There were a few different angles of different stories that became juxtaposed together yesterday for the O's, all of which involved pitching in some way. However isn't that always the case? It always boils down to pitching! Nevertheless, let's start in the here and now. The Orioles were lucky enough to experience a bit of role reversal last night in that the Oakland Athletics proved to be just the tonic that they needed. Interestingly, the A's found themselves in a long losing streak coming into Baltimore, and they ended up struggling to put nine men on the field with all of the roster moves that they made earlier in the day. How often have the O's struggled to "find themselves" when the lineup has been altered due to the numerous injuries that have been sustained?
Starter Brian Matusz pitched 5.1 solid innings and gave up only two runs (on a two-run homer). I was a bit surprised to see Buck Showalter lift Matusz with one out in the sixth, but I suppose they're keeping him on a bit of a short leash so as to work him up to going deeper into games. At first I thought that there might have been more than meets the eye in lifting Matusz at that point, however Buck Showalter didn't indicate that anything was up in his postgame comments. Again in a bit of role reversal, it was the Orioles that jumped on an early lead in the first two innings. One run in the first and three in the second, combined with strong pitching performances was all the O's needed. The combination of Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara, and Kevin Gregg is quietly becoming the Orioles' seventh, eighth, and ninth inning anchors out of the bullpen. While the O's would like for their starters to start going deeper, we should keep in mind that the starters are mostly young. Therefore the luxury of having two set-up men (Johnson and Uehara) in the pen along with a decent longman in Jeremy Accardo is good for the Orioles.
In the first year players' draft last night, the Orioles kept it in the family so to speak in drafting RHP Dylan Bundy. Bundy's 6 ft 1, 205 lbs, with a great mid-90's fastball, and a plus curve and cutter. The reason I say they kept it in the family is because Bundy's older brother Bobby was drafted by the O's in 2008, and is currently a starter in the Frederick Keys' rotation. This marks the second pair of brothers in the Oriole organization, as Zach Britton's brother Buck is also a Frederick Key. Keep in mind that this is also the organization that not only groomed the Ripken brothers, but also became the first team to have a father (Cal Ripken Sr.) manage his two sons at the major league level (Cal Jr. and Billy Ripken).
June is a month that provides five off days for the Orioles, so as a result they only need a fifth starter twice; one of those games is tonight. The Orioles will short their bullpen a bit by tapping reliever Chris Jakubauskas to make the start tonight against Oakland. I'm not a big fan of spot starts by relievers, however this is probably the lesser of two evils in that the other option would have been for the O's to call a starter up from the minors. Not only would that have wasted an option on someone for only one game, but the O's would have needed to make a corresponding roster move which would have made no sense. The downside is that the pen will be taxed a bit (especially considering that most spot starters don't go too deep into games), however with an off day on Thursday everyone should have time to rest up before this weekend's series with the Tampa Rays at Camden Yards.