** ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark says Jim Thome’s recent power surge was one reason the Orioles were willing to take a chance on the veteran slugger:
He found out – and the league found out – he can still contribute, as long as he doesn’t actually have to put a glove on.
** ESPN.com’s Christina Kahrl opined before the O’s 6-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday that the trade for Thome would help the Orioles in the outfield as much as at DH:
Jim Thome’s right back where he needs to be, and if you’re an Orioles fan, you might think the trade that moves him down I-95 has come not a moment too soon. The Orioles really needed to do something to shore up their offense, and perhaps more than anything, they needed to find an outfield bat or two. Averaging just 4.2 runs per game, they’re ninth in the American League in offense, and a major part of the problem is the lack of good wood they’ve gotten from their left fielders (.642 collective OPS) and right fielders (.703).
The funny thing is that the Orioles’ designated hitters weren’t a problem, not in the aggregate, with a .787 OPS. Their in-season problem was that the absence of a reliable performer had helped suck Chris Davis out of the infield and into their DH mix. With their gaping holes in the outfield corners, they really do need something that would stick at DH, freeing manager Buck Showalter to reemploy Davis in the field and spare the club from reverting to the DH-du-jour non-answers Baltimore’s weakly-stocked bench provides.
** Matthew Pouliot of NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk comments on the demotion of struggling O’s left-hander Brian Matusz to Triple A Norfolk and says his path back to the majors could be rocky:
The final week before the All-Star Game usually features a few demotions of starting pitchers, with the idea that they can get a start in the minors during the break and then come back up afterwards. We’ll see if that’s the case with Brian Matusz here.
... Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, was expected to open the season in the minors after posting a record-setting 10.69 ERA in 12 starts last year. However, he was very impressive in spring training in earning a rotation spot, and he did solid enough work for the Orioles for the first two months of the year, going 5-5 with a 4.41 ERA.
Unfortunately, Matusz’s loss (Sunday) was his fifth in five starts. He has an 8.44 ERA in that span. . . . Matusz figures to get two starts in the minors before the Orioles re-evaluate his status. If he pitches well, he might be back as the fifth starter right after the break. If not, then the Orioles may try Chris Tillman or Joel Piniero as a replacement.