(July 30-Aug. 1) O’s Take Two From Astros
The Baltimore Orioles closed out July and opened August exactly how they needed to: by winning. After losing five of six games the previous week, Baltimore took two games in a three-game series against Houston Astros.

The recovery started with a 4-3 victory in the Game One of the series, as starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen had a solid performance, allowing just seven hits and three runs in 7-1/3 innings, and closer Jim Johnson recorded his 36th save of the season. But it was Chris Davis who stole the show by snapping his hitting slump with his 38th homerun of the season, and first since the All-Star break. Davis had gone 10 games (16 days) without a homerun, his longest slump of the season, before shaking the funk.

Game Two brought the exact opposite for Baltimore, as they were routed in an 11-0 shutout. Earlier that day, the Orioles traded for Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris to shore up their starting rotation. But Norris didn’t pitch against his former team that night, and the O’s ended up allowing 15 hits for 11 runs. Miguel Gonzalez started the game for Baltimore, but was pulled from the mound after an ugly outing, giving up nine hits and nine runs in just three innings.

Norris would get his first action as an Oriole in the Closing Game of the series, pitching his way to a 6-3 win, the O’s 60th win of the season. Norris allowed just four hits and two runs in six innings before the bullpen took over, and Jim Johnson secured the win for his 37th save of the year. Davis added another homerun, extending his league lead to 39 homers this season.

(Aug. 2-4) O’s Split First Two Games with Mariners
Davis stayed hot, hitting his 40th homerun of the season in an 11-8 win in Game One of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. With the blast, Davis become one of only five Orioles players to record 40 or more homeruns in a single season. The list includes Brady Anderson (50 homers in 1996), Frank Robinson (49 in 1966), Jim Gentile (46 in 1961) and Rafael Palmeiro (43 in 1998). Nate McCloth and Ryan Flaherty also added homeruns, and the Oriole bats were hot, racking 11 hits and 10 RBI. Pitcher Chris Tillman recorded his 14th win of the year and Jim Johnson secured his 38th save of the season.

The Second Game went poorly as starting pitcher Scott Feldman struggled in a 8-4 loss. Like Norris, Baltimore traded for Feldman to help boost their rotation. But Feldman was counter-productive in his first outing, giving up seven hits and five runs in four innings. The Mariners had 15 hits in the game, nine more than Baltimore was able to muster.

For most of the season, Baltimore’s main weakness has been the inconsistency of its starting rotation. There simply hasn’t been a star or ace pitcher to call on, and the majority of the rotation hasn’t looked like they deserve to start at all. That’s why the team traded for Scott Feldman and Bud Norris, two starters that should bring consistency to the rotation. Unfortunately, so far their presence hasn’t made much of a difference as Baltimore still remains third in the American League East, the same place they’ve been nearly all season long. The O’s are five games behind the Boston Red Sox in the race for first place and, if nothing changes, that’s about as close as Baltimore will ever get.

O’s Players of the Week: Chris Davis and Jim Johnson
Davis had seven hits, four runs and three homeruns during the week while Johnson added three saves during the span. Thy both lead the league in those categories; Davis has 40 homeruns and Johnson has 38 saves.

The Orioles (61-49) travel west to face the San Diego Padres on Aug. 7 and 8 and the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 9 and 10.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor