Wednesday, April 16, 2008

O's-White Sox, Loewen Not Improving (Yet)

Adam Loewen doesn't start well, giving up a opposite-filed single to Nick Swisher and walking Orlando Cabrera on four pitches. He almost K'ed Jim Thome on three pitches, but the third pitch (a nice curveball) is called a ball and Thome takes the next pitch (I actually saw it coming) deep into right-center for a three run home run. Three batters in, it's 3-0 Chicago. Jermaine Dye later singled, but the three runs was all they would get.

A couple of ground outs and then Markakis is robbed by a sliding Dye in right as the O's go down 1-2-3.

Good job by Loewen to come back with a perfect second inning - ending it by striking out Nick Swisher.

A strike-out by Millar and a ground out to second (in right field via shift) by Huff start the second. Luke Scott singles to extend his hitting streak to four, and reaches first to a chorus of LUUUUUUKE. That brings up Adam Jones, promoted to the #7 spot in the line-up. Chicago starter Jose Contreras looks like he'll be tough on righties, as he really drops down to them. Jones grounds out to short, but I'm pretty impressed with how he hung in there and worked the count.

Loewen's front shoulder is opening up too soon and that's causing the ball to sail up and away. After falling behind 2-0 to Orlando Cabrera, he throws a couple of strikes and gets a ground out to short. Thome gets ahead 3-1 and hits one into the corner in right. He test Nick's arm and tries for second, and just makes it in there. Loewen does a nice job against Paul Konerko and gets a pop-up into short right-center. Markakis come flying in and slide, but can't make the catch. In a heads-up move he comes up firing as Thome tries to go to third and gets him by a couple of steps. Adam then walks Dye to put two on with two outs. He's thrown a lot of pitches at this point (59), but AJ Pierzynksi does him a favor and flies out to center on a first pitch curveball to end the inning.

God dammit. Buck Martinez is talking about how doubles are sometimes better than home runs because (and I'm paraphrasing) "a pitcher turns around and there's a guy on second base." What about him turning around a seeing that he's given up more runs on the scoreboard? A home run is the worst thing that a pitcher can give up - always. Home runs don't kill rallies. They don't. Period. (As long as your definition of "rally" is scoring a bunch of runs.) Home runs score more runs faster. They're like self-contained mini-rallies.

Anyway, the Orioles go down quietly again. A quick inning for Loewen would be really good. At this rate he won't get out of the fifth.

3-2 count: walk. 1-2: ground out. 3-2: swinging strike-out on a wild pitch. 1-2: catches Swisher looking on a back-door curveball. So, gets ahead -> good results. He's thrown 83 pitches already.

Mora lines one up the middle, but Contreras gets a piece of it and it rolls to the second baseman, who throws Melvin out at first. Markakis learns from Mora, and lines it over the pitcher's head into center for a single. Millar follows that up with a single to right and Nick flies around and goes to third. Huff grounds one down to third - Joe Crede displays good range to get to the ball in foul territory, but his spinning throw is off line. Markakis scores to make it 3-1, and Millar goes to third on the error. That brings Luuuuuke up as the go-ahead run. He has a nice at bat, but ends up striking out. Adam Jones grounds out to end the inning, but the O's are on the board, and seem to be adjusting to Contreras.

A third lead-off walk brings Thome up. This is Loewen's last inning. Hopefully he can finish it. Thome is finally retired, on a fly ball to center. Konerko pops out, but Adam walks Dye on four pitches. Luuuuuke makes a perfect throw to home on a single by Pierzynksi to left. Ramon doesn't even need to move, and Cabrera is out to end the inning.

The O's can't build on their momentum, and go down in order. Still 3-1. Some runs would be nice.

Why is Adam Loewen back out there? He's thrown 99 pitches. He threw 30 innings last year due to an arm injury. I understand Trembley wants to save the pen, but it's not like his last inning was an easy one. He may finish over 120. Even 110 wouldn't be good. Thank goodness he sent them down in order. It worked out OK, but why take that kind of risk? Would he have been removed if he got a long out and then the next guy battled for 10 pitches? Two outs with none on, but already 115 pitches?

Jim Johnson comes in to relieve Loewen, and pitches a perfect seventh. He K's Thome to end the frame.

Contreras is throwing all kinds of slop up there, but the O's batters can't do anything with it. I get the impression that the team has tended to have problems with this kind of pitcher before.

Johnson throws another perfect inning. He is getting that fastball into the mid 90's with some sinking action. This is why I think the pitching will be OK - if a young guy (or Trachsel) is struggling, then they can just bring another young guy up from the minors to take his place. There is a lot of depth in AAA, and most of those guys will be "ready" for the majors at some point this year.

It'll need to be a comeback against the Sox pen, as Scott Linebrink is in there. Jay Payton pinch-hits for Fahey, and hits a slower roller towards third. Crede lets it go, but it stays fair and Payton is on with a one-out single. A Roberts pop-up and Mora K end the inning. They'll be down at least 2 against Jenks in the ninth.

Bradford comes in and set the Sox down in order. Rally time.

Jenks has some really gross looking facial-hair. Doesn't stop him from throwing 95 though. Markakis falls behind 0-2, and takes a change-up just a hair off the outside corner. He really does have a good eye up there. Too bad he still can't catch up to the high fastball - one down. Millar flies out to right, and then Huff grounds into the shift again. The O's drop a second in a row, and a 6th out of the last 9, 3-1. Hey, they're still over .500 and Loewen pitched poorly, but only gave up that three run homers. Considering all of the pitches by Adam, it was a pretty quick game - about two and a half hours.

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