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Overworked bullpen is one man shorter for Orioles

Orioles starting pitcher Tommy Hunter gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings Saturday night, marking the third time in the last four games that an Orioles pitcher hasn't recorded a quality start.

That quality start was also the only Orioles win in the last six games -- July 26th against Tampa Bay -- when Chris Tillman gave up two earned runs over six innings.

In the other three games of that stretch, Orioles starting pitchers have given up a combined 18 runs in 13 2/3 innings, overworking the bullpen and putting a ton of pressure on the offense to make up deficits.

It doesn't help that the club sent down reliever Miguel Socolovich after Saturday's game and are expected to call up a position player from the minor leagues, so the already overworked bullpen will be a man shorter than it was Saturday.

Starting Sunday's game is Wei-Yin Chen, who pitched a quality start his last time out, albeit in a loss, giving up three earned runs over 6 2/3 innings. Chen has pitched at least five innings in all 10 of his home starts this year, where he is 4-3 with a 3.39 ERA.

Sunday's bullpen could use a deep start from Chen. Darren O'Day and Pedro Strop haven't pitched over the last two games, but every other Baltimore reliever has. Socolovich -- and the man he was called up to replace, Dana Eveland -- were serving as the long relievers. If Chen doesn't turn out a quality start, then the already short bullpen will be forced to use a lot of arms, considering the lack of a long-relief man.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter also hinted at a move to get outside help after Saturday's game, but as of Saturday night that move hadn't been made yet.

"We've talked about a potential something depending on how the game went tonight," Showalter said. "I'm sure we will readdress now that the game is over and see where we are in the bullpen."

Lew Ford, who didn't play for the Tides on Saturday, is expected to be called up for today's game if the team decides to stay in-house. The outfielder is hitting .331 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI in Norfolk.

Regardless, the Orioles bullpen situation would look a lot stronger with a quality start from Chen against an Oakland Athletics offense that has scored four or more runs in its last six games.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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