Sunday, May 20, 2007

Like Nailbiters? Get Used To Them...

When your pitching is respectable but your offense can't seem to hit the ball with authority, close games are what you're going to get. Baltimore had three extra base hits on Sunday for the first time in over a week. Every other team in the AL did this at least once this weekend. The O's have only hit one homer over the last week. Only the woeful White Sox offense keeps the O's from being last in the league in slugging.

How did this happen? Even before the injuries to the pitching staff, the offense figured to be more of a sure thing heading into the season. It's been anything but.

Here's the SLG for the key offensive players for this year and from last year:

2007 2006
Hernandez .380 .479
Markakis .426 .448
Millar .425 .437
Roberts .401 .410
Huff .389 .478
Tejada .378 .498
Gibbons .374 .458
Payton .371 .418
Patterson .309 .443
Mora .428 .391

So only Millar, Mora and Roberts are doing about what you would expect from them based on last year. Huff, Tejada, Patterson and Hernandez are all at least 90 percentage points lower than last year. This team is getting no power from the guys expected to drive in runs. That's how you collect 12 hits but only get 3 runs for you trouble.

Looking on the bright side, given Baltimore's futility at the plate and all their pitching woes, they are only four games under .500 which is miraculous at this point. If the bats start to come around there is still time to salvage the season but time is getting short.

More from this weekend: It's time to mention Jeremy Guthrie in the same breath as Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera and Adam Lowen when talking about the O's rotation of the future. Another monster game from Guthrie on Saturday as he scattered 4 hits, struck out 10 and walked none. He didn't get the decision but he shut the Nationals down. Is he another Bruce Chen or is he legit? I don't know for sure. He looked to me to be a guy who teams would figure out the second time through the lineup but that has not been the case. Will the league catch up? I still have a feeling they will but I'd love to be wrong.

Erik Bedard was a monster today too. He struck out 12 and walked three while surrendering a lone run but the bullpen blew it for him today. And for good measure, he collected two hits and drove in a run.

Mr. Reluctant is looking bad these days. He gave up two runs today and takes the loss as the Nats pulled ahead in the 8th. Baez also started the Mother's Day Massacre rally last Sunday and made Friday night's win two runs closer than it needed to be by giving up a homer to Ryan Zimmerman. Before the season, I pointed to Baez as the weakest link of the relief pitchers signed in the offseason and so far he is proving me right.

A day off today, hopefully the O's hit the batting cages. And muscle up on the ball. The Blue Jays and A's are coming to town, two teams that aren't any better then we are...

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