The Orioles became the first team last night to score four earned runs off Indians starter Justin Masterson since June 3, and they did it over six innings.
The end result was another loss for the Orioles, their eighth in a row.
I preached all winter that they could finish .500 or slightly above if a lot of things fell into place. They would have to avoid injuries to key players, their young starters would have to take the next step and certain veterans would need bounce-back seasons.
There’s an obvious risk when a team is counting heavily on good health, a young rotation and bounce-back seasons. It’s a serious roll of the dice, especially after 13 straight losing campaigns.
No need for me to detail all three failings. You’ve been following the team.
I kept harping on the importance of Brian Roberts staying healthy and atop the order. He’s played in 39 games, 20 fewer than last season. He still hasn’t been cleared for full baseball activities, though his workload has increased, and the Orioles aren’t ready to predict when he’ll go on an injury-rehab assignment.
Who the heck is going to bat leadoff if the Orioles trade J.J. Hardy? Are we back to Robert Andino and Felix Pie?
Not that this is the biggest concern on the club. It doesn’t really matter if the starting pitchers can’t get through the middle innings and the Orioles are playing from behind every night.
We were told that Luke Scott received a cortisone injection in his right shoulder July 4, but it turns out that he won’t get the shot until today. I’m not sure what caused the confusion, but I find it hard to believe that he’ll play in three injury-rehab games and come off the disabled list when eligible Tuesday.
Michael Gonzalez made one of the most impressive plays of the season in the top of the eighth inning, and it shouldn’t go unnoticed in an 8-4 loss. He deflected Jack Hannahan’s sharp grounder up the middle, made a sliding stop of the ball as it rolled toward second base and threw out the runner from his knees.
Gonzalez laid on his stomach for a few seconds, a big smile creasing his face. Head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and acting manager John Russell left the dugout to check on him, and Gonzalez stayed in the game after a few warmup tosses. He retired the side in order, striking out the last batter on a nasty slider.
The Orioles 25-man roster includes Chris Jakubauskas, Mitch Atkins, Pedro Viola, Alfredo Simon, Mark Hendrickson and Blake Davis. Did you expect those six to be here in the middle of July?
Are we all in agreement that the Orioles need to pitch inside more?
Are we all in agreement that it’s surprising to see backup catcher Craig Tatum batting .333?
I mentioned yesterday that Double-A Bowie pitcher Dan Klein, the Orioles’ third-round pick last year out of UCLA, was making progress after being diagnosed last month with a SLAP tear in his right labrum.
To be more specific, I’m told that Klein’s range of motion and arm strength have improved. However, everything else is the same. He still has some discomfort in the shoulder and won’t begin his throwing program in Sarasota until it subsides.
Klein isn’t likely to pitch in any games until mid-to-late August, and it’s possible that he’ll remain shut down for the rest of the season.
The Orioles intended to promote Klein to Triple-A Norfolk before he underwent an MRI and renowned orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum confirmed the tear. He’s a combined 3-1 with a 1.11 ERA between Single-A Frederick and Bowie, with six walks and 37 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings.
Keep an eye on Oliver Drake, the Orioles’ 43rd-round pick in the 2008 draft out of the Naval Academy. Drake moved up to Bowie for the second time this season and responded by striking out 10 last night and recording the Baysox’s first complete game since Brad Bergesen on July 28, 2008.
Drake allowed two runs and seven hits, with two walks, in a 7-2 victory over Richmond.
“I was able to get ahead of guys and get a lot of ground balls,” Drake said. “The middle infield helped me out with some double plays early on and I was able to execute some pitches each time I got into a jam. There were just some adjustments that I needed to make that I wasn’t able to execute my first time up here. I added some run to my fastball and depth, so I’ve been able to get a lot more ground balls off of that and that’s really been the key to my success.”
Drake referenced his first stint with Bowie. He made two starts and allowed 11 runs and 10 hits over four innings. He was 8-3 with a 2.14 ERA at Frederick.
Left-hander Troy Patton tossed two scoreless innings last night for Norfolk, lowering his ERA to 1.83. He allowed three hits and struck out two.
So you think the Orioles are a long-shot to win the World Series? According to odds provided by Bodog, the Astros are the longest of shots.
Philadelphia Phillies 11/4
Boston Red Sox 7/2
New York Yankees 6/1
Atlanta Braves 14/1
Texas Rangers 15/1
San Francisco Giants 16/1
Milwaukee Brewers 16/1
Detroit Tigers 18/1
St. Louis Cardinals 20/1
Tampa Bay Rays 28/1
Cincinnati Reds 28/1
Los Angeles Angels 30/1
Chicago White Sox 30/1
Cleveland Indians 35/1
Arizona Diamondbacks 35/1
Colorado Rockies 40/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 50/1
Seattle Mariners 60/1
Minnesota Twins 65/1
Oakland Athletics 100/1
Toronto Blue Jays 125/1
New York Mets 125/1
Florida Marlins 200/1
Washington Nationals 200/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 200/1
San Diego Padres 250/1
Baltimore Orioles 300/1
Kansas City Royals 300/1
Chicago Cubs 300/1
Houston Astros 500/1
Pathfinders for Autism will hold its inaugural 5K and Family Fun Run on Sunday, Oct. 9 at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. The race is a fundraising event for the organization, which was created in February 2000 by parents of children with autism, including former Oriole B.J. Surhoff and his wife, Polly.
The race will start at 8:30 a.m. Registration and packet pick-up will open at 7 a.m. at The Maryland Zoo. Pre-race registration (June 27 to Oct. 8) is $30 for adults and $15 for children 11 and under. Walk-up registration on Oct. 9 is $35 for adults and $20 for children.
Pre-registered participants will receive a race shirt. Packets will be available for pick-up on Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Charm City Run Store in Timonium. Awards will be given to the top three male and female finishers in the 5K, with additional awards given to male and female winners in select age categories.
For more information, visit www.PathfindersForAutism.org or call Charm City Run at 410-308-1870. To pre-register for the race, visit www.CharmCityRun.com.
Shameless plug alert: I’ll be appearing on The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report on MASN beginning at 5:30 p.m. Phone the neighbors and wake up the kids.