||News Archives: July 2001|
Os bobble and bumble, lose yet again.
Casey Stengel once asked, of the 1962 Mets, "Can't anybody here
play this game?" He might as well have been asking about the 2001
Orioles. Hide your head in shame. Nobody wants to be a fair-weather fan,
but at some point, you just have to avoid embarassment. This game was
ugly. Sidney Ponson was handed a 5-1 lead, courtesy mostly of
Jay Gibbons and Jeff Conine, but he was unable to hold it. Primarily
because the fielders behind him were unable to hold onto the ball. Jerry
Hairston threw a ball away and Jay Gibbons let a ball go over his head for
a double, giving the Rangers three runs they shouldn't have had, and they
were able to catch up. But multihit games from Chris Richard, Conine,
Gibbons, and Hairston enabled the Orioles to put 7 runs on the board,
and it might have been enough. Except that Mike Kinkade dropped a fly
ball, leading to two more Ranger runs, and Brady Anderson struck out
with the bases loaded to end the game.
- Jeff Conine continues his hot hitting, raising his average to .322 with
a 2-4, 1 BB day.
- Although Melvin Mora was 0-3, he walked twice and made a great
catch at the wall.
- Jay Gibbons' bat: Gibbons went 2-3 with 3 RBI and a run scored; he
doubled and hit his team-leading 15th homer. Toronto must already be
regretting letting him get away.
- Jerry Hairston may be out of his offensive slump, going 2-4 with a
double and a run scored.
- The bad: Sidney Ponson. He wasn't as bad as his box score line (7
IP, 8 H, 6 R) made him look; if the Orioles could play defense, he'd have
done much better. Still, if he had struck out more than two batters, there
would have been fewer opportunities for his defense to boot the ball.
- After allowing just 3 of his first 31 inherited runners to score, Buddy
Groom has now allowed 5 of 8 to do so. Why oh why won't Syd Thrift trade
him before his value evaporates?
- The ugly: yes, we've said this before. The defense. They were "only"
charged with 2 errors, but that doesn't count the misjudgments in the
outfield by Jay Gibbons which led to the ball sailing over his head for a
double. Officially, 3 of the runs were unearned, but at least 5 of the runs
would not have scored if the Orioles had played defense.
- The blame for the defensive woes of the team belongs not with the
players, but with management. While Hairston is in a slump, the others
are playing out of position. If Syd Thrift put 1/10th the effort into building a
roster that he does into whining about being misunderstood, maybe the
team would have outfielders in the outfield instead of utility players and
Well, they're now 16 1/2 out. They've dropped 15 of their last 18
games. They now have the 6th worst record in baseball. What's the good
news? Well, we still have our health. Not for much longer, though,
because we're going to have a stroke waiting for GM Syd Thrift to actually
do something for this team. Something good, we mean. We
should probably count our blessings that he hasn't traded Sidney Ponson
and Jay Gibbons for Pedro Astacio or something.
- The Orioles have made a decision about their rotation in the short
term; John Parrish has been recalled to start the second game of
Wednesday's doubleheader, after Calvin Maduro starts the first
- To make room for Parrish on the roster, the Orioles optioned Jorge
Julio to Rochester. For our analysis, you know where to look: Transactions Breakdown....
- Larry Bigbie was promoted to the majors to replace the injured
David Segui on the roster; to replace Bigbie on Rochester's roster, Tim
Raines Jr. was brought up from Bowie. Raines has shot through the farm
system this year, and is one of the few players demonstrating that he
might be able to hit.
- Mike Hargrove has made official what was obvious but
unannounced: Fernando Lunar has displaced Brook Fordyce as the
team's #1 catcher. There is the perception that Lunar has hit well (.275
average) while Fordyce has not (.196 average). That's only half true.
Fordyce has hit terribly. But Lunar, despite his .275 average, is a terrible
offensive player, one who never walks and who never drives the ball,
giving him a poor .306 OBP and .343 SLG. And Lunar can be expected to
fall off, believe it or not, while Fordyce's play should pick up, given regular
playing time. On the other hand, Lunar is significantly younger (24) than
Fordyce (31). Either way, it's a "pick your poison" decision.
- Rochester has lost 11 of its last 12 games.
- The Ripken retirement tour continues; Ripken had his
locker??? retired by the Rangers on Tuesday. Uh, yeah, whatever.
A little pre-game ceremony is one thing, but this is just getting weird.
- Ex-O News: This one's a real shocker. You'll never believe it, but
Jeffrey Hammonds is hurt! What are the odds of that? In any case,
the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Hammonds' season is
officially over; he's having season-ending surgery to repair cartilage in his
Slide continues as Angels pound Orioles
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Fortunately (?), when
that good thing is "winning," the Orioles will never have to worry about too
much of it. A day after finally snapping a six-game losing streak, the
Orioles were back to losing. Badly. For the second time in three games,
Anaheim thumped Baltimore, 9-4, as a Baltimore starting pitcher was
pounded. This time, the culprit/victim was Jose Mercedes, who lasted
just 3 innings and gave up 6 runs. The Orioles got no relief from the
bullpen, as John Wasdin gave up 3 runs in his 5 innings of relief.
Offensively, the Orioles got a bunch of singles -- 11 of them -- but with just
3 extra base hits, none of them homers, they still managed just 4 runs,
and two of them came in "garbage time."
- Fernando Lunar had his best day as an Oriole, going 3-4 with 2
doubles and a run scored.
- Jerry Hairston had his second straight game with a hit, and also
walked twice and drove in two runs.
- For a change, most of the lineup did decently, with everyone except
Chris Richard and Jay Gibbons getting hits, and Lunar, Brian Roberts,
Melvin Mora, Jeff Conine, Tony Batista, and Cal Ripken each having
multihit games. Somehow, they managed time those hits so that they
scored just 4 runs, though.
- The bad: Jose Mercedes: lasting just 3 innings, giving up 6 runs on
7 hits and 2 walks.
- John Wasdin, again. Pitching long relief, he went 5 innings, but he
turned a 6-2 deficit (almost manageable -- at least for a team with a
decent offense) into a 9-2 hole from which the Orioles had no chance of
recovering. He gave up 4 hits, walked one, and hit two batters with
pitches. We still can't figure out why Wasdin's on this team.
- The ugly: timing. Given the looming trading deadline, a very bad
time for Jose Mercedes to have his worst start in six weeks.
The Orioles fell back to 15 1/2 games out, their worst deficit of the
season, as they dropped their 14th in their last 17 games. While they still
have a comfortable lead over Tampa, they have the 7th worst record in
baseball. Is Syd Thrift going to do anything about this team?
- The schedule for the makeup games against Texas has been
announced; one game will be played as part of a doubleheader on
Wednesday in Texas (yes, even though the game was originally in
Baltimore), and the other game will be played in Baltimore on Monday, a
- The Orioles don't have any idea who will pitch the second game in
the Wednesday doubleheader; Calvin Maduro was recently announced as
the first starter. But the Orioles haven't thought it through and don't have
anyone in place for the second.
- The Orioles finally made a decision on David Segui
and his sore knee, putting him on the disabled list retroactive to last
Sunday, and calling up Larry Bigbie to take his place. For our
analysis, see Transactions Breakdown....
- Ex-O News: LHP Chuck McElroy, released by the Orioles
two weeks ago, was signed by the San Diego Padres. And journeyman
RHP Doug Linton was sold by the Mets to a Korean team.
Split of doubleheader ends losing streak
Well, the losing streak is finally over. Jason Johnson was brilliant,
pitching 6 2/3 innings of six-hit, one-run ball, striking out a season-high
seven batters, and Jay Gibbons hit a go-ahead two-run homer as part of
an unanswered five-run "outburst" by the Orioles. Gibbons and Cal
Ripken each had two hits, and Chris Richard and Jeff Conine each
walked twice, and the Orioles took advantage of two Anaheim errors.
Meanwhile, the bullpen, despite a scare in the 8th, pitched scoreless
relief to clinch the 5-1 victory for the Orioles. Unfortunately, before Jason
Johnson could take the mound, Willis Roberts started the afternoon game
of the doubleheader, and he pitched Robertsianly. (No, it's not a word.
But you know what we mean.) He was hit hard for six innings -- though he
certainly wasn't helped by the team's defense -- and completely fell apart
in the seventh, walking the first two batters before Jerry Hairston's error
loaded the bases with none out. And he certainly wasn't helped by his
bullpen; John Wasdin came in and allowed all the runners on base to
score. That turned a 5-4 deficit into a 9-4 blowout. The Orioles did
generate some offense, getting 11 hits (including doubles, a triple, and
Tony Batista's fourth home run as an Oriole) and 3 walks, but grounding
into three double plays cost them.
- The good: Jason Johnson: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K. He lowered
his ERA to 3.18, fifth in the American League behind Pedro Martinez, Tim
Wakefield, Tim Hudson, and Aaron Sele.
- Jay Gibbons: 2-4, 2 RBI, 2 Runs, a big HR, his team-leading 14th.
Not including Tony Batista, who accumulated most of his HRs for Toronto,
he's the only player with a realistic shot at 20 HRs this season.
- Jeff Conine continues to play well; he went 3-6 with 3 runs scored,
an RBI, a 2B, and 2 walks in the doubleheader.
- Chris Richard went 3-5 with 3 walks. Unfortunately, because the
bottom portion of the lineup is so poor, he scored just one run.
- The bad: Willis Roberts: 6 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. Roberts has
been erratic all year, and this was one of his really bad starts.
- John Wasdin, who came in with the bases loaded and allowed all
the runs to score. The Wasdin acquisition has been pretty pointless so
- Another poor day for Brady Anderson, who went 0-7 and is now
- The ugly: the defense. How many defensive mistakes can one team
make? Sure, it was two games, but between them, the Orioles made four
errors, including two by Hairston, and one by the extremely error-prone
Brian Roberts. And Brady Anderson managed to misplay a ball without
being charged with an error, too.
The team's win in the nightcap snapped a six game losing streak,
allowing the Orioles to remain 13 games under .500. Still, they lost yet
another half-game in the standings, and are now 14 1/2 games out of first
place. Only Tampa, Kansas City, and Texas have worse records in the
- The Orioles got a scare when Jay Gibbons was hit with a flying bat
while sitting in the dugout in game one; he was bruised, but x-rays were
negative and he was healthy enough to homer in the second game.
- Still no decision on David Segui; he sat out of two more
games on Sunday.
- The trainout and subsequent doubleheader has resulted in a
warped pitching rotation; the Orioles have decided that Calvin
Maduro will get the start on Wednesday in Texas. Maduro earned the
start by pitching so well against Texas in relief of Sean Douglass last
week, just before the trainout.
- Jerry Hairston missed his first game of the season in the opener of
the doubleheader. He came back in the second game to get his first hit in
months. Or at least it seemed that long.
Trainout over, losing continues, despite game-tying rally.
All good things must come to an end... and the Orioles' non-playing
streak is over, which means that their losing streak is increasing once
again. Despite having new almost-ace Josh Towers on the mound, the
Orioles dropped yet another game. Towers gave up two two-run homers
to Troy Glaus, and that put the Orioles far enough in the hole that their
pathetic offense had no chance of coming back. And yet, they did
come back, scoring single runs in the fourth and fifth, and then rallying for
a 3-run ninth off Anaheim stud closer Troy Percival, with the key blow
being a two-run single by Melvin Mora with two outs. Unfortunately, Mike
Hargrove brought Alan Mills to pitch after the Orioles tied the game, and
Mills gave up a triple and single to give up a run and, ultimately, lose yet
another game for the Orioles, this time 6-5 to the Angels.
- The good: Well, this is a little mixed, but we'll call it good. Josh
Towers pitched pretty well. He made two mistakes to Troy Glaus, which
were hit out of the park, but he also struck out a career-high six, and he
once again lasted deep into the game, pitching 7.2 innings.
- Brian Roberts: 2-5 with a run, a SB, and 2 RBI. While batting leadoff!
How often does an Oriole leadoff hitter reach base safely twice in the
same game? Answer: the last time was July *1st*, three weeks ago.
- Jeff Conine: 2-4, 2B, run, BB. He continues to play well, boosting his
- Melvin Mora, 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI. And he stole two bases.
- An offensive rally at a key time! Three runs in the ninth to tie the
game against dominant reliever Troy Percival!
- The bad: the bullpen, pitching 2.1 innings, allowing 2 runs to blow
the game. The main culprits: Mike Trombley, Buddy Groom, and Alan
Mills. Mills, in particular, has been poor since his return, giving up the
losing run to boost his ERA to 6.75.
- Jerry Hairston was 0-2, continuing his poor showing of July; he's
now 0-24, and 4 for his last 47.
- The ugly: When you come back to tie a game against a closer with
an improbable three-run rally, can't you at least wait more than 5 minutes
before blowing the game and losing anyway?
We hate to say "We told you so." (No, wait a minute. We don't hate
that -- we love it.) If the Orioles had only been trained out again, they'd be
"only" 13 1/2 games out. Instead, they played, so they remain 14 games
out. They've now lost 5 straight games and have fallen 13 games under
.500. The Orioles definitely need to make some trading deadline
decisions, and they know it. The Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles
may be willing to make a bid for Jason Giambi, J.D. Drew, or Jermaine
Dye. They're also interested in trading Jeff Conine, Buddy Groom, Jose
Mercedes, Sidney Ponson, Mike Trombley, or Melvin Mora.
- Thanks to Friday's trainout, the Orioles play their first doubleheader
of the year on Sunday, of the day-night variety.
- Pat Hentgen's return is not going to be immediate, but it's beginning
to look imminent; he threw batting practice on Saturday and is expected to
throw a simulated game and then go on a rehab assignment.
- The Orioles are still refusing to make a decision on David Segui,
forcing them to play with a 24-man roster. He hasn't played in a week --
after missing a game on Saturday the 14th, he got one AB on the 15th
before having to leave the game with his injury. This just shows more
organizational cowardice; they're afraid to do anything, hoping that a
decision will be made for them.
- There's still no news on when -- or even if -- the missed games from
the Texas series will be made up.
- We finally found a team doing worse than the Orioles: Rochester
has now dropped nine straight games.
- Ex-O notes: Here's an article on C Jayson
Werth, traded to Toronto before the season started. And
Larry Lucchino, former Oriole team president and current Padre
president/CEO, has announced he's stepping down as head of the
Padres after the season.
Trainout saves Orioles from sweep; Douglass career brief
BREAKING NEWS: FRIDAY'S GAME HAS BEEN
POSTPONED. NO MAKEUP DATE HAS BEEN SET.
You've heard it said that good teams find a way to win? Well, the
Orioles aren't quite there, but they finally found a way not to lose. All they
needed to do was derail a train and cause a hazardous materials spill,
and a fire that can't be put out, right near Camden Yards. So far, the
"trainout" has cost the team three scheduled dates and two games, and
there's no information yet on when, or even whether, the Orioles will be
able to make up the games against the Rangers. Texas is not scheduled
to make any more trips to Baltimore, and there are few off days left in the
schedule, and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has said that the games
must be made up before the end of the season, if at all.
Unfortunately, the Orioles got in one game against the Texas Rangers
before the spill, and the Orioles' roster could have been classified as a
hazardous materials spill. Rookie Sean Douglass, just called up and
making his first major league start, showed he was not quite
ready-for-prime-time, giving up 12 baserunners and 6 runs in just 3.2
innings. Calvin Maduro was brilliant in long relief, completely shutting
down the Rangers after that, but of course, with a 5 run deficit, it was far
too late. The Os actually tallied 4 runs, matching their total from the entire
Marlin series, thanks in large part to home runs from Jeff Conine and
Tony Batista, but of course it wasn't nearly enough, and the Orioles lost
again. (On the bright side, had the game been long or gone into extra
innings, then the stadium might have been full when the train derailment
- The good: Calvin Maduro, who came into the game in the 4th with
the score already 6-1 and Texas having two runners on base; Maduro
killed the rally and then gave up just 4 baserunners -- none past first base
-- over the final five+ innings.
- Jeff Conine: 3-4 with a HR, run and RBI. Hey, 3 hits is a good
teameffort these days.
- Tony Batista: 2-4, double, HR, RBI, and 2 runs scored.
- Mike Hargrove, for finally using a pitcher in long relief, instead
of turning every game into a parade from the bullpen.
- The bad: Sean Douglass, making his major league debut an
inauspicious one. 3.2 innings, 9 hits and six runs, walking three and
striking out just 2. Despite his struggles, his debut was described by
management as "encouraging."
- Jerry Hairston was 0-3, making him hitless in, what, his last 700
ABs? (Actually, he's 0-22, and 4 for his last 45, but who's counting?)
- The ugly: The offense. Are we supposed to get excited about
a team effort which resulted in 4 runs? Sure, they had 10 hits, including 4
for extra bases, but they didn't walk at all, and this sort of effort is
supposed to be a bad day, not a good one.
- And, of course, the losing, which has now hit 4 straight and 11 of 13.
The Orioles' loss on Wednesday afternoon dropped them to 15 1/2
games behind the Yankees, but their subsequent trainouts actually
managed to gain them back a game in the standings, so they now stand
14 1/2 games out. There's only a week and a half left until the first trading
deadline, though, so the distraction can only hurt them as they (hopefully)
try to work out deals. Unfortunately, there has been little news on that front
so far. There are occasional rumors of trading Sidney Ponson, still, this
time for either Jermaine Dye or Magglio Ordonez.
- There's still no news on the David Segui health front; his
knee is still bothering him, and he might still have to go on the DL, but the
Orioles refuse to make a decision one way or the other.
- As noted, Sean Douglass was called up from Rochester
(and Chad Paronto sent down to make room) for the start, and
after the start, he was sent right back down to Rochester, and the Orioles
called up Jorge Julio. For our analysis, see Transactions Breakdown....
- The minor league teams are doing little better than the major league
ones; Rochester has dropped seven straight games, while Bowie had
lost eleven of fourteen. This organization needs an overhaul from top to
- Ex-O notes: OF Alex Ochoa has been traded to the Colorado
Rockies; look for his career to get a sudden boost.
Marlins sweep despite Cal's heroic homer
At least it can't get any worse. We think. There's little place to go but
up from here, we hope, Certainly that's the case offensively, where the
Orioles are very consistent We always know which lineup is going to
show up: none of them. Stop us if you've heard this before: the Orioles
generated nothing at the plate whatsoever. Tuesday's starting pitching
(namely, Sidney Ponson) was shakier than Monday's, but it really wouldn't
have mattered, since the Orioles didn't even manage a hit until the fifth
inning. But just to forestall any chance of comeback, John Wasdin came
into the game and turned a 4-1 deficit into a 7-1 deficit. A nice,
- The good: Jay Gibbons, 2-4 with his team-leading thirteenth home
run. (Boy, the decision to sign David Segui right after drafting Gibbons is
looking dumber and dumber.)
- Cal Ripken, who went 1-3 with a walk and 2-run home run, his
seventh of the season, and third in the past week. And he came close to
a second one today before the ball hooked foul. The one he did hit was a
rocket, not a high fly ball, showing that Cal can still turn on a pitch and
drive it in the right circumstances.
- The bad: Sidney Ponson had an off day, lasting just 4 innings and
giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on five hits and three walks. His control was
extremely shaky, as he walked 3 and hit a batter (forcing in a run) while
throwing 84 pitches in just 4 innings of work. Still, he might have been
given the chance to settle down if it weren't for the fact that, down 4-0, the
Orioles couldn't afford to let him hit anymore. Not with this offense. Not,
as it turns out, that it mattered. But we don't think Mike Hargrove can afford
to give quick hooks to his starting pitching.
- John Wasdin, in only his second appearance as an Oriole, his first
in 2 weeks (after having missed some time with family issues), was not at
all sharp, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and a walk in just 1 2/3 innings.
- The ugly: Oh, you know -- the offense, of course. They did get two
home runs -- but those were their only extra base hits, and they only got 4
other singles. For the entire three-game series, the Orioles were 13-88
(.148) with just 4 runs scored. Their #1 and #2 hitters went 1-22 (.045)
with one walk.
The resulting 8-3 thrashing, and thus the Marlins' three-game sweep
over the Orioles, left Baltimore at 6-12 in interleague play. We hated the
entire idea of interleague play before this, and now we hate it even more.
Their 10th loss in their last 12 games left the Orioles so far off the pace
now (11 games under .500, 14 1/2 games behind) that they can't even
see the wild card. Only the Devil Rays, Royals, and Rangers are worse in
the American League. The pathetic Montreal Expos, the symbol of
baseball ineptitude in recent years, are just 1 1/2 games behind the
- 1B David Segui's knee is still bothering him. The Orioles
aren't talking -- but he may have to go back on the disabled list. Gee, what
a shame. The Orioles might be forced to continue playing younger guys.
Even perhaps (gasp) Big Cal Pickering. (If indeed the Orioles call him up,
they will almost certainly be the only team in history to have three
Calvins on the roster at the same time.
- After starting rumors that minor leaguer Sean Douglass would start
the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader, Mike Hargrove denied them
the other day. But now it turns out the rumors are true; Douglass will get
the call from Rochester, making his major league debut against the
Rangers this afternoon. To make room for him, Chad Batting Practice
Paronto was sent down. Unless Douglass does something astonishing,
this is expected to be his only major league start for now, but you never
- No new news on the trade front.
- Ryan Kohlmeier is being converted into a starter at Rochester, at
least for the time being. He made his second start the other day, a
mediocre one, which prompted manager Andy Etchebarren's
less-than-enthusiastic assessment: "He threw the ball OK. His location
wasn't great, and it needs to be for him to be effective." Boy, that's the
nicest thing Etchebarren could come up with?
- Ex-O notes: Armando Benitez: remember him? The guy the
Orioles didn't trust? He's now 23-23 in saves this year -- the only closer in
the majors who hasn't blown a save. Meanwhile, former flamethrowing
LHP Brad Pennington signed a deal with Allentown of the
Marlins 2-hit Orioles despite Mercedes solid outing
Well, we take it back. There is momentum. The team's just moving in
the wrong direction. Every day, the offense gets further and further away
from the ballpark. In a scenario that's becoming routine, the Orioles got a
good pitching performance from their starting pitcher -- in this case, Jose
Mercedes, who had his ninth quality start in his last twelve outings -- but it
was wasted. Wasted by an offense that was completely invisible, once
again. We could recite a litany of statistics which show how bad the
offense was, but what would be the point? Suffice it to say that the Orioles
were shut out for the sixth time this season, and recorded just two
- The good: Jose Mercedes had a good outing. 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R. If
nothing else, he's boosting his trade value.
- The bad: Alan Mills doesn't seem to have it quite yet. He pitches 1
inning, gives up a solo homer and walks another batter.
- The Orioles got 2 extra base hits today -- both doubles -- but no
other hits, and walked just 3 times. Only one batter even reached third
base, Jeff Conine.
- The ugly: Cal Ripken Jr. sat on Monday -- and still recorded
as many hits as seven of the team's starters. 2 hits? 2 hits? The Orioles
are now batting .221 in July -- with an embarassing .296 OBP.
With the 4-0 loss, the team's 9th loss in its last 11 games, the Orioles
dropped to a season-worst 10 games under .500 and 13 1/2 games out
of first place. The team is now closer to the awful Devil Rays than they are
to the playoffs, and there's no longer even a hint of a glimmer of a chance
that the Orioles think they can contend this year.
- Talk of trading Jose Mercedes to the Minnesota Twins
appears to be intensifying, at least according to the Baltimore Sun, which
suggests that the Orioles would get unnamed "prospects" for him.
Strangely, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune doesn't mention Jose Mercedes
at all, but instead suggests that the Twins are about to get Pedro Astacio.
The other local paper for the Twins, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, does
mention the Twins interest in Jose Mercedes -- but only in citing the
Baltimore Sun. More disinformation from the Sun?
- 1B David Segui's knee is still bothering him, and although
his MRI was negative, he went to Baltimore to be examined by team
doctors. It will be fashionable for the Orioles to blame his absence for the
team's offensive struggles, but don't believe it. That they have a first
baseman with a grand total of just 8 HRs after the All-Star Break is a
symptom of the problem, not a solution to it.
- Ex-O note: a second big-name pitcher goes down with injury: RHP
Kevin Brown is expected to miss a month with a sprained elbow.
Ripken, Orioles, MIA
So much for momentum. One game winning streaks just won't do it,
and Cal Ripken can't homer twice in every game. In fact, the Orioles as
a team have trouble homering twice in a game; they've only done it two
other times all month, and four times in the last 26 days. Today they didn't
even hit one. Or even a double. Heck, they're lucky they got any singles.
They scored one run, on a groundout. It probably wouldn't have mattered
if they had done better, since the bullpen was pathetic, as B.J. Ryan and
Chad Paronto came into a 3-1 game, pitched a combined 2/3 of an inning,
and left with the Orioles trailing 7-1.
The Orioles are now 2-8 in their last ten games, courtesy of this 7-1
thrashing. They're not falling any further behind in the division or wild card
races, but at this point, does it really matter? All that's left is the farewell
tour for Cal Ripken, which on Sunday entered City #3, Miami.
- Cal Ripken Jr. went 0-3, snapping his hitting streak at 15
- Chad Paronto has now allowed 7 of the 9 runners he has
inherited this year to score, and has allowed an embarassing 5 home
runs in just 26 innings. We don't know precisely how the Orioles will
handle things when Pat Hentgen comes back from the disabled
list, but Paronto sure shouldn't make any long term plans. Hentgen threw
off a mound for the first time since going on the DL, and the Orioles expect
he will need several rehab starts before being ready for a callup.
- Sean Douglass will not be called up to start
Wednesday afternoon's first game of the doubleheader, though the
Orioles have not yet announced who will start. Either way, the second
(night) game will be one of those oh-so-trendy "Turn Back The Clock"
games, with the Orioles wearing 1977 uniform replicas and bringing back
a bunch of players from that year's team.
- After sitting out of Saturday's game with a sore knee, David
Segui was in the starting lineup on Sunday, but left after one inning
because of the injury. Aren't old players fun to have on a team?
- A big game for prospect John Stephens in Bowie on
Sunday: he pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing 2 hits, walking none,
and striking out nine. We love to see this, and can't wait for Stephens to
be promoted to Rochester.
- Ex-O note: Here's a big one: Montreal called up Bobby
Munoz from AAA. I'm sure memorabilia collectors will be rushing out
for his autograph.
Ripken homers twice? Whachu talkin' about, Willis?
Now that's more like it; that's what we were talking about when
we talked about needing a sense of drama. Now if only this game had
happened two days ago, before the debacles of Thursday-Friday. Today
the Orioles got the starting pitching -- backed up by defense. But that
wasn't the story of the game; not even close. After Tony Batista homered
to tie the game at one, Cal Ripken took over in the sixth. With a man on
first, Ripken homered to deep left on the first pitch he saw. Not one of his
gosh-I'm-40-and-can-barely-clear-the-wall homers, but a
no-doubt-about-it smash. Although the homer gave the Orioles a 3-1
lead, the Atlanta crowd erupted with applause and forced Cal to come up
for a curtain call. But Cal wasn't finished; in the eighth inning, he did it
again, homering to left to give the Orioles an insurance run and give the
Atlanta fans even more to cheer about. And the bullpen held on, as B.J.
Ryan, Mike Trombley, and Buddy Groom pitched 2.1 scoreless innings to
save the victory for Willis Roberts and even his record at 7.
- The good: Duh. Cal Ripken. 2-3, 2 HRs, 3 RBI, a walk, and 2 runs
scored. Let the babble about Cal's All-Star Game home run being a "gift"
- Willis Roberts: In an off-again, on-again year, today was "on-again."
One run on 5 hits in 6.2 innings, almost as if he knew that it was Cal
Ripken's day. And it wasn't luck; he looked good on the mound,
baffling Atlanta hitters with splitters.
- Tony Batista: His second home run as an Oriole. He's not going to
win an MVP based on his Oriole performance so far (240/316/400), but at
least he's turned it up from his Toronto days earlier this year
(207/251/399). Plus, we were glad to see him playing shortstop.
- The bad: well, Brian Roberts made another error. We're not overly
worried about it -- he's young, and these things happen -- but he's not
making much of a case for staying on the major league roster when Mike
Bordick returns from the disabled list.
The 4-1 win was just the Orioles' second in their last nine games, but
obviously couldn't keep the Orioles from losing their first series in Atlanta
since interleague play began. Of course, we're only talking about three
series. Supposedly, interleague play is going to rotate divisions next year,
so the Orioles probably won't be back in Atlanta for six years or so.
- Ex-O note: LHP David Wells is likely to have surgery on his
arm and be out for the rest of the season.
- David Segui sat out of Saturday's game with a sore knee.
- Thanks to a rainout, the Orioles have a day-night doubleheader
scheduled on Wednesday; the Orioles haven't yet decided who will start
the second game. The Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles might call
up prospect Sean Douglass for a start; if so, it would be his major league
- Cal Ripken Jr.'s great day extended his hitting streak to 15
- Cal Pickering leads the International League in RBI. Maybe
he can get a callup sometime soon?
Os can't field, hit, or win; plunge out of contention continues.
It's better to win ugly than lose pretty... but it's worse to lose ugly. And
that was a loss. And it was ugly. What more can be said about Friday
night's 7-1 pounding at the hands of the Atlanta Braves? Trust us, you
don't want to hear more. Everything that could go wrong, did. Starter Josh
Towers was his usual effective self, scattering several singles but never
getting hit hard, but unfortunately, his defense completely let him down, as
Brian Roberts made numerous mistakes in the field. Officially, only one
run was unearned, but had the Orioles played competently in the field,
Atlanta would have scored only 3 or 4 runs at most. But it really wouldn't
have mattered, since they had no offense to speak of, once again. The
Orioles have been a weak-hitting team all year, but they have reverted
from their merely bad form of June to their pathetic showing of earlier in
- The good: Josh Towers, despite giving up 7 runs (6 earned). He
gave up just six hits -- five of them singles, and one double and walked
just two. Unfortunately, he was victimized by the team's "defense."
- The bad: the "offense" was offensive only to Oriole fans, once again.
Tom Glavine has struggled this year -- but not against the Orioles. He
walked 4, but gave up just 2 hits in seven innings. The Orioles got three
doubles today -- but no other hits.
- The ugly: the defense. Some botched plays are excusable, like a
ball taking a weird hop and hitting Brian Roberts in the head. But some
are inexcusable; Roberts and Hairston miscommunicating on a ball up
the middle, or Roberts botching another grounder. Or Melvin Mora
misplaying a ball in the outfield to allow runners to advance. And then
there's the idiocy of getting fooled by the delayed double steal; with men
on first and third and two outs, you're not supposed to throw the ball to
second on a steal attempt -- but the Orioles botched it. And then there
was another play where a ball went between third baseman Tony Batista
The loss was the Orioles' seventh in their last eight games, and
they're now 9 games under .500 for the first time this season. In addition
to being 12 1/2 games out of first, they're also 12 games out of the wild
card spot. Finally, talk seems to be turning, appropriately, towards
trading away veterans, instead of getting them. We want to emphasize that
we're not happy that the Orioles are losing -- but we think that another year
of rebuilding is necessary, and a decision to abandon youngsters in favor
of veterans would crush the Orioles' chances for another 4 or 5 years. So
we're happy that the Orioles recognize (hopefully) the need to continue the
rebuilding process. In this case, talk is of trading away the 30-year old
Jose Mercedes to the Twins for prospects, rather than the 24-year old
Sidney Ponson for a veteran third baseman or outfielder.
- Ex-O note: Speedy no-hit OF Kimera Bartee, who the Orioles
traded to Minnesota for Scott Erickson, has bounced around the league;
yesterday he was acquired by the Rockies from the Angels for a minor
leaguer. Even Coors Field won't be able to help his career, though. Also,
Ex-O RHP Nerio Rodriguez pitched eight no-hit innings against
Bowie on Thursday night.
- In addition to all the other problems he had, Brian Roberts went
hitless to see his hitting streak snapped at 15 games, tying the longest in
Orioles' history for a rookie (Rich Coggins in 1973 and Eddie Murray in
1977). In an example of the tyranny of batting averages, though, even
though Roberts hit .281 in 15 games, his performance during the streak
was lousy. He got the minimum one hit in 12 of the 15 games, and
incredibly, walked just once during the streak, giving him a pathetic .288
OBP during the 15-game span. In addition, he had just 3 doubles and 1
triple, meaning his SLG was an anemic .359. (Of course, on the Orioles,
an anemic SLG is pretty much de rigueur.) Roberts is a fast, exciting
player, but he has little power, so if he can't show significantly more plate
discipline -- which he has done in the minors -- he'll never be anything
more than a pinch runner and defensive replacement.
- Alan Mills appeared in a game for the first time since last
September 3rd. He pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning, but (as usual)
he walked someone, and he allowed his inherited runner to score. If the
Orioles expect him to be a bullpen savior, they're sadly mistaken.
- Cal Ripken Jr. had just the second pinch hit of his long
major league career when he doubled for Alan Mills in the eighth inning.
The hit extended his own personal hitting streak to 14 games.
- Larry Bigbie, who appeared briefly for the Orioles last month,
was promoted to Rochester from Bowie yesterday.
Orioles run out of chances against Maddux, Braves.
Anticlimax, thy name is the Orioles. Don't the Orioles have any
sense of history, of drama? After an All-Star Break that was basically a
3-day Calfest, All Ripken, All The Time, it would be a perfect start to Act II of
the season if the Orioles started off on a long winning streak, preferably
with Cal Ripken playing the role of hero. Alas, reality often intrudes, and
facts take precedence over narrative. Thus, we're stuck with what the
Orioles actually did. And that was to drop a 6-5 decision to the Atlanta
Braves, a game in which the Orioles led 2-0 after just 3 batters against
superstar ace Greg Maddux, but couldn't hold the lead. Actually, Sidney
Ponson gave it right back, sandwiching a run-scoring double in the
second around solo homers in the first and third. And then later, giving
Atlanta the lead by allowing back-to-back solo shots in the sixth. Jay
Gibbons almost rescued the Orioles with a game-tying home run, but he
couldn't quite overcome the bullpen. And bad baserunning killed any
chance the Orioles had to come back. Cal Ripken came to bat with two
outs in the ninth inning with a chance to tie the game with another
dramatic home run, but he managed only a single. He was replaced with
pinch-runner Jerry Hairston, already in the doghouse for being late for
practice. And Hairston was promptly picked off, ending the Orioles' threat
and the game.
- The good: Melvin Mora, 2-4, 2B, run scored.
- David Segui, 2-4, RBI, run scored. This isn't exactly hitting for the
cycle or anything, but with the Orioles, you take what you can get.
- Jay Gibbons: a pinch hit two run homer to tie the game. Can't get
much better than that. Every time he plays, he makes more of a case for
why he should play some more. He extended his team lead in HRs over
- The Braves became the second team, after the White Sox, to honor
Cal Ripken. Stay tuned for many more such honors as Cal makes his
final tour around the majors.
- The bad: Sidney Ponson. He's always been prone to the longball,
but had been showing some signs of improvement this season -- until
today. Four home runs today contributed mightily to the Orioles' loss,
even if they were all solo shots.
- Fernando Lunar. He's sure not on the team for his bat; it's his
alleged cannon of an arm that makes him attractive. So a throwing error
which leads to the losing run is inexcusable.
- The shaky bullpen: Chad Paronto has to get one out without
allowing a run; he can't. As we said, Fernando Lunar is blameworthy, but
that doesn't excuse Paronto. Every time Hargrove sees an outing like this,
it reinforces his notion that Buddy Groom and Mike Trombley are the only
trustworthy relievers on the team.
- The ugly: the baserunning. Losing three baserunners, not to great
defense, but to stupidity. Particularly Chris Richard, who managed to get
caught in a rundown and picked off. But Jerry Hairston committed
the cardinal sin, getting picked off as a pinch runner. And
manager Mike Hargrove sounded none too pleased.
With the loss, the Orioles' sixth in their last seven games, the Orioles
fell to a season high (or low) 8 games under .500. As we noted the other
day in our Bricks from the Warehouse entry, the Orioles are at a crossroads right now; a few more
days like this, and even the front office will be forced to admit that this
team just isn't there yet at a competitive level.
- Roster Note: LHP Chuck McElroy was designated for
assignment to make room for RHP Alan Mills, finally returning
from the disabled list for the first time this season after undergoing
surgery last September. For our analysis, see Transactions Breakdown....
- Ex-O notes: LHP Rick Krivda, who once looked like he could
be the next Jamie Moyer, was released by the Cardinals' AAA affiliate.
While we've learned never to say never, particularly with left-handed
pitchers, at age 31 his career isn't looking too promising. He may need to
go to an independent league if he wants to play. And speaking of
independent leagues, the Atlantic League's Newark Bears signed former
farmhand Billy Ashley.
- Cal Pickering went 0-2 in the AAA All-Star Game on Wednesday, while John
Stephens pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out two, in
the AA All-Star Game.
- Brian Roberts' first inning double extended his hitting streak to
15-games, tying the longest in Orioles' history for a rookie (Rich Coggins
and Eddie Murray).
- For those of you far more interested in the farm system than the
lousy major league team, you can listen to Frederick Keys games by visiting their
Cal does it again! HOFer is MVP, again!
Even Vince McMahon's WWF couldn't have scripted a more perfect
evening. If you were going to do it, you'd have the beloved aging
star, who had previously announced his retirement, allowed to start one
last All-Star Game. You'd have him start at his natural position. You'd
have him star in the game. You'd have him recognized and rewarded for
his performance. Guess what? It all happened, on an amazing night in
Cal Ripken was elected to start the All-Star Game, the 19th All-Star
Game of his incredible career. Cal Ripken, in a surprise, got to start the
game at shortstop as current superstar shortstop Alex Rodriguez, who
grew up idolizing Cal, pushed him across the diamond to switch places.
A visibly self-conscious Cal didn't want to go, but manager Joe Torre gave
his approval, and Cal went. That alone was enough to make the Oriole
fan misty-eyed, seeing Cal back at his real home, shortstop. But (as the
infomercial host would say) wait, there's more! Ripken's selection had
been the target of some criticism, as it symbolized fans voting for
sentiment over current performance. But Cal silenced any hint that he
"didn't deserve" to be at the game; on the very first pitch he saw from Chan
Ho Park, he jumped on it like he was still 25 years old, slamming it deep
over the left field wall for his second career All-Star Home Run. The crowd
went wild. His fellow American League All-Stars went wild. Even his
opposing National League All-Stars went wild. In the end, the American
League won, 4-1, but that was a footnote to the Cal Celebration, important
only because the AL's victory was required for Cal to get his Most Valuable
So now, the only question left: can Cal, who has risen to the occasion
so many times before, homering when he tied and broke Lou Gehrig's
record, and homering in two All-Star Games, do it again? Can Cal homer
in his last game, in his last at-bat? Tune in later to find out, but we sure
wouldn't be surprised.
- The home run was Cal's first in the All-Star Game since 1991;
Ripken also won the MVP in that game.
- Cal became the oldest player ever to homer in the All-Star Game.
- Ripken also made official, in pre-game comments, that he would not
be retiring on September 23rd, his last game in Baltimore, but would
finish out the schedule, playing in the team's last roadtrip the final week of
the season. To Ripken, anything else would be cheating, saying that
public relations was more important than the game.
- Bud Selig is a twit. Okay, this isn't news, and isn't unique to the
All-Star Game, but not only did he interrupt the game so he could insert
himself into the day's news with a "Commissioner's Historic Achievement
Award" for Cal, but he also managed to botch Cal Ripken's career stats,
crediting him for 400 RBI when he meant 400 HR.
- Former Oriole Curt Schilling, previously announced as the
National League's starter, begged off, saying that he wasn't ready to pitch
after a Sunday start. Ex-Os Charles Johnson (0-1) and
Roberto Alomar (0-2) did appear, however.
Roster note: OF Eugene Kingsale, who was designated for
assignment last week to make roster room for John Wasdin, failed to
clear waivers. The Seattle Mariners claimed him off waivers on Tuesday,
ending his career in the Oriole organization. For our analysis, see Transactions Breakdown....
- The AA and AAA All-Star Games are being held on Wednesday, with
ESPN2 televising the AAA game on Wednesday evening. The only Oriole
prospect selected for the AA game is RHP John Stephens, the
soft-tosser with phenomenal numbers, who hopes that Josh Towers'
success will convince the Orioles to give him a chance. Meanwhile, in the
AAA game, 1B/DH Big Cal Pickering will appear. (Also, Ex-O P.J.
- Pickering was recently named organizational Player of the Month,
and may have successfully revived his status as a prospect. Keep in
mind that Pickering is only 24 -- the same age as Jay Gibbons, and 3
years younger than Chris Richard.
- An ESPN poll named Oriole owner Peter Angelos the second worst owner in professional sports. We
really can't agree. He may be an egotistal idiot, but at least he cares
about the team and wants them to win. Now, an owner like Carl Pohlad of
the Twins, who's far richer than Angelos but who won't invest anything in
his team, deserves a lot more criticism. Not that we're excusing Angelos,
And please note our Bricks from the Warehouse comments on the crossroads the Orioles find
themselves in as they enter the second half of the season.
On the one hand, the Orioles are playing much better than we thought
they would. (Of course, that has something to do with Josh Towers, rather
than Chuck McElroy, being in the rotation, which we couldn't have
predicted. But it also has to do with Jason Johnson finally having a good
year, which we didn't foresee.) They're solidly ahead of Tampa at 40-47,
which projects to 74 wins, and we would have pegged them for 64.
On the other hand, they're 40-47, which projects to 74 wins. We're not
talking about a major accomplishment, here. They're also 12 1/2 games
out, in 4th place, their lowest point of the season. And they're 11 games
out of the Wild Card slot, in 7th place for the wild card.
Now, you and we know that their chances of winning the wild card are
the same as Albert Belle winning Ms. Congeniality, but do the Orioles
realize it? Before this past week, they were only 3 games under, at 39-42,
8 1/2 games out, and they were talking contention. IMO, no team under
.500 has any business thinking about contending, no matter how close in
the standings. Hopefully, the sweep by the Yankees and the rather
pathetic showing against the Phillies will disabuse them of the notion that
all they need to do is get Pat Hentgen and Mike Bordick back and pick up
one other Conine-like player, and they'll be instant contenders. (Hopefully,
a look at the Red Sox this year will clue the brainrust in to the difference
beetween a good and bad team. Bad teams have injuries and pretend
that the injuries are the difference between contending and losing. Good
teams have injuries and win anyway.)
July is the ultimate crossroads for them. Before the trading deadline,
they play against Atlanta (3 road games), Florida (3 road games), Texas
(5 games - 2H/3A), Anaheim (7 games - 4H/3A), and Tampa (one home
game). That's one strong team (3 games), two average teams (10
games), and 2 bad teams (6 games). In other words, they should be able
to tread water in July, in terms of their record (though they'll probably fall
3-4 games further in the GB column). Do they look at that and say "Hey,
we're not that bad. One more big bat and another reliever, and we're in
this"? Or do they say, "Hey, veterans are playing over their heads, Towers,
Johnson, and Ponson have been great, and we're still *not* in this. We
need to cash in Conine while we can, before he performs Coninely.
We've seen how helpful young players can be; we need to get a few
Unfortunately, we fear it may be closer to the former. The Washington
Post reports that the Orioles may want to trade Mercedes and Mora for a
closer -- and when they say "closer," we'll bet that they don't mean "A hard
throwing young guy who may one day be a closer." We'll bet that they
mean A Proven Veteran 33 Year Old Closer. (As usual, when a
management team doesn't know what it's doing, it focuses on the bullpen
-- an easy target, since a bullpen *always* blows saves, and a team can
always sit around imagining What Might Have Been if only they hadn't ever
But we shall see.
© 2001 The Orioles Warehouse
For entertainment purposes only.
Last Updated: July 20, 2001