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Bullpen needs to step up without Sherrill

'Pen needs to step up without Sherrill

BALTIMORE -- As the Orioles look toward their series finale with the Red Sox on Wednesday -- and the rest of their current nine-game homestand -- they do it knowing that they will have to find a way to survive without their All-Star closer, at least for the remainder of their current stay at Camden Yards.

George Sherrill, who is just 14 saves shy of the team record of 45, was sent to the disabled list Tuesday evening with left shoulder inflammation, an injury that subtracts an extremely vital member of a bullpen that has been nothing but overworked recently.

In Sherrill's absence, which will be at least until Aug. 30, the Orioles will need some of their relievers to step up to fill the left-hander's shoes, so to speak. Jim Johnson, whose role has generally been as an eighth-inning setup man this season, will be the most likely candidate to do so, but he, like Sherrill, has already pitched more than previous years. The spot opened on the roster will be filled on Wednesday with a reliever. Who that will be has not yet been decided.

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"I don't know," said manager Dave Trembley, when asked what will happen to the bullpen in Sherrill's absence. "I'll talk to [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] about it, and we're going to get somebody to come tomorrow and I would say off the top of my head, Johnson will probably be the guy -- he's got the experience. He might get the first crack at it as far as closing, but we'll have to play it game-by-game."

Sherrill did not pitch Monday night after experiencing stiffness prior to the game. That stiffness led to an MRI on Tuesday, which ultimately landed the southpaw on the DL. It was, however, a relief to both Sherrill and the Orioles that the injury didn't seem like anything too severe.

"Anything involving a shoulder could go either way," Sherrill said. "There is a lot of stuff up there that can go wrong. It could be career ending, it's a relief that it is nothing serious."

Unfortunately for the Orioles, it throws their pitching staff into even more disarray than it was on Monday, when they opened two rotation slots by moving Dennis Sarfate and Garrett Olson to the bullpen. A closer candidate may be even more difficult to find as the Orioles have only recorded two saves that haven't been charged to Sherrill this season.

Pitching matchup
BAL: LHP Chris Waters (1-0, 4.32 ERA)
It's tough to predict how Waters will fare when he takes the mound. His first three Major League starts have been so different. The southpaw held the league-best Angels to one hit in eight shutout innings in his winning debut. Five days later, Texas scored four times in the first, but he still managed to get through four innings. In his most recent start, Waters shut out the Tigers through four, but couldn't make it out of the fifth.

BOS: RHP Clay Buchholz (2-8, 6.35 ERA)
Buchholz hasn't started since Aug. 10 against Chicago. His regularly scheduled start was originally pushed back three days due to Paul Byrd's arrival in Boston, then it was pushed back to Wednesday due to a rainout on Friday. Even so, there's only one stretch that likely matters to Buchholz more -- the young right-hander hasn't won since May 2, against Tampa Bay.

Bird bites
The Orioles notched their fifth sellout of the season on Tuesday with 48,515 fans making their way through the gates, including the 50 millionth fan in park history. That fan was Kevin Gracie, a second-year law student at the University of Baltimore, originally from Ellicott City, Md. ... Daniel Cabrera, who suffered the loss on Tuesday night, is now just 2-11 in 16 career starts against the Red Sox. ... Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who went 3-for-5 Tuesday night, was the only Oriole to have a multihit game. The rest of the Orioles lineup combined for six hits.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MASN HD

On radio
• WHFS 105.7

Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Orioles (TBD) vs. Yankees (Mike Mussina, 16-7, 3.35), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 10-9, 3.15) vs. Yankees (TBD), 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.

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