On Opening Day, I made five bold predictions for the 2011 Orioles season. One of them was that starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie would win a career-high 15 games and finish the season with a winning record for the first time since he went 7-5 in 2007, his first season with the Orioles.
“Guthrie will be steady as always in 2011,” I wrote in this Five for Friday post. “And now that the Orioles offense can get him some run support, he will be rewarded this season by finishing with a winning record and reaching the 15-win plateau for the first time in his career.”
Well, through four starts, half of that prediction has been spot-on. Which half is painfully obvious to Orioles fans, who have watched the team squander quality starts from Guthrie often over the years.
Guthrie is 1-3 this season with a 3.12 ERA, and it took eight shutout innings for him to get his lone win in the season opener. He earned one of those losses, that rocky start against the Indians last weekend. But in his other three starts, he allowed zero runs, one run and two runs. Last night, Guthrie allowed two runs in seven innings but took the loss, 3-1, because the offense struggled against Twins starter Scott Baker.
“He gave us a real chance to win, deserves a better fate," Showalter said of Guthrie’s outing. "[He] just ran up against a guy who was as good as he was tonight, and maybe a little better."
Too often, that has been the case. This season, the Orioles have scored just six runs in the 26 innings that Guthrie has been on the mound. Last season, they scored 35 runs in his 14 losses. But to his credit, the leader of the Orioles’ young pitching staff hasn’t put the blame for the losses on anyone but himself.
“I was out-pitched tonight," Guthrie said after the game. "I didn't make the big pitches where I needed to. It is a reoccurring thing, and it's not good enough, not good enough tonight, not good enough last time, not good enough the time before. So we'll work on it, try to get better, make better pitches."
Sure, Guthrie can pitch better, but he shouldn’t beat himself up too much for the losses. The Orioles’ hitters have to live up to their end of the bargain, too, and they haven’t done that as often as expected so far. But this season is still young, the Orioles are bound to break out the bats soon enough and Guthrie still has about 30 starts left to make this season, so he can still make good on my bold 15-win prediction.