Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Orioles Loss and a Couple Other Notes

The Orioles suffered yet another tough loss today. Jeremy Guthrie pitched eight outstanding innings and kept the Angels off balance throughout his entire start. The Orioles managed a few timely hits and held the lead 3-2 going into the bottom of the 9th. Chris Ray relieved Guthrie and started the inning off by allowing an opposite field single to Chone Figgins. Vladimir Guerrero followed Figgins's at bat with a deep drive to left center that landed at least 15 feet past the fence. So much for the Angels actually having to work hard for their comeback victory over the O's.

I told myself before the inning that I wanted Guthrie to stay in the game. Through eight innings Guthrie hadn't thrown 90 pitches yet, and during the game he handled the Angels lineup with ease, allowing only three hits and one earned run. Guthrie especially pitched well against Guerrero by staying aggressive and constantly staying in and around the strike zone. I didn't want Chris Ray to face Guerrero, but I still do trust Ray as the O's closer. He just doesn't match up well against Guerrero because Ray just seems to throw the ball; he never seems to actually be a pitcher and locate his pitches.

I'm not going to blame Perlozzo for this loss at all. He has to trust his players, and he has to believe that Ray is going to pick up Guthrie and actually close the game out. Ray failed and undoubtedly he knows that. These things happen during the season, but it would be nice to see the Orioles actually play up to their potential for longer periods than a week or two. They need to be able to beat good teams on the road and close out games.

I hope the Orioles continue to play well against the Seattle Mariners tomorrow. They did lose three out of four to the Angels, but they could have easily taken two of those games. They need to pick up the pieces and learn from these tough losses and start putting some more notches in the win column. And they have the talent to do so.


-- As you've probably seen by now, the Cubs had a little issue the other day with, well, trying not to fight themselves in their own dugout. Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett apparently weren't very happy with each other about what happened in the previous inning and felt the need to exchange a few words and a few blows to the face. According to a report, Barrett suffered two black eyes in another altercation between the two a little while later that occurred in the team's clubhouse.

Even though this incident is the team's lowest point so far, it may actually have some positive effects for the Cubs for the rest of the season. The Cubs aren't playing well, and the fans, the manager, and the players all know it. They had a lot of support before the season started because they brought in Lou Piniella to manage the team, and the Cubs also brought in high-priced players as Alfonso Soriano and Ted Lilly, along with a few others. It's definitely disappointing when a team with that kind of salary and winning potential begins the season by playing so poorly, so maybe releasing a little anger on each other will be exactly the motivating force that they need to turn their season around.

And if it's not, at least it'll provide some great YouTube clips to view later on.

-- In one of the more suprising and quick developing stories of the past few months, Billy Donovan suddenly left his head coaching post at Florida for one in the NBA with the Orlando Magic. For some reason, I'm always shocked when successful college coaches decide to leave their programs to set up shop with professional teams. Much of the time, the motivating issue is money. Other times, a strong force is the desire to show that a coach can succeed at the highest possible level of competition.

I guess I just thought Donovan was happy at Florida and had no desire to leave. But his bolting for the NBA seems logical because he had just won two championships in a row at Florida, and maybe he felt there wasn't much else for him to accomplish. He now has new goals and new objectives to worry about. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

As far as how he'll do with the Magic, I really don't know yet. The Magic have a few decent pieces around Dwight Howard, but nothing really spectacular. Grant Hill is far from a reliable player, not because of his talent, but obviously because of his history of injuries. Except for a healthy Grant Hill, the Magic's next best player is probably Jameer Nelson. After that, they have names such as Darko Milicic, Keyon Dooling, Hedo Turkoglu, JJ Redick, and Trevor Ariza -- not exactly household names. They do have some cap space to throw at a player such as Vince Carter or Rashard Lewis, but I'm not convinced that either one of those players would help push the Magic into anything more than they were last year, which was the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. They also don't have a high draft pick, and they don't necessarily have the pieces to land a big-time player via trade.

Donovan could bring some intensity and excitement to a team that's been struggling over the last few years. And even if he fails as so many coaches who left their college teams for NBA teams have done before him, at least he'll face some new challenges along the way. Oh yeah, and he'll get paid... a lot.

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