Leftovers for breakfast

The Orioles have lost five of their last seven series after winning four in a row.

Left-hander Brian Matusz served up a grand slam in the first inning last night at Triple-A Norfolk, and followed up with six scoreless innings. One of the runs was unearned.

Pedro Viola blew the save for Matusz, who allowed five hits, walked four and struck out two in seven innings. He threw 110 pitches, 72 for strikes.

In two starts with the Tides, Matusz has permitted three earned runs and nine hits in 16 innings.

Former Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth hit his eighth home run last night.

I spent seven weeks in spring training, I’m at Camden Yards for every home game and I make the occasional road trip, and I still haven’t said one word to reliever Miguel Socolovich.

I really need to introduce myself.

Socolovich’s locker was situated in a corner of the Ed Smith Stadium clubhouse in Sarasota. I remember that part. He was shut down for a period with a strained right groin, and manager Buck Showalter would occasionally include his name in the injury updates. I’d occasionally write it down. And I honestly didn’t expect him to spend an entire season in the organization, let alone make it to Camden Yards.

Socolovich posted a 1.77 ERA in 24 games at Norfolk and made the Triple-A All-Star team. He cannot be ignored.

Showalter pulled Xavier Avery aside during Thursday night’s workout and told him of the club’s plans to activate Endy Chavez from the disabled list. Showalter said the decision would be made at noon the following day. Avery was in the Tides’ lineup Friday night, which didn’t go unnoticed by Showalter.

“That’s impressive,” Showalter said. “He’s done that twice now. Those are things you notice with young players.”

During his speech that followed the unveiling of his statue, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer compared Avery to former Orioles center fielder and leadoff hitter Al Bumbry. He sees that kind of potential.

flaherty atbat white sidebar.jpgShowalter was asked yesterday whether Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty has justified the club’s decision to carry him on the roster.

“Sure,” Showalter replied, adding that he wants Flaherty to play winter ball.

“The problem is keeping (Rule 5 picks) in the big leagues. You’d like to put them somewhere where they can finish off. That’s what’s so tough with Jake (Arrieta) and Matusz and (Tommy) Hunter and all those guys. The things they need to work on, it’s hard to experiment in the major leagues. They’re always going to go into compete mode and try to do what they’ve always done.

“Ryan’s been good. He had a hiccup (error) last night, but I’m not sure if anybody else would have made that play. He’s made some plays in those situations late in games that I’m not sure anybody else would have made. You always watch a person’s body language when they come off the field after that happens and he wasn’t happy.”

The Orioles are still determining Flaherty’s best position and they still believe he can be an everyday player down the road.

As Saturday’s game went into extra innings and didn’t end until the 13th, pitcher Miguel Gonzalez began to loosen up in case he was needed as a pinch runner. He would have been used as a reliever, with Chris Tillman making yesterday’s start, until Taylor Teagarden hit his first career walk-off home run.

According to Elias, Teagarden was the first Oriole to hit a walk-off home run in his first game with the club. He was the first player in the majors to do it since Joe Randa with the Reds on April 4, 2005.

I would expect second baseman Brian Roberts to decide this week whether to undergo surgery on his hip. It will be surprising if he declines it.

The Orioles walked seven batters yesterday, tying their season high.

Showalter noted how the players in the Orioles’ clubhouse have “a lot in common, especially with the way the roster is constructed now.”

“There isn’t really a guy who holds his teammates beneath him or says, ‘I’m this guy because of what I’m doing and what my contract is,’” Showalter said. “I’ve got to tell you, a lot of that starts with Nicky (Markakis). You walk through there and you feel like he’s still trying to establish himself.

“One thing that’s obvious is how much he missed being away. He’s having fun right now, just to be back. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He doesn’t get caught up in that disease of ‘me,’ which permeates so much at this level. (Matt) Wieters is the same way. There’s nothing beneath them.”

Norfolk’s mascot, Rip Tide, is probable for tonight’s game after this incident last night. Prepare to cringe:

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