Tuesday, June 3, 2008

O's-Twins, Thin Liz Not Wild One Tonight

Radhames Liz makes his first start of the season against aptly-named soft-tosser Kevin Slowey. He's not quite Jamie Moyer, but his 88-90 is pretty far away from Liz's 95-97.

After getting ahead 1-2, Slowey tries to get Nick to chase a high fastball. Markakis takes it, and then lines the next pitch (an off-speed offering) for a single. Huff hits the ball to deep center, but Carlos Gomez catches it just shy of the warning track. O's don't score in the first.

Good start for Liz, getting ahead of Gomez 0-2 before Carlos lines out to a sliding Markakis in right. The ump seems to have a wide zone, which should be a benefit to Rady (Radhy? Rad-Ham? OK, just Liz then). Alexi Casilla pops out on the second pitch. Two down for Joe Mauer, who inherited Brady Anderson's role of "best sideburns guy". Liz throw a nice slider over for a strike to him, but then can't find the plate with the fastball and walks him. Then he starts Morneau with two fastballs high. After Ramon was a talk with him, Liz settles down and ends up striking Morneau out swinging on a good slider (change-up? It looked like a slider to me, but Gameday has it as a change - whatever it was, it was good) down and in.

MILL-AH, as the say in Boston, gives the O's a 1-0 lead. Kevin's policy on curveballs is "you hang 'em, we'll bang 'em". (I'm sorry for that, but it's what popped into my head.) The Metrodome is not a homer friendly stadium, and that's Millar's first there in his career. Luke Scott hits a grounder up the middle that shortstop Brendan Harris dives to get, but Luke beat the throw to first. Jason Bartlett (traded to TBR for Harris & others) would have made that play. Razor keeps the hits coming, going with a fastball on the outside corner into right for a double. Two on with none out for yesterday's hero, Adam Jones. A flyball to center scores Scott, but Ramon gets caught between second and third trying to tag. More bad baserunning from the O's may cost them a run here. Bynum flies out to end the inning.

[While I have a minute here, I'd like to mention both my extreme sadness and my extreme happiness at the designation of The Pelican, Luis Hernandez, for assignment. If nobody claims him (and really, who would?) he will report to Norfolk. I'm sad that I won't have the opportunity to talk about the Pelican anymore (probably), but he has absolutely no place on this team with Cintron and Bynum already present and superior options. Neither guy is a major leaguer, but they are both AAA guys, where Luis is a AA guy. Fly free, Pelican, fly free.]

Liz can at least field his position OK, snagging a Cuddyer grounder and throwing him out at first. Three-up-three down go the Twins. Liz is still missing high a lot - I'm going to try to see if I can pick up why in his motion. Keep in mind that I am a horrible scout, regardless of how many times I see someone else do a break-down of a player.

1-2-3 for Slowey in the third.

1-2-3 for Liz in the third. Including a strike-out of Gomez. Ha - take that Slowey.

Touche, Slowey. Huff strikes out looking at the tailing "Maddux" fastball on the inside corner. Jeez, maybe I shouldn't laugh at the opposition anymore. Millar goes down swinging. He even outfields Liz, jumping to get a come-backer of the bat of Scott, and throwing him out.

"I'll see your inning, and raise you a three-pitch K of Casilla," says Liz. Morneau singles in the inning, but is left stranded. It was very good for Liz to have his first start against a generally free-swinging (and not very good) offense.

Adam Jones falls behind 0-2, fouls of a few pitches, and then takes a ball way down and away to center for a single. Then he gets himself into scoring position with one out by stealing second. Bynum flies out to center, and Jones feints going to third. Carlos Gomez has a cannon out there - maybe better than Jones'. Brain Roberts hits a high flyball to right, just over the glove of a jumping Cuddyer and off the baggy. Jones scores, and Brian goes into third with a triple. Nick smokes one, but it's right to Delmon Young in left. This Twins outfield is one of the best collection of throwing-arms around. Inning over, but the O's take a 3-0 lead.

Another perfect inning for Liz, including a looking K of Young. He threw a 95 mph fastball on the outside black.

Jeremy Guthrie is jealous, as Melvin Mora hits a solo homer to make it 4-0. That's it for the O's, but Liz is making four runs stand-up really well so far. This offense isn't particularly good, but they are showing some solid pop so far this year (4th in the AL in HR).

Nick Markakis makes a nice running catch in foul territory before being caught by George Sherrill in the O's bullpen area. Gomez lines a ground-rule double to deep left-center. Casilla follows it with a regular double, and there goes the shutout. Mauer doubles just inside the bag at first to make it 4-2. That'll end Liz's night, as Matt Albers will be coming in. While his control was a bit shaky, Liz pitched pretty well (5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K). I was especially encouraged by his ability to throw his off-speed stuff over. I think that with some work with Rick Kranitz, he should be able to improve his fastball command and become an effective starter. My earlier fears of him having to be relegated to the pen have been calmed a bit. Albers does his job, getting Morneau to pop-out and Cuddyer to K swinging.

Razor takes new pitcher Juan Rincon off the baggy in right for a double. A wild pitch gets Ramon to third with no outs. Jones fouls a pitch off his foot and goes to the ground. He gets up and promptly lines the next pitch up the middle for a single. 5-2 O's, but Adam is limping around at first. That's it for Rincon, as Craig Breslow comes in. He throws his own wild pitch, allowing Jones to get to second. Bynum drops down a "sac" bunt, but beats it out for a hit. Runners on the corners with no outs. Roberts flies out to center, but Gomez's strong throw keep Jones at third. Breslow picks Bynum off of first, gets in a run=down, avoids a tag, but eventually gets caught, all without Jones getting a chance to score. Now it'll take a hit from Nick to bring Adam in - or another wild pitch. He hits it hard to center, but Gomez is there. All that and they only get the one run.

Jason Kudel works a lead-off walk against Albers, who actually gets to stay in this game. He comes back to get Young swinging with a sinker boring in on his hands. Mike Lamb draws a four pitch walk. This pattern is OK, as he'll get the third K with the bases loaded but none in. Nope. Harris singles to center to make it 5-2. Gomez goes up swinging and lines the second pitch to Scott. Casilla grounds out to first to end the rally. Now Walker can pitch to Mauer and Morneau in the eighth, with maybe Bradford coming in for Cuddyer.

With two outs, Huff singles to center and then Scott beats out a slow roller to third. Breslow is out with Ramon coming up. Jesse Crain gets him to pop out.

It will be JJ instead of Walker despite the lefties. Mauer singles, but Johnson comes back to get Morneau swinging. Kubel draws a two-out walk, to put the tying run on for Delmon Young. JJ gets him to flyout to short center to end the inning.

Jones hits it into the left-center gap, but Young runs it down. Roberts hits a two-out double but is left stranded. It's George Sherrill time in the ninth.

Pop-up to first - one out. Slider bending over the plate for strike three - two out. Fly ball to right - three out. Thanks, George, for just getting it over with quickly.

The O's outhit the Twins 13 to 6, and get the 5-3 win. I'm very happy with what I saw all around. Liz looked (relatively) good, and the offense was (relatively) impressive, with everyone but Huff getting a hit and several balls being hit very hard. The team is back to one game below .500 at 28-29, and have a good chance to get even with Daniel Cabrera going tomorrow.

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