Cruz’s Debut Lone Highlight in Tough Opening Week for Orioles


 

Mar. 31-April 3: O’s Win One, Lose Two to Red Sox

The debut of Nelson Cruz was everything Baltimore Orioles fans hoped for when the team signed the All-Star right fielder this offseason. Cruz was expected to bring even more power to the O’s lineup, and that’s exactly what he did in Baltimore’s season opener against the Boston Red Sox on March 31 in Baltimore.

Cruz smacked a homerun in the seventh inning, giving the Orioles the deciding run in a 2-1 win in Game One of the three-game series. Cruz also scored the Orioles’ first and only other run of the game in the second inning. Starting pitcher Chris Tillman was sharp, allowing seven hits but only one earned run in five innings. Tommy Hunter picked up the save.

But that’s where the Orioles’ winning ways would end, as they lost the next two games of the series. Baltimore fell 6-2 in Game Two on April 2. Cruz showed off his power again with another homerun, but the Orioles were otherwise quiet at the plate. Cruz went hitless in Game Three, a 4-3 loss, but Chris Davis had two hits and two runs and Matt Wieters collected three hits and a RBI. Unfortunately, O’s starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen struggled, allowing 12 hits and four earned runs.

April 4-5: Pitching Woes Hurt Orioles against Detroit
Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez fared even worse than Chen, as Baltimore lost 10-4 in Game One of a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers on April 4. Gonzalez gave up nine hits and an embarrassing seven earned runs over three and 1/3 innings before being yanked from the game. Even with Gonzalez gone, the Orioles couldn’t quiet Detroit’s offense, which recorded 17 hits and three homeruns. One of the blasts came from Miguel Cabrera and marked the slugger’s 2,000th hit.

Game Two looked to be more of the same, with the Orioles trailing 7-1 entering the top of the ninth. But Baltimore racked up five runs in the inning to close the gap, keyed by a two-run double by pinch hitter Steve Clevenger. Detroit turned back the rally by sending in closer Joe Nathan to secure the 7-6 win. Orioles pitcher Bud Norris became the latest Baltimore starter to struggle, surrendering nine hits and five earned runs in five innings of work.

O’s Player of the Week:
In a week with little worth celebrating, Cruz was almost single-handedly responsible for the Orioles’ lone victory with his game-deciding homerun in the season opener. Cruz had another homerun in the following game, and has three hits and four runs so far this season.

Analysis:

Baltimore looks much as they did last season: productive on offense, but weak and inconsistent on the mound. Too often last season, the Orioles struggled to start games thanks to ineffective starting pitching and had to call on the bullpen too early in games. Nothing has changed so far this season, leading to Baltimore’s 1-4 record.

Next-up:
After completing their series with Detroit on April 6, Baltimore will travel to Yankee Stadium to face the New York Yankees in a three-game series on April 7 through 9. The Orioles will then return to Baltimore to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game series from April 11 through 13.

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Cruz's Debut Lone Highlight in Tough Opening Week for Orioles

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