Friday, April 24, 2009

Maybe It is All Starting To Come Together...Countdown 73

Last night Adam Eaton stepped up and managed to allow only four hits and no runs in 7 1/3 innings leading the Orioles to a 6-2 win. The White Sox have a powerful offense so it's not as if he was pitching against the Nationals. After two lousy starts maybe he finally found his groove. The big question this season has been pitching? Can the Orioles' starters eat up innings? Can they prevent the huge hemorrhaging of runs? Will the bullpen be able to preform in a close game? The first few games the Orioles bats were able to keep all those questions at bay. But now it is starting to look like a starting rotation is coming together.

Maybe last night was a fluke. But I hope not. Maybe Bergensen isn't ready for the majors. Again, I hope not. I think that after the first few weeks the talent is being assessed and the pitchers are starting to feel more comfortable in their roles. They are starting to settle in and step up. Maybe after all the times the O's have traded pitchers only to have them finally start reaching their potential, it's the O's turn.

The offense of the Orioles has not been in question this year. Everyone seems to have a hot bat. Yes, they have had some down nights, but that's to be expected. I think they understand they have to carry a lot of the weight for the team. Seven different Orioles were able to get hits last night including a couple of doubles by Huff and Scott. Only five other teams have scored more runs than the O's. Which is a good sign. If our pitching really is coming together, the Strive for .500 countdown can be a success. Only 73 more wins!!
Let's go O's!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Young Pitching Pans Out...Countdown 74

After a week of loses and injuries and inconsistencies on the mound the Orioles finally won another game. They beat the White Sox 10-3. Now they are back at .500 and only 74 wins away from a .500 season on the year. And games like last night's are the kind of games that give you hope for the future. The O's called up Brad Bergesen from Triple A and he was able to tame the big bats of the Chicago White Sox by only letting you three runs in 5 2/3 innings. That's a solid start and Orioles are looking for.

It's amazing that we seem to have a farm system once again. Woo hoo! The Orioles also gave this young started the run support he needed and more to gain his first major league win. If he works out the O's could have four decent starting pitchers. Guthrie, Uehara, Hendrickson and Bergesen. All have now had at least one solid start. Yes, there have been some bad games in there, but honestly, if I told you before the season that the Red Sox would sweep the O's in the first series against them would you have been surprised. No. The big surprise would have been the start.

Hopefully, the pitching is beginning to settle and the bats are staying hot. Hope that Strive for .500 actually makes it to zero is alive again. Don't burst my bubble. Last night was a good night.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Caps Step Up in Game 3, Ovie's Turn in Game 4

The Caps played last night and stepped up their game. They beat the seventh seeded rangers to put themselves back into the competition. The Rangers lead the series is now 2-1 and the Caps play again tomorrow in an attempt to tie the series and show that the slow start in the first two games was not such a big deal. The Caps managed to find their offense last night and their young goalie stayed strong and allowed no goals for a final score of 4-0.

While the Caps came on strong, their star player still isn't living up to all his hype. Alex Ovechkin has yet to record a playoff goal. He had two assists last night. Which is good to see he's not trying to put all the pressure on him and let the team do some of the work in the win. A good leader should be willing to let others help.

But obviously a good leader also needs to lead. He's the top scorer on the team. Now that the Caps have won a game without him scoring he needs to step up and lead this offense. He is a viable threat and should be seen as one. Sure, I'm all for spreading the wealth and doing what it takes to win games. But I don't know how successful the Caps are going to be if Ovechkin can't get his swagger back. He is the spirit of this team.

Hopefully tomorrow he'll find his shot and truly lead his team. I'm not really sure they can win this series without his scoring. But then again, a win is a win. And I'll take it no matter who scores. I just want to see the Caps move on in the playoffs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

O's Win Again Despite Pitching Woes (Countdown 75)

The Orioles managed to pull off another win last night with a 7-5 showing. They now sit atop the AL East and have won their first three series of the season. They've take two out of three from the might, spend happy Yankees, and two out of three from the AL Champion Rays. And they have a chance to sweep Texas tonight. The bats of the Orioles seem to be on fire. They've scored 50 runs already this season and the offense has showed little sign of slowing down anytime soon. They even have a chance to sweep the Texas Rangers tonight. If you had told me all those things before the season started I'd be ecstatic.

But looking at all that doesn't really show what's going on with this team. Just focusing on the positive paints an overly rosy picture of this team. Usually I like to focus on the positive. As an O's fan it's what you have to do to stay sane and keep caring. But I can't do that right now. Which is a shame because who knows how long we're going to be able to keep winning and be in first place. I really want to just focus on the positive but our pitching is in such bad shape that I just can't.

The Orioles used six different pitchers last night. SIX! Ok, so Simon is apparently injured and only lasted four outs. And our bullpen did step up and hold the Rangers off until Sherrill let up a two run homer in the 10th. Even Sarfate didn't allow any runs. But this is not a viable solution. The O's need starting pitchers. At this rate the bullpen will be worn out by June. Is it a possible game plan to just have a bullpen and have each pitcher pitch one inning every game? Could that work? Because it seems like the O's are working with something like that.

Hopefully, this is a minor injury for Simon and he will come back and be a consistent starter. I'm not asking for greatness here. I'm just asking for an average starter that can pitch more than two innings without blowing the game. Hendrickson is up tonight. His last outing was exactly what I was looking for in a starter. He pitched 5.1 innings and with one earned run. That is what a pitcher at the bottom of the rotation should be doing. I'm not looking for complete games. I am looking for more than one time through the line up. I'm hoping he brings his consistent game back tonight. I don't need flashy or dominant. I just want consistent wins.

Adam Eaton struck out six in four innings in his start against the Rays. He also allowed four runs. I'd like to focus on his ability to pitch strikes but I was at the game and he got blasted. Hopefully, he'll start pitching more strikes the other team can't hit. I'll cut him some slack because it was against the Rays. And they were in the World Series last year. But he wasn't that great for the Phillies last year. And it just makes me wonder what Baltimore is thinking.

With an offense and a start like this I want to be celebrating. Instead, I'm just worrying about when the other shoe is going to drop. I'll take the wins where I can get them. It's still early and there is still time for things to fall into place. But if the starting pitching doesn't improve, I'm not sure the countdown will make it to zero. Even though we seem to keep winning, I already feel like Strive for .500 is in jeopardy. Oh yeah, the Orioles are now only 75 wins away from a .500 season.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

O's Win Slugfest in Baltimore Jersey Debut.....(Countdown 76)

Yesterday the Orioles out scored the Rangers 10-9 to win their fifth game of the season. I'm incredibly superstitious. So I'm not only happy for the win, but happy that the O's were able to win their first game with Baltimore back on the jersey. I'm glad the long awaited jerseys got a good start. Otherwise, it's possible that these jerseys would be considered jinxed. Returning Baltimore to the jersey should only be viewed as a good thing and a win helps that. At least in my mind. The Orioles did their best to return to old form at the end of the game and try to blow it. But they were able to hold on and win.

The pitching is looking more and more questionable, but as long as the O's bats stay hotter than their opponents I guess we can still hope the pitching comes together. I'm not going to give up on Uehara yet. He's had one good game and one bad game. I just hope he has more good games than bad this season. And when you can walk away from a bad game with a win I guess you have to look at it from the positive. In general the Orioles have problems with the Texas Rangers. Some of their most embarrassing games have come against them. However, he's still 2-0. So if he can get the run support than I guess I can't complain too much. Hopefully, this was just an off game. (I'm going to keep saying this until I have a definitive reason to believe otherwise.) The Orioles really need to have more than one consistent starter. I love Guthrie, but we really do need more.

At least the top of our batting line up, Roberts, Jones, and Markakis, are all batting over .350. I'm hoping the bats stay hot to help out the pitching as much as possible. Even without pitching huge offense is going to win us some games. And big bats and solid defense should help to lure free agents to the Orioles. If it looks like they are only a few pitchers away from being contender, which I'm not saying they are, that makes them more desirable to play on. After what the Rays did last year, it's hard to count any team out. The O's are now 76 wins away from a .500 season. Let's keep striving for .500.

Monday, April 13, 2009

For the Love of the Game (Countdown 77)

Last week, I was talking to my friend about Opening Day. He's a Yankees fan and I was asking if he had watched it and what he thought. I said a couple things about how the Yankees looked pretty off and how he felt about all the big money deals and how they would work out this season. He didn't even know the Yankees had played and lost. He said his main problem with baseball is that the season is so long, that it's hard to care about any particular game. On one hand, I guess I kind of agree with that but on the other hand I think it's a total cop out.

Part of the beauty of baseball is the ridiculously long season. Sure, I don't get excited for every game, but I am excited while watching any game. It's true that you don't get a week to celebrate any particular victory, but you also don't have to spend much time dwelling on a terrible loss. A great part of baseball is there's always next time. And next time is usually pretty soon.

Yesterday the Orioles got blown out by the Rays 11-3. I went to the game and really just watched inning after inning of the Orioles' ineptitude. I usually don't see games like that until August. But I stayed the whole time. We put our caps upside down in the bottom of the ninth and managed to spur a three run rally. Not enough to come back, but enough to prevent a shut out. And the good thing is that there is another game today. Another chance to win and a reason to watch.

Streaks and momentum and all other sorts of intangibles that make it fun to watch sports come into the baseball rhetoric more than any other sport. I have no idea if it's real in the clubhouse, but I don't really care. I like that there's always another chance in baseball. I like that there are so many opportunities to watch games and even attend games. Baseball is probably the most accessible sport for fans. (Unless you're a Yankees' fans where I believe the cheapest tickets still run about $6 million.) But in general, there are specials and there are deals and there are ways to get affordable tickets. Well, maybe that's just the Orioles. But still, the long season is part of what makes baseball America's pastime. It really is always there for you to watch.

The countdown to a .500 season is still at 77 right now. And overall, the Orioles have been playing decent baseball. So far it looks like they have three starting pitchers and hopefully will be able to fill in the rest of the rotation as the season goes on.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Strive for 5(hundred)....79 games

Yes, the third game in the season is starting in a few minutes. So it is possible that in a few hours the Orioles will no longer be in first place or be undefeated. However, they will still have a winning record. But I ask everyone to just enjoy this nice start to the season. I feel that there is an actual possibility that the Orioles could have a winning season this year. Or at least not a losing season. So in an attempt to jinx them, I'm starting a countdown that I'm calling the Strive for 5 as in a .500 winning percentage. The Orioles are now only 79 games away from this mark.

I have no idea if I'll be able to keep up this countdown. I might forget about it. I might give it up in disgust and dismay sometime in July. I might go a few weeks without posting about it if anything else happens in sports that I might care about. I seriously doubt I will make one of these posts after every win. But I will give it a decent shot. There are just so many baseball games that it might be hard for me to keep up. Occasionally real life does get in the way of blogging.

Right now I'm going to focus on the positives of this seasons so far. We seem to have two capable starting pitchers. That is good to know. Our bullpen is a little shaky but Sarfate isn't the most solid reliever and that the O's were just trying to gauge his progress with a large lead. For the Orioles to be successful this year they need a competent bullpen. The jury is still out on what's going to happen there. I prefer to be optimistic about this.

I'm also happy about the Orioles outfield. They are young and fast with strong arms and a lot of range. I expect to see them make a lot of great plays this year and hopefully make the job easier for any of our young pitchers. And improvement in defense is an improvement for the team. Especially since the pitching is the biggest question mark this season.

I don't know how this season is going to turn out in the long run. And we'll see how Simon pitches this afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed. This has already been a great couple of games to start the season. And any time the O's beat the Yankees is good by me. So let's go O's!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

O-pening Day

This is the best time of year to be an O's fan. Well it's probably good for any fan of a baseball team with a not so winning past. It's the beginning of the season and anything is possible. Yesterday it rained for all morning and I was a little worried. It looked as if the the game was going to get postponed. But fans still showed up to see the O's take on the Yankees.

It didn't seem like the best match-up to start the season. C.C. Sabathia was on the mound and the Yankees spent what seemed like a limitless amount of money this season to stack their team including hometown boy Mark Teixeira. But Baltimore fans showed up in droves to support the O's and boo the Yankees. And today, the Orioles are 1-0 after beating the Yankees 10-5.

The team played solid all day. Everyone seemed to contribute and the defense looked solid. It was reassuring to see a shortstop that didn't have any errors, let alone the kind of errors that make the blooper reels. It seemed like the day just got better and better. The rain stopped, the sun came out and the O's offense showed up ready to play.

I know its early in the season. But I'm hopeful. I think the O's could be over .500 this year. Yes, I think they can have a winning record. Well it's a tall order and a lot of it falls on young pitching. But I don't think its impossible. Who knows, the Rays went from never having a winning season to playing in the World Series. It's no less ridiculous to think that if the Orioles play solid defense all year full of good fundamentals and lacking in flashy, showy plays, that it could be a good year.

Don't talk to me about flaws and shortcomings right now. I'm all about hope.

Photo: AP/Susan Walsh

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Ridiculous Jay Cutler Saga Continues

I love Jay Cutler, he might not be the greatest quarterback ever, well, he's definitely not, but he's so entertaining. He's constantly running his mouth, comparing himself to other quarterbacks and saying how much better he is then them. There are drunken pictures of him playing beer pong floating all over the Internet. He's diabetic and yet was in a McDonald's commercial. He whines and cries and fights with the new coach and anyone who will listen. And he still managed to put of ridiculous fantasy numbers.

I'm excited to see how this whole Chicago deal works out. Chicago gave Denver the football equivalent of a small fortune to get Cutler. Some people might think this is a bad trade, since Cutler's team only went 8-8 last year and missed the playoffs in a very weak division. But Cutler was very good at moving the ball. His team had almost no defense and no running backs. So his performance was solid. I don't know if he's worth every first round draft pick for the rest of eternity for the Bears, but I think it was a solid move on their part. At least they got rid of Kyle Orton. Plus now he has a whole new division's worth of players to feud with.

I might have to root a little for the Bears. If only so Cutler stays in the league longer to entertain me. Seriously, if his beer pong skills are any good I might love this guy. It's the kind of drama I need.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Just Post It

I know I should be talking about the final four. I mean, that's the big thing happening in sports right now. But I'm just unmotivated. I feel like I should write something. Maybe it will get me in the mood. Instead I'm going to write a little about the stuff I should have been writing about.

I should have written something about the 25th anniversary of the Colts leaving. But after 25 years, a new football team, a Superbowl, and a new image for the city, I still don't know what to say. I don't remember the Colts being in Baltimore. I grew up in a city that was bitter about the way they left. Baltimore was like a spurned lover, they embraced there new team but still get angry and bitter every time the Colts come to town. And likewise, the team always seems to fall apart against the Colts. Like an ex the city is not quite over. We talk a big game, but it still hurts. It's been 25 years but Baltimore is still not over it.

The final four is happening this weekend. I have no clue who is going to win. Right now it's any one's game. I had Michigan State losing in the first round. But they man handled Louisville, the number 1 overall seed. If you've been reading this blog for any period of time you know I suck at predictions. So I'm not going to make any. Any team could win this thing. You're guess is as good and probably better than mine. I won't tell you which team I like, I don't want to jinx it.

Yeah, there's a lot of other stuff going on in the sports world. But sometimes real life gets in the way of blogging.