Talking Behind Their Back: Blue Jays
The Orioles got swept for the second straight time as the Blue Jays won all three games of the weekend series in Toronto. Baltimore had its chances in each game, tallying runs in the first inning of the first two games and twice tying the game in Sunday's finale.
To make matters worse, the already dicey bullpen has now been thrown into a state of chaos, as Manager Dave Trembley has ruled in favor of closer by committee. While closer George Sherrill has successfully converted four of six save opportunities, the problem is that he rarely gets out of innings cleanly. A point that is illustrated by Sherrill's 5.06 ERA and the fact that he's allowed 18 base-runners in his last 11 appearances while right-handers are hitting nearly .400 against him.
Of course there's really no one in the bullpen who seems ready at present to take over the role. Former closer Chris Ray has scuffled all season long and holds a 7.56 ERA despite a dazzling spring. Danys Baez has been thriving in his role as a setup man and is probably best served to remain there. Dennis Sarfate was placed on the 15-day DL after experiencing numbness in his right middle finger. Brian Bass had the opportunity to clean up Sherrill's mess in Game 2 of the series but instead gave up the game-winning run in the 11th inning.
So whom does that leave? Most likely Jamie Walker and Jim Johnson as the situation calls for with some Baez and Sherrill thrown in. Not exactly an efficient way to shut the door. The best thing the Orioles can do is to get their offense back on track and hope the game doesn't come down to the final three outs.
Lost in the bullpen fiasco is the fact that the Orioles starting pitching (one of the worst rotations in the majors) kept games respectable against the league's best offense as Baltimore had opportunities to win in each game. The series' lone blowout (Game 1, 8-4, Toronto) was a two-run game when starter Mark Hendrickson left the game in the fifth, plus he was going against Roy Halladay who simply doesn't lose against the Orioles (19-4 all-time).
That last paragraph is probably the biggest indictment on this Orioles season, it's April and the team can only be consoled by moral victories. But such is the case as the Orioles have lost 14 of their last 17 games and are tied with Cleveland for the worst record in the American League at 9-16 (but still aren't as bad as the Nationals who own the majors' worst record at 6-17).
Things don't appear to be getting any better either as Baltimore travels down to Tampa Bay today to start a quick two-game set with the Rays who are coming off their second series win of the season and both have come courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.
The Rays have the league leaders in home runs (Carlos Pena, 11) and RBI (Evan Longoria, 30) while the team is third in hits. Add to that the fact that the Orioles hitters will have to see Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza (fresh off of flirting with a perfect game) and things seem a bit grim for this series. But who knows, maybe Adam Eaton can rediscover whatever magic he possessed two starts ago and perhaps Koji Uehara won't show any ill effects from having had his sternum bruised in his last outing. It could happen, right?
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