Opening Day: Other than Millwood, New Acquisitions Fail to Impress
Today was a day to forget. After an impressive performance by newly acquired starter Kevin Millwood (5 IP, 2 ER, 5 Ks), three solo homeruns by Adam Jones, Luke Scott, and Matt Wieters, and solid bullpen work from Matt Albers, Will Ohman, and Jim Johnson, nothing could be salvaged in a ninth inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The woes of old came back to bite the Birds on Tuesday, including the one fact that crushed the squad in 2009: Hitting with runners in scoring position. Today, the team went 1-12 with RISP. It was a painful process to behold, and the new offensive acquisitions were at the heart of it. With runners on second and third and no one out in the fourth inning, first baseman Garrett Atkins came up with the opportunity to blow the O’s lead open. Instead, a measly pop-up was hit, and no runs crossed the plate by the inning’s conclusion. In the ninth, with the bases loaded, third baseman Miguel Tejada (0-5 on the day) came up with the bases loaded and the chance to add some insurance to a one-run O’s lead. All we saw was a line-out to left.
With a one-run lead in the ninth, closer Mike Gonzalez could have made a solid first impression on the O’s fanbase. After striking out DH Pat Burrell to start the inning, he gave up two straight hits, an intentional walk, and a game-winning two run single from Carl Crawford to seal the Rays’ victory.
My opinion: Something has to be done about the hitting situation. Going 1-12 with RISP is simply unacceptable, and it is the same issue that plagued the O’s last season. There is no doubt in my mind that I see potential in this club; however, the primary key to each game, to win, failed to be addressed. Adam Jones had a nice day, coming a triple short of the cycle. Cesar Izturis and Matt Wieters also had two hits. One more note before concluding: Brian Roberts does not appear to be 100%. He went 0-5 on the day, and came nowhere close to getting a base hit. In the ninth with runners on first and third and no outs, I believe he should have been pinch-hit for. In my opinion, this was the only major blunder by the coaching staff tonight.