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Baltimore Orioles: Latest team to suffer on Houston’s revenge tour

Thomas Eshelman became only the most recent Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher to have issues with two outs. In the first couple of innings tonight against Houston, he seemed to record two outs with relative ease. Then the problems began. Eshelman’s line: 4-0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Houston put three runs on the board in the first inning. All with two outs. The same thing happened in the second inning, but the O’s held them to only one. And while there were walks sprinkled into that mix, the hits were all softly hit. As in, the outfielders were positioned way too far back in order to make the play.

Those are tough to stomach in my opinion. You aren’t expecting a big league team to get fat on balls that look like they were hit by T-Ball players. But they all count. And they sure as heck counted against Oriole pitching tonight.

Houston would put two up in the fourth, one in the sixth, four in the seventh, and two in the eighth. They seemed to know what was coming before the Orioles knew what they were going to throw. And no matter what, they seemed to put the ball in play.

So the O’s get swept at home by Houston. They aren’t the first to get beaten around, and they won’t be the last. One thing that was constant in the series was Orioles fans giving some pretty harsh treatment to the Houston players.

We all know why they were being mercilessly boo’d, and Camden Yards isn’t the first visiting ballpark in which it’s happened. However the Houston players have made all of those fan bases eat their words. Their attitude is sure, go ahead and boo us. But we’re going to not only beat your team, but make them look foolish in the process.

These players seem to resent the way that their franchise was handled in the wake of the cheating scandal in 2018. Now for the record, Inwould argue that they’re lucky. The players in effect snitched on their coaches and front office, all of those personnel were fired, suspended, etc. – “held accountable.” Not only did the players not face any discipline, but they got to keep their World Series trophy.

Yet in their mind the league’s done them wrong. I can’t imagine being shameless enough to where I’d get angry over the perception that I was a cheater, when in fact…I WAS a cheater! That’s been their story all season. The more viciously they’ve been boo’d, the more determined they’d become.

And you can almost see the players laughing at opposing fans in the dugout. Obviously the players don’t see it as shameless given that it’s being used as fodder. I think that playing the victim when in fact you were the aggressor is a really hard sell. But…it’s working for them. And the Orioles were only their most recent victim.

The Orioles now hit the road, starting with four games in Buffalo, NY against Toronto at Sahlen Field. Dean Kremer gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto‘s Anthony Kay. Game time is set for just after 7 PM tomorrow night.

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Baltimore Orioles fall despite Jorge Lopez’s valiant effort

The Baltimore Orioles played a much more complete game tonight against Houston than we saw last night. Granted it came in a losing effort still, however starter Jorge Lopez put them in a spot to win. And then some. Lopez’s line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K.

If you’re keeping track at home, that’s a quality start for Lopez. It’s always a shame to waste a quality start on a loss, but I also think it’s worth pointing out that maybe the Orioles’ coaching staff is learning how to better handle Lopez. Maybe they know what to look for better in terms of when Lopez is tiring, and/or of opposing teams are seeing his stuff better.

Houston took a 1-0 lead in the second when Straw smacked a solo homer to left. The ball appeared to hit off the top of the left field wall and bounce back into play. However that’s a home run under Camden Yards’ ground rules, and the call was rules as such upon review.

Cedric Mullins’ sac fly-RBI would tie the game at one an inning later in the third. And that tie would last for much of the remedy of the game. But it didn’t last long enough, as Straw’s RBI-single on the seventh have Houston a 2-1 lead. One inning later McCormick’s sac fly-RBI would give Houston a 3-1 lead. And that would be your final.

The series concludes tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Thomas Eshelman gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Jose Urquidy. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles fall, almost get no-hit

Keegan Akin of the Baltimore Orioles was almost the opposing starter in a no-hitter last night. Luckily the O’s held that off, however they couldn’t hold off Houston. Despite his numbers, Akin pitched decent enough. He was also failed by the defense behind him. Akin’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 5 K.

The start of the game was delayed an hour by biblical-like storms that passed over Camden Yards, With two runners on, Houston’s McCormick sent an RBI-single in the third inning. However Austin Hays’ attempted to cut the run off at home plate as opposed to playing it back into second base. That allowed two runners to enter into scoring position.

And that did have a negative impact, as Gurriel sent a sac fly-RBI into center field later in the inning. You have to hit the cutoff man, because that sort of thing will cost you runs. While Akin obviously put the guys on base, he was failed by the defense behind him once they were there.

But Alvarez’s subsequent three-run homer broke the game wide open. Even the best defense behind you can’t prevent that. Gurriel would add another sac fly-RBI in the seventh, but by then the story was Houston tossing a no-hitter. It was shaping up to be a staff no-no, as they had used various pitchers. But the Orioles were desperately trying to scrimp a hit together.

Before they could however, Houston would run their lead to 10-0. The competitive portion of the game was long over. The question was could the Birds muster a hit.

And yes, they found a way. Maikel Franco ended the no-hit bid in the last of the eighth with a two-run homer. So the no-hitter and the shutout were lost in one fatal swoop. It doesn’t change the fact that the O’s lost the game, but at least they didn’t suffer the ignobility of being no-hit.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Zack Greinke. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Four-run fifth sinks the O’s

Matt Harvey pitched a decent outing for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He probably didn’t go as deep into the game as manager Brandon Hyde would have liked, but in theory he put the team in a spot to win. Although a four-run fifth inning wiped that out. Harvey’s line: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

Oriole bats gave Harvey an early lead. Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer in the first inning. He hit to about the deepest part of the ballpark, giving the O’s a 1-0 lead. And Harvey held Toronto at bay for four innings.

But things changed in the fifth. I’m not sure if he tired quickly or what, but while he was previously recording outs, he seemed to just lose it all at once. Which again tells me he doesn’t have the stamina to go much further than about 70 pitches or so in a game.

Bichette’s RBI-single in that fifth inning got the Toronto rally started, tying the game at one. Hernandez added an RBI-double to give them a 2-1 lead. Grichuk and Biggio added RBI-singles before the O’s could record the third out.

But the damage was done. And on top of that, Toronto would add two runs in the eighth and take the game – following a solo homer by Pedro Severino in the last of the eighth, and a two-run shot by Trey Mancini. The O’s made a run at it, but couldn’t come all the way back. Toronto would add on an insurance run in the ninth to take the game, 7-4. And take the series.

As I said, the O’s made a valiant run at coming back. This game was never pretty from the get-go. They never gave up though, which for a rebuilding team is really all that counts. But obviously we’re also in the business of wins and losses. Every game counts.

I’ve said this before, but I do wonder if the Orioles are too predictable in terms of how they position their fielder’s. If I’m Brandon Hyde I think it’s at lease worth looking at. Because often the O’s are playing their outfield straight up, and guys are pulling the ball tightly down the line. Basically hitting ‘em where they ain’t.

One bright spot today was reliever Adam Plutko. He pitched 2.2 scoreless innings in the immediate relief of Matt Harvey. That may well have saved another bullpen reliever, and it stemmed the tide of Toronto momentum. Not that it mattered on the scoreboard, but that’s one of those things that happens in games which are intangible.

The Orioles will open up a three-game set with the Houston Astro’s tomorrow at Camden Yards. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Jake Odorizzi. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Father’s Day takes on a new meaning this year

At some point during every Baltimore Orioles game, I think of my Dad. He doesn’t follow the team as religiously as he used to, but that’s okay. I obviously pen this column, so I pick up the slack! However I’m always reminded of the grand Saturday afternoon when he took me to my first game at Memorial Stadium.

It was the greenest grass I’d ever seen, the best hot dogs I’d ever tasted, and the coldest Coca-Cola on earth. I thought about that day a lot 15 years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer. There was little doubt that he’d beat it given the type of cancer that it was and how early we caught it, but it was still scary. However that was a breeze compared to this past year.

Just before Christmas my Dad got a COVID test, as he had been feeling ill. He tested positive. To anyone reading this who didn’t have COVID or know someone who had it, I can’t put into words what goes through your head when you get that news about your parent. On top of that, I see my Dad just about everyday; so I was exposed to it also.

I’m happy to report that if I actually had the virus, it was asymptomatic and I never knew the difference. But while you hear about people who had the virus and were able to treat themselves at home without incident, you also hope that it doesn’t end up being your loved one who’s grasping for breath in a hospital. Away from family and loved ones.

Needless to say it was a unique Christmas. We had our respective Christmas Dinners for one or two over FaceTime, and my parents were happy to know that I did my best to make all of the traditional foods that our family would have for Christmas (Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, and ravioli on Christmas Day). But my Dad’s condition deteriorated as the week went on. (Ironically my mother tested negative. Certainly strange given that they live together, but for that we were thankful.)

He was admitted to the hospital on Monday, December 28th. Again, I can’t properly put into words what goes through your mind when news like that comes. The first thing I did was to alert my two Uncles – my Dad’s brothers. In a moment like that, you look for something comforting. Both of them said the exact same thing: “everything’s going to be okay.”

The message in and of itself was comforting for sure. But in various situations in my life I had also heard those same words in that same tone of voice from my Dad. In that moment, hearing that message coming from his brothers, it was like hearing it in my father’s voice.

He was in and out of intensive care for awhile. He never lost consciousness, but could only talk on the phone or on FaceTime for maybe a minute at a time before he’d lose his wind. The whole experience was morbidly awful. This virus is no joke.

It got incredibly real when they asked my mother what her wishes would be if a ventilator became necessary. We had a family conference, and we all agreed that if it came to that, they had our blessing. Around that same time I touched base with a priest to at least go over options for what’s now called Anointing of the Sick. I never wrote my Old Man off, but honestly there were about two or three days where I didn’t think things were going to end well.

But as quickly as he deteriorated, suddenly he began improving. He was sent out of intensive care, and a few days later (January 9th) he was released. I don’t know what anyone reading this believes religiously or spiritually, but I’m a fairly religious person. And I saw it as a miracle.

His “rehab” continues to this day. I’m not sure he’ll ever be the same. For the most part he can do most of the things he was doing before he got sick (he’s a fairly active 68-year old). But he gets tired easily, and still doesn’t have the stamina he had previously. But if this is how the rest of his life unfolds, I’m very thankful. Because he’s alive; and there was a moment where that wasn’t always going to be the case.

As was the case when he had cancer, I thought a lot about that first day at Memorial Stadium so many years ago. I thought about how it would be walking into Camden Yards to write about the team that he originally loved and passed onto me, knowing he was no longer of this world. And it ate me alive. Mercifully, it wasn’t his time.

So as the title indicates, Father’s Day takes on a different meaning for me this year. And the fact is that I know a lot of people weren’t as lucky. I know that there are people at every game who are missing someone lost in this pandemic. Maybe missing them through the Orioles, or maybe using the Orioles as a temporary diversion. That could have been me.

Maybe my Dad will watch the game today. Maybe he won’t. But whatever he does, he’s alive. And that wasn’t always guaranteed. And make no mistake, all of us are very thankful. Thanks for sticking with us, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!

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Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen spoils Ryan Mountcastle’s career day

He was greeted rudely, but the Baltimore Orioles’ Dean Kremer settled in nicely this afternoon. He gave up solo homers to Semien and Guerrero in the first inning before the crowd had even settled in. But he got it together, and pitched to a quality start. Kremer’s line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 K.

This is a game that Ryan Mountcastle won’t soon forget. For starters, he smacked a solo homer in the last of the second which cut the Toronto lead in half. Cedric Mullins would continue hot at the plate and inning later with a solo shot of his own, tying the game at two.

Mountcastle would come up again in the fourth with a runner on base. And his two-run homer gave the Birds the lead at 4-2. Mind you, that was his second homer of the day. Had he stopped there, he would have still had a darn good game. Incidentally, DJ Stewart added to the homer parade, going back-to-back with Mountcastle and smacking a solo shot – giving the O’s a 5-2 lead.

However remember a moment ago when I said Mountcastle could have stopped there and had a pretty good day? He didn’t do that. He came up again in the sixth, and – you guessed it – smacked a solo homer (his third home run of the game). You don’t get much better than that in terms of performing at the plate. Did we mention that Mountcastle was a rookie?!

After Toronto put one across in the top of the seventh, the Birds got it back on Mullins’ second homer of the game – a solo shot. The Orioles took a 7-4 lead into the top of the ninth. Life appeared to be good.

The Birds called on Paul Fry to close the game for the second consecutive game. He promptly loaded the bases and walked a run in. Bichette and Guerrero proceeded to smack two-RBI singles, giving Toronto a 9-7 lead. Grichuk would add an RBI-double, and the Birds fell 10-7. This despite Mountcastle’s three homers, and Mullins’ two.

Bichette hardly hit the ball hard, as it was a dying quail into right field. But Paul Fry hardly looked comfortable, and when that’s the case you don’t have to hit the ball hard. It’s tough to lose a game like that, with the opponent putting up six runs in the ninth inning to come from behind. But you have to get right back at it tomorrow.

Incidentally, Toronto’s starter Manoah was ejected with one out in the fourth inning after he hit Maikel Franco. This after the DJ Stewart solo home run. The benches and the bullpens emptied, but no real fight ensued. Just the Toronto pitcher being ejected.

The series concludes tomorrow at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Hyun-Jin Ryu. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins with an All-Star performance

The Baltimore Orioles could have been forgiven for losing tonight. Bruce Zimmerman was supposed to start but was sent to the IL with Bicep Tendinitis at the last minute. So they called up Thomas Eshelman from triple-A Norfolk to make the start. Eshelman’s line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Eshelman obviously didn’t pitch deep enough to qualify for the win. However he gave the Orioles an incredibly solid outing that really set the tone for a win. That isn’t too shabby for a guy who was just up from triple-A earlier today. He acted as a stopper, helping the O’s snap an eight-game losing streak.

While Eshelman probably should have been the story, he wasn’t. On the backdrop of his tee-shirt night, Cedric Mullins continued his amazing first half with a performance worthy of being an All-Star. He led the game off with a solo homer, giving the Birds a 1-0 lead, which would stand until the fifth.

Gurriel’s solo homer in that fifth inning would tie the game. It was the one mistake Eshelman made. Other than that he was stellar. Which given that he had just joined the team today, is outstanding.

But the O’s almost immediately got the lead back. Austin Hays’ RBI-single in the last of the fifth put the Birds back in the lead at 2-1. We also got to see something we hadn’t seen in some time: the Birds adding insurance runs. Freddy Galvis’ RBI-single in the last of the eighth extended the lead to 3-1.

But the O’s weren’t done yet. Maikel Franco also added an RBI-single, making it 4-1. And Mullins came up again with two on. For good measure mind you, he smacked his second ball of the game out of the ballpark. His three-run homer earned him the first Orioles’ curtain call in however long, and earned the Birds a 7-1 win.

Cedric Mullins has been incredibly valuable to the O’s thus far. And yes, he’s worthy of an All-Star game birth. And as a starter at that. Both he and Thomas Eshelman in effect won the game for the O’s tonight, snapping the aforementioned eight-game skid.

The series continues tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Alex Manoah. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Should Brandon Hyde have played under protest?

The Baltimore Orioles can’t seem to make it over the hump no matter what happens. Starter Jorge Lopez couldn’t pitch out of the fifth, making him only the most recent Orioles’ starter unable to go deep into a game. Lopez’s line: 4.1 P, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Cleveland has largely picked up right where they left off the previous game each day in this series. Ramirez smacked a two-run homer in the first, followed by a Bradley solo shot. Before the crowd had even settled in, Cleveland led 3-0.

However while pointless, the O’s weren’t going quietly into the night. Or quietly into the Cleveland afternoon, in this case – you get the point. Austin Hays‘ solo homer in the second cut the Cleveland lead to 3-1. The teams would trade solo homers in the third and fourth, with Maikel Franco doing the honors for the Birds. Trey Mancini would add an RBI-double later in that fourth inning, bringing the O’s to within one run at 4-3.

However they wouldn’t get any closer than that. Pinpoint placement of base hits and home runs would work to Cleveland’s advantage, along with insurance runs in the later innings. Cleveland went onto win the finale 10-3. This was the second consecutive series in which the O’s were swept, sending them to an 0-7 road trip.

While the final Cleveland run was scored on an error, there wasn’t any glaring mistake or faux pas in this game that came to Cleveland’s aide (unlike in the other three games). Nothing on the field, at least. But was there an oversight in the dugout that might have helped Cleveland and hurt the Birds?

The O’s were trailing 4-3 when Chang grounded into an apparent double-play to end the fourth inning. Trailing by one, the Birds were very much in the game at that point, and to be honest they had the wind at their backs in terms of momentum. Or so we thought.

Cleveland manager Francona took his sweet time, but eventually challenged the double-play. And in fact, they came back and ruled that Change was safe at first base. The next hitter was Clement, who’s RBI-double sent Cleveland off to the races towards their ten runs.

The rule is that a manager has ten seconds to hold up play if he’s trying to decide if he wants to challenge. Francona took ten seconds and then some. Now granted, nobody’s sitting there on the field with a stopwatch timing his ten seconds. But at a certain point you kind of know your time’s up. I’ve seen umpires tell a manager that his timing was too late to challenge a call.

For the record, how long the other manager took to challenge a call isn’t something Brandon Hyde could have turned around and challenged himself. BUT…he could have protested the decision by the umpire to allow the challenge to go forward. Meaning he could have played the game under protest.

A manager can only formally protest something in a game (play under protest) when a rule has potentially been misinterpreted or misapplied. A bad (judgement) call, for instance, can’t be protested. But given the fact that Francona appeared to wait for at least a minute or two to challenge the call, one could argue that the umpires misapplied the rule.

If Brandon Hyde had formally told the umpire he wanted to protest the call, the umpire would have signaled to the press box that the game was formally under protest. And at that point the game would have continued as normal. The protesting team would then have until noon the next day to send formal paperwork into the league office if they wanted to move forward with the protest. If the league decides that the rule in question was misinterpreted or misapplied to the point that it affected the outcome, the game would be ordered replayed from that point onward.

Given that Cleveland immediately started putting more runs on the board after that point, thus putting the game out of reach, there’s a legitimate argument that could have been made for playing the rest of the game under protest. It’s an old school tactic and it’s not something we see often anymore in Major League Baseball. But it is a tool that Brandon Hyde at least should have considered today. Because in my view he had a very legitimate case.

The O’s now head home to Camden Yards to open up a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow night. Bruce Zimmerman gets the call for the O’s, and Toronto is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Faux pas’ once again bury the Birds

It’s almost uncanny how the line between winning and losing seems to be set on mistakes the Baltimore Orioles make in games. An error here, a botched rundown there, and opponents get fat. Keegan Akin found that out last night. Akin’s line: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 3 BB, 7 K.

The Birds took an early lead when Freddy Galvis and Ryan Mountcastle smacked RBI-singles. You get guys on base, good things can happen. But even there; it was great that the O’s took an early lead. REALLY great. But that first inning also ended on a ground ball double-play with runners at the corners. In other words, the Birds left money on the table.

The teams would trade runs in a sense, with Cleveland’s Ramirez smacking a solo homer in the last of the first. Ryan Mountcastle’s third inning RBI-single extended the Orioles’ lead to 3-1. But that lead seemed temporary at best.

Rosario’s third inning RBI-single cut the lead to 3-2. However on that play, a throwing error by DJ Stewart allowed two runners into scoring position. All in all, Cleveland would put five runs on the board in the last of the third, assisted by the aforementioned error and a botched rundown.

Ryan Mountcastle would do everything in his power however to bring the O’s back. He had three hits on the night, including a two-run homer in the fifth which cut the Cleveland lead to 6-5. But Hernandez’s two-RBI triple in the sixth ran the score to 8-5. The O’s would add two more late, and ended up falling, 8-7.

Obviously this wasn’t a blowout loss by any means. The Orioles were in it until the end. However it does show how the O’s have no room for error. Opponents aren’t in the business of letting them off the hook. Oriole mistakes are coming back to haunt them tenfold in games. The message? Tighten it up.

The O’s will try to salvage one game in this series and on the road trip in the series finale this afternoon at Progressive Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Eli Morgan. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Cleveland feeling it against the Birds

Matt Harvey struggled in Cleveland for the Baltimore Orioles last night. There was plenty of blame to spread around, however everything begins and ends with starting pitching. But Harvey’s numbers probably look worse than how he actually pitched, because as I said there was plenty of blame to spread around. Harvey’s line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R (5 earned), 2 BB, 2 K.

Stevie Wilkerson committed an error in the first inning, causing Harvey to throw more pitches and elongating the inning. That runner would score on Bradley’s run-scoring single. However in the second the Birds would tie the game on MIkel Franco’s RBI-double.

Cleveland would take the lead back in the fourth on an RBI-single by Clement. However Clement would end up at third on a throwing error by Cedric Mullins. Cleveland would proceed to put to four more runs on the board in the inning, taking a 6-1 lead. Trey Mancini’s RBI-single in the fifth and Bradley’s seventh inning homer would round out Cleveland’s 7-2 victory.

One could ask which comes first – the chicken or the egg. Is Harvey more to blame for putting the ball in play, or the defense behind him for the errors once the ball was in play? While yes it begins and ends with starting pitching, we tend to put too much emphasis on that when things go south. Manager Brandon Hyde seemed to look more to the defense behind Harvey after the game:

I thought Matt threw the ball as well as he’s thrown the ball in a long time, probably since the first month for me stuff-wise. I know the velo wasn’t quite as high, but I thought he pitched better. I liked his slider, I thought he threw some good changeups to left-handers. But when you have to get four outs an inning, it makes it really, really challenging.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The series continues tonight at Progressive Field. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Aaron Civale. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles on the wrong side of bizarre events

Dean Kremer had a good outing in his return to the majors with the Baltimore Orioles. He was called up to make the start last night in Cleveland. First off, he had to wait an additional hour due to a rain delay. But some odd circumstances worked against Kremer, and the O’s. Kremer’s line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R (3 earned), 0 BB, 2 K.

Kremer gave up a leadoff single in the first, and then Rosario appeared to foul a pitch off. However upon further review it appeared that the ball hit Rosario as opposed to the bat. So the umpires awarded him first base after an instant replay review, giving Cleveland runners at first and second with nobody out.

However this set off manager Brandon Hyde, who argued that Rosario had swung on the pitch. And it was a legitimate beef. After the game Hyde said he was just asking the umpire to ask for help, which apparently didn’t happen:

I was arguing the check swing. Understand that ball hit him in the finger but wanted to see if they’d ask for help. First base umpire said he didn’t go on the swing and threw me out for telling him he missed it.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Kremer allowed both runners to move into scoring position on a wild pitch, and then induced Ramirez to pop a pitch up into left field. it appeared to be a routine play, which perhaps would have ended up as a sac fly. However remember that rain delay from before? Yeah, about that…

DJ Stewart slipped on wet grass trying to get to the ball, allowing it to fall for an RBI-single. One could argue that it would have been a sac fly anyways, but that‘s a tough break. Cleveland would plate two more runs in the inning, one on a sac fly and the other on an RBI-single.

The good news is that Kremer settled down after that first inning. And he ended up pitching a decent outing, albeit in a losing effort. DJ Stewart would get the O’s on the board in the fourth with an RBI-groundout, which was followed by another RBI-groundout by Freddy Galvis. The teams would also trade runs in the sixth and seventh, with the Orioles’ coming on an RBI-single by Maikel Franco.

Whether or not the series of events in the first inning hurt Kremer or not is another story. But they were still a bizarre series of events. But that‘s baseball. In the words of Gilda Radner (as her great character, Rosanne Rosanadanna), “if it’s not one thing, it’s another thing!”

The series continues tonight at Progressive Field. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Cal Quantrill. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Did Brandon Hyde out-think himself?

Bruce Zimmermann came within an out of a quality start for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon. Not that it really mattered, because Zimmermann isn’t getting the run support he needs to win games. He’s pitching a decent season to this point, it just isn’t reflected in the won/loss column. Zimmermann’s line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K.

The O’s actually had the lead in this one. Pat Valaika’s RBI-single in the second inning gave them a 1-0 lead. They led Friday night and today, but never yesterday. Nevertheless, they still lost all three games. And Tampa would even things up in the third on the way to victory with an RBI-single by Diaz.

Tampa took the lead in the fourth on a two-RBI single by Walls. The worst part? It was a rally that started in typical Tampa fashion; that being quirky. Lowe got on with an infield single to lead off the inning. The Orioles shifted to the left, leaving the left field line unoccupied. Lowe smacked a swinging bunt which bounced foul and then bounced back fair before the bag.

But Tampa doesn’t care that they’re hitting the ball well or making it look good while doing it. They care about getting guys on base. So that quirky single against the shift was as good as a squared up line drive that smacks off the wall to them.

And on that note Brandon Hyde may have inadvertently helped them out. With runners at first and second in the seventh, Tampa sent Meadows up as a pinch hitter. Hyde opted to put him on, and he was followed by Arozarena. There was one out, and Arozarena had been scuffling. So Hyde was hoping for a ground ball double-play.

But almost predictably, Arozarena broke out of his slump, and sent a deep drive that ever-so-barely made it over the fence in right field, for a grand slam. That have Tampa a 7-1 lead. And that was the final.

I wouldn’t have walked Meadows. First off when you match up like that, usually Tampa’s ready for you. However Hyde did that with third base open. Usually managers only do it with first base open. That makes a difference.

But even still, Tampa’s a team that thrives off of getting guys on base. Why give them an extra base runner? They almost shamelessly take whatever they can get, however they can get it. You could almost see that grand slam coming a mile away.

The Orioles now head for Cleveland to open a four-game set at Progressive Field. The Birds have yet to name a starter, but whomever he is he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Francisco Mejia. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: You have to cross your T’s

Jorge Lopez went to the mound this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles in Tampa. The damage was done, but the Birds made a point of getting him out before he went through the order three times. Lopez’s line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 8 K.

The eight strikeouts are a nice touch for sure. However that also shows that like the Oriole pitchers we saw last night, Lopez was living in the middle of the plate. That’ll get you some strikeouts if you’re good. But it’ll also get guys on base. And that’s how Tampa flies.

Lopez gave up a base hit and a walk today start off the game. Wendle came up with two outs and runners at the corners, and the Orioles applied the shift (leaving the left side of the infield open). What does Wendle do? Send an RBI-double to left fielder, and Tampa had a 1-0 lead.

Margot and Keirmaier would add infield RBI-singles, giving Tampa a 3-0 lead after one. Incidentally, Margot’s single was basically a swinging bunt. Kiermaier’s was a broken bat hit in the infield. Tampa never squared anything up in the inning, and netted three runs. Lowe would add a two-RBI double in the last of the fourth, putting Tampa ahead 5-0.

However all wasn’t lost for the Orioles. Not at that point at least. The Birds loaded the bases in the fifth, bringing Austin Wynns to the plate. And Wynns answered the call, smacking his first career grand slam. That put the Orioles right back into the game.

Luckily the Birds shut Tampa down from that point on, despite their inventive ways of getting on base. But as I’ve said previously, Tampa’s hitting doesn’t just wear out your pitching. Their pitching wears down your hitters as well. And they shut the O’s down for the remainder of the game, winning it 5-4.

You really have to cross your T’s and dot your I’s when you play this Tampa Rays team. They just find a way. You put on a shift? No problem, they’ll just hit it where your third baseman used to be. Shattered bat? Again, no problem. They’ll just let out an infield single.

The Orioles of course value the long ball. However Tampa values base runners. And things usually happen when they put runners on base. The defense commits an error, they hit against the shift, etc. They just find a way. So again, you have to cross your T’s and cross your I’s against them. And thus far the Orioles haven’t.

The series concludes tomorrow at Tropicana Field. Bruce Zimmermann gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Stay out of the middle of the plate

The Baltimore Orioles turned to Keegan Akin in game one of their series in Tampa this evening. The hope was that Akin could get deep into the game, sparing the Birds’ bullpen for an additional day coming out of an off day. But while Akin didn’t go deep, he did leave the O’s in a spot to win the game. Akin’s line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

I use that phrase a lot – put the team in a spot to win. And in reality that’s the goal of any starting pitcher. Akin easily could have gone deeper into the game, but the O’s opted to match up instead. However if as a starter when you leave the game the team is in a spot to win the game, you’ve done your job. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.

The Orioles finally took a 2-0 lead inning when Trey Mancini smacked a two-run homer in the last of the third. And that’s rare for the Orioles. To take the lead against and at Tampa. Usually it’s the other way around. But on this night, the O’s got on the board first.

But that was the extent of the good vibes the O’s had. Margot cut the lead in half at 2-1 on m the last of the third when he grounded into a fielder’s choice-RBI. That should have put the Orioles on notice as to protecting the lead.

Lowe gave Tampa the lead at 3-2 in the fourth with a two-run homer. Margot‘s seventh inning RBI-single would give them a 4-2 lead. And that lead turned into a 4-2 victory. The O’s pitched well enough to win. This not only in theory – but also in practice.

The series continues tomorrow at Tropicana Firld. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Rich Hill. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Can’t live in the middle of the plate

The Baltimore Orioles had the tables turned on them a bit tonight as they fell in blowout fashion to the New York Mets. Orioles’ starter (and former Met) Matt Harvey was ineffective once again as he pitched against his former team. But New York was on a mission tonight, and nothing the O’s threw at them was going to change that. Harvey’s line: 3.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Alonso smacked a two-run homer off of Harvey in the first inning. This however after Cedric Mullins made yet another diving catch in center field. He’s single-handedly playing his way onto the all-star team. And incidentally, he deserves to be a starter.

Ryan Mountcastle stayed hot for the O’s, smacking an RBI-single in the last of the first. However that’s as close as the Orioles would come. New York would put two runs on the board in the third, and then break the game wide open on a three-run homer by Pillar. Mind you, over a great number of years when he was with Toronto, Pillar went to town with Orioles’ pitching. And tonight he picked up right where he left off while playing in the AL East.

New York would also get a solo shot from McKinney in the fifth, and a second homer by Pillar (this of the solo variety. Alonso would add an RBI-double in the ninth, but New York would also close out their scoring at 14 runs, the remainder of which come on homers.

Whether it was Matt Harvey or anyone else who came in, Oriole pitchers lived in the middle of the plate tonight. Look no further than Harvey’s stat line; one walk and two strikeouts. Certainly New York recorded their share of outs hitting to contact, however Oriole pitching didn’t do themselves any favors by pitching-to-contact.

The Orioles will enjoy an off day tomorrow while heading to Tampa to open a three-game set in Bethany Beach, DE.

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Baltimore Orioles: Gravy train keeps on chugging

This time around, the Baltimore Orioles weren’t asking tBruce Zimmermann to be a stopper tonight against the New York Mets. In fact, they were asking him to be a “continuer” in a certain sense, as they came in after winning on Sunday. And Zimmmermann did his job, keeping the gravy train running. Zimmerman’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K.

Zimmermann gave up a first inning two-run homer to Alonso. And that was the nudge the O’s needed, as the rest of the evening was perfumed by orange & black. The Orioles promptly tied the game in the second on Pat Valaika’s two-RBI double. Cedric Mullins would stay hot, with an RBI-double later in the inning which gave the O’s the lead at 3-2.

And the Birds didn’t really look back. Valaika would bet another RBI-double in the third, running the score to 4-2. you really have to tip your cap to Valaika, who’s fresh off the bereavement list. He was hot when he left the team. And he stayed hot tonight now that he’s back. That, along with almost everything else that happened tonight, bodes very well for the Orioles.

The O’s would extend their lead in the fourth with an RBI-single by Trey Mancini. One inning later Maikel Franco would become only the sixth player in the history of Camden Yards to hit a homer into the second deck. The best part from the Orioles’ perspective? It was a homer of the three-run variety. It blew the game wide open, with the Orioles leading 8-2.

Ryan Mountcastle, last week’s AL Player of the Week, would stay hot also, with an RBI-single in the last of the sixth. Anthony Santander would also smack a solo homer in the last of the eighth, which ran the score to 10-2. Alonzo would smack a solo shot for New York in the ninth, rounding out a 10-3 Orioles’ win.

Oriole bats have heated up suddenly as we’ve gotten into June. The weather may play a role, or not. But either way they’re heating up, and that’s a good sign. As is a second consecutive blowout win, along with the fact that they’re adding on insurance runs as needed.

For what it’s worth, this was game number sixty for the Orioles. They stand at 22-38 after tonight’s win. Last year they were 25-35, in a sixty game season. So had they won three games during that 14-game losing streak, they’d be right on par with last season (as it stands now they aren’t far off). I’d say the big league team is slowly improving.

The series concludes tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Tarikuan Walker. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: The day Cedric Mullins started a rout

One might say that starter Jorge Lopez put the Baltimore Orioles in a position to win today in the series finale at Camden Yards. Granted it wouldn’t have taken much today. But he did his job. Lopez’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Cedric Mullins had a lengthy at-bat to lead things off. And it culminated in a solo homer to give the Birds a 1-0 lead. Little did anyone know what Mullins had put in motion with that homer.

Both Austin Wynns and Mullins again would add RBI-singles in the second; Wynns’ came with the bases loaded. Later in the inning Trey Mancini would plat two runs on a fielder’s choice and a throwing error on the Cleveland pitcher, and Anthony Santander would add a two-run double. Cleveland trailed 7-0 after the second inning.

But they’d get an RBI-double from Bradley in the third to get on the board. However that didn’t hamper the day the Orioles were having. Ryan Mountcastle and DJ Stewart would add RBI-singles in the last of the third ran the score to 9-1. And both of those were infield singles, where the Orioles hustled and the Cleveland infield couldn’t really get it’s act together.

Before the fourth inning ended the Birds would also get a two-RBI single from Maikel Franco, and an additional RBI-single from Ramon Urias. Not to mention another diving catch by Cedric Mullins in center to save a run on defense. Not that it would have mattered – but playing hard when the stakes are low shows character. Cleveland would get two back in the fifth on a two-run homer by Rosario – which ended Lopez’s day, although he pitched deep enough to get the win.

This isn’t to say that the O’s are turning a corner, but this was the Birds’ second consecutive home series win in as many series’. Needless to say it’s a “step” for a team that started out as poorly at home as the Orioles did.

It also shows how the pendulum can swing in a 162-game baseball season. You go through a 14-game losing streak, and then suddenly you get it together, win a couple of series’, and as was the case today, get a game where everything just kind of falls for you.

There were a lot of hero’s in this game, but none more than Cedric Mullins. For the second consecutive game, he reached base on all but one at-bat (3-for-4 with two walks). Mullins of course also got the rout going with that solo homer in the first in the first inning today.

The O’s would also add five “insurance runs” in the last of the seventh; after loading the bases, they got RBI-singles from Santander, Galvis, Mountcastle, and McKenna. Not to mention an additional solo homer by Ramon Urias. Cleveland would smack a two-run homer in the ninth also, rounding the game out nicely at an 18-5 Orioles’ victory.

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Baltimore Orioles lose game, possibly John Means

John Means’ start didn’t quite go according to plan for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon against Cleveland. He gave up two solo homers in the first inning. After the second one, he showed signs of discomfort. The trainers came out to check on Means, who ended up leaving the game. More on that later. Means’ line: .2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

That of course HUGELY taxed the Orioles’ bullpen, but those are the breaks. The Birds came back in the last of the first and cut the lead in half on an RBI-single by Freddy Galvis. But Cleveland was given a huge advantage with Means leaving, and they took advantage. Third inning RBI-singles by Ramirez and Rosario would run the score to 4-1. Those two would later score on a three-run homer by Chang.

Cedric Mullins was one of the bright spots for the O’s. He went five-for-five on the afternoon, and smacked a solo homer in the last of the third to bring the O’s back to within 7-2. Cleveland would score again in the fifth on a passed ball, bringing Mullins to the plate again in the last of the fifth. And he launched A SECOND solo homer over the wall, cutting the lead to 8-3.

Cleveland would put two additional runs on the board later in the game, and the Orioles would also get a solo homer from Ryan Mountcastle. This is the first time in Mountcastle’s young career that he’s homered in three consecutive games. Needless to say, the ball was flying today.

The bigger concern of course is John Means. After the second homer he showed signs of discomfort. This after a circle changeup, which shouldn’t happen. Losing today isn’t a huge deal – it’s almost par for the course. Losing Means for any period of time would be tough.

Officially the Orioles said that Means had shoulder fatigue. But who knows what that means. If there’s a silver lining it would be that the Birds have off days on Monday and Thursday of this week. So they could feasibly skip Means on the rotation if need be, and put him on the IL retroactive to tomorrow. All of that remains to be seen.

The series concludes tomorrow at Camden Yards. (On a side note, tomorrow’s game will be the last ever in history in which the Cleveland Indians will appear in Baltimore, as the franchise is retiring the nickname after the season.) Jorge Lopez gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Cal Quantril. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle grounds the Tribe

This is somewhat of a historic weekend at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, as the Baltimore Orioles welcome in the Cleveland Indians for the final series in their existence. Next year Cleveland will be playing under a new name. And Keegan Atkin got them off to a good start in this historic series, by dominating Cleveland hitters while in the game. Akin’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

How do you keep the opponent off the board? You deny them base runners. Akin allowed four over five innings. He put the O’s in a position to win, which as I’ve said many times is all you can ask of a starting pitcher.

The O’s did surrender a run after Akin departed, however. Ramirez’s RBI-triple gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead. Now it’s worth mentioning that there was a runner on first base due to a base hit, which came despite the shift. The Orioles shifted the infield around, leaving the middle exposed. And that’s where the ball was hit. Sometimes it helps you, but other time the shift comes back to haunt you.

But when you’re trailing 1-0, that means you only need to score two to take the lead. Ryan Mountcastle came up in the last of the seventh with a runner on, and sent one deep into the Baltimore night. It appeared that the Cleveland left fielder might have a play. But it hit off a fan in the front row for a two-run homer.

Or did it? Needless to say it was close to Dan interference. However the replay showed that the fan(s) in question never reached over the wall. The Cleveland left fielder was definitely impacted by their presence, but their hands never came over the wall. This the home run was upheld on review. In fact, it clonked one fan in the nose!

Anthony Santander would add a sac fly-RBI in the last of the eighth, sending the Birds to a 3-1 victory. As I said, these are the final games that the visitor will ever play in Baltimore as the Cleveland Indians. And the O’s certainly got this historic series off to a good start.

The series continues tomorrow at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Aaron Civale. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Tyler Wells with his first career win

Matt Harvey was technically the starter for the Baltimore Orioles tonight. However that was in name only, as he acted as an “opener.” The Birds needed a starter for tonight’s game, and rather than making a roster move they allowed Harvey to do his side session in a game today. Harvey’s line: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

It’s almost a tough thing to ask of a starting pitcher, as he knows he isn’t pitching to get the win – given that he’s only going a max of three innings. But Harvey did what was asked of him, surrendering only a second inning solo homer to Jeffers.

Maikel Franco would reach on an error in the last of the fourth, allowing a run to score and tying the game up at one. One inning later the man who came in to score in that sequence, DJ Stewart, would smack a two-run home run. That gave the O’s a 3-1 lead.

Ryan Mountcastle would break the game wide open in the last of the seventh. His three-run home run doubled the number of runs the Birds had scored, giving them a 6-1 lead. Minnesota would put two across in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough as the Orioles cruised to a 6-3 victory.

Reliever Tyler Wells came in behind Matt Harvey, and pitched three strong innings in relief. He qualified for the win, his first in the majors. Over three innings in the game, Wells struck out two, and surrendered one hit.

The O’s of course snapped a 14-game losing streak overall last night, as well as a 16-game losing streak against Minnesota. So they go from that extreme to winning two straight, and winning a series. That’s quite a swing. And they’ll celebrate it tomorrow with a day off at home before Cleveland comes in on Friday night.

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Baltimore Orioles snap losing streak and defeat Minnesota

Bruce Zimmermann started his third game during the Baltimore Orioles’ losing streak this evening at Camden Yards. And the third time was the charm in Charm City, as the Birds snapped their 14-game losing streak. They also snapped a 16-game losing streak to Minnesota. Zimmermann’s line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K.

The O’s got ahead early in the last of the first, when Trey Mancini smacked an RBI-single. However two innings later Minnesota would tie it at one on solo homer. But the Birds had just begun to fight.

And fight they did. Mancini and Freddy Galvis each smacked RBI-singles. DJ Stewart grounded into a fielder’s choice which allowed a third run to score. Ryan Mountcastle would add an RBI-double, and the O’s held a 5-1 lead when the smoke cleared.

And they weren’t finished yet. Pedro Severino smacked a solo homer an inning later in the fourth. Maikel Franco would also add a solo shot in the sixth.

Minnesota would challenge, though. As I said yesterday, long losing streaks don’t go away willingly. They tend to linger and fight to stay alive. Minnesota would bet runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. Once they even left the bases loaded. The Birds came out ahead each time.

In short, the bullpen bent but didn’t break. Which is a good thing. They limited the damage each time they found themselves in a pickle, and helped propel the Birds to victory. And again, that snapped a 14-game losing streak.

The series concludes tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Randy Dobnak. (On a side note, Harvey is starting on short rest. This will be akin to a side session for him “, but it’ll be in real games. He’s expected to pitch approximately 2-3 innings before turning it over to the bullpen.) Game time is set just before 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: It’s never easy

The Baltimore Orioles had a shot to snap their losing steak this afternoon. It just didn’t happen. Jorge Lopez was actually a bright spot for the Birds, pitching six really solid innings. Lopez’s line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K.

Lopez’s lone run surrendered was in the third inning on a force out. And that was it. The O’s allowed him to tire just a bit, and when the team needed him to get out of the sixth inning he was able to do so. Pitching tired is “a thing,” and Lopez was forced to do it today. And he pitched through.

Ryan Mountcastle’s solo homer in the last of the fifth tied the game at one. Keep in mind, the Orioles really battled in this game. That doesn’t mean anything when you’ve lost 13 straight and are just trying to snap the streak, but they battled hard.

One thing that’s different from a week ago when they played Minnesota is that their pitching is better. Starting pitching seems to have gotten a bit of a grip, and that’s streamlined the bullpen just a little.

The game went to extra innings, which of course meant that a runner started every inning at second base. Minnesota’s runner was Refsnyder, and after moving to third he scored on a wild pitch. Of course it was going to be a fluky play like that which would send the Orioles to defeat once again. To add insult to injury, Polanco added a solo homer, giving Minnesota a 3-1 lead.

But again, the Orioles fought. With a runner on second, DJ Stewart’s RBI-double cut the lead to 3-2. The Birds appeared poised to at least tie the game, but Minnesota pitched out of it, sending the Birds down to defeat once again, 3-2.

The series continues tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Bruce Zimmermann gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Michael Pineda. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: This is part of a rebuild

Keegan Akin was asked to be the Baltimore Orioles’ stopper today. And for the most part, while not making it out of the fifth, he did a good job. But when you come in having lost 12 straight games, that makes it tougher. Losing streaks don’t like to go away. Akin did put the Birds in a position to win the game, however. Akin’s line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

DJ Stewart smacked a solo homer in the third inning, giving the O’s a 1-0 lead. And the ironic thing is that throughout this losing streak, the Orioles have had the lead fairly often. Meaning they’ve taken early leads in games, only to surrender them. This time it was only one run, but of course there was the five-run lead they blew in Washington as well.

In general, Oriole pitching was very good today. They just need to put together good pitching and good hitting at the same time. And in the absence of more than one run, Oriole bats were asking the pitching staff to bite off more than they could chew.

Hamilton smacked a solo homer of his own in the last of the third to tie the game. However the game remained tied until the last of the seventh, despite the Orioles loading the bases with nobody out. A single and a throwing error later, and Chicago had a runner in scoring position. Madrigal’s run-scoring triple gave Chicago a 2-1 lead. Moncada’s RBI-single would run the score to 3-1, which was the final.

The opponent always comes up with late-inning heroics when you’ve lost twelve straight games – now 13. On that note, I’ve seen a lot of things said on media such as Twitter during games – about the losing streak, and whether Brandon Hyde or Mike Elias should continue in their roles. Regarding Hyde, there are legitimate complaints you can make about any manager. I don’t see them changing managers unless he loses the clubhouse. And there appears to be no indication of that happening.

Mike Elias was very up front about what needed to happen, and what a full rebuild entailed. It’s a painful process. The nadir of the losing was 2018, before the rebuild even began (it began in the middle of the season at the trade deadline). They actually tried to win that year, but instead we know how the season went. 2019 was really the first full year, and last year was a wash. This season is the second full year.

But again, it’s not a fun process. Sometimes I question – did people think Elias was putting them on when he made that clear at the beginning? This process probably should have happened in or about 1999, and again around 2007-08. Instead they warmed over the team, never fully committing to rebuilding. This time around however, they’re doing it the right way.

Fans may argue that doesn’t make losing 13 straight games any easier. And that’s a fact for sure. But keep in mind that the farm system had been depleted when Elias took over in advance of 2019. As of now they’re a top five farm system in baseball. That right there tells you he’s doing it right, and what will eventually be coming to Baltimore.

The O’s now head home to open a three-game set at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Jose Berrios. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles lose game, possibly Trey Mancini

If Bruce Zimmermann’s effort last night is any indication, perhaps the Baltimore Orioles’ starters are beginning to settle down just a bit. PERHAPS. Zimmermann only threw five innings, but he put the team in a position to win, and he potentially saved them from having to use a bullpen reliever earlier than they did. Zimmermann’s line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

Zimmermann gave up a solo homer to Mercedes in the second inning. And that’s it. Freddy Galvis tied the game in the top of the fourth with a solo shot of his own. And on we played.

But an RBI-single by Hamilton in the sixth gave the ChiSox the lead again. And they didn’t look back. This combined with a three-run seventh inning gave Chicago a 5-1 lead.

But the O’s may have lost more than just their tenth straight game. Trey Mancini was hit on his elbow in the first inning. He was down for awhile, and after being checked out by head trainer Brian Ebel, he went down to first base and ran for himself.

However Mancini was lifted from the game in the last of the first and couldn’t play in the field. He was later diagnosed with a contusion. HeMs listed as day-to-day.

Manager Brandon Hyde addressed Mancini’s injury after the game:

As of right now he’s not undergoing any more testing. We are going to see how he feels tomorrow. I’m sure it’s going to be extremely sore. He got him in a tender spot there by the elbow.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Bruce Zimmermann was still in the bullpen warming up when Mancini was injured. Zimmermann on Mancini:

It was a very silent bullpen when we saw that happen. Obviously, Trey is the leader on this team and a sparkplug for us on offense, as well. I talked to him a little bit in the clubhouse when I came in. He’s in good spirits and hopefully it’s nothing more than a contusion and he gets back on the playing field as soon as possible because he’s such an integral part of this team and a key to our offense and just the lifeline of this team.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

I don’t need to remind everyone of Mancini’s story. By default he’s already the Comeback Player of the Year. He’s also the league’s RBI-leader. But now he risks going to the IL. Only time will tell on that.

The series continues this evening at Guaranteed Rate Field. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s Dallas Keuchel. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Should Jorge Lopez be a reliever?

Win or lose, Jorge Lopez did a valuable service for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon in Minnesota. He pitched six innings in this afternoon’s game. That saved the Oriole bullpen, which as we know has already been over-worked. He also pitched to a quality start. Lopez’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

Lopez was given the lead early when Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer in the first inning. And that lead stood up for the Orioles over some time. Lopez pitched a solid outing, and mowed hitters down over a long period of time. Until he couldn’t do it anymore.

With two on in the sixth, Cano smacked a three-run home run. That gave Minnesota a 3-1 lead. Maikel Franco would get the O’s back on the board with an RBI-double in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. And the Orioles fell to their ninth straight loss

Predictably, Minnesota got through to Lopez on his third time through the order. He’s had a real issue pitching the third time through. He’s been fairly solid on the first and second times through the order, but it’s the third time that’s got him.

So should Lopez be a reliever instead of a starter? That would avoid him going through the order three times. Another option might be an “opener.” In that role he might or might not go through the order once. But at the very least he wouldn’t see the entire order, and thus would’t see it three times through.

Here’s another point; did Brandon Hyde wait too long to lift him? Lopez was obviously tiring in that sixth inning. And this is part of having a tired bullpen – you find yourself in these sorts of dilemma’s. The result suggests that Hyde did wait too long. But who knows how true that is. Again, all of this is the result of the bullpen having to be over-taxed.

And the good news is that while they lost their ninth straight game and while Lopez got tagged with the loss, he saved the bullpen some innings this afternoon. He acted as an innings-eater, which is one of the reasons he’s on this team. But the O’s need to keep in mind moving forward that the third time through the order things are different.

The O’s now head to Chicago for four games with the ChiSox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Bruce Zimmermann gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s Dylan Cease. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Are the O’s positioning themselves wrongly?

The Baltimore Orioles lost their eighth straight game last night in Minnesota. Dean Kremer for the start, and put the Birds in a spot to win. Granted his stay line might not indicate that, but he did. That’s what you ask of a starting pitcher. Kremer’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

There was some promise in this game from the Birds’ perspective. In the second inning it appeared they had hit into a double-play with one out, however the Minnesota infield bumbled the ball and everyone was safe. Cedric Mullins proceeded to smack a two-run single giving the O’s a 2-0 lead.

The promising thing wasn’t that they scored or that they had the lead. Throughout the losing streak that hasn’t been an issue. (The issue has been holding the lead.) But what was promising about that was that the O’s held their opponent accountable for their mistake. The inning should have been over. And as opposed to just recording the final two outs in a ho-hum manner, the O’s put two runs across and held Minnesota accountable for their mistake.

However Minnesota came right back in the last of the second. Polanco’s solo homer cut the lead in half, and Refsnyder’s RBI-double tied the game. Minnesota would later load the bases, and take a 4-2 lead by scoring on consecutive wild pitches.

One of those wild pitches was probably blockable by catcher Pedro Severino. But it trickled away. He did make up for that however with an RBI-double in the fourth inning. But Minnesota would put two runs across down the stretch of the game as well, before DJ Stewart smacked a solo homer in the eighth. The O’s would fall 7-4, again with their eighth consecutive loss.

Here’s an interesting point about that; how are the Birds positioning their fielders? I saw Minnesota outfielders making several amazing plays the past two games. Plays they had to work to make, but that they made. Saving balls from falling in by the skin of their teeth.

Other times the O’s were making good contact, but right at fielders. Conversely, it seems that opponents are using the entire field more than anything else. In Washington last weekend there were multiple shots down the lines which sent Oriole corner outfielders scrambling. A trend that has continued into Minnesota.

Are the O’s positioning their outfielders straight-away too often? Because they’re giving up shots down the line, and all but surrendering scoring position for opposing base runners. And there’s something about how opponents can position their fielders AGAINST the Birds which says that they know something about Oriole hitters’ tendencies that the Orioles don’t. That’s concerning.

The series in Minnesota concludes this afternoon at Target Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Michael Pineda. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Six-run eighth sinks the Birds in Minneapolis

The Baltimore Orioles appeared poised to break a six-game losing streak last night in Minnesota following a 45 minute rain delay. John Means had started for the O’s, and was predictably effective. But as I said, they “appeared poised to break the losing streak.” Appearances can be deceiving. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K.

The Orioles took an early 1-0 lead in the first on Anthony Santander’s RBI-double. This is the third straight game in which the Birds have gotten at it right away and scored in the first inning. Unfortunately it’s almost been like the opponent has said we have them right where we want them. Even still, with Means on the mound and with Oriole bats coming in hot after the weekend in Washington, things were looking up.

Means would give up a solo homer to Larnach in the third to tie the game at one. He’s surrender a second solo homer to Garlick in the sixth, giving Minnesota the lead. But true to form, solo homers usually don’t beat you.

The skies opened up with DJ Stewart about to come to the plate with a runner on base in the eighth. The teams sat through a 45 minute rain delay before play was able to resume. And perhaps it was worth the wait, as Stewart smacked a two-run homer. That put the O’s in the lead at 3-2, and again they appeared poised to snap the losing streak.

Then the last of the eighth happened. Minnesota not only tied the game and took the lead, but they did it in grandiose fashion. They shut the door on the Orioles’ hopes of snapping the losing streak, which now sits at seven games. When the smoke cleared Minnesota had put six runs on the board in the eighth inning, and they cruised to an 9-4 victory.

After the game John Means tried to stay upbeat, saying that the O’s were still in a good spot:

Obviously, after a loss like that, it’s pretty quiet, but we approach every day with a lot of energy. We come to the field ready to win, ready to compete. I still think this team is in a good place and has energy coming to the field. It’s just can’t get that one win to get us going.

Quote courtesy of Rich Kubatko, MASNsports

As I said following the Washington series, the Oriole bullpen is really in a spot. They’ve been overused with starters not being able (or in some cases allowed) to go deep into games. And with no off day in sight for awhile. What was once supposed to be the strength of the team is now a major liability.

The series continues tonight at Target Field in Minneapolis. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Jose Berrios. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Pitching is taking it’s toll

Matt Harvey became the second Baltimore Orioles’ starter in as many days to get a first inning lead against Washington. And he also became the second in as many days to give said lead up. Harvey’s line: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R (5 earned), 1 BB, 6 K.

One thing that was different in this game as opposed to the other two in the series is that the O’s were aggressive early on. Granted they put up five runs yesterday, but they weren’t aggressive early in the count. Today they hit the ground running, and Trey Mancini’s RBI-single in the first inning gave them a 1-0 lead.

The Birds would go onto get an RBI-single from Anthony Santander, and an RBI-double from Maikel Franco. Before Harvey took the mound, he led 3-0. However Washington immediately evened the score in the last of the first. He’ll smacked an RBI-single, and Schwarber a two-run homer.

Washington would take the lead later on in the inning on Avila’s RBI-double. But the good news is that the O’s never stopped playing. Franco’s sac fly-RBI in the third tied the score at four. However again, Washington came right back in the fourth with Turner’s sac fly-RBI to take a 5-4 lead.

Washington would get a sixth run in the fifth on a walk with the bases loaded, and Trey Mancini’s RBI-groundout would get the Birds to within one at 6-5. But that’s as close as they BBC like come, and they were swept in the series by Washington.

The real issue right now facing this team is pitching. Aside from Friday, Oriole bats were strong in this series. They may not have gotten clutch hits in clutch moments, but they put runs on the board. Certainly enough to win the final two games of the series.

But this was bound to happen with starters not going deep into games early in the season. The bullpen tired, and starters continually are throwing shorter outings. And they need to get this figured out soon. They don’t have an off day in sight anytime soon.

The O’s now move onto Target Field in Minnesota to open up a series tomorrow night. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Matt Shoemaker. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Things faded fast in DC

The Baltimore Orioles gave Bruce Zimmerman the lead before he even took the mound at Nationals Park in Washington, DC this afternoon. And a big lead at that – 5-0. However you could almost see Zimmerman and his teammates playing not to lose even at that point. Zimmerman’s line: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

I shouldn’t say not to lose. Oriole bats did come alive to a degree today. But while five runs in the first inning are a lot, the issue is there’s still a lot of baseball to be played. Freddy Galvis’ RBI-double would give the O’s a 1-0 lead. As the inning progressed they would eventually load the bases, and Ryan Mountcastle’s grand slam made it 5-0.

Again however, there was still a lot of innings left. And when you have a tired bullpen like the Orioles do, that could be a huge problem. Washington would put a run across on a force out by Gomes in the second. And the Birds actually were able to extend their lead to 6-1 on an RBI-single by Pedro Severino.

But Washington’s lineup was unimpressed with the Orioles and Ryan Mouncastle’s grand slam. Harrison smacked one of his own in the last of the third. That cut the Orioles’ lead to 6-5. In the third inning.

One inning later Turner’s RBI-single tied the game at six, and Zimmerman’s three-run homer gave Washington a 9-6 lead. Those runs weren’t charged to Bruce Zimmerman of course, as he was long gone. But it’s really amazing at how quickly this got away from the O’s. It‘s almost as if Washington was offended at the Birds taking the early lead.

The O’s would get one back on a solo homer in the fifth by Anthony Santander. However Washington would piecemeal a few additional runs together before the game ended. A sac fly-RBI by Castro and an RBI-single by Schwarber in the sixth. They would also get a 12th run on an error by Franco at third base. The O’s threatened in the eighth and netted two on a two-RBI double by Pat Valaika, but they were unable to get closer than 12-9.

Washington took advantage of every opportunity the Orioles gave them. From the grand slam, to scoring on that error. Ironically however, the Orioles took advantage of their chances also. They just had fewer of them. That’s something that needs to change if the O’s are going to win games. Close games, that is.

The series concludes tomorrow at Nationals Park. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Patrick Corbin. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Jorge Lopez can’t nibble, O’s fall in DC

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Jorge Lopez did a service for his team tonight. With a tired bullpen, he went five innings in tonight’s 4-2 loss in Washington. That’s huge, as the Birds needed to spare a couple of bullpen relievers tonight with a long road trip ahead. Lopez’s line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 8 K.

Unfortunately for Lopez and the O’s, Washington starter Strasburg matched him pitch-for-pitch, and out-for-out. Both starters were throwing strikes all throughout their outings. With one difference; Lopez commanded the middle of the plate. Strasburg nibbled.

In general nibbling is going to get you in trouble. However Strasburg was good at it tonight. Very good at it. And as a result, he started getting strike calls on pitches right off the plate. Lopez was throwing strikes, but in the middle of the plate. He was getting pitches by hitters. Eventually something had to give.

And eventually Washington hitters adjusted to Lopez. Schearber’s RBI-double in the last of the fifth gave Washington a 1-0 lead. They tripled it later in the inning with an RBI-singles by Harrison and Soto. Bell’s RBI-single in the eighth would give them an insurance run, and a 4-0 lead.

The O’s didn’t have many opportunities, but they did have one in the sixth. Trey Mancini hit what could have been a run-scoring double. It should have been a run-scoring double. Washington overshot the cutoff man on the relay throw, and Austin Hays had a golden opportunity to score. But he was gunned out at home plate. It isn’t often that a team can overshoot the cutoff man, and still have it work out for them.

Freddy Galvis would smack a two-run homer in the ninth to get the O’s on the board, but it was too little too late. Jorge Lopez pitched a solid game tonight in a losing effort. But he couldn’t adjust when Washington adjusted to him. And he couldn’t work the corners of the plate, while Washington lived there. Things like that can often be the difference between winning and losing.

It’s also worth mentioning how big Austin Hays being gunned out at the plate was. If he scores there, the O’s have the tying run coming to the plate in the ninth (all things being the same). Consequently, if not for that insurance run, the same applies. This game was a lot closer to being different than we might think.

The series continues tomorrow afternoon at Nationals Park. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Jon Lester. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: The Battle of the Beltways

The Baltimore Orioles open up a ten-game road swing tonight. Given their record at home and on the road, that’s not really a bad thing. But are the truly on the road? In Washington DC?

Yes folks, they are. When the O’s head to DC to play the Washington Nationals they do stay in a hotel as they would for any other road series, they wear the gray uniforms, and they bat first in each inning. They sit in Nationals Park’s third base side visitors’ dugout, and utilize the visitors’ bullpen in left field. They’re as “on the road” as on the road can mean.

However, the fact remains that Baltimore and Washington are close in proximity. As a crow flies we’re talking 40 miles. The fan bases are overlapped, and everyone knows or is related to someone who roots for the other team. In my case, my Dad’s side of the family (which is where I got my indoctrination into baseball) are all O’s fans. My Mom’s side of the family (despite having roots in Fells Point after they arrived from Italy) are mostly Nats fans – with a few O’s fans also.

Originally however, they were Washington Senators fans, of course. In fact, my late grandfather was a catcher who played semi-pro baseball in the Senators’ system. So despite some of the political differences between the franchises, the fans are largely friendly. You’ll see groups of friends and relatives split down the middle at Nationals Park this weekend.

And I think that’s something that’s really unique to the mid-Atlantic region. Obviously some regional rivalries are within the same city – New York, Chicago, and even the San Francisco Bay Area teams (to a lesser degree). So there are rivals who are geographically closer than these two teams. But make no mistake that Yankees and Mets fans would never be caught dead together.

Other situations are too far for fans to really “travel.” The Florida and Texas teams, for instance. In this case most of you reading this know Nats fans. Like my family maybe they’re your relatives, or maybe you work with them. But you know them, and you have intelligent conversations with them everyday – good baseball conversations. And many of you will be hosted by them in groups at Nationals Park this weekend. Conversely, many of you will host your Nats fan friends at Camden Yards in July.

And perhaps this rivalry more than any other in baseball, it’s truly about the fans. We’re far enough away to be different, but close enough to be family. Sure fans will have separate rooting interests this weekend. But it all ends in good fun. It all ends with everyone at a bar table sharing nachos and pitchers of beer – COVID withstanding.

And on that note, my hope is that any Orioles fans coming down for a game or for the whole weekend find some time to enjoy DC. Meaning the monuments (those which are open, at least), as well as aspects of Nationals Park. It does have a decent beer selection – for those who are into such things! Whereas Camden Yards seems to sell a lot of Flying Dog (out of Frederick), Nationals Park sells a heavy amount of Devil’s Backbone (out of Virginia). There are also lots of local food items such as Ben’s Chili Bowl among other food options.

All in all, it should be a fun weekend for fans of both teams. And that’s the goal. It’s baseball; it’s supposed to be fun for the fans. Whether you root, root, root for the home team, or the road team.

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Baltimore Orioles: Why so poor at home?

Home games haven’t been kind to the Baltimore Orioles thus far in 2021. Thus far, and including today’s loss, the O’s have won exactly six games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Dean Kremer got the start this afternoon in the series finale against Tampa, and it wasn’t even close. Kremer’s line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

First off, I found Brandon Hyde‘s usage of Kremer to be interesting today. On one hand I suppose one could argue that it appeared Kremer didn’t have it today, and Hyde pulled him after three innings in an attempt to salvage the game. However he also could have been using him as an “opener.” Tough to say.

Tampa got the lead in the second, and never looked back. Wendle smacked a solo homer, followed later in the inning by a three-run shot by Arozarena. The O’s did attempt to fight back. Trey Mancini‘s solo homer cut the Tampa lead to 4-1.

Mancini’s been a bright spot for the Birds in this series. That was his third home run of the three games in which we saw Tampa this week, and also including multiple hits and RBI. Unfortunately the homers were solo shots, however the fact that he’s stroking at the plate bodes well for this lineup moving forward. Especially as the Birds head to Washington this weekend for three games under National League rules (with the pitcher hitting).

However Tampa ensured that the O’s weren’t about to come back. This after they came back late in the game last night. Choi’s RBI-single in the sixth ran the score to 5-1. Tampa would go onto put five more runs on the board before the end of the game, defeating the Orioles, 10-1 this afternoon at Camden Yards.

It’s interesting to note the Birds struggles at home, against how well they’ve played on the road. Obviously John Means’ no-hitter came on the road in Seattle. There’s really no decent explanation as to why the O’s can’t seem to win at Camden Yards.

Then again, the explanation is plain as the noses on our faces. The O’s have played the following opponents at home: Boston (twice), New York (twice), Seattle, Oakland, and Tampa. Those are tough teams to play anywhere. (Although they did perform better on the road against both Seattle and Oakland.) Especially seeing Boston and New York twice.

However the season itself is a grind. You’re going to have up’s and downs. The O’s will now head out on the road for a relatively long trip, taking them through Washington, Minnesota, and Chicago. So if there is something at home which has hampered them, this is a good chance to even things out a bit as they head away from Camden Yards.

The Orioles now head down the pike for the first installment of the Battle of the Beltways at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and Washington is yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Note: Washington’s starter is TBD due to two players having been put on the COVID-19 list. One of them tested positive and is asymptomatic, and the other is in quarantine. Our thoughts are certainly with them; at the time this article is being written Washington is playing a day game in Chicago against the Cubs. Presumably they will update their starter following the game.

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Baltimore Orioles blow big lead against Tampa

If you’re Tampa, you pretty much know that no matter what happens you’re going to get just about every bounce when you play the Baltimore Orioles. Somehow, some way, it just seems that the Birds always find a way to lose against Tampa, and this has been a problem for years. One would have thought that with John Means on the mound last night things might have been different. But they weren’t. Means’ line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

Trey Mancini got the O’s off to a good start with a solo homer in the first inning. But it was the second inning where the Birds did the gist of their damage. Freddy Galvis hit a solo shot of his own, and when Mancini’s spot came up again the bases were loaded. And Mancini delivered big time, with a bases-clearing double.

It was one of those moments whereby you figured it blew the game wide open. And in fact it did. But the Orioles should know better than to relax with any lead against Tampa. So should the fans. Because Tampa always finds a way.

Brosseau smacked a two-run homer in the fifth, cutting the lead to 5-2. Arozarena’s solo shot later in the inning cut it to 5-3. Now the O’s hadn’t totally relaxed at that point. At least Trey Mancini hadn’t. His solo homer in the last of the fifth would extend the lead to 6-3.

However Tampa would put three on the board in the seventh to tie the game – an RBI-single by Choi, and a two-run homer by Arozarena. Means actually left with the lead, despite tiring in the seventh. They probably changed pitchers at just the right moment in a sense. However by then Tampa also had their sea legs underneath them.

They always seem to have the Orioles’ number, no matter what. Last night they came back from five down. Who knows what it’ll be today?

Choo’s RBI-single in the eighth would give Tampa the lead at 7-6. Tampa would put two more across in the inning, including one on a wild pitch. And that’s part of how they win games. They get guys on base. And when you get guys on base things such as wild pitches can happen. Pedro Severino would add an RBI-single for the O’s in the ninth, but it was too little too late.

The O’s will try to salvage one game in the series this afternoon in the finale. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Rich Hill. Game time is set for just after 12:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles, Matt Harvey victimized by Tampa in normal Tampa fashion

Matt Harvey found out the hard way tonight what the Baltimore Orioles and Orioles fans have known for some time. This in terms of how Tampa wins games on broken bat and softly hit singles. Of the first nine hits Tampa had, only three were solidly hit and squared up. Harvey’s line: 1.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Now you don’t lose 13-6 and blame softly hit balls. However Tampa set the tone for the game in the second inning, putting six runs on the board. The box score says that those runs came on homers. So again you can’t truly blame a couple of broken bat singles. But those homers were three-run homers due to softly hit balls and broken bat singles.

After Tampa ran it to 8-0 in the third with a two-run homer by Zunino, the Birds got on the board in the last of the third on an RBI-single by Austin Hays. So at least they weren’t about to totally roll over. Not that anyone expected that they would.

Before the game the Orioles had promoted Stevie Wilkerson back to the big league club, DFAing Rio Ruiz. And Wilkerson produced immediately, with an RBI-single in the fourth. The O’s would also get a run on a force out by Austin Hays in that inning, as well as a man RBI-single by Trey Mancini.

However Tampa wasn’t having any comeback. They’d get three insurance runs before the end of the game, including a second two-run homer by Zunino. DJ Stewart and Pat Valaika would add garbage time RBI-singles in the last of the ninth, and the O’s dropped game one of the series, 13-6.

Tampa finds ways to get on base. Where as the Orioles are hitting the ball hard and those balls are finding gloves, Tampa flat out doesn’t care. A softly hit base hit counts the same as one hit square. And it’s true.

Once they get guys on base, they’re good at getting them in. Usually by way of homers. And that’s what we saw tonight.

The series continues tomorrow night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Ryan Yarbrough. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Took a hometown Baltimore boy to turn it around

The Baltimore Orioles sent Adam Plutko to the mound to make a spot start in the series finale against New York this afternoon. And he spotted them four runs, including a two-run homer by Sanchez, and a solo shot by Frazier. Enter Baltimore kid Bruce Zimmerman in the second, and he seemingly stabilized everything. Zimmerman’s line: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R 1 BB, 6 K.

Zimmerman was recalled before the game for the purpose of bullpen strength, however his outing sent the message that he should have been put into the rotation outright today. Luckily for him, Oriole bats also came alive today.

Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI-double in the last of the first got the Birds on the board, cutting NY’s lead to 4-1. Pedro Severino would follow that up with an RBI-double of his own, making it 4-2. That merely foreshadowed the rest of the game.

The one bad pitch Zimmerman made resulted in a third inning solo homer by Judge. But he buckled back down, and Oriole bats picked him up. In the bottom of the third Mountcastle’s sac fly-RBI cut the lead to 5-3, followed by an RBI-double by Maikel Franco. Freddy Galvis’ RBI-single would tie the game at five after three innings.

Trey Mancini gave the Orioles the lead in the fourth with an RBI-single. And Maike Franco would give Bruce Zimmerman and the O’s some insurance runs in the seventh with a two-run homer. Mountcastle would add a two-RBI single in the eighth, and New York would add a meaningless run in the ninth. Ultimately the O’s took the finale of the series, 10-6.

But the story was Bruce Zimmerman. I suspect that he’ll be re-inserted into the rotation, once again giving the Birds five starters. His contribution this afternoon was more valuable than can be put into words. The zoo’s flat out lose this game if not for him. Where’s the line between winning and losing? Today that line was Bruce Zimmerman.

The O’s will have an off day tomorrow before Tampa comes in for a three-game mid-week set. Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM, and a 12:30 matinee on Thursday for the finale.

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Baltimore Orioles: Jorge Lopez was too aggressive early

New York bats seemed hungry tonight, and they feasted on Baltimore Orioles’ starter Jorge Lopez. New York took a very aggressive approach tonight, swinging at anything and everything. And it worked. Lopez’s line: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K.

Lopez was aggressive as well. Evidenced by his four strikeouts. But when a pitcher is attacking the zone and the hitters are swinging early, that’s going to be a problem. New York loaded the bases in the first inning before even recording an out. LeMahieu scored on a passed ball, and Sanchez’s two-run single gave New York a 3-0 lead.

In theory one would think that a pitcher attacking the zone would be a good thing. But you also have to know when to back off a bit. With a runner on base in the second, Lopez elevated a fastball to Judge, who ran the score to 5-0 with a two-run homer.

The Judge homer came with two outs and on an 0-2 count. In a sense, Lopez had Judge right where he wanted him. However that’s a spot where you in essence want to waste a pitch. Throw a slider low-and-away (or anything off the plate), and see if you can get the hitter to chase.

Instead, Lopez threw a fastball and tried to attack the hitter. However that fastball was elevated. In other words, it missed it’s spot. And Judge made him pay for it. Sometimes you have to be smart enough NOT to attack the zone.

New York would score again in the sixth on a balk call (again with the bases loaded), and a two-run double by Voit. The O’s would get on the board in the bottom of that sixth inning on Trey Mancini’s RBI-groundout. They would also add a run in the last of the ninth inning on an RBI-single by Ramon Urias. That would make the final 8-2, in favor of New York.

The O’s used multiple relievers in this game, which compounds things going into tomorrow. They were considering making tomorrow a bullpen game, but now it might appear that they’ll have to call someone up and make a roster move. We don’t know that for sure right now, but it might stand to reason that’s where things are going.

The series concludes tomorrow at Camden Yards. As I said, the Orioles’ starter is TBD, but whomever he is 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: Three-run homer sinks the Birds

Dean Kremer’s numbers look worse than his outing was tonight for the Baltimore Orioles. He left with the lead, however the go-ahead run was coming to the plate. However to that point he was solid, and he put the Orioles in a spot to be able to win the game. Kremer’s line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

The teams swapped home runs in the first inning. Judge for New York, and Austin Hays for the Orioles. Judge would come up again in the fourth, and smack a second solo home run, giving New York a 2-1 lead. They say that solo home runs don’t beat you. But it wasn’t a solo homer of which the Birds or Dean Kremer had to be wary.

Pedro Severino’s RBI-double in the last of the fifth tied the game back up at two. Pat Valaika would add an RBI-single, and the O’s suddenly had the lead at 3-2. For good measure, Trey Mancini would add an RBI-single of his own, giving the Orioles a 4-2 lead.

However that Mancini RBI-single may have been the biggest play of the game – for New York. Austin Hays tried to tack on a fifth run, but was thrown out at home plate. This prevented the Birds from a fifth run.

Kremer gave up a base hit and a walk with one out in the seventh. Urshela came to the plate with those two runners on, and promptly smacked a game-winning three-run homer. For the record, Kremer was non-decisioned in the game. But he deserved better.

Again, New York throwing out Austin Hays at home plate in the fifth was big. All other things being the same, the game goes to extra innings. Little things can often have ripple effects in games. That’s just the nature of the beast.

And as I said, the Orioles and Dean Kremer didn’t need to fear the solo homers. Instead it was the three-run shots that should have concerned them. But again, that’s the nature of the beast; that’s baseball.

The series continues tomorrow at Oriole Oark at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Domingo Germain. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Matt Harvey hit hard in return to Queens

Matt Harvey gave the Baltimore Orioles a very un-Matt Harvyish start this afternoon at Citi Field against the New York Mets. Obviously Harvey broke into the majors with New York, and this was his first start back at Citi Field since leaving the organization. Needless to say, it wasn’t the outing he or anyone would have wanted. Harvey’s line: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

New York took a 2-0 lead in the last of the second on Pillar’s two-RBI triple. Ironically, that was one of the only balls against Harvey that was squared up. He fell victim to softly-hit balls and broken bat singles for much of hit outing. Which can be aggravating. What’s also aggravating is the fact that regardless of anything else, Pillar seems to always kill the Birds.

Later in that second inning Peraza’s RBI-single ran the lead to 3-0. And the rout was on. By the end of the fifth, New York had put seven runs on the board, and chased Harvey from the game. Chance Sisco would add an RBI-groundout in the seventh for the O’s, avoiding the shut out.

This was always going to be a tough series for the Orioles because it was so quick. They arrived in New York after the Boston game on Monday night, then a day-and-a-half later the series was over. Granted New York had to play in essence the same schedule, but there’s a difference between being at home or on the road for something like this.

The O’s do have two things in their favor, and that’s an early ride home to Baltimore this afternoon, and a day off at home tomorrow. However they then begin a grueling nine-game stretch, which will see the New York Yankees coming to Camden Yards this weekend, Tampa for three next week, and then a three-game weekend series in Washington. None of those games will be easy.

Certainly Matt Harvey wanted to pitch better in his return to Queens. However the fact that he’s in the big leagues again is a testament to his work ethic and his drive. He has nothing to be ashamed of. He just needs to buckle down in his next start, because as I said the Birds are going into a difficult stretch.

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Baltimore Orioles: John Means solid, Birds fall late

Baltimore Orioles’ starter John Means followed up the best start of his life (a no-hitter) with about a lead solid an outing as one can have tonight at Citi Field against the New York Mets. Means didn’t yield another no-no, but he held the opponent scoreless for the second straight outing. And odds are he would have pitched deeper into the game had he not been coming up with the bases loaded and less than two outs. Means’ line: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Unfortunately for the Orioles, New York starter Stroman matched Means on just about every pitch. And that brought us into the seventh inning with no score. As I said, the bases were loaded with Means’ spot coming up. Under National League rules of course, Means had to hit.

But the O’s opted to lift him and they sent up Pat Valaika as a pinch hitter. And Valaika’s sac fly-RBI gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. One inning later with a runner on third, Freddy Galvis laid down a perfect bunt, squeezing the runner home. Galvis also beat the ball to first base, giving him an RBI-single, and giving the O’s a 2-0 lead.

Conforto’s RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth would get New York on the board. However after getting a couple of guys on in the ninth, they tied the game on Smith’s RBI-single. They would later walk off as winners on an infield RBI-single by Mazeika.

Closer Cesar Valdez gets the blown save and the loss. But New York had the look of crazy people in their eyes in the last of the ninth. They were determined. And the O’s stood in their way.

But that shouldn’t take anything away from Means’ performance. Technically I suppose one could argue that he fell off a bit given the fact that he didn’t pitch a no-hitter. But that’s obviously a tough act to follow. And this outing was strikingly good. It’s just a shame he was non-decisioned.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Citi Field. Former New York Met Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Taijuan Walker. Game time is set for just after 12 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles soar on pitching, Trey Mancini

Jorge Lopez turned in perhaps his best effort last night as a starter for the Baltimore Orioles. He didn’t stay around long enough to secure the win, but he put the Birds in a position to win the game. And that’s all one can ask, and it’s the job of a starting pitcher. Lopez’s line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead on a solo homer by Ryan Mountcastle in the second inning. Lopez struggled just a bit in the fourth, giving up a base hit and a HBP, and allowing both runners to advance on a wild pitch. Devers’ sac fly-RBI would later tie the game.

But Lopez limited the damage, which is a good thing. He also pitched out of a situation with a runner at third early in the fifth inning, not allowing the run to cross. In any of the first three games of the series that run would have scored, and probably led to a big inning for Boston. Not last night.

The Birds got the lead for good in the last of the sixth when Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer of his own. They say that solo home runs don’t beat you, but in a tie game they’re huge. Not only did that give the Orioles the lead, but also gave them momentum in the game.

Two innings later Mancini would net an RBI-single to give the Birds an insurance run. Freddy Galvis would add a second insurance run with a sac fly-RBI later in the inning. Boston went quietly in the ninth, and the O’s salvaged the series finale by a 4-1 score.

Manager Brandon Hyde praised Jorge Lopez after the game, along with the entire pitching effort overall:

So happy for Lopie. Got over the hump tonight, got through five and got into the sixth inning. Probably could have gone longer, but he hasn’t gone that far so far this year. We pitched so well tonight. I was so impressed with Lopie’s stuff, once again throwing 97 (mph) sinkers, utilizing all pitches, even throwing some sliders tonight. And then the other guys who came in just did a great job on the mound.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

But also keep in mind that Trey Mancini’s timely hitting played a huge role. He took advantage of the opportunities he was given to drive in runs. And that, along with solid pitching, is what wins you games.

The Orioles now head to Queens (NY) for a short two-game set with the New York Mets at Citi Field. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Marcus Stroman. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Aggressive approach doesn’t always work

Dean Kremer took to the mound for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon, and you might argue that he kept Boston more at bay than the O’s had done in the first two games of the series. However Boston’s a very aggressive team at the plate; and as a close friend pointed out to me this morning, there’s something about the Orioles that ticks Boston off. And he isn’t wrong. They just seem to play out of their minds against the Birds, and the bounces seem to go their way. Kremer’s line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

The Orioles seemed to want to adopt Boston’s philosophy of being aggressive today. They swung earlier in counts, as is reflected in the fact that the Birds only mustered four hits. I suppose that you chalk that up to not being able to con a con man.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead in the first on Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI-single. But Boston came right back with a solo homer in the second off the bat of Devers. But the Orioles got the lead back in the fifth with a solo homer by Cedric Mullins. However they couldn’t put any insurance on the board past there.

Which lends an ear to not being able to con a con man. Boston apparently is a team that can get away with being aggressive early in the count. The Orioles aren’t. You have to play your game. And Boston was able to get the Orioles out of their game today.

Devers’ RBI-double in the sixth and Renfroe’s solo homer in the eighth ran the score to 4-2. But Mountcastle (who had a great game) would come through for the Orioles once again in the eighth. His RBI-single cut the lead to 4-3, which was the eventual final.

The series concludes tomorrow evening at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Zac Lowther struggles in spot start

The Baltimore Orioles called Zac Lowther up from the minors to make a spot start last night against Boston. And the results were pretty much what you would have expected, as the Birds fell prey to the BoSox once again. Lowther’s line: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 2 K, 3 BB.

The O’s actually held the lead in this game, albeit ever-so-briefly. DJ Stewart’s RBI-single in the last of the first gave the Orioles a 1-0 edge. But Boston came right back with four in the second. Gonzalez’s run-scoring double tied the game in the second (due in part to a throwing error). Following Renfroe’s RBI-single, Chavis smacked a two-run homer before the inning ended.

The Orioles were able to put some runs up in this game, however while Boston was scoring in buckets, the O’s were piecemealing their way to the end. Freddy Galvis’ solo homer in the last of the second cut the lead in half at 4-2. However Boston would put three up in the third, two in the fourth, and another two in the sixth.

Trey Mancini and Ramon Urias would add RBI-doubles and singles respectively in the sixth. Luckily however by that point the faucet had been turned off in Boston’s scoring. Austin Hays would add a two-RBI single in the last of the ninth, but the Birds fell 11-6.

After the game Lowther pointed at his execution as the reason why he struggled, but also felt he made some good pitches:

Just not executing in the right spots. When I was missing I was missing over the heart of the plate, and to a good lineup like that you’re going to get hurt. I made a lot of good pitches, maybe not when I needed to, but I’m going to take the good from this and kind of just dump the bad. You can always learn from this stuff. I know what I need to do to get better, so just being able to work on that between outings is something I’m going to take forward.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The series continues this afternoon at Camden Yards. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, 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 fall after lengthy rain delay

I suppose the Baltimore Orioles should consider themselves lucky that last night’s game wasn’t rained out. It isn’t like we haven’t seen our share of seven inning doubleheader’s thus far in 2021. However Matt Harvey’s four-run fourth inning did the Birds in following an hour and thirty-eighth minute rain delay. Harvey’s line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R (0 earned), 1 BB, 3 K.

You notice that all four of those runs were unearned. Harvey himself committed a fielding error, allowing a runner to reach base. That runner then stole second, and reached third on a fielder’s choice. Therefore any runs in the inning were unearned.

Renfroe’s RBI-single scored the run, and following a walk Dalbec’s three-run homer gave Boston a 4-0 lead. But the O’s made a go of it in a sense. Trey Mancini smacked an RBI-single in the fifth, and Ryan Mountcastle a solo homer in the eighth. That cut the lead in half at 4-2.

However Boston would put two insurance runs across. They’d bet two RBI-doubles, one in the eighth and the other in the ninth. And in doing so they took the first game of the series, 4-2.

After the game Matt Harvey admitted that he wasn’t feeling it going in. He didn’t blame the weather or the delay, however that couldn’t have helped. Harvey on his outing:

I just really didn’t have it tonight. Kind of just was all over the place, really just physically didn’t feel that great and wasn’t able to get it done. I wasn’t able to limit the damage when I needed to that inning and it just wasn’t a good start. Didn’t feel good mechanically, didn’t feel good physically, didn’t feel I was that strong out there. It was a rough day. Chalk it up and move on and get ready for my next one.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Zac Lowther comes up from the minors to make 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: 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.