|News Archives: April 2001|
Well, the pessimistic view is that the Orioles are playing bad teams right now. The optimistic view is that they're playing well right now. As usual, we're sure the truth is somewhere in the middle. After an off-day on Monday, the Orioles won their second straight game on Tuesday, defeating the Detroit Tigers easily, 8-3. For one of the rare times this year, everything went well, the pitching and the hitting. Pat Hentgen started the game and went 7 innings. He wasn't overpowering, striking out just two, but he only walked two, and scattered seven hits. He battled out of trouble a few times, and after the Orioles gave him a big lead, he was never really in danger of giving it up. Mike Trombley, who has pitched in half the team's games this year, finished up with two easy innings of scoreless ball. We're not sure why manager Mike Hargrove went to Trombley with a big 8-3 lead -- seems like time to give innings to someone like the struggling Chuck McElroy, who has just 4 1/3 innings pitched in the last ten days, none since last Thursday.
Offensively, the Orioles continued their recent surge, racking up 13 hits and 8 runs. While there were still no homers (leaving the team with just eight on the season, behind three players and tied with two others), they cranked out a season high five extra base hits (four doubles and a triple). The big stars were Jay Gibbons, who had four hits (including two doubles) and Mike Kinkade, who had three. Brady Anderson and Melvin Mora also had multihit games for the team. The Orioles had their biggest inning of the season, scoring four runs in the fourth inning, for a safe lead throughout the game.
| The Inside
It took eleven innings, but for the first time in 2001, the Orioles won a game with their offense. The Orioles put up runs in the second, third, fifth, eighth, ninth, and eleventh frames, and despite the best efforts of their pitching staff, the 10 runs that they totalled were enough. Brady Anderson and Chris Richard homered -- only the team's second two-homer game of the season -- and the Orioles tallied 16 total hits in the game. Three of them came from Mike Bordick and three more from David Segui, and there were two each from Chris Richard and Delino DeShields. Every Oriole starter had at least one hit, and even Jerry Hairston, who came into the game in the ninth inning, had a hit, as the Orioles boosted their pathetic team batting average all the way to .221.
Jose Mercedes, who started, pitched well enough, surrendering four runs in seven innings, and when he left the game, he had a 6-4 lead. And when the Orioles added another run in the eighth, they looked comfortably ahead of the less-than-scary Devil Rays. But BJ Ryan continued to struggle (ERA of 5.68), walking two batters while only getting one out, and Mike Trombley allowed one of Ryan's runners to score. Still, after the Orioles added an insurance run in the ninth inning, they looked safe. But Ryan Kohlmeier was dismal, giving up a walk, two consecutive homers, and a single, and blew his first save of the year in giving up the three-run lead. Given how much the Orioles have touted Willis Roberts, Jorge Julio and the like, Kohlmeier has to be looking over his shoulder. It's early, but ERAs that look like airplanes (7.27, in his case) do not engender confidence in rookie closers. Fortunately Chad Paronto picked him up with two perfect innings to nail down the win after the Orioles rallied.
| The Inside
If the Orioles are going to avoid a last place finish, they need to beat the Devil Rays, and Jason Johnson needs to prove that all the hype of the past two years was justified. Neither happened today. Johnson wasn't terrible, allowing just 6 hits, but three of those went for extra bases, including a mammoth home run by Ben Grieve, and he also walked three, and by the time he left the game, he had given up five runs. John Bale, in relief, allowed the Devil Rays a key insurance run.
On offense, the Orioles scored five runs, but two of those were in the ninth, in a too-little, too-late comeback attempt off Tampa's closer, ex-Oriole Esteban Yan. Delino DeShields and David Segui had multi-hit games, and the Orioles tied their season high with four extra base hits (three doubles and a triple), as the Orioles racked up a season-high eleven total hits. But it wasn't enough, and the Orioles lost, 6-5.
| The Inside
Well, the Orioles finally found a team at their level: the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. After getting slaughtered by Cleveland, the Orioles traveled to Florida, where they got to play their rivals for last place. The first battle, in Baltimore, ended in a 2-2 tie. The second series started off on a good note, as Willis Roberts, making his major league starting debut in place of the injured Sidney Ponson, went 6 strong innings, allowing just one run. He pitched five scoreless innings before allowing any runs, before tiring in the sixth. After that, he gave way to the bullpen, which was less impressive. Mike Trombley was hit hard, and Ryan Kohlmeier was shaky, but with a five run lead, they did enough.
Offensively, the Orioles managed six runs, which deserves note. David Segui walked, homered, and drove in another run with a single, scoring twice, and Delino DeShields chipped in three singles, stole a base, and scored two runs. Rookie Jay Gibbons recorded the Orioles' other extra base hit, a double, among his two hits, and drove in three runs. Still little offense from most of the rest of the lineup, but the team bunched its hits, and recorded six runs, with the help of an error by Tampa shortstop Felix Martinez.
The result? A 6-3 victory to open the series. The Orioles play the Devil Rays fourteen more times in 2001, and if they hope to avoid an embarrassing record, they need more games like this one. And with David Segui's home run, the Orioles stayed even with Alex Rodriguez this year, as both have six home runs on the season.
| The Inside
We've certainly learned one thing: the Orioles aren't in the same league as the Indians. Duh. The Indians completed a three game sweep of the Orioles on Thursday afternoon, demolishing them 11-5 and outscoring them 23-7 for the series. The main culprit was so-called starter Chuck McElroy, who again failed to get past the fifth inning, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) in just 4.1 innings, probably ending the experiment of having a career short reliever in the rotation. Meanwhile, Chad Paronto, who had been so good in his major league debut a day earlier, was knocked around by the Indians, who scored 4 runs in 1.1 innings off of him. Finally, Ryan Kohlmeier is doing best to pitch his way out of the closer role, giving up 2 runs in the 9th inning. Many have commented on the team's (lack of) hitting, but the team ERA, aside from Jason Johnson and Pat Hentgen, is now 5.63.
Don't be fooled by the five runs put on the scoreboard by the Orioles; three of them came in the ninth inning, with the team down, 11-2, and scored in part as the result of a throwing error by Cleveland 3B Russ Branyan, who would have been replaced with a defensive substitute if the game had been close. The Orioles again managed just two extra base hits (2 doubles) all game, and only Brady Anderson recorded more than one hit (3 singles).
| The Inside
We know our readers hate it when we're negative -- because you've told us that -- but... well, what's the alternative? Trust us, we don't like being negative. We wish the Orioles were cruising like the Red Sox right now; we'd just sit back and enjoy it. But they're not. They're struggling to stay ahead of the feeble Devil Rays, who just fired their manager after a terrible season start. But he's just a scapegoat for a terrible general manager, who put together a terrible veteran-filled team. (Sound familiar?) So what can we do? Our goal is not to bash the team to make ourselves look better. And it's not to kiss the team's ass and swallow their propaganda, like the Washington Post does. We're trying to be objective, honest, and fair. So, when the team stinks, what else should we say? They stink.
For the second straight day, the Orioles' offense was completely shut down by a Cleveland starter -- but while Bartolo Colon is a quality pitcher, we think the "credit" belongs in the Orioles' dugout. The Orioles managed six whole hits on Wednesday. But only one extra base hit, a double by Chris Richard, which happened in the bottom of the ninth with one out to keep the team from being shutout. Mike Kinkade and Greg Myers each had multihit games (two singles each) for the team. Whoopee.
And what about the pitching? Well, it was better than Tuesday, and that's the nicest thing you can say. Pat Hentgen wasn't very good, giving up six hits and three walks in under 6 innings of work, while striking out just 1. On the one hand, it wasn't all his fault, as he would have escaped without the first two runs scoring had Mike Bordick been able to catch a simple infield popup. It wasn't a physical error, but a mental one, as he and Mike Kinkade, getting a rare start at third base, miscommunicated on the play. Bordick should have called Kinkade off, and he failed to do so. On the other hand, Hentgen could have gotten out of the inning, but failed to do so. The good news? The bullpen, which threw 3.1 perfect innings.
With the pathetic offensive showing, the team batting average dropped back under .200. And the end result was just another 4-1 loss, as the Orioles fell three games under .500 for the first time this season.
| The Inside
Notes: Brady Anderson stole his 300th career base on Monday. RHP Chad Paronto made his major league debut for the Orioles on Wednesday, throwing 2 scoreless innings. 1B David Segui has been bothered by his sore hamstrings, and has played mostly designated hitter rather than first base in recent games. Finally, on Tuesday the Orioles placed RHP Sidney Ponson on the disabled list and called up RHP Chad Paronto. For our Transactions Breakdown....
Ex-O Notes: OF Bobby Bonilla pitched the ninth inning for St. Louis on Tuesday. Mark Lewis was signed by the Indians on Monday, demonstrating once again that having held a major league job in the past, regardless of performance, is always a way to get another job. LHP Brad Pennington, the fireballing reliever of the mid-90s who couldn't hit the strike zone if the umpires called the high pitch, the low pitch, the wide pitch, the batter's box, and the dugout all as strikes, signed a contract with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League. Meanwhile, ex-O assistant GM Kevin Malone, serving as the general manager of the Dodgers, stepped down after embarrassing himself yet again. And people were upset that Baltimore didn't hire him? Now, if we could only convince Syd Thrift to commit the same sort of gaffes.
Another day, another debacle. It's not like the Orioles are just doing one thing wrong; nothing is going right for them. Their pitching? Jose Mercedes started. He didn't finish. He didn't come close. He lasted a whole five innings, allowing 3 runs, and two batters into the sixth. But when both of them reached safely, he was gone... ...and B.J. Ryan came in to let them both score, along with two of his own on a grand slam by Cleveland slugger Russ Branyan. (Ever notice how there's nobody who could be described as "Oriole slugger So-and-So"?) By the time Willis Roberts and Ryan Kohlmeier came in to pitch a scoreless 8th and 9th, the game was long over. Of course, the game could have been described as long over in the first inning, which was when Mercedes gave up his first three runs before the Orioles even came to bat.
So that's the pitching. What about the offense? What offense? Once again, it was AWOL. The Orioles managed a pathetic four hits. Four. As in, you can count them on one hand. With room left over for the number of runs they scored. That's right: one. One measly run, on a solo homer by Chris Richard, who had two of the team's four hits and the only extra base hit. What more is there to say? It's not like they're stranding runners because they don't hit for power; it's not like they're hitting mostly solo homers because they're not getting people on base. They're not doing either. And the result is games like Tuesday's, an 8-1 blowout loss to the Indians.
| The Inside
Babe Ruth occasionally would beat most of the other teams in the league in home runs. He would almost always lead his own team in home runs. The Orioles don't have Babe Ruth -- but they do have Greg Myers, who's almost as good. Okay, perhaps we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. Still, Greg Myers was the offensive story for the second straight day, homering and driving in three runs for the second straight day. With his outburst, he now has half of the entire team's HRs for the season (2 of the 4). He leads the team in HR and RBI despite playing just 4 of the team's 13 games. Other than Myers' performance, there wasn't a lot -- Delino DeShields and Melvin Mora both had multihit games, with Mora having the team's only other extra base hit, a double. Still, the puny eight-hit attack was enough to finally boost the team batting average over the Mendoza line.
Myers' showing was all the team needed, as Jason Johnson put out another strong outing, becoming the first Oriole starter to record a win this season, going six innings and allowing just one run before turning the game over to the bullpen. Don't let the final 4-run margin of victory fool you; the game was close, as Johnson left the game with just a 2-1 lead before the Orioles broke it open with some late runs. And Johnson didn't fall apart at any time, allowing just 3 hits and two walks. Buddy Groom was perfect after Johnson, though Mike Trombley was touched for a run in his two innings of work. The 6-2 victory over the Devil Rays, evening the uncommon Friday-Monday four-game series at 2-2, kept Tampa from tying the Orioles in the standings, and ensured that the Orioles would stay out of last place for at least the next couple of days.
There was a rather puzzling decision in the game, though. If the Orioles are supposedly having trouble because they "only" have 11 pitchers, (whereas Mike Hargrove would prefer 19 or 28 or something), and if they're so worried about pitcher overwork that they had to demote Calvin Maduro and bring up a more well-rested John Bale, then we really don't understand Mike Hargrove's decisions tonight. Jason Johnson threw just 92 pitches. He gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks. He breezed through the 6th inning, 3 up and 3 down, using just 8 pitches. And... then he's pulled from the game. Then, Buddy Groom pitches an inning. He uses just 12 pitches to throw a perfect 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom of the inning, the Orioles score 3 runs to break open a big 5-1 lead (given the lack of offense of the two teams), so they don't have anything to worry about. And... then he's pulled from the game. Why waste pitchers when you don't have to?
| The Inside
Tripled! No, the Orioles didn't hit any triples; they tripled their season home run total. After hitting two home runs on Sunday, they're now up to three in 2001, only one behind Alex Rodriguez. Collectively. Greg Myers and Jerry Hairston hit home runs in the fourth inning, both solo shots, showing a rare power performance. Myers drove in two other runs as part of a three-hit attack, and Mike Bordick also had three hits (including the Orioles' only other extra base hit, a double), as the Orioles scored 4 runs for the game. All that was part of a nine-hit attack by Baltimore which jumped the team batting average all the way to .201.
Unfortunately, while the Orioles homered twice in the game, so did Tampa's Greg Vaughn, and John Flaherty and Fred McGriff also homered, as Tampa beat Baltimore's seasonal output all in this one game. Starter Sidney Ponson surrendered three of the home runs -- the Orioles blamed his velocity, while he just said that he made bad pitches -- and reliever B.J. Ryan did his part to contribute to a loss, giving up the fourth. And phenom Willis Roberts, who had been dominant so far this year, was touched for three hits and an insurance run by Tampa in the ninth. Add it up, and the Orioles lost to Tampa, 7-4. With the final game of the series coming Monday, the Orioles need a victory to stay out of last place.
| The Inside
Notes: Manager Mike Hargrove recorded his 800th career win on Saturday night. On Sunday, he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes -- a general sign of frustration. Other Orioles, including Melvin Mora complained vehemently in the media about the umpires' erratic strike zones, and particularly their incorrect calling of outside pitches. Still, other teams don't seem to be having the same level of offensive difficulty that Baltimore has had.
Ex-O Note: LHP Sid Fernandez gave up his comeback attempt and re-retired on Saturday. He had made a comeback attempt with the Yankees in the spring and had been sent to the minors, but after making one start in AAA, he went on the disabled list and decided to give it up.
One of the things sabermetrics (statistical analysis of baseball) has shown is that a team's wins and losses can be projected accurately from the total team runs scored and allowed. A team that is winning more games than its projection suggests it should will probably tail off, while a team losing more games than projected will probably start winning. We wanted to point out this site, while provides daily updates of these projections.
An actual offensive explosion. Wow. Well, we're not exactly talking about Murderer's Row, here, but for this team, any time they don't get shutout, it's something to get excited about. And at least by that standard, Saturday's game was something to get genuinely excited about. They only managed one extra-base hit (a double), but they got 9 hits and 4 walks, and bunched them in a way that they managed to score six runs. Sure, it took a bases-loaded HBP and a Tampa error to score two of the runs, but still... six runs. How often have we seen that from this team? (Hint: never.)
The game started out looking like another disaster, as Tampa Bay had matched Baltimore's season HR total two batters into the game. Chuck McElroy walked the first batter and gave up a homer to the second. He settled down a little, though still put several more runners on, but in the fourth, he did the same thing: put the leadoff guy on (a single this time), and then gave up a homer to the next guy. And the Orioles were facing a four-run deficit, in a season where they had scored 4 runs only twice in 10 starts. But they managed to claw back, for a change. Chris Richard and Melvin Mora had multihit games, with Mora recording the Orioles' lone extra base hit, a double, and the Orioles first tied and then went ahead by two runs. And the bullpen continued to hold up, as new callup John Bale and Mike Trombley pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two baserunners. Closer Ryan Kohlmeier was brought in to finish the game on the "The Closer Should Pitch In A Save Situation No Matter What" theory, and he gave a scare by giving up a leadoff homer and then letting the next batter reach second base on a walk and stolen base. But he settled down to strike out the next two batters, and got the save. And when it was done, the Orioles evened the series with a 6-5 victory over Tampa.
| The Inside
One of the first things you have to learn to do as a baseball fan is learn not to overreact to anything. It's a cliche, but a true one, to say that a season is a marathon, not a sprint. Good teams have bad weeks, and hard as it may be to see at the time, those weeks don't mean anything. The 1998 Y*nkees, en route to a 114 win season, started 1-4. And it wasn't close; they were outscored 36-15 in that span. The 1983 World Champion Orioles went 0-7 at one point. So, no, it doesn't make sense to make sweeping judgements about the Orioles right now. That having been said, it's a natural inclination to form first impressions, and if we were meeting this team for a blind date, we'd be getting out the mace already.
The good news: starter Pat Hentgen has been dominant so far. Three games, allowing 2 runs or less, going at least 8 innings each time. This time, he went the distance, allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk, while striking out ten. Unfortunately, one of those three hits went over the wall, courtesy of Greg Vaughn's bat, and with the Orioles' offense, that was more than enough. Did we say "the Orioles' offense?" We might as well say "the Orioles' _______", because there is no offense. None. Zero. Zilch. If it were possible for them to score negative runs, they would. The Orioles managed 3 hits, one of them a double, and walked twice. That was the sum total of their hitting. They were no-hit for 4 2/3 innings before Cal Ripken's fifth inning single. Their team average is now .186, and they still have just one home run all season. There's a litany of absurd stats that can be cited, but the bottom line is that with the 2-0 loss, the Orioles fall to 4-6, and are plunging quickly towards the basement.
| The Inside
Notes: Cal Ripken's single in the fifth inning was the 5000th base of his career. He becomes the 15th player in history to have 5000 total bases. Before the game, the Orioles outrighted RHP Calvin Maduro to Rochester and called up LHP John Bale. For our Transactions Breakdown....
Oh well. So much for the theory that Jason Johnson had turned the corner. For the first time this year, the Orioles' bats showed a little life, but it almost wasn't enough, as Jason Johnson did his best to blow the game. Johnson was given a four-run lead to work with, but lasted just 4 innings. Coming on the heels of a short outing by Sidney Ponson, the Orioles badly wanted a strong outing to rest the bullpen, but they didn't get it, as Johnson danced on the edge of disaster before being pulled. Willis Roberts, who replaced him, was excellent, throwing 4 shutout innings before giving way to Ryan Kohlmeier. He got a little help from some bad baserunning by Jason Varitek, but why quibble? He got stronger as the game went on, and probably could have finished. But Kohlmeier was brought in because, well, manager Mike Hargrove goes by The Book whenever he can, and The Book says that the closer starts the ninth in a save situation. Unfortunately, Kohlmeier fell victim to his tendency to put runners on, and gave up a run and walked the bases loaded (one intentionally) before giving way to Buddy Groom, who finished the game for the save.
As we said, the Orioles' bats showed a little life. They didn't exactly put up one of the footballesque scores so common today, but they at least managed a semi-big inning (4 runs), added an extra insurance run, and put some runners on (10 hits and a walk). And in addition, they managed a whopping four extra base hits (all doubles). Chris Richard, Jeff Conine, and Brook Fordyce each had a multihit game, and Richard and Fordyce joined with Cal Ripken and David Segui in hitting doubles. More importantly, they bunched enough of the hits together to put together their early rally. And they took advantage of an error by Boston outfielder Trot Nixon for their insurance run in the ninth. It was just enough, and the Orioles defeated the Red Sox, 5-4, evening their seasonal record at 4-4 and running the season series vs. the Red Sox to 3-2.
| The Inside
Notes: 1B Jay Gibbons got his second start of the season. Manager Mike Hargrove shook up the lineup some, benching Brady Anderson, starting Chris Richard in center, moving DeShields to the leadoff slot. SP Willis Roberts was credited with his first major league victory.
The Orioles faced Hideo Nomo for the second time this season on Tuesday. The good news: they got infinitely more hits against Nomo this time. The bad news: they didn't get very many at all. Nomo went six innings on Tuesday, and the Orioles managed a grand total of four hits off him -- with one of those being a bunt single by Melvin Mora. And it wasn't just Nomo; when knuckleballer Tim Wakefield came in to reliever him, the Orioles didn't exactly turn it on, managing just 2 hits and no runs in three innings. Total, that amounted to six hits and one run, and left the Orioles with a pathetic team batting average of just .170. The supposed big veteran bats of Brady Anderson, Cal Ripken, Delino DeShields, Brook Fordyce, and David Segui continued their lack of contributions, while only Chris Richard and Mike Bordick managed to get on base more than once.
If the offense was just like it has been all year -- nonexistent -- the pitching on Tuesday was an entirely new experience for the young season: a disaster. That may not surprising, given the patchwork staff the front office put together, but what is surprising is the pitcher who was the first to blew up: not Jason Johnson or Jose Mercedes or Chuck McElroy, but Sidney Ponson. Ponson was terrible, failing to make it out of the fourth inning, with the worst blow coming on a 3-run homer by Brian Daubach, who homered twice against Ponson last week. Mike Bordick's error didn't help, and neither did Calvin Maduro's letting both inherited runners score, as well as two of his own runners, in less than 2 innings. Daubach contributed his fourth home run of the season -- all against the Orioles, in just 4 games -- off Maduro. The rest of the bullpen was fine but it was locking the barn door after the horses were stolen, and the Orioles lost a blowout, 10-1 to Boston.
| The Inside
Notes: 1B/RF Chris Richard was back in the lineup Tuesday, after not swinging the bat for four games. 3B Cal Ripken has been shifted up and down the lineup slightly, as if that was going to help. Ripken has just one hit all season, after going just 3-25 (.120) in the spring. There's no truth to the rumor that Red Sox 1B Brian Daubach has petitioned MLB to allow him to play every game versus the Orioles. With their loss, the Orioles dropped under .500 for the first time this season.
Boston 5, Baltimore, 4 -- that would actually be a low-scoring game in
current era. But it wasn't the score of Thursday's game; it was the
score of the entire three game series. People whose math skills are
Syd Thrift's can quickly work out that Thursday's game was 2-1, in favor of
Orioles. And so the Orioles managed to take the rubber match of the
series, and thus to win the series, despite scoring just 4 runs total. As on
Opening Day, the Orioles almost wasted a brilliant performance from their
starting pitcher -- this time Jason Johnson, who threw a career-high 8 1/3
innings while allowing just 1 run. The Orioles scored just one run through
first eight innings, and Boston threatened on several occasions. The
looked like they had broken through in the sixth inning, as Jerry Hairston
home on a Delino DeShields (potential) sacrifice fly, but Hairston was
called out for leaving third base too early, and the run he had scored was
removed from the scoreboad when Boston appealed. Hairston was
irate, but fortunately (given the lack of utility infielders on the bench),
didn't get ejected.
And even more fortunately for the Orioles, Boston manager Jimy Williams was determined to give the game to the Orioles. Because after Brady Anderson reached third base with one out in the ninth, Williams insanely decided to walk the bases loaded. The strategy never works, but some managers do it anyway, not realizing that the odds of a player driving in a run with the bases loaded are much higher than the odds of a player driving in a run when the bases aren't loaded. And it blew up in Williams' face, as Melvin Mora worked the count for a bases-loaded, game-winning walk to force in a run. Predictable, but fun nonetheless. And fortunately or unfortunately for the Orioles, depending on your point of view, this was their only real highlight of the day.
|Player||The inside scoop|
|An excellent spring training...and an excellent followup. 8.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Sure, it was only against Boston's weak offense... but last year, you could have put a little league team up there and he'd get knocked around. So why quibble?|
|The offense||Yuck. Six scattered hits to raise their average all the way to .136 isn't anything to be proud of. We wonder if they'll ever hit a homer.|
|Here's a real mixed bag. On the one hand, he's the only Oriole with more than 2 hits this season, and he walked, also. Plus, he made an excellent defensive play, leaping to spear a line drive over his head. On the other hand, he was caught stealing and called out on an appeal play.|
|Managerial strategy||Is Mike Hargrove really planning on little-balling with this team all year? Aggressive play is what bad teams always try to use to replace talent, and it never works. And when you keep losing baserunners to aggressive play (Jerry Hairston CS, Jerry Hairston leaving third too soon on a sacrifice fly, and Cal Ripken getting doubled off first base on a fly to right field), you don't score any runs.|
|Roster management||Despite the lack of offense, we didn't see any pinch hitting -- because the bench is so screwed up that there isn't a lot of leeway for it to happen. And so neither Jay Gibbons nor Mike Kinkade has seen any action, despite the fact that they were two of the team's top hitters in the spring.|
Notes: 1B/RF Chris Richard hurt his shoulder on Wednesday diving for a ball, and was out of the lineup on Thursday, replaced by Jeff Conine. He may miss the entire Cleveland series this weekend. And for all the talk about the new team, the new 2001 roster, so far just one new face has appeared for the Orioles: Willis Roberts, who threw 1 inning on Wednesday. Everyone else on the team has been here before.
Ex-O Note: SP Mike Mussina had a very successful debut for the Y*nkees on Thursday, throwing 7.2 shutout innings, allowing 5 hits, walking none, and striking out three, as his team won, 1-0. After the Orioles gave him such miserable run support last year, he had to have been having flashbacks of misery, but Mariano Rivera provided him the bullpen support that he didn't get in Baltimore.
|5/5/62||Bo Belinsky||2-0||California Angels||Dodger|
|6/1/75||Nolan Ryan||1-0||California Angels||Anaheim|
|4/15/87||Juan Nieves||7-0||Milwaukee Brewers||Memorial|
|8/11/91||Wilson Alvarez||7-0||Chicago White Sox||Memorial|
|4/4/01||Hideo Nomo||3-0||Boston Red Sox||Camden Yards|
We're going to resist the temptation to pun about the pre-game power outage and the within-game power outage. That paralipsis aside, the story of Wednesday's game is pretty darn obvious: the masterful outing of Boston pitcher Hideo Nomo, who joined a motley group of pitchers who have no-hit the Orioles (see the above chart). While it's always a mistake to generalize from just a game or two, we will anyway; we'll note that the first two games have shown (just as we predicted) the exact opposite trend from what most members of the media thought: Boston's pitching is good, and Baltimore's hitting is not. After a 43-minute delay to fix the Camden Yards electric power, Nomo took just 110 pitches to slice-and-dice his way through a feeble Baltimore lineup. Only three Orioles reached base safely -- Delino DeShields twice (on walks), Chris Richard (also a walk), and Cal Ripken (reaching on an error) -- and only Ripken reached as far as second, on an aggressive decision after a Nomo wild pitch. Meanwhile, Orioles starter Sidney Ponson was almost as strong, going 7 1/3 innings and allowing just 4 hits. Unfortunately, two of them were home runs by Brian Daubach, leading to three Boston runs, which was more than Nomo needed. There were 24 strikeouts by the two teams -- 11 by Nomo, 10 by Ponson -- which helps illustrate the generous strike zone of the home plate umpire, but that's just sour grapes. The Red Sox managed to put some balls over the fences, and the Orioles could not. In fact, they barely came close to a hit, though Mike Bordick almost blooped a cheap single behind second base. And so, the Orioles fell out of first place after two days and one game atop the standings. It was nice while it lasted.
|Player||The inside scoop|
|He may have been given an L, but it sure as heck wasn't his fault. He made two mistakes which Brian Daubach took advantage of, but 7.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 earned), 1 BB, and 10 Ks is an awfully nice pitching line. After last year and last night, he must be wondering if he's ever going to get any support from his offense.|
|The bullpen: BJ Ryan,Mike Trombley, Willis Roberts||No blowups, no letting the game get of reach. Some scary moments, but they got the job done: 1.2 IP, 0 runs.|
|We shouldn't single him out, but he went 0-3 and made an error which ultimately led to an extra Boston run.|
|The offense||Blech. It's really early, too early to judge them, but they're now batting .098 for the year.|
|The fans||Have they given up on the season already? It was a close (3-run) game, but people in attendance were cheering so loudly for Nomo's no-hitter that someone who just turned on the television would have thought the game was taking place in Boston. Shouldn't Baltimore fans be pulling for a comeback?|
Notes: RP Willis Roberts made his official debut for the Orioles on Wednesday, a successful one. And Oriole broadcasting outlet Home Team Sports officially changed its name to Comcast Sports Network. If only they'd change their announcers at the same time.
Knowing that the Orioles were scheduled to face Pedro Martinez, the
be written off as a loss. And knowing that the Orioles couldn't touch
that they managed just 4 hits through 9 innings -- one of those hits being
extremely generous scorer's decision -- you wouldn't even have to check
scoreboard. Orioles lose. Only, it didn't happen. No, Pat Hentgen didn't
singlehandedly beat Pedro. But he did manage to hold the inept Boston
check, allowing just a single gopherball to Trot Nixon in 8 2/3 innings of
Sure, the Red Sox didn't have Nomar. And sure, Manny Ramirez left the
with injury. But why quibble? Hentgen allowed just 4 hits and 1
walk, while striking out 6. And, shockingly, the Orioles didn't fall apart
Hentgen left. No, Buddy Groom took Hentgen's two runners that he
and stranded them. And then pitched another shutout inning. And then
Kohlmeier came in. And put two runners on base. And stranded them.
Offensively? Well, the less said, the better. Suffice it to say that Pedro Martinez pitched like Pedro Martinez. If it weren't for a gift single on a botched defensive play on a Mike Bordick popup to second, the Orioles wouldn't have touched him all game. But it happened, and they took advantage of it. And it was Boston's closer, Derek Lowe, who couldn't do the job, allowing the Orioles to win the game in the 11th on a double by Jerry Hairston and a game-winning single by Brady Anderson. Hairston's double was one of two he had on the day among his three hits, as he scored both Oriole runs. And the Orioles won, 2-1. Maybe it's only for a day, but if so, for a day, the Orioles are in first place in the AL East.
|Player||The inside scoop|
| Pat Hentgen|
|8.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K. 1 WP, 1 HR. Against a weak lineup, he almost went the distance and was almost perfect, making just one mistake, a home run to Trot Nixon.|
| Ryan Kohlmeier|
|1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K. We're still not sure what to think. He got the job done and got the save, but he's still putting too many runners on base.|
| Cal Ripken|
|3 defensive gems, 0-4 offensively. Hard to hold his 0-for against him, coming as it did against Pedro, so we'll give him a pass.|
| Melvin Mora|
|Forgets to touch second base on a free pass to third. The Orioles pulled the game out anyway, but it was embarrasssing, to say the least.|
| Jerry Hairston|
|3-4, 2 2Bs, 2 runs scored. He was the offense.|
Ex-O Note: We were amused to see Phillies' reliever Jose Mesa balking in the tying run in Florida on Monday.
On a day when Y*nkee Roger Clemens set the all-time AL strikeout mark, we thought we'd begin taking a look at some of the milestones that Oriole players can surpass this season. Unfortunately, despite the veteran-laden roster, the list begins and ends with Cal Ripken, who has already joined some pretty lofty company, and who continues to move up the all-time charts every time he plays.
The Orioles end spring training at 18-13, their best record since 1998. But that was spring training, and, as in 1998 (when the Orioles finished 79-83), Opening Day is a fresh start, for good or ill.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;|
Man never Is, but always To be Blest.
The soul, uneasy, and confin'd from home,
Rest and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topp'd hill, an humbler heav'n.
The Orioles finalized their roster on Sunday. Pleasant surprises: both Jay Gibbons and Mike Kinkade ended up making the roster, and Jorge Julio doesn't. Unpleasant not-so surprises: Fernando Lunar and Greg Myers both made the roster, and John Parrish and Jay Spurgeon do not. And as we noted yesterday, we have a preview of what manager Mike Hargrove is planning for the actual lineups: (1) Brady Anderson, (2) Mike Bordick, (3) Delino DeShields, (4) David Segui, (5) Chris Richard, (6) Cal Ripken (7) Brook Fordyce (8) Melvin Mora (9) Jerry Hairston.
Ex-O Notes: Florida purchased the contract of OF Lyle Mouton, while two veteran Ex-Os managed to salvage their careers and make their respective teams' major league rosters: DH Harold Baines with the White Sox and batting practice pitcher Norm Charlton with the Mariners.
For what it's worth (not very much), the Orioles ended spring training on a winning note, defeating the Atlanta Braves, 6-5. In a game in which neither team looked like it wanted to be on the field for very long, starter Jason Johnson also ended the spring on a positive note, throwing 5 innings, allowing 4 hits and 2 runs, a major turnaround from last season, where he was demoted after a miserable spring. Offensively, the Orioles showed a little life, for a change. Delino DeShields had a 2-hit night (including a double), walked, and stole a base, and eight other Orioles had hits, as the Orioles racked up 6 runs on 10 hits, 5 walks, and a key error by an Atlanta minor leaguer. Once again, the bullpen was shaky -- specifically, Buddy Groom, who allowed 4 hits and 2 runs in his inning of work. But Ryan Kohlmeier was able to stop the Braves' late rally, and the Orioles finish the spring with 2 straight wins. (Boxscore).
|Player||The inside scoop|
|5 IP, 4 H, 2 R. A major turnaround from last spring, and a good sign. He ended the spring with the lowest ERA among Os starters. Maybe he'll finally pitch the way all the scouts think he can?|
|1 IP, 1 K. We've been critical of the Orioles for choosing him, but credit where credit is due: an excellent spring (2.25 ERA, 23 K in only 20 IP, just 20 baserunners allowed.)|
|Another shaky outing: 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R. Not a good spring (ERA>5, only 3 Ks in 10 IP, 15 baserunners.)|
|Ditto. A shaky outing (1 IP, 4 H, 2 R) and a poor spring (ERA of 7.71, 17 baserunners in just 9.1 IP. He did K 11 without walking anyone, FWIW.)|
|A solid final outing: 2/3 IP, 1 K. He needs more like that.|
|1-2, run scored. Ends a very successful spring hitting .377.|
|2-2, 2B, BB, SB, CS, RBI. A good spring for him, as well (.338 AVG). Increasing his value, hopefully as trade bait.|
|1-2, 2 RBI. See above: a successful spring for him, leading the team in RBI and second in AVG and SLG, also hopefully attracting some interest as trade bait.|
|1-4, BB, RBI. Had a shortened spring (just 25 AB); hopefully he'll be ready for the season|
|1-3, 2 BB, RBI, and an error in the field. Well, he seems to be healthy, but finishing the spring with a .120 AVG and just 3 hits isn't very encouraging.|
|0-3, sac bunt. Not a good spring, after being handed a job for the first time. Fresh start on opening day, of course, as he tries to become the first farm product to make a long term mark as a hitter since sometime around the administration of Ronald Reagan.|
|1-1, run, RBI. His hit here was a seeing eye grounder that snuck through a drawn in infield. He hit .120 for the spring, and that's about his ability level.|
Roster notes (Transactions): The Orioles optioned OF Eugene Kingsale and LHP John Bale to Rochester, as expected. For our Transactions Breakdown....
Other roster notes: The Orioles used their probable regular season lineups over the last two days (with the exception of the no-DH rule on Saturday), so we have a preview of what manager Mike Hargrove is planning: (1) Brady Anderson, (2) Mike Bordick, (3) Delino DeShields, (4) David Segui, (5) Chris Richard, (6) Cal Ripken (7) Brook Fordyce (8) Melvin Mora (9) Jerry Hairston.
Spring Training: Over. (2001 Gamelog and All-Time Spring Results.) Next game: Opening Day. Monday, April 2nd, vs. the Boston Red Sox. Scheduled starters: Pat Hentgen and Pedro Martinez.
Ex-O Notes: Starter Juan Guzman, who missed almost all of last season with injury, has been placed on the disabled list by Tampa to start this season. And thanks to the injury to former Oriole C Gregg Zaun, the Royals traded for former Oriole C Mel Rosario from the Diamondbacks. And two IF notes: Tampa Bay released SS Ozzie "The Other One" Guillen, while Atlanta demoted IF Jesus Garcia to AAA.