Team's hitting thrives, but pitching nose-dives


July 10, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,Sun reporter

Toronto - It's one of baseball's irritating mysteries. When one component is going well for a team, inevitably it seems another goes south.

Right now, the Orioles' hitting has been up and the pitching has been down.

After last night's 9-8 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles have scored five or more runs in nine of their past 11 games, outscoring opponents 72-62 during that span.

And yet they are just 4-7 in those games - and 4-5 when they have scored five runs or more.

The Orioles hit .281 in June and .285 in the first seven games of this month, a huge improvement over a .239 mark in May. In contrast, the club's ERA rose from 3.86 in May to 4.80 in June and 5.31 in July going into last night.

"It's usually the way the game is, when you don't hit you usually pitch good. When you pitch good, usually the other thing happens," manager Dave Trembley said. "So we've got to find a little bit better balance."

In the past month, four Orioles regulars - Aubrey Huff, Adam Jones, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis - have hit over .300 with an on-base percentage of .394 or higher. The group has been led by Huff, who won the American League Player of the Week honor for last week, and Markakis, who has batted .406 with 18 RBIs during a 16-game hitting streak.

"We've just had a lot of guys in a groove," hitting coach Terry Crowley said. "When you leave spring training, you try to set a good foundation for the year. You don't worry about any one or two weeks. And the guys have pretty much stayed with the program we all tried to do in spring training, and we've been hitting the ball good."

Facing an old friend

The Orioles were supposed to see former Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay in tonight's series finale, but the Blue Jays have pushed him back to tomorrow to pitch against the New York Yankees.

That means the Jays' starter tonight is left-hander John Parrish, who was with the Orioles' organization from the time he was drafted in 1996 until he was traded in August to the Seattle Mariners.

"Half of the guys there I know, but it is the same either way," he said. "It's all business when I go out there, and when it is over, it is over."

Parrish, 30, was picked up as a minor league free agent and landed a spot at Triple-A Syracuse. The organization moved him back to his original role as a starter, he added a changeup to his curveball and fastball, and he has flourished.

After going 10-1 with a 2.74 ERA in the minors, he was promoted to the Jays last month. He won his first start June 28, allowing one run in six innings against the Atlanta Braves. The starting rotation seems to be working for him.

"I do the same routine every five days, go out there and do my thing instead of worrying about facing one hitter or two or three innings," he said.

Parrish has a fan in Trembley, who managed him at Double-A Bowie in 2003.

"He is one of my all-time favorites," Trembley said.

Around the horn

Roberts is fourth in the online voting for the final spot on the AL All-Star roster. He trails the Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria, the Chicago White Sox's Jermaine Dye and the Yankees' Jason Giambi. Voting ends at 5 p.m. today. ... The Orioles' four-game losing streak is their fifth of three or more losses this season.

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