May 2010

Saturday's starter

tilly.jpg

Chris Tillman will hopefully be available to speak to the media today in Toronto. Manager Dave Trembley had fun in his pregame session earlier this week by calling Saturday’s starter (whose name was literally the elephant in the room) “thin and invisible”.

If you’ve seen Tillman, the description isn’t a stretch. He’s tall and skinny — and the Orioles hope — the answer to shut down the blistering Blue Jays bats. Toronto enters Friday tops in the American League (tied with the Red Sox) with 255 runs scored. The Jays are also tops in homers (79), RBIs (249) and doubles (199).

For comparison’s sake the Orioles have 44 homers, 164 RBIs and 70 doubles entering Friday. To be fair, the Blue Jays haven’t played as many AL East opponents as the Orioles and Friday will start a 12-game divisional stretch that should separate whether Toronto’s hot start is for real. 

When the Tillman move is made official the Os will send down a reliever, which probably won’t happen until after Friday’s game. Look for Frank Mata or Alberto Castillo to go back to Norfolk.
 
As for me, I’m off to the Hockey Hall of Fame for a few hours. Catch you all back here for pregame tidbits from the Rogers Centre.

Os/As finale..

*I got a bunch of emails about Brian Matusz’s disappointing outing last night. He’s allowed six earned runs or more in three of his last four starts, and while the O’s don’t seem ready to send him down to Triple-A, his next start in New York is very, very important. They need to get him back on track.
*Brad Bergesen will try to secure his fourth win, and the O’s first series win since winning 2-of-3 May 11-13 against Seattle.
*Luke Scott told reporters he is available if needed tonight off the bench, and is expected to start Friday’s opener in Toronto. He’s been sidelined with a left shoulder strain this series.
*Could Garrett Atkins’ homer last night help jump-start his season? We’ll see.
*Nick Markakis isn’t with the team today, as his wife, Christina was scheduled to be induced this morning. This will be the couple’s second child.  I’d imagine he would join the team in Toronto.
*Chris Tillman won’t join the team in Toronto. Manager Dave Trembley said yesterday that Saturday’s (still unofficial starter) will travel with the team following Thursday’s game.
*I’m off tonight, traveling to Toronto. Catch you all from the dome Friday night…

ORIOLES LINEUP
Corey Patterson LF
Julio Lugo 2B
Ty Wigginton 1B
Miguel Tejada 3B
Matt Wieters C
Adam Jones CF
Garrett Atkins DH
Lou Montanez RF
Cesar Izturis SS
Brad Bergesen RHP

ATHLETICS LINEUP
Rajai Davis CF
Daric Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Ryan Kurt Suzuki C
Jack Cust DH
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Gabe Gross LF
Adam Rosales SS
Mark Ellis 2B
Gio Gonzalez LHP

Wieters' shoulder

Wieters roughed up his left shoulder  on the tag out at home plate in the sixth and manager Dave Trembley and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells both came out onto the field to check on the catcher. But Wieters took his at-bat in the bottom of the inning and remained behind the plate the rest of the game.  

“It was sort of an awkward angle to make a tag and sort of grabbed on me when I reached to tag [Sweeney],” Wieters said. ”

“We came back in and checked the strength and the range of movement and it was fine.”

Atkins Homers

BALTIMORE– Just one at-bat shy of his career longest homerless drought, Orioles first baseman Garrett Atkins finally went yard on Wednesday night.

Atkins drove Athletics right-hander Trevor Cahill’s curveball 374 feet over the left field fence at Camden Yards to put the Orioles on the scoreboard. Atkins’ solo shot -which came in the third inning –snapped a 47-game drought and ended his homerless at-bat stretch at 146.

Serving as the team’s designated hitter for the second consecutive game, Atkins’ blast marked his seventh RBI of the season and was his first homer since Sept. 10, 2009. The slumping infielder has bee DH’ing in the wake of injury to Luke Scott.
 

Orioles/As pregame tidbits and lineups

Couple of Orioles tidbits..
*Brian Roberts, Koji Uehara and Alfredo Simon will all head to Sarasota when the team goes on the road for Friday’s series in Toronto.
*Luke Scott is not in the lineup for the second straight day after suffering a left shoulder strain diving for a ball at first base in Sunday’s loss. Scott said there are no plans for an MRI and his shoulder feels much better today than yesterday (he took some dry swings). Still, he won’t take batting practice and manager Dave Trembley said it was 50-50 as to whether  he would use Scott in a pinch hitting situation tonight. At least Scott won Orioles cookoff earlier.
*Mike Gonzalez has suffered a setback of sorts. Although manager Dave Trembley was explicitly clear Gonzalez’s arm doesn’t hurt, his lack of velocity (he was clocked in the upper 80s in a simulated game last week) now will have him work on building up arm strength. Gonzalez will start to throw long toss for the next few days instead.
*B-Rob and Gonzo are both eligible to come off the 60-day DL on June 9. That doesn’t look likely for either.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Corey Patterson LF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Nick Markakis RF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Matt Wieters C
Adam Jones CF
Scott Moore 2B
Garrett Atkins DH
Cesar Izturis SS
Brian Matusz LHP

ATHLETICS LINEUP

Rajai Davis
Daric Barton
Kurt Suzuki C
Kevin Kouzmanoff
Ryan Sweeny
Adam Rosales
Jake Fox
Mark Ellis
Cliff Pennington
Trevor Cahill RHP 

Heaping praise for Hendrickson

The Orioles did all the little things right in Tuesday’s win and got two solid innings of middle relief from big lefty Mark Hendrickson. In the wake of injuries to reliever Koji Uehara and closer Alfredo Simon, manager Dave Trembley told Hendrickson -typically the team’s long man – that he will be now be used in the later innings as well.

“He came to [pitching coach Rick] Kranitz before the game today and said, ‘With [Simon] being out, does my role change?’ And we told him, ‘Yeah, you’ll probably be used later in the game.’” Trembley said.  “And he said, ‘OK, I’m ready for it.’ He did a real nice job. The ball was down, he had good two-seam and he had good extension on his pitches.”
“That’s the best Hendrickson has pitched all year.”

The guy nicknamed Big Smooth by his teammates seemed to cruise through his two scoreless innings, throwing 21 pitches (14 for strikes) and allowing just one hit.
“I’m not going to lie. I loved the situation. I loved the opportunity to come in with the lead late in the game,” Hendrickson said. “I think I just tried to pitch accordingly.”

“If you look at the way I came in and the way Will [Ohman] came in, it seemed like we were just coming in being aggressive, trusting our stuff and accomplishing some zeroes after we had taken the lead. That’s important and that’s something we really haven’t done a good job of. I think tonight we excelled in pretty much every facet, which is nice to see.”

Given that Orioles bullpen now consists of Frank Mata, who is in the big leagues for the first time, and David Hernandez (who has never been a reliever) having a seasoned guy like Hendrickson is a big boost. I know in talking to Jason Berken earlier this season that Hendrickson has been extremely helpful in his successful transition to the ‘pen.

Hopefully, Hendrickson can continue to help the young guys and build on outings like Tuesday.

Ohman's the man, so far

Save situation or not, manager Dave Trembley was going to call for Will Ohman in the ninth inning on Tuesday.

“We don’t have per se a bonafide closer. If you have a bonafide closer in the ninth, you probably don’t bring a guy in when it’s a four-run lead, when it’s not a save situation,” Trembley said. “But I think you’ve got to bring in the best guy you have in that situation with experience. Ohman hasn’t given up any runs. Let’s try to put a lid on it and win the game. It really doesn’t matter there about matchups – right, left. They haven’t scored off him, we’ve got the lead, he’s already warmed up.

“Plus, Berken’s down there and he’s a younger guy and as soon as you sit him down, maybe the switch in his head goes off and says, ‘Hey, I’m not in it.’ You see this a lot with young guys and you see this a lot with young closers late in the game. Once the game gets one way or the other, I’ve seen it with young closers, you get way ahead and then all of a sudden, boom, it gets close and they’ve shut it down mentally for the day, and now you ask them to flick the switch again, you’re asking for trouble. So, I wouldn’t do that to Berken.”

The question is does Ohman get the ball in the next save spot? I’d say more often than not that’s the case.  Trembley has mentioned how valuable Ohman is as a situational lefty, but he’s still their best reliever right now. And who do you trust to get the final three outs? Your best guy.

Os/As Game 1

*Lots of roster moves today for the Orioles. You can read the Cliff notes version here.
*Garrett Atkins is still not playing. You’ve got to start wondering what the Os are doing with this guy.
*Justin Turner was claimed by the Mets.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Corey Patterson LF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Nick Markakis RF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Luke Scott DH
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Julio Lugo 2B
Cesar Izturis SS
Jeremy Guthrie RHP

Cliff Notes on the O's roster moves

The Orioles did a few things today, namely placing Koji Uehara and Alfredo Simon on the DL, recalling relievers Frank Mata and Alberto Castillo and placing David Hernandez into the ‘pen.

Since Mata is on the 40-man the team moved Mike Gonzalez from the 15-day DL to the 60. That makes him eligible to return on June 9, which is when Brian Roberts could come back. Roberts has been cleared to return to baseball-related activities after a bout of pneumonia landed him in the hospital last week. He was on the field throwing and taking grounders.

Expect Chris Tillman to make Saturday’s start in Toronto.

Mata is set to arrive any minute now and will wear No. 50. This will be his first stint with the big league club.

Arrieta pitches (and picks up the win)

Jake Arrieta did in fact pitch today, making the chance that he would start Saturday in Toronto very slim. Arrieta tossed seven innings of one-run baseball, lowering his ERA to 1.86 in the process. He’s the second Orioles Minor League pitcher (behind Chris Tillman) to hit the five-win mark.

If you read my blog earlier, the importance of making today’s start for Arrieta was to rule him out for Saturday’s start. If the Orioles shift David Hernandez to the bullpen (which is still debatable) Tillman would be the likely candidate to get Saturday’s start. Plus, he’s on the team’s 40-man roster. Also, knock off Dennis Sarfate as an option for today’s relieving core since he just notched the save at Norfolk. Looks like it will be Alberto Castillo or Ross Wolf and Frank Mata.

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