August 2010

Os/Rays lineups and pregame tidbits

*Jim Johnson will pitch an inning for Class-A Advanced Frederick tonight since Double-A Bowie is on the road. If all goes well he will throw two innings on Tuesday.

*Brian Roberts is feeling good and will continue to be in the lineup as long as he’s feeling physically up for it. Buck Showalter said he checks in with Roberts regularly and so far, so good.

*Showalter wanted to get Michael Gonzalez in last night’s game given what happened the last time he was on the mound at Tropicana Field. If you remember, Gonzalez blew a save here in the Opening Day series and narrowly pulled off another. Showalter thought it was important for him to go out and pitch well, as he did with last night’s scoreless inning.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Matt Wieters C
Cesar Izturis SS
Josh Bell 3B
Brian Matusz LHP

RAYS LINEUP
B.J. Upton CF
Jason Bartlett SS
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Willy Aybar DH
Sean Rodriguez 2B
Ben Zobrist 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Gabe Kapler RF
Andy Sonnanstine RHP

Rays/Orioles lineups

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Matt Wieters C
Cesar Izturis SS
Josh Bell 3B
RHP Jeremy Guthrie

RAYS LINEUP:
John Jaso C
Ben Zobrist 2B
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce RF
Willy Aybar DH
Dan Johnson 1B
B.J. Upton CF
Reid Brignac SS

RHP James Shields

On to Tampa…

The Orioles are 8-2 under Buck Showalter with Thursday’s series finale loss and have a shot to make this six-game road trip their first winning road trip this season. To do that, they have to go through Tampa Bay, who is fighting to keep the Red Sox at bay in the American League East and historically have dominated in the home confines of Tropicana Field.

“We need to take better advantage of our at-bats,” Showalter said following rookie Jeanmar Gomez’s six innings of one-run ball on Thursday. “But obviously, we’ll go against a good baseball team that’s the right in the thick of it [in the Rays]. It will be a pretty good barometer for us.”

The Orioles do dodge a bullet of sorts given that the Rays pushed back All-Star David Price to Monday (he was originally scheduled to start Saturday) and will get Andy Sonnanstine against Brian Matusz instead. Price goes Monday, so the O’s avoid that tough lefty entirely.

Here’s how the matchups shake out:
FRIDAY: Jeremy Guthrie vs James Shields
SATURDAY: Brian Matusz vs. Andy Sonnanstine
SUNDAY: Jake Arrieta vs. Jeremy Hellickson

Sidenote: It’s some kind of throwback night at the Trop so look for the Orioles to be sporting some vintage all-orange jerseys.   
 

Os/Indians lineups and pregame tidbits

*The Orioles agreed to terms with three more Draft picks: third-round RHP Daniel Klein, fifth-round 3B Connor Narron, and ninth-round RHP Parker Bridwell. They’ve now signed 34 of their 49 selections.

*The O’s also extended Norfolk, Bowie and Frederick as affiliates through 2014.

*Manager Buck Showalter said the team has had early discussions of going to a six-man rotation. Right now they will play it by ear until September callups, but with guys like Chris Tillman and Zach Britton in Triple-A and expected to be a big part of the O’s future, it’s a possibility.

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Matt Wieters C
Cesar Izturis SS
Josh Bell 3B

Kevin Millwood RHP

INDIANS LINEUP:

Michael Brantley CF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Shin-Shoo Choo RF
Shelley Duncan DH
Trevor Crowe LF
Matt LaPorta 1B
Jason Donald 2B
Andy Marte 3B
Lou Marson C

Jeanmar Gomez RHP

Bell trying to show what he can do

CLEVELAND– Struggling rookie Josh Bell said he’s not longer overanxious at the plate, but admits that most of his hitting problems are mental.

“I definitely have doubted myself a little bit,” said Bell, who is 3-for-20 with 11 strikeouts since his second call-up following July 29′s Miguel Tejada trade. “I’m not where I want to be, but I’ve definitely made strides towards it.”

Bell was on the field early on Wednesday afternoon with hitting coach Terry Crowley for some early extra hitting work -along with several other O’s – and said he was working on some “minor tweaks” to better attack the inside pitch.   

Orioles manager Buck Showalter gave Bell most of Tuesday’s game off -he entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth – with the expectation that he will likely start Wednesday and Thursday. While Bell’s .167 batting average leaves much to be desired, Showalter believes the 23-year-old pressing at the plate isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“You got to have some “want to” there,” Showalter said. “I’d a lot rather have that amount of caring than thinking ‘sera, sera’ this is always going to be here. I want them to have a sense of urgency.”

The Orioles top position prospect, Bell hadn’t played above Double-A until this season, and his accelerated development prompted president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail to trade away Tejada and spend the final two months evaluating Bell’s “Major League-readyiness”.

But Bell has struggled on both sides of the field, and the third baseman enters Wednesday with three errors in 15 games.

“There are some things that I know that I’m just not doing on the field,” Bell said, citing cutting in front of shortstop Cesar Izturis in the ninth inning on Tuesday as one of those moments.

“I’ve been kind of standoffish I think. I just go to be more aggressive and trust myself. I’m putting things together as I go along.”

Orioles/Indians lineups

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Matt Wieters C
Cesar Izturis SS
Josh Bell 3B
Brad Bergesen RHP

INDIANS LINEUP:
Michael Brantley CF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Shelley Duncan DH
Jordan Brown LF
Matt LaPorta 1B
Luis Valbuena 3B
Jayson Nix 2B
Chris Gimenez C
Josh Tomlin RHP

Pair to go to Bowie

Orioles outfielder Lou Montanez will report to Double-A Bowie and is expected to play in Wednesday night’s game, with reliever Jim Johnson joining him on Thursday.

Montanez played in four Gulf Coast League games, going 3-for-15 (.200) with an RBI and has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 26 with a left oblique strain suffering during pregame batting practice.

Johnson appeared in four GCL games, pitching four innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits -including a homer – with a walk and a five strikeouts. All three of those runs came in one outing, giving him a 6.75 ERA over that stretch.

Johnson (right elbow inflammation) has been on the 60-day DL since May 28.

Orioles/Indians lineups and pregame tidbits

progressive-field-scoreboard.jpg

Welcome to Cleveland. I’ve only been here once and that was to see LeBron James play. Which is now a four-letter word around here. Orioles manager Buck Showalter made a reference to LeBron as well before it hit him that it probably wasn’t the best athlete to bring up.

*Alfredo Simon will stay get save opportunities, but Showalter said it won’t be just Simon who does. Who gets the ball in the 9th will be decided on a situation basis and could include guys like Michael Gonzalez and Koji Uehara.

*Struggling rookie Josh Bell is off today, with Showalter wanting to get Corey Patterson in the lineup as DH and keep Wiggy and Scott in the lineup as well. Bell will work in the cages with hitting coach Terry Crowley.

*Starting pitchers Jake Arrieta and Justin Masterson is a rematch of sorts from 2006 when Arrieta was at TCU and Masterson at SD State. Following a lead-off walk to Walker in the second inning, Masterson
retired the next 22 batters he face, before allowing a one-out single
off the bat of Kervin in the ninth inning. He needed just 103 pitches
for his fourth complete game of the season as he struck out 11 batters
in the game.

ORIOLES LINEUP:
2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
3B Ty Wigginton
1B Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
LF Felix Pie
CA Matt Wieters
DH Corey Patterson
SS Cesar Izturis

RHP Jake Arrieta

INDIANS LINEUP:
CF Michael Brantley
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
RF Shin-Soo Choo
1B Matt Laporta
DH Jordan Brown
LF Trevor Crowe
3B Luis Valbuena
2B Jason Donald
CA Lou Marson

RHP Justin Masterson 

Checking on the Tides

With Craig Tatum expected to come back from a brief stint in Triple-A Norfolk for tonight’s game (taking Troy Patton’s spot), here are a few notes from Norfolk…

*Zach Britton made the start for Norfolk Sunday night and took the loss to drop to 1-2. Britton pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on eight hits –both career-high’s at Triple-A — with a walk and five strikeouts. He has now failed to complete five innings in four of his seven starts with the Tides.

I know a lot of people called for Britton to come up when the Orioles rotation was struggling, but his recent performance at Triple-A hardly warrants a promotion. The organization doesn’t feel like he’s ready right now, and don’t want to rush him up here just because there’s no one else. That’s part of the reason the O’s traded for Rick VandenHurk, who provides some starting pitching depth and could make an emergency start if needed.

Before this season, Britton had never pitched higher than Double-A, and while he still could be a September callup, he’s important enough to this organization that his development is still first and foremost.

*Nolan Reimold went 4-5 with a double, his 10th home run of the season, two RBIs and four runs scored in Sunday’s Tides’ loss. In his last 21 games, since July 18, Reimold is hitting .320 (24-75) with 13 RBIs, 15 walks and 17 runs scored.

*First baseman Michael Aubrey went 3-5 with three RBI and hit his 15th home run of the season.

*Kam Mickolio pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, walking one and striking out one for his second scoreless outing since returning from a nearly two-month stint on the disabled list.

*Chris Tillman will start for Norfolk tonight and try to get back on track. Tillman has allowed 15 earned runs over his last 13 innings –a three-start stretch — and hasn’t lasted longer than five innings over that span.  

Backing off Berken

The Orioles will try to back off right-hander Jason Berken for the next day or two to give the struggling reliever -who has thrown an American League-leading 60 1/3 innings — a much-needed break.

Manager Buck Showalter said the hope is that resting Berken will “freshen him up a little bit”, and he has talked with pitching coach Rick Kranitz about monitoring Berken’s second-half innings.

A former starter who made his first Opening Day roster as the team’s long man, Berken’s emergence has been one of this season’s biggest surprises. But after allowing just eight earned runs over 45 innings in his first 27 games, Berken’s effectiveness has waned, giving way to 13 runs in his last 16 2/3 innings.

Berken, who was conferring with Kranitz on Sunday morning, said he’s rushing his delivery a little bit and the deception on his pitches isn’t as sharp as earlier in the year.

“[I'm] trying to do too much with the pitch, trying to make it break more than what it is,” said Berken, who allowed two earned runs over 1 1/3 innings on Saturday night, and was charged with the loss.  “With me, it seems like when I try to do less I get better results, so it’s trying to stay within myself and making my delivery compact and easy.”

Given that it’s a minor adjustment, Berken said he’s not in panic mode and just needs to go after opposing batters a little more aggressively, to stay out of favorable hitting counts.  He’s walked five batters in his last eight outings, after issuing just 14 free passes in his previous 32.  Following Friday’s two-out walk to Alexei Ramirez, who scored on the following double, Berken called his lack of location “not acceptable” and was more upset about the free pass than the hits.

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