Monday, July 7, 2008

O's-Rangers, Texas Brought The Heat With Them

After a split with the Royals, the O's hosted the Texas Rangers and their powerful line-up - Josh Hamilton is leading the league in RBI by about 20.

July 4th: O's - 10, Rangers - 4

The Good: The offense actually getting Jeremy Guthrie some run-support, with all nine guys getting on base - Freddie Bynum drove in three out of the lead-off spot, and Markakis, Millar, Jones, and Fahey all had two hits; the bullpen pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, with JJ lowering his ERA to 1.14.

The Bad: Guthrie actually needed the support, giving up 4 runs on 8 hits in 6.1 IP. Not terrible, but not good either.

July 5th: O's - 3, Rangers - 5

The Good: Nick went 2-4 with a double and two RBI; Dennis Sarfate pitched two perfect innings with a pair of K's.

The Bad: Despite the 12 baserunners, the O's could only score three against Scott Feldman, and were shutout by the Texas pen; Brian Burres gave up 9 hits (and three runs) in 5.2 innings of work - this pitching staff is starting to crumble; speaking of which, Greg Aquino is back and gave up a run on three hits and a walk in his one inning.

July 6th: O's - 10, Rangers - 11

I went to this game because I really thought the team would break it's Sunday win-less streak (and thus net me a free ticket for later). The weather was awful - only in the mid 80's but very humid. Plus, we were in the sun most of the game and there was rarely a breeze. It was a "Barry Zito circa 2005" type day, weather-wise. Anyway, when the O's went down 11-5 I said that they would score five more runs - that way they would still lose but we would have to sit in the heat for an additional hour. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be right, though the mini-comeback was pretty exciting.

The Good: 10 runs on 15 hits is pretty good, with Brian Roberts (2-5, HR, 2 SB), Nick Markakis (3-5, three-run HR to make it 11-8 which landed about three row behind us in right-center field), Kevin Millar (4-4, HR in the ninth to make it 11-9), Adam Jones (3-5), and Melvin Mora (pinch-hit HR in the ninth to make it 11-10) being the the big contributors.

The Bad: The pitching was terrible - Liz had good stuff but couldn't find the plate (3.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 4 K) and the Rangers hit the ball hard off of him a lot (and there were a ton of foul balls); Adam Loewen pitched a scoreless inning but walked two and left with an elbow injury (I honestly don't think he'll ever be an impact starter in the big leagues); Fernando Cabrera and Chad Bradford kept the Rangers off the board, but with the score close at 6-5, the normally reliable Jim Johnson (two outs recorded, four runs on three hits and a walk) and George Sherrill (a pair of walks in the inning and the 11th and deciding run) laid a big egg in the eighth (this was, ironically, after we found out that Sherrill was named to the All-Star team). The loss though, I'm pinning on Ramon Hernandez, Jay Payton, and Freddie Bynum. Ramon was really bad behind the plate - he didn't block balls in the dirt and I think he contributed to the poor pitching by calling a bad game (as is his MO); Payton went 0-5 and seemed determined to swing at the first pitch regardless of what kind of control issues the pitcher was having; and Bynum just kind of sucked a short, including throwing away a potential double play ball that would have gotten JJ out of the eighth.

Another Sunday, another Orioles loss. The team is now just one game above .500 at 44-43, and travels up north to face the last-place Blue Jays. By the way, the Orioles are about as close to Boston (6 games back) as the Red Sox are to the Rays (5 back). I think about the O's chances of winning the AL East in the near future, and I shudder a little.

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