Injuries wrecking Orioles' already shaky bullpen


Later today Alfredo Simon will likely become the third Orioles closer to land on the disabled list, joining Mike Gonzalez and Jim Johnson on the shelf after injuring his hamstring covering first base Sunday.
Koji Uehara would have gotten the nod to fill in, except he’s also headed to the DL with a strained forearm. Baltimore didn’t exactly have great bullpen depth even before all the injuries hit, and with five relievers out Will Ohman and Cla Meredith are suddenly atop the depth chart.
Brittany Ghiroli of guesses that Ohman will “move into the majority of save situations, given that he’s been the Orioles most reliable reliever and, according to manager Dave Trembley earlier this week, would relish the role.” Ohman has a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings this season, so they might as well give him first crack at ninth-inning duties, but he’s also a 32-year-old who had a 4.25 career ERA prior to 2010.
Triple-A closer Frank Mata is expected to join the mix soon, but aside from his save total at Norfolk there’s little to suggest he has a bright future as a late-inning option. Mata didn’t reach Triple-A until this season despite being 26 years old, in large part because he had a 4.92 ERA and terrible 110/74 K/BB ratio in 157 innings at Double-A.
Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun speculates that David Hernandez could be shifted from the rotation to the bullpen, which is perhaps the most interesting scenario. Hernandez has struggled as a starter, going 5-15 with a 5.39 ERA, but a mid-90s fastball and high strikeout totals in the minors suggest he could thrive as a one-inning reliever. Plus, bumping Hernandez from the rotation could lead to the Orioles calling up Chris Tillman or fellow top prospect Jake Arieta.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.