Looking back and ahead

No wonder I had trouble falling asleep last night. I find it unsettling when the Orioles protect a slim lead in the ninth inning by retiring three straight batters - and not after three straight reach base.

Way too routine for my taste.

Alfredo Simon left the drama in his locker while recording the save. Now that he knows it's that easy, maybe he'll do it more often.

You can see the difference Koji Uehara will make in this bullpen if he stays healthy. And that's a big "if." Huge. We're talking Manute Bol on stilts.

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Uehara can dominate for an inning with his assortment of pitches and deceptive delivery. He'll come at you from different arm angles and change speeds and throw strikes.

I like him as a closer. I definitely liked him as a set-up man last night.

Unfortunately, he's pretty much been day-to-day since he signed, so we'll have to keep our fingers crossed. But he could be invaluable to this staff.

Uehara should be available tonight after showing the Orioles that he could pitch on back-to-back days at the end of his injury rehab assignment.

Will he be protecting another lead?

That would require the Orioles to score on Francisco Liriano, who blanked three straight opponents over 23 innings before allowing three runs in seven innings in Sunday's win over Cleveland.

The Orioles must be catching him at the right time.

Liriano is 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA and was named the AL's Pitcher of the Month for April. Kevin Millwood is 0-3 with 3.15 ERA and has never beaten the Twins in 12 career starts, going 0-7 with a 5.90 ERA.

The reverse lock is in order.

Millwood has been much better this season than his record indicates, but it's not like the offense is showing signs of busting loose. Almost lost in the euphoria of last night's victory was another inept display by the bats. The only thing separating the two teams was one swing from Ty Wigginton.

More on Liriano: I didn't realize until this morning that he's only faced the Orioles once, holding them to one hit over seven scoreless innings. The three players on the current 25-man roster who have batted against him are a combined 1-for-12 (Julio Lugo is 1-for-6, Cesar Izturis and Miguel Tejada are 0-for-3.)

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