Before you injure both fists bashing Kevin Gregg ... (O’s lose 12-3)

Here we go again.

Kevin Gregg has a bad inning and the venom flows like Dick Vermeil’s tears. Fans demand that the Orioles trade or release him. They say he only pitches effectively if inactive for long periods. They say he never should enter a game with runners on base. They blame him for the economy and Arsenio Hall’s return to late-night television.

OK, let’s start with the reason he’s pitching today: Zach Britton lasted 2 2/3 innings and - stop me if you’ve heard this one before - the Orioles don’t have a true long man in their bullpen.

Remember how Matt Lindstrom warmed in the first inning last night? Well, he entered today’s game in the bottom of the fifth. Also not his projected “role,” if manager Buck Showalter will excuse my use of the word.

Before today, Gregg had posted a 2.20 ERA since April 18. He had been scored upon once in his last 12 appearances. He had let only two of 12 inherited runners score all season.

Gregg didn’t allow a run in back-to-back appearances on July 13 and 14 against the Tigers, or on July 24 and 25 against the Rays (though he permitted three hits and walked two batters.)

I’ll go back further and point out that he didn’t allow a run on June 7 against the Red Sox and June 8 against the Phillies. He didn’t allow a run in May 16 and 18 appearances against the Royals and Nationals, respectively, totaling three hitless innings and earning the win both nights. He didn’t allow a run on May 5 and 6 against the Red Sox, allowing one hit and striking out four over three innings.

I’ve seen the bad ones, too, and there have been a few that should be locked behind bars, but it’s not like bringing in Gregg is the equivalent of waving the white flag.

I also could point out again that Gregg made his earliest appearance today since April 17, 2007, when he entered a game in the first inning. It’s an adjustment for him, whether that makes sense to you or not. And he pitched in a steady rain, which didn’t do him any favors.

I know that it sounds like a big steaming bag of excuses, but these are the cold facts.

Gregg had a bad outing today, but despite popular belief around here, it hasn’t been the norm.

I’m not sure how the acquisition of another reliever would have impacted him. The Orioles talked to the Royals about Jonathan Broxton, and they were “aggressive,” according to one source. They also sought a second left-hander for the bullpen.

Maybe Gregg’s days were numbered. I don’t know. But it doesn’t hurt to look at his overall numbers before portraying him as the worst reliever in club history.

Update: Bring on the off day.

The Orioles couldn’t complete the sweep of the Yankees, falling behind big in the early innings and never recovering in a 12-3 loss.

Tommy Hunter pitched two-thirds of an inning in what amounted to a side session. Newest Yankee Casey McGehee had a sacrifice fly off him, with the run charged to Luis Ayala.

J.J. Hardy hit his 15th home run in the seventh inning. Too bad there weren’t nine men on base.

Speaking of which...the Orioles were 0-for-15 with RISP and stranded 11 runners.

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