Thursday, April 23, 2009

Eaton steps up in O's win

Adam Eaton, who had managed to pitch only four innings in each of his first two starts, tossed seven and a third innings tonight against the White Sox in a 6-2 Orioles win. The win improved the Orioles' record to 8-8 on the season -- which includes an 0-4 record against the Red Sox and an 8-4 record (and four series wins) against the Yankees, Rays, Rangers, and White Sox.

On offense, the O's were able to get to Bartolo Colon quickly, knocking him out of the game after three innings with eight hits and five runs. Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton, and Felix Pie all had two hits apiece; Pie's multi-hit effort raised his batting average to a robust .171. And one of Wigginton's hits, an RBI-double, was his first extra-base hit of the season.

The season is young, but Eaton's performance was definitely impressive. And when an Orioles starter pitches well, it's definitely worth noting. In those seven-plus innings, Eaton gave up six hits and two runs (Jim Johnson allowed two inherited runners to score), and he struck out nine batters while walking none. In 102 pitches, he threw 74 for strikes, relentlessly attacking the strike zone and repeatedly getting ahead of opposing batters.

The solid outing lowered Eaton's ERA to 7.04 -- but could be something to build on. A pitcher like Eaton is certainly expendable for the Orioles if he struggles in some of his starts down the road, but more efforts like this one could be very useful/helpful to a thin staff that has already lost Alfredo Simon for the year. Eaton doesn't have to be an ace, but if he can eat some innings and give the Orioles' younger pitchers in the farm system more time to develop, his presence on the team will be relatively positive.

Then again, it was just one outing. Hopefully he can duplicate it in his next start.

AP Photo/Rob Carr

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