Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blowout loss to the Rays caps an 0-6 Orioles homestand

So the Orioles played an afternoon game yesterday and lost to the Rays again, this time 9-1. The loss dropped the O's to 1-8 on the season, and they just finished up an awful 0-6 homestand against the Blue Jays and Rays.

In yesterday's game, Brad Bergesen deservedly took the loss after giving up eight runs (five earned) in three innings. Bergesen has now allowed five earned runs in both of his early season starts. Yesterday, he gave up seven hits and allowed two home runs (one to Carlos Pena and one to B.J. Upton) while walking two and striking out just three.

David Price, on the other hand, was solid for the Rays. He pitched seven strong innings and allowed just one earned run on four hits. He also walked two batters and struck out seven O's in 109 pitches.

Miguel Tejada was responsible for the lone run, hitting a solo home run to center field in the fourth inning. He also drew a walk. Batting in the second slot, Ty Wigginton added two more hits after Wednesday's two-homer performance, and Luke Scott went 1-3 with a walk. Felix Pie, who didn't start the game but pinch-hit for Nick Markakis in the bottom of the eighth, doubled in his only at bat. In 17 at bats, Pie has now collected eight hits and is hitting .471.

Jason Berken also deserves a little credit as the long man out of the bullpen. In five innings yesterday, Berken allowed one run (on another Upton homer) on just three hits. Berken also walked one but struck out five to lower his ERA to 2.08. Could this be the most suitable role for Berken, or has he just started out the season with a few nice relief appearances? Time will tell.

Obviously the O's record is bad; only the Houston Astros' 0-8 mark is worse right now. The O's offense has also been terrible, as they've only scored 27 runs in nine games -- third-worst in the majors. The O's also have the third-worst on-base percentage (.309) and the seventh-worst slugging percentage (.386). With Brian Roberts expected to miss possibly the rest of April, things definitely aren't going according to plan for the O's offense.

In the field, the O's have been decent. Tejada has committed both of the O's errors, though, oddly enough, they have come in situations where unearned runs followed. Garrett Atkins seems like he's been at least OK at first base; I can recall just one play, a scoop on a throw from Cesar Izturis, that he should have made. Then again, it's only been a few games -- and I haven't been able to watch every single inning -- so after a while some of the advanced stats may show that he's been below average. Adam Jones has made a few nice running plays, but he did drop a ball in the first inning of the O's home opener against the Blue Jays that he probably should have caught. Also, Pie has covered a lot of ground in left field when he's played; the same can't really be said for Nolan Reimold. But again, it's still early, so this topic will be revisited as the season rolls along.

The O's currently have a team ERA of 4.82 (third-worst in the AL), but that number is weighed down by Bergesen's two subpar outings. Kevin Millwood (2.13 ERA), Jeremy Guthrie (4.05), Brian Matusz (4.38), and David Hernandez (3.00) have done a pretty good job. The O's currently lead the AL in strikeouts per nine innings (8.2) and are tied for third in walks allowed per nine innings (3.2). The starting rotation probably isn't this good, but it does show how terrible the offense has been that the Orioles haven't been able to get more than one win with how admirably the rotation has pitched so far.

As for the bullpen, everyone knows that Mike Gonzalez (18.00) has been a disaster so far. The Orioles placed him on the disabled list yesterday, so he'll be out for a few weeks. Matt Albers (10.38) started the season strong but has had a few bad outings in a row. In 4.1 innings pitched, Albers has walked five batters, which is way too many. Will Ohman (0.00) has allowed three hits in 3.1 innings pitched, and he has looked pretty good and hasn't allowed a run of his own. But he has allowed some inherited runners to score. Jim Johnson (6.00), the de facto closer while Gonzalez is on the DL, has been OK, allowing three hits in 3.0 innings pitched while striking out three. Cla Meredith (7.71), though, has already allowed two homers in just 2.1 innings.

The two best pitchers in the bullpen have easily been Berken and Mark Hendrickson (1.93), who has struck out eight batters in 4.2 innings. I doubt many people saw that coming.

True, the season is only nine games old and there's plenty of innings and games to play. But so far, things just aren't looking very good for the O's. Maybe a trip to the West Coast to play Oakland and Seattle will help the O's turn things around. Maybe.

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