Friday, May 23, 2008

O's-Rays, Can't Buy A Run

Jeremy Guthrie will try to stop the O's two-game skid against Matt Garza and the Rays. Tampa Bay has been very good at home this year.

Garza has an easy first, ending it by getting Nick looking.

Jeremy counters with a 1-2-3 inning of his own.

Aubrey Huff continues his hot hitting against the Rays, driving a ball deep to right-center. It bounced off the wall and BJ Upton over-ran it, and Huff goes in with a stand-up triple. Garza then walks Millar on four pitches, and he'll be seeing a visit from the pitching coach. Luke Scott can't bring Huff in, popping out in foul territory to Evan Longoria. Ramon gets his bat broken and grounds one weakly to first. Huff is thrown at easily trying to score. Runners on the corners with no outs will be wasted if Adam Jones can't come through with a clutch hit here. Garza doesn't really give him anything to hit, and Jones takes the walk. Freddie Bynum grounds out to leave the bases loaded. Guthrie just can't seem to get any run support.

Carlos Pena hits one deep to right, but Kakes is able to run it down. Whether he really deserves it or not, I think Nick will win a Gold Glove or five in his career. Another 1-2-3 inning for Guts, with Cliff Floyd going down swinging to end it.

The Orioles go down in order again, with Nick striking out (check) swinging this time. Maybe he needs a day off or something, to just taking batting practice and relax.

The Rays get their first baserunner, as Dioner "Bandwagon" Navarro singles to center. That's all though, as they game is scoreless trough three.

Another quick one for Garza, who got his third K (Millar). Pretty good pitching duel going on - hopefully it ends better than yesterday's.

BJ Upton draws a one-out walk, and moves to second as Guthrie's pick-off attempt was off-line. With first base open, Guthrie was careful with Pena and ended up walking him too. Guts comes back to strike out Longoria swinging (boy did he ever swing hard at that high fastball). Then he got Floyd on a check swing (though it looked like the pitch was a strike at the knees anyway) to get out of it.

Ramon starts the fourth with an infield single - nice hustle Razor. Garza twist Jones into knots, and gets the third check-swing K of the game (I don't remember seeing that so often - maybe the pitchers are especially hard to read today). Freddie Bynum lays down a beautiful bunt that Longoria can't do anything with. Two one for the top of the line-up. Roberts pops out to the right of first base, and Pena reaches into the stands to make the catch. Melvin lines softly to first, and the O's again can't get that hit with runners in scoring position. I have to think that that will even out a little over time, and when it does the offense should look much better than it does now. Poor Jeremy.

With one out, Eric Hinske bloops a single over the shortstop. He tries to steal second and then stops half way there. Too bad Ramon's throw bounces in front of Roberts, and Hinske is able to make it in safely. Jason Bartlett walks on a borderline pitch, and that brings up the top of the Rays order. We'll see if they do what the O's couldn't. Iwamura rockets one to deep center field - I though it was an easy double (maybe triple) - but Adam Jones is able to run it down and keep Hinske from advancing. Fantastic play. He (almost) has Corey Patterson's speed, but his instincts out there are better and see he's probably a better outfielder. Carl Crawford comes through in the clutch though, pulling a single through the right side. Nick's throw is not in time, and the Rays take a 1-0 lead. Guthrie gets Upton to ground to Millar to end the inning.

With two outs, Millar doubles into the left-center gap. Can Luke come through (please somebody come through)? Again, Garza doesn't give in with a runner in scoring position, and Scott takes the four pitch walk. Ramon skies one to center. I understand how this can be frustrating to the hitters, but I still don't think that they should swing at pitches out of the zone in an effort to "make something happen". Nick's got it right:
""You really can't do anything about it," Markakis said. "Whether it was a ball or strike, I'm going to stay within my zone. I'm not going to go out of that zone just to put the ball in play. I have a pretty good understanding of what the strike zone is. If they ring me up on a bad pitch, I'll continue to take it. Once you start doing that and going out of the strike zone, you get into bad habits, and that's something that I don't want to start.""
Pena hits the first pitch he sees to center for a lead-off single. Longoria strikes out swinging at a fastball again. Walker and Bradford are warming in the pen. Cliff Floyd goes down for the third time (swinging again). Navarro pops one up for the third out. Guthrie was pitched well enough to win (again), but unless the O's put some runs on the board this inning it won't happen.

Easy inning for Garza. Sorry Guts, it's not your lucky day I guess.

Dave Trembley is looking to get Guthrie a win, leaving him in for the seventh and hoping the Orioles can put some runs on the board. Well, maybe not. After two quick outs, Walker is coming in to face the lefty Iwamura. I actually would feel better having Guthrie face him, given Walker's struggles versus lefties this year. Akinori flies out to left on the first pitch he sees. Come on guys, are a couple runs too much to ask for?

Melvin swings at the first pitch and flies at. Now would be a good time for Nick to hit the ball hard. I don't even care if someone catches it (well, that's not exactly true) - I just want to see some solid contact from this crew. I'll also take a four pitch walk. Really, a couple of the pitches could have been called strikes - I guess once word gets around that you have a good eye up there, you start to get some calls. That's what happens for pitchers like Greg Maddux; he throws so many strikes that the ump just kind of gets into the habit of calling pitches in his favor. That's it for Garza, who looked extremely good (7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K). Trevor Miller in to face Huff. Oh man, Aubrey pulls one down the first base line, but the ump calls it foul. Huff is flipping out, and rightfully so - it was clearly fair. Sometimes when things don't go your way, they really don't go your way. He grounds into a double play on the next pitch. Instant replay, anyone? Seriously, that really sucks.

Walker retires Crawford, and Bradford is coming in to face Upton. Chad gets his usual groundball, but it goes up the middle for a single. Dave Trembley was apparently thrown out of the game while removing Walker, as he started arguing with the umps again. Eh. Bradford is done after one hitter. With Carlos Pena coming up, George Sherrill time will be starting a little early today. Sherrill doesn't throw a pitch, but still manages to let Upton go to third. His pick-off throw was way off-line, allowing BJ to actually think of scoring. Wow. More awesome outfield defense, as Pena lifts one to deep left-field. Luke Scott (who is actually a better defender than Payton, despite the latter being brought in to play left in the later innings) makes an amazing leaping/diving catch on the warning track. Upton scores though. The errors have really hurt today. Without them, it might still be 0-0. Evan Longoria goes down on strikes again. Quick, somebody write an article about how the Rays made a mistake signing him so early.

Troy Percival made a great come-back last season, and now this year with the Rays. He has really helped solidify their bullpen. Millar gets ahead 3-0, but Percival comes back and gets him to pop out. Luke Scott strikes out swinging, and Ramon grounds out to second to end the game.

The Orioles drop a very winnable one, 2-0. Jeremy Guthrie falls to a much undeserved 2-5. The offense is really slumping, top to bottom. They've been shutout in two of their last three games. With Steve Trachsel going tomorrow, it's likely the losing streak will reach four. I'm looking at Daniel Cabrera to continue his turn-around season and really be a stopper. He may need to pitch a shutout himself though.

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