Pitching is great, but where’s the offense?

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Byline GabbySORRY FOR THE LONG BREAK NATS LOVERS! I was with my sister as she had a baby and I was obsessing over my adorable little niece for a long time but I’m here now!

So much has been going on since we last met and I honestly do not even know what to talk about. Taking the series against the Giants, losing all games in St. Louis, splitting with the Braves, the great pitching and the need for more hitting.  I think I will focus on the pitching and hitting.

East W L
Washington 40 35
Atlanta 38 37
Miami 38 38
NY Mets 35 41
Philadelphia 34 41

The Nationals are sitting atop the NL East at 40-35, two games ahead of the Braves. Right now, they are in the midst of a three-game winning streak.

The pitching can be thanked for that. In the last three games, the Nationals’ pitching has held opponents to a total of four runs.

It is not all about the starting pitchers, either. The closer can’t be ignored, with Rafael Soriano recording 17 saves so far.

Newcomer Doug Fister is also having an impressive start to his Nationals career. In his eight starts, he has gone 6-2. His latest win against the Braves has gotten attention. Mostly because the Nationals also seem to have problems when facing them (they don’t like to win). He held the Braves to only five hits and no runs.

While the pitching is doing its part, the hitting is lacking. The highest batting average on the team belongs to Adam LaRoche at .310. That is pretty good, but that being the highest causes concern. As a team, the average is a weak .247. That is not going to cut it when we get to the postseason. Monday against the Brewers, Danny Espinosa struck out three times. THREE.

Also do not get me started as to how they had the bases loaded with no outs and didn’t score. However, the called strikeout for Espinosa was questioned by Nats’ manager Matt Williams, which later got him ejected from the game. That was his first time ejected as manager. I did not see the throw, but I am sure he had good reasons for wanting to talk.

Hopefully the return of Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos will bring some power back into the lineup.

The Nationals will hope to add to their win streak as they face on the Brewers again today at 2:10 p.m. at Miller Park.

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Sorting through an ever-changing rotation

Tides Talk

Byline IanIn every year, every season, all teams, no matter the league, have to deal with injuries to their starting pitchers. The Norfolk Tides are no different.

Two of the Tides’ original five-man rotation, Suk-min Yoon and Steve Johnson, are on the disabled list. Yoon was placed on the DL on Monday and Johnson has been on and off the DL all season. Eddie Gamboa took Johnson’s spot in the rotation earlier this season because Johnson’s inability to stay healthy.

On June 13, Gamboa was suspended 50 games for using exogenous Testosterone. Kevin Gausman is being called up and back down between Norfolk and Baltimore recently. T.J McFarland has been with the Orioles for a good portion of the season as a relief pitcher.

Mike WrightWith McFarland and Gausman spending a good bit of time in the majors, Mike Wright is the only pitcher left. Wright is the lone pitcher that was part of Norfolk’s starting rotation at the beginning of the season and has pitched without injury.

With the slew of injuries, Norfolk has used 12 different pitchers to start games; 10 of which have started at least two games. In comparison, the Orioles have used six starters: Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman.

For now, Norfolk’s rotation is a mystery. The Orioles decision on how to use Gausman makes it even more mysterious.

Gausman has a 3-1 record with a 2.74 ERA in four starts with the Orioles this season. For Norfolk, Gausman had a 1-3 record with a 3.32 ERA in 11 starts. Obviously, Gausman has pitched far better with the Orioles this season.

Gausman proved that he can go out, pitch six or seven innings per game and put the Orioles in a spot to win. He has done something Ubaldo Jimenez has not done yet this season; win three games.

I think it is best for the Orioles and Tides to have Gausman stay with the Orioles for the remainder of the season. If Gausman stays with the Orioles, Tides’ manager Ron Johnson will be able to figure out a viable option for a fifth starter, after he finds three replacements for the others.

Tonight, Josh Stinson will be making just his third start for the Tides this season. Stinson has appeared in nine games for the Tides and posted a 0-3 record with a 5.19 ERA.

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Opposing Stinson for the Pawtucket Red Sox is Chris Hernandez. Hernandez, like Stinson, has spent both as a starter and reliever. Hernandez is 3-6 record with a 3.04 ERA and has started seven games.

This game is very important for Josh Stinson. If he is able to pitch well and give the Tides’ a quality start, he could stay in the rotation for the remainder of the season. Stinson started 23 games last year for Norfolk, so starting is not something he needs to adjust to. I do not believe it would be a problem for him to be in a starting role for the rest of the season.

Tides’ Rotation Casualities:

YoonSuk-min Yoon

75.0 inning pitched

Placed on the DL (shoulder)

 

GamboaEddie Gamboa

77.2 innings pitched

Suspended 50 games for exogenous testosterone

 

GausmanKevin Gausman

43.1 innings pitched

Pulled up to pitch for Orioles

 

MacFarlandT.J. McFarland

24.0 innings pitched

Pulled up to pitch for Orioles

 

JohnsonSteve Johnson

17.2 innings pitched

Placed on DL (shoulder)

 

 

 

Prospect Watch: Christian Walker

Tyler's BylineSouth Carolina is one of the better hitting teams in college baseball and has had powerful lineups throughout the years.

Christian Walker spent time hitting in one of the Gamecocks’ lineups, leading the team with a .321 batting average in his final season in 2012.

572233Walker’s strong play caught the eye of the Orioles’ front office and they decided to draft him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft.

He spent his first season in short-season Single-A Aberdeen and finished the season with a .284 average.

Walker started the next season in Single-A Delmarva, but quickly moved up to Frederick after batting .353.

Frederick proved to be just as easy for Walker and after a short period with the Keys, he was promoted for the third time that season; moving up to Double-A Bowie.

He finished the 2013 season with a combined .300 average, 11 homeruns and 56 RBI.

Things have gotten even better for Walker this season, as he has found his power stroke.

Walker has 18 homeruns this season in 73 games, leading Baltimore’s minor league system. He has also managed 64 RBI and a .314 average.

It’s only a matter of time before Walker gets called up to Baltimore, especially with Chris Davis’ future with the team in question.

Christian Walker has been nothing but consistent in the minors for the Orioles and could start at first base for the team in the near future.

Dylan Bundy Update

605164Dylan Bundy was on the mound for the Aberdeen Ironbirds tonight at home against the against the Brooklyn Cyclones. Bundy, who started a game last weekend for the short-season Single-A Ironbirds, threw five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out nine batters.

According to the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo Encina, Bundy’s fastball hovered around 92 to 93 mph. That’s just a few mph slower than his velocity before Tommy John surgery last year; a good sign. In two starts with the Aberdeen, Bundy has allowed one run in 10 innings with 15 strikeouts.

Bundy is scheduled to start again in Aberdeen on Friday. Check here for updates on his performance.

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Top O’s vs. Yankees moments

orioles_logo_2012Yankees

Sept. 6, 2012: The Orioles hit six home runs en route to one of the most exciting games in  regular season history.

10-8-12: The Orioles win their first playoff game in 15 years at Camden Yards.

May 19, 1998: Armando Benitez drills Tino Martinez with a pitch. Who doesn’t love a good brawl?

Sept. 28, 2007: Orioles win on a walk-off bunt. Found it on YouTube and it’s rare.

 

Montreal: A city without baseball

Byline MattI walked into the Stade Olympique half expecting to see a rundown ex-stadium, but all I got was a swimming pool. The Stade Olympique was once host to the 1976 Olympics, as well as all Montreal Expos home games and a few Alouettes playoff games.

Now, what was once a magnificent structure is diminished. It’s a swimming pool.

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It’s a fascinating sight: What it looks like when a professional team leaves your town and never comes back. What does the city do with the stadium? Who do fans cheer for?

For Montreal, it was an easy decision where to focus the attention. The entire country of Canada is enthralled in hockey. It’s essentially the way Americans feel about football. The Canadiens run through Montreal citizens’ blood, and it’s a year-long activity.

The Canadiens play from early fall until, hopefully for these fans, the start of summer. When it gets cold, the Canadiens are the only team around. The Impact won’t play outside in the cold, the Alouettes’ season ends in the late fall and Stade Olympique occasionally hosts playoff games.0uoumo4hp8daek0qfmje0rol3

For a town like Baltimore, we know how it feels when a team leaves. We know to scowl at every Mayflower truck that drives by and to remind Indianapolis Colts fans that their team was once our team. However, the difference between Baltimore and Montreal is that this town didn’t get the satisfaction of receiving the Ravens, another team to fill the void.

No, the city of Montreal has the Canadiens to do that. The Canadiens are one of the original six in the NHL and have been a staple in this area for almost 100 years and fans have passed the tradition down since then. If it doesn’t equate to our feelings toward the Ravens, then the next-best comparison would be to soccer teams in England. For both, it is a religion.

I’m sitting in a house right now that has Canadiens’ blinds, Canadiens’ blind holders, multiple Canadiens’ pucks and a Canadiens hockey stick. Everyone knows Carey Price like everyone in Baltimore knows Joe Flacco or Ray Rice.

In the Bell Centre, where the Canadiens play, 21,000 fans will fill the arena with each game. It’s regarded as one of the most electric environments in all of hockey.

So if the question was: How can Montreal live without the Expos? The answer is that it’s easy; it has the Canadiens. Regardless, it’s always interesting to see where history was made and to look back at a time where the Expos were here.

If you get the chance, I’d recommend visiting this town. It has a European sports feel without the overseas flight. You just might fall in love with the Canadiens, as well.