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Call it patriotism or laziness. Any way you slice it, the Monday O's report cannot be the Monday O's report if it comes out on a Tuesday. And so you, the loyal reader, are in for a real treat today: the first-ever Tuesday O's report, at no extra charge. Enjoy.

Apologies for the delay, but my Monday was devoted almost entirely to anticipation and aggravation of the U.S.'s 2006 World Cup opener against the Czech Republic. In retrospect, it may not have been time well-spent. I think L.A. Times columnist J.A. Adande summed it up best today:

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This was supposed to be the unveiling of the new and improved U.S. squad on soccer's greatest stage, the first look at a team that could at least threaten the better soccer countries, if not beat them. ... President Bush even called Coach Bruce Arena to wish him luck before the game. But [after a 3-0 defeat] it wouldn't have been surprising if Bush called Arena back to say, "You're doing a heck of a job, Brucie."

With that, I'll move on to a sport we know a bit better in these parts.

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I'll lead off (note the clever usage of baseball terminology here) with a nod to fellow Sun blogger Rick Maese, who compiled an entry on the effect new pitching coach Leo Mazzone has had on the Orioles pitching staff.

The O's rank 29th in the majors in team ERA - at 5.37, they're ahead of only Kansas City - but it's hard to hold Mazzone accountable for the staff's struggles considering how little time he's had to work with these pitchers. In the memorable words of Billy Dee Williams (as Lando Calrissian in "Return of the Jedi"), "We've got to give him more time." Of course, Billy Dee was talking about giving Han Solo time to disable the Death Star's shield, but I think the similarities are obvious.

Some of the Orioles' pitchers, particularly Daniel Cabrera, have had encouraging outings recently. But I'm concerned about Erik Bedard, who is 1-6 with a 7.26 ERA in his last 10 outings. Bedard struck out nine on Sunday, but he lasted just five innings and needed 115 pitches to get that far. Roch Kubatko touched on Bedard's struggles on his blog yesterday.

Bedard enjoys favored fantasy status thanks to fast starts the past two seasons, but his 1.67 WHIP this season is a sure warning sign. You'll want to stay away until he starts throwing more strikes.

As I mentioned last week, same goes for rookie Adam Loewen. One of these days Loewen is going to catch a break on the pitching matchup front, but it doesn't look like that break will come this week. Loewen, whose first two major league starts came opposite Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay, faces Halladay and Mets left-hander Tom Glavine this week. Glavine is tied for the major league lead in wins (9) and is in the midst of a remarkable return to form, which has seen him post a 3.06 ERA and 1.15 WHIP thus far. Just what the O's need after falling flat against Minnesota's Francisco Liriano, a matchup with another tough lefty.

For a reprieve, the O's might be able to turn to the skies. With Tropical Storm Alberto predicted to make its way up the coast later this week, the Mets face potential rainouts in Philadelphia or at home against the O's. But it would be a shame of sorts to see Saturday's projected matchup - Kris Benson in his return to Shea opposite Mets ace Pedro Martinez - scuttled. Not that the O's would be heartbroken - Martinez is tied for the major league lead with 97 strikeouts. It's a wonder Loewen didn't draw Pedro.

If you're looking for a silver lining, consider that Martinez's career ERA against the Orioles is 4.04, his highest against any American League team. That could bode well for the O's; the prospect of rain bodes better.

This week's matchups

  • Tuesday - O's (Loewen-L) at Blue Jays (Roy Halladay-R), 7:07 p.m
  • Wednesday - O's (R. Lopez-R) at Blue Jays (Scott Downs-L), 7:07 p.m
  • Thursday - O's (Cabrera-R) at Blue Jays (Ted Lilly-L), 12:37 p.m
  • Friday - O's (Bedard-L) at Mets (Alay Soler-R), 7:10 p.m
  • Saturday - O's (Benson-R) at Mets (Pedro Martinez-R), 7:10 p.m
  • Sunday - O's (Loewen) at Mets (Tom Glavine-L), 1:10 p.m

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