Tuesday, April 29, 2008

O's-Rays, Olson Makes His Mark

Garrett Olson starts things off well with a strike to Akinori Iwamura. After a couple balls, Iwamura grounds out to short (it's the Pelican out there again today). Carl Crawford gets ahead 3-0 (some questionable calls in there) but Olson comes back to strike him out looking. BJ Upton flies out to right to end the inning. That fastball command that he was lacking last year, seems to be there so far today.

Brian Roberts grounds out, but Mora works the count and draws a walk. Markakis actually chases a 0-1 pitch, and fouls it off. Nick fouls out to Evan Longoria, and there are two down. A big reason for the Rays turnaround has been the play of their defense - they've gone from dead-last in defensive efficiency (the rate at which balls put into play are converted into outs) to third. The O's, by the way, have gone from 18th to second. The defense can't help you when you walk guys, however, and that's just what Jason Hammel does against Kevin Millar. Aubrey Huff then walks on four pitches to load the bases for Luke Scott. Scott grounds out to second, and
the O's leave three on. Come on guys, where's the clutch hitting?!?

Olson throws Carlos Pena a 3-2 breaking-ball, and gets him to ground to second. Longoria pops out, and Johnny Gomes goes down swinging at a high fastball. Six up, six down for Olson.

Ramon Hernandez gets ahead 3-0 and singles, and the Pelican follows it up with a bloop single of his own. B-Rob lines out to left, but Mora comes through with a single to score Ramon. 1-0 O's, and there are runners on the corners for Kakes. Nick lines one off of Pena's glove at first - it's an RBI single for Markakis.
Millar flicks one to right, but Eric Hinske makes a diving catch to end the inning.

Navarro strikes out swinging at a change-up. Hinske walks on a 3-2 breaking-ball, and Jim Palmer is blaming the pitch selection on Ramon. I agree, and have been unhappy with Ramon's game-calling all year. A hit-and-run results in a single to right, and the throw by Nick goes over the cut-off man allowing the runner to go to second. Olson will have to work out of a bit of a jam here. Iwamura walks to load the bases. Crawford grounds to third, and Mora goes home to get the force. The bases are still loaded, but there are two outs. Olson will get out of it, throwing the fastball by BJ Upton for his fourth K of the game.

Huff walks again, on four pitches. Luke Scott flies out to right, and Adam Jones lines a single to left. Ramon Hernandez sends a ball deep to right, and it'll be over Hinske's head. Huff scores, and Jones is being waved in. He is somehow out by a mile (upon replay, Jones fell down while rounding third). Ramon goes in to third, but he should have gotten a pair of RBI on that one. It's still 3-0 Orioles, and Hammel is being taken out of the game. Luis goes down swinging against JP Howell, but Olson now has a little more breathing room.

Carlos Pena grounds out again, and Olson gets Longoria looking on a breaking-ball. That's K number 5. Gomes grounds to short, and the Rays go down 1-2-3.

Brian Roberts walks in the fourth, but that's it for the O's.

An infield hit and a walk put two on with none out, but Olson is once again able to get out of it without a run scoring.

Howell walks Luuuke, but strikes out a pair to keep the Rays back just three.

Upton grounds to third, and Mora has to spin and throw - he doesn't get much on it, but Millar does a nice job to pick it out of the dirt. Pena grounds slowly to first, and Millar can't make this one - it'll be another infield hit. Olson walks Longoria on four pitches, and Randor is warming in the pen. I'd like to see Trembley get Garrett out of there with a chance to still get the win. Wow, Ramon finally does something right behind the plate. Navarro takes a ball, and Hernandez fires to first to pick off Longoria. That'll end the inning, and very possibly Olson's night. Great job by Garrett - 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 K. The walks are a concern, but he looked good. I'd definitely rather see him pitching instead of Trachsel.

Apparently, Luis has been told that he has a week or so to take hold of the starting shortstop spot with Fahey in the minors. The Pelican helps his cause with a single to third that Longoria can't handle. Roberts hits one deep to left, and Crawford has the ball go off his glove for a double. Mora sends one to left himself - Crawford handles this one, but both runners tag-up. That makes it 4-0 O's. Markakis does his usual not swinging at balls out of the zone, but gets called out on strikes anyway. Nick is striking out a ton this year (he's on pace for 156) but I'm not too worried about it since many of the strike-outs have been called, on pitches that weren't really strikes. I'd rather he K more, than swing at balls (well, maybe not with one out and a runner on third). No big deal, as Millar picks him up with a single to center. 5-0 Orioles. Actually, let's make it 7-0. Huff Daddy (that's what the guy on the radio calls him, and I wanted to try it out - it's better written than spoken, but I'll avoid it in the future) sends one over the center-field fence for his fifth HR of the year. I think it's safe to say that Olson will be picking up his first win of the season.

Huh, with a 7-0 lead Trembley is letting Olson (88 pitches) go out for the seventh. Why not bring in Bob McCrory in the low-leverage situation to get his feet wet? Navarro walks on four pitches, but Olson comes back to strike Hinske out swinging. Bartlett bloops one to short center, and Roberts can't make the over-the-shoulder catch. Adam Jones picks it up and quickly fires to second to force Navarro. Iwamura send one deep over Jones' head in center for a double, and the shut-out is gone. Now Trembley is taking him out. So it's actually 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 6 K on 105 pitches. I don't think there was any reason for Olson to start this inning. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter, but why not let him go out with a shut-out, instead of having to be taken out in the middle of an inning after giving up a run.

A hit by Crawford off of Bierd puts another run on Olson's line, and now it looks a lot more pedestrian at 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 6 K. BJ Upton drills one to the opposite field - two run home run, and it's now 7-4. Should have brought in McCrory. Carlos Pena threatens to make it 7-5, but Adam Jones reaches up and makes the catch on the warning track in deep left-center.

Jones hits a rocket to short, but Bartlett makes a nice play to knock it down and throw him out. Bartlett wasn't just a throw-in in the Delmon Young - Matt Garza trade; he's a big part of the Rays' improved defense. Ramon continues his good day by drawing a walk. The Pelican grounds to second, and with first base open, the Rays will intentionally walk Brian Roberts. They're already down by three, and are putting extra runners on base - the lead-off man no less. It works out OK this time as Mora strikes out.

Chad Bradford is in to start the eighth (should have brought McCrory in to start the seventh - it would have saved the pen, I think). Bradford gets his usual ground ball, but Longoria hits it up the middle for a single. Recently acquired (from MIL) Gabe Gross pinch hits for Gomes. Chad gets Gross looking for the first out. Another ground ball up the middle will bring Hinske to the plate as the tying run. Walker will be coming in to face the lefty. Jamie does his job, striking Kinske out looking with a fastball right on the outside corner. Bartlett grounds out, and the Rays can't score.

Former Oriole Kurt Birkins is coming in to face Nick Markakis. Birkins gets ahead 0-2 and gets Nick to ground to short. Millar walks, but Kurt comes back to K Huff swinging. Jay Payton will bat for Luke Scott (grrr, let Scott hit - he can hit lefties about as well as Payton can (.850 OPS for Luke vs .760 for Jay last year , actually)). Payton flies out and (for the tenth time this year) it'll be George Sherrill time in the ninth.

Iwamura goes down swinging, and Sherrill looks good coming back from the blown save in Chicago. Crawford grounds slowly to third, but Mora throws him out by a step. Upton takes for balls, and walks down to first. Sherrill vs. Pena (don't pull a Jamie Walker, George). He gets some, but not enough - Nick makes the catch in right and the O's take the game 7-4, ending Tampa Bay's six game win-streak. The Orioles are now 15-11 and remain tied with Boston (and a game ahead of the Rays) for first in the East.

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