Friday, June 26, 2009

Hot and Cold

Aside from her looks, I’m not a fan of Katy Perry by any means, but I think she’d be the perfect person to perform at one of those lame free concerts the Orioles put on every now and then.

She could sing the Orioles new theme song: Hot and Cold.

In late May, the Orioles won 7 of 8 games, including the amazing sweep of the Blue Jays that was capped off by a Nolan Reimold walk off home run in extra innings. Then they went 2-10.

Then they came back east and won another 7 out of 8.

Then they went to Miami and got swept by the Marlins.

What gives?

I know the Orioles aren’t a good team by any means, but how can they get so hot and so cold?

In one word, it’s the offense.

The pitching has been pretty consistent over the last month, with 2 or 3 solid starts, 1 mediocre start, and then 1 terrible start each time through the rotation. And that’s fine. Even winning teams usually get that from their rotation.

But even when it was in the middle of the most recent winning streak, the Orioles erased some disappointing offensive displays by getting some huge clutch hits late in the game, like the final game against the Mets and game 2 of the Phillies series. Even though the Orioles won those games in the 9th inning, they still left 10 and 14 runners on base in those games.

And that didn’t stop against the Marlins. In the series, in which the Orioles were swept, they left a total of 22 runners on base. The difference? They didn’t get that handful of clutch hits that would have made the difference, especially in the first 2 games of the series. Let’s face it, they weren’t winning that last game after Rich Hill and Chris Ray were shelled.

It also doesn’t help that Adam Jones has a .534 OPS in June.

Luckily, the Orioles come back home to face the Nationals, who are still the worst team in the majors. But after that, the Red Sox come to town, followed by another trip to the west coast.


The Orioles better start knocking in those runners soon. Because it could get really ugly.

Until then, expect to see this current cold streak continue. The hot water may have gotten all used up.


Chris Ray is in a word, terrible. After his pathetic 1.2 IP, 5 ER performance last night (including a grand-slam from Hanley Ramirez, his second in the series, the first allowed by Danys Baez), Ray’s ERA is up to a whopping 10.13. I know he still may be battling back from Tommy John surgery, but Ray is not getting it done. As a matter of fact, I’d say he’s close to getting released. So before they do that, Rick Kranitz should step in and attempt to overhaul Ray’s herky-jerky wind-up, which has contributed to Ray’s injuries…Danys Baez, who was once the Orioles most reliable reliever, has struggled mightily as of late, allowing 6 ER in his last 2 appearances, which have amounted to just 1 IP. He allowed the 3 run home run to Ryan Howard in game two against the Phillies, and allowed a grand-slam to Hanley Ramirez in game 1 against the Marlins. Baez was once considered to be the Orioles most tradable player, but you have to wonder now, after he’s pretty much resembled a home run derby pitcher lately…Nick Markakis showed signs of life last night, going 4-4 with 2 doubles. Markakis has been “slumping” by his standards since his hot start in April, with a .744 OPS in May and June.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back on Track?

Like a bad girlfriend, the Orioles find ways of pulling you back in just when you’re about to walk away from them.

To be honest, I was finished with the Orioles after their 2-week long offensive slump where they went 2-10. I was ready to spend more time in the yard or watching Real Housewives of Glen Burnie. Anything other than watching the O’s trot out there, go through the motions and lose another game. 

But then they started playing well again. They took 2 out of 3 from both the Braves and Mets at home and then did the impossible – they swept a team on the road! And that team was the World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies! 

Holy F---! 

So yeah, now I’m an O’s fan again, excited to watch the O’s try to continue their winning ways against the Florida Marlins. 

The Marlins have dominated the Orioles since interleague play began in 1997. The Orioles are 5-13 against the Fish and I vividly remember the Marlins sweeping the wire-to-wire Orioles in 1997 on their way to becoming the shocking World Series Champions that year. 

But all the O’s need to do to continue winning is do what they have done over the last 9 games…pitch well and get clutch hits. 

The O’s team ERA in June is 4.23. And while the offense still strands too many runners on base, they make up for it by getting clutch hits late in the game. You only need to look at the 5-4 win over the Mets last Thursday, the amazing 6-5 comeback win over the Phillies last Saturday and the late-inning 2-1 win against the Phillies yesterday (all won in the 9th inning) to see clutch hitting at its best. 

That said, the Orioles can’t keep waiting for clutch hitting for much longer. They need to get those runners in more often in the early innings. 

So there you have it. The Orioles are playing good baseball. Every day you can say that past June 21st is a blessing.


Monday, June 8, 2009

A week to forget

Win 7 of 8 games? Check.

Look like the organization has finally turned a corner with rookie players contributing? Check.

So what happened to the Orioles?

A west coast trip happened.

The Orioles must be unable to deal with jet lag or airline food because they completed another miserable west coast trip, going 1-5 and losing 5 straight games. In those six games they scored a total of 10 runs. For those who failed second grade math, that’s less than 2 runs a game.

And just when you thought the offense was offensive, remember all that solid pitching we were getting? Reality check time:

Jeremy Guthrie - 0.2 IP, 6 ER.

Jason Berken - 3.1 IP, 9 ER

Rich Hill - 0.2 IP, 3 ER (including 4 BB and 1 HBP)

As well as the Orioles were playing for a week there, winning 7 of 8 games, they completely erased all those warm and fuzzy feelings (just like they always have) by losing 7 of 8 games.

Matt Wieters, the savior of the Baltimore Orioles, who even has his own Chuck Norris-like website ( is currently batting .143 with 0 HR. Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts are both mired in month-long slumps. Only Adam Jones has been consistent since opening day, but even he hasn’t hit a HR since May 26th.

Remember when we were all saying that the Orioles turned a corner 2 weeks ago? Well they may have, but then they ducked back behind the corner and started cowering like a scared little girl.

When is this team ever going to make a stride and not erase it the second they realize they’ve made one?

Rich Hill needs a complete mechanical overhaul. His delivery is so long and strenuous, it’s no surprise he’s had back injuries and trouble with control in the past. Hopefully pitching coach Rick Kranitz can reinvent Hill so he can consistently become the dominant pitcher he is at times. It’s hard to remember that we acquired Hill for a PTBNL.

Jason Berken was due for a start like his last one. He doesn’t miss many bats, and Oakland (while one of the worst offensive teams by OPS in the AL) was put together by Billy Beane, a GM who picks up players who are patient and will make you pay for mistakes. And boy did they make Berken pay for not having dominant stuff, collecting 9 hits and 3 walks in just 3.1 IP.

But it’s Jeremy Guthrie who is perhaps the most troubling of them all. Guthrie had been the team’s anchor pitcher for the last 2 years. In any given year he’s only had just a handful of bad starts. Well, so far this year, he’s only had a handful of good starts. And that handful is pretty small. The Orioles would be wise to trade Guthrie if he gets back on track because he doesn’t look to be the stabilizer he was for the last few years. And as the Orioles continue to call up their promising pitching prospects, the spaces in the rotation are few and far between.

So, are the Orioles getting better? Will they ever turn this ship around?

It’s hard to tell after the last 2 polarizing weeks.