud

What's that sound you hear? It's just the Orioles falling further down into the cellar of the AL East, a place the club has called home for the last few seasons.

The Birds returned home to Baltimore and continued where they left off on the West Coast...with yet another loss. This time it was the Toronto Blue Jays that knocked the O's down another notch, beating them 8-4 in front of a disappointed crowd at Camden Yards on Friday night.

Zach Britton turned in his shortest outing of the season and was tagged with the loss after allowing seven runs (five earned) on six hits and three walks over five innings, striking out three. Britton (5-4) saw his ERA rise to 3.33 and hasn't won a game since May 1.

Toronto went up 2-0 in the second inning, thanks to another error by Mark Reynolds. Reynolds now leads the Majors with 11 errors this season...

Britton allowed a run in the third and was just a pitch away from getting out of the fifth inning unscathed...with the bases jammed and two outs, J. P. Arencibia drilled a grand slam on a 2-2 count to give the Jays a 7-0 lead and saddle Britton with his second straight loss.

The O's offense was held hitless through the first four innings before scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth. J.J. Hardy launched a two-run bomb in the bottom of the eighth, but it just wasn't enough...Hardy went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs in the losing effort. Overall, the O's slapped ten hits, equalling Toronto, but couldn't come up with the clutch hits when they needed to.

The O's (25-30) are in sole possession of last place and are six games behind the first-place Yankees in the divisional race. Jake Arrieta, coming off his worst start of the season, looks for his seventh win of the season on Saturday night...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

O's Finally Back In The Win Column

With Brian Matusz on the mound for the first time this season, the O's finally won a game on the West Coast, beating the Seattle Mariners 2-1 on Wednesday afternoon.

Matusz went 5 2/3 innings in his debut, allowing just one run on four hits, walking none and striking out was great to see him back in an O's uniform. The bullpen allowed just one hit over the final 3 1/3 frames...Jim Johnson (4-1) picked up the win, Koji Uehara pitched a scoreless eighth and Kevin Gregg earned his ninth save after a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

J.J. Hardy put the O's on the board with a solo homer (his third) in the second inning, but it was Adam Jones who won the game for the Birds. Jones, playing against the team that traded him, made a spectacular catch at the wall in the fourth inning before belting a go-ahead homer in the eighth. Jones went 3-for-4 and raised his average to .296 in the process...

With the return of Matusz to the roster, the Birds released Jake Fox on Wednesday afternoon. Derrek Lee is still recovering, and Luke Scott was at DH to give Vladimir Guerrero a day off, so Nick Markakis played first base for the first time since he was in high school. Markakis went 0-for-4 but played a pretty good game on defense, scooping a ball out of the dirt to turn a double play in the first inning.

The O's have Thursday off before starting a nine-game homestand on Friday night. The Toronto Blue Jays are in town for the opening three-game set. The O's went just 3-15 against Toronto last year, and need to take a few games against their divisional foes to stay alive in the AL East race. Zach Britton takes the mound for the Birds on Friday night...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heartbreak In Seattle

Through 7 2/3 innings, O's starter Jeremy Guthrie was cruising. Guthrie was working on a three-hit shutout and his third win of the season before an error, a single and a homer erased all of his hard work as the O's dropped their fifth straight game, falling 3-2 to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.

Frustrating isn't a strong enough word to describe this game...

The Birds were facing ex-Oriole Erik Bedard, who struck out seven but allowed two runs and was in line for the loss. The O's scored a run against Bedard in the sixth inning...Nick Markakis grounded into a double play but Robert Andino came home from third on the play. Matt Wieters went deep in the seventh inning to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

It looked like that would be all the support Guthrie would need...Guthrie (2-7) went eight innings, striking out nine and walking just one (intentionally) while allowing five hits and three runs (all unearned). It all unraveled for Guthrie and the O's in the bottom of the eighth...with two outs, Ichiro Suzuki reached first on an error. Luke Scott made a diving play and threw to Guthrie, running to cover the bag, but the ball sailed past Guthrie and Suzuki was on (Guthrie was charged with the error, but to me it was all on Scott). Guthrie gave up a single before allowing a three-run bomb to Justin Smoak, giving the Mariners a lead they wouldn't relinquish...

The O's had a chance to pad the lead after Bedard exited in the seventh, loading the bases with just one out. But former Oriole Chris Ray induced a shallow pop-up off Robert Andino's bat before striking out Adam Jones to end the threat. The Orioles have scored just 13 runs in the last five games (an average of 2.6 runs/game).

Thankfully, this horrific West Coast road-trip comes to an end on Wednesday. The Birds were swept by Oakland and have dropped the first two contests in Seattle, falling to 24-29 on the season. The good news? Brian Matusz makes his 2011 debut on Wednesday afternoon, and regardless of the outcome, the O's start a nine-game homestand on Friday night...