So after 6 games the Orioles are 1-5. Their 2nd baseman, leadoff hitter, and all around good egg Brian Roberts is on the disabled list (if there is a silver lining, it is NOT because of his problematic back, which seems to be holding up well, but because of an abdominal strain that he hurt successfully stealing 2nd base on Friday). Their $6 million closer man has already blown 2 saves, been fervently booed by the home crowd , and has now been removed from the closer role while he works on his mechanics with pitching coach Rick Kranitz (which I would have thought they could have taken care of in spring training, but what do I know?). So what does all of this have to do with this man?
It isn’t easy to think about this, but this team is so close. To complete the reference, they’ve “missed it by that much”.
Gonzalez has blown 2 saves. Although they are lost 5-1 tonight, none of the rest of their losses are by more than 3 runs, including 3 losses by just 1 run (and one of those 3 run losses was a 1 run lead until the 1st error of the season extended the 8th inning Sunday afternoon and led to 3 unearned runs). As of tonight’s game they are 9-57 (a .158 average) with runners in scoring position.
These are some sucky stats. Big time suckage. But if you can get past the vortex of negative information you can see that they are so close to NOT being this crappy. Reverse the 2 blown saves or knock in a few of those guys hanging out on 2nd and 3rd and they are at least .500 (and not causing there to be a shade over 9,000 fans at the game tonight, a Camden Yards record that will hopefully never be broken). They might not have a true cleanup hitter, but they do have some decent bats in the lineup. You have to think that some of these hits are going to get strung together, and that the starting pitching will not continue to give quality starts for naught (the current definition of a “quality start” is 6 or more innings pitched with 3 or less earned runs allowed. Brian Matusz did not get through 6 innings, but 3 earned runs over 6 innings equals a 4.50 ERA, and of our 5 starters only 1 pitcher has an ERA over that (Brad Bergesen’s ERA is 9.64 after 1 start), and only one other starting pitcher has an ERA over 4 (Jeremy Guthrie is at 4.05 after 2 starts). The defense is looking pretty good, with only the one (rather costly) error in 7 games. So the starting pitching and the defense are there. The bullpen needs some work, and the hitting is for crap right now. Of those two problem areas, it seems probable that the hitting will trend up to at least passable. The bullpen is a bigger question mark, but there is hope that Koji Uehara will help stabilize it, and if Kranitz has identified a mechanical flaw in Gonzalez’s delivery and it can be fixed, well, that solves a lot more problems.
Basically, it is too early to write off the entire season. But it is not too early to think that this opening week has been filled with suck.
About the Author
Written by Ron Burr
Ron is a lifelong resident of Maryland and has been a passionate player and fan of sports for as long as he can remember. When he is not watching the games or explaining to his lovely wife why he is cursing at the television, he runs an improv/sketch comedy troupe, Drop Three. He can't hit a curveball or run a sub 4.5 40 yard dash, but he knows the games and loves talking about it with anyone. Differing opinions are welcome and encouraged!