Baltimore Orioles: A mixed bag of news
First and foremost, the Orioles dropped game three of a four game set to Cleveland yesterday 11-5. Cleveland bats have really feasted on Oriole pitching thus far this series. Dana Eveland made a spot start out of the bullpen and pitched 3.2 innings giving up five runs over six hits, walking two and striking out five. Eveland didn’t appear to have too much pizzazz on his pitches, and the same can be said for Tommy Hunter who followed Eveland in the game. Both pitchers’ pitches were sailing high into the zone with little to no movement; prime and ready for the picking. Part of the issue this entire series has been that Shin-Soo Choo has hit the Orioles hard from the lead 0ff spot, going 8-for-13 thus far. That sets the tone for the rest of the lineup, which has followed suit.
However all was not lost yesterday for the Orioles. That might be a difficult statement to justify given that the lost the game, but work with me folks. The fans that have been screaming for more cowbell all season long are getting their wish starting today. As the game wore on news of a trade started to sprinkle throughout Camden Yards. The Orioles traded P Kyle Simon and C Gabrielle Lino to Philadelphia for veteran slugger Jim Thome, who’s expected to be in uniform at Camden Yards in time for this afternoon’s game. First off, both Simon and Lino are low-level prospects, with low ceilings. (And keep in mind that in Lino’s case he’s a catcher in a system that currently has a young gold glove catcher at the major league level.) Secondly, the name Jim Thome speaks for itself. He’s only hitting .242 for the season, but he’s also only played in 30 games thus far for Philadelphia. He had a whale of a series at the yard against the Orioles several weeks ago, and he’s always hit well at Camden Yards.
The issue of course is that Thome will clog up the DH spot for the most part, forcing the Orioles to continue their parade of fielders in different spots more so than they have thus far in the season. Yesterday we saw Chris Davis have a tough time digging balls out of the right field corner, which led to Cleveland base runners getting extra bases. However the O’s also had some fluky things happen to them in this game, not all of which were anyone’s fault. The tone for the game was set early on when Eveland’s first two pitches went for base hits. Jose Lopez then hit a dribbler to third, which Ryan Flaherty was in position to field cleanly…had the ball not hit the bag and popped over his head. Some things you have to chalk up to dumb luck, however of course some people would say that dumb luck seems to find those who aren’t playing well to begin with.
Trailing 5-1 in the fourth, Chris Davis got the Birds right back into the game with a three-run homer. However that ended the productive part of the Orioles’ day at the plate, as Cleveland just kept piling on runs. However I think that the aquisition of Thome immediately stole the spotlight from whatever ill might have come from this game. Incidentally, the Orioles also honored longtime manager and MLB hall of famer Earl Weaver with his statue unveiling before the game. (Wow, this is a lot to work into one measly game recap!) Weaver of course believed in pitching, good defense, and the three-run homer. So maybe that’s why the Birds aquired Thome yesterday? Always a possibility!
As I said, Thome is expected to be in uniform for the Orioles today, and he will presumably DH (we won’t know that for sure until the lineup is announced). Thome will potentially add some support to the top of the lineup, along with Adam Jones. He’ll also add some pop to the bottom of the order, as he’ll probably push the likes of Chris Davis and Matt Wieters a bit lower in the lineup. Thome isn’t the power-hitter that he was ten years ago, but he still has some pop in his bat and he could potentially help a team like the Orioles who are trying to prove to the world that they can at least be competitive in the playoff race deep into the season.
Tommy Hunter was optioned to triple-A Norfolk after yesterday’s game to make room for Thome on the roster, however there might be another roster move forthcoming. Miguel Gonzalez was removed from the lineup at Norfolk yesterday, and is presumably headed back to Baltimore. We’ll know for sure before today’s game. The Orioles need for Brian Matusz to go deep into today’s game due to the fact that the bullpen is looking a bit tired and they’ve been overused the past couple of days. Too add further urgency, the Orioles fly out to Seattle immediately following the game, and that’s a rough enough trip with a rested bullpen. Matusz will be opposed by Justin Masterson, who gave up four runs over six innings on Tuesday in NY. However he has a 1.55 ERA in his last four starts. Jim Thome can’t get to the Orioles soon enough!
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