The Orioles were swept by the Rays at home last weekend. Tampa pitchers served up 18 free passes; the O’s only pushed two of the walks across home plate. We scored a total of seven runs in the three games and stranded 25 baserunners. The team looked shaky at best. Zach Britton provided the only quality start with the bullpen providing the typical implosion for his efforts.
I don’t know if J.J. Hardy is combustible, but he provided some much needed spark for the O’s. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still the equivalent of getting a root canal to watch. Still, it’s just nice to see Hardy’s return for the Seattle series motivate the offense. He went four-for-five with a solo shot his first night back. I think it’s important to have the same lineup that started the season in tact. Unfortunately, it would take Hardy, seven flamethrowers and 100 gallons of napalm to spark this bullpen. I don’t know how much longer I can complain about them before they become completely irrelevant. Do starting pitchers go on strike? I hope not, the O’s would have an NFL-style pitching lockout if they did. How many blown leads would it take for you to call in sick for your scheduled start?
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Let’s move to some more positive stuff. Brian Matusz is scheduled to throw a four-inning rehab start with an O’s minor league affiliate by May 16. If all goes as planned, he could be back in the starting rotation the beginning of June. We need him as strong as possible considering the lack of closing by the bullpen.
Alfredo Simon was at Camden Yards over the weekend while awaiting his next double-A start. He hung out with the team for the first time since being released from a Dominican prison on March 3. I couldn’t imagine being in a Dominican prison; then again, I couldn’t imagine firing a pistol to celebrate New Year’s. If you don’t know, Simon was involved in a New Year’s shooting where one person was wounded and one killed. I’m not going to explain what happened or even try to figure it out for myself. Fireworks people, fireworks; you need a freakin’ bottle rocket. How about a small roman candle or a block buster? Obviously, not everyone who shoots off pistols in celebration points them straight in the air, so there is a serious need for firecrackers in the D.R. Hopefully Simon will be able to provide the spark, or muzzle flash, the bullpen has needed for quite some time. He closed for the O’s last season, and if his homicide/manslaughter, or whatever they call it, case is closed without him being charged, he could provide some much needed firepower for this team.