Freddy Garcia lasted only 3 innings on the mound last night for the Baltimore Orioles against a Houston Astros lineup that is not exactly filled to the brim with world-beaters. He gave up 6 runs on 7 hits (4 of them HRs) and 2 walks, a far cry from the electrifying performance he put on in his previous start against Washington. But Orioles fans should have seen this coming. The chances of a 36-year old sinker-baller past his prime suddenly rising back to peak performance level were slim to none. He will not always be this bad, but he will also never be as good as he was against the Nats. Any fans’ prayers that he would solve the O’s rotation problems were sadly mistaken. The bullpen did not exactly pull their fair share of the weight either, giving up 5 runs in 5 innings after Garcia was pulled.
This game did an excellent job highlighting the reasons the O’s sit in 3rd place in the AL East instead of 1st. Any time your offense puts 7 runs on the board, you should win the game no matter who you are playing against, but especially if it’s a team as lowly as Houston. Unfortunately, the O’s pitchers were worse last night, and with the current staff they have, don’t be shocked to see more games like this one in Baltimore’s future. This team cannot realistically compete without making some changes to the rotation, and soon.
Wei-Yin Chen threw 25 pitches of 60-75 feet yesterday, and continues to be pain-free. Getting the 27-year old lefty back will be a big help, as he was pitching to a 3.04 ERA this season before his oblique injury. The team also has a stable of arms at AAA Norfolk who could be called up in a pinch, such as Zach Britton, Jair Jurrjens, and Jake Arrieta. However, these guys were sent to the minors originally for a reason. They cannot necessarily be relied on to be the saviors of the team. That is why I would not count out Dan Duquette making a move to acquire another starter, probably a veteran. He already proved he is not afraid to make a deal last year when he acquired Joe Saunders. This year, there are rumblings that the O’s have some level of interest in Chien-Ming Wang, who is pitching for the Yankee’s AAA affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but can opt out of his contract for a chance to pitch at the MLB level. Another guy rumored to be on the market is Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins, and if I were the Orioles I would jump all over him, as he would immediately become the O’s number 1 or 2 guy (alongside Chen).
All rumors are simply that, however. For now, the Orioles have to ride out their issues and hope that the offense keeps on chugging like it has been. If there is one positive to take away from yesterday’s loss, it is that this team will never quit, no matter the situation or the opponent. It was also nice to see J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters smash another dinger each, and Adam Jones continued his string of strong defensive games by throwing out Matt Dominguez trying to take 3rd base on a pop-up.
O’s fans should take some comfort in the fact that this team will never be completely out of a ballgame. The pitching will not be this bad forever, and it never has to be truly great for this team to succeed, because this lineup is so potent from top to bottom.
After the Orioles finish their series with Houston today, they will head down to Tampa to take on the division rival Rays in a three game set.