Jun 30, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Brian Roberts (1) in the on-deck circle during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Key Components for the Second Half

Orioles Lose to White Sox, 5-2

With the month of July now upon us and with more than half of the regular season games completed, thoughts turn to the components that will give the Orioles their second consecutive year in the playoffs. Here are some reflections upon the completion of tonight’s 5-2 loss to the White Sox.

Without doubt, the powerful offense has carried the Birds throughout this current season. While there is every reason to have hopes that the Orioles’ bats will continue to be among the best in the game, tonight’s strong effort against them by John Danks demonstrates the old adage that good pitching stops good hitting. There are going to be days when the pitching needs to keep the O’s in the game until the offense can squeeze out a narrow win.

A major step toward securing a strong piece for the rotation would seem to have been made today, as Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop were dealt to the Cubs for Scott Feldman. Though Feldman’s career numbers are not particularly awesome (46-50/4.66), his more recent performance has been reasonably strong. He best year was 17-9 in 2009, though with an ERA of 4.08 – the benefit of playing for the Rangers!

Jason Hammel threw quite a good number of high quality pitches with good movement, but a few mistakes up in the zone made the difference. With the majority of his pitches, he appears to be returning the form of 2012, but then his several mistakes turn into big fly balls! Will Hammel be a foundation person for the second half rotation? That is yet to be seen.

With the probable soon return of Wei-Yin Chen, along with hopes that perhaps Zach Britton has figured things out a bit (at least for 5 innings), there seem to be enough pieces to believe that a workable rotation can be found to repeat the solid second half of last year.

As I wrote in a recent article, seven of the nine positions in the Orioles batting order are among the top two or three in the American League. The other two positions – 2B and DH – were the worst. There was evidence in the game tonight that perhaps a new corner may be turned relative to these weaknesses.

Brian Roberts drove a ball into the stands in left field, and he soon followed that with a stellar bare-handed, twisting throw after charging an infield chopper. He got his guy, but better yet, he walked back to his position with no evidence of any ill effects. Along with a good game on Sunday night in his return debut, this is good to see. But, of course, the challenge will be to sustain his health.

Nolan Reimold was reinstated to the Orioles roster and lineup. He looked very good in the outfield and delivered a single in three at bats. The Birds could be a totally deadly outfit if he returned to the guy we saw early last season.

What do you believe are the top two or three critical components for the Orioles to return to the playoffs?

Tags: Baltimore Orioles

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