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April 17, 2011

Couple of post-game notes: Some ugly numbers, Uehara's streak ends, Rapada will join club

By now, you are probably aware that the Orioles lost, 4-2, today to the Cleveland Indians to complete a humbling series sweep. They finished the road trip with an 0-5 record, and they are now bringing home a seven-game losing streak for the start of a 10-game home stand.

Here are a couple of other discouraging statistics:
The Orioles offense has scored just 17 runs in the seven-game skid.
The Orioles were outscored by the first-place Indians 20-7 in the series and never led in any of the games.
On the winless trip that included two losses to the New York Yankees in a rain-abbreviated series, the Orioles were outscored 33-16.
The Orioles said that their blown 5-0 fifth-inning lead on Thursday in New York wouldn’t linger, but they were outscored 26-7 on the trip after that point.
The Orioles were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position today and just 5-for-24 in such situations in the series
The 51 runs the Orioles have scored are the second fewest in the American League, ahead of only the Minnesota Twins
Oriole starters have an 8.45 ERA during the losing streak and have logged just 33 innings in seven games.

In other news:
Koji Uehara said that the end of his streak of 36 appearances without a walk was “nothing to really dwell on,” and proved that he wasn’t too bothered after the game by playfully chiding a reporter for not writing more about it.

When Uehara’s full-count pitch to Shin-Soo Choo with one out in the eighth inning was called a ball by home plate umpire Ed Hickox, the third longest streak of appearances without a walk in Major League Baseball since 1954 ended. Uehara had not walked a batter since he issued a free pass to the Toronto Blue Jays Fred Lewis in the ninth inning last July 16.

The only longer streaks were authored by Dennis Eckersley who did not issue a walk in 41 straight games from Aug.1 7, 1989 to June 10, 1990; and John Smoltz who did not walk a batter in 38 games from July 24, 2003 to June 8, 2004.

The Orioles were none too pleased with Hickox’s strike zone for much of the day, prompting Showalter to say, “I’m not so sure it was a walk either … I wasn’t even aware of it, but it doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Asked about Hickox’s strike zone during the at-bat, which started with three straight balls, Uehara said through interpreter Jiwon Bang: “I think it wasn’t going well with the umpires today.”

Two batters later, Uehara issued another walk to Travis Hafner before striking out Orlando Cabrera to end the inning. His 29-pitch outing today was four pitches fewer than Uehara had made in his first 4 2/3 innings this season, though Uehara said that he felt strong physically.

“I wasn’t burdened at all,” he said. “I’ll be ready to go [Monday].”

With Michael Gonzalez struggling, the Orioles will select the contract of another left-handed reliever, Clay Rapada, before the start of a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins Monday. Long man Chris Jakubauskas will go to the 15-day disabled list with a groin injury to make room on the 25-man roster, but the Orioles will still have to make a 40-man move to accommodate Rapada.

Jakubauskas made three appearances for the Orioles and allowed six earned runs on nine hits and four walks over 7 1/3 innings. Rapada, who signed a minor league deal with the club in January, pitched two scoreless innings and notched a save for the Tides, allowing one hit, one walk and striking out three.

He made 13 relief appearances for the Texas Rangers last year and left-handed hitters went just 1-for-19 against him.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 6:31 PM | | Comments (7)


Can Gonzales be sent to the minors. Could he be traded for anything of value.

Jeff Z's reply: I think he'd have to accept the demotion. Unless the Orioles would eat just about all the $5.5 million that he's owed, Gonzalez has little trade value with the way he's pitching right now.

I thought it was a mistake to only take 1 LH reliever from Spring training, although I still think Gonzalez will pull it together eventually. I would have taken Hendrickson rather than Rapada, who was bad this Spring. In general, I think Showalter took an awkward mix of role players up North.

As for the hitters, this is the team we got. We just have to hope that the hitters snap out. It would be nice if instead of 2 utility infielders we could have Reimhold on the team. His approach is exactly what Palmer is talking about and exactly what we need.

The varsity squad better show up soon.

At this point, I don't care who is on it, but they sure as heck better come to play.

Jeff I hope you just cover them and that you aren't an O's fan... for health reasons. At least we all can turn it off when it gets ugly, like say in the top of the first.

Jeff Z's reply: Yeah P.J., the Sun pays me to cover the team objectively, not to be a fan. However with that being said, this road trip was one of the worst I've ever covered since I started covering the Orioles.


How much of the offensive struggles, do you place on the bad weather and rain delays? Looking around the league, there are some big time players that are struggling. I also was curious if this was a case of getting familiar to the new hitting coach since the Crow has been the coach for the entire career of the majority of the hitters?

Jeff Z's reply: Obviously, these guys would prefer to hit when it was 70 degrees out and the ball is carrying more, and I think the offensive numbers will improve league wide as the weather gets nicer, but it's hard to put too much on that. Cleveland seems to be hitting just fine in this weather. As for the hitting coach, Wieters has changed his stance a little bit, but I haven't seen any drastic changes that Presley has implementing that may result in guys struggling while they get used to something. I think what you have is a couple of guys trying to get used to the American League after playing their whole careers in the National League. I think you have some new guys trying too hard to make a good impression, and some of the holders getting out of their comfort zone a little and trying to be hitters that they're not. And obviously you have to account for the possibility that age has caught up with a couple of the hitters as well.

Learn from it says Buck. They are doing just the opposite. Big homerun swings no matter the count. Not working the count. They need to emphasize
contact hitting not swinging from the heels every pitch. i HAVE been an oriole fan since 1958 and this is simply demoralizing. They need tp play smarter not harder.

Gonzalez is "struggling"??? How so very kind of you. This guy has been putrid since day 1 last year.
Another McFail brilliant move.
What a waste of money & bullpen space.

Can we please mix the lineup around for a few games....... How about this for a whole series, 2b-Roberts, cf-Jones, rf-Markakis, 3b-Reynolds, dh-Guerrero, c-Wieters, lf-Scott, 1b-Lee, ss-Andino. This would hopefully send a message to the whole team and not single any one player out. .................................. What do you think of something like this for a series and if it works , hey, stick with it.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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