Let me say this but one time, and hope it's the last time I have to say it for a long while: Radhames Liz is terrible. He was terrible last year, and somehow he's even worse this year. When the Orioles demoted him from starting pitcher to bullpen fodder for the Tides, I think it sent a message that the staff and the coaches and the front office and everyone knew Liz wasn't really very good. When you're 25 and have been looked at as a starting pitcher your entire career and you get bumped down to relief work, and it's not caused by an injury that has affected your ability to pitch a lot of innings, it's not a good sign.
Liz wasn't the real problem today. Even if someone pitches his one-third of an inning and doesn't allow any runs at all and the six that came in earned on him don't happen, the Orioles got ripped for their fifth straight loss in a row, completing a four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox -- who came in struggling, mind you -- at Fenway Park. Take those six runs off the board and Boston still comfortably wins, 6-1.
But Liz now has a season ERA of 67.50. He has gotten 1.1 innings of work in and surrendered TEN EARNED RUNS.
Maybe it's just me, but I'm guessing a week in Norfolk wasn't really long enough for him to get acclimated to relief pitching, which is surely different than starting. (It might also just be me, but I don't think he's ever going to stick around no matter what he's doing.)
But I'm not trying to pile on Liz and nothing more, though surely they've seen enough that he needs to be sent back down to Norfolk in exchange for literally anybody with a healthy arm. Look, bottom line before I really move on: The team made a career decision for Liz and then gave him a week of real baseball to work on it before they threw him into the fire. There are guys in Norfolk that have been relieving for years and even if they aren't great, could certainly be doing better than this. It is clear Liz isn't ready. He might never be. And yeah it's a rebuilding year and that's great, but putting Liz on the hill right now is like asking the other team to score. Period. I don't expect to contend, but giving the games away by putting completely incompetent players on the field is another story.
And I'll exhale...
The offense was limp for the second game in a row, scoring once in the third inning when Cesar Izturis got Robby Andino in from third base. Andino came into the game to play third base after Ryan Freel (who started at third) was drilled in the back of the head, near his ear on a pickoff attempt at second base by Justin Masterson. It kind of looked like Freel was knocked out solid in mid-dive, because the ball hit him and he faceplanted pretty hard into the dirt. He was down and not moving for a minute or two, and looked really groggy as he was helped off the field. Hopefully he's OK, but I wouldn't rule out a concussion.
Mark Hendrickson played with fire and had a bad first two innings, but he got out of there after five innings having allowed just three earned. And then the bullpen tanked it something fierce:
IP H R ER BB K HR Season ERA M. Hendrickson (L, 1-2) 5.0 5 3 3 3 6 1 3.86 D. Sarfate 1.0 4 3 3 1 1 0 7.36 R. Liz 0.1 3 6 6 1 0 0 67.50 M. Albers 1.2 3 0 0 0 1 0 5.87
Albers finished it out OK, so that was nice.
For the life of me, I don't understand why all the writers and commentators and everyone keep going, "Well the bullpen was supposed to be good, it was supposed to be the rotation that had issues." What bullpen were they looking at? Sarfate has major command issues and one plus pitch (a hard fastball), Johnson is a sinkerballer that was absolutely bound to regress from last season because his K-to-BB really stunk for a guy with an ERA that low, and Sherrill was junk in the second half. Add that to Walker coming off a terrible year, Ray coming off of a season lost to injury, Albers with some arm issues, Danys Baez coming off of a season lost to injury and a rotten one before that, and coaching staff love child Brian Bass (batters are hitting .386 off of him) and I just don't see where this solid bullpen was supposedly coming from. There was a chance it was going to be decent, but it was 50-50 at best, man. The other 50 is winning right now.
I said last season and this spring that knowing your team isn't there to contend and accepting it mentally is one thing, but watching them fail so dramatically hard is another thing entirely. It's frustrating, it's maddening, and it's painful. Everyone winds up wanting the quick fix. "Get rid of this guy, bring up that guy!" It's easy to say, but there's hardly any guarantee that Lou Montanez or Brad Bergesen or any of these guys are going to fare any better. They got Pie to play left field because MacPhail believes in him, so like it or not we're stuck with Pie, his awful glove and his 5-for-34 start at the plate for the time being. They needlessly picked up Adam Eaton in spring training even though they already had 36 pitchers in camp, and he's exactly what we expected.
My point is, this team is going to anger you mightily many, many days. There may seem to be obvious fixes to at least upgrade to mediocrity instead of wastes of time, but they're going to let Pie play himself out of the position. He has no options left, they traded for him, he's going to play. And they went to the trouble of signing Adam Eaton for God knows what reason -- nobody say "to eat innings" because he doesn't eat innings, he just stinks and then gets hurt -- so Eaton is going to pitch for a bit.
And just remember: We all knew this team wasn't going to be good, and if you expected a repeat of last year's offense, I don't know what to tell you there.
Final note: Gregg Zaun can't hit for beans.
Most Birdland Player (MBP) for today's game was:
Mark Hendrickson (5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) (65 votes)
Ryan Freel (1-for-1) (41 votes)
Cesar Izturis (1-for-4, RBI) (7 votes)
Matt Albers (1.2 IP, 3 H) (42 votes)
155 total votes