Thursday, April 10, 2008

O's Aim to Keep Rolling in Double-Header

Baltimore (6-1) at Texas (3-4), Thursday, 5:05 p.m. ET (DH)

ARLINGTON -- The weather found a way to do what the rest of the league can't: Slow down the streaking Orioles. Baltimore's game against Texas was rained out on Wednesday night, setting up a doubleheader for Thursday. The Orioles will attempt to regroup and keep their early season karma -- which includes a six-game winning streak -- rolling on Thursday.

"You'd rather play," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "But there is not much you can do about the weather."

The Orioles will keep their rotation exactly on turn, choosing to throw Steve Trachsel in the first game and Adam Loewen in the second. Texas will counter with staff ace Kevin Millwood in the opener and Kason Gabbard in the nightcap.

Baltimore's offense has been huge in the first seven games, ranking second among American League teams in batting average and runs scored. Trembley said it will be important to keep the contributions coming from all over the batting order, and he expressed confidence that the bottom of his lineup will continue to spur production from the top.

"Any way they can get on base is a benefit," he said, "because it allows those guys that are hitting 3-4-5 to usually come up with men on base. And if not, it usually allows those guys to come up late in the ballgame and get that fourth or fifth at-bat. And when you get that fourth or fifth at-bat and it's a close game, you'll take your chances with the results."

Trembley allowed for special credit to shortstop Luis Hernandez, who has batted .364 and drawn three walks in his first seven games. The manager said he's put the take sign on Hernandez in several 1-0 and 2-0 counts, forcing the infielder to work deeper into counts and to have a better chance at snagging a free base via a walk.

That approach has been stressed to the entire team, and the Orioles have walked 27 times in seven games.

"We've done a much better job of working the counts, trying to get deeper in the counts," said Trembley. "And you have to have a game plan each day. You can't have a game plan for a week or a month. ... You've got to have a game plan for each game and a game plan for each at-bat. I think our sense of preparation, from top to bottom, has been very good."

Many analysts have expressed surprise at Baltimore's quick start, citing the team's record last year and the offseason losses of shortstop Miguel Tejada and staff ace Erik Bedard. Trembley has pledged to stop referencing last season, though, and has said multiple times that this is a new season with a completely new mix of personalities involved.

"I think balance is the key to success," he said of offensive chemistry. "You've got to spread it out. You can't rely on any one guy. If you do, other teams will know that and they'll start pitching around guys. They can keep people honest."

Pitching matchup
Game 1
BAL: RHP Steve Trachsel (1-0, 3.18 ERA)
Trachsel pitched into the sixth inning or deeper in 18 of his 25 starts with Baltimore last season.

TEX: RHP Kevin Millwood (0-2, 1.29 ERA)
Millwood has worked at least six innings and allowed two runs in both of his starts, but he has yet to win.

Game 2
BAL: LHP Adam Loewen (0-0, 7.71 ERA)
Loewen, who made just six starts last season, worked less than five innings in his season debut.

TEX: LHP Kason Gabbard (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Gabbard was 5-0 with a 2.79 ERA at home and 1-1 with a 6.33 ERA on the road last year.

Bird bites
Baltimore, which was rained out twice last season, already has tied that standard this year. ... The last time Texas and Baltimore played a doubleheader -- which was last August -- the Rangers had a record-setting 30-3 win in the first game. ... No team that has started with a 6-1 record has ever lost 100 games. The team that came closest to that dubious achievement was the 1977 Oakland Athletics, who wound up with a 63-98 record. ... The Orioles have outscored their opponents, 26-24, in the first six innings of their games and 14-3 from the seventh through the ninth.

Up next
• Friday: Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 0-1, 5.11) at Rays (James Shields, 1-1, 3.00), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 0-0, 9.00) at Rays (Jason Hammel, 0-1, 6.00), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Orioles (Brian Burres, 1-0, 1.29) at Rays (Jeff Niemann, 0-0, -.--), 1:40 p.m. ET

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


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