As a veteran reliever, Steve Reed knows statistics are often misleading.
Although Reed's 5.40 ERA is still hurting from four earned runs and a loss to the Detroit Tigers on May 29, Reed's on-mound confidence isn't.
"Two of my last 16 innings have not been very good," Reed said. "It's just tough early in the year when you give up some runs and don't have the innings to support it."
With two scoreless innings in Cincinnati last weekend, Reed appears to have distanced himself from early-season struggles. In the eighth inning Tuesday against the Houston Astros, manager Lee Mazzilli called on Reed to replace Jorge Julio, with two runners on base and no outs.
"[Reed is] a veteran pitcher that knows what he has on that particular night," Mazzilli said. "He knows exactly what he has to do out on the mound."
Even though Reed walked the first batter, he worked his way out of the inning, holding the Astros to one run. Mazzilli looked to Reed for a ground ball and got it.
"I've been in those situations many times. ... I don't worry about the ups and downs," Reed said.
Reed has not allowed an earned run in his past six outings, tying his scoreless streak from April 22 to May 17.
Ray the candy man
Somewhat isolated behind left-center field, the bullpen pitchers are sometimes in need of a snack. That's where Chris Ray comes to the rescue.
Now the youngest in the bullpen, Ray bears responsibility for the black Nike bag of nourishment, also known as "the candy bag." Toting the Twizzlers and sunflower seeds from the clubhouse to the bullpen and back is the traditional job for the pitcher with the least major league experience.
Todd Williams, who had been carrying the bag all season, couldn't be happier to get the weight off of his shoulder -- literally.
"That thing weighs about 30 pounds," Williams said. "That's probably why my back was hurting the first month of the season."
Matos back tomorrow?
It is likely that center fielder Luis Matos, who has been on the disabled list since May 11 because of a broken ring finger, will be activated and return to the team during the three-game series against the Colorado Rockies, which starts tomorrow. Matos is 2-for-11 -- including a home run last night -- in his rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Bowie.
"We'll see how he is doing," Mazzilli said. "My biggest concern is to make sure his arm is in shape. You don't want a guy to come back and overthrow and next thing you know, you have tendinitis in your arm."
Mazzilli said the team will have a tough time deciding who to send to the minors to accommodate Matos on the 25-man roster.
Though the manager said the club still has "to think it through," outfielder David Newhan is the likely choice because he has two minor league options available. Recent trade acquisition Eli Marrero would appear to be the other option, but he'd need to pass through waivers.
James Baldwin is seemingly a candidate to go down if the Orioles drop a pitcher, but that's unlikely because he's the only long reliever on the club right now.
Erbe, Orioles close
Former McDonogh pitcher Brandon Erbe, the Orioles' third-round draft choice in this month's amateur draft, is expected to meet with the club this weekend and could be signed as early as Monday. The signing probably would have happened by now, but Erbe is in Ocean City this week celebrating his graduation.
"I would assume it is going to go pretty quickly, without any problems," said Brent Erbe, Brandon's father. "It's really just a matter of him getting back from senior week. ... It's just a matter of time at this point."
Around the horn
The Orioles haven't ruled out adding veteran catching depth to the organization, although bringing back Charles Johnson, who was released this week by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, is unlikely. ... Outfielder Napoleon Calzado cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Ottawa. Mazzilli estimated that Javy Lopez (broken right hand) could return before the All-Star break, possibly in three weeks. ... Despite Julio's struggles recently, Mazzilli said he is not concerned about the right-handed reliever: "Concern is a big word," he said. "He's a guy that has closed before and he should know exactly what he needs to do." ... Ravens first-round draft pick Mark Clayton attended the game.