April 23, 2012
Showalter 'good cop, bad cop'
By Mike Rutsey, QMI AGENCY
BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Orioles are expecting a lot more out of themselves in 2012 and, in that regard, they haven’t disappointed through the early going.
Leading the O’s charge is manager Buck Showalter, who has shown he has high standards and expects his players to raise the bar as well.
This weekend, Showalter played “good cop, bad cop” in an effort to get the best out of his troops.
On Friday, the misery that has followed lefty starter Brian Matusz continued and, in this case, Showalter lent a sympathetic ear.
But when Jake Arrieta, the Orioles’ No. 1 starter, faltered the next game out, Showalter was stinging in his criticism.
Soft words for one starter, harsh words for the “ace.”
Arrieta’s sin, according to Showalter, was in failing to provide a shutdown inning in the fifth frame of Saturday’s game against the Angels, during which Arrieta gave up five runs in what eventually turned into a 6-3 Orioles loss.
“He’s not a young pitcher anymore, alright?” Showalter said post-game of Arrieta. “It’s time to win those type of games. We shouldn’t have the type of problems we had. We need a shutdown inning there (in the fifth) and let’s go. He’s had enough experience to get through that. And he will.”
Arrieta let the inning get away following his second error on a pickoff play, but Showalter didn’t want that used as an excuse.
“I hate to think that was it,” Showalter said. “I’m more interested in the mentality of a shutdown inning after your team scores two runs off one of the best pitchers in the American League (the Angels’ Jered Weaver). You got to pitch that next inning like the seventh game of the World Series.”
Now, contrast those words with how he viewed a losing effort by the struggling Matusz, who lost again on Friday and has now dropped 12 consecutive decisions — the longest active streak in the major leagues.
“I thought he was better,” Showalter said. “A little better each time he has pitched since the first one. A little crisper, the command was a little better. It got away from him there a little bit at the end.”
On Thursday, the Orioles have yet to announce their starter against the Jays. If they keep to their rotation, it will be Matusz. Due to the O’s having an off day Monday, they could also skip him and come back with Arrieta.
Either way, Showalter will be expecting a better effort than he got the last time out.
The Baltimore Orioles are showing signs they don’t intend to once again be the doormats of the division. The Orioles finished their road trip 6-4, marking the first time they won more than they lost during a 10-game trip since September 2004. Overall, the Orioles have gone 9-7 and are a half-game back of the Yankees and Jays and tied with the Rays.
The O’s won two of three games in the series at Rogers Centre. The Jays look to return the favour at Camden Yards.
* LF Nolan Reimold is off to a great start as he’s batting .370 (17-for-46) with five home runs and 10 RBI.
* CF Adam Jones is showing signs of putting together a big year as he’s hitting .303 with five homers and eight RBI.
* C Matt Wieters is tied for the club lead in homers with five and leads the team in RBI with 12.
* 3B Mark Reynolds is bottoming out as he is hitting just .125 (6-for-48) and has struck out 22 times.
* INF Wilson Betemit is off to a slow start hitting just .184 (7-for-38).
TOR 2011 BAL .
248 AVG .244
8th RANKS 12th
18 HRS 23
11 STEALS 6
4.13 ERA 3.64
6th RANK 5th
105 K’s 120
Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. RHP Henderson Alvarez vs RHP Tommy Hunter
Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. RHP Kyle Drabek vs. RHP Jason Hammel
Thursday, 7:05 p.m. RHP Drew Hutchison vs. TBA