Orioles’ Offense Steps Up, Pitching Falters


The Birds seem to always finish their season with one of the most draining schedules opponent-wise.  This month, they’ve squared off against an American League Eastern rival in 16 of their 19 contests, including two series with the hot, playoff-hopeful Tampa Bay Rays.

The Orioles have played spoiler for both the Rays and Red Sox over the last week.  The Birds took two of three from the Rays, and so far, they’ve taken two of three from the Sox with one game left tonight.

The Birds are 5-2 over the last seven days, and their bats have really come alive during that stretch.  As a team, the Orioles are hitting at a lofty .287 clip.  Designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero continues to rack up his hits as he leads the team with a .414 average, including 12 hits in all seven games.

The Orioles really needed this jolt of hitting because their pitching, both starting and relieving, posted very low, uncharacteristic numbers since September 14th.  Collectively, they sport a 6.39 ERA; the starters pitched better, although not by much, with a 5.66 ERA, compared to the pen’s inflated 7.47 ERA.

Offensive Explosion

The Birds scored 44 runs over their last seven games, which averages to 6.3 runs per game.  They scored at least six runs in all five of their wins and they’ve only scored less than six runs one time.

Guerrero, whose power numbers have dropped drastically, is still putting together an impressive season with the bat, just not how the Orioles pictured.  On the year, Guerrero’s collected 155 hits in just 137 games (an average of 1.13 hits per game).

The hitting machine recorded 12 hits over his 29 at-bats this week, including a double, triple and a homerun.  He scored six runs, but only drove in four RBI.  On the season, he’s only collected 58 RBI and knocked 13 homeruns.

Utility infielder Robert Andino continues to stay hot and become a better player every day.  It’s fun to watch him because he can do some many things for your ball club.  He’s displayed superb defense wherever he is penciled in, and he’s really improved his clutch offense as of late.

Andino recorded eight hits in his 24 at-bats this past week, including a double and a homerun.  Not to mention, he drove home six RBI and scored five times over seven contests.

Other Hot Hitters

First/third baseman Chris Davis’ bat    finally come around since he joined the Birds at the end of July.  He’s nine for his last 28, including three doubles and a homerun.  He’s drove in four and scored five times while he hit .321 last week.

Although catcher Matt Wieters only appeared in five of their seven games, he continues to pound the baseball.  He batted at a .333 clip with five hits in 15 at-bats, including a homerun and three doubles.  He drove in two RBI and scored six times.

Pitching: Cause for Concern


Let’s start with the good.  Tommy Hunter finally showed what he can really do on a mound and why the Orioles were so eager to trade for him.  He tossed his first scoreless outing in the black and orange.  He went seven innings and struck out five for his fourth win of the season.

Rookie Zach Britton got back on track after he allowed four earned runs to the Bronx Bombers in his previous outing.  He tossed seven impressive innings against the Angels, surrendered only one earned run and struck out seven to earn his 10th win of the year.

Jeremy Guthrie has really pitched well the entire month of September, and although he allowed four earned runs to the Sox on Monday, he still won two games this past week.  He tossed 13 innings, allowed six earned runs, and struck out 13 against the Rays and Red Sox.

The Ugly

Brian Matusz continues to struggle this season and he hasn’t shown any signs of the pitcher he was a year ago.  In his latest outing, he lasted only 1.2 innings and he gave up six earned runs to Boston and he received his eight loss of the season.

Alfredo Simon, who has been pitching very well as of late, was hit hard in his last outing.  He was charged with six earned runs in just five innings against the Angels for his ninth loss of the year.

September call up Rick VandenHurk has struggled in the rotation this month.  He started last night’s game against the Red Sox and lasted only three innings.  He surrendered four earned runs, five total, and struck out four as he pitched to a no decision.

Overall, their starter’s pitched to a 3-2 record, tossed only 36.2 innings (5.1 innings per outing), and they gave up 23 earned runs.

Relief Pitching

A week and a half ago, the Birds’ bullpen was turning on all cylinders and they were pitching as a very cohesive unit.  This past week, everything fell apart.

All of the Birds’ relievers sport an ERA above six over the last week, except set up man and as of late closer Jim Johnson, Jason Berken, Willie EyreZach Phillips and Pedro Strop.  As a whole, the bullpen holds a 7.47 ERA as they’ve allowed 21 earned runs in just 25.1 innings.

Chris Jakubauskas, who was extremely hard to hit in August, allowed five earned runs in one inning against the Sox.  Closer Kevin Gregg appeared in two games and allowed three earned over two innings.  Brad Bergesen surrendered four earned in just 1.2 innings and Jeremy Accardo yielded four as well over two innings.

The Birds’ most reliable pitcher all season, Johnson, has a 1.80 ERA over that stretch.  Strop, Eyre, Phillips and Berken tossed a combined 8.1 innings without allowing a run.

So, although their pitching faltered this past week, their offense stepped up and won them important games.  The Birds need to win six of their last eight games to get to 70.  Let’s see if they can do it!

Follow me on twitter: Alex_VanRees