Thursday, April 10, 2008

From High To Loew-en

Now it's the lefties turns. Adam Loewen will try to bounce back from a rough start, and the O's will try to get the bats back on track against Kason Gabbard. Gabbard isn't overpowering, but he has a very good change-up. Hopefully the team's new patient approach will help them out, as they have not done well against this type of pitcher (and this pitcher in particular) in the past.

Brian Roberts works the count to start the game, but flies out to right. Mora singles to left, and Kakes is coming up. Markakis is refusing to swing at balls again - this will pay off for the team in the long run (like when Adam Jones is batting clean-up and hitting for power) but for now Millar hasn't been getting the job done. Markakis walks on four pitches - his fourth of the day. And Millar grounds into a double play to end the inning. Having Nick keep getting on has to end well eventually... doesn't it?

Michael Young is having a good day, as he lifts a high fastball just over the right field wall, 1-0 Texas. Then Loewen comes back and blows away Hamilton with three fastballs. That's all the Rangers get.

With two outs, Adam Jones turns on a ball and singles to left. That's his third hit of the day. Guillermo Quiroz, in there to give Ramon a rest) is coming up. Quiroz pops out to end the inning.

[Looking at Jones stats so far this year, his line-drive rate is very low (16%) compared to around 27% for his major league career. He's also hitting the ball on the ground a lot (47%, compared to 39% career). He needs to hit more line drives to up his average, and more balls in the air to get some home runs.]

Loewen hangs a breaking ball to Hank Blalock, who hits it up the middle for a single. A ground ball to third almost turns into a double play, but Marlon Byrd beats the throw to first. Byrd takes off for second, and Loewen picks him off. Unfortunately, Huff's throw to second hits Byrd in the back, and he's safe. Loewen gets ahead of a batter, but then starts to overthrow and ends up walking him. Gets ahead of the next hitter too, but this time finishes him off with a fastball at 92 up in the zone.

Brian Roberts doubles down into left field with one out. I missed having him in the line-up and I'll miss him when he's traded (though, hopefully, not too much). Mora gets ahead 3-1, but Gabbard throws back-to-back quality curveballs to get him looking. With first base open, is Markakis going to get walked again? Nope. But maybe they should have, as Kakes gets ahead 2-1 and singles up the middle to drive in B-Rob. That tie the game at 1-1. Hopefully it's not another 3-1 Texas win.

Loewen walks a pair to start the inning. Josh Hamilton grounds to second, but it's too slow and Hamilton's speed allows him to beat out the double play throw. One out with runners on the corners. Maybe 3-1 would be an OK score. That's where it stands already, as Milton Bradley doubles to left-center and both runners score. Another walk and a single makes it 4-1. This games is quickly getting away from the team, especially the way the bats are going. Matt Albers or Randor Bierd may be coming in soon. Loewen's pitches are either out of the zone, or in the middle of the plate. I'm not a particularly good scout, but it looks to me like Loewen's not finishing his delivery, and his front shoulder may be opening up a bit too soon. The fastball is coming up in the zone, and he can't seem to be able to get it down. Rick Kranitz will need to work with him a good long while before his next start. A grounder to third ends the inning. It's only a three run game, but the offense is going to need to take advantage of every opportunity they get.

Two quick outs and Adam Jones again shows bunt. I really think that it helps him not swing at the ball. If he keeps doing it, pitchers will pick up on it and throw him easy strikes when they notice he's pulling the bat up. Adam Jones does something good (he walks) and something bad (Quiroz singles to center, and Jones gets thrown out trying to go to third - NEVER MAKE THE THIRD OUT AT THIRD BASE). Alright then. That is just the kind of miscue that happens with a young player - we'll have to deal with it for now, and hope he improves sooner rather than later.

Loewen gives up a single, but gets a K and Texas doesn't score. He didn't look too bad that inning.

Nothing doing for the O's offense. 4-1 looks like a big lead at this point.

Adam has really settled down. He's still overthrowing some, but at least it's not every pitch. He K's Blalock swinging on a high fastball, but Marlon Byrd rips a double down the third base line. A pop-up ends the inning though. He still has a chance to get a win, if the O's can score some runs.

Aubrey Huff singles with two outs. Jay Payton, professional hitter (vs. lefties). Two run HR. 4-3. Gabbard is out of the game. I smell comeback. It smells like a blueberry muffin. Huh, I didn't expect that. Jamey Wright (one of the worst pitchers in baseball with over 1,000 career innings) comes in. What a good time for Adam Jones to hit his first Orioles home run. Instead, he grounds the first pitch weakly to third.

It's RANDOR time. Loewen's line; 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 4 K. It's pretty much the same as his last game; 4 2/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

Man, good change-up by Bierd to get Jason Botts swinging. Then he gets Melhuese to hit a slow roller back to the mound. He's no overpowering (85-88 mph) but it seems to being working. I wonder what will happen after the league gets a look at him a couple times. The Rangers go down 1-2-3. Good job by Randor to get the O's back on offense quickly after they cut into the lead. He's got a chance to pick up his first major league win tonight.

Perhaps not, as the O's go down 1-2-3.

Oh man. Bierd gets ahead of Michael Young 0-2. Young fouls off a couple pitches, but Randor catches him looking with a breaking ball on the outside corner. Then he gets Hamilton to ground out on the first pitch. Milton Bradley doubles to the opposite field - that's the first baserunner Bierd has allowed. Hank Blalock is intentionally walked, and Bierd is able to get pinch-hitter Frank Catallanato to line out to Nick in right to end the threat.

Mora falls behind 0-2, but gets a pitch down in the zone and rockets it off the left field wall for a double. Markakis goes with the pitch and serves it into left for a single - first and third with none out for Millar. Millar didn't ground into a double play, but only because he hit it too slowly. Mora scores and Nick is safe at second. Huff coming up with one out and a chance to give the Birds the lead. Huff gets ahead in the count 3-0, and then is intentionally walked. Jay Payton coming up. Home run and strike-outs not withstanding, I might have pinch-hit with Luke Scott. If he grounds into a double play, I would have. If he homers again, then I wouldn't have. Really, I probably would have. But that's just me. Payton strikes out. See, I was right. Adam Jones has a chance to give the O's a lead here. He gets ahead 2-0, but grounds to short to end the rally. Like I said earlier, too many ground balls. Line drives, Adam, line drives.

Chad Bradford in to pitch now. Great job by Randor to give the team two very good innings. Bradford strikes out the first batter with an 80 mph "fastball". A pair of ground ball singles (that's something you have to live with when it comes to Chad) put runners on the corners with one out and Ian Kinsler coming up. He grounds the first pitch hard past a slightly drawn in Pelican to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead.

After a pop-up, Dennis Sarfate is coming with two on and two out to face Josh Hamilton. 96 right by him for strike one. 95 fouled off for strike two. And again. After a couple more pitches (one a breaking ball even) Hamilton grounds to third on another fastball at 96. Eh, he didn't have his best stuff today - didn't even hit 98.

Ninth inning - down by a run. Truthfully, I'm not really feeling it. Maybe they'll surprise though. Ramon grounds out on the first pitch, batting for Quiroz. Luke Scott in there for the Pelican. Scott grounds it up the middle, but second baseman Ian Kinsler makes a great play to get Luke at first. Two out and B-Rob up. He's first pitch swinging, and flies out to right. That's game - Texas wins 5-4 and takes both games of the double header, as well as the series. The Orioles fall to 6-3. It was a good run while it lasted. Hopefully this isn't the start of a 6 games losing streak now. Still in first place though.

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