Looking back, ahead and sideways

The Orioles scored 13 runs in the first five games of the road trip. They've totaled 14 over the last two days.

Scott Feldman pitched seven innings on Saturday and allowed one run. Bud Norris pitched seven innings on Monday and allowed one run. In between, Wei-Yin Chen lasted only four innings.

The bullpen posted a 6.43 ERA on the road trip before registering five scoreless innings on Sunday.

Matt Wieters had four hits yesterday, making him 5-for-9 in the last two games. Nate McLouth lost a double yesterday because of a scoring change, putting him in a 1-for-17 rut, but he responded with a two-run homer as part of a 2-for-4 afternoon.

The Orioles tumbled into fourth place, losers of 11 of 17 games. Now they've won two straight, are back in third place and have crept within two games of the Rays for the final wild card spot.

This is a complicated team. It's like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube, but without the instructional video on YouTube.

McLouth is 5-for-11 with a double and two home runs when batting eighth this season. Manager Buck Showalter lowered him in the lineup yesterday against a right-hander, perhaps easing some of the pressure, and it turned out to be a smart decision.

I wrote yesterday about Showalter having an interesting lineup decision to make regarding Alexi Casilla, who was 10-for-29 with a double, triple and two home runs lifetime against Indians starter Justin Masterson. He's got another one today regarding McLouth, who's 3-for-25 with a home run and nine strikeouts against Ubaldo Jimenez.

Leadoff? Eighth? Bench?

If we're talking leadoff candidates besides McLouth, Brian Roberts has never faced Jimenez and Nick Markakis is 2-for-3 with a home run.

Roberts served as the designated hitter yesterday, but he'll return to second base tonight. If you're Showalter, do you use Wilson Betemit as the DH, since he's 3-for-8 with two doubles against Jimenez, or do you give Michael Morse his second start as an Oriole?

Morse is 1-for-3 vs. Jimenez. Small sample size.

Probably a good idea to play the guy you claimed off waivers and traded for, the guy who collected two hits in his debut at Yankee Stadium.

Showalter could start Morse in left and use Betemit as the designated hitter, but do you sit McLouth against a right-hander after yesterday's performance? I don't recommend it.

Ryan Flaherty, Henry Urrutia, Jonathan Schoop and Josh Stinson will join the club today. Urrutia will be challenged to get back in the lineup with Betemit available now as a left-handed designated hitter and Morse in the organization.

Showalter will try to take advantage of the extra hitters on his bench and extra arms in his bullpen while pleading with Major League Baseball to change the rules regarding expanded rosters. He's fine with carrying 40 players, but he strongly believes that only 25 should be active for each game. Pick and choose. Mix and match. And please...please...end the parade of relievers.

Joe Girardi watched the Indians yesterday and said, "Man, that's a lot of pitching changes."

Major League Baseball is obsessed with speeding up the games. Yeah, well, imagine how quickly they'll pass in September once instant replay is expanded.

The blink of an eye, my friends. The blink of an eye.

Showalter wants a clock installed that provides a specific amount of time for a reliever to walk from the bullpen to the mound, and to get the ball back from the catcher and throw his next pitch.

Or Angel Hernandez could sit in a folding chair next to the photographers pit and yell, "One one thousand, two one thousand..."

Down on the farm, short-season Single-A Aberdeen qualified for the playoffs for the first time in the 12-year history of the franchise. As a reward, the IronBirds will receive Jason Hammel, who makes his second injury-rehab start tonight before the Orioles activate him from the disabled list on Sept. 7.

blog comments powered by Disqus