Baltimore Orioles: Hunter Harvey makes big league debut in loss

For the second straight game in Boston, the Baltimore Orioles had a starting pitcher who pitched much better than his numbers indicated. You might remember last Sunday against Houston that Asher Wojchiekowski certainly pitched well enough to win (in a game the Birds eventually won in walk-off fashion). Again his numbers tonight weren’t great, but they also aren’t indicative of how he pitched. Wojchiekowski’s line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

When I say those numbers don’t look great, I’m basically talking about the innings pitched. Boston hitters worked Wojchiekowski in this game. But while that led to his early exit, he also got out of some big jams in the early innings. He showed an incredible amount of composure, and has attested for himself very well of late.

If you’re Wojchiekowski, you have to think that these are two consecutive starts in which you looked decent. We’re almost back in the spring training mentality at this point in that results are meaningless. I won’t go that far because these are still regular season games and yes they do count. However bigger than wins and losses is guys paving a way for themselves for the future. And it appears that Wojchiekowski is attempting to do just that.

Wojchiekowski started to struggle in the fifth when his pitch count creeped up. Holt smacked a solo homer, and Bradley would later score on a wild pitch before Wojchiekowski would leave the game. But again, a very decent effort by Wojchiekowski.

Boston would tack on two more on a two-run homer by Devers in the seventh. The frustrating thing about that for the Orioles was that the Birds allowed a double with two outs prior to the homer. The ball would have hooked foul, if not for Hanser Alberto making a valiant attempt at catching the ball, and having it tick off the top of his glove – making it fair.

Again, Alberto made a valiant attempt at catching the call on the fly. But had he not tried, that would have been a foul ball. Sometimes it comes across as circumstances taunting the Orioles. Had Alberto mailed it in, there.’a no two-run homer.

Perhaps the biggest moment for Orioles’ fans was Hunter Harvey pitching the eighth inning tonight, and making his major league debut. Harvey retired Boston without surrendering a run, and looked good doing it. (He gave up one walk.) He of course has struggled his way to the big leagues, between surgeries – among other things. However fans and personnel alike should be happy that he’s here now.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Fenway Park. Neither team has yet announced a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Could Aaron Brooks be an opener?

The Baltimore Orioles were unable to break their losing streak this evening at Fenway Park. They had dropped four straight (to New York) going into the game. Now you can make it five. Aaron Brooks got the start at Fenway Park this evening, but in my view he pitched much better than the numbers indicate. Brooks’ line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Brooks gave up an RBI-single to Devers in the first inning. Then he buckled down and kept their potent lineup off the board for awhile. There was a stretch where he was mowing Boston hitters down, allowing the O’s to tie the score at one on Trey Mancini‘s RBI-double in the third inning.

However an inning later Boston took the lead back on Benintendi’s RBI-triple. Moreland would add an RBI-triple of his own later in the inning, running the score to 3-1. At first it appeared that DJ Stewart had a play on the ball. However he misplayed it, and it fell in for a triple. However even in that inning, Brooks was able to limit the damage.

It didn’t unravel for Brooks until he hit a batsman in the sixth, and allowed an additional single. A sac bunt moved the runners into scoring position, and Owings’ pinch-hit two-RBI double opened the game right up. Boston would go on to tack on four additional add-on runs, defeating the O’s 9-2 at Fenway Park.

However keep in mind, Brooks was very effective after he settled in. He did however seem to fall apart all at once. That was due in large part to fatigue, however it was more abrupt than the Orioles would have liked.

So…might Brooks make an effective “opener?” I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of the concept of openers, only because I’m a purist and it’s foreign to me. However it’s not something that’s going away anytime soon. It’s probably a concept that’s here to stay.

And the idea is to bridge tougher innings to pitch; in this case opening innings. So if he continues to do what he did tonight, he could very well morph into an opener-type role. At this point, the Orioles don’t have much to lose.

The series continues tomorrow night at Fenway Park. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles called out by national writer Jon Heyman

Jon Heyman of MLB Network is apparently not a fan of what the Baltimore Orioles are doing. Heyman tweeted late Tuesday night:

Reaction to this commentary was swift and sure; most people felt that this was an unfair take on Heyman’s part. And I agree with that sentiment. I’ll even take it a step further; saying what Heyman said is beneath the dignity of a national reporter.

First and foremost, both the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs have gone through this exact process of late. And both of those organizations won World Series’. (Also worth throwing in that the Orioles’ GM and manager were both respective parts of those two organizations.) Was Heyman complaining about the process then?

And the answer is no. Here’s another point; the Orioles aren’t tanking. They’re undergoing a full rebuild. There’s a big difference. Tanking means you’re all but trying to lose games. Various NBA seasons involving the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics come to mind. The Orioles may only be fielding a lineup which sports an all-star by default, but I feel you’d be hard pressed to argue that the guys on the field at any given time aren’t trying to win games. When you see guys diving around for the ball, running hard, etc, the fact is that they aren’t mailing it in.

And that’s why I say that Heyman’s comments are beneath his position as a national pundit. He’s accusing players and coaches of something that first off isn’t true, but also of something that he couldn’t possibly know. It isn’t for Jon Heyman or anyone else (myself included) to say whether or not the players are playing hard and so forth. But the efforts they put in indicates that they are.

Heyman’s job is to report the news – not become a part of it. But again, I do find it odd that nobody called out other organizations for doing exactly the same thing as what the Orioles are doing now. Apparently it’s just the Orioles.

Baltimore Orioles: Turning to brass versus turning to gold

The Baltimore Orioles suffered yet another beat down at the hands of New York this evening. This time behind all-star pitcher John Means. While Means landed a couple of decent pitches for strikes, overall he was an ineffective as everyone else has been against New York this year. Means’ line: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

Means surrendered a solo homer to LeMahieu on the first pitch of the game. Means, along with most Oriole pitchers it seems in this series, seemed intent on throwing almost exclusively fastballs. And those fastballs were hit a long way by one of the best lineups in baseball.

Now ironically, that was the only homer surrendered in the game by the O’s. So if there’s a silver lining, it’s that they didn’t allow a multi-home run game. And on the flip side, the Orioles themselves got homers from Anthony Santander in the fourth, Stevie Wilkerson in the fifth, and Renato Nunez in the ninth. And that as they say, is it.

Everything that New York has touched this year has turned to utter gold. It’s really amazing and semi-tough to believe. Every player they’ve brought up from their farm system or signed as needed has produced. And some of them have produced big time.

When the likes of Ford, Tauchman, or Maybin at being plugged into the lineup and producing at will in the stead of injured players (who in theory are more talented), to be blunt you know you’re screwed. It just seems that whomever put the pinstripes on this season turned into a superstar.

On the flip side, the Orioles seemingly have the fruits of their labor turn to brass. Alex Cobb‘s our for the season. Mark Trumbo‘s missed the entire year to this point. And even Means, the Orioles’ lone all-star representative, hasn’t lived up to his billing in the second half.

We can go back even further than this. The signing of free agent pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was widely seen as a great move, according to many pundits. I myself thought it was a good move, and would help shore up the pitching staff. Jimenez was a veteran and he knew how to win.

But it turned to brass. Without showing any numbers, everyone remembers that. Jimenez just didn’t pan out as a positive for the O’s. And go back further than that; look at Glenn Davis. It just seems that whatever they touch goes by the wayside. And it’s uncanny.

The series concludes tomorrow at Yankee Stadium. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s J.A. Happ. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Should walks be used to stop the homers?

The Baltimore Orioles claimed Ty Blach off of waivers last week from San Francisco. Last night he started game two of a doubleheader for the Birds at Yankee Stadium. He did make some decent pitches, and perhaps had he been pitching against a different opponent the result would have been different. But in fact he was pitching against New York. Blach’s line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R (6 earned), 3 BB, 4 K.

The O’s only surrendered three home runs in this game, which is actually an improvement. However New York’s Gleyber Torres his three of them. That makes 13 for the season for Torres against the Orioles.

Despite being down early and down big, the Orioles did battle as best they could. Trey Mancini smacked a two-run homer im the third to bring the Orioles to within one at 4-3. Following Ford’s solo homer and Torres’ two, Hanser Alberto‘s three-run homer in the seventh got them to within 11-6.

Rio Ruiz added a two-RBI single in the ninth to bring the Birds back to within three. But they ended up falling 11-8. However as beleaguered as the Orioles looked in this game, it’s worth mentioning that they had the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth. There’s no quit in this team.

That doesn’t mean they did everything perfectly, however. Gleyber Torres came up to bat again in the last of the eighth with two runners on base. Torres has already hit two homers in the game, and as I said above they were the 12th and 13th homers of the season for Torres against the Orioles respectively. Manager Brandon Hyde in that moment opted to intentionally walk Torres.

This wasn’t a strategic IBB given the circumstances. It was done with the specific idea to stop Torres from hitting another home tun. Hyde admitted as much after the game. And honestly, I’m not a fan of that methodology.

I get the point; the guy’s hitting to the moon and back against you. However I would submit that it’s better to find a way to beat someone as opposed to giving in and just giving him a base. It says that you’re adverse to even trying to beat someone as opposed to just taking the easy way out and putting him on.

I do understand why Hyde did what he did. And I’m not suggesting that this is some sort of unacceptable move that should cost people jobs. That’s a ludicrous thought. But I just think that putting a guy on instead of trying to beat him in one manner or another sends a bad message.

The series continues tonight at Yankee Stadium. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Domingo German. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Homers the Birds’ bugaboo once again

Gabriel Ynoa did the honors of reminding Baltimore Orioles’ fans what the Birds’ issue has been all season: the home run ball. As this afternoon’s starter, Ynoa gave up four home runs to New York. Therein lies the result of the game. Ynoa’s line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Here you see some of the effects of doubleheaders for teams. Ynoa probably didn’t pitch well enough to justify pitching six innings. However manager Brandon Hyde seemed to feel that he needed to protect his bullpen – presumably due to the second game.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead early on Renato Nunez‘s sac fly-RBI in the first inning. However Ynoa allowed two base runners in the last of the first before even recording an out. That brought Gregorius to the plate, and he smacked New York into the lead at 3-1 with a three-run home run. One inning later they would tack on a fourth run on Urshela’s RBI-double.

Trey Mancini would keep the Orioles close with a solo home run in the third inning, cutting the New York lead to 4-2. The teams would swap solo home runs in the fifth and sixth with Urshela hitting one out for New York, and Anthony Santander doing so for the Birds. So while the home run ball back back to haunt the Orioles again this afternoon, they weren’t the only team hitting them out this afternoon.

However Maybin would smack a solo homer in the last of the sixth, and Gregorius added a sac fly-RBI in the seventh. The O’s would cut the lead to 8-5 in the eighth however on Renato Nunez’s RBI-groundout and Jace Peterson walking with the bases loaded. The mini-rally forced NY to bring in former Oriole Britton, which could play well for the Orioles in game two.

In essence, if Britton’s already been used today, that might make them attempt to stay away from him in the night cap. A championship-caliber team such as New York may not quite look at it like that, however needless to say if Britton pitches tonight he won’t be fresh. Different game(s), but same day.

The O’s should be heartened by the fact that they put some runs on the board in this game. Granted they also left guys on base, but they were able to have guys cross the plate. However this further illustrates the issues that the home runs are causing. You can look at it from the perspective that the three-run homer in the last of the first by Gregorius in effect was the game. Solo home runs generally don’t beat you; three-run homers often do.

The series and the doubleheader continues this evening at Yankee Stadium. Ty Blach (who was claimed off waivers last week from San Francisco) gets the start for the O’s, and New York is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Rio Ruiz walks off a part of Orioles Magic

Every game has a different star, as the Orioles Magic song says, and this afternoon it was Rio Ruiz for the Baltimore Orioles. More on that later. But remember folks, it begins and ends with starting pitching. Asher Wojchiekowski put the O’s in a spot to win today’s game, and with a quality start at that. In fact, he left the game in line to be the winner. Wojchiekowski’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Wojchiekowski retired one of the best lineups in baseball 1-2-3 in the top of the first, throwing only nine pitches in the inning. Houston started perennial all-star Verlander, who was forced to throw 20 pitches in the first. And that included an RBI-double by Jace Peterson, which gave the O’s a 1-0 lead.

Verlander didn’t pitch poorly, just not as good as he normally does. And the Orioles took advantage. Wojchiekowski on the other hand set the tone for the Birds – save for one pitch. He allowed a three-run homer to Correa in the second inning which gave Verlander and Houston a 3-1 lead.

However Trey Mancini would foreshadow the Orioles’ coming heroics with an immediate RBI-single in the last of the second which cut the Houston lead to 3-2. Fans has to be thinking that after seeing the team lose in epic fashion last night, at least they were battling and putting up a fight this afternoon. Little did they know that the Orioles had only begun to fight.

Peterson would smack an RBI-triple in the last of the fifth which tied the game at three. Hanser Alberto would add a sac fly, and before you knew it the O’s had the lead back at 4-3. The O’s would later trade runs in the sixth and seventh with Mancini’s RBI-single, and Altuve’s RBI-groundout. But the Birds took a one-run lead to the last of the ninth.

Mychal Givens has been tapped in the eighth to complete a four-out save. Unfortunately, he began the ninth by putting the first two runners on base. Brantley then smacked one into the right field corner, which Santander bobbled in right. That allowed not only two runs to score, but it gave Brantley the chance to come around and score as well (ruled a triple and an error). Suddenly the O’s trailed 7-5.

As if it wasn’t enough that the O’s had been embarrassed at home by their division rivals all week, or that they had been embarrassed 23-2 the night before, now this. The O’s had a lead and basically at that point were going to lose the game in about as savage a manner as possible. Houston’s one of the best teams in baseball. If there were ever a coup de grace, it was going to be that moment.

But hold on a moment; surely…all was not lost yet, was it?! The O’s still had to come to bat in the last of the ninth. Was it possible that they could do what Houston did and put up three runs? Or would this beleaguered team with it’s beleaguered players and manager just fold up and head to New York for tomorrow’s games?

After putting a runner on base, the Birds came to within 7-6 on Chris Davis‘ sac fly-RBI. But that had to be it, right? They couldn’t come back further to win…not even after Chance Sisco was hit by a pitch and brought the winning run to the plate, could they?

That HBP brought Rio Ruiz to the plate with two outs. He ran the count to two strikes, bringing the O’s to the brink. And at that moment I’m sure that somewhere in this favored town, babies cry and children shout. And somewhere out there a cloud casts a pall; but Baltimore hearts were happy then, for Rio hit the ball.

And he hit it a long way at that – onto the flag court in right field. With that, the Orioles defeated Houston, one of the best teams in baseball, on a walk off home run. Winning the game (and in that manner at that) doesn’t erase the past week or it’s hardships. Heck, it doesn’t erase last night’s angst. But it’s nice to end all of that on a high note. A win counts as one win, margin of victory is unimportant.

With all of that said, Rio Ruiz has put his name in the record books as being a steward of Orioles Magic. He joins the Dempsey’s Ripken’s, Murray’s, Robinson’s, and DeCinces’ of the world in that. And wow did he ever do it with a bang.

The O’s now head to New York for the first game of a doubleheader with New York tomorrow afternoon. Gabriel Ynoa gets the fall for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s James Paxton. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Are pitches being tipped?

The Baltimore Orioles suffered yet another blowout loss this evening, this time to Houston. Starter Aaron Brooks certainly set the tone for the game, but he only gave up nine runs. When all was said and done Houston had put up 23. Brooks’ line: 3.0 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Most people look at that stat line and say that at the very least Brooks didn’t walk anyone. And that’s certainly true. However looks can be deceiving. That means that Brooks was putting balls into the strike zone. And in essence, getting too much of the strike zone. The same was true of every subsequent Oriole pitcher.

I admittedly fall into the mindset that a two-out base hit isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s only one base runner; if they can just get one out the inning is over. However Houston routinely makes people pay for that attitude.

They also find ways to get on base. A couple of their runs came off of two very softly hit balls. Several more came when a ball dropped between three different fielder’s. They put the ball in play, and and they run. Incidentally, the lone Oriole runs in this game came on a sac-fly RBI by Jace Peterson in the last of the first, and a solo homer in the seventh by Rio Ruiz.

The O’s gave up five homers in this game – yet again. Often I wonder in stretches like this if pitches aren’t being tipped. Obviously both Houston and New York are gifted in terms of hitting. However it should be fairly telling that hitters seem to know exactly what’s coming. And where.

The where part of that could be the key. In this game specifically, we saw Correa hit a home run over both bullpens in left center. Unofficially, that’s a new Camden Yards homer at 474 feet. I’m not suggesting that Oriole pitchers are doing their job in deceiving opposing hitters – that fact speaks for itself. But in order to hit balls that far, you’d have to know where the pitch is coming in. And maybe even how fast.

Mind you, I’m NOT accusing anyone of stealing signs. We all know that happens in baseball (not that it should), but that isn’t what I’m saying. I’m wondering if the Orioles themselves aren’t doing something to tip pitches. Something subtle, on which opposing teams are picking up. Perhaps positioning of a fielder, or something along those lines.

Again, to me the telling part is that the balls are traveling as far as they’re going. It’s not so much about speed. Stevie Wilkerson proves that when he pitches – as he did again tonight. He pitches very slowly. That actually throws off hitters trying to make contact. But if a hitter knows where the pitch is going, he can position the bat to make contact.

It might behoove the Orioles to take a long hard look at how their pitchers are winding up among other things. Because if pitches are being tipped, it’s going to continue happening. And that’s certainly not the goal.

One thing that is worth mentioning is that Houston decided it was appropriate to challenge a call of safe/out at second base up by 14 runs or so in the sixth inning. My personal opinion is that it’s probably poor form to be that nit-picky when you’re winning in a blowout.

In contrast, Houston recorded a double down the left field line in the ninth inning (against Wilkerson). Replays seemed to show that the ball was foul. There were two outs and the Orioles trailed big – no challenge was lodged. Similarly, I fee that’s appropriate. That call isn’t going to affect the outcome of the game. Of course…That runner at second base allowed Houston to score three more runs in the game. Not sure what to say about any of that.

The series and the home stand conclude tomorrow. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Justin Verlander. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall to Houston as 1989 team looks on

The Baltimore Orioles were their 1989 throwback jerseys this evening in honor of the 30th anniversary of the 1989 why not Orioles. Houston, the evening’s opponent, followed suit and wore their uniforms from 1989 as well. Dylan Bundy got the start for the Birds, and put the team in a spot to win. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

For a split second, you could pinch yourself and say you were in 1989 with the uniforms being what they were. However if that were true, this game would have been played at the long since razed Memorial Stadium. You would also be reading this game recap in tomorrow morning’s Baltimore Sun as opposed to this evening online. (“Online” didn’t exist back then!) And for the record, I wouldn’t be the one writing it; I was eight years old in 1989!

But with the 1989 team looking on, the Birds went toe-to-toe with Houston, one of the best teams in baseball. Houston put two runs on the board in the first, on Bregman’s RB-double and Albarez’s RBI-single. However Bundy settled in nicely after that, turning in a quality start and putting the O’s in a spot to win the ballgame. That’s all you can ask of a starter.

Jace Peterson would keep the Orioles in it with a two-run homer in the fifth. However Altuve would extend Houston’s lead with an RBI-triple in the seventh. This game ultimately ended up just another case of the Birds battling, but not being to quite making it over the hump.

Houston hitters are notorious for working your pitching to the ninth degree. Which makes it all the more impressive that Bundy turned in a quality start. It was the Orioles’ first quality start in eleven games. The last one occurred in Anaheim.

Stevie Wilkerson would smack a solo homer in the last of the seventh, but that wasn’t enough. Ultimately it was too little too late. But again, Houston is one of the best teams in the league. They’re running away with their division. The fact that the Orioles were competitive in this game after the most recent NY series is a good sign.

The series continues tomorrow night from Camden Yards. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the Birds, and he”‘m be opposed by Houston’s Aaron Sanchez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Return of the ‘Why Not’ Orioles

Baltimore Orioles fans are in for a treat this weekend, as it’s the 30-year reunion of the “Why Not” Orioles. As so many fans of my generation and older recall, the O’s were horrible in 1988. They started the season 0-21. The outlook wasn’t much better for 1989, either.

But a funny thing happened; the slightly re-tooled 1989 roster jumped out of the gate. They were in the race until the bitter end, falling out on the last day of the season. However their moniker became why not? A popular music video was also recorded (link here) and played throughout the season. But in the ballpark and on the radio.

That was refreshing to see after the horrors of 1988. Nobody does nostalgia like the Orioles, and this is a great opportunity for fans to get to see some of those old players return. Some of them we still know day in and day out. Obviously Cal Ripken Jr. is always around town. And Dave Johnson, Gregg Olson, and Ben McDonald are all a part of the Orioles’ broadcast teams. However when’s the last time Orioles fans saw the likes of Mike Devereaux, Bob Milacki, and others?

That’s part of what these types of celebrations are about. And obviously there’ll be a semi-pall hanging over the event, as the 1989 team’s skipper, Frank Robinson, passed away before the season started. But in the end, it’s the memories that counts. And as I said, nobody does nostalgia like the Orioles. And we’ll see it this whole weekend.

The Houston Astros will be the opponent this weekend during the festivities. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds tonight, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Wade Miley (himself a former Oriole). Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Update on Hyde and Davis

Everyone saw or knows about what happened between Chris Davis and manager Brandon Hyde of the Baltimore Orioles last night. MASN cameras caught Davis going at Hyde in the dugout, and Hyde walking away. Just this afternoon via twitter, MASN’s Roch Kubatko offered an update via twitter on what this was about…

…in essence, Davis threw something in the dugout after recording an out. Apparently it hit Hyde, who said something to Davis. And of course Davis didn’t appreciate it, the results of which we saw on camera.

I would suspect that’s the gist of what we’re going to hear about this situation. There’s a very vocal group of fans on social media, on radio call-in shows, etc., who want Davis DFA’d. Let me assure you, if Davis is DFA’d it won’t be for anything to do with this. And I wouldn’t hold my breath on a DFA coming down the pike for Davis anytime soon.

These sorts of things happen all the time. I’m not defending it, I’m just saying that it happens all the time. Brandon Hyde said in his press conference after the game that in general he has a good relationship with Davis. When you spend as much time with people as these players and coaches do, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that sometimes things like this occur.

Both Hyde and Davis are in general very professional guys. I suspect that they’ll clear the air tomorrow afternoon when they come in after today’s off day, and that’ll be the end of it. I would submit that the media, both local and national, is making this into more of a story than it needs to be. Yes, it was unfortunate and it shouldn’t have happened. Yes it’s semi-noteworthy because it involved a guy hitting under the Mendoza Line who’s sitting on a pile of cash. But let’s not act like this was the first time in the history of baseball (or any sport for that matter) that there was a squabble between a player and coach. It happens, and it’s unfortunate. But it happens.

Baltimore Orioles: Trouble in paradise?

I suppose one could argue that John Means set the tone for the Baltimore Orioles last night. However Means exited the game in the fourth inning due to a high pitch count after coming off the DL. After the game manager Brandon Hyde did say that he felt Means pitched well and ran into some hard luck, however he gave up the first run in what turned into a deluge. Means’ line: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

When you lose 14-2, you can’t put blame on a guy who exited the game in the fourth inning. However the O’s gave up another five homers to NY last night,any of which were surrendered to the replacements of replacements. In short, no matter what the Orioles threw up there, NY hitters hit. And a long way at that. It didn’t matter who the players were.

However more poignant than the game itsel was what went on in the Orioles’ dugout in the fifth inning. MASN cameras caught first baseman Chris Davis having a verbal confrontation with manager Brandon Hyde. At one point Davis had to be restrained from going after Hyde, who went down the tunnel towards the clubhouse. Davis was removed from the game.

After the game Hyde neglected to address the catalyst for the altercation, but said that they would keep it private (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports:

We haven’t talked about it since. It was just a disagreement that we had in the dugout. I’m not going to get into it. We’re going to keep it in-house. It’s private. It’s just something that happens sometimes. Frustration boils over a little bit when we’re not playing our best baseball the last couple of games.

I think it’s important to note that these things do happen. They happen on winning teams and losing teams. Granted the fact that a player went after the manager (and in public at that) can’t be overlooked, however these sort of things do occur.

Hyde said that he had already taken Davis out of the game, so there was something that happened in the game which didn’t sit right with Hyde. There was speculation that perhaps Davis didn’t hustle on chasing a foul ball (which ultimately ended up in the stands), or that he booted a throw to first. But one way or the other the manager removed him from the game, and that didn’t sit well with him.

Hyde, along with other players also said that the relationship between the two was very good. And anyone who’s followed Chris Davis should know that those actions are very out-of-character for him. He isn’t the type of guy to pull a stunt like that. Maybe he wasn’t happy about being lifted from the game, but frustration also had to play a role.

Baltimore Orioles: Can’t compete with lightning in a bottle

The Baltimore Orioles had to endure an hour and fifteen minute rain delay before getting last night’s game against New York going. That means that starter Asher Wojchiekowski was sitting on ice during that time as the team waited out the rain delay. Wojciechowski’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Wojciechowski wasn’t horrible by any means. In fact, my personal opinion is that he pitched better than his numbers indicate. The Birds as a whole are catching New York at the wrong time. In winning last night, they’ve won six straight games.

To that point, they also seem to know that they’ve caught lightning in a bottle. No matter who they’ve brought up from the minors or plugged into their lineup to replace injured players, it seems that they’ve all magically worked out.

New York smacked back-to-back homers in the third, between Tacuhman and LeMahieu. Gregorious would add an additional homer later in the inning, and New York led 3-0. As if Tauchman (who to be honest I’ve never even heard of until he came to town with New York this week) hasn’t caused the Orioles enough trouble, he robbed the Birds of a homer later in the game. Flat out robbed them by climbing the wall. Again, lightning in a bottle.

However the O’s battled back. Jonathan Villar‘s RBI-triple in the last of the third cut the lead to 3-1. Villar would later score on Trey Mancini‘s RBI-groundout. However in the first two games of this series the Birds have gotten to within one before NY stopped the rally on numerous occasions. And then NY would pile on again – in this case, Romine smacked a two-RBI double in the fourth to give them a two-run lead once again.

But the O’s came back again. Anthony Santander‘s two-run homer in the fifth brought the O’s back to within one. But again, New York wasn’t in the mood to let them get over the hump. They would go onto tally four more runs, and their bullpen closed the door on the Orioles. The Birds ended up falling 9-4.

The silver lining is that the O’s are hanging with New York – for awhile. You can clearly see their yearn to win based on how often they come back. But again, NY is playing on a totally different level. The injuries they’ve had this year could have been considered catastrophic based on who they lost and who they’ve had to plug in. However what they’re doing is somewhat of a freak of nature. As I said, lightning in a bottle.

The series concludes tonight at Camden Yards. John Means comes off the IL to make the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s James Paxton. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: When common sense fails

The Baltimore Orioles got a decent start so to speak out of Gabriel Ynoa this evening. The numbers don’t indicate that, but Ynoa was also the victim of some hard luck. Ynoa’s line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R (3 earned), 2 BB, 1 K.

The O’s started the season with six of their first nine games against New York. At the time, New York had their share of the injuries – as they do now. I suggested that the Orioles were lucky to be seeing their AL East rival while they had some injury problems.

What I couldn’t have known is that no matter who New York plugged into their lineup was going to succeed. Guys would be coming up from the minors and smacking home runs at will. It’s one thing to have a next man up philosophy and have guys play well. But whomever put on the pinstripes ended up being flat out dominant. Much to the chagrin of nearly every other team.

New York took a 1-0 lead on a second inning homer by Romine. However Trey Mancini‘s RBI-single in the third tied the game at one. However one inning later the O’s has two runners on, one of which (in the form of Jace Peterson) was at third. The O’s attempted a double-steal, and Peterson was called out at home plate.

However the Orioles challenged the call. In my personal view it wasn’t even close – replays clearly seemed to show that Peterson slid across home plate well before the tag was put on. However the call was upheld on review, ending the inning.

That was a key turning point in the game. It definitely put the Orioles a bit off-center for a spell. Trey Mancini was so angry that he had to be restrained from going on the field and saying something he would regret. In seeing the replay, it seems to be common sense that the runner was safe. Peterson clearly beat the tag. But the Orioles would argue that common sense failed them this evening.

As I said and as I tweeted during the game, that was a major turning point. Or perhaps a launching point. Because New York took full advantage of the opportunity they were given, and took the lead in the fifth. By the end of the sixth, they had extended it to 6-1.

In full, New York smacked five home runs in this game. That’s something that’s plagued Orioles’ pitching all year. But all five of those homers came from the bottom of the order. And the majority of them came on the bats of guys who in essence are fill-in’s. It’s one thing to fill in admirably for a regular player. These guys are flat out playing like world beaters.

However the Orioles battle back. Jace Peterson smacked a two-run homer in the sixth – and this time the league office allowed the run he represented to cross home plate (if you can believe that). Chris Davis would add a sac fly-RBI later in the inning, which was followed by a two-run homer by Jonathan Villar which tied the game at six.

The Orioles has battled back against the pinstripes and tied the game. Brandon Hyde correctly saw that a lefty hitter in Ford would lead the seventh off for New York. So he correctly brought in southpaw Paul Fry to face Ford. Again, common sense. And good sound baseball rationale.

But common sense once again bit the Orioles. Ford would homer against Fry, as would Tauchman. Those homers gave New York a 9-6 lead, which turned into a 9-6 victory.

Again, that foul call at the plate set the tone for the rest of the game. While the Orioles came back, they were off-center for the remainder of the evening. And while you have to admire some of these guys from New York who are tearing it up when they have no business doing so, from the opponent’s perspective it.’a frustrating to see. Regardless of what the Orioles did, New York was ready for them.

If you’re inclined to suggest that the play at the plate could and should have been overcame, you’re right to say that. However keep in mind that the Orioles would have left 2-1 had that call been reversed as it should have been. Not to mention that the inning would have continued. You just never know what would have happened. For the record, Jonathan Villar managed to hit for the cycle tonight, becoming the fifth Oriole in history to do so.

The series continues tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the Birds, and New York is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

UPDATE: Brandon Hyde said after the game that he felt the non-overturned call at home plate was “pathetic.”

Baltimore Orioles hold Toronto accountable for mistakes yet again

The Baltimore Orioles used Jimmy Yacabonis this afternoon as an opener in the series finale against Toronto. Yacabonis didn’t particularly have the greatest outing as an opener, but he didn’t surrender a run. And he was helped in the same manner that the Birds were helped last night: Toronto got overzealous and took a stupid risk. Yacabonis’ line: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K.

Yacabonis loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning. He then induced a grounder to Chris Davis at first, who gunned the runner out at home plate. With the bases still loaded, Smoak flew out to Anthony Santander in left field. That should have given Toronto a 1-0 lead – on a sac fly. However they made an unforced error on the base paths when Guriel decided to tag up and take third. Santander threw him out, and home plate umpire Brian O’Nora ruled that the out was recorded before the runner crossed the plate. That nullified the run.

The teams traded RBI-singles in the last of the first and top of the second. However that missed run by Toronto loomed large. And their mistakes continued. The Orioles got the lead in the last of the second when Jonathan Villar reached on a fielding error, allowing a run to score and giving the O’s a 2-1 lead.

Later in that second inning the O’s got a two-RBI double from Trey Mancini, extending their lead to 4-1. Toronto would get one back in the fifth, however the last of the fifth saw the O’s net two runs on walks. Sisco and Davis both walked with the bases loaded, giving the Birds a 6-2 lead.

Toronto would make things interesting however. They would smack back-to-back homers in the seventh, along with an RBI-double. But the Orioles bullpen preserved the lead, and the Birds closed out a one-run victory.

So if you think back to that base-running blunder by Toronto in the first inning, it made a huge difference. It’s never fair to say all things being the same, however if that game played out the same way with Toronto having scored that run, it would have gone to extra innings. This is two games in a row that the Orioles got fat on Toronto taking dumb risks in games, and losing out.

This isn’t to say that the O’s can only win when their opponent makes mistakes. Because you still have to hold them accountable for their errors. The Orioles are starting to do that, and it’s a good sign.

Tomorrow the Orioles open a three-game set at Camden Yards against the New York Yankees. Gabriel Ynoa gets the start for the Al’s, and NY is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Toronto gambles – and loses

The Baltimore Orioles entered last night’s game trying to snap a two-game losing streak. Unfortunately they were playing an upstart Toronto team that was telling the Orioles and the rest of baseball that they belong. They had taken it to the Orioles in two consecutive games, and won five straight overall. Dylan Bundywas taxed with trying to stop them last night. Bundy’s line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K.

Toronto took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI-double by Guerrero. They extended their lead to 2-0 on a third inning solo homer by Galvis. However unlike the first two games of this series, the Orioles overcame that.

The O’s were actually held hitless until the fifth, and that first hit was a solo home run by Jonathan Villar. After a couple of runners got on base following that home run, Trey Mancini strode to the plate. And Mancini smacked a three-run homer which put the Orioles in the lead at 4-2. It was Mancini’s 26th homer of the season. Wherever his home run total stands at the end of the year, it’ll be a new single-season career high.

However Toronto would tie the game in the seventh on a two-run homer by McGuire. Following the homer Bichette would get on base with a single. That brought Galvis to the plate. He smacked a double into the left field corner. However Toronto decided to gamble and send the runner home from first. Anthony Santander dug the ball out of the corner, and threw it to Richie Martin. And Martin related it home to Pedro Severino, who apparently tagged the runner Bichette after he had crossed the plate.

Toronto has gambled on these young Orioles fielder’s not being able to get the ball back in to nail the runner, and it worked. They had a 5-4 lead. However that lead was incredibly short-lived. The Orioles saw something on the replay, and challenged the call. The umpires agreed with the Orioles – Severino had actually tagged the runner out before he crossed home plate. So the game remained tied.

However in the bottom of that seventh inning Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-single put the Birds back in the lead. Mancini would add an RBI-groundout, and the O’s went home with a 7-4 victory. This snapped the aforementioned two game losing streak.

Make no mistake that the challenged play at the plate played a huge role. Toronto took what I would have deemed a stupid risk. At first it appeared that they got away with it. But that ultimately wasn’t the case. And that moment changed the momentum of the game, propelling the Orioles to victory.

The series concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards. Jimmy Yacabonis gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Sean Reid-Foley. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles finding bugaboo in fundamentals

Aaron Brooks got the start for the Baltimore Orioles last night, and with mixed results at that. He wasn’t good, but certainly not horrible. But the Birds fins themselves in a situation where they want guys to step up and take a spot in the rotation. I wouldn’t say Brooks did that last night, or since he’s been here – to this point. Brooks’ line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

Brooks threw 30 pitches in the first inning, but rebounded in the second and threw only ten. Guerrero’s RBI-single have Toronto a 1-0 lead. Jace Peterson tried to throw the runner out at home plate from left field. There was never going to be a play at the plate, yet he threw home anyways, allowing Guerrero to go to second base. He would later score on Galvis’ RBI-single.

It’s small fundamentals as such which have plagued the O’s for some time. This isn’t to say that they should immediately surrender runs when hits come with runners on base. But fielder’s have to evaluate the situation; in that particular case, Peterson had no chance to throw the runner out. So by trying to do so and allowing another runner to get into scoring position, he assisted in netting the opponent an additional run. Good intentions for sure, but those are things that you have to get right in games.

Toronto would net fourth and sixth inning solo homers by Galvis and Drury respectively. However in the seventh Chris Davis brought the O’s to within two with a two-run homer. However that’s as close as they got. Fisher added an RBI-single in the ninth for Toronto, who went into win the game 5-2.

If you remove that second first inning run (which came on the heels of Peterson trying to nail the runner at home plate), the Orioles still lose by two – all things being the same. But as I said above, small fundamentals like that do make a difference in games. Maybe it this game per se. However had this been a one-run game…you get the point. And opposing teams have seemingly never been in the mood to let the Orioles off the hook when they make lapses like that.

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Thomas Pannone. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini hits career high in homers in loss

The Baltimore Orioles returned home last night following a long west coast swing. In doing so, they ran into a buzz saw called the Toronto Blue Jays. As it turned out, Asher Wojchiekowski was plagued by a sore hip throughout his outing. The O’s said after the game that he’s expected to be fine. Wojciechowski’s line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Wojchiekowski gave up a two-run homer to Guerrero in the third, an RBI-single to Bichette in the fourth, and a solo homer to Grichuk in the fifth. Wojchiekowski wasn’t on point last night (with the sore hip being duly noted), however Toronto also ended the night with five home runs and eleven runs total. Regardless of who the Orioles trotted out there, Toronto hitters were smacking around.

Jonathan Villar got the Orioles on the board in the last of the fifth with a fielder’s choice-RBI. But the aforementioned Bichette and Guerrero hit the Orioles hard all night. Something about the sons of famous Dad’s that wasn’t sitting right with the Orioles last night. Guerrero also homered in the eighth, giving him two on the night.

Trey Mancini also smacked a solo homer in the last of the eighth for the Birds, giving him 25 on the season. That’s a new career high for Mancini, who’s progression as a hitter has been upwards since making his debut. And that’s good news for the Orioles.

Mancini of course was the subject of a few muted trade rumors as the deadline approached, but he’s still an Oriole. And he’s said that he’s happy about that. So are the Orioles.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that trading Mancini would be a huge mistake for the Orioles. He’s the type of player around whom you want to build. Now on the flip side he would probably net the most return in terms of players. But you have to look past that.

It’s short-sighted to suggest that simply because Mancini’s been a part of two consecutive last place finishes (assuming that’s the eventual case this year) the O’s should ship him out. His numbers speak for themselves. You want to keep a guy like him. On top of that, he seems to like playing in Baltimore and he seems to like the organization. He’s a keeper.

The series with Toronto continues tonight at Camden Yards. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the O’s, and Toronto is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles stand pat at the deadline

The Baltimore Orioles in essence made no moves yesterday at the 4:00 PM EST trading deadline. They sent pitcher Dan Straily to the Philadelphia Phillies for cash considerations. That’s considered a minor league move, so again nothing major. As I alluded, the Orioles pretty much stood pat.

There were multiple deals on the table involving multiple players, however the Birds neglected to take any of them. Which tells you that the return package wasn’t sufficient for Elias and company. Even teams in the Orioles’ situation aren’t going to just give players away. That isn’t how it works.

In the wake of their successful road trip, the O’s will tonight open up a four-game set at Camden Yards against Toronto. The Birds are yet to announce a starter, whereas Toronto will start Trent Thornton. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles bead home winners on the bat of Chris Davis

The Baltimore Orioles’ west coast road trip was already a success before yesterday’s game. Now some might disagree, but the fact that they hadn’t embarrassed themselves and looked good in numerous wins was a good sign. But as Tom Eshelman opened for the Birds yesterday, there was a yearn to make a decent west coast swing a good one. Eshelman’s line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Eshelman surrendered four runs early to San Diego, putting the Birds in an early hole. But as suddenly as San Diego had struck, the tide turned and the Orioles began to strike back. Jace Peterson‘s RBI-single in the fourth inning got the O’s on the board, cutting the San Diego lead to 4-1. However later in the inning Richie Martin added a two-RBI single, which cut the lead to 4-3.

Martin’s two-RBI single was a key turning point. There’s a big difference between holding a three-run lead and a one-run lead. However San Diego would get a run back one inning later on an infield RBI-single, which the Orioles challenged at first base. However while it appeared that the runner could have been out, the ruling was that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the ruling on the field.

However two innings later Hanser Alberto tied it with a two-RBI single. Incidentally, that came with two runners in scoring position. That’s known as a clutch hit.

And it didn’t end there. The game was tied, and one inning later in the eighth Chris Davis was coming to the plate. Now there was a time when that would have struck fear into opposing pitchers. Those days are past. Davis has been 0-for-3 with three strikeouts to that point. Which is why San Diego opted to pitch-to-contact on Davis.

But Davis is still good enough to hit the ball out of the ballpark if he does get a pitch and he’s able to get a hold of it. And that.’a exactly what he did on a hanging slider, and he muscled it out of the ballpark. Again, we call that a clutch hit given the fact that the game was tied, and it was in a late inning.

Trey Mancini added a two-RBI single later in the inning, and the O’s closed out an 8-5 victory in San Diego. They completed their nine-game west coast swing at five wins and four losses. For a team that’s supposed to be the worst in baseball, that’s pretty good. And for the record, they aren’t the worst team in baseball anymore. That distinction now belongs to Detroit. The O’s are moving up in the world!

Baltimore Orioles: David Hess struggles in big league return

The Baltimore Orioles recalled RHP David Hess in advance of last night’s game in San Diego. Unfortunately for the O’s, Hess’ start didn’t exactly go as planned. Hess’ line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 7 K.

Hess gave up back-to-back homers to Tatis and Reyes, literally on the first two pitches of the game. Not exactly an auspicious beginning. Anthony Santander‘s third inning RBI-single cut the lead to 2-1. Unfortunately for the O’s however, that’s as close as they would get.

Hess would surrender two third inning homers as well. A two-run shot to Hosmer, and a solo home run to Urias. And that ended his night. Hosmer would also add a three-run shot in the seventh to run the final score to 8-1.

Now if there’s anything positive that can be taken away from this start for Hess, it’s his seven strikeouts. Over just under five innings, that’a pretty impressive. However while Hess will take the seven strikeouts as a positive thing, it’s also indicative of the larger problem in this start.

In effect, Hess was getting too much of the strike zone. That’s why the first two hitters smacked homers – the ball was right smack in the middle of the zone. If you’re overpowering people that might be one thing. And in many cases Hess was. You don’t get seven strikeouts without overflowing people here and there.

But in at least four other cases the hitters got to Hess and smacked homers. And this illustrates one of the many reasons why pitching in fact is so challenging. Needless to say, it’s not for the faint of heart. You want to throw strikes. But if you get too much of the strike zone, you’re going to find yourself in trouble more often than not. And that’a what happened to Hess last night.

The short series in San Diego and the Kong west coast swing concludes this afternoon at Petro Park. Tom Eshelman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by San Diego’s Dinelson Lamet. Game time is set for just after 3:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Any trades involving the Birds?

With the MLB trade deadline this week, the question appears to be whether the Baltimore Orioles will make a move. Reliever Mychal Givens appears to be the biggest trade chip the Orioles currently have. According to numerous sources multiple teams have expressed interest.

The Orioles are willing to move Givens. Heck, I think with a few exceptions they’d move anyone. However they’re not going to give the guy away. So it really boils down to what kind of compensation they’re going to get in return.

One might ask why the Orioles would think they could get for a reliever. And I think that the answer to that is a decent return. While Givens may not net them what they got for relievers last year, keep in mind why a team would be looking to trade for Givens: for the postseason.

Bullpens have turned into an integral part of the game across the board. Heck, you can’t even finish a spring training game if you don’t have bullpen relievers. Much less in the regular season. But the bullpen is much more important in the post season, as starters and all pitchers are on a tighter leash.

Many managers will lift their starters in the third or fourth inning if they aren’t working out. Then it falls to the bullpen. Givens would also be a set up man on a contending team. And that’s tough to find.

So the O’s might well get a couple of prospects for a reliever like Givens. What they do with those prospects remains to be seen.

Baltimore Orioles can’t complete sweep, settle for series win

The Baltimore Orioles will have to settle for simply taking the series in Anaheim this weekend. The Birds took three-of-four, including of course their epic 16 inning win on Thursday night in the series opener. Dylan Bundy wasn’t exactly “on” per se, but he did put the Orioles in a spot to win the game. And that’s all you can ask of a starting pitcher. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

The O’s actually fell behind early in this one, following Thaiss’ second inning two-run homer. However they soon came to within one at 2-1 when Jonathan Villar smacked an RBI-double in the third. Incidentally, Anaheim starter Pena appeared to leave the game in the second when a blister popped on his throwing hand. However he got some quick treatment on it, and stayed in the game. Anaheim was direly in need of a long outing, so kudos to him.

Villar would later tie the game at two in the fifth inning with an RBI-single. But it was Trey Mancini who got the O’s thinking that they could complete the sweep later in the inning. His two-RBI single gave the Orioles the lead at 4-2.

With how the Orioles had pitched in this series, one might have thought that was a safe lead. But sometimes you just don’t have it on certain days. Bundy surrendered a two-run homer to Pinole in the last of the sixth, tying the game.

The Orioles would eventually fall on a walk off homer by Thaiss in the last of the ninth. Look at it as you wish, but this was an incredibly successful series for the Orioles. Perhaps the best series of the season. They took three-of-four from a team on the west coast, and the one game they dropped wasn’t lost until the last of the ninth inning. On a walk off home run.

This Oriole team grew up this weekend in Anaheim. They’ve been trending well since the beginning of the month, but I really believe that at some point (perhaps next year or the year after) we’ll look back at this series as when they started taking a step forward in the rebuilding process. While they lost today, there’s nary any negative which can be spun out of this series from the Orioles’ standpoint.

The Birds now head off to their last stop on the west coast swing, a two-game set with San Diego at Petco Park. The O’s are yet to announce a starter, and Sam Diego will throw Chris Paddack. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Something magic…

The Baltimore Orioles set a record last night – one of the positive sort. They became the first team in major league history the hit multiple homers in ten straight games. That’s right…the team that everyone pens in as the worst team in baseball simply by default. Aaron Brooks got the start, and while he had his struggles he also put the Birds in a spot to win. Brooks’ line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

The O’s took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on Pedro Severino‘s two-RBI single. However Anaheim decided to be feisty in this game, and at least gave the Orioles a fight. Trout’s two-run homer in the last of the first level tied the game at two.

One inning later, Anaheim took a 4-2 lead on Fletcher’s two-RBI single. Earlier in the season that might have ended the game in a sense. But the Orioles didn’t back down. Anthony Santander‘s RBI-double in the third brought the O’s back to within one at 4-3. Pedro Severino would later smack a two-run homer, giving the Orioles a 5-4 lead.

The only issue is that there was still some game left to play. Ohtani tied the score at five in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run. The teams traded solo homers (resulting in a six-all tie) in the sixth, with Jonathan Villar connecting for the O’s and Pujols for Anaheim. And it was that Villar homer which set the record. With that home run, the Birds has officially tallied another multi-home run game – their tenth in a row. A new major league record.

However the Orioles wanted a win more than a record. While the record personifies how much better this team has played of late, they wanted to win this game to guarantee a series win. They wanted to go into Sunday with a shot to sweep.

And ultimately, they will. Hanser Alberto‘s two-RBI single in the eighth day inning gave the O’s an 8-6 lead. Fletcher would get Anaheim to within one at 8-7 with an RBI-single in the last of the ninth, however it wouldn’t be enough. The Orioles took the trifecta last night; they won the game, set the record, and won the series.

This team isn’t going to magically find itself in playoff contention come the end of September. However the O’s have taken a positive turn in the month of July. They’ve looked crisper and they’ve won some very intense games in which they would have stood no chance in April or May.

And something struck me in the wake of that 16 inning marathon the other night. In the past we would have used a very specific term to describe what we’re seeing of late. And that term is ORIOLES MAGIC. That’s probably not a term we thought we’d hear in 2019. Maybe it’s not really time for it to re-emerge…yet. But we may very well look back to this time as when the seeds were sewn for the next generation of Orioles Magic.

So let’s put it this way; is something magic happening? No, not yet. Maybe still not for awhile. But something’s happening. And somewhere down the line, that something could turn into something magic happening.

The O’s will go for the sweep this afternoon at Angel Stadium. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Anaheim’s Felix Pena. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Asher Wojchiekowski strong in win

Asher Wojchiekowski turned in his second strong outing in as many last night for the Baltimore Orioles. It was also his second win in as many outings, and the Orioles’ second consecutive win. Wojciechowski’s line: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

The Birds took an early 1-0 lead on a sac fly-RBI by Anthony Santander. And that came in the wake of a hit batsman, a stolen base, and an additional sacrifice to get the runner to third. A true “team run.”

The second inning however effectively ended the game. Or at least the competitive portion thereof. Stevie Wilkerson added to the Orioles’ lead with an RBI-groundout. The aforementioned Santander added a two-RBI single, leaving runners on base. But they were soon brought home by Renato Nunez when he smacked a three-run home run.

That second inning left the O’s with a 7-0 lead. That’s tough to overcome, however the saving grace for Anaheim was that it was early in the game. But the fact is that Wojciechowski and the Orioles’ bullpen wasn’t allowing a comeback on this night. They took the lead and ran with it, despite Anaheim netting two runs on Thaiss’ two-run homer in the last of the fifth.

The teams would swap homers in the ninth as well. Trey Mancini for the Orioles (of the two-run variety), and Upton’s solo homer for Anaheim. But when you’re ahead big and it’s the ninth inning, you don’t sweat a solo homer. The O’s ended up 9-3 winners on this Friday night in Anaheim, their second consecutive win.

Incidentally, the Orioles only used two relievers in the game. Wojciechowski’s strong outing did a huge favor for the tired Orioles’ bullpen, which pitched a 16-inning game on Thursday. Nobody would have blamed the Orioles for losing this game had they done so after Thursday’s marathon. But they took the bull by the horns and went out and won them the game. That type of grit shouldn’t be lost on fans.

The series continues tonight at Angel Stadium. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the O’s, and Anaheim is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 9 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Were the Birds aided by an incorrect replay call?

The Baltimore Orioles almost lost last night. Granted that almost happened several different times in their 10-8 16-inning victory in Anaheim. But at one point it really appeared that the game was over. But instant replay stepped in.

Anaheim loaded the bases in the last of the 15th with the O’s leading by two. Mike Trout smacked what could have been a bases-clearing double, which would have been a walk off. However the trail runner (from first base) was gunned down at home plate. Dwight Smith dug the ball out of the left field corner, threw it to Jonathan Villar, who relayed it home. Pedro Severino tagged the runner out in a bang-bang play at the plate, and we played on.

However Anaheim challenged the play, saying that the runner was safe. The umpiring crew looked at it for a long time, and manager Brandon Hyde admitted later that he was just holding out hope that they would uphold the call on the field:

The only thing, because they called him out, I was hoping that it would stand. I had no idea.

Quote courtesy of Joe Trezza,

Here’s the thing…the umpires in theory got the call wrong. In Theory. The ball didn’t beat the runner to the bag. Severino tagged the runner high, which was the correct thing to do. However the runner appeared to drag his hand across home plate at the exact same moment. And while not an official rule, a tie is supposed to go to the runner.

So should there be an asterisk by this win because of that? Is it tainted? Not really. Because – get this – the umpires were 100% correct in upholding the call on the field. The rule is that in order to overturn a call, there needs to be clear and concise evidence that the call on the field was INCORRECT. But it was a tie – I just said that there was clear and concise evidence that it was a tie, right?

Yes, but notice what I also said above: …while not an official rule, a tie is supposed to go to the runner. Is there clear and concise evidence that there’s a tie? Yes. But is that in and of itself clear and concise evidence that the call itself was incorrect? No.

There’s nothing in the MLB rule book which addresses a tie. You’re either out or safe. Now that’s a rule of thumb that’s been adapted over the years (a tie going to the runner), but as I said above it isn’t an official rule. So by the standards set forth in instant replay, there is evidence of a tie, or evidence of the play being nebulous. But a tie isn’t clear and concise evidence that the call should be reversed. Thus the umpire correctly upheld the call.

Could or should the umpire have called the runner safe from the outself? Maybe, maybe not. If we’re going by tie goes to the runner, then the runner probably should have been called safe. But it was a bang-bang play, and as quickly as the game moves one can understand how the guy made the call that he did. However upholding the call on review was the right thing to do. Because while it’s fashionable to say and believe, a tie doesn’t go to the runner given that in accordance with the MLB rule book there’s no such thing as a tie.

Baltimore Orioles: Stevie Wilkerson for the win…!

Jimmy Yacabonis started for the Baltimore Orioles last night, but that’s almost irrelevant. Almost. Yacabonis was in essence the opener. Yacabonis’ line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R 2 BB, 1 K.

Anaheim took a 1-0 lead on a sac fly-RBI in the second inning. However that runner made it into scoring position by virtue of a wild pitch. Just another example of a small thing that hurt the Orioles in a game. Attention to detail is important.

The teams exchanged runs here and there, but Calhoun’s seventh-inning bases-clearing double gave Anaheim a 4-2 lead. The Al’s closed to within 4-3 on a sac fly-RBI in the eight, and later in the inning Stevie Wilkerson‘s RBI-double tied the game back up at four.

The Orioles thought they had the game won – several times over at that. But Trey Mancini‘s solo homer in the ninth would have been the winning run. If not for Godwin’s solo homer in the last of the ninth tying it at five.

And…we played on. I suppose it was destined that this game would turn into a marathon. I’ve said this before, but once a game goes past the twelfth inning, it goes into the twilight zone. You never want to be a part of a marathon game, but being in the midst of a west coast swing where it’s tough to call up another reliever and so forth…not ideal for the O’s. But you have to play the hand you’re dealt.

Newly-acquired Jace Peterson smacked a two-RBI single in the 15th, and later in the inning Hanser Alberto added an additional run with an RBI-single of his own. A three-run lead in the 15th should be safe – one would think. However to their credit, Anaheim didn’t quit. Even at that late hour. They managed to tie the game back up in the bottom of the inning. And on we played.

But it wasn’t tied for long. Jonathan Villar‘s two-run homer in the 16th gave the Birds a 10-8 lead. But the O’s still had to play the last of the inning. And they were out of pitchers.

Stevie Wilkerson has of course appeared in relief, and he’s been decent at it. Perhaps there’s a method to the madness of having position players pitch here and there, because Wilkerson was ready when called upon. For the record, I wouldn’t have used Wilkerson in that spot. It’s one thing when the game’s out of hand. It’s another when going for a save. I would have used a starter.

But the Orioles called on Wilkerson, and he delivered. He retired Anaheim 1-2-3, and the O’s went home with a 10-8 victory in a six hour plus long game. In doing so, Wilkerson became the first position player to ever record a save. And that’s it for now…on the twilight zone.

The series continues tonight at Angel Stadium. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Anaheim’s Griffin Canning. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Is accountability starting to creep up?

You know it’s a slow news day when Jace Peterson returning to the Baltimore Orioles is the headline. But them’s the breaks when the team’s on the west coast sometimes. Peterson of course was with the Orioles all of last year, and now finds himself back with them at the big league level.

Peterson takes the roster spot of Rio Ruiz, who was sent to the minors after yesterday’s game. Ruiz had been hitting .238 on the year. This comes after they opted to keep Anthony Santander, when he in theory could have been sent back to the minors. Since being called up to replace an injured player, Santander had been playing at a frenzied pace. And that pace has continued.

Those are two very different, yet similar situations. During the first half of the year Orioles’ brass said many times that they didn’t want to pull the rug out from anyone prematurely. Basically, they wanted to give guys the utmost opportunity to prove that they belong in the big leagues. This is both fair to the player(s) and the organization. Because the last thing the organization wants is for a guy to walk and then hit it big elsewhere.

But the fact that Ruiz was sent packing and Santander is staying tells you that perhaps some of those opportunities have started to run out. At a certain point, you need to put your best foot forward in terms of winning games TODAY. And by that, I’m talking about the roster itself and the makeup thereof. This as opposed to the effort being put forth. Because I would never question that.

At the beginning of the season I suggested that success would look resemble winning more games than they did last year. So that’s 15 wins for the rest of the season at a bare minimum. Do we think they can do that?

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander stays hot in Birds’ loss

Baltimore Orioles’ all-star starter John Means has a rough outing this afternoon in the series finale in Arizona. Now in fairness the Birds did have the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning. But should of, could of, would’ve in a sense. Means’ line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

The best news out of the game for the Orioles is that Anthony Santander stayed hot. The O’s took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on his solo homer. Now some folks will point out that Santander’s ball barely cleared the wall in center. However the distance is 413 feet from home plate. That’s all you need to hit it out. Santander got those 413 feet.

Santander’s currently hitting .299, and he’s staying hot. That’s really good news for the O’s. Now they’re starting to see what they have as an organization, and while the early returns may not have been great, things are looking up.

However the last of that fourth inning brought tough times for Means. He walked a batter and surrendered a base hit. He then proceeded to give up a three-run homer to Kelly, giving Arizona a 3-1 lead.

The O’s would get a sixth inning solo homer from Trey Mancini, who’s also remaining hot at the plate after breaking out of a slump last weekend. We’re starting to see the Orioles having the ability to put runs on the board, which is a good sign.

However Arizona tacked on two insurance runs, including a bases-loaded walk in the last of the seventh. The O’s would put the first two runners on base in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate. However following a pitching change, Arizona would record three quick outs and take the finale. The O’s dropped two-of-three in Arizona, however we did in fact see some promising signs.

The O’s now head to Angel Stadium in Anaheim for a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. Tom Eshelman gets the start for the O’s, and Anaheim is still yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 10 PM tomorrow night.

Baltimore Orioles’ bats alive, Dylan Bundy solid in desert win

The Baltimore Orioles got a solid start out of Dylan Bundy last night in Arizona. This was Bundy’s first start since coming off the IL after having tendinitis. However Bundy was solid in his first start back on the roster, and given that it begins and ends with starting pitching, his outing helped propel the Orioles to victory. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a solo homer by Renato Nunez in the top of the second. Nunez has very quietly had a great year at the plate. That was his 24th home run of the season. He’s been given an opportunity not afforded to many in terms of playing consistently at the big league level. And to his credit, he’s taken full advantage.

The Birds would extend their lead to 3-0 later in that second inning after a two-run homer by Anthony Santander. And he’s another guy who’s really maximizing his potential in the opportunity he’s being given. This is almost a fun part of rebuilding in a way. Because part of the process is that eventually a couple of guys grasp the fact that it’s really up to them whether or not they make it in the majors. Santander and Renato Nunez are really grabbing the bull by the horns and making it nary impossible for the Orioles to not play them. And that’s a good sign.

Arizona would get to within 3-2 in the last of the second after a two-RBI single by Kelly. But that was merely a blip in the radar in a sense. Nunez added an RBI-single in the third which extended the lead to 4-2. That was only one run, but it’s a good sign. The Orioles weren’t phased by Arizona’s two runs. That was a moment when they could have just resigned themselves to the fact that Arizona was fighting back. But instead of folding up, they counterattacked further.

Later in the third inning, Dwight Smith smacked a three-run homer to extend the lead to 7-2. Again, it begins and ends with starting pitching. But a great amount of it is also the bullpen. Bundy went the aforementioned six innings, while the Orioles’ pen pitched three. Between Bundy and the bullpen, Oriole pitching threw seven shutout innings to close out the game. And with a win at that.

The series in Arizona concludes this afternoon at a Chase Field. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Arizona’s Taylor Clarke. Game time is set for just after 3:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Birds fall in the desert

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Aaron Brooks was unable to play off of the momentum the O’s had from the day before last night in Arizona. It begins and ends with starting pitching, and Brooks seemed on the ropes from the beginning. Brooks’ line: 3.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R (5 earned), 1 BB, 1 K.

Arizona got at it early and often. Escobar’s RBI-triple in the first inning gave them a 1-0 lead. That was followed up by an RBI-single by Walker (a former Oriole). Ahmed would add an RBI-single of his own.

And before the crowd had even settled in the desert, the O’s were in a 3-0 hole. However they were able to push a run across in the second. Richie Martin smacked an RBI-single, cutting the lead to 3-1. However the Orioles were unable to rally past that one run at that point.

Arizona would tack on two runs in the third, and former Oriole Adam Jones added an RBI-is game in the fourth. It was strange seeing Jones line up against the Orioles, but that’s the situation in which we find ourselves. Obviously it’s not a situation that’s uncommon across sports, but it still looked and felt strange.

But one thing that the new Orioles seemed ready to show Jones and company was that they still had a few power sources at their disposal. Hanser Alberto and Renato Nunez each added fifth inning solo home runs. However unfortunately for the Birds, the Arizona bullpen kept them off the board for the rest of the way. It begins and ends with starting pitching. But the bullpen is important. That goes without saying.

Again, this game shows you the importance of said starting pitching. This isn’t to say that Brooks has no future with the Orioles. However it didn’t work out well last night. And obviously that set the tone for the game.

The series continues tonight at Chase Field. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Arizona’s Merrill Kelly. Game time is set for just after 9:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Old Friends

The Baltimore Orioles will be in Phoenix this evening opening up a three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks. And patrolling right field for Arizona is a familiar face: Adam Jones. I don’t need to tell you about Jones, as he was the face of the Orioles for ten years. Needless to say, he meant more to the Orioles and the city of Baltimore perhaps more than any player since Cal.

So it’ll certainly be odd to see him facing the Orioles tonight. However this happens all the time – it’s part of sports. What’s interesting to me is that there isn’t really much fanfare involved in the Birds facing their former star. Why is that?

First off this series is at Chase Field in Phoenix as opposed to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. When Manny Machado (who the Orioles will also see in San Diego as part of this trip) faced the Orioles last month, it was a much bigger deal because the games were in Baltimore. If these games were going to be in Baltimore, I think there would be a much bigger deal being made. Players changing teams after years and years of being with one team and then returning to their former home stadiums is a huge deal.

However it’s also worth mentioning that the Orioles team that heads into Chase Field tonight to face Jones and Arizona is vastly different from the Orioles teams of which Jones was a part. There’s no Machado, Markakis, Wieters, Hardy, etc. Now having said that, Chris Davis and Trey Mancini both played with Jones, so those are familiar faces.

However that aside, this is a totally different team than what Jones knew. It’s also a different coaching staff. One has to believe that regardless of the fact that he now plays for Arizona, it’s going to be strange for Jones to see the Oriole uniforms on the field, and then look in their dugout and not see the venerable figure of Buck Showalter pacing around. Things do change; that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look strange when they do.

I wrote last September about Jones and Showalter, as their time with the Orioles was wrapping up. That was a very reflective day for the Orioles (the last game of the 2018 season), as I chronicled here. And as I said in my game recap following that final game in 2018, it was a day that was tough for a lot of people – myself included. But in a beautiful way.

Before referencing it above, I went back and read the game recap from that final game, in which I described how Buck Showalter lifted Jones in the top of the ninth so the fans could pay homage. I also said that both Jones and Showalter were a part of the larger “Baltimore story.” And I stand by that. They’ll be a part of it forever.

But for the first part of this week, the O’s will have to face Jones as an opponent. He’s hitting .262 on the year, with 13 homers. Should be a fun series.

Baltimore Orioles: Asher Wojciechowski makes no-hit bid in win

Asher Wojchiekowski turner in perhaps the best pitching performance for the Baltimore Orioles this year. Wojchiekowski took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before Boston finally got their first hit of the game this afternoon, this under sweltering conditions at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Wojciechowski’s line: 7.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K.

Despite the heat and despite Boston’s outstanding lineup, Wojciechowski thrived on this Sunday afternoon. In fact, Orioles’ pitching as a whole thrived. The lone seventh inning hit surrendered by Wojchiekowski was the only hit the O’s gave up all game. When Brandon Hyde went out to get him (Wojciechowski), he applauded along with the fans.

And the best news is that Oriole bats didn’t waste the effort by the pitching staff. Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer in the first inning, and the Birds were off to the races. One inning later Chris Davis‘ RBI-double gave the O’s a 2-0 lead.

Davis was starting to get on base more frequently as the all-star break hit. He struggled a bit after the break, but is now slowly working his average up again. Is it possible that Davis could have a semi-respectable second half? What would that look like, and how could it positively impact the O’s?

Mancini came around again in the order in the third, and smacked his second home run of the game. This one of the two-run variety. That put the Birds up 4-0, a lead that got an insurance run when Jonathan Villar hit a solo homer in the eighth.

And it’s a good thing they did. Boston put Betts on base in the ninth inning against Mychal Givens, who felt that the strike zone suddenly got smaller in the ninth. In a situation as such (up five or more runs in the ninth), teams generally don’t hold runners on base. The idea of course being that a team isn’t going to attempt to steal down that much that late.

However Betts decided to steal second base. Given that Givens and the Orioles weren’t ready for that, he took second base. That put the O’s on notice that Boston wasn’t looking to go quietly into the night – unwritten codes be damned. How it looks scrimping and fighting for getting one run into scoring position down that many in the last inning is another story. But they made the Orioles work to get out of the inning and get the win. And they did.

The Birds now head to Arizona for a three-game interleague set against former Oriole Adam Jones. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Arizona’s Robbie Ray. Game time is set for just after 9:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Missing the eye of the tiger?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles take game one against the defending champs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: BoSox come to town

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles turn the tables on Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles fall to Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander stays in the bigs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Andrew Cashner traded before O’s fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles open second half vs. Tampa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: John Means stays in the pen

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles’ John Means to represent Birdland in Cleveland

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles drop first half finale in Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles back in the series WIN COLUMN!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Another take on the Jon Heyman tweet

Yesterday I wrote about MLB Network’s Jon Heyman calling out the Baltimore Orioles on twitter. Heyman was…less than complimentary about the Orioles’ rebuild process:

The reaction was predictably poor, including that of this writer. My point is that Heyman didn’t react this way when the Houston Astros or Chicago Cubs went through this same process. Yet it’s the Orioles who not only get called out, but also are now in Heyman’s eyes the face of tanking in professional sports. (Whereas if you read my column – linked above – I say that there’s a difference between tanking and rebuilding.) I stand by what I’ve said on the matter; personally I think Heyman was out of line.

However there’s another take out there as well, and one that ever so slightly more benign at that. Heyman said that what the Orioles are doing isn’t good for the game. But is the criticism possibly coming from a better place than we think?

There’s no question that what the Orioles are doing is making things much easier on teams such as Boston and New York. The O’s of course are in Boston this weekend, but they finished their season slate against NY by dropping the final 16 games. Those games made New York look unstoppable – unnecessarily unstoppable. And they’ve had their share of games as such against Boston also.

Is it possible that Heyman’s point is that what the Orioles are doing is making things easier for teams such as Boston and New York? One could make that argument – I suppose. I’m not sure that I personally buy that, however it is in fact possible.

But if you buy into that mentality, my rebuttal would be what exactly are the Orioles supposed to do? Should they go all out just to get to 60-70 wins so that they come off as “competitive?” Because that’s in essence what they did from 1998-2011. And that famously didn’t really work out.

I would also say this to Jon Heyman and other naysayers; look at what the Orioles have in the minors. Their farm system was ranked 22nd by Baseball America last year. Fast-forward to last month after the Birds traded for so many prospects (in 2018) and replenished the farm system with a GREAT draft. Baseball America ranked them as having the 8th best farm system in baseball. Now that’s meaningless for the big league level in the here and now. However the Orioles are in this for the long game. And it’s evidence that the rebuild is working.

As I said earlier, the O’s head up to Boston for a weekend series at Fenway Park. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: The fine line between winning and losing

With today’s 6-5 loss, the Baltimore Orioles concluded the 2019 season series against New York by losing the final 16 games between the two teams. Starter Dylan Bundy pitched into the sixth, but couldn’t get the job done in full. However as has been the case in other games, the Orioles battled in this series. And if not for an unfortunate moment in the sixth inning, might have won it. Bundy’s line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

Jonathan Villar‘s RBI-single in the first inning gave the O’s a 1-0 lead early. However Gregorius followed suit in the last of the first for NY, and later in the inning Urshela’s three-run homer put them ahead 4-1. Now on the flip side, that was the lone homer surrendered by an Oriole team who’s made it a habit of allowing multiple homers in games. Baby steps.

The O’s did battle in this game however, as I previously said. Pedro Severino smacked an RBI-single in the third to bring the Birds to within 4-2. Bundy exited in the sixth with two outs, two runners in scoring position, and Tauchman coming to the plate. The Orioles opted to bring Richard Bleier into the game to pitch to him – and it almost worked.

Bleier had Tauchman with a two-strike count, meaning one more and the inning would have been over. Bleier threw what he thought was a perfect pitch – right down broadway, as they say. And it was called a ball. Tauchman would end up walking, and a moment later Ford smacked a two-RBI double to give New York a 6-2 lead.

Television replays seemed to back up Bleier’s opinion of the pitch. The Orioles’ dugout was yelling out at home plate umpire Mark Carlson, as did Bleier. He yelled a couple sentences of protest, earning a glare from Carlson. However he wasn’t ejected.

Renato Nunez would bring the O’s to within two an inning later with a two-RBI double. Later in that seventh inning Jonathan Villar would score Nunez with an RBI-double of his own. The O’s would put the tying run on base in the ninth, but they could never quite make it over the hump and fell 6-5 this afternoon in the Bronx.

That wasn’t the only pitch that went against the Orioles this afternoon. Carlson didn’t have a consistent day behind the plate. However it was certainly the most poignant pitch to go against them. And moments as such in games can often represent the fine line between winning and losing. The Orioles did what they could to shrug it off, however it was ultimately something they were unable to overcome.

The folks who say never blame the umpires for the most part are correct. There’s always something else in a game that could have occurred which would have helped the team win or overcome a questionable call. However while that’s fair to point out, it’s also fair to mention that if that’s a called strike three, all things remaining the same the Birds would have won this game 6-4.

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