Rotation and bullpen pitching in

One of the Orioles filled his breakfast plate this morning and Luke Hochevar's ERA went up another point.

Speaking of breakfast, you'll barely have time to digest it before the first pitch today. We've got a 12:35 p.m. starting time before the Orioles fly to Oakland to begin their first West Coast trip of the season.

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The Orioles will try to extend their winning streak to five games for the first time this season.

The rotation is rolling again. Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta have combined to allow six earned runs in 24 innings in the last four games. I'll save you the math: It's a 2.25 ERA.

Guthrie, who starts today, is 2-0 lifetime against Kansas City, but he's got a 5.24 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. He's made six appearances against them, but only three starts.

Don't look now, but the bullpen hasn't allowed a run in its last 10 innings over three games. Jim Johnson blanked the Royals in the seventh and eighth last night, and Michael Gonzalez protected that seven-run lead with a perfect ninth.

Gonzalez struck out the last batter with a 94 mph fastball. I know it was the ultimate non-pressure situation, except he must be feeling some pressure to start getting hitters out.

Of all the elements to remember and embrace about that eight-run fourth inning last night, manager Buck Showalter fixated on a ground ball from Vladimir Guerrero that should have produced a force at second and returned the Royals to the dugout. Except that shortstop Alcides Escobar rushed his throw because Adam Jones was hustling all the way and didn't assume the out, and the error allowed another run to score and extended the inning.

"That's the thing I take out of the game tonight, a player on a pretty routine-looking ball doesn't assume it and busts it to second base," Showalter said. "And that's what Jonesy has been doing since Day One. He sets a great example."

Has anyone noticed that Jones is batting .297 and leads the club with 28 RBIs?

Trust me, the manager hasn't missed a thing.

We'll welcome back catcher Craig Tatum today. It was just a matter of time.

Tatum gives the Orioles a more traditional backup catcher, and Jake Fox can fill the role that the club envisioned for him all along.

One last item: The Orioles have introduced a new military appreciation program. The initiative includes discount ticket offers and suite donations for active duty and retired military members and their families, complimentary Orioles caps for active duty military and complimentary welcome home scoreboard messages at Camden Yards.

A complete list of the Orioles military offers can be found at www.orioles.com/military.

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