Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Orioles 2012: Top of the 5th

A couple of days ago, I was getting ready to write that it looked like the Orioles were in trouble.  After our last check in, the Birds suffered a two-game sweep to the Angels and then lost a four-game series to the Indians.  Those two teams are in the thick of the wild card race and wins against them would have been particularly valuable.  Then, the Orioles traveled out west to Seattle to take on the lowly Mariners.  They dropped the first game.  The problem was starting pitching.  The Baltimore staff didn't manage a single quality start over that seven-game stretch.

Then out of nowhere, two gems.  On Tuesday night, Wei-Yin Chen had a perfect game through six innings.  In the seventh, he allowed a solo homer to ruin the no-no but still conceded just two earned runs over 7 1/3.  The bullpen blew the lead so he wasn't awarded the victory. Fortunately, the O's won anyway, 5-4.

Photo via Hawk Fantasy Sports

On Wednesday, Baltimore called up righty Chris Tillman from Triple-A Norfolk to start that evening's game.  Tillman has spent parts of the past three seasons with the big league club.  While showing occasional flashes of promise, he has struggled to find a consistent groove, currently carrying a 5.58 ERA at the Major League level.  Wednesday was his first 2012 start with the Orioles.  He pitched brilliantly, allowing only two hits over 8 1/3 innings, ultimately earning the win.  He had never pitched more than 7 1/3 innings in a start before.  He's been optioned back to the minors so he can get a start over the All-Star break but the plan is to bring him back to the parent club afterward.

The fifth inning is a very important one statistically for starting pitchers.  A starter must pitch at least the first five innings of a game in order to be credited with a win.  Over the past nine games, Tillman was the only starter to earn a win for the team.

I do have some more new characters to introduce...

Photo via Wikipedia

Dana Eveland started against the Indians on Saturday, his second start of the season for the Orioles.  Most of his twelve appearances have come in relief.  Unfortunately, he only made it through 3 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs and suffering the loss.  The Birds acquired him in a trade with the Dodgers in December.

Photo via Wikipedia

On June 27th, Matt Lindstrom came into relieve Jason Hammel in the fourth inning after the Angels had tagged the starter for eight earned runs over 3 1/3.  Overall, Lindstrom has had an outstanding year.  He has a 2.25 ERA over 16 innings.  However, he has struggled a bit since coming back from a finger injury.  The Orioles got both Lindstrom and Hammel in a trade with the Rockies in February.

Photo via Wikipedia

In the fifth inning of that same game, Kevin Gregg took the mound.  Gregg was the Orioles' closer for most of last year but was demoted by season's end in favor of Jim Johnson.  This year, Johnson is headed to the All-Star Game while Gregg has continued to struggle.  He has a 4.43 ERA over 22 1/3 innings.

Photo via Wikipedia

Two days later, lefty Troy Patton relieved Jake Arietta in the fourth inning and held down the fort through the sixth.  Patton has had a respectable but unspectacular season overall.  His ERA is 3.49 over 38 2/3 innings.

Just like that, the season is half over.  Amazingly, the Orioles are still in playoff position.  Coming up next, they've got a four-game road series with the Angels, the only team ahead of them in the wild card standings.

1 comment:

  1. I am far from an O's fan, but I am a baseball fan. I did watch the Chen game and was rooting for him. Too bad he put one in the "holler at ya zone" and lost his perfect game.

    The O's came out at the start and looked very promising. It seems to me that the arms are already tired half way through the season.

    What I like too, is that after the All-Star break, some teams have a way of turning things around for good or bad. Then, too, as long as a team stays close, they can always have a hot 2-3 weeks to close the season (e.g. the Cards of last year).