Buck Showalter Looks To Lead The Baltimore Orioles To A Winning Season in 2012...Let's Go O's!

Monday, April 30, 2012

O's Walk-Off Winners After Five-Run Ninth

This is Orioles' Magic at its best...the Birds were down 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth before scoring five times to walk-off with a 5-2 win over Oakland on Sunday afternoon.

Just hours after exploding for 10 runs, the offense was held scoreless by A's starter Bartolo Colon, who came on to pitch the ninth inning having allowed just five hits, but J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones started off the frame with infield singles and moved into scoring position on Colon's throwing error.

Matt Wieters followed with a long two-run double, missing a walk-off shot by just a few feet. Chris Davis was intentionally walked to get to Wilson Betemit, who answered with a three-run bomb to right field. Wow.

The O's finished the six-game homestand with a 5-1 mark and are tied with Tampa for first place in the East with an impressive 14-8 record. It's hard to believe, but the last time the Birds were six games over .500 was in July of 2005!

Now comes a rough stretch for the O's, all starting later tonight in New York City. Jason Hammel (3-0) looks to go undefeated in April...Let's Go O's!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

O's Crush A's

It was a chilly night at The Yard, but the O's bats were on fire in a 10-1 win over the visiting Oakland Athletics.

The Birds banged out 14 hits (12 singles) with every player except J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty recording at least one hit. The team scored five runs in the second inning to take a commanding lead and never looked back. Adam Jones, Robert Andino and Chris Davis all went 3-for-4 and Davis tied a career-best with four RBIs. In the seventh, Davis launched a ball 418 feet onto Eutaw Street, becoming just the 25th Oriole to accomplish the feat.

Wei-Yin Chen went seven innings for the first time this season and picked up his second win. Chen (2-0) allowed just one run (a solo homer) on six hits and two walks while fanning four. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the very first inning and seemed to get stronger as the night went on...

The O's (13-8) are now tied with Tampa Bay for first in the division. Tommy Hunter takes the mound Sunday afternoon; a win would give the club a 5-1 record on the homestand. Next up: three games against the Yankees starting Monday night in New York.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

All Good Things Must Come To An End

The Birds' four-game winning streak was snapped after a 5-2 loss to the A's on Friday night at Camden Yards.

Jake Arrieta pitched a pretty good game but was hurt by the long ball, giving up two homers over 5 2/3 innings of work. Arrieta (1-2) allowed just four hits and two walks, but four runs scored while he was on the mound.

The offense was quiet, as the O's managed just five hits in the game, although three went for extra-bases. Nolan Reimold, Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy all doubled, while Adam Jones (11) and Nick Markakis (9) drove in the O's only runs...

On the plus side, Kevin Gregg came on in mop-up relief and retired the side in order in the ninth inning, striking out two.

With the loss the Birds (12-8) dropped into second place in the ultra-competitive East, where four of the five clubs are at .500 or better.

I'll be at The Yard tonight to collect my Frank Robinson statue; hopefully the rain stays away and the Birds can start another winning streak. Wei-Yin Chen is slated to take the mound.

Friday, April 27, 2012

O's Sweep Jays

The Birds completed a three-game sweep of Toronto with a 5-2 victory on Thursday night at Camden Yards.

Brian Matusz turned in his best outing of the season but took a no-decision. Matusz allowed two unearned runs on four hits and two walks over six innings, striking out three. It was his first quality start since his final outing in 2010...

Adam Jones snapped a 2-2 tie with a lead-off homer in the eighth, and Chris Davis slapped a two-run shot later in the inning to give the Birds a three-run cushion. Jones is now tied with Matt Wieters for the team lead in homers with six, and Davis has homered in two straight contests.

Luis Ayala took the mound in the ninth and picked up his first save since 2008 when he was a New York Met.

The Birds (12-7) remain tied for first with the Rays and start a three-game set with Oakland on Friday night; Jake Arrieta looks for his second win of the season.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hammel Blanks Jays

Jason Hammel became the first O's pitcher to hit three wins this season after a strong seven inning performance in a 3-0 win over the Blue Jays Wednesday night.

Hammel (3-0) allowed just four hits and fanned seven over seven scoreless innings, walking one and lowering his ERA to 1.73. Jeremy who?

Wilson Betemit committed two errors at third base but made up for it with his second homer of the season, a solo shot in the second inning. Chris Davis connected for his second homer, a solo blast in the fourth. The O's added a third run in the eighth, when Adam Jones doubled home Nick Markakis.

Pedro Strop allowed the first two batters he faced to reach in the ninth before inducing a pop-fly and a double play to end the game, and recorded his second save in as many days. Jim Johnson is still in the hospital, and doctors are unsure of his ailment at this time...

The O's have a chance at the three-game sweep of Toronto and send Brian Matusz (0-3) to the mound on Thursday night.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hunter Shuts Down Jays

Tommy Hunter allowed just a solo homer over six innings as the O's edged Toronto 2-1 on Tuesday night at Camden Yards.

The Birds loaded the bases with none out in the first inning but managed just a run on a double-play ball. Toronto tied it in the third inning, but Matt Wieters slapped his team-leading sixth homer in the fourth to give the O's a 2-1 lead they would never relinquish.

The bullpen continued to impress, allowing just two hits over the final three frames. With Jim Johnson in the hospital with a possible virus, Pedro Strop took the mound in the ninth and struck out two en route to his first Major League save.

The Orioles (10-7) are now in a four-way tie for first place in the East with New York, Toronto and Tampa. Jason Hammel takes the mound Wednesday night...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Markakis Comes Through

The O's avoided a sweep and notched a winning road trip with a 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Angels on Sunday afternoon. It was the first time the Birds have had a winning record on a 10-game trip since 2004.

Wei-Yin Chen continues to improve with each appearance; he allowed just one run on five hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out five. He exited after issuing back-to-back walks and the O's down 1-0, eventually settling for a no-decision. The 'pen was solid yet again, and Jim Johnson picked up his seventh save in seven opportunities this season.

Nick Markakis put the O's on the board with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the eighth before the Angels tied it up in the bottom of the frame. Markakis laced another two-out single in the tenth to plate Robert Andino with the winning run.

The O's (9-7) have Monday off before starting a six-game homestand on Tuesday. Tommy Hunter will take the hill against Toronto.

Errors Costing O's

The O's committed another three errors in Saturday night's 6-3 loss to the Angels.

If you're counting, that's six errors in the past two games, and 19 overall in 15 games this season, tied for the most in the Majors. It's simply unacceptable, and it needs to stop.

Jake Arrieta had two errors on pickoff attempts in his first loss of the year. Arrieta (1-1) had amazing stuff early on, retiring 12 straight at one point, but after the O's handed him a 2-0 lead he fell apart, surrendering five runs in the fifth inning and exiting with the bases loaded and just one out. Not really sure what happened there...

Matt Weiters put the Birds on the board with a two-run shot in the fifth, his fifth of the year, and drove in all three runs. Nick Johnson, serving as the DH, went 0-for-3 and is batting an even .000 so far...

The Birds are now 5-4 on the road and wrap-up the 10-game trip today; Wei-Yin Chen takes the mound later this afternoon.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Matusz, O's Fall To Halos

Will Brian Matusz ever win again? I'm sure of it, but after a 6-3 loss to the Angels on Friday night, Matusz (o-3) could use a confidence boost.

Dating back to last season, Matusz has dropped 12 straight games, and is still in search of his first quality start this year. He came close again, and took the mound in the sixth inning with his team down 3-1. But things took a turn for the worse, and Matusz's final line showed six runs allowed (four earned) in five innings with three walks and six strikeouts. His ERA now stands at 7.98.

The defense didn't help him out...the Birds were charged with three errors on the night (and it could have been four or five in reality). The Orioles have committed 16 errors in the first 14 games of the seaon, tied for the most team errors in the Majors.

Nolan Reimold continued his torrid hitting streak, going 3-for-5 with a double and a two-run bomb, his fifth long ball in his last six games. Reimold leads the club with a .370 average, is tied with Adam Jones with five homers and is tops with 10 RBIs.

The O's (8-6) are now tied for first in the East with the Yankees, and send Jake Arrieta to the mound Saturday night.

Friday, April 20, 2012

O's Take 3 Of 4

The O's took the series over Chicago after a 5-3 win on Thursday afternoon.

Jason Hammel (2-0) picked up his second win in three attempts, allowing just two runs on six hits and three walks over six innings, striking out ten.

The bullpen continued to impress, and although Jim Johnson loaded the bases in the ninth, he notched his sixth save in six tries and 14th straight overall dating back to last season.

Adam Jones went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and hit his team-leading fifth long-ball in the fifth inning.

The O's take on the Angels for three games starting late Friday night; Brian Matusz takes the mound for the Birds.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Birds Blown Away In Windy City

You can't win them all...the O's lost an ugly game to Chicago 8-1 on Wednesday night. The starting pitching was abysmal and the offense was nowhere to be found. But, the O's are still in first place for now.

Tommy Hunter had his second straight poor outing, giving up eight runs on nine hits and four walks in just 5 2/3 innings. Hunter gave up two long balls and has now served up six homers in his last two starts. He started the game with three straight strikeouts before losing his composure, and tied a career-best with eight K's on the night.

The Birds took a 1-0 lead courtesy of two doubles in the second inning, but were held off the scoreboard for the rest of the night...they had only three singles over the final seven frames.

The O's look to take the series with a win on Thursday afternoon and will send Jason Hammel to the mound...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chen Picks Up First Major League Win

Wei-Yin Chen picked up his first win in the Bigs, thanks to another offensive showing from Nolan Reimold and a little bit of good luck, as the O's took down Chicago 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Nolan Reimold launched a two-run bomb to left-center in the sixth to break a scoreless tie, and J.J. Hardy followed with a solo shot to give the Birds a 3-0 lead. Reimold has now homered in four straight games, and the Orioles now lead the Majors with 20 long balls in their first 11 games...

Chen once again pitched five scoreless innings before running into trouble in the bottom of the sixth, allowing three hits, a walk and a wild pitch before being pulled with runners on the corners, one out and the O's clinging to a 3-2 lead. Darren O'Day came on and induced an infield pop-up before picking off Alex Rios trying to steal second. O'Day, Troy Patton and Luis Ayala held Chicago to just one hit over 2 2/3 frames, and Jim Johnson survived a wild ninth to pick up his fifth save of the season.

Johnson allowed two walks and J.J. Hardy committed his first error of the year, but with the bases loaded and two outs, Johnson coaxed a ground ball to secure the win.

Tommy Hunter takes the mound on Wednesday night before the Birds wrap-up the four-game set with Chicago on Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Offense Explodes In Extras

After a frustrating seven innings, in which the O's set a season-high with three errors and consistently stranded runners on base, the Orioles scored three times in the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game before exploding for six runs in the tenth, taking a 10-4 victory over the White Sox in Chicago.

Matt Wieters slapped a solo homer in the eighth inning to cut Chicago's lead to 4-2. Nolan Reimold led-off the ninth with a solo homer and has now homered in three straight games, all solo shots in the ninth inning. Two outs later, Adam Jones followed with a solo blast of his own to tie the game up. In the tenth, the O's scored six times, four coming off Wieters' first career grand slam. The Birds set a season-high with 15 hits.

Jake Arrieta pitched a great game but took a no-decision (he deserved a "W", but hey, it's better than a loss). Arrieta went 6 2/3, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk (intentional) while fanning seven. Matt Lindstrom and Pedro Strop held the Sox to one hit over the final 3 1/3, with Strop striking out the side in the bottom of the tenth.

The 6-4 Orioles are in sole possession of first in the East and now send Wei-Yin Chen to the mound on Tuesday night. 

O's Miss Out On Sweep Up North

The Orioles had to settle for taking 2-of-3 against Toronto after falling 9-2 on Sunday afternoon.

It wasn't as bad as it looked...the Birds were right in this one and took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth. Brian Matusz turned in a pretty good outing but left after 6 2/3 innings and Toronto leading 3-2. Kevin Gregg came on with two on and two outs...that's when things got ugly. Gregg allowed three hits and two walks, hitting a batter with the bases loaded, and Toronto scored seven times in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

The Birds now head to Chicago for a three-game set; Jake Arrieta takes the mound Monday night.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reimold Powers O's Past Jays

The Birds took their second straight at Rogers Centre on Saturday afternoon thanks to another blast from Nolan Reimold in the ninth inning, giving them a 6-4 win.

Reimold, who homered in the ninth on Friday night, launched a two-run bomb that broke a 4-4 tie and gave Jim Johnson a two-run cushion to work with. Johnson went on to pick up his fourth save in as many chances.

Chris Davis went 3-for-4 and hit his first homer of the season, and Wilson Betemit's first homer as an Oriole tied the game up in the eighth inning.

Starter Jason Hammel didn't have no-hit stuff on Saturday but kept the O's in the game, giving up just two runs on six hits and a walk over five innings of work, fanning three.

Brian Matusz takes the mound Sunday afternoon as the O's look for a rare sweep of the Jays in Toronto...Let's Go O's!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

O's Come Out On Top In Toronto

Toronto out-homered them, but the Orioles took the first of three games against the Blue Jays with a 7-5 win on Friday night.

The Jays bashed four homers, all solo shots, but the O's answered with three solo homers of their own. Tommy Hunter was tagged for five runs (four earned) in six innings, walking two and fanning two. Hunter allowed just six hits, but four of them went over the fence.

Robert Andino and Nolan Reimold both homered for the first time this season and Adam Jones went deep for the second time in 2012. But it was Wilson Betemit's clutch single with two down and the bases loaded in the eighth that won the game.

Betemit, playing third base in place of Mark Reynolds, provided the clutch hit the O's have been lacking the past few games, and made a few nice defensive plays in the field. Reynolds was the DH for the game and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Buck is going to get Reynolds some playing time at first base...apparently our griping is being heard! I would take a few errors if he was hitting, but Mark is batting just .143 with no home runs, two RBIs and 10 strikeouts in his first six games. Still, I'm confident his bat will heat up soon.

The O's are in a four-way tie for first in the division with a 4-3 record, and square-off against their divisional rivals again later this afternoon. Jason Hammel takes the mound for the Birds...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

O's Fall In Extras (Again)

It seemed like I just watched this game yesterday...a strong performance by an Orioles' starter, a 4-4 tie in the late innings, the Birds struggling with the bases loaded in the ninth and the Yankees taking the lead in extra innings...and the Orioles lose.

But it really happened again. This time it only took 10 innings, but the results were the same. The Yankees swept the Orioles in three games at Camden Yards.

This time it was Adam Jones, not J.J. hardy at the plate with the bases jammed in the bottom of the ninth. Nick Markakis was intentionally walked to get to Jones, batting cleanup. Jones struck out swinging for the fences, sending the game to extras. Kevin Gregg got two outs before allowing a bloop double and a two-run blast to give New York a lead they would not relinquish.

There are quite a few positives to take from this game: O's starter Jake Arrieta was solid yet again, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk while striking out five. He LOOKS like an ace. Jeremy Guthrie, by comparison, never was. Guthrie lasted just 3 1/3 innings tonight, giving up six runs on nine hits to the Giants. The O's are also proving they can hang with the Yankees. I know it's tough to lose, but at least we are close. I'd still rather see a game we could have and SHOULD have won instead of a blowout. The team is improving, and there are 15 games left against New York this season...

That being said, the O's need to improve if they ever hope to be tops in the division. Starting pitching is key, and it seems like the Orioles are where they need to be in that department. I blame the hitting for the last two losses. The O's have struggled all series with runners in scoring position, going 3-for-9 while stranding ten on base on Wednesday. They also struck out 12 times after whiffing 15 times the game prior. That's simply unacceptable no matter who is on the mound.

The 3-3 Orioles have Thursday off before taking on the Blue Jays Friday night. Tommy Hunter looks for his second win, and the Birds look to get back in the win column!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Birds Fall In 12th

Wei-Yin Chen's Orioles debut didn't start so well: he gave up a home run to the very first batter he faced. Chen settled down though, at one point retiring 12 straight Yankees, but eventually had to settle for a no-decision as the Birds fell to New York 5-4 in 12 innings on Tuesday night.

Chen lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk while fanning six. He would have made it out of the fifth with the Birds leading 4-2 if not for a Mark Reynolds error, which led to the two unearned runs. It was Reynolds second error in the first five games of the season...he didn't fare too well at the plate either, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.He was on base once via the free pass but was caught stealing. Let's hope he isn't the liability he was at third base last year...

J.J. Hardy launched a solo homer in the first inning, and the O's have now hit at least one home run in each game this season. Sadly, all been solo shots except Nick Markakis' two-run homer on Opening Day.. The Birds struggled offensively all night and never really came up with a clutch hit, going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The club drew five walks but whiffed 15 times.

After sweeping the Twins, the O's have now dropped two straight against the Yankees and wrap up the homestand Wednesday night. In a battle of aces, Jake Arrieta takes on CC Sabathia.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Matusz's Struggles Continue

It would have been nice to go 4-0 and keep the Yankees winless, but it didn't happen. Brian Matusz lasted just four innings and took the loss after New York beat the O's 6-2 on Monday night.

It wasn't all bad...Matusz's fastball was consistently in the low-90s, an encouraging sign, and he needed just 11 pitches to get through the second inning. But he allowed a run in the first and three more in the fourth before exiting after 96 pitches. His final line: four innings, four earned runs, six hits, four walks, one strikeout. Two of the walks came around to score in the fourth inning.

Overall, the O's walked seven batters while New York walked none. That is one of the easiest ways to explain why the Yankees won despite being out-hit 13-11 by Baltimore. The O's had a rough time with men in scoring position as well, going just 2-for-15.

Matt Wieters had a great game, going 4-for-4 with a solo homer and a double; he also threw out a runner trying to steal third. Robert Andino had two doubles, and Chris Davis slapped an RBI double in the seventh. Six of the O's 13 hits went for extra-bases, but the Birds weren't able to get any clutch hits...

I knew the O's had to lose eventually, but it would have been nice to beat the Yankees...there's still two games left to do just that. Wei-Yin Chen makes his Orioles debut Tuesday night...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hammel Almost Makes History

Jason Hammel took a no-hitter into the eighth inning but had to settle for a 3-1 win over the visiting Twins on Easter Sunday. The Guthrie trade is looking like a real good move right about now...

Hammel became the latest starter to go at least seven innings, turning in eight frames and allowing just the one run on two hits (back-to-back doubles to start the eighth) while walking three and fanning five. Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many tries.

J.J. Hardy put the Birds on the board in the first inning with a solo shot to left. The O's have now homered in each game of the young season. Wilson Betemit gave Hammel some breathing room with a two-run double in the sixth.

With the sweep, the 3-0 Birds are now tied with the Rays for first in the division. The Yankees and Red Sox both started the season 0-3 for just the second time in history...

The Yankees come to town to start a three-game set later tonight. Brian Matusz looks to one-up Hammel's performance, which will be pretty tough to do. I'll settle for seven strong innings and another "W"! Let's Go O's!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Twin Killing

What a game! The O's launched three homers in an 8-2 rout of the Twins on Saturday night at Camden Yards, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance to see it.

Tommy Hunter turned in seven strong innings, allowing just two unearned runs on six hits and a walk while striking out three. In the first two games of the season, O's starters have gone 14 innings and have yet to allow an earned run...impressive, to say the least. It's all about the pitching, and if the Birds can keep this up they have a real chance this year.

The bats came to life, as Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters all went deep in the win. It was Markakis' second homer in as many games. Designated hitter Ronny Paulino went 4-for-4 with a double and scored twice, and Robert Andino led the team with two RBIs.

Jason Hammel makes his O's debut on Easter Sunday...I'll be running the board at WBAL. Let's see if he can match Arietta and Hunter's performances.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Birds Open Season With A Bang

For one day at least, the Orioles looked amazing.

Jake Arrieta was nearly unhittable. Nick Markakis found his power stroke.

The O's beat up on the Twins in a 4-2 season-opening victory in front of a sell-out crowd at Camden Yards. Baltimore is in a three-way tie for first place in the AL East. Boston and New York are in the cellar. Life is good...

Arrieta (1-0) allowed just two hits (both singles) and two walks over seven solid innings, fanning four. Markakis homered to left in his first at bat and tripled to right his next time up, finishing with three RBIs.

Things got a little dicey in the ninth after Troy Patton served up a two-run dinger to cut the O's lead in half, but Jim Johnson came on to record the final two outs and pick up his first save of the season.

The Birds send Tommy Hunter to the mound on Saturday night...me, my wife and some good friends will be in the stands for Opening Night...Let's Go O's!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Training Comes To An End

Well, this was it...the final week of Grapefruit League play. With a win today (the O's are losing 8-4 in the ninth inning), the Birds would finish Spring Training with a .500 (12-12-6) record, which is all you can really hope for in the regular season. The O's have yet to announce their Opening Day starter, but as stated last week, all signs point to Jake Arrieta taking the mound at Camden Yards on Friday April 6. Here's a few highlights from week four in Florida:

  • 03/25- O's 3, Phillies 3- Brian Matusz allowed three runs on six hits and a walk in 4 2/3 innings, striking out two. Nolan Reimold homered for the second consecutive game
  • 03/26- O's 4, Pirates 1- Tommy Hunter allowed just one hit (a double) and a walk over six innings, fanning five
  • 03/27- Twins 5, O's 0- Tsuyoshi Wada made his first spring start and allowed four runs on four hits and two walks in just three innings of work
  • 03/28- Jays 9, O's 3- Dana Eveland allowed three runs through four innings; Alfredo Simon allowed another six runs to cross in just two innings of relief (both pitchers were released later in the week)
  • 03/29- O's 4, Yankees 3- Jason Hammel allowed two runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking none and fanning five; Mark Reynolds knocked in two runs; Matt Wieters doubled and tripled
  • 03/30- Tigers 6, O's 4- Brian Matusz made his final start of the spring, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk over five frames, fanning four; Adam Jones launched his fourth homer
  • 03/31- O's 6, Pirates 6- Jake Arrieta surrendered six runs on eight hits and two walks in just five innings; three Orioles went deep
  • 04/01- Rays 8, O's 5- Wei-Yin Chen allowed seven runs (three earned) over five innings in his final start of the season; J.J. Hardy homered twice; Nick Markakis homered
So that's it for Spring Training 2012. The Orioles will participate in three more contests (two college games and then a game against the Norfolk Tides) before facing the Minnesota Twins for a three-game series starting April 6 at Camden Yards. The starting rotation is pretty much set: Jake Arrieta is projected to be the Opening Day starter, with Tommy Hunter also in the mix. Tsuyoshi Wada, Jason Hammel and Brian Matusz will make up the rest of the five-man rotation.