Playing in Toronto has been a heavy-duty task for the Orioles over the years and this series was no different. The Orioles were faced with adversity and opportunity in all three games and ended up winning an important early road series to kick off a 10 game road trip.
First lets look at some negatives that took place across the border.
Kevin Gregg has yet to throw a scoreless outing, and with another dismal performance in Sunday’s game, his already unclear role in the rotation became more of a blur. Buck Showalter called on Gregg to record the final out of the 6th inning with men on first and second base. Gregg surrendered five runs before recording the out. Gregg has pitched in two close games this season and blew the game twice. Gregg had a poor spring, recording a 5.14 ERA in seven innings pitched.
Mark Reynolds has yet to find his strive. Actually he hasn’t found any strive. Reynolds horrific defensive performances against the Yankees and Blue Jays have been countered with seemingly a bat with a gaping hole in the middle of the lumber. Reynolds is in a stretch right now where he has as good a chance of making contact with his eyes closed than if they were open. In 25 at bats this season Reynolds has recorded 11 strikeouts. Recent news is that Reynolds will be taking reps at 1st base again, a position where he did quite well to finish his 2011 campaign. This is disappointing because Reynolds dropped 20 lbs in the offseason and did extensive work at 3rd base in an effort to be the everyday first baseman. All offseason the Orioles preached that Reynolds is the 3rd baseman and they want him playing there. One week into the season it is obvious that Reynolds remains a below average 3rd baseman and will need to be moved. Chris Davis’ performance at first has been phenomenal thus far, so hopefully the Orioles won’t need to move him in order to get Reynolds in the field.
Errors: The O’s took two out of three games in Toronto but the errors are starting to build up and will eventually plague the club if they continue. Other than Reynolds, Wilson Betemit made two fielding errors on balls lined right to him in back to back games. Nolan Reimold made a costly error in the outfield that scored runs in the first game of the series. To Betemit’s defense, the turf at Rogers Center is very quick and is not a normal playing surface. However these errors have come in close games and if they continue, the Orioles will be beating themselves more than the opposing team.
Clutch Hitting: Something that wasn’t seen in the Yankees series, the Orioles finally came through with men on base. Wilson Betemit had an extremely clutch series at the plate. He provided the game winning base hit with the bases loaded and two outs on Friday night. The very next day he hit the game tying home run with two strikes and two outs. The Orioles won both these games. Nolan Reimold had two big home runs to extend the leads in both games. Something the Orioles still need to improve on is bunting and the ability to sacrifice for runs.
Ronny Paulino: The biggest surprise of the Orioles 2012 season so far has been the performance of backup catcher Ronny Paulino. In three starts, Paulino has a .538 average and has ripped the ball every time he makes contact. Paulino provided a go ahead RBI in Sundays game and is by far the best looking hitter on the Orioles bench. Taylor Teagarden must really be flustered, not only because of his injury, but because when healthy he will have a near impossible task of being the backup if Paulino continues this rampage.
Home Runs: It seemed liked there was a jet stream in Toronto even though the dome was closed. This series balls were flying out of the yard. Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold both hit monstrous long balls into the third deck of the stadium. Andino, Betemit and Chris Davis also chimed in with bombs of their own but the key with the homeruns was timing. Most if not all of the home runs hit gave the Orioles the lead or tie in the games against the Jays. When the weather starts to get warmer (its 88 degrees today) and stays warm the Orioles can really use Camden Yards to their advantage if they can deliver the long ball.
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