News, notes and opinions
The Orioles have so many issues right now that this is perhaps foolish to bring up, but I will anyway after Toronto Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero dominated them over eight innings yesterday. Until the Orioles prove that they can at least occasionally knock around some of the better pitchers in the American League East, it will be impossible for the division’s heavyweights to take them too seriously. Guys like CC Sabathia and Jon Lester are considered among the best pitchers in the league for a reason, but their numbers against the Orioles are absurd. Even the league’s best pitchers have bad days. They just never seem to come against the Orioles, which obviously speaks to the organization’s ongoing offensive issues. Consider these career numbers against the Orioles from some of the top starters in the division this year: Sabathia (16-2, 2.74 ERA), A.J. Burnett (12-5, 4.53), Bartolo Colon (11-7, 3.31), Lester (14-0, 2.33), John Lackey (11-4, 2.89), Josh Beckett (7-3, 3.76), Romero (6-3, 3.10), Brett Cecil (3-0, 2.19), David Price (4-1, 2.98), James Shields (8-5, 3.45) and Jeremy Hellickson (3-1, 2.63). Again, these guys aren’t just picking on the Orioles as manager Buck Showalter likes to say. But sooner or later, the Orioles are going to have to stand up to some of these guys and prove that they can at least be a threat.
Speaking of Romero’s dominance against the Orioles, he has allowed eight earned runs in 32 innings against them this season. Mark Reynolds has driven in six of those eight runs.
Here’s a statistic that I’m guessing you wouldn’t have even believed if it was May never mind August: The team’s current leader in on-base percentage among regulars (or at least semi-regulars) is infielder Robert Andino who is getting on at a .343 clip. This is no disrespect at all to Andino, who is one of only a precious few Orioles this season who has actually exceeded expectations. It is, however, quite alarming that a player who began the season as the team’s utility infielder leads in this category.
The scary part about the Orioles being 4-8 against the Blue Jays this season is the fact that they have contained American League home run leader Jose Bautista, who absolutely destroyed them last year. In 18 games against the Orioles last season, Bautista went 20-for-67 (.299) with six doubles, one triple, nine homers, 19 RBIs and 10 walks. This year, he is 7-for-41 (.171) with one double, zero homers, six RBIs, 10 walks and 10 strikeouts in 12 games.
We’ve gotten plenty of questions about Kevin Millwood so it’s worth addressing. I expect the Orioles front office to at least internally discuss the possibility of adding the veteran, who was granted his release by the Boston Red Sox yesterday. Don’t misunderstand, a reunion would still surprise me, but I wouldn’t rule anything out, not after the Orioles last week plucked Jo-Jo Reyes off the waiver wire and plan to start him tomorrow night.
The Orioles obviously hope is that the more experience young third baseman Josh Bell gets, the more comfortable he’ll be. However, Bell still is a phase where the game appears to be moving entirely too fast for him. The two strikeouts yesterday didn't help, but his error on Rajai Davis’ groundball in the third inning ultimately cost the Orioles two runs on a play that was as routine as it gets. This was a big year for Bell and it’s been largely a disappointing one.
In case you are wondering, former Oriole reliever Koji Uehara has already made four appearances for the Texas Rangers, allowing one run and one hit - a Ryan Raburn homer – while striking out five over 3 1/3 innings. Derrek Lee, meanwhile, is 3-for-10 with two homers and three RBIs in three games for the spiraling Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s missed four straight games with a bruised left hand.
Kudos to Double-A Bowie second baseman Greg Miclat who set a franchise record with four stolen bases in the Baysox 5-3 victory over New Hampshire Sunday. Miclat has 46 stolen bases in 48 attempts on the season, the third most any Bowie player has stolen in a season. Curtis Goodwin holds the record with 59 thefts in 1994. I’ve only seen Miclat play a couple of times in person, but he left a good impression on me last year when I went to Prince George’s Stadium for one of Brian Roberts’ rehab games. Miclat was constantly talking to Roberts and picking his brain. Baserunning was one of the prominent topics. The kid has obviously worked really hard at it.