Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis leads Birds over N.Y. Mets

Chris Davis had to have been tired of being mentioned in a negative light for the Baltimore Orioles. It’s certainly been a tough season for everyone involved, however for none more so than Davis. But at least for one day he could go to bed knowing that he made a difference for his team in a positive manner.

Andrew Casher even stuck around long enough to get the win, which is more than many Orioles’ starters have done of late. Cashner’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K. The Orioles gave Cashner the lead in the fourth inning on a sac fly-RBI by Mark Trumbo. However one inning later New York got twin RBI-singles and took a 2-1 lead. Were the Birds getting nitpicked to death again?

And the answer was no. Adam Jones tied the game with a solo home run in the sixth inning. And one inning later that brought Davis to the plate, and he connected with a solo homer of his own. That gave the Orioles the lead bad at 3-2. And it would be a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

Later in that seventh inning the O’s would also get an RBI-single from Renato Nunez, as well as a two-run homer from Tim Beckham in the eighth. Frazier’s RBI-single in the ninth would cut the Birds’ lead to 6-3, which ended up being the final. With the win, the Orioles snapped a five-game losing streak, which incidentally included that four-game sweep over the weekend at the hands of Boston.

You always hope for the player’s sake that something like hitting the go-ahead home run is going to break Chris Davis of his poor season. However at this point odds are against that. But Davis is still churning away as best he can for this season, and in fact he probably does have the right mental approach (quote courtesy of Zachary Silver, mlb.com):

I think it’s really about taking it one at-bat at a time. Not getting too high or too low. Not trying to hit a home run, but just going up there and trying to be a hitter. I think it’s too easy a lot of times to get caught up in the negative and sometimes even to get caught up in the positive and let your guard down. For me, I want to finish up strong. I want to work on some things and go into the offseason with a head of steam.

The series with the N.Y. Mets concludes this evening at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the starting assignment for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Zack Wheeler. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles’ future should be up to Buck Showalter

One of the biggest questions that lingers for the Baltimore Orioles is the status of manager Buck Showalter. We all know what’s going on; Showalter, along with GM Dan Duquette, is in the final year of his contract. The team as it stands now is vastly different than the one he set out coaching at the beginning of the season. And the immediate future looks different as well.

The hope however certainly is that the not-so-distant future looks bright with the plethora of young talent that’s come into the organization. But the question burns, what will become of Buck? He’s said on numerous occasions that Baltimore will be his final managing job. I suppose you never say never, but I suspect that the odds of him going to another team are very slim.

We’ve heard numerous rumblings out of ownership that the manager’s office will remain Buck’s if he wants to be there. We’ve also heard that owner Peter Angelos is increasingly detached from team operations, and that his sons John and Lou are in essence the de facto “owners.” Do they buy into the philosophy that the job is Buck’s if he wants it?

That’s actually another conversation for another day. What I’m saying is that the job should be Buck’s if he want’s it. Detractors will point at this year and this year only as evidence that he shouldn’t return. However I would invite fans to take a look back further than just to April. Buck Showalter helped to revamp this franchise from 2010-2012, on from which they were a perennial contender – until now.

Not only that, but he restored pride to an organization, fan base, and city that direly needed it. Orioles fans were sick and tired of managers who really shouldn’t be managers coming being shipped in and then shipped out. So a change was made, and in 2010 Showalter (who had been working for ESPN) was brought in.

The results were almost immediate, and almost all positive. The difference was that Buck Showalter had been around the game a long time, and fans in essence already knew him. But that aside, he brought the Orioles to where fans questioned if they could actually go again. That should never be lost on Orioles fans.

Again, the decision should be Showalter’s. That means his decision could also be to walk away. I don’t think he would do so on account of having to rebuild, because he seems like a guy who understands that process and who doesn’t mind it. But he, like all of us, has to weigh his options. As an example, he became a grandfather for the first time awhile back; that’s kind of a game-changer.

Point obviously being that for all anyone knows he might feel that it’s time for him to not be managing anymore. Now with that said I do think that if that was going to be his decision, he’d announce his intention to step down after the season – so as to give him some time to say goodbye to the fans, and vice-versa. But at this point we don’t know.

There are plenty of people who will disagree with this – and that’s okay. All I’m saying is that with his track record and with what he’s meant to this city, the decision should belong to Buck Showalter. Many people argue that the Orioles need a fresh face in the dugout. But with someone as accomplished and tenured as Buck, you don’t just shove him out the door.

The Orioles will tonight open a short two-game set with the New York Mets at Camden Yards. Andrew Cashner gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Jason Vargas. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb’s quality start doesn’t do the job

To his credit, Alex Cobb never complains about run support from Baltimore Orioles’ bats. His post game comments after yet another quality start that ends up in the loss or no decision column are always about how he tries to go out and do the best job he can for the team and try to put them in a spot to win. But at some point it has to be frustrating internally; Cobb had another such outing yesterday, as he provided a solid outing in a losing effort to Boston. Cobb’s line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 earned), 2 BB, 7 K.

The Orioles were in a hole early when Pearce smacked a solo homer in the first inning to give Boston a 1-0 lead. In the fourth they took a 2-0 lead on Martinez’s run-scoring double. The run scored when Adam Jones misplayed the ball in right field, allowing the lead runner to take home plate. It was Jones’ first gaffe in right, which is to be expected at some point. When you’ve played a position for ten years and suddenly you’re in another position, that’s going to happen at some point.

The Orioles couldn’t solve Boston’s starter Sale, who put a spell on them all day. Sale was called up from the DL to make the start, so Boston limited him to five innings. Granted the Orioles are a young team now with youth and inexperience, however they struck out twelve times in five innings against Sale.

The O’s did attempt to mount a rally well after Sale was gone, and they put a run across in the eighth on Trey Mancini‘s sac fly-RBI. The issue was that the bases were loaded, and the Birds only got one run. Many people would look at that and say that it’s good the Orioles are trying to play more small ball. However as I’ve always said, if you play small ball you’re going to get small results. In essence, if you play for one run that might be all you’ll get.

And true to form, Boston would put two additional insurance runs on the board in the ninth as they closed out a 4-1 victory – sweeping the series. It begins and ends with starting pitching, and both teams got great outings by their starters. I’m not going to say that Boston truly “solved” Cobb, but they put two runs up on him. The story of the game was that the Orioles couldn’t do anything against Sale. Buck Showalter on both starters (all quotes courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

Outstanding. He (Cobb) was great. He’s been that way for a while now. He’s been solid. When you think about in time of need, with our bullpen situation, that was as good as you can expect. Alex has really got a feel for the split now. To pitch seven innings against that lineup in a day game, that’s impressive. We just couldn’t score any runs. Sale took it to a different level. The first fastball he threw today was 98, the second one was 99. He was throwing a changeup at 88, 90. Doesn’t seem fair.

While he’s been used in a pinch-hitting role this weekend, Mark Trumbo has been held out of the starting lineup due to soreness in his knee. Buck Showalter believes he’ll be able to return to his starting duties on Tuesday when the N.Y. Mets come to town:

I think, that’s all indications. Mark has been fighting his way through it for quite a while. Just going to try to get ahead of it with lack of activity the past few days. Hopefully we can get him back to close to normal. Nobody’s going to be normal til a month after the season’s over.

After dropping four straight games to Boston, today’s a good time for an off-day. Especially with so many young players on the roster now – it gives them a good chance to catch their breath.

Baltimore Orioles: Mistakes cost the Birds

In the nightcap of yesterday’s doubleheader, the Baltimore Orioles paid dearly for mistakes. Chris Davis made a base running gaffe (possibly twice over) early in the game, which cost the Orioles a run. And later on, we saw a fairly inventive strike zone by the home plate umpire that could have helped squash an Oriole rally.

Yefry Ramirez got the start, and delivered another outing with mixed results. Ramirez’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Not a horrible outing, however the Orioles seems to be set on Ramirez only pitching five innings or so. Either that, or that’s all Ramirez is capable of pitching at this point.

Renato Nunez‘s RBI-double in the last of the second gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. One inning later the O’s would extend that lead to 2-0 on Trey Mancini‘s RBI-single. However it was what occurred in the wake of that Nunez double in the second that was an issue. Later in the inning with Davis on third and nobody out, Mullins grounded out in the infield. The infield was back, which indicated that Boston was giving up a run in favor of an out.

Davis could have and would have scored on that play. But…he froze at third base. And to top it off, the next hitter popped out in foul territory. Davis possibly could have tagged up and scored from third with one out. But again…he froze at third base. The Orioles should have netted an extra run in some manner during that sequence.

And in typical fashion, Boston made the Orioles pay. Martinez smacked a solo homer in the fourth, and Butler tied it in the fifth with a sac fly-RBI. Boston would later take a 3-2 lead in the sixth on a wild pitch.

However Joey Rickard gave the Orioles the lead back in the last of the sixth with a solo homer. But Boston answered – Martinez smacked his second homer of the game in the eighth, this one of the two-run variety. And they added on, thanks to Holt’s ninth inning RBI-single. The Birds mounted a late rally that included a Mancini ninth inning solo homer, but it was too little too late. The Birds fell 6-4.

The O’s appeared poised to rally in the last of the eighth. They had two outs and two runners in scoring position. Jace Peterson was at the plate; he took a 2-1 pitch that looked to be about a foot off the plate…and it was called strike two. Peterson and the entire Orioles’ bench seemed fazed by that. The next pitch (on 2-2) was to the exact same spot, and Peterson swung and missed, ending the inning.

That one strike call changed the potential of the inning. Peterson went from being in control of the at-bat, to in essence being on the ropes. If you combine the potential of what could have occurred there with the missed opportunities to score in the second, the outcome of this game could have been very different. Buck Showalter addressed Chris Davis’ base running after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Yeah, Chris knows that. I was trying to get an explanation from Bobby (Dickerson. I don’t know if they thought the pitcher was going to cut the ball off. Great job by Cedric. What a great at-bat. You’re getting ready to have a man at third and one out and he executed it fine. Chris just got a bad read on it.

The other one, Bobby said that they thought it had a chance to fall and they respected Betts. In fact, some people might tell you he might have been out anyway if he tagged and went, but I don’t know. I haven’t looked at it. But Bobby said that from his perspective they felt like the ball had a chance to be fair, even though it ended up five or six feet foul. But every ball that stays in the air very long, you expect Betts to catch. But it’s a situation we’d like to score a run there. We should.

The series with Boston concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Chris Sale. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Three-run fifth sinks the Birds

A sixth-inning Adam Jones double was the extent of the Baltimore Orioles’ offense this afternoon in game one of a split doubleheader. The O’s coudn’t muster much in the wake of last night’s offensive explosion, however the pitching ended up doing them in once again. Jimmy Yacabonis was brought up as the Orioles’ 26th man (allowed for a double-header), and he struggled. Yacabonis’ line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

It’s your classic case of a pitcher pitching-to-contact once again, and the opponent intent on making contact. The teams breezed through the first few innings without much bluster, which I suppose was to be somewhat expected after last night’s incredibly long game. The difference is that Boston eventually woke up, and the Orioles didn’t.

Boston took a 2-0 lead in the fifth when Nunez smacked a two-run homer over the wall in left field on a line drive. Bradley would follow with a solo shot of his own, and the Birds trailed 3-0. Two innings later Bogaerts got on second, and the attempted to steal third. Austin Wynns promptly rattled off an errant throw, allowing Bogaerts to score and running the score to 4-0. Tack on another solo home run by Bradley in the ninth, and the Birds dropped this first game of a doubleheader to Boston 5-0.

The Orioles certainly would have liked to have looked better in this game than getting blanked 5-0, but the good news is that in most twin bills the teams split. Whether that happens today remains to be seen. Incidentally, this evening’s game is weather permitting.

Prior to this evening’s game the Orioles will hold their annual hall of fame induction ceremony, with former second baseman Brian Roberts and former broadcaster Fred Manfra being this year’s honorees. Roberts was a mainstay at second base for the Birds through some very dark years, and is well deserving of the honor. As is Fred Manfra, for the record. I’ve always said that baseball’s a sport that’s unlike others in that it’s still followed by radio by a great many fans. Radio is very much a part of the romanticism of the game, making radio announcers stewards of the game for a great many people. Manager Buck Showalter on Roberts and Manfra (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I got to see some spurts of greatness when he [Roberts] could stay on the field health-wise. Physically, it was really a challenge for him. Concussions, he had one right here with the helmet. I know Fred, that’s special, too, but when you’ve had a guy and you see him get honored like that … I’m sure Brian’s real excited about it.

The series continues this evening with the aforementioned second game of the doubleheader at Camden Yards. Yefry Ramirez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Hector Velazquez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins’ debut comes in a donnybrook loss

You knew that something was different for the Baltimore Orioles when Cedric Mullins was prompted to lead the team out of the dugout before the game. Mullins, who made his major league debut last night, played center field and was prompted by the Birds’ new right fielder (Adam Jones) to lead the team onto the field. Indeed, a new era has dawned in Birdland.

And much of it was orchestrated by Jones, who’s been lobbying for Mullins to come up for some time. And it’s tough to not notice the humility on Jones’ part, in effect stepping aside for a younger player. Jones is obviously still the team leader and de facto Captain, but needless to say Mullins is going to hopefully play that role moving forward in the future.

As for the game – well, it had its moments. Dylan Bundy got bounced around during his outing, but then again pretty much every pitcher (on both sides) did. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 8 R (7 earned), 4 BB, 3 K. Bundy gave up a three-run homer to Bogaerts in the first, which set the tone.

But the O’s got a solo homer by Chris Davis in the last of the second, and Mullins later came to the plate for his first big league at-bat in that inning with runners at first and second. And Mullins made an immediate impression, smacking a two-RBI double which tied the game. Later in the inning it was Jones’ turn, and not to be totally out-done by Mullins he smacked a two-RBI single. At the hands of the Captain and perhaps the Captain of the future, the O’s had the lead at 4-3.

And they added to it in the third, ending that inning with an 8-3 lead and chasing the Boston starter. However Boston’s the best team in baseball right now. A two-run fourth inning followed by a six-run sixth gave them an 11-8 lead. Again folks, that’s all part of rebuilding. It isn’t pretty, but it’s part of the process. and it isn’t like the ball wasn’t flying in general last night.

However the Orioles did battle back. Tim Beckham smacked a solo homer in the last of the sixth, and Davis added a sac fly-RBI. The O’s would also net a homer from Trumbo later in the game, and an RBI-single by Villar. However Boston poured it on from all sides, and the Birds fell 19-12 in Cedric Mullins’ big league debut.

And that right there is what Orioles’ fans should take away from this game. Mullins made it to the big leagues, and made an immediate impact. And that was manager Buck Showalter‘s take on the game also (all quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Oh yeah, that was fun to watch. I’m glad I had a seat for it. I spent a little time with Al Bumbry today. He was my player comp on Cedric the first time I saw Cedric, so I thought that was kind of apropos. Same kind of life to the body and effortless athleticism, so to speak.

That’s fun to watch. You can imagine, his family made it. Try to take stuff like that in regardless of the score of the game.

And incidentally, Mullins seems well aware of how lucky he is to have a guy like Adam Jones not only mentoring him, but seemingly advocating for him. In the business world we would call what Jones is in effect doing training your replacement. But sports is a little different, and Jones gets that – BIG TIME. Mullins thought he was kidding when Jones told him to lead the team out of the dugout:

In all honesty, I thought he was messing with me. I was looking around, ‘So is the pitcher good? All right?’ And all the players were saying, ‘Hey go, you’re leading it.’ So I took their word for it. And went out on the field. And then I took the scenic route. The long way around.

Most Orioles fans are hoping that the combo of Mullins in center and Jones in right will be around for at least the next couple of years. But that’s largely contingent on Jones and the Orioles, and whether there’s a mutual fit moving forward. My personal opinion is that there is.

The series continues this afternoon in game one of a split doubleheader (due to a rainout last month). Jimmy Yacabonis is being called up from the minors to make the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s David Price. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Cody Carrol blows save late

You have to feel badly for the Baltimore Orioles, and especially reliever Cody Carroll. The Birds got Carroll back in the Britton trade, and he along with others are getting their first shots in the big leagues in the here and now with the O’s. In Carroll’s case, he was used last night in a high stakes situation – and he blew a save and a potential win for the O’s.

David Hess wasn’t as effective starting last night as the Orioles would have liked, however he put the team in a position to win the game. And that’s really what you want out of a starting pitcher. Hess’ line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K.

The Orioles appeared set to go early when Joey Rickard smacked a two-RBI triple in the second inning. Later on they also got an RBI-single from Austin Wynns, giving the Birds a 3-0 lead. But Tampa’s the ultimate con artist in the sense that when you think they’re down, they often have you right where they want you. They nitpick you to death before you even know it. Duffy’s RBI-double in the third cut the lead to 3-1, and Choi’s homer an inning later left it at 3-2. Bauers’ sac fly-RBI in the sixth tied the game at three.

But once again, the Orioles appeared set in a sense as Renato Nunez smacked a solo homer in the seventh inning, giving them the lead back at 4-3. The O’s then brought Carroll into the game to pitch the last of the seventh; he allowed a base hit, a stolen base, and issued two walks. The second walk came with two outs; while it loaded the bases, you’re thinking that all he needs is one more out and he’s out of the inning…

…but that wasn’t to be. Bauer’s two-RBI single gave Tampa a 5-4 lead, which turned into a 5-4 victory. It goes as a blown save and a loss for Cody Carroll, however fans need to be patient. This is part of the rebuilding process, and it’s part of learning at this level. Mananger Buck Showalter said as much regarding Carroll after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

His command. It’s a young guy finding his way, a couple steps forward, a step back. He’ll learn from it. He’s got a good arm. I really like his competitiveness. I don’t know. Got to come up with a better expression than ‘not scared.’ But he’s a confident guy. He’ll learn from it. I expect him to be better the next time out. I try to keep in mind – and I think we all should – that these guys are making major league debuts and kind of seeing things for the first time. So, I try to keep that in mind. But they’re going to get a great opportunity here.

And again, fans need to keep in mind that this is all part of a process. The Orioles shied away from this process for years and years, but now it’s here. Everyone looks at Houston and the Chicago Cubs as if they’re the par for rebuilding, however at this point they forget that they were losing games in this fashion at one point.

The O’s now head home to open a three-game set with Boston. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Did Manny Machado hoodwink the Birds?

There’ll never come a time when I won’t believe that the beginnings of this year’s problems with the Baltimore Orioles didn’t come when they caved to Manny Machado‘s demands to play shortstop. This occurred during the winter meetings last year; Machado basically told Buck Showalter and company that he didn’t want to guard the hot corner any longer. And for one reason or another, the Orioles acquiesced to his demand.

I said at the time that was misguided, and I stand by that. I’m not sure what went into the decision to allow Manny to choose his position or who had the final say, but that’s what happened. If that was a message to Manny that the Orioles wanted to play ball and keep him, it certainly didn’t work – although the way the season has played out had a role in that also.

Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Machado is…playing third base regularly. Uh, excuse me?! Los Angeles’ regular third baseman, Justin Turner, is out with an injury. So in essence Machado’s just temporarily filling the role. However manager Dave Roberts made it clear that Manny kind of jumped at the chance to help (quote courtesy of Andy McCullough, L.A. Times):

He was traded here to be a shortstop, and we understand that. But the conversation that I’ve had with Manny last night was easy, and one that I anticipated, where he wanted to do whatever it was to help the ballclub, and help us win. I know he sees himself as a shortstop, as do we. But in this time, where Justin’s on the DL, it makes a lot of sense to have him play third.

In my view, that hardly sounds like the Manny Machado who informed the Orioles that he wanted to play shortstop instead of third. Granted when your team’s in a bind you try to do what you can to fill in. But here’s the flip side; Tim Beckham was injured for much of the first half, and he’s who replaced Machado at third base. Was there ever talk of Machado filling in at third with the Orioles?

It’s possible that Buck Showalter never approached him about it. It’s also possible that if he didn’t approach him about it, that was done because Buck had given Manny his word about playing shortstop. However all of that is provided that you aren’t needed elsewhere.

I’m not suggesting that Machado lollygagged through his time in Baltimore, or that he treated the Orioles overall like they didn’t matter. I’m just saying that he seemed to have no problem making the switch in L.A. now that he’s there. But literally given the exact same circumstances, that didn’t happen in Baltimore – for one reason or the other.

Baltimore Orioles: Mike Wright helped to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat

The Baltimore Orioles didn’t defeat the Tampa Rays this evening at Tropicana Field. I mean…they did, but they didn’t. Until they did again. If you’re confused, it was that type of game. And the unsung hero was Mike Wright.

Andrew Cashner turned in yet another quality start for the Orioles, but ended up with a no decision. Cashner’s line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R (1 earned), 1 BB, 2 K. Overall, the defense failed Orioles’ pitching this evening. Yet as a team, the Orioles overcame their own shoddy defense.

The O’s led the game off with back-to-back home runs on back-to-back pitches by Tim Beckham and Adam Jones. However Tampa came right back and tied it at two in the last of the first on RBI-singles by Bauer and Wendle. Sandwiched between those was a throwing error, the first of five committed by the Orioles in the game. However the O’s got the lead back in the fourth on a solo homer by Mark Trumbo.

As is par for the course for them, Tampa thought small while the Orioles had eyeballs the size of quarters at the plate. But the Birds left two runners on base in the seventh, only to watch Tampa catch just about every break in the book in the bottom of the inning. Beckham committed an error by slipping on the infield dirt with a runner on and one out – a play that would have had the Orioles out of the inning had the double-play been turned. But you can never assume the double-play; so at worst, it should have been a runner on first with two outs.

Perez’s subsequent sac fly-RBI tied the game back up at three. One inning later, Gomez’s RBI-double (a softly-hit ball, I might add) gave Tampa a 4-3 lead. The speedy Gomez simply got around first base expediently, and was able to slide in safely at second. Needless to say, given the fact that it was late in the game, that felt like a death blow for the Birds in this game…

…that is, until it wasn’t. First off, Tampa had a shot at making that into a big inning. However Mike Wright shut them down to close out the inning, which as I said above made him one of the unsung hero’s of this game. He did give up a run, however Tampa’s runs can be so fluky that you can almost look past that. He got the Orioles out of the inning and kept the game at a one-run margin.

The Birds put two runners in scoring position with nobody down in the top of the ninth. Trey Mancini came to the plate, and proved to be clutch. His two-RBI double gave the Birds a 5-4 lead. The O’s did make it interesting in the top of the ninth. Through errors they allowed the go-ahead run to get on base, but they were able to record the final out and close out a 5-4 win.

Make no mistake that Wright’s effort in the eighth saved the game for the Orioles. Or won it for them – depending on how you look at it. Most game stories are going to talk about Mancini among others – along with Cashner. But make no mistake that Mike Wright’s effort shouldn’t go unnoticed.

The series at Tropicana Field concludes tomorrow night. David Hess gets the start for the Orioles, and Tampa is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles’ Alex Cobb dominates but Tampa bests Birds in the end

Everything was lined up for Alex Cobb to get the win for the Baltimore Orioles in his return to Tampa. Cobb of course pitched six solid years with the Tampa Rays, and this was his first start in gray at Tropicana Field. To top it off, Cobb even went seven innings as opposed to the six for which we could pencil him in to this point. Cobb’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Cobb’s lone run surrendered was an RBI-single to Bauer in the first inning. But after that he began mowing down Tampa hitters. Regardless of what he threw up, Tampa was fooled.

The O’s tied the game at one in the fourth with a solo homer by another former Tampa Ray, Tim Beckham. One inning later they had the lead at 2-1 off of a solo homer by Trey Mancini – a Florida native. And an inning after that, Mark Trumbo smacked an RBI-single, giving the O’s a 3-1 lead.

But the real story of this game was Alex Cobb. There was nothing that Tampa could do to solve him. And it appeared that the Birds were finally getting a strong pitching outing and enough run support to win. Heck, they even got an infield RBI-single from Adam Jones in the eighth…

…that is, until it wasn’t an infield RBI-single. Tampa challenged the play, saying that the runner was actually out at home plate. Replays seemed to back up their point, and the umpires agreed. What would have been a 4-1 lead remained 3-1.

Tampa doesn’t do things in a grandiose manner. Whereas the other teams in the division look for the big inning, Tampa patches a run here and there together by doing small things, until you realize that those small things end up equating big things. That reversed run was a small thing – at the time. But it became a big deal.

Cobb and Andrew Cashner seem to be penciled in at six solid innings. However on this night Cobb went seven, in an attempt to help the bullpen. But it turned out that he should have gone eight – or nine.

Cobb was replaced in the eighth inning by Evan Phillips, who of course came to the Orioles only recently in the trade with Atlanta. He managed to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. While he allowed runners on and allowed runners to put the ball in play, the situation wasn’t helped by a potential ground ball double-play that was botched on a foul throw by Chris Davis. That would have recorded two outs and left the bases empty. But it wasn’t to be.

Phillips would uncork a wild pitch to cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-2. Tampa would later tie the score at three as Gomez grounded into a run-scoring double-play to tie the game at three. Tampa would make the comeback complete by Adames’ walk off home run in the last of the ninth.

Cobb deserved better in his return to Tropicana Field, and he definitely earned better. But this is what’s going to happen with a rebuilding team – and a bullpen that’s being rebuilt. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but games like these have to happen in order for things to get better.

The series continues tomorrow at Tropicana Field. The aforementioned Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Orioles, and in their typical atypical and wiry fashion Tampa has not yet named a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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