Game 34: Orioles 5, Rays 3

Lots of roster moves for the O’s recently. The latest has Mark Reynolds going to the DL, with Bill Hall getting called up to take his place (Hall does done a fine Reynolds’ impression in the minors this year, striking out 25 times in 15 games). Brad Bergesen was designated for assignment to open up a spot on the 40-man roster. Sad to see, but Bergesen hasn’t been able to get back to the level he pitched at as a rookie in 2009 – not enough K’s to make up for the slightly worsening control and fewer groundballs. The Orioles’ second round draft pick in 2008, outfielder Xavier Avery, is going to be coming up tomorrow. The 22 year-old hit .266/.370/.468 in Triple-A this year. Not expecting much from him offensively, but maybe he can at least provide a good glove in left.

The Good:

  • Brian Matusz looked pretty good. His control did go in and out, but he had it often enough to be effective, hitting the corners several times. The fastball was 90-93, which is a tick higher than it’s been sittng this year. Matusz’s defense didn’t exactly help him out, but it didn’t matter in the end. Final line; 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.
  • The bullpen backed Matusz up with 3.1 perfect innings. 3 K’s between Luis Ayala (1), Pedro Strop (2), and Jim Johnson (0).
  • Nick Markakis picked up a couple of walks. His 12% rate this season is his highest since 2008. His .192 ISO would be his highest ever. And yet his strike-out rate (16.6%) would also be slightly higher than 2008 (which is his career high). Coincidence? If Nick maintains those, and his .257 BABIP comes up, he could have quite a nice offensive year.
  • Adam Jones had a pair of hits, including what turned out to be the game winnings two-run single.
  • Bill Hall became a true 2012 Oriole by hitting a solo home run.

The Bad:

  • Wilson Betemit, playing first-base, made an error – letting a ball go right through his legs – and didn’t scoop a throw from Steve Tolleson which would have ended an inning (and prevented 2 runs) and resulted on Tollieon getting the error. It’s cool though, because Betemit also went 0-3 with 3 K’s at the plate.
  • Robert Andino got caught attempting to steal third-base, with one out and the middle of the order up (and a lefty in Nick Markakis at the plate, giving the catcher a clear throw). That dropped the O’s to 10 for 20 on the year on steals, which is awful (and the worst in the majors). Break-even is usually somewhere around 70% – the Orioles would need to steal their next 13 in a row without getting caught to get there.

The Final:

The Orioles guarantee the series win with their 5-3 win over the Rays, and make certain that the Rays will leave Baltimore in no better than second place in the AL East. Another week or two of this, and I might start looking at .500 being not only reasonable be fairly likely.