It’s so important to beat a team when it’s down; the Yankees do it to us all the time. The Red Sox weren’t exactly down when the Orioles visited last week, but we managed to take two of three from them before moving on to Chicago. The White Sox, on the other hand, were down and, fortunately, the O’s were able to take advantage (albeit without much grace).
I was extremely concerned about the Orioles going into a hurting team’s yard. The way our luck rolls, we’re more likely to kill a hot team and be a slump-buster for the struggling. We won three out of four and proved, in the final game, we just don’t like scoring runs for number-one starters. Jeremy Guthrie is quickly realizing how Mike Mussina felt. Hopefully Arlo won’t become a Yankee in order to win 20.
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Moving into the second month of the season, our bullpen is still a concern. “Barely getting by” isn’t how you want to describe your relievers, and we’re winning despite them. Now, we’re heading into Kansas City hoping our starters stay strong and our seventh-through-ninth antacid prescription has refills. The Royals had a little slide but now are winners of three in a row. They’re no joke and their lineup is killing it. They are fourth in runs, second in batting average, third in OBP and fifth in slugging. To put it in perspective, the O’s are 22nd in runs, 24th in average, 3oth in OBP and 18th in slugging. This early in the season, the numbers change nightly. But it’s obvious that the O’s bullpen can’t afford to be giving away free passes.
I couldn’t imagine being a starter for the O’s and coming out after six with a two-run lead. Nail-biting, chain-smoking, and just plain closing-your-eyes-and-hoping come to mind. The $13 million trio of Mike Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg and Koji Uehara need to throw strikes. The stat that really bothers me is their combined 14 walks in 26 innings. That’s worse than sixth-starter numbers. You have to get first-pitch strikes, guys. Your little fancy-pants strikeout pitches only work if you’re ahead in the count. I want them to succeed and not because we’re stuck with them. All have shown glimpses of greatness. Sometimes, they look downright filthy. I don’t think closing or setting up a closer is an easy job. I do believe they have 13 million reasons to get ahead of the hitter and not give free passes.
Going into the land of royalty and barbeque, the Orioles are one game below .500. With our starters pitching strong and some timely hitting, we could end this road trip above .500. If that’s the case, I challenge fans to show up and give the Birds a loud obnoxious “Welcome home, hon.”