The Orioles boarded their charter last night for Toronto without backup catcher Craig Tatum, who was optioned yesterday morning. His removal from the 25-man roster drew the ire of many fans who didn't think he deserved it.
I totally understand Tatum's frustration, but I do find it interesting that he's got so many supporters now after fans were livid that the Orioles kept him over Chad Moeller.
The same young pitchers who rushed to Tatum's defense yesterday were bummed that he beat out Moeller in spring training.
It's just funny how things change over time.
Tatum's .271 average is much better than anticipated, and pitchers love throwing to him, but it's also worth noting that he's 2-for-23 throwing out runners attempting to steal. The Orioles chose him over Moeller mostly because he had the stronger arm.
This stat could be an indication that the Orioles' pitchers really need to do a better job of holding runners.
Matt Wieters is 14-for-47, and Jake Fox is 3-for-5.
Wieters singled in four at-bats yesterday in his return from the disabled list, leaving his average at .245 with six homers and 29 RBIs in 78 games. Not exactly what the Orioles, or Sports Illustrated, were expecting this season.
If you made out a list of all the things that had to go right for the Orioles to hover around .500 this season, perhaps No. 1 would have been the necessity of the young players to take the next step. And I mean forward.
Wieters' rise to stardom has been slow to get off the ground. Nolan Reimold batted .205 with 29 games, and he's hitting .220 at Triple-A Norfolk. Brian Matusz is 3-11 with a 5.22 ERA. Brad Bergesen is 3-8 with a 6.51 ERA. Jake Arrieta is here, which is a positive, but he fell to 3-3 with a 5.40 ERA after yesterday's shelling. Chris Tillman was 1-4 with a 7.92 ERA, and Lehigh Valley milked him for six runs (five earned) and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings Saturday night.
You check the San Francisco Giants, and catcher Buster Posey is hitting .371 with eight homers, 33 RBIs and a .579 slugging percentage in 48 games. Madison Bumgarner is 4-2 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts.
Of course you're frustrated. We're all frustrated. We want that, and we're not getting it this year.
Other factors must be considered, including the lack of run support and poor defense. But the bottom line is, The Plan can't succeed unless the kids do.
You gazed at Wieters on the cover of SI and dreamed of a breakout season. Your face would break if someone told you that Matusz, Tillman and Bergesen would be a combined 7-23. (Bad news does that to some people. So does chocolate.)
As long as we're talking about the kids, former No. 1 pick Matt Hobgood threw two scoreless innings last night for Single-A Delmarva, but came out of the game. He gave up one hit and struck out one.
That must be one heck of a strict pitch count.
Actually, I'm told Hobgood only went two innings because of the rain.
Hobgood, who was sidelined earlier with a sore shoulder, gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings in his previous start, allowing four hits and walking three. But in the start before that one, he allowed one unearned run over four innings.
I also forgot to mention that Mike Flacco, promoted to Delmarva, went 3-for-3 with a double and RBI. And he's totally against the Shorebirds signing Marc Bulger's brother.
Also, Michael Aubrey was named the International League's Player of the Week after leading the league with five home runs and 16 RBIs. He batted .304.
Double-A Bowie's Steve Johnson won back-to-back starts for the first time this season with last night's 4-3 victory over Richmond. Johnson gave up two runs and five hits over six innings.
Johnson is glad that June's over. He posted an 8.76 ERA and surrendered 10 home runs last month.
"My command has been struggling for a while," he said. "My slider and changeup are still works in progress. I got some of them over, but I still need to work on them. For the most part, I'm throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes and at least getting ahead, staying ahead."
Johnson's ERA is 4.01 in 24 2/3 innings this month, and that includes a July 8 start when he allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings in Erie. For the season, he's 5-6 with a 5.38 ERA, 58 walks and 93 strikeouts in 102 innings.
"He's pitched down in the zone and he's throwing more strikes," said Baysox pitching coach Kennie Steenstra. "The walks and home runs were what hurt him there in that tough stretch. He looks a little more comfortable out there. His delivery is getting a little bit more in rhythm."