The Orioles started their West Coast trip with a loss in Oakland. The A’s beat the Orioles 6-2 after Oakland broke open the game against reliever Alfredo Simon in the bottom of the sixth inning with 3 runs. The Orioles continue to struggle in Oakland and fall a game below .500.
Chris Tillman continues to struggle with limiting the number of pitches he throws. Despite avoiding the big inning, Tillman comes awfully close each game to imploding and letting the game get out of hand. However, so far, Tillman hasn’t been giving up the big hit and he has kept the Orioles in the game. The problem is Tillman can’t seem to even get through 6 innings. The Orioles bullpen seems to be taxed right now and they need their starters to be giving them more than the 5 innings Tillman continually pitches. Last night, Tillman was unable to get through 5 complete innings. He was actually bailed out by Alfredo Simon, who eventually struggled himself and lost the game.
Statistically, Tillman only allowed one earned run in the game and has a 4.69 ERA on the season. This is not bad, but his spot in the rotation may be in serious jeopardy because he hasn’t been able to pitch deep into games. Brian Matusz pitched in Triple A last night and it seems like a good bet that Matusz will be pitching Wednesday in Seattle. It would work out nicely if Tillman were to be optioned to Norfolk considering Matusz and Tillman already pitched on the same night. Showalter wouldn’t have to juggle the rotation and could just place Matusz in the rotation in place of Tilllman. However, fans will have to wait and see how Brad Bergesen pitches tonight before a decision is made. Bergesen has shown an ability to pitch deeper into games, but he also has been hit harder than Tillman so far this season.
Obviously a lot will depend on Bergesen’s performance in his next start, but I think Tillman should be optioned to Triple A when Matusz is taken off the disabled list. I don’t think Bergesen has anything else to work on in the minors, while Tillman could use a stay in Triple A to work on his secondary pitches and his command.
In other news, Pedro Viola is with the team in Oakland in case he is needed. One of the Orioles relievers may be put on the disabled list. It is not known which reliever it is, but my guess would be Clay Rapada. Rapada and Viola would both assume similar roles in the bullpen as lefty specialists. I hope this isn’t the case because Rapada actually has done a good job this season against left handed batters. If you look at the numbers, Rapada has done the job of a lefty specialist and gotten left handed batters out. Mike Gonzalez, on the other hand, has not. Gonzalez gave up another run last night in an inning and two thirds. His ERA now stands at 7.79 and he really is serving no purpose in the Orioles bullpen. Gonzalez can’t be counted on to get anyone out right now and it’s not even like he can pitch multiple innings or pitch as a long reliever while he gets his stuff togather.
I would like to see Gonzalez either stashed away on the disabled list or released. The Orioles could replace him with Viola, who has pitched very well in Double A this season. Viola has some major league experience and so far in the majors and minors he has shown an ability to get left handed batters out. Atleast then the Orioles would have a couple lefties in their bullpen who can actually get left handed batters out.
The Orioles play the A’s again tonight (10 pm eastern time) in the second game of their 6 game west coast road trip. Bergesen will be pitching for the Orioles against left hander Josh Outman. The Orioles will try to bounce back tonight and return to .500. Look for the Orioles to shuffle the lineup a little and maybe put Luke Scott back in the lineup against the left hander.