Baltimore Orioles: Missing the eye of the tiger?

The Baltimore Orioles were unable to continue their modest two-game winning streak this evening behind starter Tom Eshelman. Boston best him, and all who came in behind him around big time. Eshelman’s line: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 9 R (5 earned), 3 BB, 3 K.

Boston took a 5-0 lead in the second and third on a sequence that included homers by Bradley and Devers. However the good news is that the Orioles battled back. Trey Mancini smacked an RBI-double in the last of the third which got the Orioles on the board and cut Boston’s lead to 5-1. Mancini would later score on Renato Nunez‘s three-run homer.

For at least awhile, it appeared that the Birds might not look back. Chris Davis would tie the score up at five later in that third inning with an RBI-single. But then the top of the fourth came about. Boston our eight runs on the board in total, effectively ending the competitive part of the game. When the smoke cleared after that fourth inning, the Orioles trailed 13-5.

Boston would like three more runs on in the fifth, and Anthony Santander and Boston’s Leon would add solo homers as well which ran the score (and the final) to 17-6. However something which occurred in that fifth inning showed one of the differences between Boston and the Orioles. The question is whether or not it’s something about which to be concerned.

Bogaerts hit what appeared to be a sac fly-RBI. However replays showed that Anthony Santander might have trapped the ball in center field. Boston questioned the call, and it was changed. Brandon Hyde tried to plead with the umpire that they couldn’t just huddle up and decide to change the call on the field / they had to review it. However the call was changed, and Hyde then had to burn a challenge, which he lost.

My personal opinion was that it was semi-inappropriate (with respect to the game’s unwritten codes) for Boston to question that with such a big lead. Never mind the fact that in reality it should have been Boston using a challenge. One inning later, the Orioles led off the inning with a HBP of Hernandez. However replays clearly showed that the ball hit the knob of the bat.

The Orioles of course couldn’t challenge that given the fact that they had already lost a challenge. However Hyde could have asked the umpires to look at the play on their own accord. Managers do that all the time, and it seems that more often than not the umpires agree to do it.

However again, it seems that the score dictated that one wouldn’t do that. Is it really worth it in a situation when the game’s already out of hand? Is that the look that teams want? Scrimping for base runners that in essence are meaningless given the score?

However this may well illustrate something. Boston flat out didn’t care about how they came across l, or what was appropriate given the score. They saw that base runner as a potential run. And they want to get all the runs they can, all other things be damned.

So…do the Orioles not have the eye of the tiger? Plenty of people tell me that, and they would probably look at this scenario as an illustration of their point. That same group would point at the fact that Boston seemed to come out of the gate ticked off tonight. And if anything, the fact that the Orioles tied the game ticked them off even worse. Never minding of course the fact that the O’s came back.

The series and the home stand conclude tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by former Oriole Andrew Cashner. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles take game one against the defending champs

The past couple of days have been perhaps the best stretch of the season to date for the Baltimore Orioles. They beat Washington by a large margin, and after an off day they did the same to Boston last night. John Means got the start, and he showed the defending champions why he was selected for the all-star team. Means’ line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

The O’s took the lead in the last of the first, and never looked back. Anthony Santander‘s three-run homer gave the Birds a 3-0 lead. Boston tried to battle back in the second with a two-run shot by Travis. But it wasn’t their day.

The last of the second brought what initially appeared to be an inside-the-park home run by Richie Martin. However the official scorer ruled that the Boston fielder bobbling the ball was an error. So it was ruled a triple and an error, however the point is still the same. Martin hustled around the bases, and that speed netted the O’s a run – homer or error withstanding.

And the Orioles never really looked back, and they kept adding onto the score. Keon Broxton‘s two-run homer in the fourth added to the Orioles’ lead at 6-2. One inning later Stevie Wilkerson would add a sac-fly RBI, and Richie Martin an RBI-ground our. And the rout was on.

The Orioles would tack on three more runs in the later innings, running the final to 11-2. I can’t stress enough that this was one game. And games like these whereby the score got out of hand are always anomalies in a sense.

However it’s a good win against a quality team for sure . And one on which the Orioles can and will certainly hang their hat. But you’re only as good as your next day’s starter. So in other words, you have to move onto the next game. Boston most certainly will, and hopefully the Orioles can as well.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Tom Eshelman gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: BoSox come to town

In a way you have to tip your cap to the Baltimore Orioles’ pitching staff. They held Washington to two runs on Wednesday night, and Washington proceeded to put up 13 in Atlanta last night. But I digress. Speaking of divisional series’, the Boston Red Sox come into Oriole Park at Camden Yards tonight for a three-game set.

On paper this series has the potential to be ugly for the home standing Birds. However we’ve seen what they’re capable of doing if their pitching shows up. Not to mention if their hitting isn’t streaky. Series’ against Boston are always tough and challenging. But they also serve as a measuring stick. If the O’s can measure up well over the course of the series, it’ll tell us something.

And by measure up well, I don’t necessarily mean winning games. One would hope that it might include a win or two, however in effect I’m saying that measure up well means not getting bludgeoned. Such is the life of a rebuilding franchise.

The series begins tonight at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s David Price. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles turn the tables on Washington

The Baltimore Orioles were successfully able to turn the tables on their Beltway rival Washington last night. Washington took game one in convincing fashion by adding on run after run at the end, and the Orioles followed suit last night. Aaron Brooks serves as the “opener” last night, and was fairly successful. Brooks’ line: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

With Washington leading 1-0, Trey Mancini evened the score in the last of the fourth with a solo home run. Now with that said, Washington would re-take the lead in the fifth with an RBI-double with Eaton. However the Orioles weren’t going to be denied on this night. Not after sitting out a 90-minute rain delay to start the game!

Anthony Santander‘s seventh inning RBI-single tied the game back up at two. Later in the inning it was none other than Chris Davis, who gave the Orioles the lead for good. His RBI-single put the Birds up 3-2. And as I said, they were up for good. The rest is just gravy.

Following a Ruiz sac fly-RBI, Trey Mancini smacked his second homer of the game in the eighth. This of the two-run variety, which gave the Birds a 6-2 lead. Santander would add a sac fly-RBI later in the inning, Wilkerson an RBI-double, and Ruiz an RBI-single.

When the smoke cleared the O’s had won the game 9-2. Again, this was a mirror image of last night’s game. The Orioles got the lead, and just added on. Washington’s big weakness this season has been their bullpen, and the O’s took full advantage at the end.

The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the O’s, and evens the Battle of the Beltways at one game a piece. That’s obviously a hollow victory in a sense, as the only people who will pay close attention to that are fans. However local bragging rights are a thing for sure. You always want to represent well in the neighborhood.

Baltimore Orioles fall to Washington

Asher Wojciechowski probably pitched a better game than the numbers indicate for the Baltimore Orioles last night. In total, he probably put the O’s in a spot to win the game. And that’s all you can ask of a starter. Wojciechowski’s line: 5.1 IP, 6 ah, 3 R, 0 BB, 7 K.

Wojciechowski gave up a solo homer to Adams in the second inning, however the O’s immediately tied the game back up. Hanser Alberto smacked a solo homer in the last of the second, which tied things up at one. However the Orioles never got any closer than that. Washington took the lead back in the third on an RBI-double by Rendon.

Wojciechowski gave up a solo homer to Soto in the sixth. Later in the inning the Orioles also balked in a fourth run, giving Washington a 4-2 lead. And as the game wore on, Washington added on. They never really stopped scoring, taking game one of this truncates two-game set by the score of 8-1.

The real issue in this game wasn’t the starter (Wojchiekowski). It was the bullpen and the offense. Far too often the Orioles’ bullpen has allowed teams to add on run after run in the later innings. We saw it over the weekend against Tampa, and we saw it last night.

Now that might in fact be irrelevant if you can’t score runs, which the Orioles were unable to do last night (save for the Alberto homer early in the game). However your pitching as to put you in a spot to be able to do that. If the opponent is consistently adding on runs at will, there isn’t much the offense is going to be able to do.

Having said that, this is all part of the rebuilding process. You have to go through stretches like this, and hope that you come out better for it on the other end. Teams such as Houston and the Chicago Cubs certainly did. And if you look at the Orioles’ front office and coaching staff, you see several pieces from both of those organizations.

The series with Washington concludes tonight at Camden Yards. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Erick Fedde. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Is the Battle of the Beltways a rivalry?

The Baltimore Orioles will host the Washington Nationals starting tonight for two games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. That’s right, the Baltimore installment of The Battle of the Beltways is upon us! The teams will play another two-game series next month at Nationals Park. in DC.

Obviously Washington is in contention, and the Orioles are rebuilding. However that aside, is there truly a “rivalry” between these two teams? I would argue no. Between the fan bases and on the business side of things, there certainly is. The MASN dispute is far from over, and the fans all work among one another on a daily basis.

So maybe you have local bragging rights at stake in a sense. However there’s never really been anything that’s created a rivalry on the field. There was the beaning of Manny Machado a few years ago, but that was quickly swept under the rug. Any tension that existed died off quickly.

In order to create an on-field rivalry you need more than just proximity. You need a catalyst. One team winning a game which prevents the other from going to the post season, or something like that. Something that truly creates bad blood. These games are fun, and they allow fans of both teams to take in a game in another park without going to far from home. But that’s about it.

The series opens tonight at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Asher Wojciechowsi gets the start for the Orioles, and Washington is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander stays in the bigs

The Baltimore Orioles are keeping outfielder Anthony Santander for now. You might remember that Santander was called up to the big leagues in June when DJ Stewart went to the IL. Call-ups as such can be precarious, because often the player is aware up front that the odds of him returning to the minors when the other player returns.

However Santander played his behind off. He’s hitting .273 with four home runs and 16 RBI. He’s also fielding at a 1.000 clip. Santander’s been an asset, and he’s produced very well for the Orioles over the course of time.

Stewart, who was also playing well at the time of his injury, came off the IL today. He was immediately optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, meaning that Santander will remain with the Orioles. That’s a good problem to have – having to pick between two good players. Certainly if there comes a point where the Orioles need to switch the two, they can do so. However for now, Santander remains in the big leagues.

Baltimore Orioles: Hanser Alberto keeps Birds from the wrong side of history

The Baltimore Orioles almost made history this afternoon against Tampa at Camden Yards. But not the right type of history. They were almost on it’s wrong side, as Tampa took a combined perfect game into the ninth inning. There have been combined no-hitters (including one in Oriole history), but never a combined perfect game.

And the sad thing is that the Orioles didn’t pitch poorly per se in this series finale against Tampa. Tom Eschelman was called up from the minors to make the start, and with a couple of exceptions he kept a lineup that scored 29 runs against the Orioles over three games at bay. Eschelman’s line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K.

Tampa would take a 1-0 lead in the second on a sac fly-RBI by Wendell. Eschelman would also surrender a solo homer to Meadows in the third, and a two-run homer to Brosseau in the sixth.

But the main story of the game was the almost perfect game. Ryne Stanek served as Tampa’s opener, and pitched two perfect innings. He then exited, and Ryan Yarbrough took over. And he almost went the distance. I find it interesting that there had never been a combined perfect game. It needless to say, the final innings and outs were packed full of drama.

Luckily for the Orioles, the drama surrounding the perfect game ended early in the last of the ninth. Hanser Alberto stroked a base hit on the first pitch of the inning, breaking up the perfecto. Perhaps the most unlikely part of the entire thing was that Alberto got his base hit against the shift. Go figure!

But it didn’t end there. The Orioles attempted to rally. Anthony Santander‘s RBI-single cut the lead to 4-1. The Birds would end up with the tying run at the plate – this in a game where they almost got perfecto’d. But Mancini struck out, and the game ended in a 4-1 Tampa victory.

It’s also important to note; the Orioles easily could have thrown down a bunt to attempt to break up the perfect game. However that works against one of the biggest unwritten codes in baseball. Nobody tried to bunt, nobody tried to lean into a pitch, and nobody attempted to do anything on the shady side. While many fans will skoff at this and say that it’s unimportant in a losing effort, it speaks to the Orioles’ sense of honor. So there’s that.

Baltimore Orioles: Andrew Cashner traded before O’s fall

The Baltimore Orioles completed game one of the doubleheader yesterday afternoon, and then GM Mike Elias got to work. He opted to trade starter Andrew Cashner to the Boston Red Sox. In exchange the O’s got two 17-year old prospects, who were assigned to the Dominican Summer League. The Orioles also sent cash to Boston as part of the deal.

Personally I thought they could have gotten more. Specifically, two guys who had perhaps gotten past puberty. However if this was the best deal they could get it was the best deal they could get. Cashner’s contract was up, and at least they got something for him. The idea of trading him was in fact a good one. Trust the process.

That leaves John Means as the lone bona fide starter on the roster. And for the first time in his career last night, Means gave up three home runs. Means didn’t pitch a poor outing – heck, he didn’t even really throw three bad pitches. He threw three pitches that Tampa correctly anticipated as fastballs, and over the fence they went. Means’ line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

Tampa’s Brosseau and Diaz smacked a two-run homer and a solo shot in the second and fourth respectively, giving Tampa a 3-0 lead. However Stevie Wilkerson continued his prowess at the plate following his game one heroics. His two-RBI single in the last of the fourth cut the lead to 3-2. For the time being, the O’s were competitive in the game.

Tampa would pop back into the driver’s seat in the sixth with Garcia’s RBI-single and Lowe’s two-run homer. Hanser Alberto would add a solo homer in the last of the seventh, and Jonathan Villar an RBI-single in the last of the ninth. But in between Oriole pitching kind of let things get away. When the smoke cleared, the Birds had fallen 12-4.

Most doubleheader’s end up being split, so the fact that the Orioles were able to take the first game at least made it a good day for them. However the story of the day was Cashner being traded. As I said, I felt they could have gotten something more for him. But at least they got something.

One pressing issue however is that Cashner was to start today’s game. The Birds now have to scramble to figure out who’s going to be pitching. I suspect they have a plan, but it would have certainly been easier to have Cashner make the start.

The series concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards. The O’s are yet to name a starter, and Tampa will start Ryne Stanek. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Stevie Wilkerson saves the day in Birds’ win

The Baltimore Orioles found themselves in somewhat of a precarious position this afternoon in game one of a day/night doubleheader. They had used too much of the bullpen the night before, ultimately using Stevie Wilkerson to pitch the ninth. So this afternoon they turned to Aaron Brooks in the role of an opener. Brooks’ line: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

The Orioles claimed Brooks earlier this season off of waivers from Oakland. This was his Oriole debut. He was good in that role, however again the fact that they used an opener might have made things all the more difficult for tonight’s game. But one game at a time, I suppose.

Zunino smacked a solo homer for Tampa in the third inning. However aside from that, solid pitching on both sides kept both teams off the scoreboard. And for an Orioles’ staff which gave up 16 runs last night against a Tampa team who seemingly wanted blood, that’s quite a feat.

However Oriole pitching wasn’t being rewarded for that feat. And for once, Tampa seemed content winning the game 1-0. However eventually, Oriole bats decided to have other ideas.

Stevie Wilkerson, who of course had completed last night’s game on the mound, stepped to the plate in the seventh with one on and one out. He sent a deep fly ball to center towards the bullpens. The question was going to be whether or not it had enough to get out. Tampa’s center fielder Kiermaier had made many a great play against the Orioles. He seemed to be tracking the ball, thinking he had a shot at it.

But it wasn’t to be for once, as the ball cleared the wall just out of Kiermaier’s reach. Wilkerson’s two-run homer put the O’s in the driver’s seat with a 2-1 lead. The O’s were able to keep Tampa off the board for the remainder of the game, and closed out a 2-1 victory.

That’s a huge win for a team who lost 16-4 last night. And Lord knows it wasn’t easy. While the Wilkerson homer was the key, the biggest point of the game was probably the top of the seventh when Richard Bleier came in with two on and nobody out. Tampa was looking to extend their lead, which at that point was 1-0. Bleier retired the side and didn’t let a run cross. Make no mistake that the O’s got confidence off of that moment.

The series continues this evening in the second game of the doubleheader at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Charlie Morton. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: What does Tampa do that the O’s can’t match?

Last night wasn’t exactly the start to the second half that the Baltimore Orioles wanted. Starter Dylan Bundy got lit up from the beginning. Bundy’s line: 1.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

Bundy surrendered a solo homer to Pham (second hitter of the game), and Tampa never looked back. And they piled on the Orioles big time. To the tune of 16 runs.

Renato Nunez smacked a solo homer in the fourth, and an RBI-double in the ninth. However even the fourth inning home runners in essence garbage time. At the end of the day, the Birds fell 16-5 in the second half opened.

There’s something I just wrote above however which shows one of the differences between Tampa and the Orioles. I mentioned that even Nunez’s homer in the fourth inning (which cut the Tampa lead to 10-2) came in garbage time. I say that as a matter of fact, given how the game was ebbing and flowing. When you cut the deficit to eight runs in only the fourth inning the game is in effect over. Sure it’s fashionable to say that you can come back and so forth, but situations where that happens are the exception to the rule.

But that isn’t how Tampa looks at it. They look at every pitch as an opportunity to score another run. If anything, they go into overdrive in situations like this – whether they’re up or down big. They seemingly have a chip on their shoulder wanting to prove to the world that they aren’t like other teams. When other teams go into autopilot, Tampa’s still out there fighting the good fight.

And when I say autopilot, I’m not necessarily talking about games in a blowout situation. When most teams smack base hits, the hitter drops the bat and almost casually runs to first base, knowing that he isn’t going to be thrown out. Basically he’s guaranteed the base. The Orioles do it, as do all teams. Why risk injury on the base paths when as so said you’re all but guaranteed the bag?

That isn’t how Tampa does things. Their hitters sprint out of the batter’s box with reckless abandon. Many times, that type of fervor leads to a the runner taking a second base. Sometimes the pressure of the speed itself causes an error in the outfield, or sometimes the sheer speed of the runners gets them to second.

That sounds like a small thing. And it also sounds like a conviction of how the Orioles do things. Well, it is a small thing. But Tampa, dating back to when they were bad and the Orioles were good, is a small wonder type of team. There’s no detail to small in a game. And a small thing turns into big things. Someone hustling out of the box and getting to second (on what would have been a run-of-the-mill base hit) puts them in scoring position. That means another base hit (with another runner hustling out of the box and potentially getting into scoring position) scores that runner.

And it’s not a conviction of the Orioles – per se. all teams simply take the bases they’re all but guaranteed. Admittedly, Tampa runners sometimes look ridiculous sprinting around the bases when in fact they know they aren’t going to be thrown out. But end of the day, they don’t care. They only care about one thing: winning.

The teams of course will play a day/night doubleheader at the yard today. Both teams will be able to bring up a 26th man on the roster for game two. And in fact, Tampa’s fervor last night will adversely affect the Orioles today, as their now tired bullpen will have to work two games. As I said yesterday, fans will need two separate tickets for both the afternoon game and the nightcap.

So the series will continue this afternoon before this evening at Camden Yards. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Brendan McKay. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles open second half vs. Tampa

The Baltimore Orioles will welcome in the Tampa Rays this evening for the first of what’s now a four-game series at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Thus, the second half of the season begins. It’s been said across numerous outlets, however the official midpoint of the season occurred a few weeks ago. So needless to say, teams actually have fewer games left to play than they do already played.

Originally this was a three-game set, but the teams had a rainout at Camden Yards back in May. That game was scheduled to be made up as part of a day/night (split) doubleheader, which will occur tomorrow. If you had tickets to the rained out game on May 6th, they will be honored tomorrow at the 1 PM game. You’ll need a separate ticket to get into the previously scheduled 7 PM night cap. Both teams will also get an additional player that they can add to the roster for the second game.

The series begins tonight as I said from Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Yonny Chirinos. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: What’s the goal for the second half?

The Baltimore Orioles and the rest of MLB remain on the all-star break – for today. With the exception of Texas and Houston, who play tonight. But I digress. The second half opens in earnest tomorrow.

I would still question why John Means didn’t get into the All-Star game Tuesday night. It’s not just Means who deserves an explanations to why he didn’t get into the game. Orioles’ fans deserve to know why not one of their players appeared in the game. Yes, they have the worst record in baseball. But Means deserved to be on the roster, and has better numbers than some of the guys who did pitch.

That aside, Tampa comes to town tomorrow to open the unofficial second half of the season. What should the Orioles’ goal be for that second half? It’s too simplistic to say win as many games as they can. That should go without saying. It what goals should they have?

I’ll throw out a few. First off, they need to figure out what they’re doing at the trade deadline at the end of the month. If one or more guys end up getting traded, then the organization needs to figure out who takes their place on the roster. Basically, which prospects will get to come up. If that happens, the organization needs to ensure that they get it right.

Another goal should be to button up defensive miscues. Over the course of the first half several miscues haunted the Orioles in games. In some instances these miscues did cost the Orioles games. In others they piled onto a score that ended up getting out of control. Either way, it needs to stop.

And I stand by what I said at the beginning of the season. The goal is to win more than 47 games (last year’s total). They’re currently at 27; if they can win more than 20 games for the remainder of the season, it’ll have been a success on some level.

Anything on top of that is gravy, folks. Enjoy the last day of the break!

Baltimore Orioles: John Means stays in the pen

The Baltimore Orioles had one all-star in John Means. And in last night’s All-Star game in Cleveland, he didn’t get into the game. The American League defeated the National League 4-3 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of this. Especially now that there’s nothing at stake in the game – as in it’s an exhibition again – I think that every player on the roster should somehow get into the game. That isn’t a rule, however it’s just how I see things.

As I’ve said before, I think that fans of all teams should have the right to watch the All-Star game and have a member of their team in the game. That means he should play in the game. But ultimately, Means didn’t play. However he was still an all-star. Nothing can take that away from him.

Baltimore Orioles’ John Means to represent Birdland in Cleveland

The Baltimore Orioles will be represented by pitcher John Means at tonight’s MLB All-Star game. Means was selected last week as the Orioles’ representative, and will be eligible to pitch in the game. He’ll be out in the bullpen, at least for the beginning.

There are some who decry the rule, however I support the idea that every team has to have a representative on the All-Star team. MLB and the NFL both have this rule, however the NBA and NHL do not. I’ve always believed that fans in every town should have the right to sit down and watch the All-Star game, and have a member of his or her home team on the roster.

Not only that, but each team should be represented in the game. It’s not enough to just have someone on the roster as a token representative. Managers and coaches should find a way to get that guy into the game as well. If that means using a starting pitcher as a match-up reliever, do it. If it means using someone merely as a pinch-runner late in the game, go for it. Fans want to see their players in the game. Find a way to get them in.

Again, there are plenty of folks who disagree with me. Many prefer how the NBA and NHL do things. If you like watching 13-12 hockey games and 180-170 basketball games, be my guest. Furthermore you have to give people a reason to tune in. Sure people want to see the stars, and for sure the stars are there. But the quickest way to get people not to tune in is to not have a member of their team in the game.

The good news is that the game is once again an exhibition. The era of the game deciding home field advantage in the World Series is over. So enjoy the game tonight, Birdland, and riot on John Means!

Baltimore Orioles: What was the first half highlight?

Today is the first full day of the all-star break for the Baltimore Orioles and the rest of Major League Baseball. Some players and coaches are off at the beach, some the mountains, and some of course are in Cleveland for the all-star game. But needless to say, everyone is dispersed for the next few days. The season resumes on Friday.

The Orioles of course struggled in the first half this year. Nothing that wasn’t expected of course, but it was a constant struggle. However that’s not to say that there weren’t a few bright spots. So…what was the highlight of the first half?

I’ll submit two. First off I’d throw out game two of the season, which was the team’s first victory of 2019. It was also manager Brandon Hyde‘s first win as a major league manager. And the team didn’t forget that, as they gave Hyde a “beer bath” in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse after the game.

That sounds like more of an individual achievement as opposed to a team moment. However the team went out and won the game that day – so in that sense it was a team moment or achievement. But either way it was a big highlight for a young team in the first half of the season.

The second highlight I’d submit the past nine games. In essence the final week-and-a-half or so. The Birds took two-of-three at home from Cleveland, one-of-three from Tampa, and two-of-three from Toronto. That’s 5-4 over that stretch.

That won’t win you any titles. However if you compare it to other stretches during the first half, it’s pretty darned good. Can we say that the 2019 Orioles made a move toward semi-respectability during that stretch? No. The answer to that will come in the second half. But needless to say, it was a nice stretch of games for the O’s.

Any other highlights I’m missing, O’s fans?

Baltimore Orioles drop first half finale in Toronto

The Baltimore Orioles were unable to complete the sweet in Toronto this afternoon after having won the first two games of the series. The Orioles started Asher Wojciechowski In hopes of seeing what they had in him going forward into the second half. Unfortunately for all involved, Wojchiekowski never really got it going. Wojchiekowski’s line: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 6 K.

Wojchiekowski gave up a two-run homer in the first inning to Gurriel, which gave Toronto a 2-0 lead. Toronto also got an RBI-double from Jansen in the fourth, and another to Tellez in the sixth. Needless to say, it wasn’t the Orioles’ day from the outset.

Later in that sixth inning Toronto would get an RBI-single from Hernandez to extend their lead to 6-0. The Orioles would net a token run in the seventh on Chance Sisco‘s solo homer, leading the final score to 6-1. Certainly the O’s hoped to finish off the first half in a more positive manner, however they went 5-4 in the last three series’. As many struggles as this team had in the first half, that’s impressive.

There are some who will say that the Orioles losing today shows no organizational tenacity. In essence, they were happy taking two-of-three. This of course as opposed to sweeping the series.

First off, again keep in mind that this season was never about winning now. Sure if by some miracle that had happened the Orioles would have taken it. But the organization did a good job of preparing the fanbase for what this season was going to be.

Secondly, taking two-of-three in most series’ will put you in playoff position. Now that isn’t going to happen this year, but in general if you win two-of-three you’re going to be doing fine. Players and coaches will always say they wish they could have swept the series, but privately they’ll take the series win.

The team will now disperse for the annual “midsummer vacation.” John Means of course will be off to Cleveland for the All-Star game. Everyone else will go wherever they’re going. As for me…The Delmarva Shore beckons for a few days!

Baltimore Orioles back in the series WIN COLUMN!

The Baltimore Orioles got a quality start from a starting pitcher for the second time in as many games in Toronto. This time it was Andrew Cashner, who turned in a superb effort in his final outing before the all-star break. Cashner’s line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Renato Nunez got the Orioles on the board in the fourth inning with a two-run homer. The ironic thing is that of late (even during the Showalter era), Rogers Centre has been a house of horrors for the Orioles. No matter what happened, it seemed that Toronto would hammer them there, but there were times where the O’s has trouble mustering even one hit. The first two games of this series stand in stark contrast to that tradition.

That fourth inning was the key time period for the Birds. Later in the inning they got an RBI-single and double from Anthony Santander and Keon Broxton respectively. Richie Martin would also ground into a fielder’s choice-RBI. When the smoke cleared, the O’s held a 5-0 lead.

Toronto would get one back in the bottom of the fourth on a solo homer by Biggio. However while they didn’t need it, they added runs on. And that’s also something we saw earlier this week in Tampa (while as opposed to today in that case they actually needed the add-on runs). In the past we’ve seen the Orioles cling to one or two-run leads, only to see the opposition strike late and win the game. That hasn’t been happening – for this week, at least.

Stevie Wilkerson and Anthony Santander would drive in a runs with RBI-singles in the sixth and eighth respectively. Wilkerson would also add on an additional solo homer in the ninth, to give the Orioles an 8-1 victory. And with that, the Orioles have won their second series out of three. While winning multiple series’ are baby steps, that’s where you have to start.

Winning the final series of the first half will hopefully give the O’s some confidence moving forward. They hit the deck immediately in the second half next weekend when Tampa comes to town. Not only that, but they have a doubleheader on Saturday due to an earlier rainout. Again, this series victory and the fact that the team seems to be playing better will hopefully give them some confidence.

The O’s will go for the series sweep tomorrow afternoon as they close the first half at Rogers Center. Asher Wojeckowski gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Trent Thornton. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis’ bat leads the Birds to victory

Dylan Bundy pitched a quality start, and Chris Davis‘ bat led the Baltimore Orioles to victory. No folks, it’s not 2013 or 2014. It’s 2019; and behind two superior performances on the part of Bundy and Davis, the O’s took game one of three in Toronto. Bundy’s line: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K.

Bundy commanded the strike zone all night. And that was the key to keeping Toronto off the board for the most part. However for once, the O’s were able to put together a quality start/good pitching performance and decent enough offense to win a game.

It was Davis who got the scoring going in the second inning. In his first at-bat of the game, Davis smoked a homer over the fence, giving the Birds a 1-0 lead. A lead that they would never surrender.

Later in the inning Jonathan Villlar‘s RBI-single would extend the lead to 2-0. And when you have a pitcher like Bundy tonight, one who’s on his game, that’a all you really need. This game was very much old school baseball in a sense. One team puts some runs on the board, and then it comes down to pitching.

Bundy did start to tire however in the seventh. Drury’s solo homer in the last of the seventh cut the Orioles’ lead to 2-1. However the Birds lifted Bundy immediately, in hopes that the Orioles’ bullpen could hold the lead. They would do just that – but they had some help.

The O’s put two runners on base in the ninth, and they were hunted into scoring position by Anthony Santander. That brought Davis back to the plate, who smacked a two-RBI single. THAT folks, is how baseball was meant to work. In this case, it preserved the win for the Birds. The O’s would send Toronto down 1-2-3 in the last of the ninth, and they ultimately won the game.

Who’s to say that the last of the ninth would have gone as smoothly and as anti-climatically as it did without those insurance runs? Ultimately the O’s once again reversed the script of how things have gone most of this season. Whereas other teams have often tacked on against them, this time around they did it to an opponent.

The series continues tomorrow at Rogers Centre. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Clayton Richard. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Idle on the Fourth of July

As the rest of the league settles in for a healthy slate of afternoon games, the Baltimore Orioles are idle. It’s the first time in my lifetime that I remember them being off on the Fourth of July. But they aren’t the only team who isn’t playing today. There are others.

I suppose that since this year it falls on a Thursday it shouldn’t totally come as a surprise that some teams are idle. However the Orioles are currently in Canada where they’ll open a three-game series tomorrow night at Toronto. Incidentally, Toronto got the luxury of playing a home game today – on the Fourth of July, in Canada. How does that work out?!

However the day off hopefully gives the Orioles, and Orioles fans, the opportunity to reflect on why we celebrate today as a holiday. It’s not just a day off to watch baseball, eat hot dogs, and watch fireworks. It means something.

Americans are some of the folks who fought back against tyranny. The likes of the colonists said no, not on our watch to tyranny. And every generation of Americans since then has reaffirmed that premise. We stand for our country, and against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Well over 200 years after 1776, here we are celebrating yet another Fourth of July. This experiment called America is still going strong. It’s still kind of a thing. And baseball’s just another personification of that, as it.’a our national pastime. May that always be the case.

Baltimore Orioles turn tables on Tampa and create a donnybrook win

John Means showed the world why he was the Baltimore Orioles’ All-Star representative this evening. Means pitched the Birds to a quality start, and quite frankly should have been the winner. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 earned), 0 BB, 5 K.

Tampa took a 1-0 lead as they netted a run in the third on a Rio Ruiz error. If you’re an Orioles fan you had to be thinking here we go. However the O’s came back and immediately got the lead. None other than Rio Ruiz smacked a fourth inning three-run homer, and the Birds led 3-1.

But the bottom of the fourth brought Tampa a bit closer on a Brosseau home run. Two innings later they tied the game at three on Garcia’s RBI-single. That’s generally how Tampa does the Orioles; they sit back and look for the smallest glint of daylight whereby they can get a run across, and they go for it.

And it usually works. As an example, after Means had exited and Mychal Givens had entered the game in the eighth, Diaz hit what could have been a fielder’s choice-RBI on a swinging bunt (with a runner on third). Generally that would net a run for Tampa – especially against the Orioles. But Givens was able to tag the runner out from third, preserving the tie. That was one indication that perhaps the tides were turning.

Pedro Severino came up in a similar situation in the top of the ninth. (For the record, the runner was in scoring position due to a Rio Ruiz sac bunt. Ruiz was a huge player in tonight’s game.) However on his swinging bunt (to short) the runner was able to slide in under the tag. Things don’t normally work out that way for the Orioles against Tampa. But there they were, leading 4-3.

Jonathan Villar would extend that lead to 5-3 on an RBI-triple that made it all the way to the wall. Again, usually it’s a Tampa hit just making it under the fielder’s mitt and going all the way to the wall. But tonight it was an Oriole who did it against Tampa.

Trey Mancini would later hit you into what would have been an fielder’s choice and an out. However another run was able to score on an errant throw home, giving the O’s a 6-3 lead. But they weren’t done.

Renato Nunez would come to bat with two runners on, and smack a three-run homer, giving the O’s a 9-3 lead. Now Tampa would come to bat in the last of the ninth and put three runs across, and bring the tying run to the plate. But the O’s escaped with a 9-6 victory. And it happened in a fairly savage manner as well.

Usually it’s Tampa who gets every little bounce, or finds small manners by which to score runs. But tonight that was accomplished by the Orioles. Still however, there was a moment in the end where you almost expected Tampa to walk the Orioles off. The Birds were able to record the final out before things got any closer, however where Tampa would even get the confidence to think they could come from six down in the ninth to win is beyond me. However end of the day, it was the O’s who were victorious on this night at the Trop.

Baltimore Orioles: Did Brandon Hyde out-manage himself?

One day after trading for him, the Baltimore Orioles promoted Asher Wojchiekowski to the big leagues to make the start tonight against Tampa. And aside from the very tail end of his outing, he didn’t faire poorly. He kept the O’s in the game for sure Wojchiekowski’s line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K.

Wojchiekowski have up a first inning home run to Lowe, however the Orioles evened the score in the third at one on a solo homer by Chris Davis. For what it’s worth, Davis had gone 86 consecutive plate appearances without a homer. However Lowe put Tampa ahead once again in the bottom of that third inning with an RBI-single.

But the sixth inning is where Wojchiekowski started to tire. Manager Brandon Hyde would leave him in to pitch to Diaz (keeping a righty-righty match up), who proceeded to smack a two-RBI double. One inning later Hyde would bring in Jimmy Yacabonis to match up righty-righty against Pham – who proceeded to smack a two-RBI double. The O’s would close to within 6-3 in the ninth on Chance Sisco‘s two-run homer, but that was as close as they got.

Granted all other things being the same, the O’s would have won that game 3-2 if not for those Hyde moves at the end. I think it’s easy to say based squarely on the results that Hyde erred in judgement by playing the match ups there. It’s also easy to say that he’s a rookie manager and he’s going to make mistakes.

However matching up is the right thing to do on paper in that situation. “The book” says to do exactly what Brandon Hyde did. But is the book being re-written?

Baseball’s evolving more and more every year. As an example, I used to call pitches during games, taking into account what the hitter’s track record is in the game, the situation on the base paths, the count, etc. And I used to be pretty good at it. Notice I said used to be; I certainly haven’t forgotten how the game works. But the fact is that the game’s passed me by in a sense.

There’s no such thing as a fastball count anymore. Or an off-speed count, etc. You can’t anticipate that anymore because now it’s about doing the opposite of what your opponent thinks you’re going to do.

What does this have to do with Brandon Hyde? It’s meant to show how the game is changing. Old school people such as myself don’t have to like it but that’s how the game is evolving. Another way is that perhaps matching up isn’t the advantage it used to be. Nowadays hitters are simply preparing themselves to hit whomever and whatever comes at them.

That aside, keep in mind that matching up was also about commanding the inside corner. However hitters are seemingly more patient now than they were in other eras. If you can’t hit the black, teams are just going to take a walk.

These are things of which Brandon Hyde needs to be aware. Again, I personally think that he did the right thing in these situations. But conventional wisdom seems to have a way of backfiring of late.

The series closes tomorrow night at Tropicana Field. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa hasn’t yet announced a pitcher. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Nothing good happens after a walk

The Baltimore Orioles called up pitcher Tom Eshelman from the minor leagues this evening to make tonight’s start against Tampa. Eshelman was drafted by Houston while current Orioles’ GM Mike Elias was the Asst. GM there – and migrated into the Orioles’ system. While not perfect, his big league debut will go down as a fairly positive one. Eshelman’s line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 0 K.

Eshelman only went five innings, but left the game in a spot to be the winner. Eshelman gave up two RBI-singles in the first inning. But he was able to limit the damage otherwise, and left the game with the Orioles in a spot to win. And that’s what you want out of a starters is Eshelman the next Palmer or Cuellar? Tough to say right now. But he looked like a keeper for tonight.

Hanser Alberto would get the Orioles on the board in the fourth with an RBI-single. That cut the Tampa lead to 2-1. Two innings later in the top of the sixth Renato Nunez and Rio Ruiz would add RBI-singles, and the O’s held the lead at 3-2. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Tampa led off the last of the sixth with a walk. And following a hit, Kiermaier cleared the baes with a three-run homer. One inning later in the seventh, Choi’s RBI-single extended the Tampa lead to 6-3. That also came on the heels of a walk

Walks kill you. And they seem to happen more often than that as a precursor to runs being scored. They immediately put a pitcher on notice that he’s having control problems. Future hitters see that, and are looser as games progress.

End of the day, nothing good ever happens after a walk. This much we know, and we understand. It’s preventing the walks which are above my pay grade. But as has been the case for all opponents, Tampa took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them.

The series continues tomorrow night at Tropicana Field. The Oriokes has yet to announce a starter, but whomever they choose will be opposed by Charlie Morton. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall in finale with Cleveland

The Baltimore Orioles were unable to complete the sweep of Cleveland this afternoon, falling 2-0. This despite a very good outing by starter Gabriel Ynoa, who ended up being a hard-luck loser. Ynoa’s line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Ynoa ended up the loser in effect by default. He more than pitched well enough to win the game today. And that’s what you want out of your starter. As I’ve said many times, you want him to put you in a spot to win the game. Ynoa did that today.

Ynoa surrendered an RBI-single to Santana in the third, giving Cleveland a 1-0 lead. Santana would extend the Cleveland lead to 2-0 with an RBI-single in the seventh. And as they say, that folks was the ballgame.

The Birds did mount a rally in the last of the ninth. They loaded the bases, putting the tying run on base. However Cleveland was able to record the final out, taking the game 2-0.

Cleveland starter Bieber dominated the Orioles, just as he did last month when the teams met. Brandon Hyde said after the game that the O’s just ran into a hot pitcher. However for the first time since April, the O’s won a series. And they did so by scoring 26 runs over the three games, surrendering only two.

It was announced after the game that John Means will be representing the Orioles on the American League all-star roster. It’s an honor well-deserved for Means, who’s shown a lot of promise as a young stud pitcher for the Orioles. What’s unclear is how it’s possible that Trey Mancini was left off the roster. Not only that, but he wasn’t even named as an alternate.

Make no mistake, Mancini’s exclusion is an atrocity. There’s no justifiable reason that Mancini shouldn’t be on the roster. And to be honest, it would be nice to hear why he wasn’t put on the roster. Needless to say, the Orioles will still have a representative, however Mancini was well-deserving of a slot.

The Orioles now head to Tropicana Field where they’ll open a three-game series with Tampa. The Orioles have not announced a starter, but whomever he is will be opposed by Tampa’s Ryne Stanek. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: 13’s the number once again as O’s win a series

Following just over an hour rain delay before the game could begin, the Baltimore Orioles defeated Cleveland behind a stellar outing from Andrew Cashner. Ironically, Cashner was originally scratched from the lineup – with no reason given. It turned out that the Orioles didn’t want to lose Cashner during a lengthy rain delay. So when the delay came before the game could even start, they reinstated Cashner as the starter. Cashner’s line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead in the second on Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-single. Two innings later in the fourth, Anthony Santander‘s solo homer extended the lead to 2-0. Incidentally, it wasn’t just any home run; it made it onto Eutaw St. And in doing so, Anthony Santander now has the distinction of hitting the 100th home run onto Eutaw St in the history of Camden Yards.

That fear was a harbinger for the rest of the game. Later in that fourth inning Jonathan Villar and Trey Mancini each smacked RBI-doubles (Villar’s was actually a two-RBI double). Renato Nunez would also add a solo homer, and the Orioles led 7-0.

When the smoke cleared by the end of the game, the Orioles had put 13 runs on the board – for the second consecutive game. And also for the second consecutive game, a starter and the bullpen had combined to keep Cleveland off the scoreboard. So consider that for just a moment; in back-to-back games, the O’s best Cleveland 13-0. That’s 26-0 through the first two games of the series.

Turnabout can be fair play. To this point it’s been the Orioles on the business end of games like these past two. But the hunted became the hunters this weekend thus far. End of the day, an outstanding two-game stretch for the O’s.

Incidentally, the Orioles have now won their first series since April by beating Cleveland in the first two games (of three). And obviously they’ve done so in very convincing fashion, putting up a 13-spot on a very good team two games in a row. As I’ve said many times, sometimes you’re the windshield, and some days you’re the bug. The Birds have been the bug quite often this year. But the last two days they’ve reversed course and been the windshield.

The series concludes tomorrow as the O’s go for the sweep at Camden Yards. Gabriel Ynoa gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Shane Bieber. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means business in return

John Means came off the IL to make the start last night for the Baltimore Orioles against Cleveland. And he couldn’t have picked a better game to return, as he was on the ball himself, and Oriole bats produced a donnybrook of a win. Means himself didn’t go too deep into the game because the O’s wanted to be cautious after his IL stint, but he looked good while he was in – and the bullpen followed suit. Means’ line: 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

It’s been a long time since the Orioles have won a game running away like that. Chance Sisco‘s two-run homer in the first inning set the tone. Later in the inning Hanser Alberto‘s two-RBI double actually doubled the Orioles’ lead to 4-0. And they were off!

The good news was that the O’s kept the pressure on. Dwight Smith Jr. added a sac fly-RBI in the second. Sisco added another RBI-single, and Anthony Santander‘s homer broke the game wide open. The Orioles held an 8-0 lead after two innings once the smoke cleared.

As I said, John Means and the bullpen kept Cleveland in check. And that’s been tough to do thus far this season. Sometimes playing with such a big lead is tough because you end up letting tour guard down. If anything that might be natural. However the Orioles were nose to the brine stone throughout the entire game. They weren’t losing their focus on this night.

And for good measure, they added a few runs on late. The seventh brought a Rio Ruiz RBI-single, and the eight two separate two-RBI doubles. One by Chance Sisco, and the other from Anthony Santander. For one game, it seemed that everyone participated.

Orioles fans would have liked to have seen games like this earlier and more often this year. However for once, the skies opened up and let us see just what this crop of players are capable of doing. It’s a trend that Orioles fans certainly hope continues into today’s game.

The series with Cleveland continues today at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Zach Plesac. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Figure out how to keep it in the park

The Baltimore Orioles open a three-game set against Cleveland this evening. It’s been going on all season long, however of late we’ve seen more and more balls flying out of the park. Unfortunately the majority of them are off of Oriole pitchers.

I’m a rational thinker, so naturally I want to understand why. I suspect that to some degree Oriole pitchers are somewhat predictable. They throw fastballs in fastball counts, and off speed pitches in counts which call for that. However as Buck Showalter said on numerous occasions, there’s no such thing as a fastball count anymore.

But this goes beyond that. Opposing teams are adept at anticipating what Oriole pitchers are going to throw. But they’re also able to anticipate where and when pitchers are going to miss in a fairly adroit manner. If the game situation calls for a slider, they’re fairly confident that the Orioles will dish out a slider. But the scouting report on that specific pitcher indicates that he often misses low on his sliders. So hitters are thinking low, and are ready for the pitch.

And thus far it’s been the opposing team scouting which has been spot on. And it’s killing the Orioles – the home runs, that is. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what they need to do to keep more balls in the park. That’s well above my pay grade. But what I can say is that they need to either try to keep the ball in the park, or figure out how to score more runs. Preferably both, for their sake.

The series with Cleveland opens tonight at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: More on replay quirks

While the Baltimore Orioles have never seemed to do this, yesterday I wrote about how many teams are able to talk umpires into extra replay challenges. And I think this is a bad trend. I always have. Some teams do it more so than do others, however the practice and the allowance thereof cost the Orioles a run yesterday.

This is a practice that’s gone on in Major League Baseball since they instituted instant replay. And I feel it needs to change. And it will – at some point. Once a big market team is on the losing end of it, that is. Once someone goads an umpire into reviewing a call against New York, Boston, Los Angeles, etc and it’s reversed, you might see some changes.

This or once it occurs in the playoffs and costs someone a series and/or shot at a title, you might see some movement. In short, nobody’s losing any sleep over the Orioles surrendering an extra run because something like this occurred, But if it ever happened on a more grandiose level, things could potentially change.

Baltimore Orioles: Are teams being ghosted by instant replay?

The home run ball haunted the Baltimore Orioles once again this afternoon. The Birds, led by starter Dylan Bundy, surrendered five home runs to San Diego. Now in fairness Bundy didn’t give them all up, but the tone was set early. Bundy’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

Renato Nunez actually gave the O’s a 1-0 lead with an RBI-double in the first inning. Part of the problem is that when the Orioles score early and get on the board, it’s only one run. They can’t be satisfied with that; they need to play for the big inning.

True to form, Garcia’s two-run homer in the second gave San Diego the lead at 2-1. Hinder would add an RBI-groundout later in the inning, and the Birds trailed 3-1. One inning later, Reyes hit his first of two homers on the day, and San Diego led 4-1.

But the O’s did mount a rally. Jonathan Villar smacked a fourth inning two-run homer. However the next two innings brought three more San Diego runs off of the long ball. Pedro Severino would add a solo homer, and the O’s would also score on a bases loaded walk. But when the smoke cleared, the O’s fell 10-5.

Based on something that happened at the tail end of the game however, I think that the league needs to take a look at instant replay and how it’s utilized. In the top of the eighth with San Diego well in front, Tatis grounded out to short on what appeared to be a fairly routine play. However San Diego thought he was safe, a fact that instant replay seemed to back up. The only issue was that San Diego was out of replay challenges.

However as we’ve seen numerous times, the San Diego bench all but goaded the umpires into ordering an umpire review. They ruled Tatis safe, and he proceeded to attempt a steal of second. He was thrown out.

However again, the San Diego bench complained to the point to where the umpiring crew ordered a review. The call was overturned, and Tatis was awarded second base. He would score on an RBI-double. So San Diego in effect scored a run on what should have been a routine ground out to short.

Ow that one run made no difference in the final result. None whatsoever. However it could have given a different game situation. In fact, one could reasonably ask why a team is begging for a replay review when they’re up big in a game like that. But that aside, is it fair that teams are basically getting an unlimited number of challenges?

We’ve seen Toronto and Boston both do this shamelessly over the years. In some cases teams even do it before they’ve spent their instant replay challenge. The mentality being if we can goad the umpire into reviewing the play on his own accord, we can save that challenge. However obviously if the umpire wanted to review the play on his own, he would have done so immediately.

This is a loophole through which teams are getting extra challenges and taking advantage. The rule should be changed to either not allow umpire reviews at all, or to provide for manager ejections if the umpires are in essence begged to review plays “on their own accord.” Otherwise things could end up being that the manager with the best politicking skills wins the game. And that’s not how it’s supposed to be.

Baltimore Orioles fall to San Diego, Manny Machado in homer parade

The Baltimore Orioles welcomed Manny Machado back to Oriole Park at Camden Yards this evening for the first time as a visitor. First and foremost, the fans at Camden Yards tonight did the Orioles and the city of Baltimore proud. The reaction to Manny when he came up to bat for the first time was incredibly positive. As opposed to coming across as jilted lovers full of sour grapes, Orioles fans conducted themselves with honor.

Jimmy Yacabonis was the Orioles’ “opener” this evening, unfortunately not with the results that the Birds would have wanted. Yacabonis’ line: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K. The big culprit? Home runs.

However the O’s did briefly have the lead. Trey Mancini‘s RBI-single in the first inning gave the Birds a 1-0 lead. However Margot’s two-RBI single in the second put San Diego in the driver’s seat for good at 2-1.

Later in the inning Tatis smacked a two-run homer to drive the lead up to 4-1. One inning later Manny Machado came up for his second at-bat, and promptly deposited a ball into the San Diego bullpen. The O’s trailed 5-1.

And that right there is why I’m glad Orioles fans cheered for Manny. Had he been boo’d the way that Bryce Harper was in Washington, odds are Machado would have posed at home plate after hitting that home run. And are we to believe that the national media wouldn’t have eaten that up? And who would have been spun as the villain? Baltimore, and the Orioles fans.

Margot would smack a solo homer in the fourth, and Machado would add another run on an RBI-single. This after Dwight Smith Jr smacked an RBI-double in the third. It was almost a triple, however Smith came off the bag at third.

And it’s little details like that which are haunting the Orioles. That had the potential to be a big inning. However Smith coming off the bag at third ended that. You have to take advantage of opportunities you’re given. San Diego did. The Orioles did not.

The two teams swapped homers before the game ended, with the Orioles’ coming in the seventh off the bat of Richie Martin. However the homer parade killed the Orioles once again. San Diego hit four home runs in the game. They’ve got to stop these homers from happening, as they’re getting the Orioles way behind in games.

The series concludes tomorrow at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by San Diego’s Matt Strahm. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

Baltimore Orioles sign Andy Rutschman as Manny Machado returns

The Baltimore Orioles have signed their top pick, catcher Andy Rutschman. Rutschman signed yesterday afternoon for a record signing bonus of $8.1 million. The Orioles have scheduled an introductory press conference this afternoon at Camden Yards, and Rutschman will be introduced to the crowd at tonight’s game against San Diego.

The Orioles have reportedly also come to an agreement in principle with their second round pick, shortstop Gunnar Henderson from Alabama prep. There was never any question that Henderson or Rutschman would sign, however it’s noteworthy. A rebuilding team such as the Orioles needs that type of reassurance for it’s fanbase to the effect that they’re going to have their best new players in the pipeline.

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. While the Orioles are introducing Rutschman, the future of the club, in their clubhouse, a major piece of the past will be sitting in the visitors’ clubhouse at Camden Yards. That of course being San Diego third baseman Manny Machado. This is certainly a series that Machado circled on his calendar, as I’m sure did Orioles fans. While much of the personnel from the front office on down has no affiliation with Manny, this is still the organization that drafted him. It’s the fans in front of whom he played for so long.

Again, there’s certainly some irony in the fact that the introduction of Andy Rutschman is juxtaposed with the return of Manny Machado. However once the game states it’s just baseball. But I will say this to anyone going to tonight or tomorrow afternoon’s game: don’t boo Manny.

There are fair criticisms of Manny Machado in terms of how he handled his departure from the Orioles, and even some of the comments he’s made towards the organization since leaving. In no way am I defending that. However I also suspect that the national media is waiting to pounce on Orioles fans and the city of Baltimore for any reason they can find. Serenading Manny Machado with boo’s will bring charges of sour grapes. It’ll spin Machado as a sympathetic character; and heaven forbid he homers or makes a gold glove-caliber play on the field. Do you really want the national media spinning that?

Instead, politely applaud when he comes up to bat. That reflects well on the city and the fan base. Sure there were some moments he could have behaved differently while he was here and afterwards. But that’s life. A positive response to Manny’s return would say something about Baltimore and Baltimore Orioles’ fans. Again, do you really want Manny hearing a chorus of boo’s, only to smack a homer, pose at home plate, and have the national media defend and praise him for doing so? Because that’s exactly what would happen.

The series with San Diego opens this evening at Camden Yards. Jimmy Yacabonis gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by San Diego’s Logan Allen. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Do players simply go through the motions?

The Baltimore Orioles were never going to compete for a division title this year. This much we know. However a lot of fans are grousing across the board for how the O’s are losing games. Big innings, countless errors, etc. So…what gives?

People have asked me if it’s possible that players are in effect mailing it in. Meaning that they’re just going through the motions of the games to collect a paycheck. My answer to that is an emphatic NO.

Professional athletes simply don’t do that. Win or lose, these guys take a lot of pride in their crafts. They also know that if they don’t perform, they’ll eventually be sent back to the minors or DFA’d. Now they’ll still get their contracted salary either way. But what happens after the contract has expired?

Guys don’t just mail it in, because like anyone else they need to feed their families. They need to ensure that there’s bread on the table. They also recognize that this isn’t a Monday-Friday, 9-5 job. They’re blessed to do what they do. And they aren’t going to do anything to put their careers in peril.

More realistically, I would argue that guys are pushing too hard. They have in their minds that they don’t want to make an error, but that all but causes a mistake. If you push hard enough that’ll happen. But no folks, the players aren’t collecting a paycheck. That’s about as harsh of a thing to say about an athlete as is out there.

Baltimore Orioles done in by the third inning

The Baltimore Orioles once again gave a starter a lead in Seattle, this time Gabriel Ynoa. And once again, they couldn’t hold the lead – twice, in this case. Ynoa’s line: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 0 K.

Ynoa nibbles the entire truncated time he was in the game. And as I’ve said before, that’s not conducive to getting borderline calls. It also shows a lack of confidence on his part. Ultimately however when you’ve been trying to nibble and you eventually do perhaps hit the corner, umpires are less inclined to call that pitch a strike. Make no mistake however, that’s on the pitcher – not the umpire.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead before Ynoa even took the field on a solo home run by Trey Mancini. However Ynoa gave up a solo shot in the bottom of that first inning to Crawford, and we were tied at one. The second inning brought an RBI-double by Hanser Alberto. However it also brought Williamson grounding into a double-play which scored a run.

Through two innings Seattle had taken the anything you can do I can do better tactic. And that generally doesn’t bode well for the Orioles. But the good news was that the run-for-a-run routine didn’t last long…

…Seattle our eight runs on the board in the third. The worst part was that many of them cam with the bases loaded. Oriole pitching would either walk players, hit them with pitches, or had base hits that were just perfectly placed enough to net a single. The runs kept coming, and there was nothing that the Orioles could seemingly do about it.

An inning like that effectively ends the game. Especially when it comes so early in the game, it’s fashionable to say hey, if they can do it we can do it. In theory that sounds great. In practice it’s another story.

Surrendering eight runs in an inning generally means the game is over. You can start not holding runners on, with the full knowledge that the unwritten rules of the game prevent the opponent from stealing a base. And I say that in the sense that both teams begin going through the motions. Especially the Orioles, who are flying home this evening.

The Orioles ended up dropping the game 13-3. Big innings as such are happening more and more frequently. Some of that is opponents taking advantage of their opportunities – whereas the Orioles do not. But some of it the result of mental errors by the Orioles. And that’s tough to defend against.

Baltimore Orioles: Redemption for Jonathan Villar, Birds snap loss streak

With this afternoon’s victory in Seattle, the Baltimore Orioles snapped a ten-game losing streak. With the win, the Orioles won their 22nd game of the season, this one behind starter Andrew Cashner. And for once, the O’s got a quality start out of a pitcher, and they won. Cashner’s line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Ironically today it was Seattle who took the early lead and couldn’t hold it. Vogelbach’s RBI-double in the first gave them a 1-0 lead. However the O’s threatened immediately following that in the top of the second. They put runners on first and second with one down. However Jonathan Villar got picked off of second, followed by a strikeout to end the inning.

And it wasn’t even close – Villar getting picked off, that is. You could have driven a Mack Truck through the space between Villar and the bag. Those are the types of mental errors that we’ve seen a lot from the Orioles of late. And it’s costed the games.

However for once, neither the team nor the player allowed that mistake to define them in this game. Villar came up to bat next in the fourth inning, and smacked a three-run homer which gave the O’s a 3-1 lead. Sometimes tough stretches can be more mental than anything else. But Villar was able to dust himself off after his mistake and make a big (positive) difference for the O’s in this game.

The score remained at 3-1 until the sixth when the Orioles extended it to 5-1 with a two-run homer by Anthony Santander. Seattle would close to within 5-2 with a run in the bottom of that sixth inning off of an error, but again the Orioles didn’t allow that to let the wheels come off. In fact, they further extended their lead in the seventh with a sac fly-RBI by Pedro Severino.

And in fact, the Birds were able to put up a couple of insurance runs. They loaded the bases in the eighth, and Hanser Alberto‘s two-RBI single extended the lead to 8-2. Santana would smack a solo homer in the last of the eighth and Smith an RBI-single in the ninth, but that was too little too late for Seattle.

The big story is that the O’s snapped a ten-game losing streak. However as I said, there were a couple of moments when this could have gone another way. The Villar error, and even the run-scoring error (by Hanser Alberto) in the sixth. Not to mention your run-of-the-mill runners on base throughout the game. The O’s overcame that to win this game. And in Jonathan VillarMs case, he overcame a pretty bad mistake on the bases to play a big role.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at T-Mobile Park as the O’s try to go for a series split. Gabriel Ynoa gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Yusmeiro Kikuchi. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

Baltimore Orioles’ comeback falls short

I admittedly didn’t think that the Baltimore Orioles had it in them to come back last night. Trailing 10-3, I figured that the game was over. Now while the O’s weren’t able to win, they did strike the fear of God into Seattle. This after calling up Sean Gilmartin to make his first start as an Oriole. Gilmartin’s line: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

Part of the Orioles’ problem of late has been that they’re taking early leads and then surrendering them. Pedro Severino‘s two-RBI double in the first inning gave the O’s the lead. They extended that lead to 3-0 on Chance Sisco‘s RBI-single.

However Gilmartin immediately struggled when he entered. He surrendered an RBI-single in the last of the first. One inning later in the second Moore’s solo homer brought Seattle to within one at 3-2. However an RBI-single later in the inning by Crawford would tie the game at three.

It was the third inning however which did the Orioles in. A combination of Gilmartin and the bullpen surrendered five runs. That plus another two in the fifth gave Seattle a 10-3 lead. One would have been justified in thinking that the competitive portion of the game was finished. But that ultimately wasn’t true.

Dwight Smith Jr’s RBI-single in the top of the sixth for the Orioles back on the board. Hanser Alberto would add an RBI-double. When the smoke cleared, the Birds were within 10-8. One inning later Severino added an RBI-is for, biting the Birds to within one. However they ran out of innings, and fell 10-9 to Seattle.

Obviously this was a case of getting too far behind. But you have to tip your cap to the O’s in the sense that they didn’t give up. This team has character in that sense. They could have mailed in the second part of the game, but they kept fighting. And at some point that characteristic will do them well.

The series continues this afternoon at T-Mobile Park. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Tommy Milone. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

Baltimore Orioles drop series opener in Seattle

For once, the Baltimore Orioles made someone pay for their mistakes. At the beginning of last night’s game, that is. Starter Dylan Bundy was sharp at the beginning of the game, as the Birds built a lead. Bundy’s line: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K.

Before Bundy even took the field, he had a lead. By way of a Seattle error the Orioles loaded the bases in the first inning. Rio Ruiz‘s two-RBI single Gabe the Birds a 2-0 lead. So again, for once the Orioles were able to hold someone accountable as opposed to letting them off the hook for a mistake made in a game.

One might argue that’s a start. And for sure, it is. However Oriole bats were quiet the rest of the way. You have to be able to add onto your lead. The Birds couldn’t do that. And in turn, they were made to pay for it.

Seattle got a solo homer from Navarez in the last of the second to cut the Orioles’ lead to 2-1. Santana would smack a solo shot of his own in the sixth. And we were tied.

Seattle would get two RBI-singles in that sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead. The Orioles would also walk in a run in the last of the seventh, running it to 5-2. Which ended up being the final.

So again, the Orioles held an opponent accountable for their mistakes. That’s a good thing. Now they need to work on tacking onto their leads. The impression from this game at least is that the Orioles can’t score without the opponent making a mistake. Now we know that isn’t true, however perception can at times be reality.

The series continues this evening at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. The O’s are yet to name a starter, but whomever he is will be opposed by Seattle’s Mike Leake. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Adding another annual destination?

The Baltimore Orioles currently play 9-10 games a year in Tampa/St. Petersburg at Tropicana Field. However that could be changing with the news today that MLB has given the Tampa Rays permission to explore the idea of playing half of their games in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area and half in Montreal (Montreal of course being the former home of the Montreal Expos, now the Washington Nationals). Again, they’be been given permission to “explore” the idea.

Basically that means we’ll think about it and get back to you. Tampa’s struggled with ticket sales and forming a fan base since the team’s inception. Heck, they had trouble selling out World Series games the year they advanced that far. So in that sense, might a more condensed schedule make sense?

Something like this has never really been done before in baseball – to my knowledge. Over in the NFL the Green Bay Packers used to play one preseason game and two regular season games annually at Milwaukee’s County Stadium. The Washington Bullets used to trek back to Baltimore for years and play four home games a year at the Baltimore Civic Center. And there are other examples out there as well which are similar to this.

But this wouldn’t be simply moving a home game or two. This would literally be two cities sharing a franchise. Perhaps the only example of which I can think would be the Homestead Gray’s, which was a Negro League baseball team that was shared between Washington D.C. and Homestead, FL. But that was short-lived. Needless to say, it would make for an interesting dynamic.

I believe that the idea would be for the early part of the season to take place in Tampa, where a new outdoor stadium would be constructed. The weather isn’t incredibly hot at that point in Tampa, so it wouldn’t be a big issue in terms of the weather. The second part of the season would be played in Montreal. However if this comes to pass it’ll be interesting to see how it’s handled. Would Montreal have to build a new stadium also, or would the old Olympic Stadium suffice?

This is something that Orioles fans will want to watch, however. Earlier this season there were rumors that the league wanted the Orioles to leave Baltimore. How true that is or was, who knows? It was merely a report that surfaced.

Montreal was naturally one of the cities that was mentioned as a possible destination for the Orioles if they were to move. If Montreal gets a piece of the Tampa Rays, that’s one city that wouldn’t be in the running. My personal opinion is that the Orioles will never move anywhere. So take that point at nothing more than face value.

End of the day, I don’t think that the Tampa Rays will split themselves between two cities, either. I suspect it’s just positioning to get someone to build them a stadium. But it would be interesting to see in terms of the dynamic to say the least.

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini hurt as game spiralsthe

Gabriel Ynoa served as an opener this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles. And with pretty good success at that. Unfortunately for the Birds, Ynoa’s performance was about the highlight of the day. Ynoa’s line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

Overshadowing just about everything else on the day for the Orioles, they may have lost Trey Mancini for a period of time. Mancini was hit on the wrist in the first inning, and had to leave the game. The Orioles later announced that he had an elbow contusion, which in essence is a bruise. More on that in a moment.

The Birds were no-hit through five, however in the bottom of that fifth inning Phegley smacked a three-run homer. That broke the tie and gave Oakland a 3-0 lead. The Birds would come right back however and cut that lead to 3-2 in the sixth on an RBI-single by Renato Nunez, and a bases-loaded wall by Rio Ruiz.

The O’s and Oakland would trade runs in the last of the sixth and top of the seventh, with the Orioles’ coming on a sac fly-RBI by Anthony Santander. However the last of the seventh did the Orioles in. And excuse me check-swing double got a runner to second, and he made it to third on a single that came against the shift. Consider that again for just a moment; the O’s, like everyone else, play a shift on certain players. But teams always manage to defeat it. You can’t make this stuff up.

With runners at the corners and nobody out, Oakland hit into what should have been a tailor-made 4-6-3 double-play. However instead of yielding the run and taking the two outs, Hanser Alberto opted to nail the runner at the plate. And it might not have been the worst idea. However the throw wasn’t exactly spit on, and the runner scored from third. And the O’s didn’t record an out on the play.

When the smoke cleared, the Orioles trailed 8-3 (which ended up being the final). It’s tough to fault Alberto for trying to cut down the run at the plate. But the proper way to manage that situation is to yield the run and take the two outs. Yes, you surrender another run. But it clears the bases and leaves you with two outs. It’s lapses like that which are HAUNTING this team right now. If they could manage to button some of that up, they might be closer in some of these games.

The bigger concern however is Trey Mancini. He got his elbow X-Rayed, and it came back negative. So presumably he’s day-to-day. However if they lose him for any significant amount of time, that’s going to become a problem very quickly. All the Orioles can do is hope for the best.

The Birds now head to T-Mobile Park to open a four-game set with Seattle. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Wade LeBlanc. Game time is set for just after 10 PM tomorrow night.

Baltimore Orioles being eaten alive by minuet details

Errors are piling up on the Baltimore Orioles, and they’re making a huge difference. And the sad thing is that there’s a part of me which says one mistake here and there can’t make THAT big a difference. Yet it does. Gabriel Ynoa was the victim of that mentality last night. Ynoa’s line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Oakland smacked a solo homer in the third and a three-run shot in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead. Jonathan Villar smacked a solo homer for the O’s in the fifth. That was followed by Rio Ruiz netting a run with a fielder’s choice.

The Orioles appeared to at least be competitive in the game at that point. However in the sixth Oakland put two runs on the board off the bat. That extended their lead to 6-2. Still however, that’s a lead that could be overcome – in theory.

Richie Martin committed a fielding error with two outs. That would have been the final out of the inning. Now in general one can accept an error by a guy like Martin, a Rule 5 pick who’s in his first year in the majors. And again, my own thoughts in a moment like that are there’s two outs, just get one more and the inning is over. No harm no foul.

Only that isn’t how things normally go for the Orioles. When they commit small defensive lapses like that, opposing teams take full advantage. Oakland was no exception last night, and they ended up putting ten runs up in the inning. Think about that, eight runs after the error, ten total.

They would also put up two in the seventh, which came on a two-run homer. Now again it’s tough to argue that the error cost the Orioles the game because they were already losing and in fact they didn’t score again. But who knows how things would have played out?

The Orioles can’t allow themselves to adopt the mentality that I apparently have. By that I mean that they can’t ever just assume there are two outs in an inning and one error won’t kill them. It is a big deal, and when you let your guard down your opponent pounces. That was evident last night.

The O’s will try to savage one game in this series in the finale today at the Oakland Coliseum. Jimmy Yacabomis gets the start for the Orioles (in what could be more of an “opener” situation than a real start), and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Chris Bassit. Game time is set for just after 3:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall on errant throw, tag

The Baltimore Orioles actually performed fairly well in their first game out west last night in Oakland. Starter Andrew Cashner gave the Birds a quality start, both statistically and in reality. More importantly, he put the team in a spot to win. Cashner’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R (1 earned), 1 BB, 2 K.

The O’s gave up an RBI-double in the last of the first to Olson, which gave Oakland a 1-0 lead. However in the second the Orioles would tie the game. Rio Ruiz attempted to move a runner into scoring position with a sac bunt. However Oakland’s errant throw up the first base line allowed the runner to score from first, tying the game.

As we’ve said so many times, if you put the ball in play good things can happen. All it takes is one mistake, and a routine play like that can turn into a run-scoring opportunity. And in that instance it allowed the O’s to tie the game.

And in fact, that error also allowed the O’s to take the lead. With Ruiz at third, the Orioles put on a squeeze play and Hanser Alberto Laos down a sac bunt, which scored Ruiz. Ironically, Alberto’s path and progress to the bag at first was impeded by the first baseman, who was out of position on the play. The two literally collided on the base path. Despite Oriole protests, no interference was called on the play.

However in the end, it was an error and a mistake which did the Orioles in. With the bases loaded in the third, Olson grounded to short. The O’s completed the force out at the plate, and Chance Sisco went to throw the runner out at first. However he threw errantly, and a run was allowed to score, tying the game.

The O’s would throw the ball home where Sisco applied the tag and seemed to prevent Oakland from taking the lead. However Oakland challenged the play, and the replay appeared to show that Sisco applied the tag high, allowing the runner’s leg to touch home plate before the tag. The call was overturned, and Oakland took a 3-2 lead.

And unfortunately, the Orioles were unable to challenge further in the game, and fell 3-2. Now on the bright side, Oriole pitching was very good for the remainder of the game. They didn’t allow Oakland to push anything else across, which is more than can be said for other games to this point. They just couldn’t muster anything themselves.

The series continues tonight at the Oakland Coliseum. Gabriel Ynoa gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Brett Anderson. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Should Trey Mancini be in the trade block?

The Baltimore Orioles won’t be taking an ice pick to their 25-man roster this year at the trade deadline. That happened last year. However people are starting to talk about what moves (if any) the Orioles might potentially make. According to some people, nobody should be off limits – even the likes of Trey Mancini.

Unequivocally, let me state that I personally believe it would be a huge mistake for the Orioles to trade Mancini. He’s not only going to be the Birds’ lone all-star representative, but he actually deserves the honor. In saying that I mean that he’s going to earn his way onto the roster as opposed to being included to satisfy the Orioles having a representative.

However Mancini’s also become a team leader. And he wasn’t tabbed as being that guy – if anything, Cedric Mullins was. (And he’s been back in the minors for some time.) With Mancini it happened organically. He appeared to kind of tell himself that he was going to be considered the veteran on the roster, and he had to help the younger guys along. Most of whom I might add aren’t that much younger than Mancini himself.

You need someone like that in the clubhouse. Let’s not act like guys with leadership skill are dime a dozen. They aren’t. Losing Mancini wouldn’t only hurt the team in terms of statistics and so forth, but it would probably hurt morale. Again, unequivocally I think it would be a mistake to trade Mancini. He’s someone around whom the Orioles should build.

The reason that some people say that he should be traded is because he would probably bring the Orioles the biggest haul in terms of prospects. Mancini’s under team control until 2023. So he would have to fetch one heck of a return. And I’m talking potentially more than they got last year for Machado.

However I think that when you start trading guys like Mancini (at this stage at least) you’re almost committing yourself to rebuilding in perpetuity. Mancini’s still what one would consider a young player. So again, it behooves the Orioles to build around him. If you start trading your young talent away, You’re kind of extending the process.

So keep Mancini. That would be my advice to GM Mike Elias. Keep him and build the franchise with him as the centerpiece. Because he’s proven on and off the field that he’s worthy of playing that role.

Baltimore Orioles: Two outs away from a win

The Baltimore Orioles were in line to win today. It was the ninth inning and they had the lead against Boston. But ultimately, despite a decent outing from John Means, the Birds ended up back in the loss column – for varying circumstances, some of which were out of their control. Means’ line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-single in the last of the third gave the O’s the lead at 1-0. Boston however would smack back-to-back RBI-doubles in the fourth, giving them a 2-1 lead. But the O’s would tie it at two in the bottom of the inning on Keon Broxton‘s bunt-RBI single…

…or did they? After the play the umpires huddled up, and came to the decision that Broxton had run out of the baseline, a decision that ultimately led to the ejection of manager Brandon Hyde. Here’s the thing; Broxton did run out of the baselines; that part isn’t disputable according to the replay. However the issue is that’s a call that needs to be made on the spot. It’s poor form for umpires to huddle up like that and talk one another into making a judgement call (that should have been made on the spot).

Hyde said after the game that he wasn’t happy with how it was handled. Negating the hit took a run off the board for the O’s. But Hyde’s point was just what I said above; make the call. Don’t sit back and think about it and then make it.

With the Birds still trailing 2-1 in the last of the eighth, Jonathan Villar drew a walk. He then proceeded to steal second and third base, and scored to tie the game at two on a wild pitch.ater in the inning Hanser Alberto’s RBI-single gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead.

The Birds got to within two outs of the win. But then Boston’s Hernandez picked that moment to hit his first homer of the season – off of Mychal Givens. That tied the game in three, and sent it to extra innings. Boston would put up no less than five runs in the tenth, to take an 8-3 lead.

And it’s a shame that Oriole pitching let it get to that point, because Oriole bats did everything they could in the last of the tenth to bring them back. They were able to put three runs on the board and get to within 8-6. But it was too little too late.

The strike zone was incredibly small this afternoon. Boston pitchers pitched to the strike zone. Oriole pitchers pitched to where they assumed pitches should be called strikes. And they got no leeway whatsoever. That combined with the out of the lines play in the fourth inning had the Orioles’ dugout seething at the umpiring crew.

Did the umpires factor into the final score? Well, unequivocally they didn’t give up the homers and the runs in the tenth inning. But could the game have gone differently? You never know.

Brandon Hyde was happy that the team battled back. He seemed very impressed with that. But still, it’s tough to get to within two outs of a win and blow it. But you have to dust yourself off and move onto the next game.

The O’s now hear out west to open up a three-game series with Oakland at the Oakland Coliseum. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Mike Fiers. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles’ aggressiveness used against them

The Baltimore Orioles got a halfway decent start out of Dylan Bundy this afternoon. He was done in after only five innings due to a high pitch count, which cam as a result of some extended at-bats. In saying that I mean guys fouling off multiple pitches. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R (2 earned), 2 BB, 8 K.

This game was a pitcher’s duel at first, as it was scoreless through five innings. However in the top of the sixth Bogaerts smacked an RBI-double, and Holt an RBI-single, to give Boston a 2-0 lead. Holt would later score on an E6, and the Birds trailed 3-0.

The O’s would come back however in the bottom of that inning. Renato Nunez smacked an RBI-double, and Jonathan Villar added a sac fly-RBI. However that’s as close as the O’s were able to get. Martinez would add a solo homer in the seventh, and Boston would also add three runs in the top of the ninth to take the game 7-2.

The worst part about playing Boston is that as good as they are, they’re also smart. They know that the Orioles are scrapping, and doing everything in their power to win games. That can often lead to pushing too hard. Boston knows that.

They know that the Orioles are going to play shifts on their players. They had also seen earlier in the game and on tape that sometimes Jonathan Villar sometimes leaves his spot at second slightly early when the ball’s in play. So Boston puts on a hit-and-run, and hits the ball right where Villar would have been.

Coincidentally, this other example also involves Jonathan Villar – not to beat up too much on him. Late in the game Boston had him at a 1-2 count. Normally that’s a count in which a pitcher’s going to bury a pitch in the dirt hoping that the hitter will chase. Instead of the slider in the dirt or something along those lines, Villar got a high fastball.

Now to his credit, Villar didn’t bite. However that’s a pitcher and a pitching staff who knows that they’re playing a team that’s pushing. And the Orioles can’t allow teams to see that, as it can and will be used against them.

Part of why Boston was able to tack on three late runs was because they put pressure on the Orioles. The Orioles already had enough self-inflicted pressure on them. And they eventually folded.

The series concludes tomorrow at Camden Yards. John Means gets the call for the Birds, and Boston is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles helping teams to get well

When Toronto came in to play the Baltimore Orioles this week at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, their offense was struggling. They were of the worst offenses in the league. Then last night Toronto lays it on the Orioles very thick, after a 30 minute rain delay to start the game. Orioles’ fans had to be thinking, “…uh, really?!”

Gabriel Ynoa got the start and took the loss, but in no way did he figure into the route that this game ended up being. Ynoa’s line: 5.0 IP, 7H, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 K. If anything, Ynoa was getting too much of the plate. However he put the Birds in a spot to win the game. Although that sounds strange to say in a game that eventually became a blowout.

Ynoa gave up a solo homer to Biggio in the second, and an RBI-single to Gurriel in the third. The O’s would fight back however, scoring on an RBI-single by Anthony Santander in the last of the third inning. Santander’s really come along since his promotion to the majors, and he’s making the most of the opportunity he’s being given. That’s to his credit.

Santander would tie the game two innings later with another RBI-single. At that point you kind of liked the Orioles’ chances. Things were looking up – for awhile. However in the top of the sixth Gurriel would smack a solo homer, and Toronto would take a 3-2 lead.

And that top of the sixth effectively ended the game. Toronto first chased Ynoa, and then ended up putting seven runs on the board in the inning. As I said, that effectively ended the game. They would tack on three in the seventh, and Chance Sisco would get one back for the Birds in the eighth with a solo homer. But when the smoke cleared, the Orioles fell 12-3.

As I said, Toronto’s offense was struggling when they came into this series. But like many other teams, they seemingly found their stroke against the O’s. Are teams simply figuring out the Orioles’ pitch sequences? (Basically, are Oriole pitchers too predictable?)

It’s really tough to say. There are a lot of factors as to why even the worst offenses seem to succeed against the Birds. But one way or the other, it’s something that the Hyde’s and Elias’ of the world need to figure out. That is if the O’s are going to improve on last year’s win total.

The O’s will now open a three-game series with Boston at Camden Yards. The Birds are yet to name a starter, but whomever he is will be opposed by Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles’ comeback falls short

David Hess pitched a good game for the Baltimore Orioles – through four innings. Hess started to lose it a bit in the fifth, mainly due to a high pitch count. And that short spell is ultimately what did the Birds in last night. Hess’ line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the last of the fourth when Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer. However Toronto’s big push came in the fifth, as I said above. Hess loaded the bases with nobody out. To Hess’ credit, he induced a ground ball with Gurriel at the plate. While with nobody out that would have yielded a run, it also should have given the Orioles two outs – something they would have taken in theory…

…but that’s not what happened. Gurriel hit the ball just perfectly so that while they only got one run because the Orioles kept it in the infield, it went as an infield hit. So Toronto pushed a run across and kept the bases loaded with nobody out.

After Hess exited the game Miguel Castro uncorked a wild pitch, allowing a run to score and giving Toronto a 2-1 lead. Toronto would re-load the bases, and Tellez’s grand slam would break the game wide open. The Orioles trailed 6-1.

Toronto would also put two additional runs on the board, this while the Orioles were trying to come back. The Birds also netted a run on a wild pitch, however they pulled themselves closer in the last of the eighth on Chance Sisco‘s two-RBI double.

The Birds would later push across two additional runs, but the comeback attempt stalled. To their credit, the Orioles didn’t quit. It would have been easy to go into auto-pilot being down big after the grand slam. But they kept fighting, which shows their character as a team.z

Character isn’t winning the Orioles any games – for now. However it shows that this team has some spunk. And once they get stronger, down the road, that quality will help them to win games. Play until the last out…it’s something we’ve heard before.

The series concludes this evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Gabriel Ynoa gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Six-game home stand opens tonight

After a day off yesterday the Baltimore Orioles open a six-game home stand this evening as they welcome in Toronto. One thing I do find curious is the fact that the O’s had a day off yesterday following their flight home from Houston. Following this home stand they won’t get a day off between series’ and they’ll go from Baltimore to Oakland on Sunday night.

The home stand ends on Sunday afternoon with the series finale against Boston, after which the O’s will get on their team charter and head to Oakland. They’ll be on the west coast for seven games – three in Oakland and four in Seattle. With no days off, even one for traveling.

The Orioles will however get a day off following that road swing before starting another home stand with the San Diego Padres. Making a major league schedule for every team in the league is no easy task. But that’s something that the league needs to take into account – days off when you’re going cross-country, that is.

The series with Toronto begins tonight at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Trent Thornton. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles trade for triple-A pitcher Tom Eshelman

The Baltimore Orioles completed a trade this morning a the triple-A level. They sent international bonus slot money to Philadelphia in exchange for pitcher Tom Eshelman. The Norfolk Tides may be in some need of additional pitching if and when guys start getting promoted to the big leagues.

Over five years in the minors at various levels, Eshelman has a win percentage of .576 and a 3.06 ERA. I suppose my question is whether or not this is a fore shock of sorts for other moves. I might be wrong (and Lord knows I have been before), however Eshelman doesn’t seem to be a candidate to come to the big leagues anytime soon. It seems like more of a move for depth at the minor league level.

Eshelman was actually drafted by the Houston Astros organization, of which GM Mike Elias was also a member as the Asst. GM. So the Front Office is familiar with Eshelman and what he brings to the table. I’m not sure this is a move that will impact the Orioles directly anytime soon, but nevertheless Tom Eshelman is now a member of the Orioles organization.

Baltimore Orioles: Letting your opponent off the hook makes for losses

There are exceptions to every rule, however playing the Baltimore Orioles can often mean you won’t be held accountable for your mistakes. Even a contender like Houston will err in a game, but this afternoon that was allowed to slide. And it’s been allowed to slide for many Oriole opponents this year. Starter Dylan Bundy put the Birds in a position to win by throwing a quality start, however it was for naught. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

Bundy kept Houston off the board for three innings. So you figure that as can happen it was the second time through the order and onward that they figured out Bundy. And as has been the case for the Orioles often this year, the rally started innocently enough – with a two-out single.

That brought Houston’s Alvarez to the plate, in what was his second big league at-bat (in his first big league game). And true to form in terms of how things have gone for the Orioles this year, Alvarez smacked his first big league hit and homer all in one fatal swoop. That gave Houston a 2-0 lead…which in theory would have been all they would have needed.

Two innings later in the last of the third Reddick poked an RBI-single that extended Houston’s lead to 3-0. But that was also indicative of what has to be frustrating the Orioles this year. Opponents are literally finding ways to score – no questions asked. That Reddick RBI-single was a softly hit bloop – very softly hit. The Oriole outfield happened to be back, which is why that softly-hit ball fell in for a hit.

And here’s the thing folks; you can’t control your hitting to that degree. By that, I mean you can’t really do anything to induce a bloop. You can’t swing lighter or anything along those lines. It has to hit the bat at just the right angle and in just the right manner – in short, it just happens. And it happens a lot to the Orioles.

The big part of this game however was the top of the seventh. The Orioles had the bases loaded with nobody out. Granted Houston had to change pitchers, but they allowed them off the hook. You have to recognize that they aren’t taking pity on teams when that happens. They’re trying to hold teams accountable for their mistakes. But for the most part it just isn’t happening.

And that’s one of the big contrasts between this Orioles team right now and their opponents. Other teams are getting far off of bloop singles, dropped balls, errors, etc. (Some of that the Orioles can control, but not all of it – such as the bloop singles.) One way or the other, teams are holding the Orioles accountable both for their in-game mistakes and for the things which go on in games over which they have no control – but are still to their detriment.

Yet the O’s aren’t doing the same. As I said above, they aren’t letting teams off the hook out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re trying to win games. This is all part of rebuilding, which is a process about which the Orioles have been very up front in that it’s painful to watch. But if they’re going to move on in that process, they’re going to have to learn how to hold teams accountable regularly.

Houston would tack on an insurance run in the eighth before closing the Birds out. The Orioles now head back to Baltimore for a day off tomorrow before welcoming Toronto in on Tuesday night.

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander’s catch May have saved a win

Andrew Cashner got to return to his home state this afternoon as a starting pitcher, and helped the Baltimore Orioles to make Houston pay. Cashner was fortunate enough to get himself a lead, and then allowed the team to put that lead on his shoulders. Cashner’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

The Orioles and Houston played to a 0-0 tie through five innings. After an extra-innings game last night, things seemed to be going towards that same direction today – again, through five innings. However in the 6th Renato Nunez put the Birds on the board with a solo homer.

However Cashner had some help in preserving the lead. And some big time help at that. With one out in the last of the sixth Gurriel sent a deep shot to right field. Houston already had two runners on base, and it appeared that the ball was headed for the right field grandstand (which would have given Houston a 3-1 lead). However Orioles’ right fielder Anthony Santander climbed the wall in right to bring the ball back in play. Santander then proceeded to double the runner off of first (while the runner from third tagged up and scored, tying the game).

While Houston was able to tie the game, that’s all they were able to do. Santander flat out saved a home run in that instance, and he ended the inning. And he may have saved the game. It’s also worth mentioning…Santander is only on the roster right now because of the Orioles’ injuries. Interesting twist.

The Birds would then re-take the lead in the 8th on an E6. For good measure, Richie Martin would smack a two-run homer in the ninth, giving the O’s a 4-1 lead and a 4-1 victory. There are a lot of aspects of any win or loss – it’s rarely because of one person or one play. However that Santander catch was as good a play as you’re going to see. While the O’s still had to go out and win the game by re-taking the lead, that play just stands out. It was as good and as clutch of a play as you’re going to see.

The series concludes tomorrow at Minute Maid Park. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Wade Miley (former Orioles). Game time is set for just after 2 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Gabriel Ynoa tosses a quality start in loss

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Gabriel Ynoa there a quality start last night in Houston. Of course the problem is that the Birds dropped the game to the Houston Astros. However that’s keep in mind that Houston’s an established winner, and the Orioles are trying to become that. The O’s are also at limited strength with the injuries they sustained this past week in Dallas. Ynoa’s line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

The Orioles gave Ynoa a lead before he even stepped on the field. They loaded the bases in the top of the first, and netted two runs on Rio Ruiz‘s two-RBI single. Two innings later in the third Chance Sisco‘s solo homer ran the lead to 3-0.

It was shaping up to be a good night for the Birds with Ynoa dealing and a three-run lead. However in the fifth Ynoa made two bad pitches. One came to Reddick, resulting in a solo homer. The other came to Kemp, resulting in a two-run shot.

Other than that, Ynoa pitches a great game. He certainly did his job as a starter, which is to put the team in a spot to win the game. He’s also been a pleasant surprise since coming up from the minors. We saw Ynoa a bit last year, and with lackluster results. But he’s put in a lot of work since then, and he’s spent a lot of time with the new Orioles’ regime’s coaches. He looks like a totally different pitcher.

The game went into extra innings, and Houston won on a walk off RBI-double by Chirinos in the 11th. There was a close play at the plate, and the runner was called safe at the plate. The call was also upheld on review. The play itself set off a wild celebration by the Houston players, and the upholding of the play meant another wild celebration – almost as if they won the game twice. Interesting reaction for a team that’s won a World Series very recently, and who had to go to extra innings to beat a team with the record that the Orioles have.

The series continues this afternoon at Minute Maid Park. Andrew Cashner gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Framber Valdez. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

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