Thursday, April 9, 2009

O's-Yankees, Finally Someone Who Throws Strikes

Due to softball practice yesterday (go Chiefs!), I missed the first couple of innings of the O’s game, and was a bit too tired to write anything about the rest of it.

For the first time since 1997 – which is the last year the team had a winning record – the Orioles will have a chance to start a season 3-0, after picking up their second win of the year with a 7-5 victory over the Yankees.

Observations about the game:
  • Koji Uehara didn't look all that impressive, but it may be because I'm not used that that kind of pitching. He only threw a couple of breaking balls the entire game, with everything else working off of the fastball - going from straight four-seamers to two-seamers to cutters to change-ups to splitters. Some of them had a lot of movement, though without having a breaking pitch to compare it to it was hard to notice. I imagine that for a hitter it can be somewhat difficult, with the same arm-speed on every pitch resulting in slightly differing break anywhere from 76 to 90 mph. Maybe that'll be enough to keep hitters off-balance his first couple times through the league. Koji was around the plate most of the night, and let his defense help him out (1 BB to Jeter leading off the game, and 5 H in 5 IP). The Yankees’ line-up hasn’t looked to good the last couple of games, but they’re still the Yankees and Koji did hold them to one run.
  • One of the problems with using several relievers in each game is that you’re liable to run into one having an off night. That turned out to be Sarfate, who walked two and gave up a home run that made it necessary to bring George Sherrill in for the ninth.
  • As easy as it is to not like the guy – both for his struggles on the mound and for what they are costing – Danys Baez looked really good. It took him just 20 pitches to get through two perfect innings (with a K – the only one of the night for the Birds), and his fastball showed a lot of life (and velocity – the radar gun, which I assume was 1-2 mph fast, had him touching 95). There’s almost no way he’ll be worth $7 M this year, but Baez could still be an important contributor to the pen.
  • More patience at the plate; the team drew six more walks, with Nick Markakis and even Felix Pie getting a free pass. Wearing down opposing staffs is one of the things that make the Yankees and Red Sox line-ups so effective.
  • Adam Jones only had one hit – a first inning RBI double that I didn’t see – but he still looked good at the plate. And he showed tremendous range in the outfield, running down a flyball in the later innings that looked like a sure-fire double when it left the bat.
  • Markakis is teh awesome, going 3-3 with the aforementioned walk and a home run. It was a bomb too, traveling 420 ft. (he had only two home runs last year that went farther). Maybe Nick decided that instead of walking 100 times this year, he’d just rather hit 35 HR. He also made a diving catch in right-field that the announcers were gushing over, but Adam Jones would have been able to make the play without having to hit the grass. Nick’s a good right-fielder, but it’s more because he has a great arm than because of his range (which is around average).
  • Felix Pie looked pretty bad at the plate. On his one strike-out, he swung at a pitch that started a foot outside, and ended up two feet outside. He is a project, and everyone knew that when the team acquired him.
  • Overall, the O’s line-up was once again impressive and deep, with everyone but Cesar Izturis (who had an RBI) getting on base.
Maybe the team will go wire-to-wire again, like they did back in ’97. I don’t know the results of today’s game yet (I’m about to watch a replay of it) but as of this morning the O’s had first-place all to themselves in the AL East.

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