One year ago today (September 1, 2010), Baltimore Orioles fans were overjoyed and optimistic about the future of the organization. New manager Buck Showalter led the Birds to a winning month for the first time all season in his first month with his new ballclub.
Showalter managed his first Orioles game on August 2, 2010 and his team finished the month six games over the .500 mark at 17-11. In the two months prior to Showalter’s arrival, the Birds had won only 17 games combined!
Last year on September 1st, the Birds sat at 49-83. Right now, the Birds rank last in the American League East with a 54-81 record. Much of the success or failure can be traced back to the pitching performance and what a difference a year makes. August pitching stats for 2011 compare with Showalter’s first month sporting the black and orange.
When Showalter took over the helm of the Orioles from interim skipper Juan Samuel, the Birds were 40 games under the .500 mark (32-72). It sure looked as if they were headed for a 100 loss season.
Once Showalter stepped foot inside the Orioles clubhouse, their entire demeanor changed as did their fortunes. They looked like a completely different team suddenly improving in all facets of the game and performingas a cohesive unit. They would win another 35 games before 2010 closed.
Although they were ranked in the middle of the pack on offense, Baltimore’s pitching is what drives them. The Birds finished August sixth in the majors with a cumulative 3.38 ERA over 250.0 IP, allowing 96 earned runs 245 base hits.
Not only did their relief pitchers improve when Showalter took over, but the starters stepped their game up as well. All five Orioles’ starting pitchers sported an ERA sub five and four of their ERAs were sub four in the month!
Left-handed starter Brian Matusz and ace Jeremy Guthrie led the team with four wins each and combined for only three losses. Matusz tossed 37.0 innings, surrendered 10 earned runs on 33 hits and a 2.43 ERA. Orioles fans remember this and hope Matusz can achieve it again in 2011.
Guthrie accumulated 44.0 innings in his six outings and gave up 15 ER on just 35 hits (3.07 ERA). Opponents hit only .219 off of Guthrie in the month and his WHIP sat at 1.00.
Right-handed starter Jake Arrieta (who made his major league debut earlier that year) was the only starter who struggled throughout August. The rookie posted a 1-3 record with a 4.45 ERA. In 30.1 innings pitched, he allowed 15 earned runs on 31 hits.
Baltimore’s bullpen, for the most part posted respectable and impressive numbers.
In seven games (5.1 IP), lefty Mark Hendrickson didn’t yield an earned run. Koji Uehara sported a 0.66 ERA in 11 outings as he tossed 13.2 innings and allowed only one earned run. Southpaw Mike Gonzalez gave up two ER over 8.1 IP out of the pen (2.16 ERA).
Entering the dog days of August this year, the Birds had won 10 more games under Showalter (45), but still failed to live up to the mighty expectations placed on the organization less than one year ago.
As was the case last year, the Birds’ August has been defined by their pitching staff. This August, the Birds’ starting staff really struggled and the result is that Baltimore failed again to produce a winning month. The Birds ranked 24th in the majors this August with a 4.79 ERA with 259.1 IP, allowing 138 earned runs on 188 base hits.
Three of their main starting pitchers (Guthrie, Tommy Hunter and Jo-Jo Reyes) all sported ERAs above 5.00 for the month. Guthrie recorded one win and lost two over 32.2 IP and surrendered 20 ER on 35 hits (5.51 ERA).
Although Hunter and Reyes won two games each, their ERA for the month remained inflated. Hunter pitched 31.2 innings and allowed 21 earned runs on 42 hits (5.97 ERA). Reyes, who struggled the most sported a 6.66 ERA in five starts over 24.1 innings and gave up 18 earned runs on 30 hits.
Matusz has really struggled the entire season, but fell apart in August posting a balloning ERA (9.56 on the year). In three August outings, he gave up 17 earned runs and 23 hits in just 16 innings pitched.
The only starting pitcher who posted an ERA below four in August was the resurgent rookie Zach Britton, who returned to the Orioles at the end of July. Britton bounced back from Triple-A Norfolk tossing 17.1 innings over three outings and allowed only five earned runs on 22 hits (2.60 ERA).
Although their starting pitchers battled tough times in August, their relievers pitched well for the most part. Mike Gonzalez, who was just traded to the Rangers, had been unhittable this past month. He didn’t yield an earned run and gave up only three hits in 10 appearances.
Right-handed reliever Chris Jakubauskas surrendered only two earned runs and 13 hits in 17 innings of work (1.06 ERA). Brad Bergesen was touched up for six earned runs in 16.2 innings of work over eight appearances.
One year after a promising debut with the Baltimore Orioles last August, Showalter and the Birds’ faithful have seen some tough times. The rotation really struggled in August and if the Birds are going to have any shot at forgoing a 100 loss season, their starting pitchers need to step up their game.
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About the Author
Written by Alex Van Rees
I am 22 years old and I recently graduated from James Madison University this May with a BA degree and a major in journalism. I live in Reston, VA, about 20 minutes outside of Washington. I am looking for an entry-level position with a sports media company where I can demonstrate my writing, interviewing and technical skills to better the organization.