May 2010

On the farm: Britton outduels Drabek

Double-A Bowie’s Zach Britton allowed just one run – a homer – off  five hits over six innings in Friday’s 5-1 win over New Hampshire. Britton outshined mound counterpart and highly touted right-hander Kyle Drabek, who currently leads the Eastern League with 48 strikeouts.
Britton improved to 3-3 on the year, lowering his ERA to 3.88 in the process.

One of the Orioles top pitching prospects, Britton has made improving his changeup a focal point of this season. The lefty has said previously that using the pitch with more frequency, and inducing a higher rate of ground balls  on his sinker are two components that will be key in having success at the higher levels.

“My changeup has come a long way,” Britton said in a press release. “Me and [pitching coach Pitching Coach Kennie Steenstra], we try to break it down like with my slider, when I had it in Delmarva, it was one of those pitchers where I’d throw a good one and I couldn’t repeat throwing it for a strike.  Now, I can throw it for a strike pretty much when I want to.  So, the changeup’s starting to get to that place where I’m throwing it for strikes, but I’m not repeating it every time I throw it.”

“Once I mix in those three pitches, I think I’m gonna be fine.  The ERA is a little bit higher than where I want it to be, but I think I’m throwing the ball pretty well.”

The Baysox lit up Drabek for a season-high 10 hits, holding him to just three strikeouts, which was his lowest total since April 9.

Orioles/Nats Game 2

Brad Bergesen will look for his fourth win today against right-hander Craig Stammen. The O’s could secure the Beltway series with a win this afternoon…

*Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are both back in the lineup as expected.
*Manager Dave Trembley wasn’t sure if Koji Uehara would be available for today’s game. When he met with the media, Trembley still had to check with pitching coach Rick Kranitz. That’s a situation that could cause some concern. Koji has had three days off in between his last outing in Texas and yesterday didn’t even pick up a ball. Meredith has gone 3 straight, Ohman leads the AL in appearances and Berken threw 74 pitches behind Matusz the other night. The O’s pen badly needs Uehara to be available.

ORIOLES LINEUP:

Corey Patterson LF
Nick Markakis RF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Luke Scott 1B
Ty Wigginton 2B
Matt Wieters C
Adam Jones CF
Cesar Izturis SS
Brad Bergesen RHP

NATIONALS LINEUP:
Nyjer Morgan CF
Cristian Guzman SS
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam Dunn 1B
Josh Willingham LF
Ivan Rodriguez C
Adam Kennedy 2B
Roger Bernadina RF
Craig Stammen RHP

Jones, Olsen leave injured

WASHINGTON — Orioles outfielder Adam Jones left Friday’s game against the Nationals prior to the bottom of the fourth inning with cramping in his right leg. 

Jones put Baltimore on the scoreboard in the second inning with his fourth homer of the year,
a two-run shot off Washington starter Scott Olsen’s first pitch. He walked in his second plate appearance in the third which is when he suffered the leg cramping . Olsen left the game after three innings with left shoulder tightness.

In a text message to MLB.com, Jones said the cramping was “nothing serious” and expected to be in Saturday’s game.

Left fielder Corey Patterson assumed center field duties in Jones’ absence, with Lou Montanez filling in at the corner outfield spot.

At the time of the injury, Jones was batting .254 with 12 RBIs. 

Wieter's Bday bruise & Os/Nats lineups

wieters blog.jpg

*Scott Moore is in uniform (No. 40) and will ready to play off the bench. He said he’s been mostly playing second base at Norfolk but is comfortable playing around the infield.

*Matt Wieters is out of the lineup today with a bruised right knee. He fouled off a pitch in his third-inning at bat Thursday night and was sporting a pretty nice shiner. Said the game’s adrenaline kept him from feeling a lot of pain, and the team’s training staff was hoping to get some of the swelling down with treatment today. He was due for a day off soon anyhow. Oh, and it’s his 24th birthday, as Brian Matusz informed me. So Happy Birthday, Matt.

*Koji Uehara will not be available to pitch tonight. He saw, through interpreter Jiwon Bang, that he was told he will get the day off. Uehara also said the heat wasn’t a factor in Texas so much as his extended  30-pitch outing was. Trembley had mentioned giving Uehara a little breather, so I guess that’s what this is.

*As expected, red-hot Luke Scott is getting the start at first base in place of Garrett Atkins.

ORIOLES LINEUP:

Corey Patterson LF
Ty Wigginton 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Luke Scott 1B
Adam Jones CF
Craig Tatum C
Cesar Izturis SS
David Hernandez RHP

NATIONALS LINEUP:

Willie Harris RF
Christian Guzman 2B
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam Dunn 1B
Josh Willingham LF
Pudge Rodriguez C
Roger Bernadina CF
Ian Desmond SS
Scott Olsen LHP

O's call up Moore, DFA Turner

After a two-day hiatus, I’m back.

And I’ve never been to Nationals Park before this afternoon and it is stunning. My one bone to pick is reporter-related. At Camden Yards we’re literally on top of the action. So much so that foul balls frequent the press box. Not so much here, where I took the elevator to floor 6. The view is high up (sort of reminds me of the Pirates’ PNC Park) but it is impressive nonetheless. And the media food spread set up behind me looks promising.

Ok, back to baseball. The Orioles optioned Alberto Castillo following last night’s loss in Texas and Scott Moore is here in DC, back in the bigs for the first time since 2008. Moore was one of my favorite guys in Spring Training because he was just so genuinely happy to be playing baseball every day.

While I had speculated a few days ago about Michael Aubrey getting the nod instead, Moore can play more positions (virtually anywhere in the infield). And given that it’s Interleague play and the Orioles will have to play red-hot Luke Scott in the field (likely in lieu of slumping Garrett Atkins), I’d imagine Aubrey at first base wasn’t as important right now as having some flexibility off the bench.
 
Moore is not on the 40-man, so Justin Turner was designated for assignment. That means the team has 10 days to trade, release or put Turner on waivers. If he clears waivers, he can’t refuse an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk.

The Lone Star state

The Orioles are coming off a 6-2 4-4 homestand (see what I did there?) and will have a quick two-game set in Texas starting tonight with Jeremy Guthrie on the hill. He will be opposed by Rangers starter Rich Harden who is coming off a start aganst the Royals Saturday night. Harden went five innings giving up two earned runs on six hits while walking two and striking out three in the no-decision.

Tonight is the kind of game the Orioles can win if they can figure out Harden (the only regular who has faced him more than a handle of times is Miguel Tejada, who is hitting .250 in 12 career ABs).

Unfortunately, the two night games in Texas makes for tricky travel plans, and MLB opted for me to instead be ready for IL play in D.C. on Friday. But all your Orioles news will still be on Orioles.com and I’ve informed the highly-capable Todd Wills of the standards we have with here with the O’s. (Hey last-place teams, don’t deserve last place coverage- right?)

Some quick things to look for before I try to get my apartment in order: I would imagine Garrett Atkins would get the start in at least one, if not both, of these games. I grilled Trembley a bit on it yesterday and he made it clear that until there’s another feasible option, Atkins is the option. I still think Luke Scott’s hot bat sees time over there this weekend. They could also move Ty Wigginton over and put Julio Lugo at second base, which is what would have happenend when Lugo pinch-ran on Monday had the O’s tied the game.

Trembley mentioned a roster move coming for Friday’s game, which will probably spell the end for Alberto Castillo. Who comes up? A position player. Possibly Michael Aubrey, who is heating up. And he just so happens to play first base.

Finally, if you missed it, I wrote that the O’s won one for Kevin Millwood last night. He’s far too classy of a game to come out and say it, but seriously…are they ever going to get this guy a W?

  

 

  

Millwood, Scott, Patterson leftovers

In a game as multi-faceted as Tuesday’s extra-innings win, things are always bound to get lost in the shuffle. Here are some of the leftover quotes from three big players of the game: Kevin Millwood, Luke Scott and Corey Patterson.

KEVIN MILLWOOD
[on how he felt on the hill]
“[My] stuff was good, felt like I located the ball well, my four seamer was cutting a little bit, my two-seamer was sinking, when I threw my breaking pitches early, I did what I wanted to do. Stuff definitely wasn’t a problem all day.”

[on facing Greinke]
“You just want to stay in there as long as you can. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to give up any more runs [after the fifth]. And I was able to do that.

The guys were able to battle. Luke hit a couple big homers, corey hit a big home run. And we came out with a win.”

[on Luke's two homers]
“When Luke gets locked in he’s one of the best hitters in the game, it doesn’t matter who’s pitching to him, he’s going to hit the ball long and hard. And that’s kind of where he’s at right now. And it’s fun to watch a guy like that.”

[on still not getting the win]
“It’s a win for the team and that’s what matters, as long as it’s a win for our team.” 

LUKE SCOTT
[on the win]
“Total team effort is what it was. Greinke was tough, he had very good stuff today – good slider, good changeup and his fastball had a lot of life, a lot of late movement. He did a good job for his team. You got to credit Kevin Millwood for sticking in there. He had that one inning where they were able to scrape a few runs through, but he battled and kept us in the ballgame and that’s what you want out of your ace.”

[on facing Greinke]
“It’s very difficult. If I was them, I’d want to be in that situation – you think you’re sitting pretty good [with a 3-0 lead] and they were.”
 
[on being in the zone]
“Everything’s just kind of calm and peaceful for me up at the plate. There’s no traffic in my mind, there’s no confusion. There’s no stress or pressure. I’m just up there relaxing. Like I said before, I bring God into everything and I just go up there and pray and try to take him with me in all that I do. I’m enjoying my time with him.”

[on the Corey Patterson effect]
 “He’s given us a great lift. It goes to show how he’s really helped our team, but at the same time it’s another thing that shows you how much we miss Brian [Roberts] at the top of the order. Having a good leadoff man that gets on with some speed that puts some pressure on the defense and put pressure on the opposing pitcher, it’s very helpful.”

COREY PATTERSON
[On making Greinke work in 6th:] “I was able, in that at-bat, to get his pitch count up. After the at-bat, it was a little frustrating because I took some close pitches and it was 3-2 and I swung at a ball that was up and out of the zone. For a while there, I was kind of beating myself up, but I took it as a positive: I didn’t get the result I wanted, but that’s one of the best pitchers in the game. You have to foul some balls off, get the count to 3-2, work him a little bit. You know what? That was a good at-bat. I took that into my next at-bat and was able to get the homer rather than dwelling on swinging on 3-2 at a pitch that was well outside.”
 
[more on Greinke]
“There’s no doubt the game’s mental, more than anything, and you got to find a way to keep the same approach no matter who’s on the mound, whether it’s Zach Greinke, a No. 4 or 5 starter or whoever. You go in there with the attitude that’s Zach Greinke, you’re not making things any easier. You already know he’s a good pitcher, so don’t help him out. Just stay with your approach.”

[on Millwood]
 “You can’t tell with him how he’s doing, whether he’s having a good outing or a bad outing. I thought he pitched well tonight, to tell you the truth. For me looking at him, he has the same focus, his game plan. I don’t know what he’s thinking, but you know what you’re going to get every day from him. He’s going to be focused, going to give you the best he has.”

Trembley's half-hour chat

If you follow me on Twitter, or if you just watch MASN postgame, you probably noticed how short manager Dave Trembley’s session with the media was last night. It clocked it at under three minutes,  perhaps telling of how the season has repeated itself and we’ve run out of questions (and prefer to not keep asking the same ones.)

Anyways, today’s chat nearly made up for it, with 28 minutes of Trembley’s thoughts all on my recorder. Here are the highlights that didn’t morph into a story on Orioles.com….

(On Kevin Millwood facing an ace seemingly every start)
I don’t believe it bothers him. I think he looks forward to pitching every fifth day. And you know for the most part what you are going to get. You are going to get effort. You are going to get a feeling that you are going to win and you are going to get someone that is going to go deep into the game. Tremendous.
 
 (On taking any solace in the games being close)
“I think the only thing that gets you through is to win. You take no satisfaction in patting yourself on the back and saying Well I did everything I possibly could but we lost.’ It’s a team thing. You stay behind your players, I have a lot of confidence in all of them. I am not stopping believing in any of them. I am going to go and give them every opportunity I possibly can and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
 
The hard thing is it seems to be a repetitive situation that keeps coming up.”

(on Tejada at third base)
I think he’s been fine, I really do. I think he’s been very good at it, made a lot of nice plays, showed a strong accurate arm. Tejada is where he’s at in his career because he has a lot of pride. In order to get that pride, you work at it. He did that in spring training and he continues to do that each and every day. He is a man that gives you everything he’s got all the time.
 
(on Lou Montanez not playing at all with Corey Patterson arriving)
“I can’t guarantee playing time in that situation. Our need was to get a leadoff hitter and we got Patterson here and I think he’s done tremendous. And if that has not given Monty an opportunity to play, that’s just part of it. It’s a situation where we need a leadoff hitter. Patterson has done very well.”

(on if he prefers keeping Wigginton at second instead of moving him to first)
“I don’t know if that’s the proper terminology. I think what you may be referring to is, why is Atkins still playing first base. That is my choice. That is my choice.”

But given that the Orioles start Interleague play on Friday, Trembley acknowledged he’s going to have to find a way to get the designated hitter’s bat in the game. First base, anyone? Oh, I think so. 

Os/Royals series finale and tidbits

*Adam Jones did not receive any reprimand for throwing his helmet after grounding into a double play in last night’s loss. Jones said prior to Tuesday’s game it was a moment of frustration and manager Dave Trembley  wasn’t upset.
“I think it’s an emotional game,” Trembley said. “And people that are very passionate about what they do, I don’t have a problem with it.”
*David Hernandez is on track to make Friday’s start
*If Luke Scott keeps hitting like he is, Trembley acknowledged he will have to find somewhere to put Scott when Interleague play starts Friday. Could it be first base? I think so.

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Corey Patterson LF
Ty Wigginton 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Matt Wieters C
Luke Scott DH
Adam Jones CF
Garrett Atkins 1B
Julio Lugo SS
Kevin Millwood RHP

ROYALS LINEUP:

Scott Podsednik LF
Jason Kendall C
David DeJesus RF
Billy Butler 1B
Jose Guillen DH
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Mitch Maier CF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Chris Getz 2B
Zack Greinke RHP

Aubrey the answer?

Norfolk’s Michael Aubrey went 2-for-4 with a homer last night and is a strong candidate to be the extra position player the O’s recall for Interleague Play. He was slowed this spring with a non-baseball related issue and then a groin injury but appears to be heating up down in Triple-A. In his last 10 games, Aubrey is batting .433 with two homers and five RBIs, posting a .733 slugging percentage.

Is he the answer to replace slumping Garrett Atkins? I’m not sure Aubrey over Atkins can really be deemed an impact move. But at this point of the season, as Andy MacPhail said has said, the organization’s only option is internally. Aubrey does play first base and would allow the team some flexibility off the bench.

Atkins over Aubrey? I’m not sure what to think. What do you guys think?  

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