Baltimore Orioles: From Bad to Worse
It's been a very rough week for the Baltimore Orioles. Their newest phenom struggled in his major league debut, their surprisingly great rookie hurler got hit in the shin and will miss at least a couple weeks and the offense still can’t hit the Red Sox.
Let’s start by discussing Chris Tillman. I don’t know if people expected him to throw a perfect game in his first start, but the letdown that seems to have occurred following his initial major league start makes it clear that expectations were higher than they probably should have been.
Tillman wasn’t really “horrible”, he just didn’t look dominating or ready to set the world on fire in the manner that Baltimore fans are expecting.
What we all have to remember is that for young pitchers making the jump from the minors to the major leagues, the adjustment is something like going from pushing 120 mph on a straight stretch of interstate in the middle of nowhere to driving 200 mph at the Daytona International Speedway.
Just looking at the fact that Tillman gave up three home runs to the Royals after allowing only five in 18 starts at Triple-A Norfolk tells you that much.
While he wasn’t overpowering with just two strikeouts, Tillman did have good control as he walked only one batter and threw 62% of his pitches for strikes.
But the big thing for the Orioles was that even when he got into some early trouble, Tillman didn’t fold. Instead, he kept the Orioles in the game and they went on to win 7-3. Given the way things have been going lately, that in itself made it a good night.
What wasn’t good was the next day when the Orioles got another win, but lost their most consistent pitcher (who also happens to be a rookie) with an unfortunate injury.
Brad Bergesen was cruising right along when the final out of the seventh inning proved to be a painful one.
A liner off the bat of Billy Butler hit off his left shin and was picked up by Matt Wieters, who threw to first for the out. Bergesen hobbled off the field and did not return.
Fortunately, x-rays were negative, but the team decided to not take any chances and give him time to recover by placing on the 15-day disabled list.
What is disappointing was the fact that Bergesen was completing another excellent performance and establishing himself as the staff ace.
In 19 starts, Bergesen has pitched at least six innings 15 times (including the last 12 in a row) and has a 7-5 record with a 3.43 ERA.
Hopefully, Bergesen will be able to fully recover over the next couple weeks and then complete a strong rookie campaign.
His injury could necessitate the Orioles bringing their fifth rookie pitcher of the season to the mound. It is widely anticipated that Brian Matusz will make his major league debut next Tuesday against Detroit.
The 22-year old was the Orioles first round pick in the 2008 draft and is currently pitching at double-A Bowie. In eight starts since being promoted from single-A Frederick, Matusz is 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA.
While the Orioles continue to introduce young pitchers to the major leagues, the bats seem to be continuing their recent slumber.
The Orioles hit .254 and averaged only 4.5 runs per game during the month of July, which is one major reason the O’s went 9-16 during the month.
The brightest light was the play of rookie Matt Wieters, who hit .323 with a home run and 6 RBI. Melvin Mora (.230, 5 RBI), Luke Scott (.213, 14 RBI) and Aubrey Huff (.189, 11 RBI) all struggled mightily.
August didn’t start out any better as Josh Beckett and the Red Sox shut out the Orioles in the first game of the new month.
One can only hope that the team will start hitting a little better after they stop playing the Red Sox.
Check out more from Dean Hybl at Baltimore Sports Then and Now where passionate fans can stay updated on the latest in Baltimore sports while also reliving the great moments, players and teams of Baltimore's tremendous sports history.
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