Thursday, April 10, 2008

O's-Rangers, Off The Winning Trax

Hopefully this double header goes better than the last one the O's had against the Rangers.

Adam Jones is leading off, as Brian Roberts is getting the first game off. Scott Moore will be playing second - we'll see if his practice in spring training helps out. I don't like Jones batting first. His main offensive strength at this point is his power and bat speed. His main weakness is plate discipline, which is what a lead-off hitter needs most.

Jones, Mora, and Markakis have progressively more patient at bats, with Nick working the count full from 0-2 and then walking. Kevin Millar ends the inning with a grounder to short however.

Steve Trachsel is pitching for the O's, opposing Kevin Millwood. Both mangers decided to have their veteran righties go in game 1, saving their young lefties for game 2.

Aww, a lazy fly ball to right allows Michael Young to get on base as Nick Markakis commits his first error of 2008, as the ball took off a little bit on him and went off his glove.

Josh Hamilton doubles to left, and Luke Scott had some trouble getting to the ball quickly, allowing Young to score. 1-0, Rangers.

At least the O's have one outfielder who's having a good inning. Hank Blalock pops one in to short center, but Jones races in and makes a diving catch. Great play by Adam.

Trachsel paints the outside corner for strike three, to end the first.

Aubrey Huff starts the second with a walk, and steals second on a 3-2 pitch to Luke Scott (it looked inside so Scott took it, but it was called a strike). Josh Hamilton has a great arm... he almost is able to get Aubrey Huff at home after a Ramon Hernandez single. But he didn't (the ball hit the mound) and that ties the game at 1-1.

The Trivia Question was an easy one today (what position did Jones first play in the M's organization?) as they've been saying he came up as a shortstop every couple of days.

Scott Moore flies out and that brings up Brandon Fahey. I think I actually miss seeing the Pelican in there. Fahey grounds softly to short for the third out.

I have to say that I'm a little confused as to why Fahey is starting at short. With Moore playing second for the first time, it seems that having the best defensive shortstop in there would make sense. Trembley has pulled all the right strings so far this year, so maybe Fahey goes 2-4 with a game-winning homer, or something.

Scott Moore handles his first chance without issue, throwing Ben Broussard out at first on a grounder to end the second. 1-2-3 go the Rangers, and the O's bats will try to get to Millwood.

Adam Jones shows his lack of patience (first-pitch swinging) and his power (double deep to left) to start the inning. Mora shows bunt (why? Last time I said this about Mora he had an RBI hit). Play for one run, and that's probably all you'll get. Mora swings away and ground to short, with Jones staying at second. It was still the right move. Nick Markakis draws his second walk of the day to bring up Millar with two on and one out. A ground ball to third, in what should have been an inning ending double play, loads the bases for the O's as Hank Blalock's throw to second pulls Ian Kinsler off the bag. Huff Daddy (I thought it would look less stupid written then it does being said by the radio guy - nope) lines one to third; two down. Luke Scott gets caught looking on another heater over the inside corner (this one was definitely a strike). The O's can't take advantage of the Ranger's miscue, still 1-1.

Scott Moore's second chance doesn't go quite as well, as he looks kind of awkward diving for a ball hit into right field. A wild pitch put Michale Young at second, but Trachsel gets a couple fly balls to left to leave him stranded.

The Orioles are retired in order for the first time. This game is going by fairly quickly.

The Cat (Frank Catallanato) hits a grounder far to Scott Moore's left, but ranges over and makes a strong throw from the edge of the outfield grass to get the out. 2/2 on plays he should make, and 0-1 on plays a Gold Glover might have made. Murphy walked, but Trachsel gets a grounder to third, with Mora throwing to Moore at second,, to end the inning. Steve Trachsel has looked far better this year than I was expecting.

Adam Jones is leading off the inning for the third time today. He shows bunt but pulls it back (he's done this several times this year - is he actually thinking about bunting, or is this a way to make himself take a pitch?). He flies out on the next pitch, and Mora follows suit. Nick Markakis works the count (again) and walks (again). That's three for the day, and seven on the year, which ties him with Brian Roberts for the team lead. I was expecting an up-tick in Kakes' OBP this year, as his walk rate had to get in line with his great batting eye at some point. He still has a little trouble catching up to a good fastball (then again, so does A-Rod) but his good contact rate and developing power may enable him to be a 320 / 400 / 550 hitter in his peak years. Hopefully it's for the Birds (sign him MacPhail!).

Trachsel gives up a single and a walk, but gets two more fly balls to get out of it. I guess when he's going good we can call him a cagey veteran.

Luke Scott refuses to swing early to avoid another strike-out and draws a one out walk. Scott gets thrown out trying to steal second (why? I'll ask this every time the team tries to play small-ball in bad situations) to end the inning. The game remains 1-1.

A strike-out of Broussard and a line drive single by Kinsler brings Michael Young to the plate. Kinsler may try to steal at some point in this at bat, to get into scoring position in a tie game. And there he goes - a ball in the dirt allows him to steal second without a throw. Scoring position indeed, as Young singles to center to bring in the runner, 2-1 Texas. The O's are going to need to score some runs to win this game. Walker is coming in to face the lefty Hamilton - good job by Trachsel today, but he leaves with only a chance to get the loss.

Brian Roberts gets into the game pinch-hitting for Scott Moore. B-Rob flies out. Adam Jones singles, but the Birds don't score. Again.

Another runner will be in scoring position as Michael Young steals second. Ramon Hernandez makes a very strong throw - too strong, as it goes into center field allowing Young to go to third. Then Adam Jones' throw gets past Mora. It's a good thing Jamie Walker was backing him up, otherwise it would have been a run scoring from first via a whole bunch of defensive mistakes, without the ball being put in play by the batter. Oh man, Hamilton flies out to medium right, and Markakis makes a good throw. It looked like Ramon might have tagged Young before his hand got in there, but he was called safe (which, upon replay, was the right call). 3-1 Rangers. Milton Bradley might have made it moot anyway, as he lines a ball past Mora for a single.

Nick doesn't get that fourth walk - strikes out instead. Millar walks, but Huff gets K'ed also. It's up to Luke Scott in this inning. Scott isn't having a good day, but at least he is making the pitcher work. He strikes out to end the inning. It'll need to be another ninth inning comeback for the O's.

Greg Aquino, who looked good in their last game, is in to try to keep the score as is. Aquino working it again, getting a fly out, and then getting a K on a fastball at 94 on (well, just off) the outside corner. If Greg keeps getting this strike zone (a ball above the belt is called a strike on a 3-1 pitch, as the batter threw his bat and started toward first) he will have a good year. Anther scoreless inning for the bullpen. It's up to the O's bats now.

Texas' closer CJ Wilson is coming in. He isn't all that dissimilar from George Sherrill, actually. A 1-2-3 inning for Wilson ends the O's winning streak at 6 games. That sets up game 2 to be the rubber game in the series. The offense couldn't get anything going. I'll blame this on Fahey being in there instead of the Pelican. Really, it was mostly a product of the middle of the order not being able to capitalize on Jones and Kakes getting on base. Huff and Scott especially left some runners stranded. Oh well. They steal lead the East by a couple of games, and can get that win back in about 20 minutes. Lets put up a 30 spot guys (hey, why not?).

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