Ripken’s opinion on the 2012 Orioles

The Orioles are off today, so don’t waste your afternoon waiting for me to post a lineup. It’s not coming until tomorrow, when the Orioles begin a three-game series against the Nationals at Camden Yards.

Warning to all Orioles pitchers: Davey Johnson will be checking your gloves.

He’ll probably ask why Brian Matusz’s glove has Brady Anderson’s name on it. And no, I’m not answering that one again.

I’m just worried that the Orioles’ bats will cool off before tomorrow. #sarcasm.

Wilson Betemit’s long two-run homer in the eighth inning last night guaranteed that the Orioles wouldn’t be shut out in all three games of a series for the first time since the franchise relocated to Baltimore. The St. Louis Browns scored zero runs in a three-game road series against the Chicago White Sox on April 25-27, 1909.

The Orioles don’t have a hit with a runner in scoring position since Saturday. They do have a bases-loaded walk - from Steve Pearce in the ninth inning last night - but that’s not quite the same thing.

At least the Orioles get their DH back tomorrow, but they’re still missing their corner outfielders from opening day and assorted players are slumping.

Remember when I suggested that it might be a good idea to consider Miguel Tejada - a complete reversal from my previous stance? Well, his average at Triple-A Norfolk is down to .248.

Speaking of Norfolk, left-hander Jamie Moyer has allowed three earned runs in three starts covering 16 innings, with no walks and 16 strikeouts.

Moyer was removed after four innings and 77 pitches last night, and Steve Johnson picked up the win with three scoreless innings. Johnson gave up two hits, walked two and struck out six.

The Tides already have too many starters, and Dontrelle Willis is scheduled to start on Saturday. Jason Berken was supposed to take the ball. Maybe he’ll get it after Willis is done.

I’m heading to the MASN Web Studio at the warehouse this morning for a 9 a.m. appointment. I’m appearing at Shriver Hall at Johns Hopkins University at 6:30 p.m. for a Baltimore Sun Newsmaker Forum, presented by Sports Legends Museum, that also includes ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Baltimore Sun beat writer Eduardo Encina. Then I’m racing up to Hunt Valley to tape an interview with MASN’s Tom Davis for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

That’s it for me.

Ripken Hall of Fame Presser tall.jpgI’ll continue to check on the comments as time allows and pass along any news that might surface. In the meantime, I wanted to share a little more from Monday’s interview with Cal Ripken Jr. in Aberdeen.

I asked Ripken for his thoughts on the Orioles, who had just taken two of three from the Braves, which led to a comparison to the 1989 “Why Not?” team.

“When J.J. Hardy came in, I really loved the stability at shortstop that he provided, the leadership that’s obvious to me and his offensive production,” Ripken said.

“They have the ability to score some runs. (Matt) Wieters is an All-Star catcher. You have (Nick) Markakis. Even though he hasn’t been to the All-Star Game, in my opinion he’s an All-Star outfielder. You’ve got Adam Jones, who’s turning into a raw superstar. So you look around and they have the nucleus of a pretty good team.

“Last year, they were dead last in pitching, weren’t they? You can’t win without getting the other team out consistently, so they revamped the whole pitching staff. (Wei-Yin) Chen’s been fantastic. (Jason) Hammel’s been great. (Jake) Arrieta was great early on. And (Brian) Matusz, I’m glad they didn’t give up on him because he’s got good stuff. So if you start to project a little bit, you can see them staying and pitching well. And Pedro Strop fills a bridge for (Jim) Johnson at the back end of the bullpen. He’s pitching well. As long as they pitch, they have a chance to stay in it.

“I guess the similarity when you’re talking about the ‘89 team is, the ‘89 team was really interesting because there were a lot of young guys who had some talent who really grew their confidence as the year went on. There’s a big argument over whether there’s any momentum in baseball. Earl Weaver would say it starts with the next day’s pitcher. But I think from a team standpoint, a one-run standpoint, feeling that you can win ballgames, that sort of confidence seems to be building. And they’re not intimidated by playing in extra innings, they’re not intimidated by playing in close games. They’re feeling good and they’re a confident team that now feels they can win.”

How much of this confidence stems from having manager Buck Showalter in the dugout?

“I said this ever since they hired him: He’s an excellent baseball guy,” Ripken said. “In a rebuilding situation, your strategies are lost sometimes, but when you’re in a winning situation, then the strategies and subtle moves and some of the things a manager can do will have more meaning. Certainly, he’s been in high-pressure situations in New York. He’s been in all situations. He knows himself as a manager. Buck’s leadership plays a big role in how they’re playing.”

Showalter’s next challenge is to apply the brakes to a three-game losing streak and find a way to squeeze more runs out of whichever lineup he writes out.

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