By Olivia Witherite (@oliviawitherite)
We’re through nine games, and here we are, looking on at a 5-4 record for the Orioles. Maybe you expected the Orioles to come out strongly to a 9-0 or 8-1 record. Maybe you took the opposite, pessimistic view and expected the team to still be scrambling for its first few wins.
But, regardless of what you expected, it’s evident that these games have all come down to pitching. This statement is nothing new, rather just something obvious. While there are different factors that lead to any team’s wins and losses, it all hinges on pitching. This statement, which has become somewhat of a cliché, is still true, and can be seen through the Orioles’ first three series of the 2012 season.
With a game or two under each pitcher’s belt, we can see how effective starts have ultimately led to wins in most situations.
April 6 – Jake Arrieta pitched seven innings of shutout ball, giving the Orioles the Opening Day win.
April 7 – Tommy Hunter made it through seven innings of no-run ball with only 98 pitches, giving the Orioles the win.
April 8 – Giving up only one run, Jason Hammel pitched eight effective innings, which helped lead the Orioles to a series sweep.
April 13 – Despite the fact that Hunter gave up five runs (four earned) over six innings, the relief pitching was able to lock in the game, pitching the rest of the game and surrendering only one hit.
April 14 – Hammel went five innings, allowing only two runs.
April 9 – Brian Matusz lasted only four innings in the game. He gave up four runs, putting his ERA after his first game at 9.00.
April 10 – In his major league debut, Wei-Yin Chen went 5.1 innings, giving up seven hits and four runs.
April 11 – Arrieta gave up two runs in 6.2 innings. The game was later lost by the O’s as Kevin Gregg gave up two runs in relief work.
April 15 – Matusz struggled through 5 2/3 innings, giving up five runs. The Orioles fell to the Blue Jays 9-2, as Gregg gave up six runs in an inning.
Over the first three series, a few things regarding pitching stick out. Firstly, Matusz needs to gain control. Over his first two starts, we have seen the ball go anywhere from in the dirt to way over the batters’ heads. To be an effective starter, Matusz needs to settle down.
Secondly, and obviously, starting pitching sets the tone of the game. To win games, starters must go deep. Unlike last season, the bullpen cannot be called to finish every game. Gregg is unreliable, which is becoming more evident even at the beginning of this season. Jim Johnson has gone to the closer role. There are so many factors as to why the Orioles need to go deeper. Playing in the American League East, the point should be stressed even more as the hitters are so strong.
With pitching starting off very strongly then tapering this season, the question stands: Will fans see more pitching like Arrieta’s or rather be wincing at every game seeing starts like Matusz’ first two as the season continue?