The Orioles are off tonight. Then again, they were off all weekend.
See what I did there?
They took a two-fisted beating from a team they swept on the road in the first series of 2011. They didn’t pitch, they didn’t hit. Losses usually ensue when that happens.
There were plenty of opportunities. The Rays kept walking hitters and littering the bases.
One night, Derrek Lee took a third strike in the ninth inning. The next day, he grounded into a double play. Brian Roberts broke too soon for third base and was thrown out. Batters whiffed. They popped up. They put Tampa Bay’s starters on the ropes, then stepped back and waited for the bell.
The Orioles were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position Saturday afternoon, and they stranded 12 runners. They were 1-for-6 yesterday and stranded nine.
That’ll keep you awake nights if you’re Buck Showalter.
The Orioles have scored 10 runs for Brad Bergesen in his six starts while he’s been in the game, including five in Kansas City, and just 18 total in those games. He should join Jeremy Guthrie’s non-support group.
Here’s something the two pitchers don’t have in common: Guthrie is assured of staying in the rotation.
Bergesen is 0-4 with a 5.57 ERA and he hasn’t gone more than five innings in four of his six starts. He hasn’t exceeded six innings in the other two outings. He’s skating on thin ice.
Even while he was retiring nine of 10 batters yesterday - the one baserunner coming on an intentional walk - Showalter disputed that Bergesen was cruising.
“(Bergesen) was very wild in the strike zone and we’ve had this problem with two or three of our pitchers,” Showalter said. “We get a lot of counts in our favor. You go back through - 0-2, 1-2 - and we make a mistake. He’s pulling some balls across the plate and missing his location by a good margin, even though it may end up being a strike, especially when it’s 0-2, 1-2. Being that wild in the strike zone with the approach that he features is a challenge for him.”
So Bergesen was retiring batters, but not putting the ball where he wanted it.
Alfredo Simon could come off the restricted list and join the 25-man roster, in whatever capacity, by the third week of May. Brian Matusz could follow him through the door, unless he’s rushed a few days earlier. And it’s not inconceivable that Justin Duchscherer shows up on May 30 and checks to make sure that everyone still recognizes him.
Bergesen and Chris Tillman are vulnerable, to say the least.
So is Clay Rapada. He didn’t give up a run yesterday for the second straight appearance, but he allowed a hit and walk in 1 1/3 innings. His ERA is down to 11.12. However, a second lefty in the bullpen might not be as important with Michael Gonzalez out of his funk. And the Orioles might prefer another long man.
The roster could undergo plenty of changes this month.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy is due back Tuesday, and the Orioles must decide whether to go back to 12 pitchers. Would they eventually be bold enough to cut ties with infielder Cesar Izturis, who’s batting .192 and rarely gets off the bench. He’s being paid $1.5 million and is extremely popular in the clubhouse. He also seems like a defensive luxury on a team that needs more pop, and that can call upon Robert Andino to handle its utility needs.
The Orioles would like to bring up a backup catcher, and they’ve discussed Craig Tatum. He’s on the seven-day disabled list, retroactive to Saturday, with a right shoulder impingement. John Hester, acquired from the Diamondbacks, would present another option.
You may not recognize this team by June 1. It most certainly did not look like the one we saw at Tropicana Field.