Friday, April 13, 2007

Gibbons breaks through

Last night the Orioles decided to play another extra inning affair. This time it was against the Kansas City Royals and the match would languish on into the 11th inning. This time, however, the Orioles emerged victorious.

I did not make a post after the Detroit Tiger debacle for two reasons: 1) I was at the game and needed to get some sleep before trying to educate the youth of America the next day and, 2) I still can NOT F*****G BELIEVE that happened. To be skunked in the late innings by a walk-off grand slam is bad enough, but to have it happen twice within a seven day stretch, well that is just sick.

Thankfully last night was much better. Brian Roberts began the 11th with a ground rule double into the left field corner. Brian's bat seems to be coming around, finally, over the last couple games he seems to be finding the ball a little better. Melvin Mora laid down the sacrifice bunt to move Roberts over to third base. With one out and Nick Markakis coming up, Royals Manager, Buddy Bell employed an interesting strategy. He intentionally walked Markakis then immediately loaded the bases by intentionally walking Miguel Tejada. With an out at every base Aubrey Huff came to bat. Huff ad a rough night, going 0'fer up until that at bat - and it would continue. Huff hit a chopper right to the first baseman playing in to cut off the game-winning run at the plate. Roberts was the second out of the inning, the bases remained loaded but the crowd could almost feel it coming. ANOTHER missed opportunity. Before Paul Bako's RBI double in the 7th the Orioles had only scored one run in the previous 17 innings.

Jay Gibbons came to the plate to face the right handed KC hurler. Gibbons has never been known as a "clutch" type guy, but he came through tonight. He flared a 2-1 fastball into left field and Nick Markakis trotted home to score the winning run. Game, birds. 2-1.

Lost in all the hype about the lack of offense recently has been the outright stellar performance of the pitching staff as a whole the last 5 games. The starters averaged just over 6 IP a game and pitched to a 2.02 ERA. Trax even took a no-hitter into the 5th inning last night.

Trax has been a pleasant surprise so far this year. So far he has put up a 2.63 ERA through 13.2 innings of work. His sinker has sunk and he has kept the ball in the ballpark, surrendering only the two run shot from the super-nova hot Alex Rodriguez. Will Trax keep that up all year, most likely not. He is still giving up too many fly balls and not striking enough people out. That can mean bad things in Camden Yards once the weather heats up. And it needs to. It has been C O L D at the yard so far this year folks. I still think I am fighting a cold I picked up at the extra-inning Tigers affair.

Or that could just be the sick feeling I got from watching the ending.

Tongiht the Orioles turn the rotation over again with Erik (I don't really have a nickname) Bedard (1-1) going up against Brandon (Uncle Scrooge Mc) Duckworth (0-0.) The Orioles get Kansas City for the next 3 days then it is off to Tampa Bay. With Bedard and Cabrera going the next couple nights you have to like our chances for our first three-game winning streak of the year.

Sunday's starter is still a bit of a question mark. As reported here yesterday, Jaret Wright was placed on the DL with shoulder stiffness. The Orioles are saying that it is more of a precautionary thing than anything else. Wright even said that his shoulder felt "a lot better" yesterday, but the team isn't taking any chances. The tentative starter is Jeremy Guthrie according to Manager Sam Perlozzo, "Unless he is needed beforehand."

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