Orioles need the ‘pen to be mightier

I should have stayed in Frederick last night. The Single-A Keys rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and defeated Potomac, 3-2.

Left-hander Brian Matusz was spared the loss in his first injury rehab start when Jacob Julius stroked a pinch-hit, game-tying single and Buck Britton followed with a two-run single.

Brother Zach would be proud.

Yes, I should have hung around Harry Grove Stadium on Bark in the Park night. And yes, I’m trying to come up with a dog-related joke as a transition to the Orioles’ 8-7 loss to the Red Sox.

The rotation turned in six straight quality starts until Chris Tillman was forced out of last night’s game after five scoreless innings with tightness in his back.

Manager Buck Showalter tried using six relievers to piece together a win. It didn’t bring him any peace.

As I wrote last night, Michael Gonzalez has allowed runs in his last three appearances, and hits in his last five. He’s surrendered four earned runs (seven total) and 10 hits in four innings in those five games.

Jeremy Accardo has allowed runs in five straight appearances and six of his last seven. He’s permitted five runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Digging deeper in the ‘pen, you’ll find that Clay Rapada hasn’t allowed a run in his last four outings after being scored upon in five straight, but he’s put runners on base in his last three.

Jim Johnson has allowed runs in two of his last three appearances. He’s given up two runs and seven hits over four innings.

Koji Uehara gave the Orioles a scoreless inning last night, but he allowed a hit and walked another batter. He’s put runners on base in six of his last nine appearances.

Since when did he start taking turns on the tightrope?

Kevin Gregg blew his third save last night after walking two batters and giving up Adrian Gonzalez’s two-run double. He’s been scored upon in two of his last four outings and has put runners on base in six of seven.

Jason Berken didn’t pitch last night, but he’s given up runs in five of his last seven appearances and hits in 11 of 13. He’s allowed eight earned runs (nine total) in his last seven innings.

Asked about the bullpen after last night’s loss, manager Buck Showalter said, “We’ve had some nights where they pitched real well. I thought Koji pitched real well tonight and I thought J.J. deserved a lot better fate. They had a couple ground balls and flares that fell in there. Hopefully that’ll happen for us tomorrow.”

Hopefully, rookie Zach Britton will be a distance runner instead of a guy who passes the baton.

Moving beyond the bullpen, the Orioles might have to make a roster move today after losing Derrek Lee in the third inning because of a strained left oblique and utility infielder Cesar Izturis for the entire game because of numbness in his right hand.

Izturis flew back to Baltimore and was examined by team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens.

It’s amazing that this team isn’t 40 games below .500 given all the health issues, the collective slumps in the lineup and the assorted pitching woes.

You wanted Lee out of the third slot in the order? Well, you got your wish.

Nick Markakis probably moves down to third tonight against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, so Showalter will have to find a new No. 2 hitter. Could be Adam Jones. Could be J.J. Hardy. Could be Felix Pie if he gets a start.

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