Saturday, April 19, 2008

O's-Yankees, Game In April -> O's Win

As always when watching Daniel Cabrera pitch, you just never know what you're going to get. Well against the Yankees, we got what is hopefully the new Cabrera - 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Daniel had a somewhat long first inning, but had a good fastball, sitting at 94-97. The second inning was about the same, as he hit Hideki Matsui but got a double play. The third inning went unlike almost any inning I've ever seen from Daniel - he threw 5 pitches... total. They were all fastballs, and he retired the all three batters. With the game still scoreless, Daniel had a scare in the fourth. Bobby Abreu singled past Melvin Mora (who tried to back-hand the grounder and missed), and moved to second on an A-Rod grounder. Matsui singled to right field, but Nick Markakis made a strong throw to cut Abreu down at the plate to end the inning.

The O's took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth and, as is his custom, Daniel gave the lead right back. After Robinson Cano singled, Cabrera struck Jason Giambi out. I had been calling for a change-up all game, and he finally threw one to get Giambi swinging (though it was in the zone anyway). A Melky Cabrera double put runners on the corners with one out. Chad Moeller then hit a ground ball to Melvin Mora at third. Mora couldn't handle it, allowing the runner to score. Daniel was able to get out of the inning without any more damage, but he threw a lot of pitches.

The top of the sixth started well, with Abreu grounding out. Then Cabrera got into some trouble again, and I place a lot of the blame there on Ramon Hernandez. Daniel had been having success throwing his fastball and mixing in the occasional slider or change, but in the sixth he got away from that. To A-Rod he threw two of each pitch - walking him. Matsui go three fastballs and two sliders, getting hit with a pitch again. Cano took a change-up for a ball before flying out on a fastball. Giambi got two sliders, two change-ups and four fastablls - he walked. With the bases loaded, Daniel struck Melky out swinging on a slider. He didn't give up a run, but he threw a lot of pitches. I would like to see Cabrera continue with what brought him success against the Rays - pound them with the fastball, throw a change-up every once in a while, and throw the slider when ahead in the count to try to get some swinging strikes.

In the bottom of the frame, the O's put a 7 spot on the board. They batted around, with Nick Markakis getting two line-drive singles in the inning (he was 3-3 with a walk in the game - man is he a great hitter), and Jay Payton coming up with a 2 run pinch-hit single. Luke Scott went 2-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI, and is hitting .389 on the year. It's only a matter of time before he's in the clean-up spot. Anyway, the O's went up 8-1. The game had been pretty exciting, and that inning was great. It did make the rest of the game a little boring, but I'll take it when the O's are the team with the big lead.

Despite having already thrown 103 pitches and sitting for the long half-inning, Daniel was sent back in for the seventh. He really looked done, as he started out Chad Moeller with three straight balls on fastballs between 89-91. Moeller ended up hitting an opposite field homer to make it 8-2, and then Randor Bierd came in from the pen. I don't understand how Bierd's change-up is so good, when it's at 82-84 while his fastball is at 85-88. You ideally want a 10 mph difference, but he's basically throwing a similar looking pitch at slightly varying speeds. But hey, as long as it's working I won't complain too much - and Randor hasn't given up a run yet. A couple of seeing-eye grounders put two on with none out, but Bierd was fortunate to have line-drives by Abreu and A-Rod hit right at people. Jamie Walker came in to get Matsui, and stayed on to pitch a perfect eighth. Matt Albers did likewise in the ninth, and the Orioles took game one from the Yankees 8-2. The go to 10-7, and stay a half game behind Boston i the East.

For the season, the O's have scored 77 runs, when their OBP and SLG would suggest that they should be at 73. The offense is in the middle of the pack, but would be a bit better if they can get their walk rate up. Their OBP is below average at .328, even with Nick Markakis being pitched around so much. The team's BABIP is only .279 though, so their batting average should come up a bit and bring the OBP with it - especially considering their slightly above average line-drive rate of 20%. The low ground ball rate (42%) is nice to see, as the home runs should start coming a bit more frequently.

On the pitching side, their ERA is 4.44 while their fielding independent ERA is 5.25. The team is still walking too many (3.9 per game) but he real problem is the high HR rate (1.3 per game - most in the league) and the low K rate (5.2 per game).

Their RS (77) and RA (77) numbers imply that the team should be at .500 (though that's impossible as they've played 17 games, so flip a coin between 9-8 and 8-9) and their underlying play implies that the RS and RA number should be about 73 and 91, which would be a 7-10 record. That would work out to a 65 win season. Hopefully their skills improve to match their record, instead of the other way around.

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