The Orioles said that their 6-5 loss in 10 innings to the New York Yankees on Thursday in a game that they led by five runs wouldn't linger. However, I certainly haven't seen all that much energy in the two games since. Perhaps, it's purely coincidental. Perhaps, they just look flat because the team that they are playing is clicking on all cylinders right now. Perhaps, it's because their starters are giving up too many early runs and not getting deep in the game, and some of their top hitters are carrying slumps. Either way, I just haven't seen much energy and spark from the Orioles over the last two days. Even on Wednesday in New York when Chris Tillman put them in a six-run hole, they clawed back and ultimately made the Yankees bring in their closer, Mariano Rivera, in a save situation. I just haven't sensed that same urgency here.
Jeremy Guthrie had plenty of problems today in giving up six runs over five innings. The Indians got 10 hits and hit a ton of balls hard, a sign that Guthrie's location just wasn't good. He also never looked quite in sync with catcher Jake Fox, who also committed two passed balls. In his Fox's two starts behind the plate – Jake Arrieta on April 9 and Guthrie today – Oriole starters have allowed 14 earned runs, 16 hits and three walks in 8 1/3 innings. Please don't misunderstand: I'm not blaming Fox's for the problems of the two starters though I don't think you can completely ignore it either as neither Arrieta or Guthrie appeared comfortable. Team officials were concerned how Fox would do calling games and handling pitchers, but ultimately they decided his bat was worth carrying on the club. Fox proved why today by smashing a homer and a triple. I've said this before, but I believe Fox can be a very valuable member of the club, but it should be in a utility role and not as a back-up catcher. It also wouldn't surprise me if Craig Tatum, a more traditional backup catcher, is on the 25-man roster very soon.
I don't want this entry to look like the Jeremy Guthrie excuse edition, but don't discount his recovery from pneumonia as a potential cause of his struggles either. Orioles manager Buck Showalter noted that Guthrie's pitches lacked a little finish and crispness, and reminded reporters that the right-hander is still recovering after he got out of the hospital about 10 days ago. Guthrie admitted that he still doesn't feel like he has his strength back. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts can relate as he was struggling with pneumonia last year. Roberts said that he felt the effects of pneumonia for "several weeks."
As poorly as left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez has pitched this season and he does have a 10.38 ERA and has been scored upon in four of his five outings, it would be foolish to just dump him, like many fans are currently calling for the Orioles to do. Perhaps, Orioles manager Buck Showalter can look for less-pressurized spots to use Gonzalez in, but really the only thing that the Orioles can do is keep sending him out there. As big of a disaster as Gonzalez's first season with the Orioles was and as regrettable as his two-year, $12 million contract will likely turn out to be, he was pretty effective after returning from the elbow injury, pitching to a 2.78 ERA in 26 games after the All-Star break. He deserves a little more time to see if he can discover what made him such a weapon against left-handed hitters in the past. And the Orioles still owe him $5.5 million so it makes no sense to give up on him two weeks into the 2011 season.