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What a Difference a Week Makes

Orioles pitcher Jason BerkenTravel with me back to Friday, June 12th. The Orioles are entering their weekend series with the Braves on the worst kind of roll. Losers of 7 of 8, they’ve scored just 12 runs in their past six games.

Things would get no better that night, as the Braves knocked Jason Berken out early en route to a 7-2 victory. Dark times settled upon the Charm City, and despair became de rigeur.

Since then the bats have come alive and the team has won 4 of 5. There was a serious hole opening up in the hull of SS Birdland, and they patched it.

Who’d have thought? It’s a strange and beautiful game, this baseball.

Off we go to to play the Phillies, who have lost 6 of 10 and, more recently, three in a row to the Blue Jays. Don’t let that fool you, though: they’re the second-best team in the NL by winning percentage, and they’re leading their division by three games. This series is a big-time challenge for the O’s, and I’ll be content if they can manage to steal just one.

Pitching matchups like so:

Rich Hill vs. Antonio Bastardo (best name in MLB?) tonight
Brad Bergesen vs. J.A. Happ on Saturday
Jeremy Guthrie vs. Cole Hamels on Sunday

(photo via Keith Allison again — this guy is good)

36 comments to What a Difference a Week Makes

  • Kevin

    I think Saturday and Sunday are the real tests. Saturday for Bergy: to see if he can handle the pressure of a big game. Sunday for Guthrie: to see if he’s gonna be what he was last year or if what we are seeing is what we are getting for the year

  • Andrew

    More importantly, the Phillies are a +27 run differential team, fifth best in baseball behind the Dodgers, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, and Yankees (the O’s sit at -55…ahead of only Washington and San Diego). This is due mostly to their prolific offense, best in the NL.

    Combine that fact with one of the bandboxiest ballparks in baseball, and with an Oriole lineup without Luke Scott or Nolan Reimold (but with Melvin Mora – where’s the justice?) and I don’t feel good at all about this series.

    Tonight we’ll see a young rookie in Bastardo for the first time (ugh). Bastardo has been great in the minors and has yet to really make an impression in the majors, as he only has three games under belt (but a messy 5.07 FIP):

    @ San Diego, where he pitched predictably great considering the bottom of the barrel offense (only Seattle has scored fewer runs) and roomy stadium. However, he a) got lucky on the BABIP front, and b) gave up an ugly .23 ground ball to fly ball ratio.

    @ LA, where the BABIP and GB% bounced back but Bastardo was still successful (one walk and no homers will do that for you), but not pitch-efficient; he was gone after just 5 innings.

    vs. Boston, which did not go so well in his home debut: one inning, no ground balls (a big no-no in Philly), three walks, and a homer. To be fair, he was exceptionally unlucky with both the hits allowed and the defense making an error behind him – but that does not take away from the really bad pitching.

    So here’s what I think the key tonight is (besides a fucking miracle from Rich Hill): home runs and deep counts. That sounds trite (because that’s kind of the key to every game), but I’m pretty sure Bastardo won’t be walking too many guys, but he has had the routine rookie pitch efficiency issues, and he has a terrible GB% (doubly so because of Citizen’s Bank Park), so the Orioles need to take advantage and crush the ball and get to the bullpen early.

    And get that miracle game from Rich Hill. I’m not confident in the O’s tonight, but you never know…

  • Greg

    Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World scared me when I was a kid. As an adult I am now currently frightened on a regular basis by Mr. Hill’s Wild Ride.

  • Kevin

    Joe Angel on Reimold’s solo shot “Nolan Reimold, YOU ROOKIE…..”

    Don’t ever leave Baltimore Joe Angel

  • Ryan97ou

    Was I the only one who noticed andino tucks the top of his ears into his hat?

    Kids these days

    *old man grumble*

    Haha

  • @Ryan97ou – That doesn’t bother me as much as the baggy pants they wear. Even when they show their socks, they’re solid black. No stirrups any more! I don’t think I’m an old man, but the team as currently constructed has more and more players who are younger than me.

    Great game – Contributions up and down the lineup (including an RBI single by Rich Hill!), and Hill didn’t let his Mr. Hyde escape, as many times as it looked like he might.

  • Andrew

    Well, we got that miracle game from Rich Hill. He is the walking definition of an enigma. You have no idea what you’re going to get command-wise until the game starts. He can be absolutely outstanding or he can last 2/3 of an inning and give up 5 walks.

    It’s pretty weird that the Phillies are so many games under .500 at home, and yet are one of the best teams in so many categories (well…so many offensive categories) in the National League.

  • Greg

    @Andrew – Sounds like Daniel Cabrera part II.

  • Ryan97ou

    Just listened to trembleys post game. Sounds like him and hill have quite the feud going on between notre dame and michigan.

    Both of them are fools imo….GO BUCS!

  • dan the man

    originally posted byKevinJoe Angel on Reimold’s solo shot “Nolan Reimold, YOU ROOKIE…..”

    Don’t ever leave Baltimore Joe Angel

    Angel first said that when Nolan hit that 3-run walk-off bomb a few weeks ago. Joe is so good it’s just silly.

    What a beautifully played game. Timely hitting, including that Reimold dinger, another big hit from Huff, and most-welcome 2-run doubles from Wieters and Markakis. Not to mention a gutsy start from Hill and another solid night by the bullpen. What else can you ask for? Also, nice play by the Tall Catcher catching that pop-up and falling into the dugout.

    Suck it, Philly.

  • dan the man

    originally posted byGreg@Andrew – Sounds like Daniel Cabrera part II.

    I still say Hill is better than D-Cab, at least late-era D-Cab. Hill is like Dontrelle Willis… he’s got the awkward delivery that is responsible for both good starts and bad starts. Hill’s pitching much better than he did last year, though, so that’s positive I guess.

  • Kevin

    I’d still rather have Hill than D-Cab. That guy was the most frustrating player I think I’ve ever seen. He was a tease.

  • Ryan97ou

    Reimolds been absolutely insane since getting here. Not just because of the 8 dingers either. He has the patience of a veteran (recently anyways). Good stuff.

    As my buddy texted me tonight: the official man crush is on

    *chuckle*

  • dan the man

    @Ryan97ou – Between Roberts, Markakis, Jones, Wieters, Reimold, Johnson, and Bergesen, this team is like a man crush orgy.

    Too much?

  • Greg

    @dan the man – Never enough sir.

  • Andrew

    It’s a lot of good, young talent. The Orioles can certainly be an exciting team if they put their minds to it.

    By the way…if anyone missed out on the Jones bobblehead but wants one, I’ve got a few extras and am willing to make a trade for the Markakis BP jersey they’re giving away next Saturday. I’ll be long back in Rochester by then, but I want. Just throwing it out there.

  • Kevin

    @Andrew – If I can I will try and get one

  • Ryan97ou

    originally posted bydan the man@Ryan97ou – Between Roberts, Markakis, Jones, Wieters, Reimold, Johnson, and Bergesen, this team is like a man crush orgy.

    Too much?

    Wow. I mean wow

    Haha

  • Andrew

    So, tonight, after the outstanding win yesterday, we get to face anothere young Phillies pitcher who is having some success in a short amount of time this season: J.A. Happ. Ironically, I’ve been to Citizen’s Bank Park once before and saw Happ duel with Johan Santana – and I’ll probably be there tonight to see BB duel with Happ. Oh, life.

    Anyway, Happ at first glance has been pretty good. Pressed into the rotation from the bullpen, he wields a 3.53 ERA and 6.53 K/9. Of course, that’d be cherry-picking, and Happ has some serious issues. He walks A LOT of batters; at 4.24 BB/9, he would be better than only Rich Hill if he were an Oriole starter (and that includes Eaton, et al.)

    And then there’s the .219 BABIP and the only 0.68 ground ball to fly ball ratio (which isn’t as bad as Bastardo, but sure isn’t a good number in Citizen’s Bank Park), which leads to his mediocre 1.41 HR/9 number.

    Looking at his five starts, I can see 2 very good outings (@ the Yankees and @ San Diego…which is curious in that they are one of the best and one of the worst offenses, respectively), 1 mediocre but acceptable outing at home against Washington, and two Terrible outings, his last two at the Mets and at home against Boston.

    In these two most recent outings, he was pumping out tons of fly balls (12/20 in New York, 14/23 vs. Boston) which inevitably led to home runs (2 and 3, respectively), and he walked a ton of runners (4 and 6), and failed to be pitch effecient anyway, throwing nearly 110 pitches in under 6 innings both times out.

    So, the key tonight is pretty similar to last night: be patient at the plate, work the count, and drive your pitch into the bleachers.

    If Bergesen can keep the sinker working, that will give the O’s a huge edge over Philly in that bandbox.

  • dan the man

    Good analysis as always, Andrew. I like our chances tonight, but it’s possible that Bergesen has maybe thrown too many outstanding outings in a row and is due for a dud. But then I’m encouraged in thinking that you would say there’s no such thing as being “due”. Either way, we can’t expect the Champs to be held to 2 runs per game again. Our best chance is getting to Happ early and often and getting into Philly’s worn-out bullpen.

    Who sits tonight? I think DT said Luke was playing tonight and it’s hard to keep him out of the lineup for long. But it’s also hard to keep Huff and Reimold out since they are both hot right now. I say Reimold sits and pinch hits late in the game.

  • Tomás

    B-ROBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • dan the man

    OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

    Two of the least likely Orioles to hit home runs! Stunningly un-clutch all game and then BANG. CLUTCH.

    Please close it out. Please close it out. Please close it out.

  • dan the man

    Bottom of the lineup for Philly… come on Georgie, bang this out…

  • dan the man

    Leadoff guy is out… 2 more to go..

  • dan the man

    Huuuuuuuuuuge out in Pedro Feliz. One more to go…

  • dan the man

    WORLD CHAMPS, MEET FLAT BREEZY. BALL GAME.

  • Tomás

    @dan the man – It’s *ALWAYS* easy when it’s flat and breezy.

    Loved loved LOVED that stadium shutting up after that B-Rob bomb. Nothing’s sweeter than a quiet Philly.

  • Andrew

    Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  • Tomás

    The comments from the Phans are hysterical from 429-528.

    My favorite:

    wesley8181 (6/20/2009 at 9:53 PM)

    did anybody lose as much money as me on that swing of the fkin bat please respond if you did

    wesley8181 (6/20/2009 at 9:54 PM)

    philly wont win are you insane balt is like the ex wife i never had

    LMAO!

  • Greg

    It’s sad that our two aces facing off against each other tonight has become a reverse lock. Let’s see some good pitching tonight Guth.

  • Tomás

    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN
    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN
    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN
    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN
    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN
    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN
    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN
    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN
    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN
    YOU CAN’T RUN MELVIN!

  • Kevin

    @Tomás – Apparently AJ DOESN’T run, and almost gets thrown out

  • Tomás

    Remember when the O’s played without a DH and swept the World Champs?

    I DO!

  • Kevin

    Remember that time, when Jeremy Guthrie out pitched Cole Hamels, and then we swept the Phillies? I do

  • dan the man

    Wow what an awesome series. Nice to pad our road record, get Guthrie the W, Sherrill with 2 saves and 3 scoreless outings (good thing we have Monday off, BTW). Good all around baseball was played and they won a couple games they probably should have lost. Loving this team right now.

    It’s great having Salazar off the bench – he’s a perfect bench bat and it’s too bad he’ll be placed on waivers again when Cesar is back.

    Nice to see Nick finally get at least the portion of one day off.

    Side note: I’d like to see Pie get a start sometime soon. Just because. Maybe sit Jones for a day since he’s been struggling.

    GUTHRIE. Boy was that nice to see. Another home run, but other than that, he handled that lineup very well. I’m not sure why he doesn’t use that 2-seamer more.

    Baseball is good times especially when it’s WTB. I’ll even let Mora’s blunder go. It’s just… there’s just no point in dwelling on Mora blunders. He’s 37, he ain’t changing now.

  • dan the man

    Oh yeah, and I have to give a ton of credit to Robert Andino who I had serious doubts about early on, but who has really put on a clinic out there with Izturis out. Basket catches, really nice range, good arm, timely hits, good base-running. The kid has done it all, regardless of his over-sized cap. Big props and you have to wonder if he can be your shortstop of the future if he keeps hitting around .260 like he is. He’s basically a young Izturis minus the switch-hitting.