Mar 31, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Evan Meek (47) throws in the eighth inning of an opening day baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Red Sox 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Opening Series Jitters, Game 2 Preview


 

You have to love the humanity of Buck Showalter. While being a great baseball guy who is sorting hundreds of pieces of baseball information in his brain, he is also quick to look around and capture the moment. After the opening day for the Baltimore Orioles, he spoke of how special it was for he himself; but he reflected as well on the meaning of it for some of the others – like Jonathan Schoop who made the team and started in this first home game.

Buck also made an especially good point about what must have been the internal emotions for Evan Meek, who has not pitched since July 24, 2012.

“There are little moments like Evan Meek getting on the mound,” Showalter said. “Two years ago, people thought his career was over. Don’t think he had some juice flying around today. … I think you’ll see Evan get nothing but better.”

Meek managed to get two outs in the 8th inning, but he was clearly not as effective as in his spring training appearances.

“A lot of these guys, it’s just getting this outing out of the way. You saw the velocity and everything this spring compared to today, there’s a little bit, I don’t want to say tightness, but your want-to is so much it kind of gets in the way a little bit.”

Showalter has in past years made a concerted effort to get everyone into a game as soon as possible, in order to get that behind them and settle into the season. So, I would suspect we may well see some different players for game two, particularly in the bullpen choices – like Josh Stinson, Ryan Webb, and Darren O’Day. And with the right-handed offerings of John Lackey, perhaps Buck might even give Steve Lombardozzi a shot at second base?

Definitely making his first Orioles appearance will be Ubaldo Jimenez. The former Indians and Rockies pitcher has had major periods of both ups and downs in his career. Of course the Orioles are hoping to see the guy who was so extraordinary at the end of the 2013 season. This really should be a prime time of his career; and now on a team with strong hitting and defense, he should be able to just throw the ball and trust his stuff in order to have success.

But in his somewhat limited experiences against the Red Sox and the AL East, success has been difficult to come by. The numbers are not good against many of the Boston hitters or in his appearances against the Sox. But the sample size is small, and in light of this entirely new experience in Baltimore, those numbers are definitely in the “apples to oranges” category. Jimenez’ spring season was not quite as long as some of the others, so a long outing in this first appearance may not be in the cards. Six effective innings would be great, though five may be more realistic on this occasion.

The Orioles will be going against John Lackey, who is coming off a 10-13 season with a 3.52 ERA over 189 innings. He did not have a stellar spring training however, as he gave up 24 hits in 18.2 innings with a 6.27 ERA.

Chris Davis and Nick Markakis have hit Lackey well over the years, and Adam Jones has three homes in 44 plate appearances. But J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters are both only .167 against him. Here are the stats for current Orioles against John Lackey …

 

PA

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

BA

Nick Markakis

60

54

18

4

1

0

4

5

11

.333

Adam Jones

44

42

10

0

1

3

6

1

11

.238

Chris Davis

32

30

11

3

0

2

6

2

8

.367

Nelson Cruz

31

29

7

1

0

0

3

1

11

.241

Matt Wieters

30

30

5

0

0

0

2

0

5

.167

J.J. Hardy

21

18

3

0

0

0

0

3

5

.167

Delmon Young

21

19

6

1

0

0

2

1

5

.316

Manny Machado

15

15

6

1

0

2

4

0

0

.400

 

While working on these posts for the past two games as well as having much of tomorrow’s preview researched and drafted, it has really struck me that this Boston rotation is honestly not something special. It is good; it is decent. But a lot of their numbers, such as WHIP, are not honestly that fantastic … though they put it together when it counted, that was for sure. The Red Sox had a trip down the road to meet the President on Tuesday … OK, it is time for me to close before I’m overwhelmed with all sorts of creative writing temptations!

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles Buck Showalter