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The Humiliating 30 – Gas on the Fire with the 2007 Orioles Bullpen

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Who didn’t hear about the Orioles humiliating 30-3 defeat in their own ballpark Wednesday night to the awful Texas Rangers?  In case you didn’t, Baltimore made history by allowing more runs than any big league baseball team since the William McKinley administration (1897).  The O’s were still sort of in the game when erratic starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera departed down 6-3 in the sixth inning, but the “relief” crew incredibly proceeded to surrender an astounding total of 24 runs over the final four innings. 

Now, when you play 162 games in 180 days, you don’t really have time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself.  One of baseball’s most appealing features is the chance at redemption that “tomorrow” may bring.  The Orioles didn’t even have to wait that long.  They went right back out and lost the second game of a doubleheader.  Baltimore took a lead into the eighth inning, but rookie right-hander Jim Hoey became the tenth different Orioles reliever to blow a save in 2007, and a distasteful evening got even worse as the O’s dropped a 9-7 decision.   When the Twins arrived in town the next day, the Orioles blew another eighth-inning lead en route to defeat for the second straight night, then made it three in a row yesterday! 

All told, that makes four straight ugly defeats since Erik Bedard tied the single season club strikeout mark on Tuesday, and a less illustrious team record for the bullpen. The Baltimore Orioles have been playing baseball in the American League since 1954, but 2007 marks the first time in club history that the bullpen has been charged with 30 losses.

Here are the eleven bullpens in Orioles history that have lost at least 25 games (thanks to Retrosheet)

  1. 2007:  16-30 (through 127 games), 5.55 ERA, on pace for 31 saves & 475.1 IP
  2. 2003:  17-29 , 4.57, 41, 478.1
  3. 2005:  17-27, 4.10, 38, 511.1
  4. 2001:  17-27, 4.36, 31, 462.2
  5. 1999:  17-27, 4.91, 33, 441.2
  6. 1991:  25-26, 3.44, 42, 557.2
  7.  2004:  26-26, 4.13, 27, 544.2
  8. 2006:  19-25, 5.25, 35, 512.1
  9. 1962:  21-25, 3.33, 33, 421.2
  10. 1967:  22-25, 2.68, 36, 521
  11. 1987:  25-25, 4.57, 30, 527.2

Now, while won-lost records for relief pitchers should be taken with a grain of salt, it must be pointed out that the 2007 relief crew’s collective .348 “winning” percentage to date is also the worst-ever in Orioles history. The O’s recently lost closer Chris Ray to Tommy John surgery that is expected to sideline him for 2008 as well, but the front office’s $42-million off-season investment in the bullpen wasn’t producing the desired results even with Ray.  While submarining right-hander Chad Bradford & lefty specialist Jamie Walker have pitched well for the most part despite heavy workloads, imported former closer Danys Baez has not, and new manager Dave Trembley finds himself forced to give too many innings to guys with questionable resumes.  One example:  the last 16 runs in the 30-3 defeat were surrendered by a guy who’d been released by both the Rangers and Devil Rays (Rob Bell), and a soon to be 37-year-old who’d been out of the majors since 2003 prior to this year (Paul Shuey). 

The Orioles have won fewer one-run games than any team in the AL so far this year (10), while losing more of them than any team in the majors (24).  That’s a big reason Orioles diehards can still look at a pretty bad ballclub and dream about what might have been if they hadn’t gone 1-19 in games where they blew saves.

  •  4/7 @ Yankees – lose 10-7 (Ray)
  • 4/26 v. Red Sox – lose 5-2 (Ray)
  • 4/27 @ Indians – lose 5-4 (Jeremy Guthrie)
  • 5/13 @ Red Sox – lose 6-5 (Ray)
  •  5/20 @ Nationals – lose 4-3 (Baez)
  • 5/24 v. Blue Jays – lose 5-4 (Scott Williamson)
  • 6/3 @ Angels – lose 4-3 (Ray)
  •  6/4 @ Mariners – lose 7-4 (John Parrish)
  • 6/5 @ Mariners – lose 6-5 (Walker)
  • 6/13 v. Nationals – lose 9-6 (Bradford)
  •  6/15 v. Diamondbacks – lose 7-3 (Todd Williams)
  •  6/23 @ Diamondbacks – lose 7-4 (Bell)
  • 6/28 v. Yankees – lose 8-7 (Parrish)
  •  6/29 v. Angels – lose 9-7 (Bradford)
  • 8/1 @ Red Sox – lose 5-4 (Bradford)
  • 8/7 v. Mariners – lose 10-3 (Walker)
  • 8/15 @ Yankees – WIN 6-3 (Walker) YIPPEE – I was there!
  • 8/22 v. Rangers – lose 9-7 (Hoey)
  • 8/23 v. Twins – lose 5-2 (Walker)
  • 8/24 v. Twins – lose 7-4 (Walker)

By MALCOLM ALLEN

onetoughdominican47@hotmail.com

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