O's have bullpen to build future on

O's have bullpen to build future on

MINNEAPOLIS -- It hasn't been a team strength in the past, but it may be in the near future. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley sat in the dugout before Tuesday's game and raved about his bullpen, which has begun to come together in the wake of the George Sherrill trade. And though his team wound up losing in the ninth, his points stood up.

"I think the back end of the bullpen has the opportunity and the potential to be a power-packed bullpen," said Trembley of his relief staff. "[Danys] Baez, the other day in Chicago, got two strikeouts. He threw the split like he did in April, a power split with real good finish. [Jim] Johnson had a little respite with the birth of his daughter and has come back and shown real well. I'd like to get him in a situation where it's a save opportunity. [Kam] Mickolio has probably been the most improved guy from last year to this year, looking confident and throwing down in the strike zone, challenging hitters, not getting rattled. I probably just put the big whammy on him, but he's throwing good."

Trembley may or may not have put a hex on Mickolio, who pitched well on Tuesday night but wound up taking the loss. The right-hander threw a scoreless eighth and got two quick outs in the ninth, only to see the Twins storm back on two singles and a walk. Before that, Mickolio had thrown 9 2/3 scoreless innings.

And if the Orioles are going to win Wednesday's series finale against Minnesota, they'll need their starting pitcher to get deep in the game. Baltimore used most of its bullpen on Tuesday night, saving just Baez, Johnson and Cla Meredith. Brian Bass had a rough outing, facing five hitters and not retiring any of them.

Baltimore got a real impressive performance, though, and saw Chris Ray continue his impressive comeback. The right-hander had a tough beginning to the season, but has allowed just one earned run in his 17 innings. Trembley views him as a key piece to the puzzle and hopes the right-hander can continue his ascent.

"We've said that about Chris Ray," he said. "This is kind of a mulligan year for him. I thought toward the end of the year he'd come out of it in the shape that we all knew he was. I thought it was a real confidence boost for him the other day pitching in the ninth inning and closing the game out, even though it wasn't a save situation."

Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (8-12, 5.45 ERA)
Guthrie pitched seven strong innings in his most recent outing and allowed just one run, which came on a homer. The right-hander has given up more home runs (29) than any other American League starter this season. Guthrie allowed two earned runs or fewer 17 times last season but has done it just five times this year. Guthrie, Baltimore's Opening Day starter, will try to throw through September for the first time in his career.

MIN: RHP Nick Blackburn (8-8, 4.27 ERA)
Overcoming a rocky beginning, Blackburn posted one of his best starts of August against the Royals in his last outing. After allowing three runs and two homers in the first three innings, Blackburn threw four straight shutout innings and left after seven. Blackburn's outing against the Royals was his longest since July 10 against the White Sox. Two outings ago, Blackburn allowed six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Indians.

Bird bites
Fifteen of Baltimore's past 26 losses have come by two runs or less. The Orioles have four rookie starters in their rotation, and they've gone 28-45 with a rookie on the mound this season. ... Baltimore has a 21-44 road record, which is the worst in the American League. ... The Orioles are now 3-8 in their past 11 games at the Metrodome, a skid that dates all the way back to 2006. ... Baltimore is 35-28 when it scores first and 16-47 when its opponent draws first blood. ... The Orioles are 45-30 when they score at least four runs and 6-45 when they don't. ... Nick Markakis logged his 45th multi-hit game of the season on Tuesday. ... Nolan Reimold has reached base in 12 straight games and in 70 of his 86 games this season. Reimold had his 20th multi-hit game on Tuesday night.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
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On radio
• 105.7 The Fan

Up next
• Thursday: Orioles (David Hernandez, 4-6, 4.35) vs. Indians (Aaron Laffey, 7-3, 3.42), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Orioles (Jason Berken, 3-11, 6.49) vs. Indians (Fausto Carmona, 3-8, 5.92), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Orioles (Chris Tillman, 1-2, 4.58) vs. Indians (Jeremy Sowers, 5-9, 4.93), 7:05 p.m. ET

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.