May 4, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez (50) works in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: The Rest of the Season Starts Today

The Baltimore Orioles need to get a grip on turning around a rough stretch of games and get back into a consistent winning pattern. The opportunity to open up an early season lead over the scuffling rest of the pack in the AL East is lost at this point. The need now is to battle to regain the lead and keep it by determined wins night to night.

Yes, the rest of the season starts every day, but the time is now to fix the disjointed pieces of this team and make it work as a cohesive unit. The Orioles have had trouble scoring runs, though the pitching has been much improved since the beginning of the season. And then, just when they break out a bit with six runs (albeit late in the game and when behind), the other team tallies eight.

Yes, good teams find a way to win and bad teams find a way to lose. We’ve seen some of each from the Birds of 2014, which is why their record is 22-20. It’s the old half empty / half full thing. In light of the numbers of injuries to key players and the weird schedule, it could be argued that 22-20 is not that bad. Yet the powerful bats and players in this lineup, even missing some of the stars, would seem sufficient to have won a few more of these close games with just a bit more production.

The Baltimore Orioles’ anemic hitting remains a mystery. I don’t know what to say about it. Neither do the beat writers. Everyone is mystified. There has been some good pitching against them, without doubt. Most folks think this lethargic offence is going to change … that it can’t stay this way for very long. Adam Jones is hitting homers again, and Manny Machado really does seem to be getting the timing back. J.J. Hardy is getting hits and batting above his historic average with the Orioles. But the Birds really need Chris Davis to get it going; and they need the catching subs for Matt Wieters to produce sufficiently.

It is encouraging to see better Orioles pitching. Honestly, Ubaldo Jimenez (in my humble opinion) did better on Sunday than the numbers tell. There were more than a few ground balls hit through the infield – balls that if hit just a few feet in one direction or the other would be outs or double plays.  He did make a mistake on the three-run homer, but overall I continue to believe he has turned a corner since April is gone. In my view, Troy Patton is a good candidate for fresh air elsewhere … hopefully in exchange for some helpful piece now or later.

Tonight the Baltimore Orioles begin a quick two-day series in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates hope to pay back the Birds for the doubleheader loss just two weeks ago at Oriole Park.

Miguel Gonzalez will be making his first career start against the Pirates. Will he be able to go six or more innings? You wouldn’t want to bet on that. Placement is everything for Gonzalez. He enters with a 1-3 record and 4.76 ERA over 39.2 innings of work.

Francisco Liriano will take the mound for the Pirates. After a 16-8, 3.02 campaign in 2013, he is currently 0-3 with a 4.25 ERA. He is a bit like his countryman Jimenez – liking the warm weather, starting slowly, and giving up more walks than ideally desired. Liriano is 2-3 with a 4.21 ERA in seven career starts against the Orioles, the most recent being when with the White Sox in 2012.

Against Liriano, Adam Jones is 4-for-15 with three homers, as is Nick Markakis, though without the homers. Delmon Young is 4-for-8 with a homer, and I would speculate that Buck Showalter will see those numbers and wanting to get some at-bats for Young will have him in left field (no DH today!).  J.J. Hardy is 3-for-14 and Nelson Cruz is 2-for-5. Chris Davis has never faced the lefty.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles

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