Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Raise Your Hand If You Saw This Coming

Who has the best record in baseball? That would be the 6-1 Baltimore Orioles. The Birds took their winning streak on the road today, as they beat up on Texas 8-1. Brian Burres was solid in his first start of the year (6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K) and the bullpen did the job again as Matt Albers pitched two shutout innings (all be it with shaky control) and K'ed 4, and Greg Aquino came back from the HR he gave up to Richie Sexson last week to pitch a perfect ninth, including two K's. That Richie Sexson two run HR is all the bullpen has given up this year. They've gone 24 1/3 IP, with 10 H, 5 BB, 19 K, and a 0.74 ERA. The 1.8 BB/9 and 7.0 K/9 are specially nice to see. I know they won't keep this up all year, but it does give me some confidence when the team has a lead - or, the way the offense is going, even when they're down.

Scott Moore gets his first start of the year, and hits a solo HR. Luke Scott went 2-4 and is batting an even .500 on the season - he also homered. Aubrey Huff continued his hot start going 4-4 with 4 RBI, and just barely missing a HR of his own as the ball went off the top of the wall. The Pelican is still playing well, getting a hit and a walk. He also lived up to his name and sacrificed Adam Jones to third after a lead-off double. Brian Roberts singled to bring him in.

If the Pelican keeps hitting well, then he may be allowed to swing away in that situation later in the year. He's certainly making a case to keep his job, even with Alex Cintron in the organization. When comparing him to Brandon Fahey, there is a noticeable drop-off. Brandon has 3 K's in 5 AB. The Pelican has 2 in 11 AB, but he's also walked 3 times. I'll take a .230 average, if he can work the count and get his OBP up in to the low .300 range. Especially if he continues playing defense the way he has so far.

On the radio, someone credited the win the the O's playing small-ball, citing the sac bunt. The team hit two HR and almost a third, and had great pitching. It had approximately 1% to do with small-ball.

Great job by the team all around. Nick Markakis still isn't hitting for any power, and the offense is still producing. That gives me confidence that when the guys who are hitting well cool off, there shouldn't be much of a loss in total productivity.

Aubrey Huff currently has an OPS of .845, while his career April OPS is .710. If he keeps hitting this well till the All-Star break (career .763 OPS pre-ASB), how good is he going to be in the second half (career .865 OPS). He might carry the team through the dog days all my himself.

Dave Trembley is planning on giving Scott Moore starts at first base, as well as second, in the near future. I like that not only is he giving him some at bats (the guy can hit), but that he is showing enough confidence in his defensive abilities that he's willing to put him at different positions.

Trembley is also doing a good job managing the pen. Everyone is being used; the best relievers (Walker, Bradford, Sherrill) are only in there when the score is close; and he's putting trust in guys like Randor and Sarfate. Some managers would only use one or two different relievers when the score was close, relegating three or four guys to mop-up duty. He brought a rookie in with no outs and the bases loaded, and Randor got the job done. Being able to have the 4th or 5th guys on the depth chart come in in important situations should keep everyone out there fresh - or at least fresher than they were last year.

I know the O's aren't a contender - they won't win even 80 games without a great deal of luck - but they look nothing like a 100 loss team. I'll be happy with 75 wins, and I think that's a reasonable number. I don't think that's a crazy thing to say, even if it might have been a week ago.

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