Slumping Wieters gets a break from lineup

Orioles catcher rests after Wednesday's night game

June 04, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK — — Orioles catcher Matt Wieters did not play in his team's 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Thursday, the result of the quick turnaround after Wednesday night's game, and not his average-draining slump.

Wieters is 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts in his past four games, his average falling to .240 — the lowest it's been all season.

"I just need to get a little more comfortable," Wieters said. "I've been getting pitched tough the last couple of weeks, but I have to be able to get the swing back to where it feels comfortable so when they do mistakes, you hit the ball hard. I just think it's one of those stretches through the course of the season where you don't feel your best and you're not able to find some holes."

Wieters hasn't hit a homer since the Orioles' last trip to New York on May 5, a span of 22 games in which he has had an at-bat. He also has just two extra-base hits over those 22 games, both doubles.

"I think he's been caught in between," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley. "He's trying to catch up to the fastball and then when he tries to do that, it seems like he's getting a lot of offspeed or breaking stuff. I think what he's doing, and I don't know that much about hitting other than seeing thousands of guys hit, I think he's reacting to the ball too soon. He's swinging before the ball is out of his hand. I don't know if he's guessing, cheating. Young guys do that, a lot of guys do that."

Wieters took extra batting practice before Wednesday's game, and has spent significant time watching video of his at-bats. He said that he doesn't think anything is mechanically wrong with his swing, and he also denied that fatigue from catching so many games is a factor.

"My body feels good. That has nothing to do with it," Wieters said. "I just think pitchers are making real good pitches and that's how it goes when you're not feeling that good at the plate. You swing at a ball that you chase out of the zone and then you take a first pitch that's a strike and you're down 0-1. That's just how it goes sometimes."

Trembley feels for baseball

Before taking the field for batting practice, several Orioles sat at their lockers and watched the ongoing coverage of Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga losing his perfect game on a blown call by first base umpire Jim Joyce on what should have the 27th out.

Trembley did the same when he returned to his hotel room Wednesday night.

"I feel bad for the game," Trembley said. "The game lost a historic moment."

Joyce's call has led to the inevitable continuation of the debate that Major League Baseball needs to expand its replay system, something that Trembley would endorse, but with reservations.

"I'm in favor of what [ Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire] said, to have the red flag and you could throw the red flag and have so many appeals," Trembley said. "I thought Gardy's idea was the best. I don't think it will ever happen."

Some around baseball, including St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, have called for MLB to reverse the call, but Trembley doesn't think that would be fair either.

"You do it for this and you're not going to do it for something else?" Trembley asked. "You're going to go back for 1985 with the Royals and St. Louis and Don Denkinger at first base and you're going to review that and reward the World Series to the other team? They can't do it [in] my opinion."

Scott's big swing

When left fielder Luke Scott launched a two-run home run into the second deck behind right field Thursday, he became the first left-handed hitter to go deep on Yankees ace CC Sabathia in the new Yankee Stadium. Scott also struck out twice in the game, once against Sabathia.

"He's one of the best pitchers in the game,'' Scott said. "There's just not that much to hit against him. He's got a plus fastball, plus changeup, plus curveball, plus slider and he commands all four quadrants of the strike zone. Us as hitters, if there's nothing around the plate we can handle, it's really, really difficult to get hits.

"Your bat is only so long, you can only cover so much ground and that's where we make a living. We make a living out of balls in the zone and he's very stingy out there. He's one of the best for a reason."

The home run was Scott's 10th of the season, three of them coming against left-handed pitchers. Sabathia hadn't allowed a homer to a left-handed hitter in any home start since then- Chicago White Sox slugger Jim Thome took him deep twice on March 31, 2008, while the burly lefty was a member of the Cleveland Indians.

Around the horn

In just his second start in the past six games, Orioles first baseman Garrett Atkins was 0-for-3 with a walk and is now hitless in his past 11 at-bats. … Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who extended his hitting streak to 17 games with an RBI double in the first inning, was 1-for-3 Thursday and is 16-for-36 (.445) with four homers and five RBIs against the Orioles this season … The Orioles have been swept seven times this season, six of them coming in a set of three games or more. … The Orioles were a combined 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the series. ... During Kevin Millwood's 12 starts, the Orioles have scored just 18 runs with him in the game. Millwood has allowed eight first-inning runs over his last three starts.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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