Handling the good and bad through six games

It’s not going to get any easier for the Orioles. Swept by the Astros in a three-game series in Houston and now headed for a four-game set in the Bronx, if the Yankee Stadium field isn’t buried beneath a foot of snow.

The early portion of the season already requires some strenuous digging to find positive developments.

Dylan Bundy has turned in back-to-back quality starts, allowing one earned run (two total) in 13 innings with three walks and 15 strikeouts. He still doesn’t have a win, proving again that a pitcher’s record holds little value.

Try focusing harder on a 0.69 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and opponents’ .213 average against him.

Jonathan Schoop had three hits in back-to-back games and seven in the series to raise his average to .308 (8-for-26), though he struck out on three pitches yesterday to complete a 3-2 loss.

Trey Mancini is 3-for-20, but he homered in the ninth inning Monday night and has been robbed a couple of times. Josh Reddick’s leaping catch denied him a three-run shot on Tuesday.

Tim Beckham singled, walked and scored a run yesterday as the leadoff hitter and would seem likely to stay atop the order, at least for a little while. He also struck out twice, but again, no one is ideally suited for the role.

Chris-Davis-disappointed-sidebar.jpgChris Davis struck out as a pinch-hitter and is 1-for-21. Manager Buck Showalter will be asked about him again today, whether the forearm/elbow discomfort has returned, whether Davis isn’t identifying pitches again - he took a fastball right down the gut for strike three on Tuesday - or if it’s more about the pitching that the Orioles have faced in six games.

The last five have ended in defeat and now the Orioles are headed to a ballpark where they went 2-8 last summer. Where they surrendered 102 runs.

The Rule 5 guys are off to a tough start, and carrying two in the bullpen will continue to be a supreme challenge for a team that fancies itself as a contender. Anthony Santander is 1-for-11 and committed a throwing error yesterday, but the bigger issue is Pedro Araujo and left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. being charged with a combined seven runs and nine hits with five walks in 6 2/3 innings.

Araujo entered Tuesday’s game in the seventh inning with the score tied and was charged with four runs, the last three coming on Josh Reddick’s grand slam off Cortes, who fell behind 3-0 in the count before running it full and leaving a fastball over the inner half of the plate.

I’m not dumping on the kids, but I point it out to illustrate how the hand Showalter is playing is quite different from the others sitting at the table and he can’t hide the rookies and ride the veterans until they drop. And by “veterans,” I’m including Miguel Castro, who’s only 23 and hasn’t spent a full season in the majors.

Castro took the loss yesterday after replacing Bundy in the seventh inning.

Andrew Cashner makes his second Orioles start tonight. The rotation outside of Bundy has posted an 8.50 ERA in 18 innings, but Alex Cobb is close to joining it.

Cobb worked five innings yesterday in a simulated game in Sarasota and allowed one run and three hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He’s up to 74 pitches and the Orioles must decide whether to give him six innings Monday afternoon at extended spring training or recall him.

The group of hitters included Mark Trumbo, who’s on the 10-day disabled list with a Grade 2 strain of his right quadriceps.

“Alex looked sharp,” Trumbo wrote in a text message. “Had all three pitches working and hit his spots really well. I thought his stuff looked like it has in-season when we have faced him before.”

If you dig long enough, more good stuff will come up.

Trumbo’s condition is improving and he’s getting some needed at-bats after going 3-for-23 in spring training.

“Today went well,” he said. “Hit a couple balls hard and saw some pitches, which helped to get my timing. I’ll play again Friday and start mixing in on defense.”

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