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Orioles Review and Preview: Red Sox, Tigers

The Orioles suffered a demoralizing end to their seven-game homestand by being swept by the Red Sox, as Baltimore seemed to be a step or two behind Boston in each game.

In Friday's series opener, the Orioles managed to hit two home runs but the Red Sox hit three to come away with a 6-5 victory.

In Game 2, rookie starter David Hernandez struggled in seeing Boston for the second time in less than a week but gave Baltimore a chance to win. Unfortunately they were up against Josh Beckett who threw seven shutout innings en route to his major league-leading 13th victory and a 4-0 win over the Orioles.

Sunday's finale featured an impressive offensive display. The O's erupted for 10 runs and 15 hits, however the team's pitchers couldn't hold off the Red Sox who tallied 18 runs and 23 hits to wipe the floor with the Orioles. The game seemed lost early as Boston battered starter Jason Berken for six runs in just 1 1/3 innings and ultimately took a 7-0 lead. Baltimore battled back however, closing the lead to 7-6 thanks to a six-run third inning. Things again spiraled out of control as the Red Sox scored seven in the top of the fourth inning and never looked back from there.

Despite working less than two full innings, Berken was credited with the loss to fall to 1-9. With Rich Hill on the disabled list and possibly set to have surgery to repair a torn labrum, Berken is the weakest link in Baltimore's starting rotation. Unfortunately, the Orioles seem to be tapped out on pitchers in the minors to replace him.

Between injuries (Alfredo Simon, Koji Uehara, Hill and Brad Bergesen) and ineffectiveness (Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson who is clearly a better long reliever than starter) the Orioles have had to empty out the bag of young pitchers. Bergesen's injury, which has him on the 15-day disabled list with a badly bruised leg, has prompted the Orioles to likely make a move they never wanted to make.

All signs point to Brain Matusz making the move up from Class AA Bowie to the majors to pitch in place of Bergesen in Detroit on Tuesday night. Matusz was the team's top draft pick last season and has torched batters in the Eastern League since being moved up during this season, going 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in 46 1/3 innings and holding the opposition to a .189 batting average.

Matusz would follow Chris Tillman who will make his second major league start tonight opposite Tigers ace Justin Verlander. While it's exciting times for Orioles fans to see the young stars make their way to Baltimore, it will likely be trying times for the bullpen. Baltimore relievers worked 14 2/3 innings during the three-game series against Boston and with two pitchers who have combined to start one major league game taking the hill the next two nights; things might get ugly late against a potent Detroit lineup.

All of this compounds the fact that over the course of the four-game series, the Orioles will be up against some of the better pitchers in the AL, facing Verlander, the newly acquired Jarrod Washburn, Edwin Jackson and rookie Rick Porcello.

Making matters worse is that there seems to be some growing dissension in the clubhouse as third baseman Melvin Mora has gone public with his displeasure in having been benched. Of course, it's hard to fault Manager Dave Trembley as Mora is batting .256 with three home runs and 27 RBI on the season - not the kind of production you expect out of your fifth hitter in the lineup.

Sadly, all of these signs point towards the Orioles taking another annual late summer nosedive. This year, however, there appears to be hope for the future even as the injuries and losses mount.

By CJ Holley  |  August 3, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Orioles , Red Sox , Tigers  | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Talking Behind Their Back, boston red sox, brian matusz, chris tillman, detroit tigers  
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