Monday morning musings

It was a good weekend for O's starting pitching. Four starters worked a combined 20 innings and pitched to an ERA of 2.25. Brian Matusz got it started with 5 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings Friday vs. Philly. Tillman and Bergesen pitched well in split-squad games Saturday and Kevin Millwood gave up just one run Sunday vs. Philly. Don't the O's seem to pitch well vs. the NL Champs? A switch to the NL East anyone? The four combined: 20IP, 10h, 5er, 7bb, 17K. Let's not talk about Jeremy Guthrie's outing last Thursday at this point. For now, put the panic button back in the closet. Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez went out like a champion on Sunday, scoring 14 points in the final 6:50 in the loss to Michigan State. He scored an amazing 10 points in the final two minutes and twice in the last :40 hit shots that put Maryland up by one. I just wish someone had guarded the guy who hit the shot at the buzzer. A Sweet 16 would have cemented this as a great year, as it is, a very good year for Maryland hoops. They got back in the top 25, were ACC regular-season co-champs, made the tourney again and found a big man for the future. Vasquez was a lightning rod for critics, who could never get over his turnovers and sometimes forced shots. But he also hit many a huge shot and finished up as the second-leading scorer ever, behind only Juan Dixon. Great career Greivis, you were and are a great Terp. You may have missed what could be an important injury in the AL East. The Tampa Bay Rays have lost lefty reliever J.P. Howell possibly for a month or more. He has inflammation in his shoulder and had not pitched in a game in March. This guy is the glue in the Rays pen, sometimes working key two innings stints to hold a lead in the 6th, 7th and/or 8th and last year went 7-5, 2.84 with 17 saves. The AL hit just .197 off him. He pitched 8 1/3 shutout innings vs. the O's in 2009. The Nationals are sending pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg to Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League to start the season. He won't need much time in the minors for sure. If he pitches their season opener, April 8th at Altoona, his next scheduled start would likely come on April 13th at Bowie vs. the Baysox. I spoke with O's scouting director Joe Jordan over the weekend. He wanted to emphasize something about comments he made for my recent series on O's draft picks here on When he referred to a pick as "solid" or called it "a great pick in that round" he wasn't patting himself on the back. He meant the area scout that recommended the pick did a great job. He wants fans to understand he has a pretty solid staff and they deserve praise for their work. No doubt that is true. Jordan knows better than all us how dicey the draft is. He feels good about what his staff did leading up the 2009 draft and hopes everyone understands that. Point made.

Anxious times for O's fans
Minnesota's gain, New York's loss

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