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The AL East Battle Begins In Earnest

Tonight, the Orioles go for another series win against an AL East opponent. A win against the Yankees in New York tonight would seal their third series win in four attempts against the AL East.

What is this, 1996?

Well, not yet. O’s fans are still in the process of awkwardly figuring out how best to handle this whole winning thing. Standing in the way of another cautious step towards fully believing in this year’s squad is, as Neal appropriately put it, a gauntlet of winning teams that stretches well into the month of May. If the dust clears and the O’s are still within a few games of their rivals, then we may have something.

In the meantime, it’s all about enjoying it one game at a time. Last night’s decisive win in New York showed us that Brian Matusz‘s status as Orioles Bust may yet be premature – quite possibly this season’s biggest, legitimate turn of good fortune. Tonight’s game features would-be Orioles ace Jake Arrieta, who has struggled in his past two starts, going against Yankees diamond-in-the-rough Ivan Nova, winner of 15 straight decisions. With a series against the surging Red Sox looming, this qualifies as a big game.

Other random news and notes up for discussion:

  • Tsuyoshi Wada will undergo Tommy John surgery, so says Roch. An unfortunate turn of events, but one that is lessened by the quality of Orioles pitching at the moment. A mistake signing or just a tough break? I’m going with the latter, judging how stringent the Orioles’ physicals are rumored to be.
  • Nolan Reimold has a bulging disc in his neck (ouch), but nevertheless expects to be ready to roll by Friday. Miles raised a fair question in the comments about a possible temporary replacement if Nolan ends up on the DL. What say you?
  • Kevin Gregg continues to occupy a roster spot, despite not even being able to get into a 7-1 game last night and having only 5.2 IP on the season. The O’s are essentially pitching a man short – my gut says there’s a trade in the works here. Something has to give sooner or later.

9 comments to The AL East Battle Begins In Earnest

  • dan the man

    Pretty quiet in Yankee Stadium right now. How about that?

    On Miles’ point, it’s clear Endy isn’t going to cut it as a starter. I’d almost rather see Betemit or Flaherty in LF and call up someone like Antonelli in the event of a Reimold DL.

  • Mike R

    a 7-1 game still is not safe enough to bring Gregg in. The world got to see that stellar performance tonight. Great showing O’s. Expectations begining to escalate?

    @dtm, I agree about Chavez. Betemit has earned some playing time of late, and Flaherty can play anywhere.

  • PW

    Gave up only 3 runs in 27 innings on the road against one of the best lineup in baseball, that is crazy. Trying to keep expectations low, but if the rest of this road trip goes well that may change. Whatever happens, I’m enjoying the ride for the time being.

  • dan the man

    @ PW:
    The Yanks didn’t even get a runner into scoring position in this game! Pretty unbelievable stuff. Jake was straight filthy.

    O’s are catching these teams at a good time. No CC, no Swisher, no Gardner. Looks like no Beckett and no Youk in Boston. No Longoria for the Tampa series. I think they’ll take it.

  • sci

    O’s lead the AL with a 2.83 ERA. Third in baseball. I’m fully enjoying this while it lasts.

    Nats are at 2.47. That rotation is truly scary, already.

  • dan the man

    @ sci:
    True, but their offense is pretty abysmal at the moment. But if the O’s and Nats stay hot, that’s going to be a great series… the rivalry isn’t there, but if both teams are winning, it sure helps make it more interesting.

    Jake’s 8-inning outing has an added bonus of giving the bullpen essentially two days off. I wonder if the O’s make any roster moves in this off-day.

  • dan the man

    On the rotation, it’s a pretty interesting group. Arrieta and Matusz you hoped would be the quality pitchers they are appearing to be at the moment. Hammel has found a rare career resurgence by harnessing his 2-seamer that apparently didn’t 2-seam in Colorado. Chen has nice command and some deception, but you wonder if the league will eventually figure him out. Hunter gets by on smoke and mirrors and will have his games where he gets hammered, but is a solid #5.

    When you factor in Zach Britton, it’s a solid group of guys. The biggest question was, how do the cavalry guys progress this year. So far so good. I expect they’ll dip in production at some point, but being able to plug Britton in goes a long way towards maintaining respectability in the rotation.

    Anyone keeping an eye on Stu Pomeranz? Blowing guys away in AAA and doing it over multiple-inning stints. I think he’s a potential Gregg replacement.

  • Mike R

    I had read that after spring training, Buster Olney asked Chipper Jones who the toughest pitcher he faced was…Jones replied “Jason Hammel”

  • Miles

    What about Steve “Li’l Dave” Johnson down at Norfolk? 2.38 era in four appearances (three starts, one 4 and 2/3 inning relief appearance), 23 strikeouts in 22 innings. Only six walks.

    Not too shabby.