Apr 15, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) wears a special cleat in honor of Jackie Robinson day against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

The Longest Road Trip of the Season

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The Orioles have nine games and three completed series in the books – all done with a record of 5-4. While not exactly threatening just yet for the playoffs, the beginning of the season has been reasonably successful. The Orioles have won two out of the first three series – including in Toronto for the first time since 2008.

Apr 15, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) hits a solo home run in the 6th inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Orioles 9-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

In the big picture of things, there is more to be encouraged about than to be downcast. Among the major questions of the pre-season were who would lead off and who would bat cleanup. Reimold and Jones have answered those questions, leading the team in hitting. Markakis is clearly healthy, Wieters is a beast, Davis and Andino have done well both in the field and at bat. And we know that Hardy will be fine.

Third base remains a serious concern, even more on defense than with the bat. We don’t seem to have anyone yet who can make the plays at that corner. One would have to think that Reynolds will get it together at the plate, but he looks rather lost at the moment. Beyond that, the Orioles lead all of baseball in the turning of double plays … cool!

Regarding the pitching: the starters have performed quite well, and this is a very workable situation. Even Matusz today is not that far off from being effective. And the relief pitching has also performed well for the most part. I say, “for the most part…”

This Kevin Gregg situation is embarrassing – for him, for the Orioles’ credibility, for everyone! It is impossible to give him away! He costs too much. It is as if I were to offer you a free BMW 7 series car (I’ll even keep making the monthly payments). Sweet, eh? But, but … about every other time you go to use it, it breaks down and you have to have it towed for costly repairs. As well, there is an irreparable leak in the gas tank – at least no mechanic yet has figured out how to fix it. Still want the car? THAT describes the problem! If he can’t even pitch in the 6thinning without exploding the game, where can he be used? I do not see how he can be kept, no matter what the contract is. (Before posting this, I actually looked at the Orioles’ page – just to see if he was gone!)

This current road trip is the longest of the season, as it involves 10 games in 10 days and a trip to the west coast for the final three contests against the Angels. But first is a four-game series in Chicago against the White Sox – who have begun the season also in good form at 5-3.

In anticipation of this series, I have swapped summary paragraphs with our network’s ChiSox blog called Southside Showdown. Here is what lead writer Matt Adams has to say about the current state of the White Sox:

“Sox fans can feel pretty good about their squad thus far having just taken 2 out of 3 from a Detroit team that the MLB world at-large has chosen to run away with the AL Central.  A winning record when the season starts against the 2-time defending American League champions and is followed by clashes with a pair of division rivals, including the Tiger team that nobody gave the Southsiders a chance to compete with, is reason for optimism.  Driving the optimism is both ends of the pitching staff.  Starters have worked well into games, always giving the team a chance to win and the bullpen has proven that they can be trusted to not squander that chance on the back end.  Some of the same frustrations that tortured Sox fans in 2011 haven’t gone away.  Alex Rios still fails to produce to his potential, despite delivering a game-winning homerun in Texas.  Gordon Beckham shows the same inability to adjust at the plate, but keeps from being run out of town by his stellar work on the defensive end.  Everybody entered the season worrying about Adam Dunn, and though his batting average is nothing to get overjoyed about, it is clear we’re not watching the same player that laid one of the biggest eggs at the plate of all time last season.  As long as mainstays like Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez continue to produce consistently, Sox fans have a good reason to believe that 2012 may not be such a lost year after all.”

Twitter: @osayorioles

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Tags: Adam Jones Chicago White Sox Kevin Gregg Orioles Toronto Blue Jays

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