Talking Behind Their Back: Tigers
After taking the first two of a four-game set against Detroit, Baltimore settled for a 2-2 split after facing Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson who pitched extremely. How well?
In the words of Aubrey Huff, "Honestly, I've played nine years and [Verlander and Jackson] are probably the best back-to-back I have seen in my nine years."
Yeah, that's pretty good.
But the Orioles still had a pretty good weekend as they finished their homestand 5-2 and reinvigorated a fan base by simply calling up Matt Wieters. The average attendance for the three weekend games of the series (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) was 36,501. To put that in perspective, a weekend home series at the beginning of May against the Yankees drew an average of 37,347 fans to Camden Yards. I'm going to say the reason for the relative similarity in numbers is due to the presence of Wieters more so than a long dormant population of Tigers fans in this neck of the I-95 corridor.
And while Wieters went hitless in two games, on Saturday against Verlander (who leads the majors in strikeouts with 90), Wieters got his first two major-league hits - a triple and a double. So while he may not be Jesus in a catcher's mask, he still might be a fine player in the big leagues.
While Wieters entered this weekend being the talk of the Orioles, Luke Scott was busy swinging Wonderboy. Before going 0 for 3 against Jackson on Sunday (told you he pitched well), Scott had hit six home runs in four games while going 8 for 15 and driving in 14 runs.
Even the team's pitching has picked up since the Orioles called up two young pitchers (who aren't even considered the team's best pitching prospects). David Hernandez picked up the win in his major league debut in the series opener on Thursday. Brad Bergesen had the best outing of his young career with Wieters, his friend and former minor league teammate, behind the plate to pick up the Game 2 victory. Jeremy Guthrie pitched well but was simply on the wrong side of a Verlander start in Saturday's Game 3. And Jason Berken gave up only one run and four hits in seven innings in yesterday's finale but was just out-pitched by Jackson.
So while the Orioles did again fail to win on a Sunday and failed to close out a series, the team has some positives to take with them as they head out on their first West Coast trip of the season.
The team opens up a three-game set in Seattle tonight. Rich Hill will be on the mound and will attempt to right the ship after a rough outing against Toronto last week.
Hill will be opposite Jarrod Washburn who suddenly looks like a new man. Though it's only been nine starts for Washburn this season, he is currently sporting the third lowest ERA he's ever had in 12 seasons (3.45).
David Hernandez will make his second career start in Game 2 and will pitch against Erik Bedard. This figures to be an interesting matchup as the Orioles will face their former ace in Bedard who was traded to the Mariners in a fleecing before the 2008 season that netted the O's Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman and two others. Bedard's strikeout numbers are down from his breakout 2007 season in Baltimore but he still averages a little less than nine over nine innings and has a 2.48 ERA. Unfortunately for him and Seattle, Bedard has only made it through a full seven innings twice this season in nine starts.
With Koji Uehara working to come off the disabled list, Hernandez might be the odd man out (either sent back down to Class AAA Norfolk or put in the bullpen) given Berken's performance yesterday unless he turns in a dazzler of an outing himself.
Brad Bergesen will get the ball in Wednesday night's finale and will face another young pitcher in Seattle native Jason Vargas. Vargas was added to the Mariners' rotation following the injury of Carlos Silva and picked up his first win as a starter this season (he tallied one as a reliever earlier this year) in his last outing.
My prediction for this series: Orioles go 1-2 picking up the win in the series finale.
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