Sizing up the latest loss, bullpen additions and catcher stats

The Orioles have now fallen 1 1/2 games off the pace in the American League East after they lost at Detroit 5-4 last night while New York was winning 11-7 at Kansas City.

The Yankees (24-13) are 8-1 in their last nine road games, while the Orioles (23-15) are 1-5 on their current road trip, which ends this afternoon.

It’s a road trip marked by five one-run losses featuring blown leads, some ineffective bullpen pitching and short outings by starting pitchers.

It’s a problem we’ve seen before, but O’s starting pitchers are once again not getting deep enough into games. That, of course, impacts a bullpen that has an ERA of 6.20 and has allowed six homers on the road trip.

Over their last seven games, the Orioles have just one quality start and the rotation ERA is 6.19. In the last four games, O’s starters have covered just 17 2/3 innings and Orioles starters have gone five innings or less five times on the road trip.

One positive from last night was the combined three scoreless innings out of the bullpen from Stefan Crichton, Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro. It was the first game without the O’s bullpen being scored on since May 9 at home versus Washington.

Crichton and Castro showed mid-90s heat. Crichton had pitched quite well in recent games at Triple-A Norfolk, where he had thrown eight scoreless with one walk and eight strikeouts over his last three outings. Last night was the first game where he has not allowed a run in the four games he’s pitched this year for the Orioles. If he can find some consistency with his slider to go along with that fastball, he could be a nice addition to the bullpen depth. In Crichton, the Orioles have advanced a 23rd-round draft pick out of TCU to the majors. He was ranked by Baseball America as their No. 27 prospect over the winter.

Castro’s fastball can touch 96-97 mph and he showed a nice changeup and slider last night, as well. Castro was briefly a major league closer at 20 with Toronto early in the 2015 season.

Castro came on after Tyler Collins led off the Detroit eighth with a double. Castro faced James McCann, who advanced Collins to third with a sac bunt. Trying to keep the O’s down 5-4, Castro did just that. He struck out Jose Iglesias with a slider on the 12th pitch of an at-bat. He then got Ian Kinsler to ground out on the 10th pitch of his at-bat. Impressive job there by the 22-year-old right-hander that the Orioles acquired April 7 from Colorado for a player to be named or cash considerations.

Welington-Castillo-watching-swing-white-sidebar.jpgThese catchers can hit: Welington Castillo returned from the disabled list on Tuesday and is 6-for-10 in the last two games against Detroit. Going back to the start of the Kansas City series last Friday, here are the combined stats for three different O’s catchers over the last five games: 13-for-21 (.619) with three doubles, a triple, three homers and nine RBIs.

That includes contributions from Castillo, Caleb Joseph and Francisco Peña, who was designated for assignment yesterday as the Orioles recalled Crichton.

Listen up: Click here for the blog that includes our latest Yard Work podcast. Recorded earlier this week, Brian Eller and I discussed several O’s topics. You can subscribe to the Yard Work podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Happy birthday, Brooksie!: A Hall of Famer player and person celebrates a milestone birthday today. Brooks Robinson turns 80.

This might be different from one Oriole fan to another, but for this kid that grew up in the Baltimore area, No. 5 will always be the greatest Oriole of all time.

Here is a story from September 2012 when Brooks had his statue unveiled at Camden Yards. As always, he was extremely gracious that day.

“I just want to say to all the fans here: I don’t like to call you fans, I like to call you friends,” he said to huge applause. “You have been so wonderful to me and my wife since I came to Baltimore back in 1955. I just want to thank all of you.”

Well, thank you Brooks. Thank you!

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