Cover the Baltimore Orioles and Remembering Their Treasured Past
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Brian Matusz is a future ace and it was disappointing that he missed the first two months but now he’s back. He’s going to be kept on a tight leash but he got off to a nice start with a solid start against the Mariners. He gave up just a run on four hits with three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. He was cut short at 84 pitches and but the good news is, the Orioles still won the game 2-1. Andruw Jones hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to give the Orioles the win.
Jim Johnson picked up the win and he improved to 4-1. He gave up a hit and didn’t allow a walk. Kevin Gregg threw a shutout ninth and he picked up his ninth save of the season. Jones finished the game three for four. J.J. Hardy also had a nice game and he went two for four with a solo home run that put the Orioles on the board in the second. The Orioles are 48 games in and they sit at a nice, even 24-24 mark. Fortunately, the rest of the division has been tight and while that only puts them a half game ahead of the last place Blue Jays, they’re only three games back of the Yankees. It’s almost the end of May, the Orioles are still in it. That’s a leg up on most of the past few years.
Adam Jones has been the hitting star. He’s right there in batting average and he leads the team in home runs and RBIs. Vlad Guerrero has been a force when he’s been in the lineup and even Matt Wieters seems to finally be having a mini-breakout year. Jake Arrieta has been one of the guys to get it done on the mound and he has six wins. Zach Britton and Jeremy Guthrie has also been solid. Still, I think when Brian Matusz comes back will be when this team really turns the corner.
The Orioles head out west (like the Yankees) and they have two straight series out there. First up are the A’s. When they come home they’ll be takin gon the Blue Jays so hopefully they can get it done while out on the west coast. The first month of the season isn’t even over with and the Orioles season has been an odd one. They started 6-2 since then they’ve gone 4-10. And that’s only after back to back wins in their first two games against the last place (yes, I like saying that) Red Sox. There’s still a lot of ball to play and if not for a somewhat hot Yankees team (although even they’ve cooled off), they’d be right in the mix.
It’s hard to pick a hitting star because nobody is really lighting it up at the plate. Vlad Guerrero is the best hitting starter with a .286 batting average but he only has three home runs. Adam Jones leads the team with five home runs and he’s second with 14 RBIs but he’s only hitting .240. Brian Roberts leads the team with 16 RBIs. On the pitching side, Zach Britton and Jeremy Guthrie have been very solid. Britton has four wins and a 2.84 ERA while Guthrie has a 2.53 ERA but only one win. After that, it goes a little bit downhill and you hope Brian Matusz can come back soon and make an impact in the rotation.
The Orioles start a three game set against the White Sox in Chicago. They’ve been struggling so hopefully the Orioles can continue to get back on track and keep them down. The Orioles didn’t land any of the big name free agents they were after but I like the moves they’ve made during this offseason. The latest is they signed Derrek Lee to a one year deal (pending a physical). Lee was looking for $8-$10 million so that’s what we have to work with so far. The oft injured Lee had a huge resurgence in 2009 but saw his numbers drop in 2010. Still, 19 home runs and 80 RBIs is nothing to scoff at considering he had the bad thumb.
When you combine Lee with Mark Reynolds and Luke Scott, the Orioles have a formidable middle of the order. I don’t think 2011 is going to be the Orioles break out season, but they’re definitely putting some pieces in place that should allow them to improve this year. I really like our chances a few years out assuming the team stays the course.