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Two Big Games, One Open Thread

Two losses in Texas last night and suddenly the Orioles are “just” 6-3. No longer a juggernaut, now simply a team playing good baseball on average.

Washington Capitals Alex OvechkinWhile I think last night was a big test, I think tonight (and the whole Devil Rays series) is an even bigger one. It’s imperative for the O’s to shake off the doubleheader loss, attack James Shields, and run the Rays out of the building. A rainout and a doubleheader will kill any team’s momentum, so the only thing to do is head out there and get it right back.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here: if the Orioles get swept this weekend in Tampa, we’d better forget the past week ever happened. Fast.

Meanwhile, there’s another big game tonight as the surging Capitals open up their quest for the Stanley Cup against the hated Phlyers. It’s not going to be an easy matchup by any means, but they do enjoy both significant confidence (gained from a blazing hot finish) and home-ice advantage. If you’re not already a hockey fan, the playoffs are the best time to become one. Give ‘em a shot this year.

39 comments to Two Big Games, One Open Thread

  • dan the man

    What does everyone think about DT tinkering with the lineup and giving Roberts that first game off, starting Fahey, Moore, Payton, etc. With the rain out day off, you’d think it wouldn’t really be that necessary to rest guys for that first game, at least. To Trembley’s credit, he’s stuck to his word about playing Moore and the rest of the bench.

    I’m not saying it’s a big deal – just not sure it was all that necessary. Thoughts? I just think double-headers really throw in wrench in everything and they piss me off.

    Shields scares me. As does Tampa’s lineup. I want to beat them badly. Let’s see if Huff continues hitting.

    GO OS

  • Greg

    Can someone tell me how Loewen is different from Cabrera at this point? Both are alleged to have filthy stuff, were both highly touted prospects, are both known to have flashes of brilliance, but overall the walks and poor control overshadow anything worthwhile they may have accomplished to this point? I’d hate to see Loewen become the Cabrera Experiment part two, but I’m failing to see how any of Loewens shortcomings this season are still part of “shaking off the rust”. He’s already pitched like, 5 games since coming back on the team and he’s still leaving his fastball up, walking batters and everyone is giving him the benefit of the doubt.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    The difference is Loewen is just barely 24 and Cabrera is almost 27. Loewen has a few years where he should develop into a good starter…it’s incredibly rare for a guy to just be a dominant starting pitcher out the gate (which is what made Liriano and Cueto so impressive). Also Adam’s left handed, which will always make him more valuable than Cabrera.

    A valid comparison, perhaps, would be to Adam Loewen in just his first full season now (he had half a year in 2006 and a month in 2007) versus Erik Bedard in his first full season here – remember, Erik had the hardest damn time being efficient and had plenty of walks for the longest time.

    So, Bedard in 2004 threw 137 innings (give or take) gave up 83 runs (70 earned), threw 149 hits and 71 walks with 121 strikeouts.

    That’s not very impressive, but he was young (just 25, I think) and that’s just how it went.

    Loewen’s projections for the year, by the way, are (courtesy of ZiPS) 97 IP, 96 hits, 57 BB, 74 K, and 49 ER. I think the innings are maybe low (depends on his health, really, but I don’t think he’s at a high level of risk this year for injury), but the rest is what it is: a young pitcher in his first full season in the big leagues.

    Way too early to give up on Loewen.

  • dan the man

    It’s definitely way too early to give up on Loewen, I just wish we had an option. Fortunately, he’s not a head case like Cabrera, so getting hit around for awhile at the major league level shouldn’t stunt his growth too much. You’re right about Bedard – he was almost as infuriating to watch in his earlier years. He had a nibbling problem, though, whereas Loewen has a “just can’t physically throw strikes” problem. Pretty big difference, I think, as Erik was never really wild in his first couple of years.

    I want aggression tonight from the O’s. Hit and runs. Steals. Double steals. Bunts. Fundamentals. We got our best pitcher on the mound, let’s scratch out a win against Shields, damnit. I’m glad we won’t see Edwin Jackson coming off that 8 inning shut out. Speaking of pitching projects… he seems to be going in the direction that Cabrera and Loewen aren’t.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    I want to see the Orioles make Shields work hard. Get that bullpen working early – that’s the way to show off.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    Look at us! Swinging at the first pitch 3 goddamn times in the first inning! We got fucking lucky with Aubrey Huff’s reaching base on the horrendous error. I’ll give Luke Scott some credit since he got a double, but Huff and Mora…well, at least Huff’s been useful so far this year. Melvin Mora – I hate you so much as a ballplayer right now.

  • neal s

    At least Upton bailed Mora out of that error.

    To chime in on Loewen and Cabrera: the worst thing that ever happened to Loewen’s development was that contract. He should be coming back from that injury at Norfolk this year, with Olson or Leicester or Albers in the rotation. I suppose The Lost Season is the best season for him to take his lumps up here, but it’s dangerous business.

    As for Cabrera, I think we already know what we’ve got with him: an inconsistent 4th or 5th starter who will occasionally turn in a dominating performance. There are worse things — we just need to stop expecting more.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    Pretty good pitching matchup so far. Both pitchers have been hit around a bit, Shields got victimized by some terrible defense (Upton let a ball get over his head, the shortstop’s throwing error) and Guthrie got some help from some terrible running (Upton again!)…but they have almost exactly the same pitch count in the mid 50s coming into the 4th. Not great by any means, but we’re benefiting from some good luck (or maybe just youthful mistakes from B.J. Upton).

    We’ve still got to keep the pressure on Shields, knock him out by the end of 6th would be pretty good. Less of those lazy flyballs on the first pitch, please!

  • Andrew in Rochester

    Mora with the slide into first! Definitely the smartest play you can make in baseball.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    Hmm. 95 pitches after 6 innings, could’ve been more but Ramon was thrown out expecting the throw going to the plate when it got cutoff. The shame is that now the bottom of the order leads off the next inning, which totally gives Shields another inning and gives the bullpen that much more rest. Well, shit. At least we’re winning with a nice healthy lead.

    If Guthrie can get through the seventh this will be his most impressive start yet (he’s been hit a bit but he’s been mostly pretty darn good, especially working out of trouble). Overall I’ve been pretty pleased with the team tonight, all said.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    Ugh. You know, this doesn’t look that bad without Luis’ terrible play or Jamie Walker’s one bad pitch. Go figure.

  • dan the man

    I caught glimpses of this game from a bar.

    We are starting to see what this season will really be like, finally, I think.

    You can’t fault DT for bringing in Walker – it was absolutely the right move with three left handers up.

    But Sarfate didn’t really need to be left in there like that. He clearly didn’t have it.

    Meanwhile Moore got optioned for Johnson and all the warm fuzzy “making all the right moves” thing is pretty much dead.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    Leaving Sarfate in for a second inning was stupid. He was wild in his first inning, why keep him in there?

    That said, I’m laying the blame for this one, ironically, on the offense. I know, 10 runs given up, but the offense scored 2 runs for itself last night. If the Rays knew how to play defense, we might’ve been shut out. Granted, Jay Payton was in there instead of Adam Jones (who takes more pitches and hits at least as good as Payton anyway). But com’on. We’ve lost 3 in a row because the offense got stale. And that’ll happen. I’m not gonna get upset because Kevin Millar and Jay Payton aren’t great hitters, or because Melvin Mora swings at the first pitch like constantly (and I read just read a great article about how that’s a bad thing to do…if I can find it I’ll show it to whoever’s interested.

    No, the most important thing that happened last night was Brandon Erbe’s dominating performance down in the minors, and Matt Wieters tearing the cover off the ball.

  • dan the man

    Yeah, no doubt. That’s what’s important. And it’s easy to get down about 3 losses in a row after 6 in a row. I was telling myself it would happen, but I really didn’t want to believe it would. Just because I have so much faith in Trembley. I think he left Sarfate in to spare the other relievers. But… I dunno. I really want to be on board with DT and it’s bugging me that I disagreed with him the last couple of games. Then again, things look right when you’re winning and they look wrong when you’re losing. All that matters for DT is to keep the focus on fundamentals, and keep the players playing as a team. In-game decisions take a distant backseat to the Big Picture, which is being on board with MacPhail and keeping an eye towards the future.

    That being said, this team needs a win right now.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    I haven’t really had a problem with how Trembley’s managed the bullpen until last night because the workload has been spread around pretty equally (Walker 3.66, Chadford 3.33, Sarfate 4.66, Sherrill 3.66, Bierd5, Albers 6.33, and Aquino 3) but that was just a stupid move, it really was.

    Tonight, there’s no excuse! Jason Hammel has been terrible at the Trop, against us, and in general. However, we lost Scott Moore (for Jim Johnson…who’ll probably go into the bullpen and let Albers start on Monday) and the Rays gained Evan Longoria(!). But really, the offense got untracked (though they DID do a grand job of working Shields down, especially considering he’s a strike thrower) and needs to get popped back into place.

    And maybe Cabrera finally gets it tonight!!!!!!

    Okay, so I’m predicting something like a 11-9 game. Go O’s!

  • neal s

    Bless the Devil Rays for making it just too easy.

    I really don’t like the 13 pitchers thing, and nor do I like sending Moore to Norfolk. But then I remind myself that this is The Lost Season and all bets are off. Do what you gotta do.

    That was fun while it lasted, no? Back to the sobering reality that is Orioles baseball 2008.

  • dan the man

    It was fun. Real fun. And hopefully it really, truly, honestly is a sign of the kind of fun we’ll be having in the future.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    I understand the 13 pitchers thing right now. If we were planning on having Johnson start on Monday, then I really don’t get it, but as it is, we can’t use Albers or any of the 5 starters in relief tonight or Sunday because the 6 of them are resting up for a start. So we need that long guy in there, especially because Cabrera can explode at any moment, and Brian Burres can’t be expected to go long every time out. So we need the extra bullpen guy.

    In the meantime, we had to get rid of someone. It couldn’t be Jay Payton, obviously, nor could it be Quiroz (we’d need another catcher). So it had to be Scott Moore, Brandon Fahey, or Luis Hernandez. Problem is, if we got rid of Fahey or Hernandez, we’d have no backup SS and they’d have to stay in the game the whole time. Get rid of Moore for 10 days, and you get to pinch hit Payton (or Jones or Scott) for Hernandez’s last at bat and then sub in Fahey (or vice versa). So I get it. It’s a shame, though, because I like Scott Moore a ton. He’ll be back though.

    In the meantime…Luis had a terrible game last night. A throwing error ona routine play, a Tejada-esque fielding botch on a routine play (which resulted in that runner scoring on the Pena home run part deux). Ugh. Terrible.

  • Mike L

    8 unanswered runs last night. reality check time. I trust DT can get the boys back on track tonight though. He cant get them fired back up i’m sure. enstill some pride, and remind them who they represent when the take the field. The city of baltimore, thats who.

    I’m gonna say we get it back together, and the O’s win 7-4.

  • Mike L

    i meant he CAN get them fired back up

  • dan the man

    Andrew, that’s right on about why Moore was sent down instead of Fahey. I was listening to the manager’s show on HFS just now and DT confirmed it’ll be Albers starting that one day, with Johnson being the long reliever. It also sounded like Moore wouldn’t really be back up here until there’s a chance for him to start. DT didn’t say that explicitly, but he did say he wanted to Moore to get at bats and play everyday and “eventually, he’ll be an everyday major leaguer”, which really leads me to think we won’t see him again until one of Millar, Huff, or Mora are traded and they can plug him in at 1st or 3rd.

    Also, Fahey should only be here until Bynum is back in my opinion.

    DT also mentioned that Ray felt better than he’s ever felt and that he admitted to some arm soreness before and after games in the past. Fernando Cabrera apparently has straightened out his mechanics and is looking real nice (believe it when I see it), and Bynum is chomping at the bit to get back.

    On leaving Sarfate in that second inning… I thought about it and I can kind of see where DT was coming from. You have to see what your guys can do in the face of adversity. I’m willing to bet DT won’t leave him in a second inning in the future if he proves to be as wild in his first inning of work. Seems like one of those tests, but still arguably a dumb move.

  • dan the man

    Also.. Johnson has no plus pitch in my opinion and I don’t care what he does in AAA, he’s terrible each and every time he gets a cup of coffee in the bigs. Here’s to hoping we won’t need a long reliever. Ha.

  • dan the man

    Jamie, Jamie, Jamie, Jamie….

    /sigh

    The Rays could beat the O’s with a lineup of 8 infants and Carlos Pena.

  • dan the man

    Last person I expected to be clutch with 2 outs in the 9th was Ramon. Way to go Razor!

  • dan the man

    Just watched the highlight… he had a picnic at home plate watchin that thing go out… gotta love that shit.

    SHERRILL, BOY.

  • dan the man

    Oh yeah… D-cab G/B/U: 1/2/0

  • Andrew in Rochester

    For one, I hate hate hate it when players do that. I looked at my girlfriend who was watching with me and said “He Manny Ramirezed that ball”. It wasn’t a compliment.

    Second, I didn’t catch Cabrera pitching at all tonight. His box score is certainly impressive, but how’d he look out there? Obviously, Dan was impressed.

  • dan the man

    Come ooonnn dude, I don’t get how people hate that kind of thing. Isn’t that what makes it fun to watch? Especially with guys on your own team? With the winning run? It’s not like its nearly as bad as anything the Ravens have been doing for years.

    I didn’t see Cabrera pitch either, but I was following on the Gameday thing (which has gotten much better this year) and it seemed like he had a few sharp innings and a few innings in which he struggled to throw strikes, but you have to like the line that he ended up with, especially since he worked into the 7th. Apparently, he had been working with Kranitz on his slider and the plan was to throw that instead of his curveball, and he did according to Gameday. Not sure why he went away from throwing it in the first place…

  • Mike L

    And the award for the most likely to resemble Danyz Baez goes too………..drum roll please…………………….

    JAMIE WALKER

    I thought it was an instant replay from the night before. same pitch, same placement, same swing, and the ball ended up exactly where the last one did. seeing as how sherrill is the only other lefty in the pen, this could pose as a problem. That is the only reason i could see walker being in there is for the lefty vs. lefty matchup. He should have never faced pena after allowing the homer the night before. Also this makes for his 3rd straight game making an apperance. Lets see some more Bierd. Maybe from now on DT will just go with the righty who can pitch to the outside of the lefties. Maybe backdoor em.

    I would love to see a starter get a win sometime. Cabrera had a hell of a game. I saw part of the game at work. The line for Wheeler this season. 5.1 IP, 4K, 0BB, 0ER, 0H. Of all guys, Ramon bombs one out. Jaime owes Ramon a big old carne asada dinner.

    Rubber match. Lets start a new streak.

  • Mike L

    Also, very much off topic, but is anyone else watching the final round of the masters tomorrow, or am I the only one who doesnt find golf, eh, boring to watch. The weather conditions are supposed to be nasty, 25-30 mph winds, and rain, which means the scores will likely drop. Its anyones win.

    Masters all day, O’s-Rays @ 1:40, and Caps-Flyers @ 2:00. My remote will be tired be days end.

  • neal s

    I’ve been woefully lax in my actual O’s watching for the past few days, so it’s been mostly box scores and recaps for me. That figures to continue today, as well, though I might catch the end.

    Whether DC Cab actually looked good or not I’ll certainly take the results. Although I don’t like this line from the recap: Cabrera, relying almost exclusively on his fastball

    Huge game today, for which I’ll post a proper open thread and some thoughts.

  • neal s

    And, oh, @Mike: come on, man. You’re not serious about the Masters, right?

  • Chris

    why shouldn’t he be serious? it’s a tradition unlike any other, ya jagoff.

  • neal s

    wuddagreenjacquet that is

  • neal s

    Speaking of which, I had a dream a few weeks ago in which I had a couple of beers with Drew Forrester and got into an argument with him about whether or not golf was actually a sport.

    Before the tirades come, full disclosure: I’m fine with golf, I respect the skill level involved, it’s definitely a sport, etc etc etc. But golf on TV? Nope.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    I can watch golf but only with my dad. There’s been plenty of Father’s Days where we’ve sat outside eating crabs and watching some Open or another. But that was before I was Andrew in Rochester. I love playing it, but I can’t muster up the energy to follow the pro circuit.

    I agree that results are important, but this is The Lost Season – the results don’t really count for much. I’m more interested in how he looks – did he show something that was missing, or was it just a lucky day? I’m inclined to believe it was luck, and next week we’ll see the Fugly Danny again real quick, but you never know I guess (especially when you don’t watch the game).

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    hahaha did a NASCAR fan really just make fun of golf?

  • neal s

    Be fair, Ben: I’m a fan of many different kinds of auto racing, not just NASCAR. And even I’ll admit that some of that stuff is hard to watch.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    whatever rainbow warrior!