Matt Wieters just recorded his first Major League hit (a triple!!!). After Wieters' big hit, Nolan Reimold drove him in. Now that's a sentence I hope to type quite a few times over the next few years. ________________________________________
More ineffective bullpenning from Trembley. More later...
Follow Up: Sorry I couldn't post this last night, but it is much easier to type on a real keyboard than on my BlackBerry while trying to watch the game. Last night's mistake was a relatively minor one, but an obvious error nonetheless. After the 8th inning, Brad Bergesen, who had pitched very well, had thrown, I believe, 98 pitches. Aside from his start at New York two weeks ago when he threw 107 pitches over 6.1 innings, 98 was his highest pitch count of the season and 8.0 innings was easily his longest outing. Plus, the heart of the Detroit order was due up: Polanco, Ordonez, and Cabrera. Assuming that you, as manager, will allow Bergesen to begin the 9th inning--a decision with which I completely agree--it would be reasonable to anticipate that Bergesen may get into a bit of trouble. After all, he's reaching uncharted territory on his pitch count and the Tigers are sending their best hitters to the plate. Thus, any manager thinking ahead would have his next pitcher ready to enter the game on a moment's notice, correct? Well, this is where we discover Dave Trembley may not always be thinking ahead.
While the Orioles batted in the bottom of the 8th, I commented that the Orioles bullpen was very quiet. "I agree that Bergesen should start the 9th, but what if he gets in trouble? Two runners on and a quick 3-run homer makes this a completely different ballgame. Shouldn't the Orioles have someone hot at the start of the inning?" Once Bergesen went back out for the 9th, Trembley apparently realized the exact same thing and Jim Johnson began to throw in the bullpen. Predictably, Placido Polanco laced the first pitch of the inning for a double to left and it was obvious that Trembley needed to stall. Following some planned wandering around the mound by Bergesen, out comes the pitching coach. After the umpire breaks up the conference, and Bergesen--who is an exceptionally quick worker on the mound--begins to pitch to Magglio Ordonez. Of course, at this point his rhythm has been disrupted due to the forced stalling in order to get a reliever loose. Ordonez worked a 2-2 count and ground a single through the third base side and runners were on the corners. Unfortunately, Johnson still wasn't quite loose, so more stalling was needed. At last, Trembley emerges from the dugout to pull his starter; Bergesen gets a well-deserved standing ovation, Johnson retires the side and the Orioles win. We all go home happy, but a few minutes later than necessary.
This may seem minor, but what if Johnson had come in and walked his first batter or given up a quick double? Or had shown in the bullpen an inability to get the ball over the plate today? By not planning ahead--even by just two or three minutes--Trembley could have turned an easy win into a nailbiter. I think that Trembley is just the right guy to have in charge as the club gets younger; he stated in the paper just a few days ago that he enjoys the teaching aspects of his job most. Look at the progress made by Adam Jones and Nick Markakis and at the intensity with which the team plays on a daily basis with Trembley at the helm and it is difficult to argue that he isn't a good fit for a rebuilding team. Unfortunately, I do not think he possesses the skills that will be necessary to guide the Orioles to contention once all the young talent is established. I hope that Andy MacPhail--and Dave Trembley--can see his shortcomings and that there is a succession plan in place. ___________________________________________
Wow! There is really loud rumbling outside! Matt must be taking batting practice!!!
Wait.... I've just been informed by the meteorologists that the loud noises are apparently claps of thunder, not Matt's batting practice. I'm skeptical of their conclusion. __________________________________
David Hernandez and Nolan Reimold led the O's to victory tonight. Matt Wieters debuts tomorrow night. It feels good to be an Orioles fan tonight. Get on the 2010 bandwagon while there is still room. _____________________________________
Since my golf plans were thwarted by rain, fog and wet today, I'm home to watch the Orioles take on the Blue Jays. Roy Halladay is pitching for the Jays and Rich Hill for the O's. Stay tuned for live updates with thoughts about the game!
Update, 1:36 pm: Wow, the stands are empty, which is hardly surprising given that this is a day game against the Blue Jays and the weather is yucky (that's a technical term). I wonder if there will be a smaller announced crowd than yesterday's record low of 10,130.
Update, 1:45 pm: With a 3-1 count to Vernon Wells and runners on first and second, Rich Hill needs to throw a strike. His go-to pitch? His big, sweeping curveball. Same thing on full count. And that's why you don't give up on an arm like his.
Update, 1:47 pm: On a related note, Felix Pie threw a strike from left field to nail Alex Rios, who tried to score from second on a ground single through the hole. And that's why you don't give up on talent like his.
Update, 1:51 pm: Adam Jones: .354, 11 HR, 34 RBI. Any day now, Dave, feel free to move this guy to the cleanup slot.
Update, 2:06 pm: Welcome back, Luke Scott! And just like that, the O's have a 2-1 lead. A Luke Scott/Nolan Reimold/Felix Pie combo at DH/leftfield could pay dividends.
Update, 2:13 pm: Well, that was a quick inning. Felix Pie easily tracked two flies to left and Hill induced a pop-up from Rios. Six in a row set-down for the lefty.
Update, 2:25 pm: Buck Martinez: "A lot of the video specialists aren't baseball specialists (excessive laughter)." Hmmmm... I'm thinking that these guys are actually very smart, very talented students of the game that are seeking to move into the front office an MLB team. Those young and entreprenurial people who are capable of teasing valuable insights from Pitch F/X data and the myriad of other technological developments are precisely those people clubs employ to mine video for an advantage. Stick to talking about the game, Buck. It's where you shine; don't let Gary Thorne rub off on you.
Update, 2:29 pm: Gary and Buck get into an interesting discussion about what to expect from Matt Wieters (starting Friday!), particularly where he will hit in the line-up. Based on Dave Trembley's history breaking in young guys, I expect Wieters to hit 6th or 7th most of the time, but that he'll force his way into the middle very quickly. My ideal Orioles line-up for the rest of the season:
Brian Roberts 2B Melvin Mora 3B Nick Markakis RF Adam Jones CF Matt Wieters CA Aubrey Huff 1B Luke Scott/Nolan Reimold DH Nolan Reimold/Felix Pie LF Cesar Izturis/Robert Andino SS
Update, 2:34 pm: The free pass caught up with Rich Hill in the top of the 4th, as a pair of walks led to two runs on a single by Kevin Millar. There is still no one out.
Update, 2:39 pm: Doubles from Jose Bautista and Marco Scutaro bring in another three runs and chase Rich Hill. 3.1 IP, 6 hits, 3 BB, 4 K, and he's on the hook for the runner on second. Looks like my blogging won't have a happy ending.
Update, 3:56 pm: I woke up from a nap just in time to see Adam Jones reach on an infield single to load the bases for Nick Markakis. Trailing by five runs in the 7th, this is the key at-bat of the game. In true ace fashion, Halladay induces a foul fly ball from Markakis and quashes the rally. The Jays looked poised to pick up the victory.
Update, 4:15 pm: Back in business! With the bases loaded and a run already in, Robert Andino stroked his fourth hit of the game. Now, with Brian Roberts due up, the O's down by just three, one out and the bases loaded, the Orioles are very much back in the ballgame. Cito Gaston comes out pull Jesse Carlson. On comes Scott Downs to try and get the Jays out of the jam.
Update, 4:21 pm: A Brian Roberts sac fly brings Adam Jones to the plate; he ropes a single to left. And Nick Markakis has a shot at redemption. I think this Adam Jones kid is going to work out ok for the O's.
Update, 4:23 pm: Markakis doubles down the line! Tie game! Jones out at the plate!! (and it wasn't really very close). What an inning from the O's! When the ball was hit, I thought for sure that Jones would score. But Rios fielded the ball cleanly off the wall, made a perfect throw to the cutoff man and the relay hit the catcher in the chest. Text book relay drill from the Jays.
Update, 4:29 pm: Baez retires the side, and the O's go the bottom of the 9th needing just one run for the win. A great job from the bullpen today has kept the O's in the game, and made the comeback possible.
Update,5:01 pm: I realize that this is only the 11th inning of the 3rd game of the series, but Gary, his name is Aaron Hill.
Update, 5:02 pm: I guess that Mr. Hill took exception to being called Adam (repeatedly), and he hits a 2-run homer to put the Jays up 10-8.
Update, 5:16 pm: Nick Markakis singled to lead off the bottom of the 11th, and after Aubrey Huff popped out, Melvin Mora singled to bring the winning run to the plate in the form of Luke Scott.
Update, 5:18 pm: Luke Scott singles to right! Markakis scores from second and Mora makes it all the way to third base. Tying run at 3rd and the winning run at first for Nolan Reimold.
Update, 5:19 pm: Cesar Izturis pinch runs for Luke Scott. Do you steal?
Update, 5:20 pm: Nolan Reimold!!!! Walk-off homer!!! What a ballgame for the Orioles!!! I can't wait to go to the game on Friday night for Matt Wieters' debut. ________________________________________
Last night, the Orioles played in front of the smallest crowd in Camden Yards history. Though the team has won four of its last five games, the club is yet again mired in last place, and I think it is safe to say that this is the low point in Orioles history. And I think it also marks the turning point. We found out yesterday that uber-prospect Matt Wieters will join the team on Friday, and today we learned that David Hernandez will make his major league debut on Thursday night. For those keeping track, that puts three rookies in the starting rotation: Hernandez, Brad Bergesen, and Jason Berken; it is not unreasonable to expect some success from that trio, and yet none of those guys are even among the top four pitching prospects in the system. Throw in a dash of Nolan Reimold with a tablespoon of Adam Jones breakout season and top it off with continued excellence from Nick Markakis, and the stage is set for an Orioles turnaround. Not this season--there are still growing pains to come--but in the very near future. Orioles fans, you are free to resume hoping. ____________________________________
Matt Albers gets the recall from Norfolk to take Eaton's roster spot, but it is less clear who will take the rotation slot. Albers was pitching fairly well in Norfolk (2.25 ERA in 8.0 IP, 9 K, 3 BB), and has shown glimpses of his potential during his stints with the Orioles, but he has been pitching as a reliever. Will there be another roster move in a few days to bring up a starter (perhaps David Hernandez, though he is scheduled to pitch tonight against Rochester; Jason Berken threw last night for the Tides), or will Brian Bass or Mark Hendrickson (please no) slot into the rotation? With no off day this coming week, the Orioles definitely need a fifth... ______________________________
Chris Ray ranks among my favorite Orioles; being a college teammate with someone tends to make your root for them, especially when they play on your favorite baseball team. Needless to say, his performance so far this year has been disappointing, if not wholly unexpected when considering his return from Tommy John surgery. Dave Trembley has been disappointed, too, and there is word today that Ray's role may be changing until he finds more consistency in his delivery. I have just one suggestion for our fearless manager: stop using him against the Yankees.
Chris Ray, career vs. Yankees: 1-4, 8.35 ERA, 5.89 BB/9, 2.95 HR/9 in 18.1 IP Chris Ray, career vs. all other teams: 9-9, 3.01 ERA, 3.76 BB/9, 1.00 HR/9 in 143.2 IP
Chris Ray, 2009 vs. Yankees: 30.86 ERA, 7.71 HR/9 in 2.1 IP Chris Ray, 2009 vs. all other teams: 3.48 ERA, 0.00 HR/9 in 10.1 IP
I'm not a big believer in micro-splits such as these, but they're interesting nonetheless. Am I cherry picking stats? Yes. But, when you look at Ray's performance against some individual batters, it's easy to see why he struggles against the Evil Empire:
Johnny Damon: .583/.583/.917, 1 homer in 12 plate appearances Derek Jeter: .429/.636/.571, 6 RBI in 11 plate appearances Alex Rodriguez: .500/.556/1.375, 2 homers in 9 plate appearances
Maybe Dave Trembley will keep those numbers in mind tonight if he needs someone to pitch in a high leverage 7th inning. ____________________________________
Yesterday, Jason from Ellicott City asked Buster Olney, "Can I get some encouraging words about the Orioles? We used to have the Rays to occupy the East cellar, but now we rot there." Buster responded, "This year will continue to be ugly, but along the way, you'll see Wieters and others, and next year, you'll see the best of the young pitching. That is developing into a great lineup."
Let's put a bit of data behind the assertions regarding the young pitching. Currently in the minors, eight Oriole prospects (to varying degrees) have combined to put up this line: 18-9, 200.2 IP, 2.47 ERA, 210 strikeouts, 149 hits, and 77 walks. Who are those eight pitchers? Brian Matusz (High-A), Troy Patton (AA), Brandon Erbe (AA), Jake Arrieta (AA), Chris Tillman (AAA), Jason Berken (AAA), Rich Hill (AAA) and David Hernandez (AAA). Those eight comprise 7 of the top 9 spots on the prospect rankings, and the other one, Rich Hill is on injury rehab and likely to be in the rotation in a matter of weeks. Throw in the early performances of Matt Wieters (.291/.398/.407 - don't worry about the lack of homers thus far; he's still showing good plate discipline and hitting doubles), Nolan Reimold (.386/.479/.713) and Brandon Snyder (.356/.405/.584) and there is a lot to be excited about down on the farm. Help is on the way, and it is coming quickly. _________________________
Apparently the Orioles have decided that Ryan Freel's complaining about being the utililty player he agreed to be got old, and they have shipped him to (where else?) the Chicago Cubs for Joey Gathright; Gathright will be sent to Norfolk. Gathright is no great shakes (he has a career OPS of 68 over 6 seasons and 1300 plate appearances), so I can only assume the deal comes with some cost savings for the Orioles. I suppose he'll provide a bit of Adam Jones injury insurance, but, barring that ruinous circumstance, I don't see why he'd ever don a Baltimore uniform.
Freel ends his Orioles career after just 9 games and 20 at-bats. After suffering his unfortunate injury, the club just couldn't find roster space for him. Robert Andino and Ty Wiggington fill the back-up infield roles, and Lou Montanez and Luke Scott do likewise in the outfield. With Nolan Reimold making it tough to ignore him in Norfolk, Freel was the odd man out. Hopefully, he'll be happier with a contending club; the Cubs do figure to be able to offer a bit more regular playing time behind Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukodome and Reed Johnson. Depending on the level of seriousness regarding Derrek Lee's neck spasms, I would not be surprised to see the Cubs give Bradley a shot at first base (in a bid to keep him healthier) and Freel get more time in the outfield. __________________________
Top of the 7th, 4-3 lead, top of the lineup due up for the Twins:
Span (L) Tolbert (S) Mauer (L) Morneau (L) Kubel (L)
Now is the perfect time to bring in George Sherrill. You've stated that he's lost the closer's job, and it's a late inning situation with key lefties coming up for the Twins. Why not ask Sherrill to go five batters, bring in Ray for the next part of the lineup and then have Johnson (who shows no major platoon split) close it out? Or Baez, who has been pitching well? I give up hope for Dave Trembley as an Orioles manager.
Update: Hey, look! George Sherrill can shut down the lefties! I stand by my earlier statements: you bring Sherrill in for the 7th and it may not have been necessary to score in the bottom of the 8th to take the lead. ___________________________
The Rays executed the Closer by Committee to perfection in the 9th inning of today's win over the Orioles, and Jim Palmer correctly pointed out that this is what we are (hopefully) likely to see from the Orioles. After Matt Garza, the Rays starter, gave up a lead-off double to Adam Jones, Rays Manager Joe Maddon went to lefty specialist Brian Shouse. He promptly induced dribblers from Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff. With the righthanded Melvin Mora up next for the O's, Maddon went back to the pen. Troy Percival came on, and three pitches later, Mora was down on strikes, and Tampa Bay had a win. Percival may have gotten the save, but Shouse did just as much heavy lifting. Each should be quite pleased with his contribution to the victory, regardless of who records the (S) in the box score. Let's hope Dave Trembley was taking notes. _________________________
I think we can rule out George Sherrill as a fan of mine: "Closer-by-committee doesn't work and won't work," Sherrill said. "We'll have to sit down and talk about it and figure out what to do." And this is why the manager assigns the roles. __________________________