Orioles of ’09… ish

Last night, the Orioles battled out a tough 8 and a half innings with the Red Sox.  Expectedly, the final score was in Boston’s favor, 4-3.  The weird part about watching this game was how much it looked like the Orioles last season.  They stayed in the game the entire time, but the problem came down to the bullpen.  For some reason, they just did not seem like the same Orioles that we have seen through the first 16 games.  The stats are basically the same as expected except the bullpen, so I am not sure what it was.  I will bring up a few points that could have been the difference makers in the next few sections.  I decided to go about this recap in my old style of using categories.

To start it, this should give a good recap of the game:

Scoring Summary
Bot 2nd: Boston
– D. Ortiz homered to deep left center
Bot 3rd: Boston
– J.D. Drew hit sacrifice fly to left, J. Hermida scored
Bot 5th: Boston
– J. Reddick grounded into double play first to shortstop to first to second, A. Beltre scored, J. Hermida out at second
Top 7th: Baltimore
– A. Jones homered to deep left, L. Montanez scored
Top 8th: Baltimore
– L. Scott grounded out to second, J. Lugo scored, G. Atkins to second
Bot 8th: Boston
– A. Beltre walked, J.D. Drew scored, V. Martinez to third, D. Ortiz to second

Now onto specifics…

Hitting:

 Baltimore
  AB R H RBI HR BB K SB LOB Season Avg 
L. Montanez lf 5 1 1 0 0 0 2 1 1 .235
A. Jones cf 5 1 1 2 1 0 1 0 0 .203
N. Markakis rf 5 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .270
M. Tejada 3b 4 0 2 0 0 1 1 0 1 .260
    J. Turner pr 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
T. Wigginton 2b 2 0 1 0 0 3 1 0 1 .279
M. Wieters c 4 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 .311
    J. Lugo pr-ss 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .111
N. Reimold dh 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 .163
G. Atkins 1b 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 9 .224
C. Izturis ss 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .222
    L. Scott ph 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 .167
    C. Tatum c 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
 Totals 34 3 9 3 1 7 9 1 17

Was not horribly upset with the overall hitting.  9 hits off of Boston pitching in general is something to be proud of.  3 of those 9 were extra base hits also.  Then again, one of the hits was Markakis’ line drive in the 9th that hit the Green Monster, where he followed that up by trying to make a double out of it and Bill Hall’s perfect throw to 2nd got him out.  So really, it was 8 hits.  Either way, that is not too shabby when you look at how we have been hitting and we faced a team who was said to be a top pitching team this season all-around.

Specific guys I am either proud of or upset with.

Jones finally put his slugger style back into gear by going 1-5 with a K and a 2 RBI HR.  That stat line right there is one we could commonly see by a Ryan Howard type.  The issue is, we have Jones in the first few spots each night, which shows that we want him to be a hitter and not just a slugger.  Going 1-5 just doesn’t cut it as a hitter.  Yes, you could say that he did hit and that it was an off-night, but then you would be ignoring overall stats.  He is hitting .203 this year.  In that case, it was an average night, not an off-night.  And when your slugger/hitter/leader of the future is hitting .203 with an average night of 1-5 ball, there is absolutely nothing you could possibly be looking forward to.

Markakis had a double in the 6th, then technically a single in the 9th, making him 2-5 for the night.  Did not see his full run on the ball in the 9th, so I cannot say one way or another if he really pushed himself to 1st, but I can say that there is no disputing him going to 2nd on that hit.  99% of the time that hit is a double, it just so happened that the Orioles caught no break on Bill Hall’s throw being more than perfect to 2B.

Tejada came back from injury and with 5 days off had a 2-4 night.  He may have had some defensive woes, but those will be discussed later.  In terms of hitting, he was solid back in the 4 slot.

Wieters, now on a 6 game hitting streak, is getting hot once again.  He is hitting an above average .311, and went 2-4 on the night.  Very good to see.

Now the 2 hitting concepts that need to be addressed about this game, one positive and one negative: Patience and Garrett Atkins

Garrett Atkins:

Dude.  Really?  0-4 with 1 K and 9 LOB?!  9!!!  Dude, we can’t move on as a team.  Twice, in 2 clutch situations, you sucked.  2 times Atkins got up to bat and produced absolutely nothing with the bases loaded.  Once in the 4th, when the O’s were down 0-2 and could’ve capitalized and taken a lead, he struck out looking.  Then again, in the 6th, the O’s were wearing on Lester.  We got the bases loaded with 2 outs, and Francona brought in RHP Daniel Bard.  The Red Sox were getting ancy, only holding onto a 3-0 lead.  They were nervous about bringing the bullpen in to get out of the situation, and of course, Atkins pops out.  We should have won this game by 5+ with how our hitting was going against Lester and even later against Bard and Okajima, but of course the old fart Atkins came along and killed it.

Update on that: Since Rhyne Hughes was brought up today from AAA, he will be starting at 1st tonight.  This means Atkins is on the bench.  Thanks skip, finally a move that shows how crappy hitting will land you on the bench.

Patience:

Take. Take. Take.  The Orioles took a lot of pitches last night.  YES!!!  Finally, a fundamental aspect of the game that was lacking from the first 16 games came into play.  This is the main reason I think the game seemed so different tonight.  The unofficial time of the game was 3:35, more than a half hour over the average of the first 16 games this year.  So far, the Orioles have been playing a lot of two and a half hour games, due to swinging on first pitches and not taking time.

Well, it paid off tonight.  We got Lester out of the game in only the 6th inning, and drew 7 walks as a team on the night.  This is what helped us to get lots of situational hitting in, like the 2 times we had bases loaded.  I have never used this stat before, but finally found a time to use it:

At bats -

Boston – 26
Baltimore – 34

Besides the fact that we had 9 hits over their 6, we had 8 more at bats over them.  Now they did also draw 7 walks, but the fact that we got so many more at bats was such a positive.  That means our guys were getting on and really dealing with the situational hitting and baserunning well.  Except Atkins, of course.

Defense:

Overall, an okay night.  The Red Sox had their issues though that helped us out.  Just in the 2nd inning, with Wieters on 1st, Reimold hit a ground ball lightly up the middle.  Scutaro charged it, and with the hopes of making the play at 2nd for the fielders choice out, he tossed the ball to Pedroia.  Unknown to him was the fact that Wieters had already come safely into 2nd.  No heads-up defense there, literally.  He was looking down for the ball and at the ball the entire play.  Helped put our two men on.  Of course, with the theme of the night just starting at this point exactly, Atkins stepped up and grounded into a double play; end of the inning.  Bye, bye opportunities.

Tejada was the one that worried everybody.  He committed 2 errors on the night, both on bobbling issues when he had the ball sort of in his possession.  Hopefully it is something he will be over now and back into it tonight.  He did just come back from injury, so I cut him a little bit of slack.  Then again, if only the team had listened to me and kept him at SS all along, who knows…

Baserunning:

Solid.  Markakis had his bad luck in the 9th that I already talked about.  Basestealing was a big thing coming into this game, as I discussed in my last post.  We tried it twice.  Once, Montanez stole safely on an untimely throw by Martinez.  The second of the two times, Izturis jumped on Lester’s movement, and Lester made the throw to 1st, then Izturis was out with the corresponding throw to 2nd.

Props to Ty Wigginnton for his strategical baserunning.  In that 2nd inning talked about above, Ty was on 1st when Wieters hit a ground ball to shortstop.  Wigginton, coming into 2nd, made a high slide at Pedroia, who jumped over him and couldn’t make a clear cut throw.

Pitching:

If last season I had told you the Orioles were going into Fenway Park and Jeremy Guthrie was starting, most people’s reactions would have been, well, not so good.  Last night, Guthrie threw 6 solid innings of 5 hit ball, allowing 3 ER.  According to Trembley, only 1 run was up to Guthrie, which would be the Ortiz shot.  Other than that, the defense was just a little off on some plays, especially Tejada as I said, and Guthrie really came out with his new pitching motion and gave it to the Red Sox.

The problems came when we needed our bullpen.  We have been so impressed this season with the bullpen and its ability to get us through the middle innings with little or no hurt, but last night it looked like the ‘pen of ’09.  Here are the stats:

Baltimore
  IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA 
J. Guthrie 6.0 5 3 3 2 0 1 1.23 3.46  
C. Meredith 0.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.88 6.75  
M. Hendrickson 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.68 1.23  
M. Albers (L, 0-2) 1.1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1.68 6.48  
W. Ohman 0.0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1.59 0.00  
J. Johnson 0.1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.41 6.35

That just doesn’t look good.  Nobody understands why Meredith came in for Beltre’s at bat, but who knows.  To sum it up, they didn’t look sharp, and not one reliever had solid control through a full at bat, hence the 5 walks in 2 innings pitched.  It ended on a walk.  The game was tied, 3-3, when JJ walked Beltre with the bases loaded, giving the winning run to the Red Sox.  The only reason I can think of for this was that the bullpen was too rested and was not ready.  Wednesday, Millwood threw the CG, and then they had the offday Thursday.  No pitcher was working on less than 2 full days of rest.

Overall, it was actually a good game for the club.  The 8th inning started the pain of the losing, especially when we had just come back to tie it in the 7th.  Hopefully, we see a ready bullpen tonight, even though now they aren’t so rested.  Then again, no pitcher other than Albers threw more than 7 pitches.  Hendrickson came in and threw 1.  Not inning; pitch.

P.S. Our starters have been top 5 all season in Ks, and the relievers haven’t been too shabby with them either.  Tonight, the strikeout total was 0.  That shows how strong-willed Boston’s bats are.

Copied from Steve Melewski’s blog on MASNsports.com, these were key
factors that lost us the game in the long run.  If you are one to see
the overall stats like me and then find lots of little things, then
this sums up the game well:

*The bullpen issued three straight walks with two outs and a man on third in the 8th.

*Miguel Tejada’s error in the 5th led to a run.

*Garrett Atkins stranded eight runners on base in his first three at bats.

*Nick Markakis singled with one out in the ninth, but got thrown out by Bill Hall in left trying for a double.

*The Orioles went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left
12 men on base. They have scored three runs or less 13 times this year
and are 0-13 in those games.

*The O’s bullpen issued a season-high five walks in two innings
Friday. The O’s pen threw a combined 41 pitches in the game, just 13
for strikes. The pen had walked a total of five batters over their
previous six games.

*On the night, O’s pitchers walked seven without a strikeout and threw 145 pitches, 73 for strikes.

Notes for tonight:

-With Lackey on the mound, we need to get to him early and often.  Keep up with the patience.  The fundamental hitting is coming around mostly and it looks good.  Keep it up.  Last night’s 3 runs scored does not reflect at all what kind of damage should have been done if it weren’t for Atkins.  I know we can’t say it would have been more, but the hitting showed the potential for a high scoring run type of night.

-Let’s see what Hughes has.  He is known to be a strikeout batter with power, so let’s see what he brings.  Hopefully the power side with a little less of the strikeout factor.

-Another solid start for Matusz is necessary.  He is now facing his first rival opponent.  He has pitched well against the Rays lineup, which is great, but with the A’s game the last one we saw of him, let’s hope he comes back out with incredible stuff against a very strong lineup.

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