Orioles need relief from starting pitchers

Orioles need relief from starting pitchers

Three days after it looked like the Orioles' bullpen may finally be saved a bit from the taxing workload short starting pitching performances had been forcing on it, the bullpen was forced into 11 innings in Baltimore's past three games.

And the past two nights, despite shaky starting pitching, it was that highly taxed bullpen that ultimately surrendered the winning runs in the Orioles 13-8 and 7-5 losses to the Indians, respectively.

It's a frantic pace for the nine-member bullpen to keep up without feeling the effects of overuse. A six-inning outing from Garrett Olson spared the relievers on Tuesday, but whether or not it was enough to get them back on track, manager Dave Trembley said, wouldn't be seen until Wednesday.

"Your starting pitching dictates what you do," Trembley said after the Orioles' 7-5 loss to Cleveland. "You've got to play the game correctly and you've got to set your bullpen correctly -- especially at this point in time of the year and especially with people that have never been down there before. I think that's just an obvious fact: If your starting pitching doesn't get you late in the ballgame, you're going to overuse guys."

"I really couldn't tell you [if the bullpen was saved Tuesday]," he added. "I'd have to check on that [Wednesday]. I still think there's some guys down there that an awful lot's been asked of them."

Overuse of the bullpen has been a key concern for the Orioles all season, as Trembley pointed out time and time again how he was being strategic in his use of relievers in the season's first half.

But with staff ace Jeremy Guthrie heading to the mound on Wednesday, the Orioles will be hoping that saving their bullpen becomes a trend, one that Daniel Cabrera will be able to repeat the following night so as to bring some stability to their ailing relief corps.

Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (9-8, 3.26 ERA)
Guthrie followed up what was arguably his best performance of the season -- a complete-game four-hitter against the Mariners -- with an equally outstanding outing Friday. Guthrie threw seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits against the Rangers, earning his ninth win of the season in the Orioles' 9-1 victory over the Rangers on Friday night. The one run Guthrie allowed was a solo homer to Chris Davis, and outside of that one at-bat, the right-hander was in control all night, using an especially effective slider to fool the Rangers' hitters. Guthrie has now been able to get the win in his last three consecutive starts.

CLE: RHP Anthony Reyes (3-1, 3.86 ERA)
Reyes, acquired from the Cardinals on July 26 and initially sent to Triple-A Buffalo, gave up just one run on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings in a win over the Blue Jays on Friday in his Tribe debut. The Indians were intrigued by Reyes because he was once the top prospect of the Cards and the winner of Game 1 of the 2006 World Series. This was but a single start, but it was a promising one for an Indians team trying to figure out its rotation options for 2009 and beyond.

Bird bites
The four first-inning runs allowed by the Orioles on Tuesday night marked the third game in a row that they've surrendered four runs in the first inning. ... Reliever Chris Ray pitched one scoreless inning in a rehab appearance for Baltimore's Gulf Coast League affiliate. ... Aubrey Huff saw his 20-game hitting streak come to an end on Tuesday night, going 0-for-3 with an RBI.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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•  Official game notes

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On radio
• WHFS 105.7

Up next
• Thursday: Indians (TBD) at Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 8-7, 4.78), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Orioles (Chris Waters, 1-0, 4.50) at Tigers (Nate Robertson, 7-8, 5.84), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Orioles (TBD) at Tigers (Justin Verlander, 8-13, 4.77), 7:05 p.m. ET

Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.