Sunday, May 16, 2010

Better Ball, with a Bump in the Road

Sunday morning in Baltimore, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Half of the area is restinge their beer addled heads after a very successful Preakness and a not so successful Alfredo Simon. The Orioles' closer by default fell apart in the ninth inning last night spoiling a fantastic start from the young Brian Matusz. Matusz pitched seven scoreless innings with six strike outs before handing over the ball to the Orioles pen in the eighth. Trembley decided to play matchups today using Albers, Ohamn and Uehara to get through the inning unscathed. Alfredo Simon came up in the ninth and after getting one quick out he came unhinged. He was wild and did not fool anyone. With two men on and a run already in Simon gave up a no-doubt-about-it blast to Austin Kearns. With one swing the Orioles lead was gone and so was Simon walking off the field to the sound of a very angry crowd. Cla Meredith was no better, giving up four more runs leaving the Orioles down 8-2 in the bottom of the ninth. Ugh.

So the bullpen, that has been very solid of late, blew up. The wheels came off in the ninth and we got skunked. Horrible yes I know, a real gut-punch. So now what do we do? Does Simon get another chance in a close game? Or, are the Orioles in a situation where mistakes like that simply can not be tolerated and you have to go with the hot hand? Most arm-chair managers out there think that is an easy call, but I don't think it is that simple. Even elite closers blow saves. Rivera and Papelbon have blown saves this year and will blow a couple more. You'd like to think a guy like Simon if given say 30 save opportunities would blow no more than say 5-7 of them, but is Simon even that guy?

As I stated above Simon was the closer by default. A hard-throwing converted starter who found a bit of success on a team looking for just that. Since being thrust into the role he has been okay, but shaky at times. With the return of Koji Uehara to the pen, and his continued success, the Orioles have a decision to make. Koji or give Simon another chance.

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