Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis finishes the spring strong as O’s fall to NY

The Baltimore Orioles welcomed the NY Mets to Ed Smith Stadium this afternoon in the final spring tune up in Grapefruit League play for both team Dylan Bundy got the start for the Orioles, lasting only into the fifth. Bundy looked good in the first inning, but had his struggles as time went on. Bundy’s line: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

In a game where both teams literally had their bags packed ready to go north, the Birds battled – and struck first. Dwight Smith Jr. got the O’s on the board with a solo home run in the last of the first. Rio Ruiz would follow later in the inning with an RBI-double, and he would later score on a two-run homer by Chris Davis.

Speaking of Davis, he seemed to take a bit of a turn in terms of his production at the plate at the very tail end of spring training. He finished Grapefruit League play hitting .189 – not good by anyone’s standards. But it’s better than last year’s regular season average. And better than earlier in the spring when he was hitting in the .120’s.

However Bundy immediately began the process of giving the lead back. Rosario’s RBI-single in the second cut the lead to 4-1. Conforto would push one across on an RBI-groundout in the third, and later in the inning Ramos’ sac fly-RBI brought New York to within one. However Dwight Smith, who’s had a great spring in the time he’s been with the Orioles, re-extended the lead to two runs, smacking his second solo homer on the day.

Two innings later NcNeil would cut that lead back to one at 5-4 on a solo homer. Two innings after that, Davis’ solo homer tied the game at five for New York. However Zach Vincej‘s solo homer in the last of that seventh inning gave the Orioles the lead once again at 6-5, before Thompson’s solo homer tied it in the eighth. Yet the O’s weren’t going to be denied more runs. Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-single in the eighth gave the Orioles that one-run lead back at 7-6, which would have been the final – if not for Smith’s three-run homer in the ninth. The O’s were an out away from winning – but them’s the breaks, and the O’s fell 9-7.

And THAT, folks, is a wrap for the 2019 Florida Grapefruit League season. The O’s finished the spring 12-17-3, and will now officially break camp, and head home where they’ll have a workout on the field at Camden Yards tomorrow. Of course they’ll be in New York on Thursday, Opening Day. Just as a matter of housekeeping, final rosters aren’t due until noon (EST) on Thursday, March 28th. That’s just about an hour before the Orioles’ game is scheduled to start.

Coming up this week on Birdland Crush, we’ll take a look at what this new era of Orioles’ baseball is, and what it means. I’ll also provide a formal season preview. Thanks for following along this spring, and I look forward to providing the same in-depth game coverage starting again on Thursday in the regular season!

Baltimore Orioles fall to Pittsburgh, Andrew Cashner the Opening Day understudy

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde announced before this afternoon’s game against Pittsburgh that starter Andrew Cashner would be pitching a shorter outing this afternoon. If Alex Cobb is unable to pitch in the Bronx on Thursday for Opening Day, Cashner will be the one getting the ball – so he was limited in his work this afternoon. Cashner’s line: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

Cashner gave up a solo homer in the first inning to Kang, which is the only run the Birds surrendered. The game was a pitcher’s duel to the end. However the Orioles have suddenly sustained a few injuries in the past 24 hours – literally the worst time possible in spring training.

I mentioned in last night’s column that Austin Hays injured his thumb sliding into a base in a minor league game. Hays wasn’t expected to start the season in the big leagues, however he’s a great prospect and has had a great spring. He also missed most of last season with injuries. I suspect he was definitely someone who should expect to be in Baltimore at some point this year – and his injury status is something to watch.

Brandon Hyde also announced before today.’a game in Sarasota that Mark Trumbo would be starting the season on the injured list. Trumbo of course had knee surgery last September, and had been appearing in games for the past two weeks or so. It’s disappointing, however not a total surprise. It’s unclear how long Trumbo will be out – it could be a few weeks, could be a month.

Which brings us back to Alex Cobb. Hyde said that he (Cobb) felt better this morning, and that limiting Cashner in today’s game was only a precaution. However it’s a decision that will probably need to be made by Tuesday or early Wednesday at the latest.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the case of Chance Sisco, who’s had a great spring. In my view, he’s earned a roster spot. However they also have Jesus Sucre, who’s opt out was extended to tomorrow. If he isn’t on the big league roster, he can become a free agent. On top of that, the Birds claimed Pedro Severino off of waivers from Washington on Friday.

They really like Sucre, and it seems to me that they wouldn’t have claimed Severino (a veteran catcher) if they weren’t going to put him on the roster. (Granted they could try to pass him through waivers and send him to the minors.) They also like Sisco, who again has had an outstanding camp. However he has options, unlike the other two. If the decision were mine, I’d go with Sisco and Sucre. Either way, this should be more clear by tomorrow.

And Chance Sisco figured big in the Orioles tying today’s game. He went 3-for-3 on the day, including a double in the eighth inning with the Birds still trailing 1-0. He would eventually et to third, and then score on a sac fly-RBI. While the game goes down as a 1-1 tie, Sisco is still making it tough for them to send him down. And that’s to his credit.

The O’s will play their final Grapefruit League game tomorrow afternoon as the NY Mets come into Ed Smith Stadium. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Zack Wheeler. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall, potentially lose Alex Cobb

Just today I was telling someone that there’s one small silver lining to the Baltimore Orioles Opening the season with two of their first three series’ being against New York. And that’s the fact that New York has a plethora of injuries right now. If you’re going to play six games in a week against them, you might as well do so when they aren’t at full strength.

Then Opening Day starter Alex Cobb took the mound this evening in his final spring start of the year, vs. Minnesota. Cobb pitched one inning, and showed no sign of discomfort. However when the last of the second came around, Cobb was out of the game. The Orioles later announced that he had groin tightness, and after the game they said it was a mild groin strain. They felt they got him out in time, but that remains to be seen.

No folks, my commentary about New York’s injury issues didn’t cause this. Just a coincidence. As of when this is being written, Cobb is still slated to start on Opening Day. It’s unclear if that’ll end up being the case. It just matters how Cobb feels going through this week. Cobb’s line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

This meant that the Orioles’ bullpen was called into early action – not something that happens often in spring games. Jimmy Yacabonis gave up a two-run homer to Castro, Cruz added an RBI-double, as sos Rosario (in the third). The Orioles trailed 4-0.

But the Orioles did make a small run. Dwight Smith Jr. smacked a solo homer in the last of the third. Later in the inning Chris Davis smacked a moonshot solo homer, and the O’s had cut the lead in half at 4-2.

However Minnesota put up another four runs in the fourth. A softly-hit bloop RBI-single, and a three-run homer; the Birds trailed 8-2. However Smith came back up in the last of the fourth and reached on a Schoop error, scoring a run. However two innings later in the last of the sixth Eduardo Nunez‘s solo homer cut the Minnesota lead to 8-4.

Dwight Smith has a great game, smacking a two-RBI double later in that sixth inning. One inning later Rio Ruiz‘s solo homer brought the O’s to within 8-7. And that ended up being your ballgame. But the Birds have bigger issues now than dropping this game.

As this column is being written, Alex Cobb is still the Opening Day starter on Thursday. Will that change? If so, who now gets the ball?

The Orioles really find themselves in an unfortunate position in that regard. It would seem to me that the next man up would in theory be Andrew Cashner – who’s also scheduled to start tomorrow afternoon’s game. If Cashner were to now start tomorrow, he’d find himself pitching on short rest on Thursday (if in fact he was the new Opening Day starter).

So I’m short, Cobb couldn’t have possibly injured himself at a worse time. To make matters worse, Austin Wynns injured himself a n a minor league game today. The injury occurred as he slid into a base, and he’ll have an MRI on his wrist tomorrow. Not good news for the O’s.

Tomorrow the Orioles’ “A team” will remain in Sarasota to take on Pittsburgh (while the “B team” heads to Clearwater to take on Philadelphia). Again as this is being written the aforementioned Andrew Cashner is slated as the Orioles’ starter, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles blanked in Dunedin

Mike Wright Jr. got the start for the Baltimore Orioles this evening in Dunedin against Toronto. While he only pitched four innings in his penultimate spring outing, he was able to atone for himself fairly well. Wright’s line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Wright exited after four innings but continued his work in the bullpen. He allowed a solo homer in the second inning to Smoak, and Pillar would ground into a run-scoring double-play in the fourth. As I’ve said many times this spring, solo home runs in theory won’t beat you. The Orioles in 2018 found ways to allow solo homers to defeat them, but also keep in mind that 2019 is a new season.

Toronto would add two more in the fifth on a two-run homer by Drury. The concerning thing there isn’t so much that it happened, but that it happened on a full count. First off the O’s made a living last year allowing hits and homers on two-strike counts. However if you groove a pitch on a full count, big league hitters are going to hit it – and a long way at that.

However it.’a tough to score runs when you only muster four hits. And it’s tough to win when you don’t score runs. And the O’s got blanked by Toronto on this night, 4-0.

The Orioles return home to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow night as Minnesota comes into Sarasota one more time this spring. The Birds will send Alex Cobb to the mound for his final spring start, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Jose Berrios. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Kids still cheer free in 2019

The Baltimore Orioles announced this week that for the second consecutive season, kids will be able to “cheer free” at Camden Yards in 2019. Fans might remember that this was a thing last year. In essence, with the purchase of an adult ticket you get two tickets for kids nine and under for free.

The Angelos family began this initiative not as a means to drive attendance. However they want kids to have the opportunity to experience the game up close and in person. That’s how you get people into the fray early, and eventually they’ll grow up and love the sport and bring their own kids. The idea was widely praised league-wide.

Fans can visit the Kids Cheer Free website to purchase tickets. This offer applies to any game that isn’t Opening Day. However it’s only valid while supplies last. So get on there and get your tickets so you can bring your kids out!

Baltimore Orioles: Walk off grand slam sinks the Birds

David Hess atone for himself fairly well in his spring finale for the Baltimore Orioles. He spotted Pittsburgh two runs, but settled down. Hess’ line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Hess gave up a solo homer in the first and second innings, giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead. However as we say so often, solo home runs aren’t ever going to kill you. In fact Hess only gave up one more hit on the outing.

But the O’s got things tied up quickly. Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer in the fourth inning. Later in the inning Joey Rickard‘s RBI-double tied the game at two. The Orioles would proceed to take a 3-2 lead later in the inning on Handed Alberto‘s sac fly-RBI.

Pittsburgh would tack on a solo homer in the sixth to tie the game at three. But the Birds were poised to win the game late on Drew Jackson‘s two-RBI single. However that was short lived…

…because the home team bats last. And when that home team smacks a grand slam down two in the ninth, it’s a walk off grand slam. The Birds fell on this day, 7-5.

The takeaway from this game was that Hess was roughed up just a bit. But as I’ve said, pitchers will get themselves in trouble. The good ones will get themselves out of it. Hess retired 11 of his final 12 batters faced. So that’s something.

Tomorrow evening the O’s head to Dunedin Stadium to take on Toronto for the final time this spring. Mike Wright Jr. gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Anibal Sanchez. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall late after Dylan Bundy shines

The Baltimore Orioles sent Dylan Bundy to the mound this evening against Boston, in what could have been his penultimate spring start. And despite a couple of struggles, he turned in a dazzling performance. Just as a note, Bundy may well get one more outing for all we know – that’s up to the coaches. But this would be a good way to wrap up the spring. Bundy’s line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Cedric Mullins led the game off with a solo homer, giving the O’s an early 1-0 lead. Bundy’s one tough inning however was the third. He loaded the bases with nobody out off the bat. He did induce a ground ball double-play by Nunez, but that tied the game at one.

Bundy showed shades of last year in that third inning. He had numerous Boston hitters down in the count on two-strike counts, only to allow them to get aboard. However to his credit, Bundy minimized the damage and worked out of the problem. Pitchers will get themselves in trouble in games. The decent ones find ways out of it also.

The teams played to a 1-1 tie into the middle innings. The Orioles did however make Boston starter Porcello work for his outs, which was good to see. With a runner on first in the last of the sixth, Cedric Mullins hit what appeared to be a single, which would have left runners at the corners. However Mullins hustled into second base, turning a single into a double. Jonathan Villar would subsequently smack a two-RBI single, giving the Orioles a 3-1 lead.

Part of that sequence should be credited to Mullins. He hustled, and was able to get into second. That’s not something that’ll show up in the scorebook. However it’s one of those intangible aspects of a game that will help you to win.

Boston would net a run in the seventh on a wild pitch, however Dwight Smith Jr. would smack a solo homer in the bottom of the inning which extended the Orioles’ lead to 4-2. This only to have it cut back to one at 4-3 in the eighth when the Birds couldn’t complete a double-play. They would later tie the game at four on a wild pitch.

An additional error on the catcher and an RBI-single later, and Jimmy Yacabonis has blown the save. Not all of those runs were Yacabonis’ fault. Again in shades of last season, an Orioles’ opponent found every which way to put runs on the board. Yacabonis was also playing with lots of backup people in the game, which should go as duly noted. All of the runs were earned, but there certainly was a lot that seemed beyond Yacabonis’ control.

While the Birds dropped this one by the aforementioned 6-4 score, it’s important to note that the Orioles’ starters still gave a great showing this evening. Especially Dylan Bundy and Cedric Mullins. The lion’s share of the errors were committed by guys who’ll probably end up in the minors. However that’s also part of learning and part of what rebuilding is about. So this game gives the O’s a lot on which to build.

The Orioles will head up to Bradenton tomorrow to take on Pittsburgh at Lecom Park. David Hess gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Chris Archer. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles, Andrew Cashner win a donnybrook in Lakeland

The Baltimore Orioles gave starter Andrew Cashner a great deal of run support this afternoon in Lakeland against Detroit. At first however, it appeared to be similar to a great deal of Cashner’s starts with the Orioles last year. One bad pitch and no run support. But that changed eventually – and it did so in a fast and furious manner. Cashner’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K.

Cashner gave up a solo homer in the first inning to Castellanos, the second batter of the game. And that was it in terms of runs surrendered by Cashner. He buckled down and pitched to a dazzling start. In fact, it could well have been the best outing by an Oriole starter thus far in the spring. Cashner on his outing:

I thought it kind of finally all came together today. I thought I slowed my pace down a little bit. Thought the biggest thing was made an adjustment out of the bullpen, keeping my chin quiet.

I thought I spun the ball a lot better today. Kind of made some tweaks with my curveball. Kind of got a little late start on the curveball. Just didn’t feel right in the beginning. Hadn’t thrown it much and I thought today was big progress with that.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Last season Cashner had several starts where he had no run support, as I said above. Through four innings, it appeared that this one might be similar. Then the donnybrook that was the fifth inning happened.

The Orioles managed to load the bases with one down in the fifth. Jonathan Villar then smacked a bases-clearing double, giving the O’s a 3-1 lead. Trey Mancini would tack on another run with an RBI-triple, and the Birds led 4-1.

The Orioles would also get an RBI-single from Ryan Mountcastle, and a sac fly-RBI by Joey Rickard. This all in the fifth, and it left the Orioles and Cashner with a 6-1 lead. Mancini had a good day as well, on his 27th birthday. Mancini went 1-for-3 with a walk.

The Orioles kept the pressure on in the later innings. Dwight Smith smacked a two-run homer in the seventh to run the Birds’ lead to 8-1. Zach Vincej would add an RBI-single later in the inning, giving them a 9-1 lead. That Vincej RBI-single also came on the heels of a Detroit fielding error which extended the inning.

Another mark of last year’s Orioles’ team was that they often allowed teams off the hook when they made mistakes. Thus far in the spring, that hasn’t been the case. The Birds were able to tack on several more late runs, taking this game 14-1. One of the more runaway victories if you will this spring – hence the term donnybrook.

The Orioles return home to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow as Minnesota comes to Sarasota for what feels like the 100th time this spring. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Mike Wright Jr. knocked around in loss to New York

The Baltimore Orioles took on the New York Yankees this afternoon in the final meeting between the two teams before Opening Day. Mike Wright Jr. got the start, but struggled in terms of giving up the long ball. Wright’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

Wright got a lot of the strike zone in his outing, possibly too much. He admitted after coming out that the issue was the home runs (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I’m going to have 3-1 counts. That’s just the bottom line. It’s just how you get out of them, how you approach them. A walk in that situation wouldn’t have been the end of the world.

Wright gave up a two-run homer in the first, and a solo shot in the third. He also surrendered a second solo shot in the fourth, giving New York a 4-0 lead. As Wright said, a walk in theory is better than a homer.

The O’s got on the board in the sixth on an RBI-groundout by Alcides Escobar. Carlos Perez added a solo homer in the eighth, and suddenly the O’s has cut the lead in half. Unfortunately for the O’s, NY pitching shut down Oriole bats for most of the day.

But the good news for the Birds is that they also managed an RBI-single in the eighth following the Perez homer. And that single came off the bat of Chris Davis. Again, that should be the takeaway for today’s game. Davis has started to hit – even if only a little. That could be a good sign for the O’s moving forward.

New York would tack on an RBI-double in the ninth, taking the game 5-3. I suppose that it’s safe to say that the luck of the Irish was with them today. On this St. Patrick’s Day. Again as so said, the next time these two teams meet will be on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. New York also comes to Baltimore incidentally for the Orioles’ home opener.

The O’s head to Lakeland to take on Detroit tomorrow, in the beginning of the home stretch of spring training. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Jordan Zimmerman. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles defeat Toronto on a late Austin Hays homer

The Baltimore Orioles traveled north to Dunedin Stadium to take on their AL East rivals, Toronto, this afternoon. Announced Opening Day starter Alex Cobb got the start, and looked crisper than his stat line indicates. Cobb’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 8 K.

I say that he pitched better than his stat line indicates because of the three runs. Obviously the eight strikeouts over five innings is outstanding. Not to mention the zero walks. In some senses, Cobb looked every bit the Opening Day starter.

The teams played to a 0-0 tie through three innings. However the Orioles took the lead in the fourth on Renato Nunez‘s RBI-double. Later in the inning the O’s got a second RBI-double, this time by Stevie Wilkerson. And the Birds were off to a 2-0 lead. One inning later a Sisco walk with the bases loaded ran it to 3-0.

However the fifth inning did Cobb in. He gave up three runs, allowing Toronto to tie the game at three. End of the day, Cobb pitches pretty well. But the fact that yet another presumed started seemed to tire in the fifth inning is somewhat disheartening.

However the Orioles weren’t going to be held to any moral victories on this day. The O’s got a solo homer from Austin Hays in the eight inning, giving them a 4-3 lead. And that turned into a 4-3 victory.

Hays has had a great spring in his own right, and is making a great play to be on the roster. Time will tell if he is at the end of the day. But he.’a certainly making his case.

The O’s return to Sarasota tomorrow as New York comes into Ed Smith Stadium. Mike Wright Jr. gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Jonathan Loaisiga. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: David Hess knocked around in Birds’ loss

David Hess had about as tough a day today for the Baltimore Orioles as any pitcher is going to have. Regular season game, exhibition game – ultimately it doesn’t matter. Going into today’s game it appeared that Hess was looking at a rotation slot. I have to assume that’s still in play, however Hess didn’t do himself any favors today. Hess’ line: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Before you could blink, Hess had given up nine runs. They came on a plethora of homers, singles, and doubles. All in all, not a good day for David Hess. For Hess’ sake, he has to attempt to shake it off. If he does, he’s probably still in line for a rotation spot. However for the crew who says Hess is washed up, keep in mind that pitchers are going to have days like this. Over the course of a season a pitcher’s going to have ten good starts, ten bad starts, and ten in between. The season hasn’t started yet, but this would go in the bad category (if the regular season had already started).

But all wasn’t lost for the Orioles. They battled back, and that’s been a staple of this Oriole team this spring. Regardless of home or away, or who’s in the game, these guys have battled and have never given up.

Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-single in the fourth got the Birds on the board. Later in the inning Joey Rickard‘s two-RBI double cut the Minnesota lead to 9-3. As I said, these guys flat out haven’t ever given up. That’s the type of character you want as part of your team and organization.

Trey Mancini would score from third in the fifth on a wild pitch, and Rickard would later smack another RBI-single, cutting the Minnesota lead to 9-5. Joey Rickard had three RBI on the day, once again making his own case to be a part of the big league roster. However that aside, the Birds found themselves to within 9-7 in the sixth after Drew Jackson‘s two-run homer.

However unfortunately for the Orioles, one inning later Minnesota extended it’s lead to 12-7. This following back-to-back homers, the first of which was a two-run shot. The Orioles would tack on two runs late, however while they battled and valiantly forced themselves back into the game, it wasn’t their day. And they fell 12-9 to Minnesota.

The Orioles will head to Dunedin Stadium tomorrow to take on Toronto. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Sam Gaviglio . Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy with mixed results in loss

Dylan Bundy, who’s had a bit of a rough spring, pitched four strong innings this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles. Unfortunately Bundy pitched five innings this afternoon against Minnesota. He pitched better than his line score indicates, but the fifth inning counts towards his stats. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4, R, 1 B, 4, K.

Bundy’s slider was on point today, although he left a couple of them up in that fifth inning. He admitted to MASN television after he came out that he only threw one or two curves. That tells you that Bundy’s objective today was to hit on his sliders. And for the most part he did.

The O’s got on the board early this afternoon in what ended up being an offensive-minded game. Cedric Mullins smacked a solo home run leading off. You certainly take runs however they come, but obviously the nature of the lead off spot is such that you want the guy to get on base. In essence you want the lead off man to set the table. But Mullins decided to eat the meal this afternoon – and as I said, you take what you can get!

Minnesota would even the score at one witty an RBI-single in the third, but Bundy was able to limit the damage. But the O’s got the lead back one inning later. Austin Hays‘ RBI-double Gabe them a 2-1 lead, and it was run to 3-1 on an RBI-groundout by Jace Peterson later in the year inning.

But as I said earlier, the fifth inning is what did Bundy in. Or more realistically that’s when he started to tire. He gave up an RBI- single to Reed, and then a two-RBI double to Cave. When the smoke cleared, the O’s trailed 4-3.

However as I said, this was an offensive game. The Birds got right back on it in the last of the fifth, tying the game at four on an RBI-single by Christopher Bostick. Minnesota would briefly re-take the lead in the sixth on a solo homer, however Jace Peterson wasn’t done for the day at that point. He smacked a two-run homer in the last of the sixth to give the O’s the lead back at 6-5.

In terms of winning or losing the game however, the Orioles’ luck eventually ran out. Minnesota would add RBI-singles in the seventh and the ninth, to take this one 7-6. Again folks, wins and losses don’t matter – yet.

Another bright spot today for the Orioles was first baseman Chris Davis, who went 1-for-2 on the day. That one hit was against the shift however, which is what fans have been waiting to see Davis try to do for some time. He also drew a walk in his first at-bat.

The story of the day however was Bundy, who as I said looked very good through four innings. If he’s only going to be able to go four however, that’s going to be a problem. However the situation isn’t as dire as perhaps I’m making it out to be. Bundy said after his outing that he still has two spring appearances left to make. I would simply say that those two appearances are very important – both for crispness, and for longevity in the games.

The Orioles will take on Minnesota again tomorrow, this time at CenturySports Park in Fort Myers. Neither team has announced a starting pitcher. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Six unanswered runs defeats Toronto late

Perhaps the biggest news coming out of Sarasota today is that the Baltimore Orioles have tabbed Alex Cobb to start on Opening Day. It’s obviously an honor, and making the announcement now gives Cobb a chance to prepare himself. It also gives the O’s a chance to line up the rest of the rotation. Manager Brandon Hyde on the choice of Alex Cobb (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Opening day is one of 162, but it’s a special day. A very special day. And I’ve respected Alex for a long time. We all respect him very much, what he’s done in his career. We feel like he’s earned it. His track record speaks for itself. So we’re just excited about naming him opening day starter.

Andrew Cashner got the start in this afternoon’s game in Sarasota against Toronto. Cashner’s line: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Cashner gave up a two-RBI double in the second inning to Sogard, which gave Toronto a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning Urena would add an RBI-single, as would McKinney in the top of the fifth. Through four-and-a-half, the O’s trailed 4-0.

However Drew Jackson‘s RBI-single in the fifth cut the lead to 4-1. Joey Richard‘s RBI-single in the last of the sixth brought the O’s to within 4-3. Last night in Tampa of course we saw New York come back on the Orioles late in the game. In the eighth inning to be exact. Is it possible that sort of thing could have been contagious?

The Birds loaded the bases right off the bat in the last of the eighth, bringing Christopher Bostick to the plate. Bostick would draw a walk, tying the game at four. That brought J.C. Escarra to the plate, with the bases still loaded and nobody out. While Escarra was robbed of what would have indubitably been a bases-clearing double, he ended up with a sac fly-RBI, which gave the Orioles the lead at 5-4. Stevie Wilkerson rounded out the scoring with an RBI-single, giving the O’s a 6-4 victory over Toronto.

Things started out somewhat rough for the Birds, however the fact is that they scored six unanswered runs to win this game. And that also means that guys are battling to the last pitch – whether it’s for a job or to win the game. Guys aren’t giving away at-bats, no matter what the odds are of a comeback or a victory. And that’s part of why this has been such a great camp for Brandon Hyde’s Baltimore Orioles.

Mark Trumbo also made his spring debut today following surgery on his knee. He went 0-for-two on the day, but the big news was that he got into a game. The hope is that he’s ready for Opening Day – which is two weeks from tomorrow.

em having lost three straight games. And even if this were the regular season, tomorrow is the next opportunity to break that streak and win a game.

The Orioles will remain in Sarasota tomorrow as Minnesota comes into Ed Smith Stadium. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Chase De Jong. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles lose late lead, fall to NY

Mike Wright Jr. got the starting assignment this evening as the Baltimore Orioles began the second half of the Grapefruit League schedule, in Tampa against the New York Yankees. Wright surrendered a couple of early runs, and ended up leaving the game earlier than expected due to an elevated pitch count. (This due to Wright going deep into a few counts, and a few prolonged at-bats due to fouls.) Wright’s line: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Cedric Mullins got the game started by drawing a walk. He went to second on a sac fly, stole third, and then took home plate on an errant throw. This illustrates what I’ve been saying in that sometimes if you have traffic on the base paths and/or speed, sometimes you end up making things happen. Mullins put the pressure on New York in that instance, and without even recording a hit the Orioles were rewarded with a run.

New York would take a brief lead on Judge’s two-run homer in the last of the first. However again, part of the Orioles’ game plan this year is going to be to get guys on base. Stevie Wilkerson would do just that in the top of the second, by bunting against the shift to third base. I’m not sure why more guys don’t try to do that, but it certainly looks good on a guy like Wilkerson who’s trying to make the team.

That began a big inning for O’s. Eric Young Jr. would tie the game with an RBI-single, and later in the inning the Birds would load the bases. Eric Young Jr. then came to the plate and gave the Orioles a big lead at 5-2 with a bases-clearing double. Again, get guys on base and things can happen. And make no mistake that the Orioles’ brass noticed that it began with a guy hitting against the shift.

Hays would later score on Chris Davis‘ RBI-single, giving the O’s a 6-2 lead. That was only Davis’ second hit of the spring, the other being a home run. New York would close to within 6-4 in the fourth on Gardener’s two-run homer. That came on the heels of an E6 by Martin, which allowed a base runner. As important as it is to get guys on base, it’s equally important to keep the other guys off base. Errors will happen, however to goal is to minimize them.

New York would close to within 6-5 in the fifth on an RBI-single by Bird. However Austin Hays would continue his impressive spring in the seventh with a solo homer, extending the Orioles’ lead back to two runs at 7-5. New York would add a solo homer in the eighth as well as tie the game at seven on a walk with the bases loaded, and they’d take an 8-7 lead on a sac fly-RBI – sending the Orioles home with a loss.

Those three eight inning runs were given up by Mychal Givens, who’s having a bit of a rough spring. Is that something that’s of concern to Brandon Hyde and company? To this point the skipper’s said that he isn’t foreseeing an issue with Givens (a potential closer candidate going into camp). Obviously, Givens has been around and for the most part we know what he can do. However while this is still spring training, his three runs surrendered did cost the O’s the game tonight. That’s the sort of thing that needs to be avoided.

For what it’s worth, next week is the last full week of camp, and thus of the Grapefruit League “season.” Mark Trumbo is expected to make his spring debut in tomorrow’s game. The hope is that gives him enough time and enough at-bats to get ready for the regular season.

The Orioles return to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow as Toronto comes to Sarasota. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones to Arizona

On this, the only off day in camp, there’s news about a former member of the Baltimore Orioles. It appears that Adam Jones has landed. Last night the news broke that Jones had apparently agreed to a one-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, worth $3 million guaranteed.

Jones will join another former Oriole, catcher Caleb Joseph, in Arizona with the Diamondbacks. I think this is a good situation for Jones, as he’s going to a team that believes it’s ready to contend now. Obviously Jones is a veteran, he’s a proven leader on and off the field, and he has post season experience. So odds are this is a very good match.

When I heard the news I admittedly thought back to that day last autumn – the last day. The moment that Jones was lifted in the top of the ninth inning to a well-deserved Standing O is one that I think will be remembered for some time in Baltimore circles. Adam Jones will always be an Oriole, regardless of which colors he’s wearing.

Obviously this kind of works out for Orioles fans also in that he’s going to a National League team. He won’t be competing with the Orioles per se, although the Birds do visit Arizona this year. However it certainly won’t for the most part be the Orioles that Jones knew with a few exceptions – the Davis’, Trumbo’s, etc of the world.

I hope that Orioles fans will join me in wishing Adam Jones the best in Arizona. Baseball is a better game with him in it, and as a starter at that. For what it’s worth, Orioles fans will in theory get a shot to see Jones play in person in the region this year. Arizona comes to Nationals Park in Washington on June 13-16th. And incidentally, does anyone recall who the first manager in Arizona Diamondbacks’ history was? That would be BUCK SHOWALTER!

Baltimore Orioles: Manufactured runs make a difference

The Baltimore Orioles closed the unofficial first half of their spring slate of games this afternoon against Philadelphia at Ed Smith Stadium. The Birds sent Josh Rogers to the mound for the start, and with some limited success at that. Rogers’ line: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Rogers said after his outing that he felt good, and that he felt he made some strides in this outing. I suspect that Rogers could be earmarked for the Norfolk Tides’ rotation, however the fact that he’s being given starts in spring games tells you that he is in fact competing for a roster spot for the Birds as well. Time will tell who breaks camp with the big league club, however at the end of the day this first half of the Grapefruit League schedule has involved some intense competition by some very young pitchers. That bodes well for the future.

The Orioles took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI-single by DJ Stewart. That scored Jonathan Villar, on what in essence was a manufactured run. Following a single Villar went to second on a wild pitch, to third on a groundout, and then scored on a subsequent single.

Philadelphia would tie the game on a solo homer in the second by Gosselin. However the O’s also manufactured another run in the last of the third inning, and again it involved Jonathan Villar. He got aboard once again with a single, and proceeded to steal second base. He took third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch. As I’ve said many times, traffic on the base paths can lead to runs being scored.

However Philadelphia would plate four runs in the fourth which opened up a 5-2 lead for them. The Orioles brought in Paul Fry, who pitched two perfect innings and struck out one. Fry was not only perfect in terms of not allowing a base runner, but he served as a stabilizing factor in the game, allowing the Birds to get back into it.

The O’s got to within 5-4 in the last of the sixth on Joey Rickard‘s two-RBI double. They were able to tie the game back up at five later in the inning on Diaz’s sac fly-RBI. However the top of the eight brought the lead back to Philadelphia, who was also able to break the game open. They took a 6-5 lead on Guzman’s RBI-double, and that lead was extended to 8-5 on a two-run homer by Plouffe.

While the O’s fell to Philadelphia on this day, don’t shoo off the effect of those two runs manufactured by Jonathan Villar. That’s one aspect that’s been missing from the O’s for some time; they were consistently unable to get runs home by any manner other than homers. That made them predictable, and easy to which to pitch.

The fact that they’re doing this in spring training is a good sign. These games may not count, but you ultimately play like you practice. Does this mean that the O’s will contend this season? No. But perhaps a run here and there in spots where they otherwise wouldn’t have scored runs previously will give them an additional win here or there. Every little bit helps.

Tomorrow is the Orioles’ lone off day of the Grapefruit League season. In fact, the Ed Smith Stadium complex will be closed to players. The idea is for them to be anywhere but the facility. The regular season of course has off days built in all over the place – but consider this one akin to perhaps the all-star break in comparison with the regular season!

Baltimore Orioles: Keeping the beer cold one draft at a time

The Baltimore Orioles recently had radio announcer Joe Angel retire. Angel was an institution among Orioles fans, and he definitely had what they call the “golden pipes” behind the mic. However when Angel first came to the Orioles (in the first of his three stunts), he was working with a name that was and still is legendary: the great Chuck Thompson.

I do a tribute column to Chuck Thompson every year in Spring Training. Simply put, Chuck was the best. THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN THE BUSINESS. His name wasn’t as well know perhaps as the likes of a Vin Scully, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, or Mel Allen. But he was Baltimore’s version of those guys – and THAT made him the best!

I was only privileged to hear Thompson towards the end of his storied career, mainly while he worked part-time for the Orioles. However his prowess behind the mic was no less prevalent than in his heyday. He had that smooth delivery and that conversational tone that made you feel like he was describing the game for you in your living room.

And his trademarks – who could forget that?! The title of this article is an obvious play on his best-known catchphrase, ain’t the beer cold?! That would come out anytime the Orioles would win. During a game if they would make a frat play, Chuck would drag out his other catchphrase, go to war, Ms. Agnes! Allegedly that was an ode to an old race horse named the Ms. Agnes. When you use either one of those phrases with people of a certain age in Baltimore, they know exactly to what and to whom you are referring.

Part of the reason that Chuck Thompson and so many others (such as the names I mentioned above) were so special to Baltimore and their respective cities is because radio is how people followed the games. Often times they weren’t televised. And if they were, it might only be one game a week – which may or may not have featured your team.

So the voice of Chuck Thompson was how fans followed the Orioles. The same is true of Harry Kalas in Philadelphia, Jack Brickhouse in Chicago, and Red Barber in Brooklyn. They were the voices of baseball, and thus the voices of summertime – good times, vacation, etc. That’s powerful.

Many of the Orioles’ games aired on Home Team Sports by the time this 80’s kid came along. For the most part, one game per series would appear on over-the-air television (with two on HTS). However I also had a father who famously and out of principle refused to pay the nominal up charge to include HTS in our cable package. So I spent a lot of nights and afternoons listening to games on the radio. In that sense I’m somewhat of a throwback to previous generations, as those voices with whom I grew up mean something to me.

I found it ironic a few years ago when the O’s were down in DC to play the Washington Nationals on Memorial Day. My route to the ballpark that day took me through a Washington Harbor, where I noticed a large boat docked near The Sequoia (the former Presidential Yacht). The boat was named The Miss Agnes, and it was listed as being from Baltimore. As a kid who grew up listening to Chuck Thompson call games on the radio, I got a kick out of that. It was also cool to see in Washington, because Thompson called Washington Senators games for a few years in the early 1960’s.

We’re still here Chuck, keeping the beer cold one draft at a time!

Baltimore Orioles defeat Boston as injury concerns creep in

The Baltimore Orioles were once again able to defeat Boston this afternoon, this time at Ed Smith Stadium. Andrew Cashner got the start, and was effective – although he didn’t last long in the game. Cashner’s line: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K. Cashner gave up an RBI-double to Lin in the second inning before being lifted, giving Boston a 1-0 lead.

However the bigger news for the Orioles on the day was a few injury situations that are starting to creep up on the Birds. Chris Davis had an MRI on his hip this morning. Manager Brandon Hyde on Davis:

He is feeling better today, but we’re doing a precautionary MRI this morning. We just want to get it looked at. But he did feel better coming in this morning. It sounded like everything was going well.

Quote Courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Then there’s the issue of Mark Trumbo, who’s trying to rebound from surgery back in September. The target was for Trumbo to get into games next week, but Hyde isn’t sure that’s going to happen:

We’ve talked a lot about Mark. I’m not putting any kind of timeline on Mark. I want to do what’s best for Mark. I want Mark to be healthy during the season and not try to force or rush.

For me, opening day is just a number. It’s a real special day. It’s just one of 162, so I’m not trying to cram in his rehab to try to make it on that day. I want to do what’s best for him. And if that means middle of April or May, whatever it is, I want him to be 100 percent and go forward and not be 80 percent and have it nagging throughout the season.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Nate Karns was able to get into this afternoon’s game and pitch a scoreless inning, however the odds of him starting the season in the rotation are going down. The Orioles could extend him in the end of camp, or he might just have to start out in the bullpen – or on the Injured List. Time will tell.

Renato Nunez came up to hit in the last of the fourth and the Birds trailing Boston 1-0, and brought the Orioles even with a solo home run. Two innings later Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-double gave the Birds the lead at 2-1. Tack on Chance Sisco‘s RBI-single, and the Orioles had a 3-1 lead over Boston.

This continues a great spring thus far for Sisco. He’s currently hitting .417 on the spring, which has been a welcome surprise thus far for the Orioles. My personal opinion is that Sisco was already going to be on the roster, however his play this spring has probably cemented that. I suspect he’ll be the starting catcher for the Orioles on Opening Day.

Anthony Santander would add an RBI-double in the seventh, which ended up being semi-big because Boston would tack on a run in the ninth on an error. End of the day, Boston had the tying run at the plate when they made the game’s final out. Those add-on runs late do come in handy, and can often be the difference between winning and losing.

The Birds will have another split squad day tomorrow, with the A team taking on New York at Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow night (the B team will journey to Port Charlotte to take on Tampa in the afternoon). David Hess gets the start for the Orioles, with New York yet to announce a starter as this is being written. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall despite finding some Wright things

One of the more unsung stories of camp thus far for the Baltimore Orioles might be Mike Wright Jr. Wright got the start today against Pittsburgh, and turned in another great effort. Wright’s line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Mike Wright’s appeared in four games this spring. He’s yet to give up a run, and has seven strikeouts. Needless to say, he’s been pretty darned impressive. However as he said after the game, he’s unsure of which role (reliever or starter) for which he’s auditioning (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I’m still in the (mode of) whatever role is what it is. Right now I was on four days’ rest, so the fifth day, that’s exciting. But moving forward I’m going to continue doing the same thing I’ve been doing and try to make the team.

Again needless to say, he’s been doing all the right things. Or the Wright things.

The O’s took the lead in the second inning this afternoon on Alcides Escobar‘s RBI-single. One inning later it was 2-0 on an RBI-single by Rio Ruiz. Toss in Steve Wilkerson‘s fifth inning solo homer, and the O’s led 3-0.

However Pittsburgh would put up two solo homers in the fifth, and and two in the seventh. That gave them a 4-3 lead, once again proving the idea that solo homers won’t beat you. The Orioles has to lead the league in defensive games which ended up being losses, highlighted by the opponent’s solo homers last year.

However in this instance it wasn’t truly the solo homers that beat the Orioles. Because the Birds came back and tied the game in the top of the eighth on Anthony Santander‘s RBI-single. So to their credit, they didn’t allow that flurry of solo home runs to beat them.

The walk off home run in the last of the ninth by Tucker did that. Granted, it was a solo homer. However a walk off’s a walk off. It’s a luxury afforded to the home team.

But that doesn’t take away from Mike Wright and his prowess this spring. No runs and seven strike out’s in four appearances is impressive. That said, we’re not quite halfway through camp. He has to keep it up if he wants that roster spot.

The Orioles will return to home play at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow as Boston comes to visit for the first time this spring. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Darwinzon Hernandez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Late rally lifts Birds over Tampa

The Baltimore Orioles made their first visit to Port Charlotte this afternoon to take on the Tampa Rays. John Means got the start for the Birds, and with decent numbers at that. Means’ line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB. 5 K.

However in Means’ opinion that stat line is deceiving. He said after concluding his day of game work that his last outing was better:

I think I probably felt a little better last outing, actually. This outing is one of those where you see the box score, you see the strikeouts and you think it’s a good outing. I just didn’t really have as much feel for my curveball. I couldn’t really dump that in for a strike, but I still felt good, I still feel strong.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

I’d be careful if I were Means. There are potentially a couple of roster spots on the line, and he turned in a great stat line this afternoon. His “honesty” could be just the thing that plays him out of one of those slots if he isn’t careful!

The scoring in the game didn’t commence until after Means had exited the game. Tampa scored in the last of the fourth on a HBP, a walk with the bases loaded, and an RBI-groundout by Wong. Your typical Tampa ways of scoring against the Orioles. Both in the past and here in spring of 2019.

However the O’s fought back. Anthony Santander smacked a solo homer in the fifth, in a harbinger of what was to come for the O’s. Later in the inning Cedric Mullins would also smack a two-run homer, tying the game at three. Today’s game was very much about power for the Birds.

However two sac fly-RBI in the last of the fifth gave Tampa the lead back. Not only did they get the lead back, but they got a two-run lead back. Which obviously is harder to overcome from the Orioles’ perspective. But…

…the O’s were up to the challenge. The Birds opened up the eighth inning with a single and two walks to load the bases. That brought Yusniel Diaz to the plate, and he smacked a two-RBI double to give the Orioles a 7-5 lead. If the spring that Diaz is having is any indication, the Birds were right to include him in last year’s Machado trade. Diaz is hitting .409 with a homer – pretty good as far as spring stats go. The O’s would tack on two more in the ninth on a two-run homer by Mike Yastremski, and Tampa would score a run in garbage time (in the last of the ninth) on an errant throw on a steal attempt. Ultimately the Birds took this one, 9-6.

The Birds will head to Bradenton tomorrow to take on Pittsburgh. Mike Wright Jr. gets the start for the O’s, with Pittsburgh yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb better in Birds loss

Alex Cobb got the start this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota against Pittsburgh. Cobb himself showed marked improvement from his last outing, although the O’s fell to Pittsburgh. Cobb’s line: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

The lone run Cobb surrendered was on an RBI-double by Frazier in the third inning. Again, this was a much better outing than what he turned in last time out. That should give Orioles fans hope.

Stevie Wilkerson‘s sac fly-RBI in the last of the fourth tied the game at one. Later in the inning Jace Peterson‘s RBI-single gave the O’s the lead at 2-1. However Pittsburgh turned in a big inning in the fifth, and when the smoke cleared they held a 6-2 lead.

In effect, Pittsburgh kept the pressure on the Orioles, which is why they won this afternoon.’a game at Ed Smith Stadium. Most of that cake well after the starters had exited the game. But the Orioles are going to need to stay out of the big inning this year if they’re going to compete.

Alex Cobb said after coming out that he felt better on the mound, which was obvious by the results (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

First time out there it’s really difficult to prepare for. You throw as many bullpens and sim games and whatever, but once you get on the mound the game speeds up on you. I feel like I’m old enough now to where it shouldn’t be speeding up on me, but it did a little bit in that first game. You tend to leave some balls up and over the plate and they get hit.

The Orioles has to scratch Chris Davis from the lineup today, as he apparently strained a hip flexor on Sunday against Detroit. It doesn’t appear to be a serious injury7, but just precautionary to keep him out of the lineup. He could be available for tomorrow’s trip to Port Charlotte to take on the Tampa Rays.

The Orioles will in fact head to Port Charlotte tomorrow to take on Tampa. John Means gets the start for the Birds, and at this moment Tampa is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy struggles as Birds fly over Minnesota

Dylan Bundy got the start this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles against Minnesota, and appeared to still need to shake some rust off. Bundy’s line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K. Bundy did have those three strikeouts which were good, but it seems he needs to focus on keeping guys off base. Bundy on his outing:

Overall pitch-wise, I thought all of my pitches were better today. Now, the location of it, the fastballs weren’t so good to Cron in both at-bats. Just trying to get a fastball down and away for a strike and it was more thigh-high than it was down in the zone. And then trying to go up and in on him and it wasn’t up or in.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The aforementioned Cron smacked a solo homer in the last of the first. However the Orioles seized the lead in the third inning. Renato Nunez hit a grand slam, giving the Birds a 4-1 lead. Hanser Alberto would add on a sac fly-RBI, and the Birds held a 5-1 lead. Cron would smack a second homer in the last of the third, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 5-3.

Anthony Santander would score on a wild pitch in the last of the eighth to run the score to 6-3. However in garbage time, the top of the ninth, the Birds escalated things a bit further. Martin Cervenka, of the Czech Republic, smacked a three-run homer in the top of the ninth, giving the Birds a 9-3 lead, which after a throwaway homer by Minnesota in the ninth, turned into a 9-4 victory.

David Hess was a huge bright spot for the Orioles today, pitching three full perfect innings – nine up and nine down. Fans shouldn’t worry about Bundy, as he’s going to be on the roster. And he’s going to be ready to go come Opening Day. However Hess didn’t make things easy on the Orioles’ coaches with his outing today. And that’s precisely how they’d like it.

I wouldn’t put too much concern into Bundy at this point. As I’ve said, pitchers can often look to work on certain pitches in these spring outings. That isn’t to say that’s what Bundy was doing today, however it’s something to consider. As I said above, odds are that come the regular season he’s ready to go.

What is promising is that the O’s are adding runs on. That late tack-on run by Santander came on a wild pitch. And when you have traffic on the base paths you can score runs when that happens. Not to mention the three-run homer in the ninth, although I see no scenario in which Cervenka makes the big league team. But if the current team can find ways to tack on runs like that late in games, perhaps we won’t see as many late losses this season.

The Orioles return to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow as Pittsburgh comes to town. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Chris Archer. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles squeak out a win in the eighth after Andrew Cashner’s struggles

Andrew Cashner made his maiden Grapefruit League start of 2019 for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Cashner deposited a few really strong breaking pitches into the strike zone for strikes. However his fastballs also caught a bit too much of the plate. Cashner’s line: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

I wrote several times this past off-season that Cashner should be better this year as opposed to out of the gate last season. He’s getting the benefit of a full slate of spring workouts and games. Point being that Cashner will be able to get his wiggles out in the spring this year, as opposed to in the regular season. Cashner on his outing (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I thought, you definitely get excited back out, first time out. I thought I spun the ball really well. Something I’ve been working on, more slider strikes instead of balls. Changeup had good depth. I’ve just got to get my four-seam, get more extension.

And that quote illustrates another reason you can’t put too much stock in these spring results. Cashner’s words indicate that he was really working on his sliders this afternoon. (And as I said above, I noticed that his breaking pitches were falling in for strikes.) The pitches that were thrown to certain hitters in certain counts were probably not what we would have seen in a regular season game. Cashner’s a veteran, and in general vets will progress or regress to their career means.

Cashner started out with a hit batsman and a base hit, prompting Goodrum to smack a three-run homer in the first inning. Cashner appeared to settle down, however he did allow one last run before leaving. Dustin Peterson’s RBI-double tan the score to 4-0. However the Birds weren’t about to be shut out early in their home spring yard. Austin Hays‘ solo homer in the last of the third cut the Detroit lead to 4-1.

In fact, the Orioles weren’t about to go down in their home spring yard without a fight. Anthony Santander smacked a three-run homer in the last of the fourth to tie the game at four. However Goodrum haunted the Orioles again an inning later with an RBI-single that gave Detroit the lead back at 5-4. However the Birds came back again, tying the game at five on Joey Rickard‘s seventh inning RBI-single.

At the end of the day however, it was the Orioles who ended up in the sun. They loaded the bases in the last of the eight, and took a 6-5 lead on Drew Jackson‘s sac fly-RBI. TJ Nichting followed suit with an RBI-single, running the final to 7-5. That said, the inning was set up by DJ Stewart‘s very professional at-bar, walking to lead off the inning. And the Birds were able to take advantage of a struggling Detroit reliever, and like a couple of runs on late to win the game. All good signs, even though the ends of these games are featuring mainly minor leaguers (with the exception perhaps of Stewart).

The Orioles head down to Ft. Myers yet again tomorrow to take on Minnesota at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and as this is being written Minnesota is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles manufacture runs and a win behind Mike Wright Jr.

The Baltimore Orioles defeated Boston for the second time in a week this afternoon at JetBlue Lark in Ft. Myers. If Tampa’s had the Orioles’ number thus far, the Birds have had Boston’s. Again, not that it matters. Mike Wright Jr. got the start, and again pitched very well. Wright’s line: 3.0 IP, 3, H, 0 R, 1, BB, 2 K.

Stevie Wilkerson got the Orioles on the board in the top of the second with a two-RBI single. The message of this game once again is to get guys on base and good things will happen. Boston did get a homer in the fourth by Bogaerts, however it was a solo shot.

That 2-1 score held up for awhile, but the O’s broke it open in the fifth when Carlos Perez smacked a two-RBI double. One inning later Richie Martin and Drew Jackson added RBI-singles. And before you knew it the Orioles were piling on.

DJ Stewart would add a two-RBI double in the seventh and Zach Vincej an RBI-single in the ninth, giving the O’s a 9-1 victory. As I alluded above, the O’s haven’t seemingly been hitting as many homers in this spring. And that’s actually being done by design. The power will still be there eventually in some manner. However as I said above, if you get guys on base, good things can happen.

Regarding Mike Wright, you might notice he’s the first Orioles’ starter to go longer than two innings in this camp. Interpret as you wish; Wright’s in the competition to get into the back end of the rotation. Wright on the multiple innings (all quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

A lot of times I feel better as the game goes on. It was pretty warm, so I was pretty loose, even in the first, and it feels good to go multiple innings and really get out there.

Wright went on about trying to make the team:

I’m trying to make a spot on the team, so I think the intensity is there regardless of who steps up to the plate. And honestly, there’s a lot of guys behind me trying to make the team, too. You saw Richie (Martin), the way he was playing. If I didn’t bring the intensity the way they’re bringing it, it wouldn’t be fair.

It’s good to see Wright bringing that intensity. His focus appears to be on making the team. This as opposed to being in the rotation. However make no mistake, he wants to be a starting pitcher. And to this point, he’s making a great case to have that spot on the roster.

The Orioles return home to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow afternoon to take on the Detroit Tigers. Andrew Cashner makes his first start of the spring for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Matthew Boyd. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb smacked around in loss to Tampa

Alex Cobb made his maiden start this spring for the Baltimore Orioles, and without much success. Cobb’s line: .02 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Cobb was lifted after only two outs presumably because the coaching staff didn’t want to have him flailing in the wind out there. He finished his work in the bullpen.

Cobb started putting runners on base almost immediately, and gave up an RBI-single to Choi in the first inning. Kiermaier would also plate a run on a fielder’s choice-RBI, which was followed by Heredia’s two-run homer. That chased Cobb from the game, with the Orioles trailing 4-0.

It’s exactly what we saw in this game which is why I personally believe that the O’s will be slightly better out of the gate this year as opposed to last year. Cobb and Andrew Cashner (who we should see this weekend) didn’t sign until late in camp last year. Between the two of them, they had one spring start.

And both pitchers had a poor April. Mainly because they hadn’t had their reps in the spring. This year both will get those reps. Cobb will be able to work out his kinks in Sarasota this year, as opposed to doing so when the games really matter. Cobb on his outing this afternoon:

I felt like some of those balls were over the plate, the first batter,” he said. “They got a little jam job into right field and before I know it I’ve got runners on first and second and got a couple ground balls that I was trying to get and they found holes, and obviously the two-run home run was a big blow.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The Orioles did battle back into the game a bit. In the second Chance Sisco smacked a solo home run, adding to his valiant effort this spring. Eric Young Jr. also smacked an RBI-single. This cut the lead to 4-2. However Heredia would tack on an RBI-single, and Meadows a solo home run , both in the third, running the score to 6-2.

Richie Martin would smack an RBI-double in the last of the fifth, and he would later score on a wild pitch, which cut the Tampa lead to 6-4. Jomar Reyes would walk with the bases loaded in the last of the sixth to pull the Birds to within 6-5. However Tampa would get a two-RBI-double by Velasquez in the eighth, extending the score to 8-5. The final would be 10-5, after Bemboom’s two-run homer in the ninth. In typical Tampa fashion, these guys just don’t quit.

The O’s tagged a few balls deep in the last of the seventh, however they either faded foul or were knocked down by the wind. Sometimes the spring training wind helps you, and sometimes it hurts. Ultimately, the Orioles are still 0-0 for 2019 regardless of whether they win or lose these games.

The Orioles’ “B squad” will head to George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa this evening to take on the New York Yankees. John Means gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s James Paxton. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles play Philadelphia to a tie

The Baltimore Orioles headed north to Clearwater for the first time this spring to take on Philadelphia. Dylan Bundy got his first start of the spring, and he put up some halfway decent results. Bundy’s line: 2.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

The four hits over two innings might be a bit concerning, but you have to remember that this was Bundy’s first start of the spring. However the Orioles (and Bundy) were able to minimize the damage, which in my view is as big a deal as anything else. Pitchers are going to get themselves in trouble. The good ones will find ways out of it. Bundy addressed the hits he surrendered following the game:

You don’t want that to happen during the season, so yeah, get them out of the way when you can.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Joey Rickart scored on a fielder’s choice in the second inning, which gave the Birds an early lead. Austin Wynns would add a sac fly-RBI later in the inning, and the Orioles handed Bundy a 2-0 lead. However Bundy’s one surrendered run came on the heels of this, and on a sac fly-RBI by Listi. Again, you get guys on base and things can happen.

However the Orioles weren’t about to be outdone. Alcides Escobar added an RBI-single in the third. The teams would swap runs in that third with Gosselin’s RBI-double in the last of the inning. However Yusniel Diaz’s RBI-double in the fifth would extend their lead to 4-2. A moment later Rickart would add an RBI-single, giving the O’s a 5-2 lead.

Unfortunately for the Orioles, this will go down as another spring game blown by the bullpen. Hall’s two-run homer in the last of the ninth tied the game at 5. And that’s how it ended. So not a loss, but certainly not a win.

The O’s will be in a split squad situation tomorrow, with game one at Ed Smith Stadium against Tampa. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s (his maiden voyage of the spring), and Tampa is yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Chance Sisco with two homers in Birds’ victory over Boston

The Baltimore Orioles this afternoon went down to JetBlue Park, otherwise known as Fenway South, and defeated the World Champion Boston Red Sox. Relax folks, it’s still only spring training. But behind a solid effort by started Gabriel Ynoa, the O’s prevailed. Ynoa’s line: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

The lone run that Ynoa surrendered was a lead off homer by Bradley Jr. However he immediately settled down over the course of his two innings. I would remind folks that solo home runs aren’t going to hurt you. Especially when they occur in the lead off spot of the game.

The Orioles however immediately started to battle. Chance Sisco smacked a long two-run homer to center in the top of the second, giving the Birds a 2-1 lead. Two innings later Sisco came up to bat again. And the result was exactly the same – a two-run homer to center. Through five games, Sisco now has three home runs. My personal opinion is that Sisco’s spot on the roster was always going to be fairly safe. But he’s doing everything he can to make it tough for them to send him down.

But Boston aren’t the defending champions for nothing. These guys are pretty good – especially in their (spring) home yard. Chavis smacked a three-run homer, tying the game at three. Last year, that would have been a death blow for the Orioles. Boston would have had the momentum, and it would have been a foregone conclusion that Boston would have at some point taken the lead.

Only that didn’t happen. At the end of the day, it was the Orioles who rallied. Richie Martin smacked a two-RBI double in the fifth, giving the Birds the lead back at 6-4. Just to show that he wasn’t kidding with the two homers, Sisco added an RBI-single in that fifth inning as well, running the Orioles’ lead to 7-4. Boston would get back-to-back RBI-doubles in the last of the ninth to run the final to 7-6.

You really have to hand it to Sisco; he’s hit very well thus far this spring. The Orioles also got another superb outing out of Branden Kline, who struck out the side to end the game in the ninth inning on Sunday against Chicago. Kline pitched the sixth inning, walked one hitter and struck out two. Is Klein making a play to perhaps be in the bullpen once camp breaks? Time will tell. If he continues to play well he might be tough to keep in the minors.

This victory runs the Orioles’ spring record to 3-2. Again however, keeping tabs on wins and losses in spring training is like being convicted in a kangaroo court. The takeaway today was Chance Sisco. His homers were timely, they showed his power, and had this been a real game they would have won the game for the Birds.

The Orioles remain on the road tomorrow and head up to Clearwater to take on Philadelphia at Spectrum Field. Dylan Bundy will make his maiden start this spring for the O’s, and Philadelphia is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Is youthful hunger preferable to veteran leadership?

I maintain what I wrote yesterday in my game recap about the Baltimore Orioles’ 11-5 loss to Tampa. The Birds had the lead, but well after the veterans and “regular players” had departed, Tampa dropped ten runs on the Orioles’ bullpen in the eighth inning. (I use the quotes on regular players because in some instances we don’t know who the regulars are going to be as of yet.) To reiterate that again, it’s just not a big deal. These games don’t count, and again nobody of any consequence for the regular season was in the game.

But is that attitude in and of itself part of the problem? And could it be part of why the Orioles found themselves rushing a rebuild mid-year last season as opposed to playing out the final year of what should have been a window to compete? Interesting question.

Even when the Orioles were in their heyday under the likes of Buck, Jones, Davis, Machado, et al, teams such as Tampa always gave them a run for their money. A big time run for their money, in fact. I’m using Tampa as a specific example, however there are a few other teams in this category. They’ve always remained young, and they’ve always remained hungry. And again, they’ve always been a thorn in the Orioles’ side – no matter what the records.

Young people are always going to be hungry when they’re getting their feet wet in their careers. I suppose exuberance is a fair term to use. Teams such as Tampa have always had that about them. The Orioles…not so much. The Orioles have always been more about veteran leadership and people who already knew what they were doing. As opposed to guys who were learning on the job. Until now, that is.

So again, have the O’s done it all wrong up to this point, and are they thus doing it right now? The answer is no on both points. Young players are exciting, and yes there does usually happen to be a certain never say die attitude about them. How often did we see innings such as what we saw yesterday during the 2018 season? By the end of the inning the veteran Orioles seemed to be all but beaten into submission. Because guys knew that you just don’t come back from a ten-run inning.

Instead, what did we see out of the young O’s yesterday? Ryan Mountcastle extended a single into a double to lead off the last of the eighth, and he was driven home by an RBI-single by Anthony Santander. Because young people haven’t been beaten down a bit yet, their attitudes are still fresh and they’re still thinking you have to start the comeback somewhere. This as opposed to a seasoned veteran, who’s probably going to play it safe and focus more on not getting hurt in a game that’s already out of control. Young people have the audacity to believe anything is possible, whereas veterans know not to hedge their bets.

I suppose I’m not making the case that veterans are better than youth very well, am I? Here’s the difference; it’s all well and good to be stocked full of youth and have guys who are hungry to win. However talent and experience will generally top that at the highest levels. There are exceptions of course, the 2018 Orioles being a glaring one.

Ultimately I think you can win some games if you have the audacity of youth on your side for sure. Not only that, but you can step up and surprise some people – the way that the 2018 Tampa Rays did. But when push comes to shove, is the audacity of youth going to be enough to win you a World Series? Is that going to be enough to defeat a group of wiry veterans who’ve been together since time immemorial in a playoff elimination game?

The other question I posed is whether or not the Orioles are now doing things the right way. I said above that they weren’t – right? In saying that I mean that even though they’re going through all the processes the correct way, they still have to choose the right players. At some point you have to get young and build from the bottom – which is what the Orioles are doing. But if you build with the wrong players, it’s pointless.

It wasn’t so much that the Birds were doing things wrong before, and that they’re now doing them right. A generation of Orioles’ baseball ended last year when the team got broken up. A new generation is beginning now. Ideally your franchise should have peaks and valleys. Hopefully if the Orioles are doing things properly, the valley will be short-lived. Eventually the young players become veterans. And yes while perhaps the audacity of youth is gone, the steady hand of experience takes it’s place.

Baltimore Orioles: Mike Wright strong, Chris Davis homers in loss

The Baltimore Orioles took it on the chin at Ed Smith Stadium this afternoon, however it’s tough to say whether starter Mike Wright Jr’s good outing or first baseman Chris Davis‘ two-run homer was a bigger deal. The Birds gave up ten runs in the eighth inning, but that’s beside the point – especially when the guys in the game pitching probably aren’t going to be on the roster come Opening Day. But the good news is that Mike Wright, who is trying to make the roster, looked good as a starter. Wright’s line: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

The Orioles got on the board first on a wild pitch in the second inning. Steve Wilkerson would add a sac fly-RBI, and the Birds led 2-0. Lowe’s RBI-single in the fifth for Tampa would cut that lead to 2-1.

However as I said the other big story was Chris Davis. After Tampa got on the board, he responded with a two-run homer in the last of that fifth inning to run the Orioles’ lead to 4-1. We’ve heard a lot about how Davis has changed his approach at the plate and how the hope is that things will be different this year. He was 1-for-3 on the afternoon with two RBI on that two-run homer – so yes maybe something is a little different.

However even Tampa’s reserves showed the same moxie that their regular team seemed to show all of last year – anything you can do I can do better. They simply weren’t going to be denied Tampa’s first victory on the spring this afternoon. As I said above, they managed to put ten runs on the board in the eighth. The inning kind of snowballed, in a similar manner that we saw occur in 2018.

Again however, nobody in the game for either side at that time is expected to break camp with the big league club. (Although Tampa sure had some guys who looked hungry in that eighth inning.) So Orioles fans should not view this as here we go again. Just take it as a very bad inning at the tail end of an early spring game. Basically, take it at face value.

Anthony Santander smacked an RBI-single in the last of the eighth to cut the lead to 11-5. However after that the rains came…and by rains I mean a torrential downpour. The game was called at that point, with Tampa being awarded an 11-5 victory.

Incidentally however about that Santander RBI-single; it was set up by the previous at-bat in which Ryan Mountcastle stretched a single into a double. Those are the small things that you have to take away from these spring games, win or lose. The play was right in front of Mountcastle, and he saw he had a shot at second base. The new regime wants the Birds to be more aggressive on the base paths, which is exactly what Mountcastle did. These are the small things which don’t show up in the box score which help you win games.

Again, the takeaways from this one should be Mike Wright’s outing, and Chris Davis’ home run. Those are both very positive signs for the Orioles, who in reality shouldn’t feel too badly about this game. And the fact is that sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other side – something the O’s did a lot last year. But again if you take anything away from this one, let it be Wright and/or Davis.

The O’s head back to Ft. Myers tomorrow, this time to take on division rival Boston at Jet Blue Park. Gabriel Ynoa takes to the bump for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Nate Karns, Hunter Harvey see action in loss vs. Minnesota

For the first time this spring we saw a Baltimore Orioles’ starter struggle in his truncated outing. Nate Karns started for the Orioles against Minnesota, with lackluster results. Karns’ line: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 0 K.

Karns is healthy, which is more than could be said for him last year. However he hasn’t seen game action since last spring training. So it isn’t overly surprising that he struggled in his first action this spring today.

Karns loaded the bases in the last of the first, and Minnesota took a 2-0 lead on Buxton’s two-RBI double. The O’s tried to battle back in the second with a solo homer by Eric Young Jr. However Karns continued to struggle in the last of the second, giving up an RBI-single to Polanco. He was lifted in the middle of the inning – presumably after reaching his pitch count for the day. Karns on his outing and his objective on the afternoon:

Just getting out there doing what I do, pitching to what my strengths are. And trying to improve command, execution of my pitches, sequencing and at the same time competing out there on the mound. I feel like today I kind of came in like, I may not get the results that I wanted, but that’s not what we were focused on right now. That’s getting out there and trying to figure out where you’re at and then improve between starts and try to keep going in that direction until the season gets here

Quote Courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Buxton would also add an RBI-single in the third to run the Minnesota lead to 4-1. One inning later it was 5-1 after a sac fly-RBI by Castro (on a foul pop). The last of the fifth brought some elevated excitement for Orioles fans, as we got a look at Hunter Harvey for the first time in about a year or so. Harvey’s velocity was good, and to be honest his appearance was mostly about just getting back out there in game action. However he surrendered a two-run homer to Buxton, extending Minnesota’s lead to 7-1.

When you look at the results turned in by Karns and Harvey, they’re certainly a tough sell. But keep in mind that these guys’ outings had more to do with them just getting out there in live game action than anything else. Odds are there weren’t any mechanical problems that can’t be tweaked or fixed. And that’s part of what these spring games are meant to do.

Obviously when you put on a uniform you’re playing to win. So that part of the day is disappointing. But the fact that Karns and Harvey got into the game is the story of the day. And a good story at that. The game results might not always be what fans want to see, but there are a lot more in-game stories in these games as opposed to just a win or a loss.

The Orioles return to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow afternoon as the Tampa Rays come to town. Mike Wright Jr. gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Ryan Merritt. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles win a battle of crooked numbers (updated)

David Hess looked decent for the Baltimore Orioles in his first spring start this afternoon. Hess’ line: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K. It’s tough to judge anything based on two innings. Hess on his outing (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

Felt like, all things considered, it was a pretty good start. Getting out there for the first time and getting the rust off, in a sense. I left a two-seam over the middle. Obviously, the home run wasn’t ideal. Felt like I got a lot of soft contact today and made some good pitches and they couldn’t put the bat on a couple of them. All in all, it was a pretty good start to spring training.

Hess did load the bases in the first inning, and was able to pitch out of it. I always say that the nature of the position (pitcher) is that you’ll get yourself in trouble. If you can get yourself out of trouble, you’re in good shape.

Luckily for Hess and the Orioles, the bats came around almost immediately just as they did yesterday. Rio Ruiz smacked a three-run homer in the last of the first to give the O’s a 3-0 lead. However unlike yesterday’s game against Minnesota, Toronto wasn’t looking to roll over.

They got on the board in the second on a wind-aided solo homer by Pompey (the only run Hess surrendered). In the third they cut the lead to 3-2 on Gurriel’s RBi-double, tied it on Guerrero’s RBI-single, and then took the lead on Smith’s two-RBI single. All of those runs were charged to Tanner Scott, who struggled in his short time in the game.

But the O’s weren’t about to be outdone. They cut it to 5-4 in the last of the fourth on Austin Hays‘ RBI-single. Later in the inning Carlos Perez‘s two-RBI double gave the Birds the lead back at 6-5. (Perez was thrown out at third trying to extend it into a triple.) And the Birds never really looked back – although Toronto rallied again.

The O’s would also get an RBI-single by Cael Brockmeyer, an RBI-groundout by Christopher Bostick, and an RBI-single by Stevie Wilkerson in the last of the seventh. Toronto would get rally however in the top of the eighth on a solo homer by Cantwell, an RBI-HPB awarded to Knight, and an RBI-single by Fields. This left the score at 9-8. Maryland native Branden Kline sent Toronto down 1-2-3 in the ninth to preserve the win and record the save.

Not every game is going to be clean and easy in a sense. Especially in the Florida Grapefruit League. So while so many different players come through these games, all of whom are trying to do different things and so forth, it was good to see the Birds collectively win a game like this. Especially with Toronto making a late charge, only to have the ‘pen shut them down 1-2-3.

During the third inning of the game the Orioles announced that they had traded for RHP David Lebron from the Texas Rangers – in exchange for international signing bonus slots. The 25-year old Homestead, FL native has pitched one minor league season, split between two levels. While he has no won/loss record, he does have an ERA of 1.31. He’s appeared in ten games and has never surrendered a home run.

The Orioles will hit the road for the first time this spring tomorrow as they head to CenturyLink Sports Park to take on Minnesota. Nate Karns gets the start for the O’s, although at this point Minnesota has not announced a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Update: Jose Berrios will start for Minnesota tomorrow against the O’s.

Baltimore Orioles: Only an exhibition, but in THE WIN COLUMN!

The Brandon Hyde era unofficially began this afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium with the Baltimore Orioles in THE WIN COLUMN! Yefry Ramírez took the ball as a starter, and provided some good results in his limited action on the mound. Ramirez’s line: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

Perhaps in an effort to highlight the fact that any of these games are in fact open competitions for jobs, Hyde submitted what almost looked like a travel roster for this game. More of the “regulars” such as Davis and Mancini will be in the lineup tomorrow, but Hyde obviously wanted to see what his younger players were going to do today.

Ramriez looking crisp in the first inning was an immediate good sign, as was the fact that Cedric Mullins drew a walk in the leadoff spot after being behind 0-2 in the count. Once Mullins got on base, he stole second and then took third on an errant throw. As I’ve said many times, things can happen when you get guys on the base paths and put pressure on the pitcher.

Later in that first inning Chance Sisco would smack a three-run home run, giving the O’s an early 3-0 lead. Interestingly this Orioles team was supposed to be more about manufacturing runs than anything else. But Brandon Hyde and company will certainly take homers whenever they come. Ramirez would allow his sole run in the second on a Telis run-scoring ground out. One inning later in the last of the third, the Birds in fact would manufacture a run – on Renato Nunez‘s sac fly-RBI.

Yusniel Diaz, the DH this afternoon, would smack a two-run homer later in that third inning, extending the Birds’ lead to 6-1. Minnesota would score in the seventh when Kranson reached on an error in the seventh, and Rio Ruiz would add a sac fly-RBI in the last of that seventh inning. All in all, you’ll take a 7-2 victory however you can get it, especially in day one of spring games.

As I said, Brandon Hyde obviously wanted to get a look at some younger players today, which is presumably why the aforementioned Davis and Mancini were omitted from the lineup today. We’ll see them tomorrow. However the young guns in today’s game atoned for themselves very well. That makes ultimate decisions tougher on management. And that’s exactly how management wants it.

The Orioles will remain at home in Sarasota tomorrow as the Toronto Blue Jays come in for a visit. David Hess gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Sean Reid-Kelly. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: GAMEDAY in Sarasota

This afternoon the Baltimore Orioles are going to play the biggest baseball game in the history of western civilization. Well, for this year anyways. Note the sarcasm, folks. However no matter how you spin it, this is a day that’s been earmarked in Birdland for some time.

The first spring game is about as meaningless as the final one, but starting today we’re going to start to see what kind of Orioles’ team we’re going to have in 2019. We’re also going to see what kind of manager Brandon Hyde is going to be in games. For what it’s worth, most of Minnesota’s regulars will be staying back in Ft. Myers today, as it’s a split squad day for them. They’ll be taking on Tampa this evening at home – not that too many regulars would have made the trip to Sarasota anyways.)

There are a lot of moving parts, however while the results don’t matter, how the games unfold do. That’ll go a long way towards telling us who’ll be on the roster come Opening Day. And as I’ve said before, when players put on a uniform, they play to win.

Fans can follow me on twitter, @domenicvadala, for in-game updates of today’s game, as well as for every spring game. That of course extends into the regular season also – basically from today until October I’ve got you squared! And of course following every game you can hop on here to Birdland Crush for game recaps and analysis.

So again, Grapefruit League Play begins this afternoon when the Minnesota Twins visit Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Yefry Ramirez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Chase De Jong. Game time is set for just after 1 PM this afternoon.

Baltimore Orioles: How does the player rotation turn?

The Baltimore Orioles and new manager Brandon Hyde will play their first two spring games at home in Sarasota this weekend. Kind of a sweet way to open the spring slew of games; the first two games being at home, and on a Saturday and Sunday. But then again in baseball there aren’t days per se. Saturday may as well be Tuesday, aside from getaways days and so forth. But forget about that – we’re only in spring training.

But it will be interesting to see how Hyde (a rookie manager) spins his player rotation in these spring games. Usually the regulars will play in the home games, but the road rosters are usually full of what end up being reserves or minor leaguers. Obviously there’s a rule which says you have to bring at least three regulars to each road game, but teams find ways around that.

However what exactly is the Orioles’ starting lineup? I suspect Davis is at first, Mullins in center, Stewart in left, and maybe Sisco or Wynns behind the plate. That aside, might the home games have lineups that look a lot like those of the road games?

The Orioles are a team who can legitimately say that they may not be able to being “regulars” on the road, as they don’t know who the regular players are going to be. The Birds don’t hit the road until Monday afternoon when they head to Fort Myers to play Minnesota. I suspect that we’ll simply see different young players in that game as opposed to what we’ll see this weekend in Sarasota.

However as has been said as hoc, this Grapefruit League “season” is going to have a different feel. In the past the home games have been about guys getting their reps in to get ready for the season. This year we will see some of that – again from the Davis’ of the world perhaps. But for the most part each game (home and road) will be about competition. It’ll be about guys fighting for a job. And on the flip side it’ll be about Brandon Hyde and Mike Elias picking the very best 25 guys to put on the active roster after March 25th (the final spring game).

And for only the first time this spring (because I end up writing this frequently), I’ll remind folks that wins and losses don’t matter. At least in any game between now and March 25th. Sure fans are going to follow the games and root for the Orioles to win – and that’s okay. But a loss in which a guy or two steps up and tries to lay claim to a position, or a loss in which a pitcher retires the side 1-2-3 is much more valuable than a “ho-hum victory.” Now that said, when a player puts on a uniform, make no mistake that he’s playing to win!

Baltimore Orioles: How does the player rotation turn?

The Baltimore Orioles and new manager Brandon Hyde will play their first two spring games at home in Sarasota this weekend. Kind of a sweet way to open the spring slew of games; the first two games being at home, and on a Saturday and Sunday. But then again in baseball there aren’t days per se. Saturday may as well be Tuesday, aside from getaways days and so forth. But forget about that – we’re only in spring training.

But it will be interesting to see how Hyde (a rookie manager) spins his player rotation in these spring games. Usually the regulars will play in the home games, but the road rosters are usually full of what end up being reserves or minor leaguers. Obviously there’s a rule which says you have to bring at least three regulars to each road game, but teams find ways around that.

However what exactly is the Orioles’ starting lineup? I suspect Davis is at first, Mullins in center, Stewart in left, and maybe Sisco or Wynns behind the plate. That aside, might the home games have lineups that look a lot like those of the road games?

The Orioles are a team who can legitimately say that they may not be able to being “regulars” on the road, as they don’t know who the regular players are going to be. The Birds don’t hit the road until Monday afternoon when they head to Fort Myers to play Minnesota. I suspect that we’ll simply see different young players in that game as opposed to what we’ll see this weekend in Sarasota.

However as has been said as hoc, this Grapefruit League “season” is going to have a different feel. In the past the home games have been about guys getting their reps in to get ready for the season. This year we will see some of that – again from the Davis’ of the world perhaps. But for the most part each game (home and road) will be about competition. It’ll be about guys fighting for a job. And on the flip side it’ll be about Brandon Hyde and Mike Elias picking the very best 25 guys to put on the active roster after March 25th (the final spring game).

And for only the first time this spring (because I end up writing this frequently), I’ll remind folks that wins and losses don’t matter. At least in any game between now and March 25th. Sure fans are going to follow the games and root for the Orioles to win – and that’s okay. But a loss in which a guy or two steps up and tries to lay claim to a position, or a loss in which a pitcher retires the side 1-2-3 is much more valuable than a “ho-hum victory.” Now that said, when a player puts on a uniform, make no mistake that he’s playing to win!

Baltimore Orioles to start Yefry Ramírez in Grapefruit opener

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde has named a starter for Saturday’s Florida Grapefruit League opener. The starting assignment goes to Yefry Ramírez, a name that shouldn’t be unfamiliar to Orioles’ fans. While he didn’t have much success (pitching to a 5.92 ERA), Ramirez did see action in 2018.

This does not mean that Ramírez is being green lighted to start on Opening Day. You really can’t read too much into these spring starts. All it really means is that Hyde and his staff want to get a look at Ramírez in game action in Saturday’s game. Odds are he’s only slated to pitch two innings – three at most.

Hyde hasn’t committed to a starter past Saturday. The Orioles are home in Sarasota both days this weekend. Saturday of course is against Minnesota at 1 PM. On Sunday they’ll host the Toronto Blue Jays at Ed Smith Stadium at 1 PM. For what it’s worth, tickets remain for both games. Or you could just follow along with my twitter feed, @DomenicVadala, for in-game updates! You can also check back here at Birdland Crush following all spring and regular season games for game recaps and analysis.

The Orioles also announced this week that Boog’s Barbecue will be coming to Ed Smith Stadium during spring training home games this year. The famed Camden Yards BBQ stand will be open in the left field pavilion area, and during all home spring games. In theory this is Boogs’ third location – the first outside of Maryland. The original of course is at Camden Yards, but there’s also a Boog’s stand on the boardwalk in Ocean City. And now Sarasota.

Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado to San Diego

Yesterday word finally came that former Baltimore Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado has found a landing spot. Machado signed a ten-year deal worth $300 million with…the San Diego Padres. Nobody saw that coming – Manny to not only a west coast team, but a small market team. And one who’s probably not in a spot to win now at that.

But this is good news for Orioles fans. First and foremost, he’s out of the AL East. The Orioles were always wary (some would say too wary) that he’d end up in the Bronx. Furthermore he’s in the National League. The only way Manny signing with a team would have worked out better for the Birds is had he signed back here again.

For what it’s worth, San Diego does visit Camden Yards this year. They come in for a two-game series on June 25-26th. There’ll be an interesting dynamic in that series because while Manny will be returning to the park where his career began and where he undoubtedly has lots of memories, the Orioles team he’ll be facing certainly looks much different than what he knew before.

However needless to say, those two games should be fun for Manny and the Orioles fans. My hope is that they welcome him back with a standing ovation. You can also catch Manny and the Padres in Washington over the last weekend in April. The Orioles will make a return engagement to San Diego in July.

Baltimore Orioles: How will Brandon Hyde handle his bullpen?

With the beginning of Florida Grapefruit League play coming up this weekend, Baltimore Orioles fans are about to get their first look at Brandon Hyde in the dugout. However keep in mind that spring training in effect is a controlled environment. While the game outcomes certainly aren’t scripted, the pitchers certainly are – in terms of when they pitch and how many innings.

However with that said, I’ll be interested to see how exactly Hyde plans on managing his bullpen. We might get a sneak peak at that in the final week of spring training, when at times the rotations aren’t quite as scripted as they were in the beginning. But the biggest concern with a rookie manager is how he handles the bullpen.

Does he blow through relievers left and right like there’s no tomorrow? Does he leave a pitcher on the mound too long? Or…is he potentially really good at managing the bullpen?

Fact is that it’s not as easy as it looks. Not that I would know – because I don’t. But I would liken it to clock management in the NFL. We all sit there and complain when coaches birch clock management in the end of halves. We all think we could do better because it’s such an easy thing. But obviously it’s not that easy if so many people struggle with it.

There’s no doubt how important the bullpen is. Especially in the modern game. So how Hyde manages it is something worth watching from the beginning. He’ll make mistakes, and fans will have to accept that at first. But as things play out, hopefully those mistakes are fewer and further between.

Baltimore Orioles: Kennebunkport slider on Opening Day

There are several recurring Baltimore Orioles’ columns that I write every year. This one that I’ve made a point of penning every President’s Day is by far my favorite. Please note folks, there’s nothing that I’m writing here which is meant to be political. This column is about America’s Chief Executives playing a special role in her favorite sport – and nothing else.

President William Howard Taft began the tradition on Opening Day in 1910 at National Park in Washington DC. Since then, every sitting President (through Obama) and quite a few former Presidents have partaken in the event. It’s usually on Opening Day, however Presidents have also thrown out the first pitch in other games as well – such as President Jimmy Carter doing the honors at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore during the 1979 World Series.

Make no mistake, there’s no other tradition in sports like this. And I would submit that having President throw out the first pitch on Opening Day is about as special as anything. This past year America lost perhaps one of her most beloved former Presidents in George H.W. Bush. President Bush of course was a war hero turned politician, and a former first baseman at Yale to boot!

President Bush’s first turn at throwing out the first pitch was the year he entered office, 1989. He made the trek up the pike to do the honors at Memorial Stadium that April. He would return to Baltimore for Opening Day in 1992, when of course the Orioles opened Oriole Park at Camden Yards. President Bush’s first pitch wound up in the dirt, and he later said that he meant to throw a low-and-away slider.

President Bush also became the first and only sitting U.S. President (to date) to toss out the first pitch on foreign soil. He threw out the first pitch at Toronto’s Skydome in 1990. He had also traveled to Arlington, TX to do the honors for the Texas Rangers the following year. President Bush reprieved his duties of throwing out the first ball in 2003 in Cincinnati, and in 2015 in the ALDS in Houston.

So President George H.W. Bush is the answer to a trivia question. Who threw out the first pitch on Opening Day at Camden Yards in 1992? President Bill Clinton also did the honors a few times in Baltimore, but the 1990’s was the last time that a sitting President threw out the first ball in Baltimore. Presumably, that has a lot to do with MLB returning to Washington in 2005.

Which brings me to my final point. I always close this column in the same manner. Regardless of politics, popularity, or anything else, I think that the President should open the baseball season every year by throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day in Washington, D.C. Every President, every year. I hope you’re listening, President Trump!

Baltimore Orioles: Might Brandon Hyde use an opener?

We know that with Brandon Hyde in control of camp and of the franichse on the field, there are going to be differences in style among other things from what Orioles fans are used to seeing. However there’s one idea that’s been floated about which I hope doesn’t come to pass: the use of an opener. Tampa began the practice last season, and a few other teams followed suit as the season went on.

Just as a refresher, in essence an opener is simply the opposite of a closer. A team opens the game with what would have normally been a relief pitcher, who’s lifted after recording 2-4 outs. Then the guy who was traditionally the starter comes in, in essence in long relief.

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the practice. There’s the obvious argument of that’s just not how the game is played that one could make, and I do believe in that point. However I would submit that it would also induce the propensity to blow through one’s bullpen as well. Managing a bullpen – knowing when to make changes and when not to – is much tougher than it appears. If you blow through bullpen relievers like candy, someone’s arm’s going to fall off. GM Mike Elias on openers:

The opener strategy doesn’t make sense for every team, every rotation or every bullpen. But I can see a scenario or two this year where we might use it this year

Courtesy of Joe Trezza,

Given what I said above about using bullpen relievers, it just seems to me that it wouldn’t mesh with a rookie manager’s outlook to use this strategy. But then again, if you’re going to try something on a trial & error basis, this might be the year to do it. However my personal opinion is that this is simply a gimmichy thing in MLB which will eventually run course.

Baltimore Orioles: Will free agents sign this week?

Baltimore Orioles’ pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota on Wednesday. Those who haven’t already reported, that is. All position players are to have reported by next week, and Opening Day for the Florida Grapefruit League is one week from this coming Saturday.

This off season has been all but void of big free agent signings. The likes of Adam Jones are the least of the free agents still out there (obviously Machado and Harper are the big ones). However this week is the final opportunity for players to sign with a team and still have a semi-normal spring training. I say semi-normal because any guy who signs this week is going to have to make travel arrangements to either Florida or Arizona, lodging arrangements for the next 5-6 weeks, etc. That normally happens over the course of the off season – assuming that guys know where they’re going.

However keep in mind also that these spring games aren’t just a dog and pony show. They don’t count towards the season standings, however they do mean something. Players need them to get into game shape. I’m talking timing at the plate, routes to get to balls on defense, and in some cases guys literally having to “get in shape.” In sum, there’s more of an emphasis on fundamentals as opposed to during the regular season.

I’ll point out the likes of Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner, who both signed during spring training last year with the O’s. Between the two of them, they had one spring start. And that was Cashner’s, which came late in spring training. Both pitchers struggled in the first month of the season. So arguing that these games don’t have meaning isn’t really fair, because that in and of itself should prove that they do. What players will do in spring training in the next few weeks will make a difference when the season starts.

So to me it stands to reason that we’ll see some signings this week. Will any of those be by the Orioles? That remains to be seen.

Baltimore Orioles: Changes in the booth?

If a report that came out yesterday is correct, Baltimore Orioles fans should expect a change in 2019 regarding one of the ways they consume the games. Longtime radio voice Joe Angel is rumored to be retiring. Angel, 71, has been calling Orioles’ games on the radio since 2004.

And let me also say that he’s been calling Orioles’ games very well on the radio since 2004. I’m a fan of Angel’s work, and assuming I’m fact that he’s planning on “hanging up his mic,” it’s a loss for Orioles fans. Nobody’s blaming the man for retiring mind you, but I felt he was really great at what he did.

Angel enjoyed two stints with the O’s, working with Jon Miller and Chuck Thompson during the late 80’s and early 90’s. He returned to the Orioles in 2004, where he was paired with Fred Manfra. As time went on Manfra cut back his work load, and more and more Angel found himself calling the games with Jim Hunter. Angel and Hunter in my opinion had chemistry together, and I always felt that they presented the games very well together on the radio.

For the record, neither the Orioles nor Joe Angel himself has commented on this report – it could always be erroneous. However the report’s out there. The question is where do the Orioles go now in terms of a lead play-by-play guy? I would submit that the aforementioned Jim Hunter could easily fill that role. In fact, as loyal as he’s been to the organization I think he’s deserving of a shot to fill that chair.

Like many teams the Orioles in effect have traditionally used a dual play-by-play man in the radio booth. The announcers would alternate every couple of innings. If the Orioles go with Hunter, do they bring in another guy capable of doing play-by-play, or instead bring in someone just to fill the color commentary role?

Whatever happens, the Orioles need to get this right. There’s no other sport which has a relationship with radio the way that baseball does. Radio play-by-play is a huge thing in baseball, and it’s a role that teams really need to figure out when the position is open. They also need to ensure that whomever is paired with that play-by-play guy has good chemistry. Again, this is more important in baseball than in any other sport.

Assuming in fact that this report is true, I wish Joe Angel well.

Baltimore Orioles: Frank Robinson and Adam Jones

The Baltimore Orioles and the baseball world lost a good one this week in Frank Robinson. This much we know. I think that part of why he’s so beloved in Baltimore and will always be thought of as an Oriole (despite playing more years in Cincinnati) is because he turned the Orioles into champions. Or at the very least, they became champions upon his arrival.

The Orioles were already a good team; they had a budding organization that was almost built into a proven winner. Then Robinson was added to an already potent lineup, and suddenly the Orioles won the World Series in his first year with the team (1966). With Frank it wasn’t so much his play on the field. That set a standard of par in and of itself; as a player, Robinson was never anything less than outstanding.

However more so with Frank Robinson, it was about his leadership both on a off the field. He didn’t expect excuses from his teammates as to why they screwed up or why this or that happened. Over the past couple of days I’ve heard more than one or Robinson’s former teammates say how if they committed an error in the field, it wasn’t a coach they were worried about facing, it was Frank. While Robinson could be tough at times, it was all in the interest of making the team better.

Over forty years after the Orioles traded for Frank Robinson, they made another trade. This time however, the centerpiece of the trade wasn’t an established winner or a proven talent. It was a guy named Adam Jones, who had an incredible upside and who represented a potential bright future for the young Orioles.

I don’t need to go into too much detail about Adam Jones. We all know who he is and what he’s accomplished in Baltimore. (We all also know that he’s still a free agent lingering out there ready to be signed…but that’s another story for another day.) Let’s be clear, Jones didn’t bring a world championship to Baltimore. He tried valiantly, but it just never happened.

The Orioles also had further to climb to get to that level when Jones arrived as opposed to when Robinson came aboard. However Adam Jones did very similar things on a slightly smaller scale for the Orioles and the city of Baltimore. I suspect that wherever Jones goes for the remainder of his career, he’ll always be seen and remembered as an Oriole – much like Frank Robinson. Similarly, his play on the field spoke for itself. But it was also the way he conducted himself that stood out.

Jones was an example to players young and old who came through the Orioles during his tenure. Again similar to Robinson, he held teammates to a high standard. And that began with him taking accountability when he made mistakes. However with his play on the field and with how he conducted himself on and off of it, he immediately endeared himself to the Baltimore community and to his teammates and coaches.

Again, Frank Robinson brought championships to Baltimore. However it can’t be stressed enough that Adam Jones helped to guide the Orioles further than they had gone in a generation. I don’t think that will ever be forgotten. Frank Robinson’s legacy with the Orioles has been set for some time. However I think you can put Jones up there with Frank as a similar-type character in the history of this team and this city. Neither time nor consequence will ever dim the glory of their deeds.

Baltimore Orioles sign pitcher Nate Karns

The Baltimore Orioles have officially signed a free agent in anticipating of the 2019 season. Pitcher Nate Karns signed on with the O’s yesterday. Karns signed a one-year deal worth $800,000, plus a possible $200,000 in incentives.

Over five seasons with four different teams (most recently Kansas City), Karns has a career win percentage of .573, and a 4.37 ERA. For what it’s worth, he gives up on average of 27 home runs per 162 games. Karns hasn’t appeared in a game since May of 2017 with Kansas City, after which he underwent thoracic outlet surgery. Then last year he was shut down during spring training with elbow inflammation and didn’t pitch in 2018.

So the Orioles are assuming a bit of a risk in signing Karns. I’m not sure he should be labeled a reclammation project, but it’s been awhile since he’s appeared in a game due to one injury or the next. He was ultimately outrighted last October by Kansas City, and he became a free agent.

The Orioles have two slots presumably open in the starting rotation. I suspect that’s where Karns will land, although his and others’ performances in spring training will play a role in that as well. Karns has been a starter for most of his career, but again nothing is set in stone per se.

In other news, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA is projecting the Orioles to finishe with 105 losses in 2019. That’s the highest projected loss total in the majors. That would also mean that they’d win 57 games – a ten-win improvement over 2018.

Would that be considered a successful season? In the context of rebuilding, I would submit that it would. However again things have to be put in the proper context. Out of context, that’s a miserable season. But put back into the proper context of a ten-win improvement, a rebuilding team, and a young team, I think most Orioles fans will take that.

Baltimore Orioles: Frank Robinson taught the Oriole Way is the CORRECT way

We got word earlier today that former Baltimore Orioles great Frank Robinson passed away after a battle with bone cancer. He was 83. Robinson played for the O’s for six years, hitting an even .300 and smacking 179 home runs. He was a 14-time all-star, and a World Series MVP.

But this isn’t about statistics. Frank Robinson taught the Orioles how to win. He had played in Cincinnati for ten years, and was traded to the O’s in 1965. They were World Champions in 1966. During his tenure in Baltimore he went to three consecutive World Series between 1969-71, winning one of them. He’s also remembered as the only player to hit the ball clear out of Memorial Stadium. An orange and black flag with the word HERE was placed at the spot where the ball cleared the grandstand.

Robinson played for various teams throughout his career, and in 1975 became a player/manager with the Cleveland Indians – homering in his first at-bat under that title. And with that, he became baseball’s first African-American manager. His time as a manager led him back to Baltimore, taking over for Cal Ripken Sr. six games into the 1988 season. He was relieved of managerial duties in May of 1991.

Obviously you have the “old guard” of the Orioles, which includes the Brooks’, Palmers,’ Powell’s, et al of the world. Frank Robinson is definitely a part of that group. Any Orioles fan of that 1960’s or early 70’s era identifies with Frank Robinson. Those such as myself knew him from stories from our fathers – and of course as one of the Orioles’ managers. 

Ironically one memory I have of Frank came well after his playing and managing days were over and he worked in the MLB offices. When the Orioles unveiled his statue on the left field flag court in 2012, Robinson returned to Baltimore to speak at the event. That speech includedn this simple but poignant quote, invoking past, present, and future:

The Oriole Way – is the CORRECT way.

That always struck me. Robinson of course remained popular in Baltimore for the remainder of his life, which as we’ve chronicled sadly ended yesterday. His final managing job in the majors was with the Washington Nationals, in their first three years of existence. Coming into Camden Yards as a visiting manager, he still got the royal treatment with a video tribute between innings. In typical Frank Robinson fashion, he accepted the accolades humbly by lifting his cap skyward and thanking the fans.

It was always about the fans for Frank and for many others of his generation. As I said, Robinson played for quite a few other organizations. Heck, he played in Cincinnati for four years more than he did Baltimore. However I think if you ask most baseball fans, they’ll identify him as a Baltimore Oriole. And I think that Frank Robinson would be cool with that. Because as he himself taught, the Oriole Way is the CORRECT way. Rest in Peace, Frank Robinson.

Baltimore Orioles, MLB could be playing under different rules

If commissioner Rob Manfred gets his way, the rules under which the Baltimore Orioles and the rest of MLB play might soon be vastly different. And in saying that, I mean…there are rules that get tweaked (which happens every year), and then there’s what Manfred wants to do. Make no mistake, if he gets his way the game will never be the same.

As originally reported by The Athletic, Manfred and the player’s union are discussing the following changes: Universal Designated Hitter (eliminating the need for pitchers to hit in the National League), three-batter minimum for all pitchers, 20-second pitch clock, trade deadline prior to the all-star game, expansion of rosters to 26 men, and a provision for two-sport players to sign major league deals Let that sink in for a moment.

Not all of these ideas are bad in my view. I’m indifferent to the trade deadline concept and two-sport players being able to sign big league deals. However I think allowing 26 men on the roster is a good idea. It doesn’t change things a heck of a lot, but it allows teams some additional support.

I’ve been very clear on the DH over time – for those who have read me over the years. I think that the rules on both leagues should in fact be uniform. And thus I think the DH should go away entirely. I’ve never liked it. Certainly the player’s union is going to be in favor of it because more high-salaries DH jobs will open up and help extend guys’ careers. But it gets us further and further away from what the game always has been and should be.

Manfred has wanted a pitch clock for some time. Now what would focus on the pace of play would be forcing teams to leave relievers in for at least three hitters. But again, I’m not a fan of that. Managers matching up in later innings is part of the game. It always has been, and it always will be. Are we really considering removing that from the sport?

End of the day, baseball evolves just like everything else. I just hope it doesn’t happen too quickly. Again, pitchers are a part of that day.’a lineup. Why shouldn’t they hit also? So to Rob Manfred and the rest of the league, I would simply say to be careful.

Baltimore Orioles: Brandon Hyde and a Super Bowl takeaway

With the Super Bowl now being over, the Baltimore Orioles and the rest of the Major League Baseball are now on the clock. Pitchers and catchers report next week. I can sense the excitement already.

That said, there’s something I’ve noticed about manager Brandon Hyde in his limited public remarks thus far. He seems very dedicated to forming relationships with the players. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s trying to be “buddy-buddy” with them. But he’s trying to get to know them, and what makes them tick. And certainly I’m sure, he’s hoping that they’re trying to do the same thing with regard to he and his staff.

I noticed a similar motif regarding the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots last night. Coach Bill Belichek and quarterback Tom Brady of course are the constants over 17 years of success. But I heard more than one player say that it was about relationships. That’s what makes a team a team.

So that really boded well for the Orioles’ future in a sense. If there’s one organization that any team in any sport would want to emulate, it would be the Nee England Patriots. If the Patriots are all about relationships and the Orioles are trying to form relationships, that probably means that the Orioles are doing something right.

Baltimore Orioles: Super Sunday

The Baltimore Orioles are roughly a week-and-a-half away from pitchers and catchers reporting. However that and everything else in the sports world takes a back seat today. It’s Super Sunday!

Baltimore of course has a rich history in the Super Bowl, with the Colts playing in two and winning one, and the Ravens winning in both of their appearances in the big game. It’s also worth mentioning that the CFL Baltimore Stallions won the Grey Cup, which is Canada’s version of the Super Bowl. And of course no discussion of Baltimore’s pro football championship ties is complete without mentioning the great Johnny Unitas and the 1958 NFL Title Game – the greatest game ever played.

Ironically, there is an old school tie to Baltimore football in today’s Super Bowl game. The original owner of the Baltimore Colts was Carroll Rosenbloom. In 1972 he executed a tax-free swap of franchises (basically a straight up trade) with Robert Irsay, then the owner of the Los Angeles Rams. That second name of course is one that still makes hair on the backs of necks stand up across town – not limited to my Dad, who was a HUGE Colts fan as a kid.

Obviously the direction of both franchises since then is well-documented. Having said that, Rosenbloom died in 1979, and his widow, Georgia Frontiere, inherited the team. Ironically Rosenbloom had redrawn his will so that his son Stephen would get it, however he died before that will could be executed. However the Rams have since been sold and are no longer in the Carroll Rosenbloom family.

Of course the Rams since then moved St. Louis, and now they’re back in Los Angeles. But that’s Baltimore’s slight connection to today’s game. For what it’s worth, it’ll be a very close game. Personally I’m rooting for Los Angeles. But it’s tough to pick against Tom Brady.

Baltimore Orioles: Camden Yards needs to make a difference this year of all years

The Baltimore Orioles play in the best ballpark in baseball in Camden Yards. Granted those of us who cover the O’s or go to the games are going to view that in a biased manner. However when in fact what you have has been copied time and time again, it goes without saying that you have something special.

And with Camden Yards it’s never been just about the ballpark. I mean…the park itself we know is special. But it’s that special park combined with the old fashioned manner in which the game is presented. Almost every hill thing is a part of a tradition – whether it’s Country Boy during the stretch, the Oriole Bird running around, or the songs they play between innings. It’s all tradition-based, this as opposed to some parks where rap music blasts and so forth.

Point here being that the game is presented in a very old school manner at Camden Yards, and most Orioles fans like it that way. As the 2019 season draws near, it’s that game day experience on which the Orioles will want to lean. With a young team, young manager, and a not-so-hot outlook for this year, there might be a few games where attendance could be dicey. Throw in a cold night or unpredictable weather, and who knows how many fannies are in the seats.

But the Orioles really need to hone in on the fact that they have the best setup in the league. Who wouldn’t want to come to Camden Yards on a summer evening or afternoon and take in a big league game? It’s spring and summer in Baltimore; baseball is what we do!

Incidentally, contrary to popular belief this doesn’t mean offering mass discounts on tickets. The Orioles already are one of the most reasonably priced franchises in sports. When you offer a discount often times you’re just discounting tickets for people who are already planning on coming to the game. So in essence you’re cutting into what would have been your profit margin.

Maybe you can have a few games here and there where you have a discounted food item, but in general discounting already cheap tickets doesn’t work. If there’s one change I’d make if I were the Orioles, I’d offer a “happy hour” at a beer stand – maybe from the time the ballpark opens until the scheduled first pitch. They did that awhile back but apparently that’s no longer a part of their concessions strategy. Just an idea. Point being that the more ways in which you drive home the point that Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the place to be this summer, the more fans will show up.

Baltimore Orioles: What to do with Pedro Araujo?

The Baltimore Orioles were rained out this afternoon against Minnesota. For what it’s worth, the game will not be made up. While it’s one less game to evaluate players, it’s also one less game in which someone could get hurt. Especially in the final week of camp.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Orioles handle the final roster. They currently have Pedro Araujo on the roster. He has to remain on the active big league roster for 16 days before his Rule 5 status expires. If he’s demoted, the Orioles would lose his services.

My personal opinion is that Araujo isn’t ready to be a full time big leaguer. I think he has potential and could well be there one day, just not now. But…is it worth the Orioles losing him over a matter of 16 days?

I say no. Araujo’s worth keeping in the organization. Plus, the Orioles have two off days in the first week of the season. That means that the Orioles won’t need a fifth starter out of the gate.

The Orioles will welcome Boston to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow night. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

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