September 2011

Orioles/Tigers lineups and pregame tidbits

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

Alfredo Simon RHP

 

TIGERS LINEUP
Austin Jackson CF
Don Kelly 3B
Delmon Young LF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Alex Avila C
Jhonny Peralta SS
Andy Dirks RF
Ramon Santiago 2B

Rick Porcello

The red-hot relief corps & Hardy

There hasn’t been a lot to feel good about regarding the Orioles this season, but their recent stretch –with wins in 11 of 16 after Thursday’s victory – has been fun to watch. Particularly, the performance of their bullpen and the continued “wow” factor of J.J. Hardy at shortstop.

It’s tough to really measure how valuable he is to this team, but there’s at least one or two plays a game that are above-average, that Hardy makes look routine.

Right-handed reliever Pedro Strop, who has emerged as a viable late-inning presence for the Orioles , extended his scoreless stretch to 8 2/3 innings with a big eighth inning Thursday night. After Jason Berken posted two scoreless innings to follow starter Zach Britton, Strop pitched around a one-out double from cleanup hitter Miguel Cabrera to hold off the Tigers’ middle-of-the-order bats.

“I feel good about it, but I’m not impressed because I know what I can do,” said Strop, who spent most of the season in Triple-A. “I just haven’t [gotten] the opportunity and I’m getting it right now and I’m doing my thing.”

*Speaking of opportunities, closer Kevin Gregg made good on his chance in the ninth inning, pitching a 1-2-3 inning to pick up his first save since Sept. 2. With Jim Johnson –who has been getting nearly all of the team’s save opportunities the past two weeks –unavailable to go for a fourth consecutive day, Gregg took care of the Tigers for his 21st save this season.
“ I want every save op that I can; I think that’s our job and that’s what I do,” Gregg said. “But I haven’t been consistent at it, going through a little rough patch. And it’s nice to reward J.J. for the year he has had. He deserves it. He has done an outstanding job. But I think I showed [Thursday night] I could still do it and I still believe in myself.”

“You don’t do some of the things he’s done in his career without some intestinal fortitude,” manager Buck Showalter added. “[Gregg is] not going to wallow around in self-pity.”

*As for Hardy, it was just another routine night as he clobbered a pitch for his 29th homer (extending on his career-high) and turned several outstanding double plays.

“I just hope everybody else around the league understands how good of  a shortstop [he is],” Showalter said. “I  can’t imagine a shortstop playing at a higher level than he’s playing at.”

Orioles/Tigers lineups & pregame tidbits

Greetings from Comerica Park, where the Orioles will play their final road series of the season in a four-game set against the Tigers.

Being a Michigan State alum, I’m probably the only visiting reporter who enjoys coming to Detroit, but it’s always felt like a second home on the road. Anyhow, here are your pregame tidbits and lineups..

*Rookie infielder Ryan Adams (sports hernia) will see specialist Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia on Monday, October 3.  If the diagnosis is confirmed, he would have surgery that following day with the recovery estimated at 3-6 weeks.

*Vladimir Guerrero needs just four hits to become the all-time hits leader for Dominican-born players. Three hits will tie him with Julio Franco’s 2,586.

*Troy Patton left the team after last night game’s to fly to Texas for orientation for court-mandated drug and alcohol classes. It’s part of the agreed action for Patton’s offseason DUI charges, and the lefty reliever is expected to return in time for Friday’s game in Detroit.

*Tommy Hunter (right groin strain) said he thinks he will be OK for Monday’s start vs. Boston, although manager Buck Showalter wasn’t quite as sure, saying Hunter was “in jeopardy” of making what would be his final start of the season. If Hunter can’t go, the candidates would be Jo-Jo Reyes, Brian Matusz and Rick VandenHurk. One of those three guys will start Sunday’s finale in Detroit, which is still listed as TBA.

ORIOLES LINEUP

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

Zach Britton LHP

TIGERS LINEUP


Austin Jackson CF
Magglio Ordonez RF
Delmon Young LF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez dh
Ryan Raburn 2B
Jhonny Peralta SS
Brandon Inge 3B
Omir Santos C

RHP Jacob Turner

Orioles/Red Sox lineups & pregame tidbits

*Vladimir Guerrero needs just five hits to become the all-time hits leader for Dominican-born players. Four hits will tie him with Julio Franco’s 2,586.

*The Orioles rotation for the first three games in Detroit will be as follows: Zach Briton, Alfredo Simon and Jeremy Guthrie with Sunday’s finale TBA.

*As I noted yesterday, rookie second baseman Ryan Adams has been playing with a sports hernia and the team is looking into shutting down Adams and having him get surgery. Right now nothing is scheduled, and Adams said the team’s medical staff is waiting on a callback on Thursday. It’s not a question of if Adams will get the surgery –since he has a tear that needs repairing — the only questions is when.

The timetable would be around 3 weeks, so he’d be a full-go in next year’s camp.

*Happy Birthday, Zach Phillips. The new Orioles reliever is 25 today.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Robert Andino 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Adam Jones CF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Chris Davis 3B
Matt Angle LF

Tommy Hunter RHP

RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Alex Aviles 3B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
David Ortiz DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Josh Reddick RF
Carl Crawford LF
Marco Scutaro SS
Jason Varitek C
Josh Beckett RHP

A few post-game thoughts

Orioles reliever Jim Johnson has increasingly been getting the ball in save situations — picking up his sixth save in his last seven outings in Tuesday’s 7-5 win –although manager Buck Showalter is hesitant to name the setup man his new closer.

Johnson picked up his eighth save of the season and while Kevin Gregg could get another save or two before the season ends, Showalter is a big fan of  “competitive integrity” in playing teams that are fighting for a playoff spot. And the guy who gives the Orioles the best chance to win right now is Johnson.

Could he still make a start? Sure. But that depends on the AL Wild Card race and where Boston sits in that final three-game set in Baltimore next week. If the playoff picture has already been decided, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a scenario where Johnson starts a game that’s made up of a band of relievers. Right now, there’s no definitive plan on what to do with Johnson for next season. And I imagine, as much as the Orioles want to have a specific role in mind, a lot of that depends on what they do in the offseason.

The bullpen needs an overhaul and we’ve already seen this year the dangers in a thin starting pitching pool. If I’m the Orioles, I’m signing at least two Major League-ready starting pitchers.

Pedro Strop continues to impress in his first few weeks as an Oriole, tossing a scoreless eighth inning Tuesday night to extend his stretch to 7 2/3 scoreless innings in eight games with Baltimore. Strop is not a closer candidate- Showalter made that clear — but he is still presenting himself as a legitimate candidate for 2012′s bullpen.

Speaking of making impressions, Robert Andino continues to be a bright spot in a disappointing season with a game-winning three-RBI double Tuesday night. Showalter and Andino’s teammates have raved all season about the utility infielder’s newfound maturity and how Andino is coming into his own.  Willie Randolph said in the feature I wrote last week, that Andino’s effort from Day 1 of Spring Training, has truly impressed him and he’s not a guy that gives out a lot of compliments.

“”You can just tell the confidence he is playing with on both sides of the ball,” said Showalter, who watched Andino’s eighth-inning at-bat on the television in the visiting clubhouse.”Sitting back here, I couldn’t imagine many guys I’d rather have in that situation.”

“I don’t think any pitcher enjoys throwing to him,” shortstop J.J. Hardy added of Andino, who collected three hits for the fifth time this season. “He’s up there grinding, he doesn’t give at-bats away, and I like our chances when he’s up there.”

The piece of clutch hitting erased a frustrating fifth inning, in which the Orioles watched a key chance to rally fall apart when catcher Matt Wieters was called for a checked-swing third strike, leading to Vladimir Guerrero’s subsequent caught stealing at second base.  An irate Showalter was ejected for arguing the call on Wieters, and the bizarre double-play cleared the bases instead of a potential first-and-second with no outs situation.

For the record, Showalter wasn’t sure what he was ejected for –admitting he was most upset with the 3-1 pitch called a strike on Wieters — but it was likely the called third strike that third base umpire Chris Guccione ruled was a swing, that sent Showalter out of the game.

Assessing the Orioles’ closing situation

Orioles reliever Jim Johnson has been getting the ball in save situations, although manager Buck Showalter didn’t rule out the potential of incumbent closer Kevin Gregg and Pedro Strop both getting chances in the ninth inning before the season is through.

“We might be in a situation where a guy’s pitched enough innings and we’ve used him a couple days in a row and somebody else gets an opportunity,” said Showalter, who has given the ball to Johnson for the save in five of his last six outings. “But I don’t think [Strop is] going to be our closer next year.”

The more hotly debated topic is whether Gregg (0-3, 4.61 ERA) will be.  Signed as a free agent to a two-year deal with an option for a third, Gregg (20-for-27) has been erratic at best and has blown three of his last six save opportunities. Johnson (5-5, 2.72 ERA) is a guy the Orioles have wanted to try to stretching out as a rotation candidate for next season, and Showalter still wasn’t ready to rule out the long-rumored possibility of Johnson getting a start before season’s end.

“It depends on what Boston’s status is, kind of, when we play them at the end of the season, and [the next series in] Detroit,” said Showalter who has tried to maintain competitive integrity given how close the American League Wild Card race has become. “But the problem with that happening is it precludes Jimmy from being able [in relief] in [the last series with] Boston, and I don’t know if that’s fair to Tampa.”

There is also the argument that it might not be in the Orioles best interest to take Johnson, who is their best reliever, out of a bullpen that already figures to need extensive rebuilding this offseason. Asked if there can be any made of the fact that Johnson –who has pitched to a 1.69 ERA in his last 15 outings – has gotten the ball more often than Gregg in the ninth-inning, Showalter wouldn’t reveal his cards.

“I’m not going to start handicapping that,” Showalter said of next year’s closer, adding that there is still the potential for Gregg to get a few more save opportunities this season.  “There’s very few opportunities to see a guy pitch in those kind of pressurized situations. I’m trying to take advantage of as many of those as I can and still give us a chance to win.”

Orioles/Red Sox lineups and pregame tidbits

*Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds are both back in the lineup, with Jones –who had been sidelined with right thumb discomfort –making his first start since Sept. 9.

*Rookie second baseman Ryan Adams has been playing with a sports hernia and it’s starting to bother him increasingly, according to manager Buck Showalter. The team is looking into shutting down Adams and having him get surgery, although right now nothing is scheduled. If Adams gets surgery in the next few weeks, he’d be ready in time for spring training.

*Vladimir Guerrero needs six hits to become the all-time hits leader for Dominican-born players. Five hits will tie him with Julio Franco’s 2,586.

*Reliever Troy Patton will leave the team on Thursday morning to fly to Texas for orientation for court-mandated drug and alcohol classes. It’s part of the agreed action for Patton’s offseason DUI charges, and he is expected to return in time for Friday’s game in Detroit.

*Speaking of Detroit, here is the Tigers rotation for the four-game series:

RHP Jacob Turner
RHP Rick Porcello
RHP Justin Verlander
RHP Brad Penny

ORIOLES LINEUP

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

Rick VandenHurk RHP

RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
David Ortiz DH
Josh Reddick RF
Carl Crawford LF
Marco Scutaro SS
Jarrod Saltamachia C
Alex Aviles 3B
Erik Bedard SP

Game 2: Red Sox/Orioles lineups

 

ORIOLES LINEUP

Matt Angle CF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Chris Davis 1B
Robert Andino 3B
Nolan Reimold LF
Ryan Adams 2B
Craig Tatum C

Brian Matusz LHP

RED SOX LINEUP

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Marco Scutaro SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Jed Lowrie 3B
Conor Jackson LF
Jason Varitek C
Darnell McDonald RF

John Lackey RHP

Orioles/Red Sox doubleheader

*Greetings from Fenway Park, where the Orioles will play four games in three days, including two today. As a New Englander, I really do love the fall, mid-September weather and –as a lifelong Boston Bruins fans — I relish any chance to buy more Stanley Cup Champion gear.

But you didn’t come here to listen to my sports nonsense (Yes, I ate my words about Michigan State football this weekend), so here’s a few Orioles tidbits…

*Mark Reynolds, who was hit in the head on Saturday, did not pass the cognitive tests necessary to play in either of Monday’s games. Reynolds said he doesn’t have a concussion, but the team is still being cautious given that his reactions are still a little off.

*Adam Jones (sore right thumb) could get into one of the two games scheduled for today’s doubleheader. Jones isn’t starting in Game 1, but manager Buck Showalter said he wouldn’t say the center fielder is unavailable by any means.

*Carl Crawford was a last-minute scratch for Boston with a sore neck.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Matt Angle CF
J.J. Hardy SS,
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis 1B
Robert Andino 2B
Nolan Reimold LF
Josh Bell 3B

Jeremy Guthrie RHP

RED SOX LINEUP

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Marco Scutaro SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Dustin Pedroia 2b
David Ortiz DH
Josh Reddick RF
Jarrod Saltamachia C
Alex Aviles 3B
Darnell McDonald LF

Kyle Weiland SP

Orioles/Rays lineups

*Adam Jones said his right thumb is finally starting to feel better and is targeting Friday for his return to the starting lineup.

*Reliever Jim Johnson was not with the team on Wednesday afternoon, leaving to tend to a family emergency, and as of about 4:30 p.m., manager Buck Showalter wasn’t sure if Johnson would return by game time.

*Orioles Minor League first baseman Rhyne Hughes has received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for an amphetamine.

Major League Baseball’s Commissioner’s Office announced the suspension of Hughes along with two other Minor League players — Rockies right-handed pitcher Randol Rogers and Reds righty Cole Green – in a press release Wednesday afternoon. Hughes’ suspension,handed down for being in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, will be served at the beginning of next season.

The 28-year-old Hughes spent the entire 2010 season with Triple-A Norfolk, and hit .249 with 25 doubles, 15 homers and 59 RBIs in 92 games. He made his Major League debut last season, but after 14 games was sent back to the Minors and has not returned. Hughes is not on the Orioles’ current 40-man roster and did not receive an invite to big league Spring Training.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Matt Angle CF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Nolan Reimold LF
Robert Andino 2B

Jeremy Guthrie RHP
RAYS LINEUP
Sam Fuld LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Ben Zobrist 2B
Johnny Damon DH
Matt Joyce RF
Casey Kotchman 1B
John Jaso C
Reid Brignac SS

Wade Davis RHP

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 284 other followers