July 2011

Lee: It’s a bad as it could be

The Orioles dropped their seventh straight game this afternoon as they continue to freefall into the second half of the season. Derrek Lee summed up the horrible road trip best by saying, “There’s no good spin to put on it. It’s as bad as it could be.”

Here are a few other notable quotes from this Sunday’s 8-6 loss to the Red Sox, which saw four ejections including manager Buck Showalter and reliever Michael Gonzalez.

SHOWALTER
[on both sides being warned after Jeremy Guthrie hit Kevin Youkilis with a changeup]

“You are not allowed to argue that, but [the Red Sox] lead all of baseball in hit by pitch. I lost two players today. I don’t think it was intentional from the young kid [rookie Kyle Weiland], location was a challenge for him. So judging intent I don’t think there was any intent there on his part.

I just know that we got hit four, five times here and it wasn’t particularly pleasant. You are looking at Mark Reynolds and [Vladimir] Guerrero having broken hands at the time, it looks like we might have dodged the bullet with the initial X-rays but you know don’t know what could show up down the line. It doesn’t make you happy. And it’s worked out pretty well for them, worked out real well for them the last four games.”

[on Gonzalez pitching behind David Ortiz]
“I can tell you exactly what I would have thought of it if I was the Red Sox. He threw one pitch, I’m pretty sure he fouled off, and then he threw the ball behind him. I would have thrown him out of the game too.”

“The changeup to Guthrie, I haven’t quite figured that one out. I know the umpires are trying, I just wish they would have issued the warnings before the game started because [John] Lackey should have been thrown out of the game [on Saturday] for hitting Lee. That was intentional as it gets. [It will] be interesting to see if they hand down any punishment for Lackey.”

[on the ugly nature of the four-game series sweep]
“We didn’t pitch well. And they’re swinging the bat, they are 10-1 in the last 11 game they are in first place in our division. And you can see why. They are real deep. Their what-ifs they are able to withstand a lot of injuries because of their depth and some of the things they are able to do. Their farm system, their payroll, it shows up.

We got to emulate some of those things, hopefully one day we will be playing as good of baseball as they are right now. Because we’re not.”

GONZALEZ
[on the Ortiz pitch?]
“Very frustrated, Very frustrated. I’ve seen our guys get hit accidentally. It’s just how it is. It’s how the game goes. That’s about it with that.”

[so it was intentional?]
“Like I said, the whole series was frustrating the whole way. It was what it was and that’s the way it goes.”

[situation could have been handled better with the umps?]
“I think so. Obviously everyone else in the stadium knew Jeremy went and threw a changeup there and they go off and give the warnings right out the cute. I don’t think that was definitely right. But it’s just how they played it out and we just had to go off that.”

GUTHRIE
[on being warned after he hit Youkilis with an offspeed pitch]

“I’ve said it before, sometimes those who are in control of the game – I know the umpires have to control it – sometimes they show a lack of feel by not understanding what is going on.

I think that’s to be understood not having been in the situation not having played the game at a high level probably.

You got first and third and you throw a changeup to the guy trying to get a groundball and I miss up and in. If they really had issues with people being hit, they could have warned the benches the second time one of our players were hit versus the third hit batsman of the game on a changeup on a situation where I clearly wasn’t intending to hit a gentleman.

It’s difficult but I’m sure nothing will happen and we’ll just keep going forward from there.”

LEE
[on going 1-9]
“It was a horrible road trip. There’s no good spin to put on it. It’s as bad as it could be.”

[on the umpiring]
“Who cares? We lost. The game is not about hitting people and all that nonsense. It’s about winning and losing and they won the game. All of the other stuff is meaningless.”

[on the team freefalling into the break]
“The way we’re playing, it’s not fun to come to the ballpark. We need to do a better job just playing better baseball and getting a little bit better. It’s just been a bad run. We need to find a way to get better.”

Orioles/Red Sox

*Luke Scott will see team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckins on Monday, and the plan is for him to get a Cortisone shot and aim to be back around when his DL period is up, which is five days after the break.

*Things could change but right now the rotation after the All-Star break is Jeremy Guthrie, Jake Arrieta and Alfredo Simon with Mitch Atkins a candidate for one of the next two games. Manager Buck Showalter said the team will sit down over the break and evaluate where they are moving forward.

Given the wealth of relievers on the current roster it wouldn’t be a big shock to see a few moves made before Thursday’s series with Cleveland.

Here are your lineups as the Orioles try to close out the first half with a win…

ORIOLES LINEUP
J.J.Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Derrek Lee 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Nolan Reimold LF
Robert Andino 2B

SP Mitch Atkins

RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
David Ortiz DH
Josh Reddick LF
Jason Varitek C
J.D.Drew RF
Marco Scutaro SS

SP Kyle Weiland

A few rumblings..

Red Sox starter John Lackey brought the tension of the previous game to a forefront after Lackey hit Derrek Lee two outs into the seventh. Lee, who was the second Baltimore player plunked by Lackey, stared him down and both benches were warned by home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson, who diffused the situation in a hurry.

Still, it didn’t sit well with Orioles manager Buck Showalter to watch two of his players –including Nick Markakis — hit with no repercussions.

“If [Oriole starter Alfredo] Simon would have hit two guys tonight he would have been ejected,” Showalter said.

“They used to do warnings before a game and they didn’t so it kind of gives somebody a free pop.”

While frustrations in Friday’s game didn’t boil over until the eighth inning, the Orioles took particular exception in several things coming out of the Red Sox dugout, most notably the actions of Albers who fist pumped and celebrated as well as fired some choice words from the mound to his former club.

Albers, who was non-tendered by Baltimore this spring, allegedly used several expletives directed the Orioles way, an event that didn’t sit kindly with the team, closer Kevin Gregg –who was forefront in the fracas — included.

Asked about the incident following Saturday’ game, Albers said he didn’t say anything.

“I think I kind of got caught up in the moment a little bit maybe,” he said, as television cameras saw him gesture excitedly and start jawing after striking out J.J. Hardy.

“[I] Kind of maybe took a look over there. I mean it’s not something I’m very proud of, it’s not something I should’ve done. Let my pitching speak for itself. I just kind of got caught up in the moment over there. I didn’t say anything, but it’s kind of one of those things that happened, got a little caught up. It’s one of those things.”

Orioles/Red Sox lineups and pregame tidbits

*Orioles rookie Zach Britton was optioned to Double-A Bowie to make room for reliever Mark Hendrickson prior to tonight’s game, a shocking move that adds to a depleted relief corps and stops Britton’s service clock. The Orioles already planned on pushing back Britton to the fifth game after the All-Star break and Saturday’s move will feasibly cause him to miss just one start and help him pitch into September.

The 23-year-old Britton started the season brilliantly, going 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in April. But he’s gone 2-5 since then, and has posted a 6.86 ERA over his last eight starts.  The move to Bowie is because the Orioles would prefer to keep him close by and work with Kennie Steenstra, who worked extensively with Britton throughout the Minors.

Right now, the plan is for Britton to stay down there until July 30, which would give him the 20 days in the Minors necessary to delay his clock.  He is slated to throw three innings for Bowie on the 15th, but there aren’t any concrete plans besides that.

*An X-ray taken last night on Brad Bergesen’s right forearm came back negative and he isn’t expected to be sidelined long. Obviously, manager Buck Showalter will try to stay away from using him tonight.

*Following last night’s on-field melee and ejection, Red Sox hitter David Ortiz left without talking to the media. Here’s what he said about the incident,which involved him charging the mound and exchanging blows with Kevin Gregg– prior to tonight’s game.

“I apologize to everyone for the situation,” Ortiz said.  “Even to them, I have a lot of friends in that ball club. Even Gregg. I don’t really know him, but he doesn’t seem like he’s any crazy person out there. Situations happen. I’m not happy about it. This is not what people come to see in the field. Hopefully we can stay away from that and turn the page.”

Gregg said he had no regrets about how he handled the situation and has not heard from Major League Baseball regarding any kind of punishment.

*Brian Roberts did long toss, conditioning and took flips in etended spring today and will see if he can progress further after he meets with concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins on the 13th. He has a follow-up on the 14th.

Here are your lineups…

ORIOLES LINEUP

J.J.Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Derrek Lee 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Nolan Reimold LF
Robert Andino 2B

SP Alfredo Simon

RED SOX LINEUP

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
David Ortiz DH
Josh Reddick LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
J.D.Drew RF
Marco Scutaro SS

SP John Lackey

Britton optioned to Double-A

Orioles rookie Zach Britton was optioned to Double-A Bowie on Saturday, a day after he recorded just two outs and allowed eight runs, seven earned in a start against the Red Sox.

The shocking move comes for a host of reasons, including the organization’s hope to preserve Britton’s service time and delay his free agency clock another year.  The Orioles already planned on pushing back Britton to the fifth game after the All-Star break and Saturday’s move will feasibly cause him to miss just one start and help him pitch into September.

The 23-year-old Britton started the season brilliantly, going 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in April. But he’s gone 2-5 since then, and has posted a 6.86 ERA over his last eight starts.

Britton was stunned by the news and said he was “frustrated to the say the least” of his recent performance and subsequent demotion.  The move to Bowie is because the Orioles would prefer to keep him close by and work with
Kennie Steenstra, who worked extensively with Britton throughout the Minors.

Right now, the plan is for Britton to stay down there until July 30, which would give him the 20 days in the Minors necessary to delay his clock.  He is slated to throw three inings for Bowie on the 15th, but there aren’t any concrete plans besides that.

Britton’s spot will be taken by lefty reliever Mark Hendrickson, in an effort to help boost the O’s bullpen. Given last night’s ejections, the Orioles could be facing possible suspensions for Kevin Gregg and Jim Johnson, and Brad Bergesen–who was hit with a liner in his right forearm– is a guy manager Buck Showalter will try to stay away from using tonight.

Bergesen’s X-rays were negative and he was diagnosed with a right forearm contusion, a minor injury that won’t sideline him long.

A few more notes

*The Orioles used six pitchers tonight and with Alfredo Simon on the mound for his first start in more than two years, I’d be surprised if the team doesn’t add at least one reliever for tommorow’s game.

*It was refreshing to hear the Orioles sound off in the clubhouse about not being bullied by the Red Sox. Will it help them win these next two games? I don’t know, but the comments post-game –Kevin Gregg’s in particular — show at the very least that the Orioles don’t have the losing mindset that has often plagued this organization in the past.

*Zach Britton called his outing a joke and an embarassment, and as usual provided a refreshing take of honesty in assessing the two-out outing.

“{I was] pretty much embarrassed,” Britton said of allowing eight runs, seven earned over 2/3 inning.

“It’s unacceptable. If you want to pitch at this level you can’t do that. Especially since the way we’ve been throwing the starting rotation, to go out there and not even get out of the first inning it’s kind of a joke. I really need to step up my game and start going deeper into games.

I was just leaving balls over the plate. And it seems like when they get something going in that first inning it was really hard to settle down and get outs. They came out swinging and I couldn’t get the ball down. It’s frustrating to say the least.”

“If I know Zach Britton, he’ll learn from what happened tonight and next time he’s in Fenway, he’ll pitch better,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter added. “He’s a not a guy that’s going to pull the dirt in around him.”

 

Gregg, Jones, Markakis & Britton on the melee

Here’s the reaction from the Orioles’ clubhouse tonight following a 10-3 loss in which four players –including Kevin Gregg and Jim Johnson — were ejected two outs into the bottom of the eighth.

Gregg told David Ortiz –who drew a 3-0 count and took offense to the inside balls — to run out the fly ball he hit and Ortiz charged the man. Chaos ensued as both benches and bullpens cleared.

Here’s what they had to say..

Kevin Gregg

[on what happened]

To me it’s a situation Ortiz, the place to get him out is in. you got to pitch him in. The first pitch wasn’t too far off the corner and he jumped away like it was at his head. Next pitch was a little bit further in, he didn’t like it, he stared at me.  I’m still going to go in there, I’m not going to let him lean over the plate like he did to [Brad Bergesen] lined a ball back up the middle. Or he’s hitting stuff off the wall,  he’s real comfortable in there.

The best way to get him is out is pitch him in, I’m pitching him in. 3-0 they are up seven. I think there is some ethics to the game you got to stay within.  [So I told him to] run. Hit a fly ball, a lazy fly ball, you got to run the bases. Apparently he didn’t like me telling him that stuff and he came out there. It’s part of the game, he has a right to come out there. I’m going to defend myself if he comes out.

[on taking the inside part of the plate back]

There’s 17 inches on the plate. You got to use all 17 inches. If you don’t you are going to get your ass kicked every time you go out there. So that’s what we’re doing, that’s what I was doing when I was out there. They are going to whine and complain about it because they think they are better than everybody else. But no, we have just as much right to pitch inside as they do.

[on if he felt the game simmering earlier]
No, we are playing the game of baseball. You got to go ask David what he was thinking. It’s 3-0 and you are up seven runs and the opposing pitcher gets upset with you hitting a weak fly ball and not running. If he thinks there’s something with me saying that, than he’s got other things he needs to figure out in this game.

[on the Orioles entire team backing him]
This is a team sport. I take offense to every run scored off every one of our pitchers, I take offense to every one of our hitters that’s hit every time out there. we are a family we spend more time with these 25 guys than I do with my own family.  And I take it personal.

And so, to be able to go out there, you get tired of getting your butt kicked every night when u come in here. I’m going to stick up for what ours and try to get the plate back.

I think you showed them that we are not backing down. We are not scared of them and their $180 million payroll. We don’t care. we are here to play the game, we have just as much right to play the game here. And we are going to do everything we can to win.

ADAM JONES

You hate to see it, but it was sure-as-[heck] necessary in that situation. We’ve been getting hit around a bit and [forget] it, we took some blows back. That livens everything up in here. We need to come out and use that as some ammo.

[on the situation]
You have to stand up for yourself. I’m not mad as how that situation escalated one bit. We’ll just use it as an ammo and get after that, and hopefully that energy carries us into tomorrow, and the second half o the season.

[on if he's proud of Gregg:]
Exactly, 100 percent.  Couldn’t be prouder.

NICK MARKAKIS

[on what happened]

I like the guy, I like Ortiz. I respect the way he plays the game, but I think it was a little bush league, bottom of the eighth, up by six, two outs, swinging 3-0. I don’t think we were hitting anybody intentionally there.

If it has to come down to that, it has to come down to it. He knows how to play the game. I think he’s going to look back at it and realize that he screwed up there, but what happened, happened. It’s over.

[on Ortiz charging the mound]
I don’t understand why he went after him. It’s a 3-0 pitch, two outs and you have a guy tagging up and a guy swinging at a 3-0 pitch in a six-run game. It doesn’t make sense.  He knows the game better than that. Put them on our side and us on their side. It’s a little bush league. Like I said, I’m sure he’s going to look back and realize that he made a mistake, especially charging our pitcher regardless of what was said.
[on if this moment can help the Orioles]

If you ask me, this happened in the right spot at the right time. We still got two more games left with these guys and we have seven more games after the break. We’re going to see them. We’re going to get our opportunities and they’re going to get their opportunities. We’ll see how it works out.

ZACH BRITTON

[on the 8th inning]
Pretty crazy. It’s part of the game but those two pitches, I was in here watching the game, the two pitches that Gregg threw to Papi weren’t even close.

So it was unnecessary for him to stare in and act like a tough guy, Kevin’s not going to back down if you are going to stare at him like that.  There’s no reason we are trying to hit him. We are getting our ass kicked, we are not trying to hit him. That’s what you get. Big papi, he is what he is. And that’s what happens.
[on the post fight feeling]
The atmosphere in here right now is great. I’m not saying this is what baseball is about, but I think this brought us a little closer. Hopefully we can start playing some good baseball the next two days and it starts with the starting pitchers.

We kind of got to pull our head out of our ass and start pitching because otherwise we are not going to be here very long. So it’s really frustrating. You can make excuses all you want, this is only my first year, I’ve only faced them twice, but at the end of the day pitching is pitching and we had to do something right to get to this level and obviously I’m not doing it right now.

[on his outing]

[I'm] pretty much embarrassed, I think. It’s unacceptable. If you want to pitch at this level you can’t do that. Especially since the way we’ve been throwing the starting rotation, to go out there and not even get out of the first inning it’s kind of a joke.

I really need to step up my game and start going deeper into games.

Orioles/Red Sox lineups

*Luke  Scott’s MRA revealed no new concerns regarding the torn labrum in his right shoulder, which is good news.   Right now, the team remains cautiously optimistic that Scott –who will will receive another Cortisone shot –  will be ready when his DL period is up July  19.

Scott has remained adamant in avoiding surgery and this certainly bodes well in that regard.

*Assuming he isn’t needed in tonight’s game, Alfredo Simon will start tomorrow’s  game with Mitch Atkins on Sunday. Jeremy Guthrie will be available out of the bullpen if needed Sunday as well.

ORIOLES LINEUP

J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Derrek Lee 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Felix Pie LF
Robert Andino 2B

Zach Britton LHP

RED SOX LINEUP

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
David Ortiz DH
Jason Varitek C
Marco Scutaro SS
Darnell McDonald RF
Yamaico Navarro LF

Josh Beckett RHP

More sobering stats

I know you’re tired of hearing about how poorly the Orioles are playing in all facets of the game.  But instead of giving you quotes or lamenting what’s going on, here are some stats that include tonight’s 10-4 loss at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (36-49) have lost 9 of their last 10 and 18 of 24. They need to get better, as manager Buck Showalter –who had a team meeting last night — has been quick to point out.  But what do they need to get better at exactly? Everything.

Thursday’s loss marked the third time in four games the Orioles have  allowed 10 or more runs, a stretch in which they have been outscored 40-15. They also had the lead in three of those four games, which –depending on how you look at it — is even more frustrating.

Their offense –which went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position Thursday– has a .173 RISP average since June 11, while their defense has coughed up 14 unearned runs on 19 errors in 24 games.

The starting staff has pitched to a 6.91 ERA over the last 23 games with just one starter — Jeremy Guthrie — completing seven innings over that stretch.

Finally, and I don’t mean to pile on one player, but Derrek Lee’s productive hitting has been a particular sore spot.

Lee — whose Wednesday homer snapped an 0-for-10 mark with runners in scoring position — hit into an inning-ending double play in the fifth and continues to struggle with men on base, posting a .131 (8-for-61) season RISP average. You could argue that his groundout did score a run tonight and you would be right. But is that really the kind of production you envisioned from a middle of the order bat?

Orioles/Red Sox lineups & pregame tidbits

*Brian Roberts tweeting that he’s taking swings in the batting cages in extended spring. Roberts (concussion) will see Dr. Michael Collins on the 13th.

*Cesar Izturis is progressing well and the Orioles remain hopeful he will go on a rehab assignment after the break and be able to return before the end of the month.

*The Orioles haven’t made any announcements, but expect Alfredo Simon and Mitch Atkins to start Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

ORIOLES LINEUP

J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Derrek Lee 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Nolan Reimold LF
Robert Andino 2B

Jake Arrieta RHP

RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
David Ortiz DH
Josh Reddick LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia c
J.D. Drew RF
Marco Scutaro SS

LHP Andrew Miller

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