May 29, 2009
Here's a quick peek at what to watch for and think about as we get underway:
• 7:27pm ET: It's raining in Baltimore, 50 miles east, and the Tiger and Orioles are delayed at the moment. For the love of all things holy, let's hope Mother Nature doesn't spoil our little Wieters party. If and when the game gets underway, Mr. Franchise will be catching for the O's and batting seventh. My on-the-record prediction for the kid: one hit, one other time on base (a walk or a HPB), one strikeout, flawless fielding.
• Mercifully, the Clint Hurdle era is over in Colorado. Nothing personal against the chap, but fantasy owners came to loathe Hurdle for his constant lineup-card and roster juggling; in the words of baseball scribe and Colorado native Gene McCaffrey. "Hurdle couldn't wait to get his second-best team on the field." I can't promise to you that Jim Tracy will be any better or all that much different, but I have to assume he won't be as scattershot with the everyday lineup as Hurdle was, a change fantasy owners would certainly appreciate. The Rockies lineup for tonight isn't up yet; when it is, we'll give it a good look.
Is it too late to build a retractable roof over Camden Yards? Let's hope for clear weather and settle in for the debut of the next big thing (if the game is rained out, The Steve Harvey Show will run in this space instead).
• 7:44pm ET: The storm came and went fairly quickly in Baltimore and our game got underway around 7:35 pm, 30 minutes late. Weather shouldn't be a factor the rest of the night. The Tigers tested Wieters on the very first pitch of the game, with Josh Anderson(notes) dropping a bunt in front of the plate, third-base way. Wieters pounced out like a cat, collected the ball quickly and threw a pellet to first, easily retiring the speedy Anderson.
The angels sighed, the gods nodded in approval. Back with more when Wieters makes it to the plate; he's slotted seventh tonight, which means he'll bat third in the second inning. Baltimore stranded one man, without scoring, in the bottom of the first.
• 7:54pm ET: It was a pretty cool moment as Wieters came to the plate in the bottom of the second; the Orioles had the first two men on base and the Baltimore crowd gave the rookie an extended standing ovation. Wieters took a healthy hack at the first pitch he saw from Dontrelle Willis(notes) and you could feel the buzz inside Camden Yards, a stadium ready to explode.
Alas, that swing resulted in a foul ball, and Wieters eventually lined out on the fourth pitch of the at-bat. Maybe we overrated the rook after all.
• Still waiting to see how Jim Tracy sets his initial lineup in Colorado. The Rockies are up against Chris Young again, and let's not forget the stolen-base frenzy Colorado threw his way back on April 27.
• 8:25pm ET: We talked about streaky Luke Scott(notes) last night, and he's still in that groove. He came to the plate with the bases full in the bottom of the third and clocked a hanging Dontrelle Willis curve completely out of Maryland. Make it 5-0, Orioles. (As colleague Matt Romig pointed out, it was rather disrespectful for Scott to clear the bases in front of Wieters like that.)
As for the kid, he's just another guy looking for a hit right now. Wieters hit a two-hopper to the mound and even with a brief bobble he was thrown out easily. Wieters might hit and throw like a golden god, but he still runs like a catcher.
Willis's mechanics are all over the place tonight, by the way. I don't care what he's done thus far in 2009, I'm not going anywhere near him.
• The first Jim Tracy lineup is out, and here it is: Dexter Fowler(notes), CF; Clint Barmes(notes), 2B; Todd Helton(notes), 1B; Garret Atkins, 3B; Seth Smith(notes), LF; Ryan Spilborghs(notes), RF; Troy Tulowitzki(notes), SS; Yorvit Torrealba(notes), C.
• 8:56pm ET: Whatever Luke Scott is having for breakfast, pour us a bowl of it, too. He hit another moon shot towards Eutaw Street in the fifth, putting the O's up 7-0; that's five home runs for Scott in his last three games. Wieters followed with another ground out; it's funny how he's the only Baltimore batter with a completely empty box score against Willis tonight (Aubrey Huff(notes) is hitless too, but he's scored a run).
We do have to give props to Wieters for his smooth debut in the field. He moves very gracefully behind the dish for a man his size (6-5), and it's clear he has a good working relationship with young righty Brad Bergesen(notes) (6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K). It will be interesting to see if the Orioles eventually use Wieters as an occasional DH on the days where he's not catching, similar to what the Twins do with Joe Mauer(notes).
I'm going to start channel surfing in a bit, but don't worry, we'll have every Wieters swing covered.
• 9:49pm ET: Maybe the live blog was too much pressure on the rook. Wieters struck out looking in his fourth at-bat, unable to pull the trigger on a borderline 89 mph fastball from Nate Robertson(notes) (honestly, it looked like a pretty sweet pitch to hit). Nonetheless the Orioles are comfortably ahead and should cruise to their fifth straight victory, and we have to mention that the team hasn't lost a game since it announced earlier in the week that Wieters was coming up. Coincidence? You decide.
Before we close up shop on this live blog, let's collect a few stories on the way out:
• Brandon Phillips(notes) (thumb) took infield and BP before Friday's game and is available to pinch hit; the Reds plan to start him Saturday. "I feel [the thumb]," Phillips told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's all about manning up. I felt it more throwing than hitting." I'm not particularly optimistic that Phillips can do a lot offensively with a bad thumb, but maybe he'll prove me wrong.
• Joakim Soria(notes) (shoulder) is set to work in an extended spring training game Saturday and there's a chance he might be able to return to Kansas City without needing a rehab assignment. We'll see what he does Saturday.
Check back in a couple of hours, we'll have a shorter-than-usual Closing Time proper, taking a look at the other 28 teams in action.