They say that every journey starts with a first step. If the Orioles want to start moving out of the spot they owned last year (that would be the cellar), then this is the time for that first step. They play a three-game series at home against the team directly ahead of them. If they could sweep the Jays, they could turn the tide and start the climb. They could also put behind them the memories of the awful 1-5 west coast trip. But in order to think about sweeping the Jays, the O’s have got to start hitting, and that won’t be an easy task against a tough starting rotation for the Jays. It will be interesting to see how serious the Orioles are in making 2011 the year where they don’t finish in last place (and maybe even above .500)
Current Team Positions:
The Orioles are 25-29, 6 games back of the east-leading Yankees. The Blue Jays are 28-28, 4 games back of the east-leading Yankees.
Carlos Villanueva, RHP (2-0, 2.62 ERA) vs Zach Britton, LHP (5-3, 2.93 ERA)
Villanueva has stepped up from the bullpen to rotation to fill in for injured starter Jesse Litsch. In his two starts, he has only pitched five innings each – so don’t expect him to go deep into the game, particularly if he gets a high pitch count. His last start wasn’t nearly as good as his first. He gave up six runs on eight hits in a lose to the White sox.
Britton is coming off of his worse outing of his young career, where he gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings against Oakland, including three walks. Hopefully Zach can get back on the path that has him looking like a top candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Ricky Romero, LHP (5-4, 2.88 ERA) vs Jake Arrieta, RHP (6-3, 4.97 ERA)
Romero is the ace of the Jay’s staff and will provide a tough outting for the Oriole’s hitters. He has given up only 4 runs in the past 30 innings pitched and has won his last 3 decisions in a row.
On the opposite end, the Orioles need a bounce-back performance from Arrieta, who had his worse outing in his last start against Oakland (what is it about Oakland and our starters anyway?) Jake went just 2 1/3 innings giving up 4 runs on 4 hits, having serious control problems (two runs were scored on bases-loaded walks). Arrieta needs to find the plate and give the O’s more innings.
Jo-Jo Reyes, LHP (1-4, 4.15 ERA) vs TBD
I’m sure you heard about hard-luck Reyes. He broke a 28-game losing streak in his last start, by beating the Indians. He game up only 1 run in 8 innings to notch his first win since June 13, 2008. What are the chances he will win two in a row?
MLB and the Orioles website have the pitcher for Sunday as To Be Announced. This would be Jeremy Guthrie’s turn in the rotation. He last pitched on 5/31, so that would make this day 5. I’m not sure why he isn’t slotted in, because I have not heard of any injury issues. Stay tuned for more.
Who’s Hot – Orioles
Adam Jones, CF – Ok, if you haven’t seen “the catch” from the Seattle game, do yourselves a favor and click here now to view a replay. We all know how great Jones is in the field, but now his bat is coming alive and the O’s sure need it. Adam is hitting .333 in his last 6 games (6-18), including the game-winning home run, to get the O’s out of that awful five-game West coast losing streak.
Felix Pie, LF – Buck Showalter has got to find a way to get Pie into the lineup on a regular basis, because he is one of the few Orioles that is hitting on a regular basis. In the last 10 games that he has played, he is hitting .263 (10 for 38). This might not seem like a lot, but in those 10 games he has only gone hitless in two. He finds ways to get on base, and that is what most of the Orioles hitters are not doing.
Brian Matusz LHP – It was so great to see Matusz back on the mound and pitch so well against the A’s. Matusz went 5 2/3 innings and gave up only 1 earned run while striking out 3. He is not scheduled to pitch in this series but let’s hope this is the begining of a strong season for Brian.
Who’s Not – Orioles
Mark Reynolds 3B – See my last several series preview postings, because, frankly I am tired of talking about this guy and his inability to hit. How does someone like this keep his job?
Vlad Guerrero DH – no one is happier to get back to the East coast than Vlad, who batted just .158 (3 for 19) with 7 strikeouts on the west coast swing. The Orioles need Vlad to put this one behind him and get back to smashing the ball.
Zach Britton LHP – I hate putting Britton on this list, as he is one of my favorite players. But his last two outtings have been very shaky and he needs a strong outting to get back on the positive side of things. He’ll particularly want to put that 6 earned run outting against the A’s in the lock box. Hopefully it will serve as a learning experience (and in a good way).
Who’s Hot – Blue Jays
Jose Bautista RF – Just named the AL Player of the Month of May, in his last 7 games, Bautista is batting .478 (11 for 23), with 8 RBI and 6 runs scored.
Yunel Escobar, SS – Another hot hitting Blue Jay, Escobar is batting .391 (9 for 23) with 7 RBI in his last 7 games.
Ricky Romero, LHP – The ace of the staff is 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA in the last 30 days, holding opposing hitters to a .214 average.
Who’s Not – Blue Jays
Juan Rivera DH – Rivera had a terrible last series against the Indians, going 1 for 15. In hist last 7 games he is batting only .233 – not the kind of production you want from a DH.
Shawn Camp, RHP – Relief pitcher Camp provided no relief in his 6/1 outting against the Indians. Camp gave up 6 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, raising his ERA almost two full points.
Duchscherer, Justin (P)Duchscherer, Justin (P) on 60-day DL with Lower back discomfort.
Threw 3 IP in XST game May 28.
Izturis, Cesar (SS) on 60-day DL with Nerve irritation in right elbow. Underwent surgery May 24.
Lee, Derrek (1B) on 15-day DL with Left oblique strain. Rehab assignment delayed June 1.
Roberts, Brian (2B) on 15-day DL with Concussion-like symptoms. Began physical therapy May 25.
Carlson, Jesse (P) on DL and is Out for Season with Left rotator cuff
Lind, Adam (LF) on 15-day DL with Lower back tightness
Litsch, Jesse (P) on 15-day DL with Impingement in right shoulder
McDonald, John (SS) on 15-day DL with Strained hamstring
McGowan, Dustin (P) on 60-day DL with Torn rotator cuff