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Baltimore Orioles: Where does John Means’ performance rank?

John Means of the Baltimore Orioles throwing a no-hitter is nothing new. That is if you were born yesterday at least. Means threw the first no-hitter for the franchise since four pitchers shared a no-no in Oakland in 1991. And he became the first singular pitcher in Orioles’ history to throw a no-hitter since Jim Palmer in 1969.

It’s tough to compare no-hitters and say this one is better than that one. But consider this; Means is the only pitcher in history to toss a no-hitter and not surrender a walk, hit batsman, or have a batter reach base on an error. If not for the dropped third strike rule, we’d be talking about a perfect game this morning.

Again, I can’t tell you that Means’ no-hitter is more special than Palmer’s in terms of franchise history. However both in essence serve as 1 and 1A in terms of the best pitching performances in team history. Which one is which can be left up for debate.

Incidentally, the dropped third strike rule is an interesting one. In general I kind of understand the logic behind it. But the fact is that it cost Means a perfect game. But I’m not in favor of changing a rule just to be able to classify something as a perfect game. One thing however is for sure, and that’s the fact that Means faced only 27 hitters – the minimum. That he has in common with anyone who pitches a perfect game.

One way or the other, what we saw yesterday is something of which we haven’t seen much. It’s a special moment for Means, his teammates, and the Orioles fans. And it’s one that was a long time coming.

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Baltimore Orioles: John Means No-Hits Seattle in an immortal effort

John Means is the story today – not the Baltimore Orioles. He became the first Oriole since Jim Palmer in 1969 to throw a no-hitter. (Four different Oriole pitchers shared a no-hitter in 1991.) That‘s pretty select company. Means’ line: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K.

Obviously a no-no doesn’t really mean much unless you score some runs. And the Orioles did; DJ Stewart and Ramon Urias would smack RBI-singles in the second inning. I’m theory those two runs would have been enough, but Pat Valaika would smack a solo homer in the seventh, and Trey Mancini added some insurance runs in the eighth with a three-run homer.

The image of John Means sitting alone in the dugout in the later innings isn’t one that Orioles fans will soon forget. Heck, the entire game is one that Orioles fans won’t soon forget. And let’s be frank; this much-maligned franchise and fanbase deserved this moment. It was a long time coming.

And one can’t even begin to imagine what was going through John Means’ head after the birth of his son this past off season, and the death of his father last year. And now this. It had to be a heck of a moment.

For the record, this easily could have been a perfect game. A Seattle hitter (Haggerty) struck out in the third, but the ball rolled away from the catcher. Haggerty took first base and was promptly thrown out stealing. All other things being equal, if not for that play we’re talking about a perfect game.

There were a couple of close calls. In the eighth inning a ball was hit to the warning track, but caught by Austin Hays. In a lot of parks that might have been a home run, which obviously would have broken up the no-hitter. Heck maybe even at Camden Yards. But today’s game was in Seattle – not Oriole Park. So it was an out.

Even the last out…could have been a flair into the outfield. But games such as no-hitters or perfect games always require great defense behind the starting pitcher. And we saw it today. And it won’t be quickly forgotten.

I’ve obviously glossed over the overall game highlights. Because in games like this they’re almost unimportant. ALMOST. But make no mistake that the Mancini three-run homer was huge at the time. It gave the O’s a sizable lead. Which in theory may have allowed them to relax a bit.

But here’s another point; the unwritten codes of baseball dictate no bunting in a no-hitter (after the seventh inning). But what happens in a close game? A 3-0 lead in theory is a save situation.

A smaller lead might have given Seattle an opening to lay down a bunt to break up the no-hitter, and justify it by saying it was a close game. Mancini’s home run took that option away.

As I’ve said, the Orioles and Orioles fans won’t soon forget this game. And I hope that people realize what happened here. Richard Nixon was President the last time a single Oriole pitcher threw a no-hitter. Let that sink in. Let it all sink in. John Means, of the Baltimore Orioles, threw a no-hitter today.

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Baltimore Orioles: Four-run eighth dooms the O’s

Jorge Lopez got the start last night in Seattle for the Baltimore Orioles. It ended up being another short(ish) start, as Lopez couldn’t qualify for a win with five innings pitched. Lopez’s line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R 2 BB, 4 K.

Lopez in effect did put the O’s in a spot to win. And again, that’s all you can ask of a starting pitcher. However after the game Lopez himself admitted he needed to get deeper into games:

It is something I have to work on. Last couple of outings been the same and same and same. I just go through, pitch by pitch again. When you try to do too much and or be better than last time, it doesn’t have to be like that. Sometimes it’s frustrating. I know everybody wants to get me, as a starter, seven innings. When are winning when we get to six or seven innings.

Quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports

Seager’s solo homer in the fourth gave Seattle a 1-0 lead. But that’s the only run Lopez would surrender, and the Birds got it back an inning later. Rio Ruiz would tie the game at one with a solo shot of his own in the fifth.

But it would be Seager who would give Seattle the lead back. His sac fly-RBI in the eighth gave Seattle a 2-1 lead. Later in the inning Seattle broke the game open with Lewis’ three-run homer. Trey Mancini’s RBI-single in the ninth cut the final to 5-2.

Monday night the O’s got some clutch hits. That didn’t happen last night. One thing which sticks out is the Orioles loading the bases in the second inning, only to let Seattle off the hook. You have to at least push one across in that situation. Otherwise you embolden your opponent, and reject the opportunity. But this is part of growing as a young team.

The series and road trip conclude this afternoon at T-Mobile Park. John Means gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi. Game time is set for just after 3:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins, Freddy Galvis slug the Birds to victory

The Baltimore Orioles got a quality start out of Dean Kremer last night in Seattle. Unfortunately, Kremer didn’t get the run support necessary to get the win. The run support came, just after Kremer had exited. Kremer’s line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

However the job of a starting pitcher is to put the team in a position to win the game. Kremer did that and then some last night, leaving manager Brandon Hyde gushing about him after the game:

I thought Dean was really good. Aggressive with his fastball. Just got beat on a good cutter, down and away. Tip your hat to Murphy there for a really good piece of hitting and not an easy park to leave. But I thought Dean was in control the whole way through. I liked his tempo. He had life to his fastball. Saw some good changeups tonight. He pitched extremely aggressive tonight and that was fun to watch.

Courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports

Kremer’s line run surrendered came on a solo homer by Murphy in the fifth. But that was his only mishap. And as we know, solo home runs generally don’t beat you.

Cedric Mullins came up with a runner on in the eighth, and promptly smacked a two/m-run homer. That put the Orioles in the lead, and for good at that. But they wanted more.

Maikel Franco’s RBI-groundout later in the inning ran the score to 3-1, but the O’s still weren’t done. They needed insurance, and it came in the form of a two-run homer by Freddy Galvis. In all, it was a five-run Orioles’ eighth inning.

And seeing that Seattle’s Haniger responded with a two-run homer of his own in the bottom of the inning, it’s a good thing they got those insurance runs. End of the day however, the Orioles’ pen held the lead without further incident. And the Birds took game one in Seattle.

The series continues tonight at Safeco Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Justin Dunn. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Eighth inning does in the Birds

The Baltimore Orioles sent Bruce Zimmerman to the mound this afternoon in the series finale in Oakland. Zimmerman delivered one of those “in between” starts, which was consistent with the rest of the game. It was back-and-forth all day. Zimmerman’s line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R (3 earned), 2 BB, 4 K.

Oakland took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. However the Birds came right back, cutting that to 2-1 on Freddy Galvis’ RBI-single in the second. And an inning later, the game would be tied. Austin Hays smacked a solo home run in the third, tying things up at two.

But then Oakland came back. Olson’s two-run homer in the bottom of that third inning gave them the lead back at 4-2. This was a game and a series of two teams with a lot of heart. And even in a losing effort, the Orioles showed that today. Trey Mancini’s two-RBI single in the fifth tied the game back up at four.

And it was Mancini who would also give the Orioles the lead in the seventh. His RBI-single gave them a one-run lead at 5-4. This appeared to put the Birds in the driver’s seat. But in the bottom of the inning Lowrie would appear to ground out to Franco at third, with Chapman on second. However Franco’s throw to first was off line. To further compound things, Mancini had trouble getting the ball out of his glove…

…all this while Chapman rounded third base. Whether or not Mancini would have been able to throw Chapman out at the plate had he gotten the ball cleanly out of his glove, I don’t know. But ultimately Chapman came around to score, tying the game at five.

DJ Stewart appeared to have a go-ahead RBI-double in the eighth. He drove the ball deep with a runner on second, only to have Laureano catch the ball in dramatic fashion at the wall. To add insult to injury, Laureano came up in the last of the eighth with a runner on, and smacked a two-run homer, which won the game for Oakland.

You never want to lose, but the O’s battled in this game. And in this series. I always say that if you’re going to take two-of-three in a series (which the Orioles did this weekend), you want the loss to come in games one or two. If you win the first two games and lose the finale it almost feels like you dropped the series.

The Orioles now head to Seattle for three games at Safeco Field starting tomorrow night. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and Seattle has yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Good things can happen with runners on base

The Baltimore Orioles got another strong start this afternoon out of Matt Harvey at the Oakland Coliseum. Luckily however he was also gifted several runs that all but marginalized how solid Harvey was. That isn’t meant to marginalize Harvey’s effort, of course. Harvey’s line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 K.

The game was won for the O’s in a monster third inning. Austin Hays hit what should have been a two-RBI single. A good thing for the Orioles, but by no means a game-changer. Not in the third inning, not even with nobody out. However Oakland committed a throwing error, allowing a third run to score. And Hays himself would later score on Trey Mancini’s run-scoring single.

I’ve written a million times that getting guys on base will cause good things to happen. Anything’s possible at any moment – if a pitcher uncorks a wild pitch with nobody on base, did he really throw a wild pitch? Does it even matter? But do it with ducks on the pond, and it’s different. And Hays doesn’t score on that hit if he isn’t at third base; and he got there because of the error.

The Orioles have been held accountable left and right for their mistakes in games. And they’re finally holding other teams accountable now as well. Ryan Mountcastle’s sac fly-RBI later in the inning would score Mancini and run the score to 5-0. And to round out the inning, Maikel Franco would score on a wild pitch.

DJ Stewart would give the Orioles some insurance runs in the sixth with a two-run homer. And it’s a good thing he did, as Oakland made a bit of a comeback. They managed to put four runs on the board, two of which came on solo homers. And one of those was in the ninth inning. 8-4 is a lot different than 6-4 when trying to close out a game.

But again, the Orioles are holding teams accountable for their mistakes, and finding ways to score. Three of those runs were unearned. However they still count. If you can find ways to score, you’ll win a lot of games. Taking advantage of the opportunities you’re afforded is a part of every sport. Also a part of life.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum. Bruce Zimmerman gets the call for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Sean Manaea. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Back-to-back homers are for the Birds

If results thus far this year are any indication, the Baltimore Orioles can only beat Oakland if John Means is on the mound. Means’ steady hand newt Oakland on Sunday at Camden Yards, and last night in Oakland. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K.

Yes you read that correctly; nine strikeouts. Means has had a great start to the season for the Orioles, and he’s taking full advantage of the opportunity he’s being given. I’ve even seen some fans online suggest that he should be traded for prospects. I suppose anything’s possible. But Means has the makings of a pitcher you want to keep for a long time. Unequivocally, I think that would be a bad mistake.

Oakland did take a 1-0 lead in the second on a Murphy solo homer. However solo homers generally don’t beat you. Although…I suppose one could say that they beat Oakland in a way.

The third inning told the tale of the game. Cedric Mullins tied the game at one with a solo homer. That brought Austin Hays to the plate, and he took the Orioles into the lead with a solo shot of his own. Back-to-back homers for the O’s was the story. So while it’s fashionable to say that solo homers won’t beat you, it’s safe to say that enough solo homer runs will. Two were enough last night.

Mullins would add a third run in the fifth on an RBI-groundout. Oakland’s Moreland would bring them back to within one in the seventh with a solo home run of his own. But after Means exited the Orioles’ pen was sure handed, and they closed out the game with no further incident.

The series continues this afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Jesus Luzardo. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: All’s well that ends well; Birds defeat New York

The Baltimore Orioles gave Jorge Lopez a getaway day start in the series finale with New York tonight at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Once again we saw Lopez be fairly solid, save for one pitch, but he didn’t have the staying power that the Orioles would like. Lopez’s line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K.

In fairness, the Orioles’ bullpen has consistently been strong. I write a lot about starters not going deep into games, but this particular pitching staff may be designed so as not to have the starter go deep. Or at least to not need them to go deep into a game. However my point would be why wouldn’t you want them to go deep? Nevertheless, the bullpen has been sure. Much more so than the starting rotation.

Trey Mancini put the Birds on the board right off the bat with an RBI-single in the first inning. As I’ve said, when you get guys on base, good things can often happen. O’s end up with an early base runner, and thus an early lead.

But that lead evaporated in the fifth. Lopez loaded the bases, and Odor came up to bat with two outs. His two-RBI single gave New York a 2-1 lead. As this pitching duel ensued, the Orioles needed a spark. They needed someone to kick them back into control of the game. And it ended up being the guy who gave them the lead to begin with – Trey Mancini. His solo homer in the last of the sixth tied the game back up at two, and kickstarted the Birds.

And that kickstart appeared to give them the eventual winning run. Cedric Mullins drew a walk in the eighth inning. He would come around to score and give the Birds a 3-2 lead on Austin Hays‘ RBI-double (Hays would take third on the throw). But that was the only run the Birds could muster in the inning. However it gave them the lead.

However manager Brandon Hyde thought the Orioles should have gotten a fourth run. New York reliever O’Day appeared to balk, which should have scored Hays from third. However the balk wasn’t called, which in a one-run game was a big deal. Hyde argued between innings, but to no avail.

And it was with good reason that Hyde argued. Torres was down to his final strike in the ninth inning, and smacked an RBI-single which tied the game at three. The Orioles were once again frustrated, because the strike zone got really small in the ninth inning. But the game went to extra innings.

And the O’s would eventually benefit from the new rules placing a runner at second base. I’m still not a fan of the rule, but it benefited the O’s today. The runner was bunted over to third, and Cedric Mullins’ sac fly-RBI won it for the O’s. However even that wasn’t without controversy. New York challenged the call, claiming that Mullins left third base early. The review probably lasted for longer than the Orioles would have liked, but the call was upheld and the Birds ended up with a 4-3 win in ten innings.

The Orioles now head out west for a three-game set with the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Mike Fiers. Game time is set for just after 9:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Dean Kremer hit hard by New York

Dean Kremer went to the mound at Oriole Park at Camden Yards tonight for the Baltimore Orioles against New York. And unfortunately for Kremer, the Birds couldn’t muster even a run on his behalf. If you can’t score you have no shot at winning. However Kremer got knocked around by New York, who took the third game of this series. Kremer’s line: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Kremer gave up a solo homer in the second to Ford. While we didn’t know it at the time, that was the end of the game right there. As I said, if you can’t score you can’t win.

Torres’ RBI-single later in the third inning doubled NY’s lead to 2-0. But later in the inning Urshela opened the game wide open. His three-run homer gave New York a 5-0 lead.

Hicks would add a sac fly-RBI in the fifth, and Frazier a solo homer in the eighth. That rounded out New York’s 7-0 victory. Kremer obviously was hit hard in this game. But that was because he was pitching-to-contact.

Against a team like New York, you have to pitch-to-contact. They won’t swing at balls. So if you want to have a shot at recording outs, you just have to do it. And it burned them tonight.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Jordan Montgomery. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles fall to Bronx Bombers

Bruce Zimmerman took to the mound tonight for the Baltimore Orioles against New York. And he showed some growing pains, as New York tee’d off on him. Zimmmerman’s line: 3.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

It’s tough for a guy like Zimmerman to go up against a team like New York. While they’re struggling, they’re still the New York Yankees. When you’re a rookie going against the team who’s supposed to be the best in baseball, it’s often tough. But that’s how you learn.

New York took the lead right away on an Urshela sac fly-RBI in the first. While that was only one run, it set the table for what the rest of the game was going to be. It ensured that the Birds were playing catch-up for the rest of the night.

Judge’s solo homer in the third would double the lead to 2-0. One inning later, Higashioka smacked a solo shot of his own, running it to 3-0. Later in the inning Urshela’s RBI-single have New York a 4-0 lead.

Maikel Franco’s RBI-single in the last of the fourth for the Birds on the board. But Stanton’s solo homer in the seventh gave New York their four-run margin back. And 5-1 ended up being the final, as the O’s dropped game two of this series.

The most exciting part of the game from the Orioles’ perspective was reliever Jay Flaa making his big league debut in the end of the game. Flaa pitched 1.1 innings, walking two and striking out one. 

These big league debuts are a big deal. The Orioles are a young organization, and we’re seeing quite a few of them thus far this year. If the Birds manage their talent properly, they could have a stacked team of big leaguers in a few years.

The series continues tomorrow night at Camden Yards. The Orioles have yet to announce a starter, but whomever he is he’ll be opposed by New York’s Domingo German. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles slugged to victory by Cedric Mullins

Cedric Mullins was the story tonight for the Baltimore Orioles. Had the game gone any other way however it would have been starter Matt Harvey. The goal of a starting pitcher is to put the team in a position to win. Harvey did that, as he pitched to a quality start. Harvey’s line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Harvey had the lead early after retiring New York in the top of the first. Mullins led the game off with a solo homer in the first inning. Upon further review, the ball made it onto Eutaw Street. Unofficially, that’s the 108th home run ball hit onto Eutaw Street in the history of Camden Yards.

Freddy Galvis’ RBI-double in the second would extend the Birds’ lead to 2-0. However following the inning Galvis would come out of the game with an injury. Later on the Orioles would announce that he had strained some muscles in the groin area.

New York would get on back in the sixth to pull to within 2-1 on Judge’s RBI-double. But if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times; if you get guys on base sometimes things happen. The O’s had runners at the corners and one out. Rio Ruiz (the runner at third) was awarded home plate on a ball. The Birds led 3-1.

But they wanted and needed more. Mullins came up to bat again in the seventh, and promptly deposited his second home run of the game into the seats. This one, also a solo shot, gave the O’s a 4-1 lead.

New York would load the bases in the eighth, and Urshela would smack an RBI-single. However Judge tried to take third base, and with two outs was promptly cut down. The umpires ruled that what would have been the second run didn’t score before the out was recorded, prompting New York manager Boone to get ejected from the game.

It also kept the score at 4-2 as opposed to 5-3. And the key to that play was Austin Hays’ throw to third from the outfield. Hays is quickly becoming a stud – both at the plate and on the field.

The series continue last evening at Camden Yards. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Corey Kluber. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: John Means, Austin Hays end Oakland’s winning streak

John Means got the ball this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles in the series finale against Oakland. The Birds of course had dropped the first two games of the series, and Oakland came into the game having won 13 straight games. Was he up to the challenge? You tell me; Means’ line: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 K.

This series thus far has showcased the Orioles pushing too hard. This game was different in that it was a pitcher’s duel. Means and Oakland starter Luzardo matched one another pitch for pitch.

Whereas the other two games showed the O’s leaving a lot of guys on base, there weren’t many opportunities in this game. Not many guys got into scoring position. And with Means on the mound, that boded well for the O’s.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead in the last of the second when Austin Hays deposited a solo homer into the outfield grandstand. It was also the first time in the series the O’s had the lead. One could argue that shows the Orioles are struggling. But perhaps more poignantly it shows how well Oakland’s playing.

And Oakland came right back to tie it in the fourth. Laureano’s solo home run knotted it up at one. However Means limited the damage, which is a key tenant of winning games. Just ask the Oakland A’s.

I suppose the question is whether or not the hero on the day was John Means or Austin Hays. A little of both, in my view. But Hays came back to bat in the last of the fourth with a runner on. And he repeated home run performance with a two-run homer, which gave the Orioles the lead back at 3-1. Maikel Franco’s solo homer and Ryan McKenna walking with the bases loaded in the last of the eighth would add an insurance runs. The Birds would also net a run when Cedric Mullins reached on an error, and two on Trey Mancini’s two-run single.

The Orioles’ bullpen was equally as dominant as Means, and they closed out the Birds’ 8-1 victory. Again, that snaps an impressive 13-game winning streak for Oakland. The O’s did what they hadn’t done this entire series; they loosened up, and they took advantage of their opportunities. And they won.

Tomorrow the O’s will open a four-game set against the NY Yankees at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Deivi Garcia. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Pushing too hard

The Baltimore Orioles sent Wade LeBlanc to the mound last night in a spot start. And it went about as well as one might have expected. LeBlanc’s line: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

LeBlanc is going to be optioned today back to the alternative site, and the Orioles will call Zac Lowther to the majors. He’ll be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen this afternoon. Whenever he gets into a game it will be his big league debut.

LeBlanc gave up an RBI-single to Olson in the first inning. Oakland jumped right to it early, as you would expect for a team that’s won 12 straight games. Canha’s two-RBI single in the second gave them a 3-0 lead, and Olson’s RBI-double ran it to 4-0 and chased LeBlanc to the showers.

The O’s got on the board in the last of the second with an RBI-double by Chance Sisco. But as was the case on Friday, that was all they got in what could have been a big inning. Lowrie’s three-run homer in the fourth busted the game wide open, although they got one back an inning later on an RBI-double by Trey Mancini.

The O’s are pushing too hard. They know they’re struggling right now to score, and everyone’s trying to “play the hero.” It’s almost a psychological thing as much as anything else. I see a lot of bug swings, designed to get the ball onto Eutaw St. In practice, that’s sending guys back to the dugout after striking out.

So is “trying lighter” a thing? Because that’s what the Orioles need to do. The second half of the game was also played in the rain, which dampened chances for both teams. But the damage was already done.

The series concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Jesus Luzardo. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: You have to take opportunities as presented

Jorge Lopez got the start for the Baltimore Orioles last night in the first of three with Oakland. As has been the case with numerous starters this year (including Lopez), he provided mixed results. He pitched well enough to put the team in a position to win, but he exited early and surrendered the winning runs. Lopez’s line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI-groundout by Brown. Piscotty’s RBI-single later in the inning ran the score to 2-0. Lopez also loaded the bases in that inning, but pitched out of it abs limited the damage. So that’s a good thing.

Laureano’s solo homer in the fifth would chase Lopez and give Oakland a 3-0 lead. The O’s however did have a legit shot at winning the game. They loaded the bases with nobody out in the last of the sixth, but only mustered an RBI-single by Pedro Severino. That was the lone Oriole run of the game, and they fell 3-1.

Manager Brandon Hyde semi-addressed this sequence after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

“Just didn’t get the big hit. We’ve got to move the ball with runners in scoring position. We’re punching out too often. … We’re swinging at pitchers’ pitches a little bit too often in big spots and we’ve got to make better decisions at the plate.

Netting only one run with the bases loaded and nobody out looks fairly incriminating. In any sport, you can’t expect to win games when you don’t take advantage of opportunities like that. That’s a golden chance to do some serious damage in an inning. In this specific case, the O’s could have taken the lead. Instead they settled for the one run, and an opportunity as such never presented itself again in the game.

You have to take advantage of opportunities your opponent gives you. Oakland did, early in the game. The Orioles let Oakland off the hook, and it cost them. Now granted they’re a young team – that sort of thing is going to happen. But they need to move forward and fix the issues. Teams that leave runs on the table lose a lot of games.

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards. The Orioles have yet to name a starter, and they might have to dip into the alternative site to get one. Whomever the starter is, he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Chris Bassitt. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles fall in Miami series finale

My personal opinion is that Bruce Zimmerman pitched to a valiant effort this afternoon in Miami. He joined the ranks of pitchers not going deep into games, however that doesn’t seem to bother manger Brandon Hyde as much as it bothers me. However that seems to be the direction in which the game’s going. Especially with seven-inning doubleheaders being introduced. Zimmerman’s line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

And if anything, I believe that Zimmerman could have probably stayed in the game for longer. But again, the game’s not going in that direction right now. Unless of course you have an epic-type starting pitcher. Which the Orioles don’t.

This was a strange week in a sense for the Orioles. Every team will have a week or two like this, but it all feels very unnatural. Off day Monday, game one of a series Tuesday night, game two (the finale) of the series Wednesday afternoon, and then off again Thursday. Obviously the silver lining for the O’s is that they’re now heading home. And following an afternoon game, they’ll be home fairly “early,” and enjoy a day off tomorrow at home.

Miami struck against Zimmerman in the last of the fifth with a two-RBI double by Aguilar. Duvall would add an RBI-single later in the inning, giving Miami a 3-0 lead. Which turned into a 3-0 win.

I’m not trying to say that Zimmerman or any of the relievers used this afternoon didn’t pitch well. This was a very well-pitched game by the Birds. However I think the goal should be for starters to go deeper into games. Now that’s obviously not AS important to Brandon Hyde, and that’s okay. I’m old school. He’s not. Again, that’s okay.

And the fact is that the Birds didn’t surrender any more runs aside from those three. When I make the distinction between old school and new school thinking on this subject, the new way would say that the goal is to win the game, not to have a starter go deep into the game. And that’s true. But if your starters aren’t conditioned to go deep into games, that further taxes your bullpen.

I suppose there’s no right or wrong way. I just feel that the goal should be for the starter to be in there as long as he’s able, otherwise every game may as well be a bullpen game. End of the day, the O’s completed a 3-2 road trip, which isn’t too shabby. Now they head home to take on the Oakland A’s over the weekend – one of the hottest teams in baseball.

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Baltimore Orioles: Matt Harvey with the win as Birds hold on

Matt Harvey took to the hill for the Baltimore Orioles tonight in Miami. This was also the Birds’ first foray into interleague play, which meant that they O’s lost their DH – and Harvey had to hit. But that didn’t seem to stop the Orioles’ bats, which were hot from the beginning and gave Harvey a deep cushion. Harvey’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Maikel Franco‘s RBI-groundout in the first inning put the O’s in the driver’s seat. It also set the tone. Later in the inning Rio Ruiz smacked a two-RBI double, and the O’s led 3-0. They batted around in the first inning, ironically giving Harvey an at-bat before he even took to the mound.

But more importantly, he had the lead when he got on the mound. He did give a run back in the last of the first, but following an uneventful second inning the Birds opened the game wide open. Trey Mancini and Freddy Galvis each smacked solo homers. That gave the Birds a 5-1 lead in South Florida. One inning later they extended the lead to 6-1 on DJ Stewart‘s RBI-double.

Here’s the issue with having that sort of lead that early in a ballgame: there’s plenty of time for the opponent to come back. And Miami started chipping away. They put two across in the fifth, and two in the sixth. Before they knew it, the Orioles’ 6-1 lead had evaporated and it was only a 6-5 one-run lead.

Freddy Galvis’ RBI-single in the eighth gave the O’s a bit of insurance. But the good news is that the Orioles’ pen was sure, and they closed out the victory without much more drama. And given that this is a two-game series, winning game one is a big deal.

The downside of this win is that Anthony Santander sprained his ankle while on base in the top of the first inning. Santander appeared to be in pain, and had to be helped into the dugout. That’s definitely something on which to keep an eye. It wouldn’t shock me to see Santander headed to the IL tomorrow.

The short series in Miami concludes tomorrow afternoon at LoanDepot Park. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Miami’s Trevor Rogers. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Did ol’ blue screw the Birds?

The sad thing is that John Means should have been the story for the Baltimore Orioles today. He may well have turned in his best outing as a starting pitching this afternoon in Arlington, TX. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K.

Perhaps his best outing as a started is a bit much – his Opening Day start was pretty good. But this one is right up there, needless to say. The Birds sent Means to the mound this afternoon with a chance to sweep in Texas. They were unable to do that, but due in no part to anything Means did or didn’t do. He was magnificent the entire time he was in the game.

One thing I did notice on twitter is that a lot of people were critical of Brandon Hyde‘s decision to pull Means after seven innings. I’ve at times criticized Hyde for pulling starters early – but in the fourth or fifth inning of games. Seven innings is a bit different, especially after 93 pitches. I think he was pulled at the appropriate moment. Hyde on Means’ outing (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I just thought he was in total command. I thought he had a great fastball that he was locating, thought he threw some really good curveballs, the changeup was there. Seven shutout innings, nine punchouts, pretty much says it all right there. Two really good starters that were on today. Pretty good baseball game. Two really good pitching performances by both sides

Unfortunately for the Birds, they couldn’t score either – as Hyde alluded in the above quote, two great pitching performances on both sides. The game went to extra innings at a scoreless tie. Maikel Franco was at third in the top of the tenth, and Trey Mancini sent a single to right field. Franco was thrown out at home plate by a country mile trying to score, as he held up at third thinking he’d have to tag up.

However Brandon Hyde argued Texas catcher Trevino blocked home plate without the ball, which is against the rules. Hyde was emphatic in demanding a replay review, but home plate umpire Sam Holbrook seemed to not want to explore the rule. He eventually huddled with the three other umpires, and the crew decided that nobody had seen any evidence of blocking the plate. Texas would eventually win 1-0 on an RBI-single by Lowe in the last of the tenth.

Rule 7.13 says: Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. My personal opinion is that Trevino was well into the path of the runner before the ball arrived. In the opinion of the umpiring crew, that wasn’t the case. But it appeared to be.

Sometimes you have to deal with calls like that in sports. But it sure can be a bitter pill to swallow. For the record, it’s also listed in the rule book as a judgement call. That means that the Orioles couldn’t have played under protest or anything like that. It’s also worth mentioning that Texas would have still gotten to hit in the bottom of the tenth, and they would have begun the inning with a runner on base. But that’s sometimes the way the ball bounces. Although it appeared to bounce in a way that gave Texas a break this afternoon.

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Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini clutch in Birds’ victory

The Baltimore Orioles sent Dean Kremer to the mound in game two of three in Texas. Kremer pitched a great effort, although he was pulled in the fifth inning in an effort to match up. However he put his team in a spot to win the game. And as I’ve said many times, that’s all you can ask of a starter. Kremer’s line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

Kremer gave up one run, on an RBI-single to Dahl in the fourth inning. While no other runs were surrendered after Kremer left, the O’s couldn’t make any headway in the game. That is until they got into Texas’ suspect bullpen.

Cedric Mullins‘ RBI-single in the seventh tied the game at one. But it was Trey Mancini who made the biggest impact. His RBI-double later, in the eighth inning, put the Orioles in the lead. Later in the inning Ryan Mountcastle added a sac fly-RBI, closing out the inning with the Birds leading 3-1.

The Orioles would add a few insurance runs in the ninth. DJ Stewart‘s RBI-single ran the score to 4-1. Later in the inning Maikel Franco would add a two-run home run, giving the O’s a 6-1 win.

This was a good team win. Not one moment in theory was better than another. However Mancini giving the team the lead was huge. As were those insurance runs in the ninth inning. Too often teams get a lead or have a small lead for most of a game, only to see it disappear at the end. But insurance runs ensure that won’t happen.

This in theory also takes pressure off the Orioles. Winning the first two of a series gives them the impression of playing with house money tomorrow. If they lose, two-of-three isn’t bad. If they win, they’ve swept the weekend series in Texas. So again, house money.

The series concludes tomorrow at Globe Life Field. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Kyle Gibson. Game time is set for just after 2:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles knotch a win deep in the heart of Texas

Jorge Lopez got the ball for the Baltimore Orioles last night in the opener of a three-game set in Texas. He only stuck around for five innings. But that’s all you need to qualify for the win if you leave with the lead. And of course if your team retains it. Lopez’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K.

Part of the Orioles’ issue of late has been that they couldn’t put together a winning starting pitching performance with the offense yielding results. That wasn’t the case last night. Cedric Mullins smacked an RBI-double in the third which got the O’s on the board with a 1-0 lead. One inning later they doubled that on Rio Ruiz‘s solo homer.

The Birds won the game however in the fifth. Anthony Santander‘s sac fly-RBI ran the score to 3-0. But the big blow came from DJ Stewart. His two-run homer would give the O’s a 5-0 lead. And that was big because in the bottom of the fifth Lopez gave up back-to-back home runs. However following his (Lopez’s) exit, the Orioles’ bullpen was strong, and closed out a 5-2 win.

DJ Stewart talked after the game about what hitting that homer meant to him and to the rest of the team (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It was huge, just momentum-wise, confidence-wise. We had a meeting this morning and sometimes that’s how baseball is. It’s just not going our way, unlucky things, but it was big for us to get to them early and kind of put them away.

The series continues this evening at Globe Life Field. Dean Kremer gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Dane Dunning. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Was Maikel Franco a victim of the moment?

Baltimore Orioles’ pitching was solid in the series with Seattle, including in today’s game two of the doubleheader. For the most part, that is. And for the most part, Oriole bats were dominated by an equally strong showing by Seattle pitching. In this afternoon’s second game, it was Bruce Zimmerman who was a hard-luck loser at the hands of Seattle. Zimmerman’s line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

After the game Zimmerman claimed that his fastball command wasn’t as good as he would have liked, but his breaking pitches seemed to be working (quote courtesy of Rich Kubatko, MASNsports):

I definitely didn’t have as good of fastball command, so that kind of put me behind from the get-go as far as just having to battle more each at-bat. Kind of relied on my off-speed a little bit more today, for the most part I was able to get it over. The breaking ball was a little sharper than last outing, which helped, because we made an adjustment working on that this week, and that was good to see. Just didn’t have quite the command that I normally do, especially with being able to go in on guys, which sets up everything else for me.
But there wasn’t much to criticize overall in Zimmerman’s outing. He gave up two solo home runs, one to Moore in the third and one to Haniger in the fifth. Freddy Galvis smacked a solo homer in the last of the third for the O’s, who fell 2-1. The dropped three-of-four in the series at home against Seattle.

The old saying is that solo home runs don’t hurt you. But the fact is that they do hurt you when your team isn’t putting runs on the board. That’s what happened to the the Birds and Zimmerman today.

One thing that might not sit well with the coaching staff was Maikel Franco‘s at-bat in the last of the seventh (the final inning in a doubleheader). With the O’s down by one, you’re looking to get a runner on base in any manner possible. Get the tying run aboard to extend the game.

Franco led off the inning, and worked the count to 3-0. Now if it’s me, I want to make the pitcher prove he can throw the ball over the plate before I’m going to swing. And that’s in ANY situation, much less one like that where you absolutely need a base runner. So I wouldn’t have considered taking the bat off my shoulder unless the count was 3-2.

Instead, Franco swung on 3-0, and lined out to short. That’s the sort of thing that can make or break you in a game. And a veteran like Franco should know that. Did that single-handed my lose the game for the Orioles today? Absolutely not. But it’s small things like that which can often make a difference in games, especially in a big spot.

The Orioles now leave home and head for Texas for a three-game set with the Texas Rangers at the new Globe Life Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start tomorrow night for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Mike Foltynewicz. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini homers in loss

Matt Harvey drew the start for the Baltimore Orioles in game one of yet another twin bill against Seattle. The teams split a doubleheader on Tuesday after a rainout Monday night, and are playing two today following last night’s rainout. Harvey’s line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

The O’s took an early 2-0 lead on Trey Mancini‘s two-run homer. And other than that, the Birds were held off the board. Seattle pitching has been pretty good in this series thus far. The Birds only mustered five hits in total in the game.

Seattle would tie things up in the top of the fifth on a Haniger two-run homer. And those were the only two runs charged to Harvey. It’s easy to look at that stat line and suggest that a starter going 4.2 innings and giving up two runs isn’t that good. However keep in mind that these doubleheaders are seven inning games. So that isn’t bad in and of itself. Following Harvey’s departure, Crawford would smack a two-RBI double in the sixth, which provided for the winning runs in Seattle’s 4-2 victory in the first of this twin bill.

My aversion to the seven inning doubleheaders is well documented. And admittedly my reasoning is that a baseball game is supposed to be nine innings. I’m steadfast in that. I feel that seven inning stuff is total garbage.

However above I mentioned Matt Harvey only lasting 4.2 innings in the game, and how in a seven inning game that isn’t awful. Keep in mind that those two runs he surrendered affect his ERA in the sense that it’s based on nine innings. If you throw in several games that are managed differently in terms of starting pitchers and innings pitched, that throws stats off – be it up or down. That makes a difference.

The series and the doubleheader will conclude in short order at Camden Yards. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Justin Dunn. Game time is set for approximately 45 minutes after the completion of the first game, give or take at around 3:45 PM this afternoon.

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Baltimore Orioles rained out again, prompting another doubleheader

Tonight’s Orioles vs. Seattle game at Camden Yards has been rained out. It’s been raining all afternoon in Baltimore, and the forecast doesn’t appear to be allowing for any sort of window to play tonight. Tomorrow the teams were scheduled to play a getaway day matinee, which is now a getaway day doubleheader.

You know the routine by now. Doubleheaders this year (and last) are seven innings long. I’ve said this before, but I’m not a fan. (Just thought I’d throw that in.) Game one will begin at 12:30 PM, and game two approximately 25 minutes (or so) after the completion of the first game. Fans with tickets for tomorrow’s game will be allowed to attend both games, as it’s a single-admission doubleheader. The Orioles will be on the move to Texas following the second game.

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Baltimore Orioles: All’s well that ends well

Dean Kremer took to the mound in the second game of two tonight for the Baltimore Orioles against Seattle. As can often be the case for young pitchers, it was the second time through the order that got Kremer. In the first and second innings he got ahead of hitters. In the third they started figuring him out. Kremer’s line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

As I said, he fared well in the first two innings. Then he started putting guys on base, and while he tried valiantly, he just couldn’t re-adjust fast enough to limit the damage. Seattle took a 1-0 lead on Seager’s sac fly-RBI. That came with the bases loaded, which left three runners still on base. However they cleared quickly, as Marmolejos followed with a three-run homer.

The Birds had gotten themselves down in the second game of the doubleheader just as they did in the first inning. However this time it was really short lived. The O’s would load the bases themselves in the last of the third, and Maikel Franco‘s bases-clearing double would cut the Seattle lead to 4-3.

Later in the inning Ryan Mountcastle would tie the score at four with an RBI-single. But this time they didn’t stop at just tying the score. They would eventually take the lead…

…and they would do so in the last of the fourth. Cedric Mullins‘ RBI-double would give the O’s their first lead of the doubleheader. Later in the inning Anthony Santander would add a sac fly-RBI, giving the Birds a 6-4 lead. Insurance runs never hurt – especially in seven inning games.

Manager Brandon Hyde brought in reliever Adam Plutko, who pitched a very successful fifth and sixth inning. Mind you, these doubleheader’s are harsh on teams’ bullpens. Even in their shortened forms. Hyde opted to leave Plutko in for a rare three inning save.

However that was almost a big mistake. An understandable one, but it almost bit Hyde and the Al’s in the derrière. Plutko gave up a two-run homer to Haggerty in the top of the seventh – which mind you, was the last inning. That tied the game at six, when it appeared the O’s would cruise to snapping their four-game losing streak.

But as the title suggests, all’s well that ends well. With a runner on base in the last of the seventh, Ramon Urias‘ walk off RBI-single won it for the Birds. You would have preferred to not have to go to the bottom of the inning, however all that’s important is that the Orioles won the game. And having lost four straight, this win was a big one.

The series continues tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Justin Dunn. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles battle but drop first of a twin bill

Once starter John Means was able to settle down in the first game of two against Seattle today, he looked pretty good. Given that the game was only seven innings due to MLB’s doubleheader rule, I’m not sure what constitutes a quality start in this game. But Means may have pitched one. Means’ line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

Means gave up solo homer to France and Murphy in the first and second innings respectively. But again, after that he was pretty solid. He also surrendered an RBI-single to Haniger in the second, and that was it.

The issue was that his mound counterpart, Seattle’s Sheffield, was equally as good. He surrendered a two-run homer to Ramon Urias in the last of the fifth, which cut the Seattle lead to 3-2. Other than that, he kept the Orioles off the board.

But after Sheffield exited in following the sixth inning, things got interesting. With a runner on second, DJ Stewart smacked an RBI-double, tying the game at three. Which meant that we had to go to an eighth inning, which technically is extra innings. (Due to MLB’s doubleheader rule, which makes for two seven-inning games.)

However Seager’s RBI-double in the top of the eighth proved to be the eventual winning run for Seattle. However you have to admire the fight in the Birds, battling back against the Seattle bullpen. And they’ll get another shot at them very soon again this evening.

The series and the doubleheader will continue here in short order at Camden Yards with game two. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Nick Margevicius. The game will start at approximately 7:15 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles rained out, doubleheader tomorrow

The Baltimore Orioles game tonight against Seattle has been rained out. Rain started at Oriole Park at Camden Yards just prior to the scheduled first pitch at 7 PM. And the forecast isn’t conducive to playing tonight.

So the O’s and Seattle will play a single admission doubleheader at Camden Yards tomorrow with game one starting at 4 PM. Game two will begin roughly 30 minutes after the completion of the first game, with both games being shortened to seven innings. John Means will get the start for the Birds in game one, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Justus Sheffield.

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Baltimore Orioles: Multiple Boston homers sweep Birds away

It didn’t seem to matter what the Baltimore Orioles did today. It didn’t work. Or rarely worked, that is. Jorge Lopez hit the start today in the finale with Boston, and made some decent pitches. They just got hit. Lopez’s line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

Boston got a three-run homer by Verdugo in the third, which set up the rest of the game. That was followed by a solo shot by Martinez. And the O’s found themselves behind 4-0.

The Birds loaded the bases in the last of the third, and it appeared that they had a golden opportunity to get back in the game. With two outs Freddy Galvis tried to score on a passed ball. But Galvis was called out, ending the inning.

The umpires reviewed the play, however. The pitcher appeared to block home plate as Galvis came in – which is now against the rules. Yet despite what appeared to be clear and convincing evidence, the call was upheld.

The Birds would get a run in the last of the fourth on an RBI-single by Maikel Franco. But Boston would come right back in the fifth. They were aggressive early in counts for the entire series. Today was no exception. Martinez smacked an RBI-single, Devers a three-run homer, and Hernandez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. To top it off, one inning later in the sixth Herandez would smack a solo homer to run the score to 10-1.

But we did hear from the O’s again before the game ended. They put two runners on in the sixth, with Franco coming back up. And Franco’s two-run homer cut the Boston lead to 10-4. One inning later, they also got a three-run shot from Trey Mancini, cutting the lead to 10-7. But Boston wasn’t done. Martinez smacked a third homer in the eighth, running it to 11-7.

And Boston still wasn’t done. Devers smacked his second homer in the game, this a two-run shot in the eighth. Later in the inning the O’s botched a grounder in the infield, allowing a 14th run to score. All in all, Martinez smacked three bombs, and Devers two, as Boston swept the O’s away.

The O’s would score two garbage runs in the ninth to run the final to 14-9. I suppose the silver lining is that the O’s put seven runs on the board. But they couldn’t keep guys off base. And Boston was happy to mercilessly tee off on that. Just a reminder, folks…every team has games like this. Boston did last Sunday against the Orioles. You come back again tomorrow and try to be better.

The Orioles will open up a four-game set with Seattle tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Justus Sheffield. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles fall short in extra’s

Bruce Zimmerman got the opportunity of a lifetime this evening; the Baltimore-native started a game for the Baltimore Orioles. He had played at Camden Yards before, but this was the first time he had the opportunity to do so in front of fans. Many of whom he probably knew or was related to. It’s one thing to make it to the majors. It’s quite another to do so with your hometown team (and to record a quality start). Zimmerman’s line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

Unfortunately Zimmerman was greeted rudely. Devers’ RBI-single in the first inning gave Boston a 1-0 lead. Devers would later get caught stealing to end the inning. However he was merely a diversion, as the lead runner was able to come around and score before the rundown ended.

That’s another case of getting guys on base and having something happen. Zimmerman didn’t make a bad pitch that got hit – allowing a run to score. But guys were on base, and something happened without a pitch being thrown. That shows the importance of keeping ducks off the pond.

But that was only the first inning. And the good news is that at least in the first, Oriole bats were hot. In a made-for-Baltimore moment, Trey Mancini smacked his first homer of 2021, and his first since coming back. It’s moments like that, and like the Standing O he received on Thursday, which make baseball great.

Anthony Santander came up after Mancini, and went back-to-back with a solo homer of his own. This tied the game at two runs each. And there it remained until the sixth when Devers cranked a solo homer, giving Boston the lead back at 3-2.

However with a runner already on base and nobody out in the last of the eighth, we saw perhaps the play of the game from the Orioles’ standpoint. DJ Stewart smacked a double to dead center field, splitting the outfielders. That put two in scoring position with nobody down.

Stewart knew enough to understand his job was to get on base. So he hit it where they weren’t. And it’s that sort of situational hitting which will win you ballgames. It didn’t happen tonight, but that wins you games.

Maikel Franco‘s fielder’s choice-RBI later in the inning would tie the game at three. And Freddy Galvis‘ RBI-single would give the Birds a 4-3 lead. However Boston would get a couple of runners on in the ninth, and Dalbec’s fielder’s choice-RBI would tie the game. And Boston wasn’t finished. They’d put two on the board in the top of the tenth, walking away with a 6-4 win.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the call for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nick Pivetta. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles continue series against Boston

The Baltimore Orioles will continue their first home series this evening with the Boston Red Sox. Win or lose, Opening Day/the home opener is always an event, and always an amazing moment in Baltimore. Then the obligatory day off following it hits. And it hits like a ton of bricks.

Obviously that’s built into the schedule to accommodate the potential for a rain out. Especially this early in the season. It’s always a waiting game on that day off, however.

But luckily the series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Baltimore native Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Garrett Richards. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Musings on Ryan Mountcastle and umpires

One of the early season storylines for the Baltimore Orioles has been the outfield play of Ryan Mountcastle. To be blunt, Mountcastle’s been suspect in the field. Misplaying balls, taking ineffective routes to collect balls, etc. With Austin Hays on the IL, fans should get used to Mountcastle in the outfield for the time being.

Manager Brandon Hyde has been steadfast in his support for Mountcastle in the outfield, and he very much believes in him. This is evidenced by Hyde’s commentary following an errant play Mountcastle made earlier this week in New York (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I thought the ball came off hot, it’s windy, it hooked. I think it was a lack of experience, honestly, and I think we all have to remember that Ryan has not played much outfield. He did a nice job for the 30-plus games he was out there last year, he was a convert from last year, but it’s still going to be a new position. He’s going to make mistakes in the outfield. We’re OK with that. We’re going to be patient with him.

And while at times Mountcastle’s play is allowing base runners and runs to score, that’s unfortunately part of learning. It’s part of having a young team. It’s part of what GM Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde have been asking the fan base to buy into. This isn’t to say that they aren’t working with Mountcastle to help him to improve, but it’s all part of the process.

On a separate note, the Orioles and Orioles’ fans in the stands at Camden Yards yesterday became increasingly upset at some of the calls that went against the Birds. To be clear, the fourth inning strike/HBP involving Rio Ruiz could have gone either way. Upon looking at replay, it was probably a more reasonable call than previously thought.

I think Hyde’s issue with it was more the quick ejection as much as anything else. His comment after the game was that he asked one too many times how the umpires could see that as a swing. My personal opinion is that it was a pretty quick hook Especially for a hometown manager in his team’s home opener.

As the game went on there was the impression that close calls were persistently going Boston’s way. The hometown crowd took every opportunity they got to make their presence felt towards the umpires.

Here’s what folks need to remember; umpires don’t have a tally in their heads. At least they aren’t supposed to. They aren’t supposed to keep track of how many calls each team is getting. They’re supposed to call things as they see them. Now with that said, whether all of the calls are the correct calls is another story. But the story at least for yesterday was that there’s the impression that close calls went against the Orioles. Needless to say, Brandon Hyde didn’t need to be ejected as quickly as he was.

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Baltimore Orioles: Birds fall in home opener; Brandon Hyde tossed

For the first time since September of 2019, the Baltimore Orioles welcomed fans into Oriole Park at Camden Yards this afternoon. The O’s started Matt Harvey in today’s home opener against Boston, and with mixed results. Harvey’s line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

Harvey gave up a two-run homer to Devers in the first, which gave Boston a 2-0 lead. However the Birds, you know, the home team who’s celebrating their home opener, battled back almost immediately. Ryan Mountcastle countered with a two-run homer of his own in the last of the sixth. Pedro Severino also added a solo shot in the fourth to give the O’s a 3-2 lead.

However following the Birds taking the lead the game took a strange turn. Rio Ruiz appeared to be checking his swing, and was then hit by a pitch. However the umpire gave the strike instead of the HBP. Manager Brandon Hyde came out and argued, and was VERY promptly ejected.

Personally I thought it was a very quick hook. Especially for the hometown manager in the home opener. Furthermore Hyde and Ruiz appeared to be right, according to replays. In fact, it struck me all game that many borderline calls went Boston’s way. In Baltimore. On Opening Day.

However that would rally Boston. Arroyo grounded out in the sixth which tied the game, and Cordero’s RBI-single later in the inning gave Boston a 4-3 lead. Martinez’s RBI-double and Gonzalez’s RBI-single in the seventh extended that lead to 6-3. Hernandez’s solo homer in the eighth would cap off their 7-3 win.

Hyde was right to stick up for the team. But somehow it rallied Boston more than it did the Orioles. Credit to Boston for feeling the energy, but somehow the O’s didn’t. I’m not sure what that says about either team, but it’s a fact.

The good news is that there are 80 more home games to go. And hope always springs eternal on Opening Day. This was one game out 162. After an off day tomorrow, we’ll come back and do it all again on Saturday.

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Baltimore Orioles snap twelve-game losing streak in the Bronx

The Baltimore Orioles sent John Means to the mound at Yankee Stadium tonight, hoping to salvage one in the Bronx. Means in essence played the role of set up man, given how long he was in the game. Means’ line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

Brandon Hyde would lift means with two outs in the fifth I thought that was a mistake, however it worked out for the Orioles. But in general that’s one criticism I’d make of Hyde. Ultimately however KC he’s the manager and he knows the game.

New York took the lead in the third on an RBI-single by Hicks. However one inning later the game was tied after Cedric Mullins‘ solo homer. It was a ball that just kept carrying, and that made it over the wall.

Later in the inning the O’s took their first lead of the series on another solo homer – this time by Anthony Santander. And this homer was no cheapie. It would have been a homer in most parks.

And heat lead held up for the O’s, until the final moments of regulation, appeared to have things under control. However in the last of the eighth Urshela sent a double to left field. It ticked off the glove of Ryan Mountcastle, allowing a run to score.

It’s defensive miscues like that which will do you in. Mountcastle’s a rookie, and he’ll learn from this. However the fact is that these games count. Luckily however, the Birds stopped the blessing and allowed only the one additional run.

The teams swapped runs in the tenth, and come the eleventh the Birds were set to take the lead back. Chance Sisco pinch hit in the eleventh, and of course under MLB’s extra inning rules, each inning begins with a runner on second. As a result, Sisco’s RBI-single put the Birds back in the driver’s seat with a 4-3 lead. And a 4-3 win.

The win snaps a 12-game losing streak for the O’s at Yankee Stadium. But it was also a big win for the player’s mindset. “Just win baby!”

The Orioles now head for home in anticipation of tomorrow’s home opener at Camden Yards against the Boston Red Sox. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. First pitch is set for just after 3 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles fall again in the Bronx

Dean Kremer made his first start of the 2021 season for the Baltimore Orioles this evening at Yankee Stadium. Similar to what we saw last night, the numbers aren’t as bad as they would indicate. Kremer’s line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 5 K.

Kremer surrendered a solo homer to Bruce in the second inning. He then loaded the bases with nobody out in the third. And he managed to pitch out of it. Pitchers will get themselves into trouble; it’s the nature of the position. Decent ones will get themselves out of it. Kremer did that.

However after Kremer departed the game in the fourth the bases were loaded again. And NY would later score on a double-play (no RBI), giving them a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning Judge would notch an RBI-single, and Stanton an RBI-double in the last of the seventh. One inning later Judge would break the game wide open with a three-run homer.

However something interesting happened in the top of the ninth. New York still had that 7-0 lead, and there were two outs. Game’s over, right?

Ryan Mountcastle appeared to reach on an infield single. New York decided to challenge the play, and the call was upheld. Now personally, I thought it was a petty challenge. Winning 7-0, two outs in the ninth…it didn’t seem like a call that needed to be challenged. But on top of that, the New York bench seemed to chirp an awful lot after the call was upheld.

Again, it all seemed petty to me. But next up was Rio Ruiz, and he smacked a two-run homer. Also the first home run of the season for the O’s.

The pettiness seemed to inspire the O’s. Ironically it probably proved New York’s point, meaning that it wasn’t necessarily petty to challenge that call. But the point remains that you should play until the final out – win or lose.

The series concludes tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium. John Means gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Jameson Taillon. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Mac Sceroler keeps it in the family in losing effort

The Baltimore Orioles suffered their first loss of 2021 at Yankee Stadium this evening. Starter Jorge Lopez pitched better than his stat line indicates. Lopez’s line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Lopez gave up a solo homer to Judge in the last of the fourth. In most ballparks that might not have been a home run, however Yankee Stadium of course has a short porch in right field. Hicks would walk with the bases loaded an inning later, chasing Lopez.

However the bases remained loaded for Stanton. And he took a pitch right down Broadway and sent it deep into the centerfield grandstand. That blew the game wide open, and LeMahieu’s RBI-single cemented the victory in a New York minute with an RBI-single in the last of the sixth.

But there was an aspect of this game that was very noteworthy for the O’s. They brought in Rule 5 pitcher Mac Sceroler in the sixth inning in a tight spot. Sceroler was previously of the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization, and is the nephew of former Oriole Ben McDonald.

Sceroler came into the game in a heck of a jam, one out and bases loaded. Oh, and Judge coming to the plate. But he managed to strike Judge out. And he induced a pop out of Hicks to end the inning.

Make no mistake that Mac Sceroler was the story of this game. He pitched 2.2 innings (closed the game out), and surrendered two walks. He shut down one of the most potent lineups in baseball. Granted he came in when the game was out of reach as it was, but what he did was incredible.

And he did it primarily with his fastball. Which is highly reminiscent of his Uncle Ben. He also had a very effective change up, which always compliments a flamethrower. However needless to say, it had to be a proud moment for Ben McDonald seeing his nephew make his big league debut. Especially for his former team.

As for the rest of the game, Stanton’s grand slam came on the heels of three walks. Including a lead off walk. The Orioles need to limit that. Less traffic on the base paths equals fewer opportunities for teams to score runs against them.

The series continues tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium. Dean Kremer gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Gerrit Cole. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Seven-run third equals a sweep at The Fens

Coming into this series most people probably thought that if there was a sweep it would have been Boston sweeping the Baltimore Orioles. Just by default, if nothing else. Boston isn’t expected to be much better than the Birds, but…they’re Boston. But the O’s won the first two games, and Bruce Zimmerman was a “beneficiary of circumstance” in the finale. Zimmerman’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

This game was over fast. Zimmerman blew balls by Boston hitters, and the Orioles weren’t about to waste his effort. Anthony Santander smacked an RBI-single, and Maikel Franco a two-RBI double in the first, giving the Birds a 3-0 lead.

Offensively the O’s took the second inning off, but then loaded the bases again in the third. Freddy Galvis walked with the bases loaded, running it to 4-0. But they wanted more…

…and they got it. Later in the inning Austin Hays‘ two-RBI double ran the score to 6-0. However unfortunately for the O’s, Jays had to leave the game. The Orioles later termed it hamstring discomfort. Hopefully it isn’t too serious.

But the Orioles still weren’t done. Trey Mancini‘s two-RBI double later in that third inning ran it to 8-0. Cedric Mullins would score on a passed ball later in the inning, and Ryan Mountcastle an RBI-single. When the smoke cleared, the O’s led 10-0 after three.

Boston did put up a couple of nominal runs. Hernandez’s sac fly-RBI in the last of the third cut the Orioles’ lead to 10-1. Martinez smacked a solo homer in the fourth, and an RBI-double in the sixth. But the competitive part of the game was over after the seven-run third put up by the Birds.

Cedric Mullins had a great game for the Orioles. Due to the long third inning, he has six at-bats; and he got on base in all six of them. Five hits and a walk, including a double whereby he later scored on Anthony Santander’s RBI-double in the ninth.

Ironically the sheer number of runs kind of overshadows the effort Bruce Zimmerman put forth out there today. Zimmerman dominated a very potent lineup this afternoon, in his first ever start for his hometown team. And that’s very consistent with the entire team, who dominated in their entire series against Boston at Fenway Park. For the record, out of the three games in Boston, two netted quality starts (including today).

The Orioles now head to New York to open up a three-game set against the NYY at Yankee Stadium. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Jordan Montgomery. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles win the series in Boston

Matt Harvey began his major league comeback this afternoon at Fenway Park with the Baltimore Orioles. Harvey came to within one o it of getting the win, and in reality only did not because he was lifted before the necessary five innings. Harvey’s line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 1 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

This was a pitcher’s duel in the first part of the game. Nobody got on the board until the fourth inning. And in fact, it was the Orioles who got on the board. Maikel Franco‘s two-run single gave the O’s a 2-0 lead.

The important thing to note there is that Franco’s hit came with two runners in scoring position. So it’s a hit with RISP. It also came on the heels of a Boston error and a passed ball. On one hand one might argue that the O’s wouldn’t have netted two runs without Boston’s mistakes. But on the other hand, they’re also holding Boston accountable for said mistakes.

Boston would get a run back in the bottom of the fourth on a sac fly-RBI by Gonzalez, however the O’s weren’t about to get themselves nervous over that. Anthony Santander‘s fifth inning RBI-single brought them back to being two up at 3-1. Boston would battle back in the last of the fifth however with Martinez’s infield RBI-single. That’s the play that eventually chased Harvey from the game. The ball bounced off of Harvey, allowing a run to score – not really much he could have done about it.

The O’s would add an insurance run in the seventh on a sac fly-RBI Trey Mancini. That’s also noteworthy, as for the second straight game the O’s put up an insurance run. And as we get into the season, that makes a difference.

When Harvey was lifted the O’s turned to Adam Plutko, who of course was acquired by trade and added to the final roster in the waning days of spring training. In fact, that trade occurred one week ago today. Plutko pitched 2.1 innings, and got the win on the afternoon.

We also saw Cesar Valdez in the closers role for the first time. And while he put the tying run on base, he closed out the inning, and a second win in as many games for the O’s. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, the Orioles have won their season-opening series in Boston.

The series concludes tomorrow at Fenway Park. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Garrett Richards. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: John Means with a performance for all time on Opening Day

We saw history this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles. John Means provided one of the greatest if not the greatest Opening Day performances in franchise history, against Boston at Fenway Park. Means surrendered a base hit on the first at-bat of the ballgame, had a runner reach on an error to start the second, and then proceeded to retire the following 18 hitters in a row. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K.

I suppose that where this ranks in terms of all-time performances by an Orioles’ pitcher on Opening Day is in the eyes of the beholder. But it’s certainly the best in my lifetime that I’ve ever seen. Means of course lost his father during last season, and also witnessed the birth of his son this past off season. Needless to say, it was an emotional moment for him to take the mound today. But there can be little doubt that he had his number one fan behind him in the sky.

The only drawback to today’s game, at least at first, was that Boston’s Eovaldi seemed to match Means pitch-for-pitch. The Orioles did have a few balls trickle through for base hits, but Boston would always seem to squash the rally. But eventually the O’s got more traffic on the bases and chased Eovaldi.

The O’s had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the sixth. Ryan Mountcastle, making his first ever Opening Day start (as the DH), came to the plate, and sent a deep shot towards left. It bounced off the green monster, netting Mountcastle and the Orioles a two-RBI double. And that’s key; obviously you can’t win if you don’t score (no matter how good your pitching is). But you don’t want to waste a performance like what Means put on today – whether it’s Opening Day, the last game, or anywhere in between.

The O’s would get in insurance run in the eighth on an RBI-single by Anthony Santander. And that’s just as key of a thing as the aforementioned two-RBI single by Mountcastle. You always want insurance runs; you want as many runs as you can possibly get. But especially in a park like Fenway. As the ultimate hitter’s park, you can never be too careful.

So a day late, but the O’s start the season 1-0. However you never want to put too much emphasis into one game – especially Opening Day. But the story du jour is John Means. Heck, he might be the story du jour across the entire league. Needless to say, it’s a game Means will never forget. And given his personal circumstances, it probably will resonate just a bit louder than it otherwise would have.

But make no mistake it would have resonated loudly anyways. It was an absolute virtuoso performance on all fronts. And make no mistake that it goes down in franchise history as one of the best ever by an Opening Day starter.

The series continues tomorrow afternoon at Fenway Park. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Tanner Houck Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: 2021 season preview (updated)

It’s here folks; Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles. Obviously the team begins today on the road, however hope springs eternal on Opening Day. Anything can happen.

The question is, what WILL happen for the Birds this year? The outlook isn’t exactly brilliant if you listen to various outlets. However the hope is that the entire team looks at things in the manner of second starter, Matt Harvey. On numerous occasions during the spring, he said that he didn’t buy into the idea of a rebuild. His goal is to win everyday.

The biggest weakness this team has is going to be starting pitching. Now that’s an awful spot to have your biggest weakness. However first off, we just don’t know how the rotation will turn as time goes on. Maybe guys out-perform themselves. But one strength might well be the bullpen.

And we’ve seen in the past how manager Brandon Hyde has been willing to use the bullpen in non-traditional ways. That goes from pulling starters after just three or four innings, to using an “opener.” It’s not cut and dry. And that’s what bothers traditionalists such as myself. But if it helps the team to win more games, maybe it’s worth it.

Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and others all had great springs. The Oriole outfield also looks to be a strength this year. The infield is a bit more undefined, although getting Trey Mancini back will be a big plus. Maikel Franco will also be an upgrade at the hot corner.

However it always boils down to pitching. Matt Harvey was a decent addition. The success or failure however of the likes of Bruce Zimmerman and Dean Kremer may well have a lot to do with the success or failure of this season. And unfortunately, the competition is tough. But that’s always the case in the AL East.

I can’t give you a won/loss prediction. There are too many intangibles, and too much can happen. We don’t know what happens to this team regarding injuries. Or to other teams in the division for that matter. But I’ll say the same thing I said last season, which is that they won’t finish in last place.

And it starts today, on Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. John Means gets the call for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.

Update: Due to inclement weather in the Boston area today, Opening Day has been postponed until tomorrow. The O’s will open the season tomorrow at 2 PM against Boston at Fenway Park.

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Baltimore Orioles: Camp breaks and north we go

With an 8-3 loss to Tampa this afternoon in Sarasota, the Baltimore Orioles break camp with a record of 10-17. That translates as a .377 win percentage, which translates to between 59-60 wins over 162 games played. That might be where the Orioles end up, and it might not be. Keep in mind that often these spring games are controlled scrimmages, and nothing more. But nevertheless, the Birds closed Grapefruit League play with a 10-17 record.

The Orioles’ starting rotation will be as follows (some of these names we already knew): John Means, Matt Harvey, Bruce Zimmerman, Jorge Lopez, and Dean Kremer. It’s also worth mentioning that we don’t know how the rotation will be used. In the past, Hyde’s shown a willingness to use starters as “openers,” or to pull them quickly if the situation warrants it. So whether or not all of these guys are going to be looking to go seven or eight innings in games is another story.

The Orioles will have an off day tomorrow, and a team workout on Wednesday, after which they’ll fly to Boston for Thursday’s Opening Day game at Fenway Park. That rotation will be tested early with three games at Fenway, and then three in New York against one of the best lineups in baseball. I suspect if they can head for home next week for the home opener with a .500 record, they’ll be satisfied.

Once the final roster is set, stay tuned for my 2021 season preview. depending on the timing it may well be on Thursday. Who knows – time will tell. But one way or the other, the regular season starts Thursday!

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Baltimore Orioles fall in penultimate spring game

The Baltimore Orioles played the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon in Sarasota for the eighth and final time this spring. With MLB going to “pod scheduling” in the Grapefruit League to cut down on travel, these two got together a lot due to their proximity. You have to play someone. They sent Matt Harvey out for the final time in the spring, and with semi-decent results. Harvey’s line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

Harvey of course is going to be the Birds’ number two starter, and will get the nod Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. Baltimore-native Bruce Zimmerman will start game three, Manager Brandon Hyde announced before the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

He’s pitched outstanding in camp. Really feel like he’s had a really good spring training. He’s had some good starts here, he’s pitched outstanding on the back field that you guys haven’t seen, in a B game and some other things that he’s done.

I really like his stuff. I think this guy’s a four-pitch guy, he’s pounded the strike zone all spring, his velocity’s ticked up, his breaking balls have been sharper, and he’s healthy and ready to go. So he’s earned it with how he’s pitched this spring and looking forward to watching him pitch.

As for today’s game, maybe it’s not shocking that two teams who have seen one another seven other times this spring would play a ho-hum type of game today. They’ve certainly gotten to know one another’s rosters, almost to the point of having a joint camp. Every time you turned around the O’s were either going to Bradenton, or Pittsburgh was coming to Sarasota.

Stokes’ RBI-single in the first and Frazier’s in the second gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead. The Birds would notch a run in the last of the fourth on a sac fly by Austin Wynns. And that’s IT. The O’s fell to Pittsburgh 2-1. If you’re looking for a stat, the O’s went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. But does it really matter?! Some games are like that! This one was, and to be honest it was probably the most baldly vanilla game of the spring.

The Orioles will close Grapefruit League play tomorrow at Ed Smith Stadium against Tampa (in a game which won’t be covered by local media). Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Rich Hill. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: John Means smacked around in final spring outing

The Baltimore Orioles sent John Means to the mound for his final start of the spring in North Port, FL against Atlanta this evening. Means wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked. Now where close. Means’ line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

However we found out something interesting after Means left the game. He mentioned that he and a few other Orioles received the COVID vaccine earlier today. And as a result he started feeling tired during his outing.

A lot of people will question this and wonder why an athlete would get the COVID vaccine this close to the season. First and foremost, it goes without saying that if you want the shot, you should get it whenever it’s made available to you. But…would you rather he had gotten it Thursday morning before his Opening Day start? So I think the timing is fine. And it won’t shock me when this is only the first time we hear about a player not being 100% due to getting the vaccine shot.

Means surrendered a solo homer to Acuna in the first inning. Three innings later Riley’s bases-clearing double extended the lead to 4-1. Jackson’s RBI-double later in the inning chased Means, and have Atlanta a 5-1 lead.

Ramon Urias‘ RBI-single in the fifth accounted for the Birds’ first run on the night. Adley Rutschman‘s RBI-double in the eighth accounted for their second. And Atlanta would plate three more runs in the last of the fifth and in the seventh. And those additional runs were of the insurance type, as Tyler Nevin‘s thre-run homer in the eighth for the O’s closer. But still no cigar, as the O’s dropped this one 8-5.

The bit about Means getting the COVID vaccine sounds like an excuse. Maybe it is. However as I said that’s something Orioles’ fans should be thankful that he and his teammates did during spring training. And it won’t be the last time we see a player having this issue.

The Orioles made a trade before tonight’s game. The sent cash considerations to Cleveland for RHP Adam Plutko. Over four years in Cleveland he has a .520 win percentage, and a 5.05 ERA. As a corresponding move they designated Yolmer Sanchez for assignment.

No indication what this means for the pitching staff or the infield. It’s an interesting time to make a trade, but it’s not surprising to see them picking up additional pitching. Either way, Plutko’s coming.

The Orioles will return to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow afternoon to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Intangibles and situational baseball win games

The Baltimore Orioles sent Jorge Lopez to the mound in Tampa tonight against their AL East rival New York Yankees. Odds are if he wasn’t already on the final roster, Lopez pitched his way onto it. Whether it’s as a starter or reliever remains to be seen. But Lopez had a solid outing against one of the American League’s most potent lineups. Lopez’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

In terms of winning or losing the game (which is meaningless), the issue was that New York pitching was just as good. For quite awhile we appeared headed for a tie. Then the seventh inning happened…

…the top of the seventh, that is. Ramon Urias came in as a pinch runner following a base hit. Urias would steal second, which was huge in the grand scheme of things. In a tie or a close game anytime someone can swipe a base late like that, it can often be the difference between winning and losing.

Urias’ stolen base meant Austin Hays was hitting with a runner in scoring position. And he picked up where he left off last night, smacking an RBI-single and giving the O’s a 1-0 lead. Again, that stolen base set up the base hit. And those are intangibles in games that are valuable.

The O’s would also nab two additional runs on wild pitches during the seventh inning, and they kept NY off the board the rest of the way. Chris Shaw would add an insurance run with an RBI-single in the ninth. New York would also get on the board in the nineth, but the O’s closed out a 4-1 victory. However Austin Hays has shown some excellent understanding of the little things that can win games in the last 24 hours. If this continues into the regular season, teams are going to have a big problem on their hands.

Before the game the Birds made a signing and a roster move. They signed P Wade LeBlanc to a major league contract for 2021 (after previously releasing him. To make room for LeBlanc, they transferred Chris Davis to the 60-day DL. So that solves the Davis problem – for now.

The Orioles will head to CoolToday Park in North Port, FL tomorrow night to take on the Atlanta Braves. John Means gets the start for the Birds (his final tune up before Opening Day at Fenway Park), and he’ll be opposed by Atlanta’s Max Fried. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles win a donnybrook behind Austin Hays’ heroics

Keegan Akin struggled a bit for the Baltimore Orioles tonight against Pittsburgh in Sarasota. But it was far from a pitcher’s type of game to begin with. Just about every pitcher on both sides saw struggles in this game. Akin’s line: 2.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Pittsburgh put two runs on the board in the first with an RBI-single and an RBI-double. But let’s go back to that RBI-single for a moment; Pittsburgh had two runners in scoring position. So that should have scored two runs…

…however the single went to right field. And Austin Hays came up throwing, nailing the trail runner at home plate. That’s the sort of thing that doesn’t stand out in a box score, but can be the difference between winning and losing. Hays would also pull a similar stunt to end the third inning, on what should have been a sac fly. Instead, Hays nailed the runner at the plate, ending the inning.

Pittsburgh would get a third run on an RBI-double in the second. But then the O’s started the comeback. Pedro Severino‘s RBI-single in the last of the second cut the lead to 3-1. Trey Mancini would tie the game at three with a two-RBI double.

But the O’s weren’t done yet in the second inning. Ryan Mountcastle strode to the plate with two on, and promptly sent a three-run homer over the center field fence. That have the Birds a short-lived lead, as Pittsburgh would tie it up again in the third. And that brings me back to Hays ending the third with a double-play once again. That rightfully should have given Pittsburgh the lead. However it kept the game tied at six. In a regular season game, that’s a massive moment, which again doesn’t show up on the line score.

And Hays still wasn’t done. In the last of the fourth his three-run homer out the O’s back in the lead at 9-6. While Pittsburgh would get a run back in the seventh, Pedro Severino would add an insurance run in the seventh with an RBI-double, and Pittsburgh would put two across in the eighth. This, and of course Hays’ heroics, closed out a 10-9 win for the Birds.

This might have been the best individual game performance of the spring for the Orioles. Maybe even in the entire Grapefruit League this year. As I said above, these are key factors in games that can often make a difference between a win and a loss. If Hays goes on to dazzle in this manner this season, remember this game in the spring.

Earlier this morning the Orioles selected P Matt Harvey‘s contract and put him on the 40-man roster. Harvey of course signed a minor league contract with the team, and is now assured of going north once camp breaks. So he’ll be on the roster on April 1st in Boston.

The O’s will head to Tampa tomorrow night to take on the New York Yankees at George Steinbrenner Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Gerrit Cole. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Zac Lowther makes an impact in loss

The Baltimore Orioles sent Dean Kremer to the mound this evening against Boston at JetBlue Park. Due to an elongated at-bat, he had a slightly laborious first inning. Other than that and a two-run homer, he was fairly solid. Kremer’s line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Kremer pitched out of a runners-at-the-corners situation in the first inning. And after coming out of the game he indicated that he appreciated that opportunity AP as to show he could compete (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

If you’re a guy that is cruising through spring training with no real challenge, then when you do get that challenge during the season, it can be a step backwards for you. I’m glad I’m competing and trying to run through it.
It’s a very valid point in a sense. You always want to be somewhat wary of guys who have everything fall right into place on the shiny tops of their heads. They aren’t battle tested. And when something happens when it really counts, it could be a problem.

Kremer gave up a two-run homer to Renfroe in the last of the third. And that was in essence the game. Boston shut down Oriole bats, and the Orioles shut down Boston’s offense for the remainder of the night.

However it was almost worse than 2-0. Boston loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with nobody out. Obviously in a real game at that point (seventh inning), the situation may well call for a new pitcher. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the O’s find themselves in this scenario down the road once the regular season starts. And they tabbed prospect Zac Lowther to pitch them out of it.

Lowther immediately induced a line drive out to second base for the first out. He then induced a ground ball double-play (5-4-3) to end the inning. That was the highlight of the game for the Orioles. Bringing a reliever into that situation and having him hold things right where they were. Lowther also finished out the game.

The Orioles return home to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow night to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Keegan Akin gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Sean Poppen. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini homers in Birds’ win over Tampa

The Baltimore Orioles entered today’s game against Tampa at Ed Smith Stadium looking what’s called a bullpen game (during the regular season) square in the face. Cesar Valdez got the start, although I wouldn’t expect him to be in contention for a rotation spot come the regular season. However that aside, he pitched a decent outing. Valdez’s line: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Tampa got on the board first on an RBI-single by Weddle in the first inning. And as is indicated by the above stat line, that was the only run Valdez surrendered. For his money, Valdez just wants to be on the roster, and is willing to be in whatever role the team needs (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports, by way of team translator):

If they come to me and specify a role for me, that would be great. I’ll be happy and I’ll roll with it and try to do my job the best I can. All I need is the opportunity to pitch.

However with a runner on in the last of the third, Trey Mancini came to bat. Mancini of course is still in his return to glory mode so to speak, following his cancer last year. And he put the O’s in the lead with a two-run homer. Mancini continues his excellent spring, where he’s hitting .342.

But the O’s weren’t done yet in the third. Following a base hit, Maikel Franco came to bat. He also followed with a two-run homer, putting the Orioles on top. 4-1. Tampa would net runs in the fourth on an RBI-double and a fielder’s choice, however Oriole pitching held strong the rest of the afternoon, leading to a 4-3 win.

Before the game the Orioles announced plans to build a 22.5-acre facility in the Dominican Republic – Guerra, D.R. This should help the Orioles in Latin America in terms of finding and signing players, and construction should begin in the coming months. The facility should be completed within 12-16 months.

Tomorrow evening the O’s head to Fort Myers to take on the Boston Red Sox at Jet Blue Park (Fenway South). Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles lacking in fundamentals in loss

The Baltimore Orioles sent John Means to the mound this afternoon in Bradenton against Pittsburgh. Means produced mixed results; while he walked the leadoff hitter in each inning. He also struck out the final two batters he faced. Means’ line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K.

I’ve said before that often times pitchers go into spring outings looking to work on specific pitches. For Means, today that appeared to be breaking pitches. He threw a heavy amount of them (curves and sliders), causing him to get into some deep counts (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports:

Yeah, I liked my curveball. I like the break. I thought I was stealing some strikes with it. Threw some better two-strike ones. Break is there, it’s just execution right now. But I feel pretty positive with it.

Pittsburgh jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a sac fly-RBI by Evans. But the Birds came right back and tied it at one on an RBI-single by Freddy Galvis in the second inning. This only to have Evans seize the lead back for Pittsburgh again an inning later with an RBI-single. A bloop RBI-single.

For awhile there (in terms of scoring) it was the Evans and Galvis show. Because Freddy Galvis’ fourth inning RBI-double tied the score at four. The O’s also got RBI-doubles in the fourth from Pedro Severino, and Cedric Mullins, to take a 4-3 lead.

However fundamentals in baseball played a huge role in the final score of the game. Pitcher Jay Flaa walked a batter in the last of the fifth. The runner would advance on an error, and then score on a passed ball, tying the game at four. Those are the sorts of things you have to keep tabs on. Teams get fat and happy on your mistakes.

Gonzalez’s two-RBI double in the sixth would give Pittsburgh a 6-4 lead. The teams agreed before the game to end it after the eighth inning, so the eighth was going to be the final inning one way or the other. And the Birds were able to get to within one in that eighth inning, on Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-double with nobody down.

That should have put the Birds in good shape. The tying run should have been at second base with nobody out. However Ruiz tried to extend it into a triple, and was thrown out at third base. That of course breaks a cardinal rule in that you aren’t supposed to make the first or last out of the inning at third.

That’s a fundamental error on Ruiz’s part as well. Granted you want to be aggressive, and granted if you’re going to make that mistake you’d like it to be in a spring training game. However very soon the games are going to count. And that’s going to be a huge lapse in judgement if it occurs in a regular season game. Fundamentals can win or lose games.

The O’s return home to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow to take on the Tampa Rays. Cesar Valdez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Trevor Richards. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle impressive in loss

The Baltimore Orioles sent Jorge Lopez to the hill at Ed Smith Stadium this afternoon against Minnesota, and if numbers mean anything he left a lot to be desired. Granted this was a game that was a bit wayward in terms of runs and how they were scored, and only three of those seven runs were earned. Lopez’s line: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R (3 earned), 2 BB, 3 K.

After his outing Lopez said that he left pitches up in the third inning, which is part of what caused him issues (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNSports)

I felt everything was working really good. Sinker, four-seam, but just a little bit up in the third. I left everything up. Fastball away, it should be little more up to a lefty, but with a righty, should be down and away and it was more middle up. That’s when I get hurt. Sometimes I try to take advantage of a better sinker and sometimes it doesn’t move like I want it.

The O’s actually took the lead first in the game. Pedro Severino smacked a solo homer in the last of the second. Then the aforementioned third inning rolled around. Minnesota tied the game on Riddle’s solo homer, and then took the lead on Garlick’s two-run homer. Later in the inning Kirilloff would reach on an error, and a three-run homer by Astudillo would close out the inning.

When the smoke cleared, Minnesota led 7-1. One of the main ideas of pitching is to stay out of the big inning. Jorge Lopez and the Orioles didn’t do that today. But the good news was that the Birds tried to gnaw away at the lead.

Maikel Franco made his Orioles debut today, and immediately made an impact. His two-RBI double in the last of the third brought the Birds to within 7-3. He would later score on Ryan Mountcastle‘s RBI-double. Chance Sisco added an RBI-groundout, and the O’s closed the third at within 7-5.

This is a team that isn’t going to give up. Odds are they’re going to lose a bunch of games. But they won’t give up and they’ll be fun to watch. The goal for this year is for the nose for winning start to grow.

Mountcastle would also get the Birds to within one. His fifth inning solo homer got them to within 7-6. But within one run was as close as they’d get. Minnesota would extend their lead to 8-6 on an RBI-single in the sixth, and the O’s again would come back. Richie Martin would also make his debut today, and he got them back to within one with a sixth inning RBI-single.

By way of wind-aided homers, Minnesota would tack on some insurance runs and close out a 12-7 victory. Tack the pitching into the needs improvement category. But the bats came alive today for sure. Especially Ryan Mountcastle’s.

Tomorrow the Birds head back to Bradenton to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins’ homer wins a wild one for the Birds

It took heroics from Cedric Mullins to win perhaps the worst defended game of all time for the Baltimore Orioles in Bradenton tonight against Pittsburgh. The teams combined for nine errors in the game, many of which led to runs. Which didn’t help Orioles’ starter Dean Kremer. Kremer’s line: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Anthony Santander‘s RBI-groundout and Ryan Mountcastle‘s RBI-single in the top of the first game the Birds a 2-0 lead. Austin Hays, who’s having a great spring (hitting .387), added an RBI-single in the second, running the score to 3-0.

Later on, in the third, Pedro Severino would run it to 4-0 with an RBI-double, and Yolmer Sanchez’s 5-0 with an RBI-single. The Birds appeared on their way to a big win.

However Pittsburgh chipped away in the last of the third, a sequence that included a Frazier two-run homer which cut the Birds’ lead to 5-3. Trey Mancini‘s solo homer in the fourth padded that lead at 6-3, however that’s when a lot of Oriole errors began. Guys misplaying balls missing cut offs, etc. Letting hitters reach base without nary even trying.

And the thing is that when you have guys on base things start to happen. I’ve covered this before on this column. When traffic starts to get onto the base paths, guys trickle home little by little. Pittsburgh would put five runs on the board in the fifth, allowing them to take an 8-6 lead.

Austin Hays would get a run back, following Pittsburgh enhancing it’s lead, in the top of the sixth. His RBI-double cut the lead to 9-7. But the Orioles took over from there. Mountcastle would smack a two-run homer in the sixth. Then Mullins comes up in the top of the seventh, with the game in the balance…

…and he delivers. A two-run homer gave the O’s an 11-9 lead. But the Orioles’ ‘pen held strong for the rest of the night. And the Birds help firm from there, and make no mistake that with their offensive struggles at times, this was a big spring training win.

The O’s tomorrow head to Tampa to take on the NY Yankees. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Michael King. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: John Means dominates in Birds’ victory

John Means turned in perhaps the best start of the spring this evening at Ed Smith Stadium against Atlanta. We saw, perhaps for the first time, Means return to his first half 2019 form, which netted him an all-star birth. Means’ line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Means indicated after his outing that he felt he was locating his non-breaking pitches well (Quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNSports):

I felt the fastball-changeup combination was good. I thought I was getting ahead and attacking the zone. Kind of felt in rhythm. I think body is recovering well and my arm feels good. Everything is working for the most part. Still probably need to throw a little bit more breaking balls, but other than that, I feel real good.

Means gave up a solo homer to Albies in the top of the fourth. And in terms of runs, that’s all he surrendered. Granted he only pitched four innings, but he put the team in a position to win the game. That’s all you can ask of a starter.

The O’s would tie the game at one in the last of the fifth on a sac fly/m-RBI by Cedric Mullins. Rio Ruiz would give them the lead an inning later on an RBI-double. Later in the inning Austin Hays would break the game wide open with a bases-clearing double, running the score to 5-1. Atlanta would tack a run on in the top of the fifth to close out the Birds’ 5-2 victory.

The other good news in this game (besides Means’ outing) was the clutch hitting of the likes of Mullins, Ruiz, and Hays. You have to have clutch hitting if you’re going to win games, and that shows that the Orioles have guys who know the situations in which they come up, and what they mean in terms of winning and losing.

The Orioles end this section of the schedule with a win. They’ll have an off day tomorrow, after which they’ll begin the “stretch run” of the spring so to speak. They won’t have another off day until March 30th, which will officially be after they break camp. Get your popcorn ready!

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Baltimore Orioles: Felix Hernandez potentially injured in loss to Tampa (updated)

If it’s not one thing it’s another for the Baltimore Orioles. Felix Hernandez started this afternoon against Tampa in Port Charlotte, but was lifted after just one inning. Hernandez’s line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

The immediate concern is that Hernandez left the game with an injury, but we just don’t know. It stands to reason that he was meant to pitch more than just one inning in today’s game. A potential injury to King Felix would certainly make for an interesting rest of camp regarding the battle for the starting rotation. But right now we just don’t know what’s happening.

Hernandez leaving the game so early threw the Orioles’ pitching plans for the game into flux. They only brought six pitchers over from Sarasota, and Hernandez not being able to go 3-4 innings framed the day’s rotation strangely.

Eric Hanhold replaced Hernandez, and didn’t have anywhere near the “success” Hernandez did in the first inning. Margot’s RBI-single in the last of the second gave Tampa a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning Brouseau would smack a two-RBI double, and Zunino a three-run homer. After two innings, Tampa held a 6-0 lead.

This is all a function of the Orioles’ pitching situation for this game being thrown into limbo. However it also illustrates why in any game, guys need to be ready to go in at any point of the game. If you’re on the roster, you should assume that you’re going in.

Diaz would add an RBI-single to close out the scoring in that second inning. However the Birds did get a run back in the last of the fifth in an RBI-single by Austin Wynns. Midway during the game it was announced that the game had been shortened to seven innings – potentially because of the Orioles’ pitching situation. So it goes as a shortened seven inning loss for the Birds.

The big concern of course is Hernandez, and what his condition might be. The Orioles have made no announcements as of the writing of this column. Hopefully it’s just one of those abundance of caution type of things. But that will probably be a story as we continue to go through these spring games.

Before the game the Birds placed P Hunter Harvey on the 60-day DL with a strained oblique. It wouldn’t shock me if Chris Davis doesn’t eventually become a candidate for that as well. Harvey can return to the active roster in May.

The Orioles also finalized a contract with free agent third baseman Maikel Franco earlier this morning. The terms of the contract aren’t yet known, but Franco passed his physical with the team. They’ll presumably have to make a corresponding move on the 40-man roster. When Franco will be reporting to camp and start appearing in spring games remains to be seen.

The Orioles will return home to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow night to take on the Atlanta Braves on St. Patrick’s Day. John Means gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Atlanta’s Charlie Morton. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Update: Felix Hernandez left today’s game with elbow soreness.

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Baltimore Orioles defeat Pittsburgh with five-run seventh

Matt Harvey made a very productive start for the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota today. He was able to keep Pittsburgh runners off base for the most part, thus solidifying his potential spot with the Orioles and in the rotation. Harvey’s line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Harvey got off to an inauspicious start, however. He gave up a solo homer to Hays in the first inning with one out. But the O’s came right back. Austin Hays smacked a first inning home run as well. And wouldn’t you know it, the Birds decided to go back-to-back in the home run department. Freddy Galvis followed Hays, and smacked one out as well.

But in his second at-bat, in the third, Hays tied the game up for Pittsburgh. His RBI-single matched the Birds at two. However yesterday I said that the O’s needed to stop letting other teams nose their way past. And they took that advice to heart, with Anthony Santander smacking an RBI-double in the last of the fifth, giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead.

And the O’s weren’t finished. Gunnar Henderson came in for his first at-bat in the last of the seventh with two runners in scoring positions. And Henderson delivered with a two-RBI single up the middle. Later in the inning Jahmai Jones‘ three-run homergave the O’s an 8-2 lead. The Birds would put an additional four runs on the board in the eighth, and Pittsburgh would get one back in the ninth, leading to a 12-2 Orioles’ victory over Pittsburgh at Ed Smith Stadium.

There is some concern for pitcher Hunter Harvey, who left a game last week with an oblique injury. Manager Brandon Hyde said before the game that we wouldn’t see Harvey for awhile (Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports:

He’s going to miss some time. How much time, we’re not sure, just because obliques are tricky. But it’s an injury. The oblique is super sore.

“I just talked to him five minutes ago. He feels a lot better today, but that’s just going to be, we’re going to have to give it time and see how it goes.

There are also rumors that the Orioles are finalizing an agreement with free agent third baseman Maikel Franco. The deal isn’t official yet, but it appears the two sides are committed to one another. A native of the Dominican Republic, this will be Franco’s eighth major league season. He hit .278 last year with eight homers over sixty games. Both Franco and Freddy Galvis are former Philadelphia Phillies, so that would play to his advantage in that a familiar face is already in the clubhouse.

The O’s head to Charlotte Sports Park tomorrow to take on the Tampa Rays. Felix Hernandez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Ryan Yarbrough. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.