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.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Offense Stalls Again

Alfredo Simon didn't deserve a loss, but the O's bats stayed cold in a 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night at Camden Yards.

Simon (2-3) took a shutout into the seventh inning before the Angels took a 2-0 lead. Simon surrendered six hits over 6 2/3 innings, walking one and fanning three. The game was actually a lot closer than the final score would lead you to believe...Kevin Gregg served up a grand slam to Vernon Wells in the ninth inning to put the game out of reach for a struggling Orioles' offense.

Two days after being two-hit and shut out by Boston, the O's managed just one run on three hits Friday night. The club was actually no-hit through five innings; rookie Blake Davis broke-up the no-hit bid with a one-out double in the sixth. J.J. Hardy brought home the O's lone run with an RBI single in the seventh...

Luke Scott returned from the DL and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. After the game, Scott was still sore and will head back to the DL. He hasn't yet decided whether or not to have surgery on his shoulder, but his 2011 season is likely over...

The Birds (39-57) send Brad Bergesen to the mound on Saturday night.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bats Go Cold In Series Loss

The bats were bound to cool off eventually, but the timing couldn't have been worse for the O's. After scoring 30 runs over the past four games (three for wins) the Birds managed just two hits in a 4-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Jake Arrieta turned in one of his best performances of the season, allowing three runs on nine hits over seven innings, walking none while fanning four. Arrieta (9-7) typically enjoys the best run support of all the O's starters, but the Birds couldn't get anything going against Sox starter Andrew Miller, who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Miller actually walked six batters over 5 2/3 innings, and walked three straight to load the bases in the second inning before inducing a double play to end the Oriole's only real threat of the game.

With no offense to speak of, I had to take solace in the O's pitching...Arrieta was the best I've seen him in over a month, and although Mark Hendrickson struggled in relief, I was impressed with the performance of Mark Worrell. Hendrickson started the eighth inning and gave up a single, a ground-rule double and back-to-back walks to push home Boston's fourth run. Worrell took the mound and struck out the next two batters he faced before inducing an inning-ending fly ball to center field.

The Birds have Thursday off before wrapping up the 10-game homestand with a three-game set against the Los Angeles Angels beginning on Friday night. Alfredo Simon takes the mound for the O's...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guthrie Dominant As O's Sink Sox

It took seven tries, but the O's finally were able to record another win over the Boston Red Sox with a 6-2 victory on Tuesday night.

The last time the Orioles beat Boston was late April, but Jeremy Guthrie's strong outing all but ensured the Birds a long-awaited win over their first-place divisional rivals. Guthrie (4-13) allowed just two runs (a two-run homer) on eight hits and a walk while fanning four. Guthrie, the subject of trade rumors as usual at this point in the season, shut down one of the hottest teams in baseball in one of his best performances of the season.

Jim Johnson was even more impressive, no-hitting the Sox over the final two frames. Johnson pitched a perfect eighth and came out for the ninth after the Birds had padded the lead...Derrek Lee blasted a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth, and Mark Reynolds followed with a solo homer to give J.J. some breathing room.

The O's led 3-0 after three innings before Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-run bomb in the fifth made it a one-run game. That's how it stood before the back-to-back dingers in the eighth gave the Birds an insurmountable lead...

The two teams square-off for the series finale on Thursday afternoon...Jake Arrieta looks to give the O's a rare series win over the Red Sox.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eight-Run Eighth Sinks O's

The lack of pitching depth was evident in the Orioles' 15-10 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Monday night at Camden Yards.

After a valiant offensive comeback that gave the O's a brief 7-6 lead, the bullpen allowed nine runs, eight of them in the eighth inning alone, over the final four frames.

The Birds took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run triple off the bat of Derrek Lee, and starter Brad Bergesen retired the first six batters he faced before running into trouble in the third. Bergesen allowed six runs (four earned) on eight hits and no walks over five innings, striking out three.

The Birds needed Bergesen to go deeper into the game...with Kevin Gregg serving the first game of his suspension, Alfredo Simon in the Dominican Republic and Koji Uehara resting, Buck Showalter didn't have many options in the 'pen, and it showed...

Typically, if you score ten runs in a game you should win that just didn't happen for the O's against a red-hot Red Sox team. Jeremy Guthrie gets the nod on Tuesday night.

Monday, July 18, 2011

O's Use Four Homers To Power Past Tribe

It looked bad early...the Indians slapped back-to-back homers off starter Mitch Atkins and took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on Sunday afternoon. But the bullpen kept the Tribe off the board over the final six frames, and the O's crushed four homers en route to an 8-3 series-splitting victory.

Adam Jones started the scoring with a solo shot in the second inning. Robert Andino was the unlikely here of the game after giving the O's a 4-3 lead with a three-run bomb in the fifth. Andino finished the game with a career-best four RBIs. Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters each connected for solo blasts as well.

Mark Hendrickson (1-0) got the win after allowing just one hit and two walks in three innings of work. Hendrickson came on to relieve Atkins, who tossed 77 pitches in just three innings and was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk after the game. The bullpen combined to allow just four hits, walking two and striking out two.

The O's now host Boston for three games...this could be a very interesting series after what happened at Fenway before the All-Star break. Brad Bergesen takes the mound for the Birds on Monday night...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

O's Finally Back In The Win Column

They almost let it slip away, but the Birds held on and snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 6-5 win over the Indians on Saturday night at Camden Yards.

Alfredo Simon was the unlikely starter able to get the O's back on track with a magnificent seven-inning stint. Simon (2-2) allowed just two runs on three hits and a walk while fanning five. Koji Uehara pitched a perfect eighth inning before things got rocky when Kevin Gregg took the mound in the ninth...

The Birds were up 3-2 heading into the eighth inning before scoring three times in the bottom of the frame. They would need each and every one of those insurance runs...

Gregg struck out the first batter he faced before walking the next three. After another strikeout, Gregg gave up a three-run double to cut the O's lead to one and put Cleveland's go-ahead run at the plate. Buck Showalter had seen enough and summoned Michael Gonzalez, who retired Grady Sizemore and picked up his first save since April 2010.

Not to make any excuses for Gregg, but when he was warming up it was a save situation. The mentality is different when a one-run lead turns into a four-run cushion. Not to mention the fact that it's been two weeks since Gregg has come into a game with the O's on top. Either way, it was a must-win situation, and at least Gonzo was able to do what Gregg could not...

The Birds wrap-up the series with the Tribe on Sunday afternoon...Mitch Atkins takes the mound for the O's.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Comeback Falls Short As Skid Hits Nine

The Orioles broke out the bats on Friday night, but the big hit continued to elude them in a 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Camden Yards.

Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters both slapped solo homers in the second inning and Adam Jones launched a two-run bomb in the fifth, but the O's pitchers couldn't seem to keep the Indians off the scoreboard. Jake Arrieta allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks over five innings; two of the hits were long balls. Jim Johnson came on in relief and took the loss after allowing a run in the sixth inning.

Meanwhile, Cleveland's bullpen was untouchable, no-hitting the Birds over the final four frames. The Orioles have yet to record a hit against the Tribe's 'pen in the series...

Nick Markakis picked up his 1,oooth career-hit, a single in the third inning.

An Oriole milestone, three long balls and could have been a great night at the Yard. Instead, the O's dropped their ninth straight game, a season-high in futility. Alfredo Simon takes the mound Saturday's hoping we don't hit double-digits.

Friday, July 15, 2011

O's Drop Eight Straight (Again)

This is starting to wear me down.

I'm not paid to write about the Orioles...I'm a fan...just like you.

It's getting harder and harder to write about a team that leaves you heart-broken after every single game.

The latest loss came at home against the Cleveland Indians...the O's fell 8-4 on Thursday night.

We all were hoping the Birds would rest over the All-Star Break and come out swinging (and pitching) to start off the second half. That was just a dream...

Jeremy Guthrie gave up two homers in the first inning and the Birds were down 3-0 before they even took a swing. As we all know, the O's can't score with Guthrie on the mound, but maybe tonight would be different?


Guthrie lasted just five innings and was charged with six runs on five hits and four walks. Guthrie (3-13) continues to lead the league in losses in his bid for a 20-loss season. The Orioles can't seem to score him any runs in his quest for history...

As I said, this is getting rough to watch, much less write about. I keep putting this off for hours, since I have absolutely nothing positive to say. Most fans I talk to have given up, hoping the NFL lock-out comes to an end quickly. The fans that still watch (myself included) wonder why they waste their time...

Here's a little quote from my good friend Keith Kinack, a New Jersey native that could be rooting for the Yankees but chose to support his home team...

"Honestly. I don't know why I still watch the O's anymore. With each loss my heart breaks a little more. Its depressing. Its the same thing every year. The worst thing is I can't see us doing better than last year. The baseball Gods hate Baltimore. Come on football season, save me from this inevitable loss of hope."

Wow. That pretty much says it all, doesn't it? The Birds have dropped eight straight. July is half over and the O's have won just one game this month. Can you blame Keith? Or me? Or the rest of Baltimore? The season is over just a game into the second half...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

O's Finish First Half With A Thud

The first half of the season ended in familiar fashion for the Orioles and their fans...another loss.

After an 8-6 loss to the first-place Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon, the last place Orioles take a 36-52 record into the second half.

It actually looked like the O's were going to escape Boston with a win after taking a 6-2 lead with a strong six-run second inning, but starter Mitch Atkins allowed three home runs in the bottom of the frame, allowing the Sox to tie the game.

Jeremy Guthrie came on in relief, and despite allowing just one run (a bases-loaded walk) over 3 1/3 innings, took the loss. Guthrie (3-12) fell victim once again to no run support, as the Birds managed just one hit over the final seven innings. You read that right...the Birds scored six times in one inning before Guthrie took the mound, then went seven innings without scoring again. Adam Jones actually led-off the fifth inning with a triple but was stranded at third base, which pretty much sums up the O's season so far.

It was another interesting game in a strange series, with four more ejections and plenty of drama. Red Sox rookie starter Kyle Weiland hit two batters (Mark Reynolds in the third and Vladimir Guerrero in the fifth) before being ejected along with Boston's skipper Terry Francona. Both Reynolds and Guerrero left the game with hand injuries. Guthrie hit Kevin Youkilis in the fourth, loading the bases for DH David Ortiz, who walked to force home the go-ahead run. Guthrie was warned after the pitch, which set up Baltimore's ejections in the sixth inning. Michael Gonzalez came on in relief and struck out the first two batters he faced before throwing behind Ortiz, and was tossed along with Buck Showalter. Seriously Michael...if you're going to get tossed at least hit the guy! Remember, it was Ortiz that started this whole thing with his antics on Friday night.

So that about wraps up a dismal first half of baseball for the O's. The Birds are 16 games under .500 and 18 games out of first place. The starting rotation is in shambles and the hitting has been inconsistent, except with runners in scoring position, where the club has been horrifically consistent over the past month. The Orioles have dropped seven straight games, and unless something dramatic happens this season is pretty much over...

I'm hoping for a second-half miracle, but there hasn't been any reason for me to believe this season will end any differently than the past 13 years have. The Birds kick-off a 10-game homestand on Thursday's hoping the club can put the past behind them and start fresh. Let's go O's!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

After All The Talk, O's Go Quietly

It's just getting ridiculous now. Frustrating. Painful. Fill in the blank with whatever you'd like...

A day after a bench-clearing brawl seemed to energize the slumping Orioles, their bats went silent in a 4-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night at Fenway Park.

Spot-starter Alfredo Simon kept the Sox off the board for four innings but allowed three runs in the fifth, which was three more runs than Boston would need on a night that the O's managed just four hits, all singles.

John Lackey hit Nick Markakis with a pitch in the sixth inning before plunking Derrek Lee in the seventh...Lackey was warned but not ejected. There was no retaliation by the Orioles...they sat there and took the abuse.

The first-place Sox look to sweep the last-place Orioles on Sunday afternoon. The Birds have dropped six straight and can only hope for a 2-8 road trip with a win today...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Melee At Fenway

At least the O's made things interesting in the end...

The Birds dropped their fifth straight game on Friday night, falling to the Red Sox 10-3 in a game that was pretty much over after Boston scored eight runs in the first inning.

With Boston ahead 10-3 in the eighth inning, things got a little crazy...Kevin Gregg threw a few pitches inside to Sox slugger David Ortiz, and Ortiz pointed at him and started toward the mound. Both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown. After Gregg got Ortiz to pop-up to center field, Gregg commented on Ortiz's lack of hustle to get to first base, and Ortiz charged him. A few punches were thrown, both benches emptied and Gregg and Ortiz were ejected, along with Jim Johnson and Boston's Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The eighth-inning brawl was the only life the Orioles showed in a game that Boston dominated from the very beginning. Zach Britton lasted just 2/3 of an inning and was charged with eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and two walks. Britton (6-7) looked lost in his Fenway debut, and the O's defense didn't help his cause...the Birds were charged with just one error but there were two or three sloppy plays that extended the slaughter.

Brad Bergesen came on in relief and contained Boston's offense before exiting the game in the fourth after being hit in the forearm by a line drive off Ortiz's bat. Yup, this game had it all...

The last-place Orioles (36-50) now send Alfredo Simon to the mound Saturday night...let's hope this was the spark the O's needed to start winning a few games. We'll find out in a few hours...

Friday, July 8, 2011

I'm Back...What Happened???

I'm back from a much-needed vacation. It looks like the Orioles could have used one, as well.

Since my last post, the O's have dropped eight of their past nine games in a season that is unravelling quickly. I don't even know where to begin...

After taking two of three from the Cincinnati Reds, the Birds were swept at home by the St. Louis Cardinals. They then traveled to Atlanta, where they managed their lone win in July, a 5-4 victory on Sunday, July 3rd. Texas then swept the Birds in three games in Arlington, and the O's were pummeled by the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night at Fenway Park.

The O's pitching has hit an all-time low this season...the staff has given up ten or more runs in three of the last four losses. The club has shifted from neutral to reverse, and there isn't any end in sight.

The last-place O's (36-49) are now 13 games under .500 and 15 games behind the first-place Red Sox (oh yeah, Boston took first place from the Yankees with the win).

I'd love to spout out some highlights from the past week, but there really isn't much to say. I'm back from vacation, and I'll be following the team daily from here on out...I'm not so sure that that is a good thing?!