• Apr

    Opening Day Stuff and other Minutiae

    Ok, maybe it's just me, but yesterday's "opening day" just seemed weird after already playing six games on the road. I know we were spoiled after all those years of starting the season at home, and I'm sure it didn't help that we started the year in that soulless (sorry Paul for stealing your description) dome in Minneapolis, but despite all the pageantry, it just didn't feel right. 

    You have to hand it to Kevin Millar for understanding how to get the crowd fired up. His impression of Ray Lewis' introduction dance wasn't perfect, but we all got the point. Well done.

    Thankfully though, the Orioles, especially Daniel Cabrera made sure to send the crowd home happy and moved the Orioles within one game of .500, which isn't too bad after getting swept by the Twins. Speaking of Cabrera, our eagle eyed Hangouters on the message board spotted what appears to be a knuckle-curve grip by Cabrera in yesterday's game. I've personally never seen that grip by Cabrera, so we'll look into this a little further to see if this is something new. Either way, Cabrera's breaking stuff was filthy yesterday so if it was the knuckle curve, that sound you hear is American League batters knees quaking even more.

    Time for House Call?

    Is it just me, or do you wonder what JR House would be doing in these at bats every time Alberto Castillo bats? House was good enough to catch 68 games for Houston's Double-A affiliate while combining to bat .345 in 128 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He also hit 30 doubles, 15 homers and drove in 105 RBIs. I know that Castillo threw out a runner at second and picked another one off tonight against the Tigers, but every time he takes a hack (and I mean that figuratively) I wish that it was House at the plate. Castillo is one-for-nine with six strikeouts so far this year and with a career OPS of .588, you know he's not here for his stick. Defensively he's thrown out one of six base stealers this year. Meanwhile, House is batting .389 with a .450 OBP at Norfolk and had a two home run night the other night. With Bako already a good defensive no-hit catcher filling in for Hernandez, it makes you wonder why a good hitting catcher might not be a bad idea, especially against a tough lefty like Nate Robertson

    In case you were wondering, House has caught two of Norfolk's first five games. He allowed two passed balls and three stolen bases in his first game and a stolen base in Tuesday's game. OK, so he's not Johnny Bench, but the guy can hit and there's no reason he shouldn't have a place on the Orioles roster. Especially when the team has Castillo batting in the 8th inning of a close game. I'll give the Orioles the benefit of the doubt that he can not catch effectively, but his ability to play first base, some third base and catch a little suggests he could be valuable off the bench and as a spot starter.

    Mental errors cost O's

    The Tigers took the second game of the series 3-1 with Brian Roberts committing a key error that allowed two runs to score. Roberts is normally a sure handed second baseman so his physical error can be overlooked. but what can't be overlooked were two mental errors that cost the Orioles as well. 

    The Roberts error was setup by a mental lapse by reliever Scott Williamson on what should of been a routine bunt play. With men on 1st and 2nd, the third baseman always stays back to cover his base while the pitcher covers the third base side of the field with the first baseman covering the first base side and the second baseman sliding over to cover first. This is baseball 101, yet when the bunt was laid down, Williamson took off for the first base side of the mound as the ball rolled towards third base. 

    Williamson should have pitched his way out of his own jam after he struck out Sheffield and then induced a tailor made double play to Miguel Tejada. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be as Roberts short-hopped his throw that skipped by Kevin Millar at first base, allowing two runs to score.

    The second mental error was a running mistake by Tejada in the 8th. Down by two runs, Tejada hit a drive into left field that looked like a clean single. Perhaps in an effort to spark his team, Tejada inexplicitly took off for second and was thrown out easily by 15 feet. I understand hustle, but with the play right in front of him, I don't see how anyone could think that was a smart choice. Instead of the tying run coming to the plate with one out, the Orioles had no one on and two outs. Huff struck out looking to end the inning.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.