Baltimore Orioles: What does Tampa have that others do not?

The Baltimore Orioles have struggled with the Tampa Rays for years. But it’s not just the O’s. They’ve been a thorn in the AL East’s side for a long time. However Tampa and their $74 million payroll currently lead the ALCS one game to none.

So why is it that lady luck seems to smile on them in a sense? Why is it that they seem to play so loose…to the point to where their opponents are intimidated and they eventually make mistakes? What is it about them?

I mentioned their payroll above; they remain a young team, always. It seems that every few years they’re selling off assets and getting what appears to be peanuts in return (in the way of prospects). But somehow those peanuts turn into bigger pieces that seemingly will Tampa onto victory.

Look at it this way; the Tampa Rays as an organization are unafraid of failure. They’re willing to accept failure for a period if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Because that’s exactly what you’re doing when you trade for prospects. You’re playing not for today, but for five years from now. They’re willing to stink now to be great later.

Those characteristics are tough to find. Contrast that with the Orioles, who waited until well after the 2018 season was past salvaging to make their deals. Had they done that even a month prior, they probably would have gotten more for their players. That’s not to say that they got nothing, but you get my point.

Tampa also has to study game film better than any team out there. They find the smallest things, and if they’re able to expose those things to their advantage, they will. As I’ve said before, if there was a statistic which said this hitter is more likely to record an out if the team in the field is wearing pink leotards, the Tampa Rays would make that happen. They’re a very sharp organization, and they do their homework.

And that’s probably why they’ve made it as far as they did. They leave no stone unturned, well after their opponents have called it a day. They just keep plugging onward. And it’s worked.

Baltimore Orioles: Alternate realities and junction points

On this day in 1996, the Baltimore Orioles were all but screwed out of a possible game one win in the ALCS against the New York Yankees. We all know the story – a kid named Jeffrey Maier at the very least “assisted” in a Derek Jeter home run in the last of the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium. The Birds held a slim one-run lead at the time, and they ended up losing in extra innings.

They did come back to win game two however, but dropped the series four games to one. Anytime I talk or write about this I always mention that the umpire who made the call of home run, Rich Garcia, admitted afterwards that he blew it. This was well before instant replay in baseball, and Garcia had to make a snap call on a play that occurred quickly. But to his credit he admitted later that he blew it. Not a lot of umpires are willing to do that.

Had that been called properly, Jeter probably would have been awarded second base. There’s nothing that guarantees he wouldn’t have still come around to score. The O’s still could have lost that game. But all things remaining the same, let’s say they had won that game. Would they have still lost the series?

That team had an excellent shot at a World Series title. Had that happened, would the history of the franchise have been altered? Manager Davey Johnson of course was let go following the equally as successful 1997 season – following a dispute over a charity with owner Peter Angelos. (Technically Johnson resigned, but he did so under pressure and would have been fired.) That set off a chain reaction of events that sent the Orioles into the basement – until 2012.

But again, let’s say the Maier incident was ruled properly. And let’s say that team won the World Series. Would Davey Johnson still have been in the hot water he was in when he was in it? Would he have remained the manager? It’s tough to say. But I do think that the history following that time period would have been different for the Orioles.

Ultimately Angelos would be viewed differently had he won a World Series that year. And maybe the embarrassments during the first decade of the 2000’s wouldn’t have happened. It’s tough to say though. Especially knowing how good Boston and New York were doing those years. But were they truly that great, or was some of their greatness at the expense of a divisional foe who at times seemed to be barely trying?

Speaking of 2012, remember that ALDS – again against New York? First off, the Orioles were just happy to be there. As were the fans. That team gave the city and the fans an amazing ride. And from the perspective of a guy who wrote about it, I’ll never forget it.

But the ALDS was tied at two games each going into game five, again at Yankee Stadium. With New York leading 1-0 in the sixth, Nate McLouth hit a long fly ball towards right with the bases loaded. The ball was ruled foul. And that foul ball ruling was upheld on replay.

I’ll be honest; I think that was the right call – upon replay, that is. The call on the field was a foul ball. And the replay has to be conclusive in order to reverse the call on the field. However I’ve always said (and many agree with me) that there was an ever-so-slight change in the rotation of the ball after it passed the foul pole. (Again…right field at Yankee Stadium!) It was very subtle, but in my view it was there. But was the evidence clear and convincing, and did it rise to the level or overturning the call on the field? Probably not.

But let’s say for a moment that they had done that. The O’s would have led 4-1 going into the latter innings of an elimination game. All other things being equal, the O’s would have won 5-3. And gone onto the ALCS.

Did that team have the skill to win a World Series? Probably not. But they would have gone onto the ALCS, and they would have had a shot from there. And who knows what a deeper playoff run would have meant in terms of free agent signings and so forth.

Obviously I think that the Maier incident affected the trajectory of the franchise more so than did the McLouth situation. But needless to say, had either one of them been handled differently it would have severely altered history. Both are very clear junction points for the franchise.

Baltimore Orioles: Fans at the Fall Classic

If fans of the Baltimore Orioles, or those of any other team for that matter, want to attend the 2020 World Series, they’ll be able to do so. The same is true of the League Championship Series’. These will be the first baseball games to admit fans since March when Spring Training was suspended.

I suppose the question is whether or not it’s a good idea. Seats will be sold in a manner that will allow fans to social distance and so forth, but it does call into question whether it’s truly safe. This year of course will also be the first time ever where a World Series (and the LCS’) will be played in a neutral park: the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark.

Coincidentally, the state of Florida yesterday approved the Miami Dolphins of the NFL to allow a capacity crowd of 65K plus at their games. The Dolphins aren’t going to do that, but they in theory could. We hear so much about super-spreader events and so forth, so you have to wonder if sporting events wouldn’t start to qualify as such if fans are starting to be allowed back in.

This week the NHL also announced that their intention is to begin their new season on January 1st. They also said that the intention is for fans to be admitted. That’s a big different because hockey’s played indoors. So who knows how good or bad an idea having fans at any of these games are. I think it goes without saying that everyone in attendance would need to wear a mask. But once people start drinking and so forth – is it truly reasonable to expect those masks to stay on?

Hopefully the Fall Classic goes off without a spike in Coronavirus cases. Aside from a rough start, MLB actually did a reasonably decent job of protecting players and coaches. Hopefully that extends to fans as well.

Baltimore Orioles: Are finances an issue?

The Baltimore Orioles let go of third base coach Jose Flores, and pitching coach Doug Brocail last week. While the team has yet to confirm these moves, they’ve been made. And with no apparent reason as to why.

Yet there have been reports the past few days that part of the reason these moves were made was due to financial constraints. This is a deep concern, if true. Are the Orioles having financial problems?

I think it’s understood that most teams are suffering through the current COVID-19 situation. Not only did they have a heavily reduced schedule of games, but the public wasn’t admitted. Meaning no tickets were sold.

Combine that with the fact that merchandise sales had to be down, and you have a real problem. You literally have money flying out the door for things such as payroll and other expenses, with very little coming in to replace it. That’s a huge problem for any business.

I suspect that merchandise sales weren’t totally zero, as people could still purchase online and visit the Orioles’ store at Camden Yards. Plus they still got their television revenue. So they did take some money in. Just not what they would have liked.

It’s important to note that Brocail and Flores’ contracts were up. The Orioles simply didn’t renew them. Keep in mind that if a team lets go of anyone (coach, player, executive, etc), they still have to pay out their contracts. So it’s entirely possible that the organization took the opportunity to get someone at less money starting next year. Is that fair? Not necessarily – although they did fulfill their obligations to Brocail and Flores. But 2020 itself hasn’t been fair.

Baltimore Orioles: Will bullpen management change in 2021?

My personal opinion is that Brandon Hyde is doing a great job in the Baltimore Orioles’ dugout. Furthermore he seems committed to the organization, which also seems committed to him. A lot of young managers take a job in a rebuild assuming he’ll be fired at some point. Hyde doesn’t seem overly concerned about that.

But there is one area this year which made me raise my eyebrows. I noticed that he had an incredibly quick hook on his starting pitchers. Now in some instances that’s necessary. You don’t want a pitcher out there embarrassing himself. Especially a young guy.

But I felt like there were other games where the O’s were losing games in the 2-0 range, only to have the starter lifted in the fourth inning. I’m not sure if that’s the way Hyde intends to manage in the future, or if that had more to do with the sixty-game season.

There are plenty of people, both analysts and fans alike, who would argue that short starts are where the game is headed. As in the future will be guys pitching maybe three innings in games. Basically a perpetual slate of bullpen games.

So in that sense Hyde may be riding the wave to the future. My personal opinion is that it would be overly-taxing on too many pitchers to have a system like that. But who knows.

I’ll be interested to see next year how he manages the bullpen. Does that trend continue, or are pitchers given the liberty to go deeper into games?

Baltimore Orioles: 2020 season in review

2020 was perhaps the strangest season in Baltimore Orioles’ history. Well, strike that – in MLB history. After a lengthy delay due to COVID-19, the league opened it’s season in late July. The Birds opened against Boston at Fenway Park – and were promptly blown out by Boston.

But we also saw shades of what the 2020 Orioles were truly all about that weekend at Fenway. The O’s took the other two games of the series. This was a team that bounced back quickly from bad losses, and who wasn’t about to hang their heads for long.

This team had it’s ups and downs. They were swept by Miami, but swept Washington and Philadelphia. And in the process, they found that they had some great pieces going forward.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year was Anthony Santander, who ended up being the Most Valuable Oriole. This despite playing in only 37 games due to a late season injury. Santander hit only .261 on the year, however he was clutch. He always came through when the O’s needed a late hit or run-scoring play. That’s something we’ve seen in Baltimore previously in other players. However it’s a tough trait to find.

The Birds also found some pieces to take forward in the pitching department, such as Thomas Eshelman, Dean Kremer, and Keegan Akin. Where any of these players winds up next year in terms of on the roster, in the minors, and/or in the bullpen depends largely on their spring outings. But that’s also true of a lot of guys.

Again, the O’s had their ups and downs this year. They were streaky. Yet by virtue of the 60-game season, they stayed in mathematical playoff contention until the final week. And that’s due in large part to their never-say-die attitude. We saw it time and time again over the course of the sixty games. And given that the nucleus of the team is expected to at least be similar in 2021, I would expect to see that same trait next year.

For the record, my season prediction was that the O’s wouldn’t finish in the basement of the AL East. I was correct in that. They won 25 games, and Boston won 24. So I was correct by exactly one game. However more importantly, they did improve year-over-year. In 2019 the O’s had a win percentage of .317 (over 162 games). This year it raised to .417 (over sixty games).

Granted the number of games is different, but that translates to 67.5 wins in a 162 game season. This as opposed to last year’s 54 wins. So if you look at it from that perspective they’re trending in the right direction. Whether that progress goes into next season remains to be seen. But in certain senses, 2020 was a success for the O’s.

Baltimore Orioles: Changes on the coaching staff

It appears that there are two upcoming changes to the Baltimore Orioles’ coaching staff. Third base coach Jose Flores and pitching coach Doug Brocail will not be returning. The team hasn’t confirmed these moves, but it appears that both coaches were told their contracts weren’t being renewed.

It’s unclear why this is going to happen, or when their replacements will be named. It could just be an economic thing more than anything else. Or philosophical. Who knows. All we know is that Brocail and Flores appear to be out.

I would say this; the pitching coach position is one that the Orioles need to get right. Not only because of the youth and inexperience on their starting staff, but also because it’s been a long time since they’ve had stability and continuity in that position. Guys have come and gone over a great many years. So for the sake of their young starters, they need to find someone who has some staying power this time around.

Baltimore Orioles: How does 2021 look?

When I ask what 2021 looks like for the Baltimore Orioles, I don’t mean the roster, outlook, etc. I mean the season. And for all of MLB at that. Is it more normal? Is it a total return to normalcy?

Obviously right now we just don’t know. However that has to be something the powers that be in the league office are discussing now. Obviously like most other things, the answer lies with whether or not we have an approved vaccine available to all Americans for COVID-19. And obviously the timing of that vaccine.

While there were a few flare-ups at the beginning involving a couple of teams (not the Orioles), baseball largely proved that it was capable of being played even during this pandemic. So I suspect that there’d be no reason teams couldn’t have spring training as normal, perhaps with no fans or limited fans to start with. Same with the regular season.

What we do know is that things will eventually have to return to normal. No reason that process shouldn’t start next year. But ultimately the virus and the vaccine will decide that.

Baltimore Orioles: Coming attractions

Yesterday I wrote the final Baltimore Orioles game recap of the 2020 season. It’s kind of strange; the season itself was only sixty games, but I feel like I would normally feel at the end of the season. It’s been a long grind to get to the end, but now it’s almost like removing goggles from your eyes and seeing the world for what it really is after focusing on just one thing for so many months.

It’ll certainly go down as the strangest year on record. Spring Training was going along as normal, and then it was suspended. And we waited, and waited…and waited more. Through apparent labor strife among other things. But finally we ended up with a sixty-game regular season, which of course has now ended.

I’ll be honest; in retrospect things probably didn’t ever need to be put on hold. Granted, back in March we didn’t know what this pandemic was going to be, and we didn’t know how to stop the spread of it save for staying home. So baseball did the best it could with the information it had. However spring games could have probably continued and the regular season could have started – simply with no fans and with the safety measures that eventually went into place. There would have been more travel for teams of course, but I think they could have pulled it off. We just didn’t know that at the time.

Sometime this week I’ll release a season review for 2020. I always like to take a few days before doing that so as to fully “digest” the season. And from there maybe we’ll talk a bit about the playoffs, and into some off season coverage. And who knows you might even see a hiatus or two on my end. Time will tell.

Baltimore Orioles: A win at the end of the line

The Baltimore Orioles concluded their truncated 2020 season this afternoon. Perhaps it’s fitting that the strangest season in history came to an end in a Buffalo minor league park – the temporary home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Keegan Akin got the ball, but in essence acted as “the opener.” Akin’s line 3.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

With Toronto leading 1-0, Renato Nunez‘s RBI-double in the third tied the score at one. However Toronto would put three additional runs on the board in the last of the third. Which in essence was consistent with the rest of this series, and perhaps the rest of the games that have been against Toronto this year.

But at some point the O’s decided to extend the summer just a little longer. They decided that they weren’t going into the night without a fight. Cedric Mullins‘ two-RBI triple cut the lead to 4-3, and out Toronto on notice that they weren’t going to end the season with a cakewalk. Mullins would later score on Austin Hays‘ sac fly-RBI which tied the game.

And that fourth inning was the final time the Orioles would trail in 2020. Rio Ruiz smacked an RBI-double in the fifth which have the O’s a 5-4 lead. The O’s would also get an RBI-groundout, and an RBI-single to run the lead to 7-4. Toronto would score on an error in the eighth, but the Birds pulled out a 7-5 lead.

And yes, that’s the end of the line. For 2020, at least! The season is now complete, and the O’s finished with 25 wins. But don’t underestimate the importance of winning this final game. That does mean something going into next year. Next season, which hopefully will are the return of normalcy to MLB.

As a tongue-in-cheek joke, the O’s will next take on the Atlanta Braves at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fl on February 27th – Opening Day of the Florida Grapefruit League season. Starters are TDB for both teams. Nothing set yet in stone, but I would think that game time would be sometime around 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means strong in loss to Toronto

John Means, who presumably will be the Baltimore Orioles’ Opening Day starter next year, had a solid outing in his final game of 2020. Only problem was the O’s couldn’t support him enough to get him the win. Means’ line: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K.

The teams played to a scoreless tie through five innings. Means was mowing Toronto hitters down. This until the sixth inning when Biggio smacked a solo homer. That was the lone run that Means surrendered. They say solo homer runs don’t hurt you. In general they don’t; but yet that solo homer earned John Means the loss.

This game was almost a tale of two games. The first half or so of the game was a pitcher’s duel. However runs came fast and furious in the second part of the game. Mostly from Toronto.

Oriole-killer Grichuk had the night off. In theory at least. But he pinch hit in the last of the seventh with two runners on, and promptly hit a three-run homer. That was Grichuk’s twelfth homer on the year. And his seventh against the O’s.

It’s amazing how some guys are just zero’d in on a team. There’s really no explanation for how Grichuk could be so hot against the Orioles. It seems that no matter what they do, he’s a step ahead.

Jose Iglesias‘ RBI-double in the eight got they Birds on the board. Iglesias would later score on an RBI-single by Ryan Mountcastle. However Toronto would also add on a run in the eight, taking the game, 5-2.

The series and the season conclude this afternoon in Buffalo. Keegan Akin gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Tanner Roark. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Jorge Lopez battered in Buffalo

The Baltimore Orioles went Jorge Lopez to the mound for his penultimate start in the 2020 season. Lopez ended up with the same fate as plenty of other Orioles’ starters against Toronto. They just seem to have the Birds’ number no matter what. Lopez’s line: 2.0 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Shocker, Toronto’s scoring started with Grichuk’s first at-bat. He smacked a solo homer in the second to give Toronto a 1-0 lead. Grichuk has hit eleven homers on the year (including this one). Six have come against the O’s. It’s uncanny.

Toronto kept the pressure on in the inning, putting base runner after base runner on base. And netting run after run. Before the second inning was over, they led the O’s 6-0.

The third inning brought a Toronto to 8-0, and Shaw’s fourth inning two-run homer put them ahead 10-0. Before the O’s could blink, they were that far behind. However the good news is that after that moment, the Orioles’ pen kept Toronto bats at bay. The damage had been done, but they were kept at bay from that moment forward.

And in fact, the O’s showed signs of wanting to get back into the game. Ramon Urias smacked a solo home run in the fifth. The O’s would get another homer that inning off the bat of Cedric Mullins. They’d also get one in the sixth from Jose Iglesias, and later an RBI-double from Hanser Alberto. That closed out Toronto’s 10-4 victory.

Before the game the Orioles announced that Anthony Santander had been voted the Most Valuable Oriole in 2020. He may have finished the season on the IL, but he made massive impacts on the team this year. Both on and off the field.

The series continues tomorrow in Buffalo. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Matt Shoemaker. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles break out at Fenway

Alex Cobb was the beneficiary of Baltimore Orioles’ bats finally breaking out of their funk last night at Fenway Park. And in fact, Cobb did his part as well, shutting down Boston’s offense that had looked so potent in the first two games of the series. Cobb’s line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

Rio Ruiz‘s second inning RBI-single got the Larry started. Later in the inning Cedric Mullins‘ two-RBI double ran things to 3-0. But they were only getting warmed up.

Two innings later Ramon Urias added an RBI-double, Hanser Alberto a sac fly-RBI, and Jose Iglesias a solo home run. And suddenly the rout was on. One inning later the Birds led 8-0, and Boston netted one token run. It was the lone run they would score in the game.

Everyone got into the act in this game. Pat Valaika‘s solo homer in the seventh gave the O’s a 9-1 lead. One inning later Ryan Mountcastle added an RBI-single in the eighth, and Austin Hays a solo homer in the ninth. The O’s would also tack on two additional runs in the ninth inning to run the final to 13-1.

It’s amazing how the O’s could look so bad in the first two games of this series, only to put everything together in the finale. But we’ve seen time and time again in baseball that things as such do happen. Boston may have won the series, but their final impression of the 2020 Orioles will be getting lambasted 13-1.

The O’s now head to Buffalo for the final series of the year against Toronto. As of now, starters for both teams in tonight’s series opener are TBD. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles’ bats going to sleep

The Baltimore Orioles are having issues scoring runs. That may not be a huge issue for 2020, as they’ve been officially eliminated from playoff contention, and the season ends on Sunday. But you do want to finish strong if possible. Dean Kremer wasn’t able to do that, as he got hit hard by Boston last night. Kremer’s line: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Bradley and Plawecki got Boston on the board in the first inning with RBI-singles. That meant the Orioles had to play from behind, which is tough to do at Fenway Park. This much we know.

Martinez added an RBI-double, and Plawecki an RBI-triple in the last of the third. Later in the inning Boston basically ended the competitive portion of the game. Chavis’ RBI-double ran the score to 5-0. And with the bases loaded Devers’ bases-clearing double gave Boston an 8-0 lead.

When you’re down 8-0 in the third, that’s tough to come back from. However Austin Hays would smack a solo homer in the seventh. Boston would also tack an additional run on in the eighth inning, running the final to 9-1.

It’s hard to say why Oriole bats are currently going to sleep. Granted the games now are technically meaningless. However as I said above I do think it’s important to finish strong. That means something going into 2021.

Needless to say, it’s been one of the strangest seasons in history. If not THE strangest. That became the case back on March 12th when spring training was suspended. At the time I recall thinking maybe it would just be a delay of a few weeks. That wasn’t to be. And here we are.

The series concludes this evening at Fenway Park. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means business in final home game

The Baltimore Orioles were finally able to keep Tampa at bay this afternoon, this behind starter John Means. In the closing home game of the very strange 2020 season, Means stepped up and put one in the books for the O’s. Means’ line: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 12 K.

Twelve strikeouts is a nice round number for the final game at Camden Yards. At least that’s what strikes me about the stat line. He was sending Tampa hitters down throughout his outing.

The Orioles again got on the board early this afternoon on Renato Nunez‘s two-RBI single. However predictably Tampa would even the score. The lone run Means surrendered was a solo homer by Adames in the fourth.

However the O’s stopped the Tampa rally in it’s shoes, shutting them down for the rest of the game. Again however, the story of the day was John Means, who spoke after the game on his twelve strikeouts (all quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I didn’t know it was that many. I knew that I was getting some swings and misses. I just had the fastball going today. Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t. I had my good fastball that was riding pretty well. I didn’t know it was that many, but I had an idea.

Means also briefly mentioned this being the last home game, and having no fans:

It just doesn’t feel the same, it doesn’t feel like the last game here. I feel like we’re just going to keep playing and playing and it doesn’t have that feeling. The only feeling is the weather, I guess. It’s a little chillier. It just sucks. The whole year, it is what it is, but it doesn’t feel like a true Major League Baseball season when you don’t have fans cheering you on. We’re playing meaningful baseball here and it’s tough to not get that support, but I know it will come.

Regardless of anything else. Means pitched a great game today, allowing the Birds to salvage a win in this series. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Means starting the next game played at Camden Yards either.

Baltimore Orioles: Not being able to score negates good pitching

The Baltimore Orioles are having no luck putting runs up against Tampa. This obviously puts a lot of pressure on the Birds’ pitching so as to in essence be perfect. And that perfectionitis hit starter Jorge Lopez last night, as he pitched the O’s to a quality start and ended up a hard-luck loser. Lopez’s line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

The O’s took an early lead when they loaded the bases in the first inning and Chance Sisco was hit by a pitch. That gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. And it held up – for awhile.

Tampa evened the score in the third on Tsutsugo’s solo homer. They then took the lead in the fifth on a two-run homer by Arozarena. And there’s your ballgame. Tampa pitching shut the Orioles down for the remainder of the game.

Tampa must really have a heck of a scouting report on the Orioles, because they’ve totally shut down Oriole bats. And mind you, the O’s had been hot and had been scoring coming into this series. But even when they square a ball up and hit it hard, it’s right at someone. It’s almost uncanny.

Jorge Lopez was optimistic after the game in terms of having a shot at the rotation next year. He was a pick up that was under the radar by Mike Elias, however he’s paid dividends thus far. Lopez him being in the 2021 rotation (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Yeah, absolutely. Since I got drafted and since I got called up it’s a big opportunity. I want to be a starter on the major league level. The most important thing is to get consistent. That was one of my toughest things. Just get consistent every outing, and that’s what I’m trying to show everybody. I just try to lock it in and execute and have a good plan and have that good energy out there always. It’s been really good.

The loss guarantees that the O’s will finish the season under .500, although they’re still mathematically alive for a playoff spot. I wouldn’t hold my breath. However. SS Jose Iglesias was hit on the wrist by a pitch last night, and appeared to be in immense pain. He was lifted from the game immediately. The Orioles also announced before last night’s game that 1B Chris Davis would remain on the IL for the rest of the season.

The Tampa series, and the home portion of the schedule will close out this afternoon at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Ryan Yarbrough. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb a hard-luck loser

Alex Cobb gave the Baltimore Orioles a quality start last night. Against Tampa. That can’t be argued. In fact, it may have been Cobb’s best start of the season. However it was Oriole bats that couldn’t get untracked in the game last night, equaling a loss for the O’s. Cobb’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Cobb gave up one run in the last of the first on Lowe’s RBI-single. And again, Tampa finds the littlest ways to beat you – or the least likely manner, I suppose I should say. That was set up by a triple – didn’t see that coming.

An RBI-single in the third would give Tampa a 2-0 lead. The lone Orioles’ run came in the fourth inning on Austin Hays‘ solo homer. But when you only score one run, the opponent only needs two. Tampa was able to get exactly what they needed, and defeated Cobb and the Birds.

After the game Cobb addressed the “streakiness” of his season (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It’s been up and down. I felt like I started off pretty well and then the middle part toward this later part I’ve been struggling to find … We’ve been trying to make a lot of adjustments with the delivery. I’ve been working with (Darren) Holmes and Brocail a lot, especially this last week to make some adjustments and I think it’s going to pay off a lot in the long run. But it’s a challenge to do that in-season and feel comfortable out there. But it’s something you have to go through in game situations to work on stuff to see how hitters are responding to your stuff and see if you’re on the right path. There’s been some games where I’ve had to battle and try to get through it, but I think we’ve made a lot of progress. And coming off the year last year, where my health got me and I had to have two surgeries, I knew this year was going to have these types of moments where they’ve been up and down and trying to find your delivery and stuff like that. It’s difficult, but I think that the trajectory has been moving up and I’m pleased with that.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Charlie Morton. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles defeated by Tampa once again in an unlikely manner

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Dean Kremer perhaps wasn’t quite as crisp as he’s been in the past today in game one of a doubleheader against Tampa. However you’re not always going to have your best stuff at your disposal. He put the O’s in a position to win the game. Kremer’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 K.

The lone run Kremer gave up was an RBI-triple in the second by Phillips. That gave Tampa a 1-9 lead. However Kremer didn’t take the loss today. Ryan Mountcastle‘s RBI-single in the last of the sixth tied the game at one, and got Kremer off the hook.

However the Orioles’ bugaboo against Tampa has long been the unexpected. It seems that you can do anything and prepare for most contingencies, but they find the one manner for which you didn’t prepare. And that’s how they beat you. It has to be maddening.

Tampa has runners at the corners in the seventh. They played Tsutsugo in his at-bat with the infield in. The idea being to cut the go-ahead run down at home plate. If the ball was hit in the infield, the play was at home plate.

However Tsutsugo hit the ball very softly to Iglesias at short. It was hit so softly, he had no play at home plate. So Iglesias smartly took the play at first. But that allowed the run to score.

Tampa would tack on another insurance run later in the inning. But that’s how they’ve beaten the O’s for years. They found the one way against which the Orioles couldn’t defend. Again, it has to be annoying from the Orioles’ perspective.

The series continues this evening with game two of the doubleheader – a game in which Tampa will be the designated home team. Baltimore native Bruce Zimmerman makes his night league debut and gets the start for the Birds, and Tampa is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for about 40 minutes from now.

Baltimore Orioles: Keegan Akin earns his first big league win

Keegan Akin earned his first major league win last night for the Baltimore Orioles. He only pitched five innings, but that qualifies you for a win. And let there be no mistake that he pitched very well. Akin’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K.

Nine strikeouts in five innings is striking. Especially for a guy who didn’t make it out of the first inning in his last start. At one point Akin struck out six straight hitters. Akin on the six consecutive K’s (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Oh, for sure. I’m a big tempo guy on the mound. When I get in a rhythm I just like to stay in it and go, go, go. Honestly, I didn’t know I struck out six in a row until you just told me. You just kind of zone in and it’s a blur, really. You just get locked in and you go.

Hanser Alberto got the scoring starter in the last of the third with an RBI-double. Later in the inning Jose Iglesias would add an RBI-groundout, and Ryan Mountcastle a sac fly-RBI. That in and of itself is good to see given that they’re manufacturing runs, and scoring without getting hits.

Atlanta would end up scoring on a balk in the top of the sixth. But the O’s kept a lid on things, and never really allowed them back on the game. In the bottom of the inning they managed to tack on two insurance runs when Renato Nunez smacked a two-RBI double. The Birds took the game 5-1, and won the series two games to one.

The O’s will now get set to play a doubleheader tonight against Tampa at Camden Yards. (Tampa will be designated as the home team in the second game, as it’s a makeup of a postponed game at Tropicana Field). Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s in game one, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Blake Snell. Game time is set for just after 4:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall, but Thomas Eshelman is a key piece

Thomas Eshelman is one of the most versatile guys in the Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen. He can pitch in relief, he can spot start (as he did tonight), and really just about be anything that is needed. It’s also a great way to stay at the big league level. While he goes as the loser tonight, he pitched valiantly. Eshelman’s line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

Freeman smacked an RBI-double in the top of the third, giving Atlanta a 1-0 lead. They doubled that an inning later when DuVall smacked a solo homer. Atlanta would also add three insurance runs in the ninth to run the final to 5-1 after the O’s added one in the ninth. And the lack of offense doesn’t fall on Eshelman.

However make no mistake that manager Brandon Hyde and company are happy with Eshelman in general. As I said above, he pretty much is ready to go whenever he’s tapped. Again, be it as a starter or in relief. And on short rest at that.

Granted tonight he started, however I suspect he wasn’t expected to go deep into this game. In other words, this was probably meant to be a “bullpen game” in general. To a traditionalist such as myself, that’s still a foreign concept. But is it really?

I would submit that Eshelman’s probably setting himself up to pitch the way that baseball might exist moving forward. We already know that the idea of a 20-win starter is gone. However the number of innings starters are going is getting to be fewer and fewer. That isn’t going to change.

It wouldn’t shock me if someone like Eshelman becomes the norm in Major League Baseball. Shorter outings, removing the emphasis on starters and relievers. This also would force people such as myself to in effect re-learn the game and how it’s approached. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Again, the onus in this game was on Orioles’ bats. They put up 14 runs last night, but couldn’t muster anything in this game. And that does happen. Incidentally, manager Brandon Hyde was ejected in the fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes.

The series concludes tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Atlanta’s Cole Hamels. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Monday night delight

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Jorge Lopez was the benefactor of a donnybrook of runs this evening. After the weekend in New York, that was good to see. It was also good to see that Lopez held his own. That does make a difference. Lopez was the first Orioles starter to go seven innings this year. Lopez’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Ryan Mountcastle got the party started early in the game with an RBI-single in the last of the first. But that was only getting things warmed up. The O’s would explode in the last of the third, which effectively ended the competitive portion of the game.

DJ Stewart stayed hot, which is obviously great news for the Orioles. His three-run homer kicked off the biggest inning of the year for the Birds. That brought Mountcastle to the plate again, and he went back-to-back with Stewart for a solo homer. That gave the O’s a 5-0 lead.

Cedric Mullins added a two-RBI single, and Jose Iglesias a three-run homer. By the end of the third inning, the O’s led 10-0. The bats may have struggled in the Bronx over the weekend, but they snapped back in one fatal swoop.

The Orioles were ferociously smacking Atlanta pitching around tonight. Jose Iglesias, DJ Stewart, and Ryan Mountcastle would add RBI-singles in the last of the fifth. It all kind of made you wonder if the O’s might call the dogs off early up 13-0. But, that also would go against the idea of playing to the final out.

Atlanta would tack on one run, but the Birds would get it back. Pat Valaika‘s solo homer in the last of the seventh cushioned the lead back to 13 runs. Count this as a game where the O’s put it all together.

The series continues tomorrow at Camden Yards. Thomas Eshelman gets the start for the O’s, and Atlanta is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles swept in the Bronx

The Baltimore Orioles got a quality start this afternoon at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx our of starter John Means. He was stingy, surrendering just one solo homer. The issue of course was that Oriole bags couldn’t get going, causing the Birds to suffer a sweep at Yankee Stadium this weekend. Means’ line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

The O’s got on the board in the second inning on a solo homer by Renato Nunez. However Means’ aforementioned surrendered solo homer came in the last of the third. Wade smacked a Means pitch out of the park, tying the game at one.

But New York couldn’t muster much more against Means. This start combined with his previous start bodes well for the future of this franchise. Everything came together for Means this afternoon, in an effort for which he was non-decisioned.

The O’s got the first two outs in the last of the eighth, and then New York put two runners on base. Torres then proceeded to smack a two-RBI double, which in effect won the game for New York. And in fact your final from Yankee Stadium, New York defeats the O’s 3-1.

The Orioles may have seen their playoff chances end with this sweep in the Bronx. And if that’s true, that’s okay. Keep in mind that this team wasn’t supposed to win twenty games. So they’ve turned some heads. But there’s still some season left to go; anything can happen.

The Orioles now return home to open a series with the Atlanta Braves tomorrow night. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Atlanta’s Touki Toussaint. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Hunter Harvey’s wild pitch sinks Birds

The Baltimore Orioles got a good start this afternoon out of Dean Kremer. You have to figure that it’s been tough for the kid; his first two big league starts have come agains the Bronx Bombers. But he won the first start last week, and held his own this afternoon. Kremer’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K.

The lone run that Kremer gave up was on a sac fly-RBI by Frazier in the last of the first. Other than that, Kremer and subsequent pitchers were stingy. Not much seemed to shake Kremer. And that’s a good sign.

The O’s tied the game at one in the top of the sixth when Ryan Mountcastle dropped a bloop RBI-single behind second base. This was a classic pitcher’s duel, and both teams struggled at times to put runners on base. Something had to give as we went to extra innings.

And unfortunately, it was the new extra innings rules that forced something to give. And for the O’s at that. Hunter Harvey was brought on to pitch the tenth, and of course New York got to start with a runner on second base.

Harvey uncorked a wild pitch, and the runner went to third. He would later score on Voit’s sac fly-RBI. It’s really a shame; this was a game the O’s had a golden opportunity to win. And that one slight mistake cost them the game.

As I said after last night’s loss, defensive mishaps like that can cost you games. And in this case it did. Now granted would a wild pitch setting up a run be such a problem in the third inning? Maybe, maybe not. In a 2-1 game it would still stick out. However the O’s would have had time to overcome it. In extra innings it’s a different story.

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

Baltimore Orioles: Defensive mishaps make a huge difference

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Keegan Akin only lasted for two outs in the first inning. But please don’t take his stats and make assumptions as to how he pitched tonight. He was far from perfect. But he was done wrong by the defense behind him. Akin’s line: .2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

DJ Stewart stayed hot with a solo homer in the first inning. He was the lone bright spot for the Birds. I can’t stress enough how promising it is for the organization that he’s coming along. He’s been having a field day of late with major league pitching.

But again, that was the Birds’ line bright spot. New York immediately put two runners on with nobody out in the last of the first. Hicks flies out to left fielder Ryan Mountcastle. Now keep in mind that Mountcastle isn’t a natural outfielder. He’s being turned into one.

LeMahieu, the runner at second, decided to test Mountcastle and tag up to try to take third. Mountcastle’s throw was a bit under thrown, allowing New York an extra base. Frazier would eventually reach on a fielder’s choice, however the throw home from Jose Iglesias was off line, giving New York a 2-1 lead.

Later in the inning Andujar would add a two-RBI double. Later in the game New York would blow it wide open. Bout smacked two-run homers in both the fourth and fifth innings. Ten runs to the Orioles’ one appeared to be all they needed.

Granted you can’t blame two mishaps in the first inning for giving up ten runs. However those two mishaps (which for the record neither of which were errors) set the tone for the game. It also drove Keegan Amun’s pitch count way up, causing him to exit in the first inning.

It’s those types of mistakes that can be accepted from this team right now. But moving forward they need to keep that under control. If in the future they’re in a pennant race and this sort of thing pops up, that’s going to be a big league problem.

Look at it this way, if Iglesias’ throw (which wasn’t a tough okay) is online, the O’s gun down a run at the plate. Does the rest of the game unfold the way that it did? Tough to say.

The series continues tomorrow afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Dean Kremer gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Jordan Montgomery. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall in game one of a doubleheader

Alex Cobb came off the IL to make the start for the Baltimore Orioles in game one of a doubleheader against New York in the Bronx. Cobb has trouble finding his way, but righted himself later. Cobb’s line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

New York got off to a quick start in this one. LeMahieu led off the last of the first with a solo homer. Gardner added a two-run shot later in that first inning. Before the non-existent crowd would have otherwise settled down, the O’s trailed 3-0.

Cobb didn’t fair much better in the second. Higashioka smacked a two-run home run in the second, running the score to 5-0. At this point if you’re the O’s you’re trying not to get yourself run out of the ballpark. But things stabilized.

Neither Cobb nor any other Oriole pitcher gave up another run. Save for a bloop RBI-single. They got very stingy, in fact. But the damage was done.

New York starter Cole made a no-hit bid. Mind you, the game was only seven innings long. But Hanser Alberto broke that up in the fifth inning. That was about as much offense as the Birds could muster in game one.

The doubleheader and the series continues later this evening at Yankee Stadium. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Masahiro Tanaka. Game time is set for about 40 minutes from now.

Baltimore Orioles fall, split with NYM

The Baltimore Orioles stayed hot at the plate last night against the NY Mets. Unfortunately New York’s bats got hot as well, however. And that happened slowly as the game went on. Jorge Lopez didn’t make it out of the fifth inning, but was victimized by the long ball. Lopez’s line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Renato Nunez and Ryan Mountcastle smacked RBI-singles in the first inning, and the Birds took an early 2-0 lead. New York would get a run back in the last of the second on an RBI-single flew by McNeil. But the good news was that the O’s were getting guys on base, which puts pressure on opposing pitching.

But the O’s were able to open up a bigger lead later on. Rio Ruiz‘s two-RBI double in the third have the O’s a 4-1 lead. Hanser Alberto would add an RBI-single later in the inning. And the Birds held a 5-1 lead.

But even with a decent lead, New York was only a couple of big homers out of the game. McNeil’s two-run home run in the fourth cut the lead to 5-3. Now the Orioles did tack on one more run an inning later. DJ Stewart‘s bar stayed hot, and he hit a solo homer. Stewart is really coming along and of late has really been clicking against big league pitching. That bodes well for the Orioles’ lineup.

But the last of the sixth saw the Orioles’ lead evaporate. Conforto smacked a solo homer, Cano an RBI-single, and Giminez a solo homer of his own. That tied the game at six.

Two innings later Alonzo added a solo homer of his own, giving New York a 7-6 lead, which turned into a 7-6 victory. The O’s had chances in the later innings, but couldn’t bring anyone in. They also should have had at least three additional runs. With two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth, Rio Ruiz hit what rightfully hooks have been a bases-clearing double…

…but Conforto made an amazing over-the-shoulder catch. That obviously ended the inning as well. That’s to Conforto’s credit, incidentally. At the time the O’s held a slim one-run lead. But it’s a moment on which you look back as a big one in the game. If that ball falls, the Birds sweep the series. Instead they split it.

The O’s now head to the Bronx for a four game set with the New York Yankees. Keegan Akin gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Gerrit Cole. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Big wheels keep on turning in Queens

The Baltimore Orioles got the best start of the season out of John Means this evening against the NY Mets in Queens. In fact, Means resembled his first half, 2019 self. Means’ line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Means qualified for a quality start, and in fact Oriole bats also posted up. That’s the other aspect of the game. You can pitch great but if your offense doesn’t score you runs you’ll end up a hard-luck loser. The Birds put it all together tonight at once.

DJ Stewart remained hot, smacking a two-run homer in the second inning. Keep in mind that between Saturday and Sunday Stewart homered in three straight at-bats. So he’s really starting to get with it at the big league level.

New York would get their lone run in the last of the second on a solo shot by Marisnick. Other than that, Means shut New York down. And the O’s just kept chugging along.

Ryan Mountcastle also stayed hot. He smacked a two-run homer of his own in the fourth. That was followed up later in the inning by an RBI-triple from Cedric Mullins. Again, that’s great to see. Both Stewart and Mullins have struggled at various times in the bigs. The fact that things seem to be clicking for them is welcome for this team.

Pat Valaika and Rio Ruiz would also homer later in the game. When the smoke cleared the Birds had themselves an 11-2 victory. But following a big weekend against the New York Yankees, the Birds turned in perhaps one of their most complete performances of the season. And that in and of itself is an excellent sign.

The series concludes tomorrow night at Citi Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Rick Porcello. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Dean Kremer dazzles in debut as Birds take series with NY

The Baltimore Orioles finally got to see the first piece from 2018’s trade of Manny Machado come to the big leagues this afternoon in starter Dean Kremer. And he didn’t disappoint. Kremer carried himself and played like he belonged in the big leagues. He sent New York down 1-2-3 in the first inning, and his outing took off from there. Kremer’s line: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K.

Also for the Orioles, DJ Stewart picked up right where he left off last night. Stewart’s two-run homer in the first inning got the Orioles going. It was Stewart’s third home run in as many at-bats. New York would score in the second on an RBI-ground out, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 2-1.

But when your starter is as effective as a Kremer was today, that’s not an issue. In fact, the bases were loaded in that second inning. Kremer figured out a way to get out of the inning while minimizing the damage.

That thin 2-1 lead held until the sixth inning before the Birds broke it open. They would load the bases, and Bryan Holaday would draw a walk, extending the lead to 3-1. Andrew Velazquez‘s RBI-single would further the lead, and Ryan Mountcastle‘s sac fly-RBI in the seventh pushed it to 5-1, which was the final.

This game of course was played under the backdrop of the 25th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr. breaking the consecutive games played record. Cal tossed out a virtual first pitch to his son, Ryan (the first baseman for the Bowie Baysox), and he appeared on the MASN telecast and the Orioles Radio Network. 2131 is a moment that no Orioles fan of a certain age will ever forget. It’s a moment that stands alone in time and marks a generation of Orioles fans. So in a sense, it’s poetic justice that the Birds won today.

The Orioles also very quietly took three-of-four in this series with New York. Mind you it was originally a three-game set, but one was a makeup game. Either way, they took three-of-four. While New York is at a reduced power level, they’re still New York. We went from talking about an epic losing streak to them, to the Birds taking the series. Also noteworthy for Dean Kremer’s first major league start, and his first major league win.

Baltimore Orioles: DJ Stewart breaks out in another win vs. New York

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Keegan Akin put the Birds in a position to win last night against New York. And that’s all you can ask a starting pitcher to do. The rest of the team has to kind of take it from there. And they did. Akin’s line: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 8 K.

Unfortunately Akin didn’t qualify for the win. He was lifted in the top of the sixth, and the score was still 0-0. So Akin was non-decisioned. But he pitched well enough to have gotten the win. It just didn’t work out accordingly.

This game was also a coming out party of sorts for DJ Stewart. Which is a good thing because with Santander suddenly on the IL, Stewart is probably going to be getting more playing time. However his solo homer in the last of the sixth broke the scoreless tie and gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead.

Later in that sixth inning Ryan Mountcastle‘s two-RBI single extended the Birds’ lead to 3-0. A two-RBI double would then run the score to 5-0, and the O’s were off to the races. After being held scoreless for nearly six innings, the runs came in buckets. This against a team that had previously won 19 straight games against the O’s.

Just to show he wasn’t kidding, DJ Stewart smacked an additional solo homer in the last of the seventh to extend the lead to 6-0. New York would get one back in the top of the eighth on a solo homer by Frazier. But in the end, the O’s won their second straight against New York. Hardly a 19-game winning streak, but hey you have to start somewhere.

The O’s will go for the series win this afternoon at Camden Yards. The Birds are yet to announce a starter, but they’ll be facing New York’s Masahiro Tanaka. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles snap skid in a New York Minute

The Baltimore Orioles had lost 19 straight games to New York coming into last night’s doubleheader night cap – including the first game of the doubleheader. However an offensive breakout and a nice starting outing by Jorge Lopez made quick history of that steak. While Lopez only pitched five innings, he did qualify for the win. Also when the game only has seven innings a five inning outing is akin to a quality start. Lopez’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Ryan Mountcastle got the party started in the last of the second when he blasted a two-run homer off into the night. Lopez allowed a base runner one inning later, who would take second on a wild pitch and third on a pass ball. Estrada’s ground out would score the runner, cutting the lead to 2-1.

And while that cut the lead, it exhibited that the Orioles could contain damage is a sense. As opposed to letting a mistake compound things further. They minimized the damage, and didn’t let a mistake turn into a barrage of runs for the opponent.

Although..:New York would take the lead in the fourth. Kratz’s two-RBI single gave them a 3-2 lead. For a brief moment it appeared that New York would continue their steak to 20 consecutive wins over the Orioles. But it wasn’t to be.

Mountcastle’s RBI-single in the last of the fifth would tie the game back up at three. Rio Ruiz‘s subsequent RBI-single would give the Birds the lead back at 4-3. And just for good measure, the O’s would get two all-important insurance runs to seal the win thanks to Pat Valaika‘s two-RBI double.

This is a big win for the O’s in the sense that it snaps the losing streak to New York. 19 straight games is a lot of losses. Not all of them were blowouts, mind you. The Birds battled in some of them – such as game one of the doubleheader. But it’s still losing 19 straight games to the same team, and a division rival at that. But that streak is now over.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Gerrit Cole. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles drop their 19th straight game to New York

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Thomas Eshelman didn’t make it out of the third inning this evening in game one of a doubleheader with New York. But keep in mind that he had just pitched in relief on Tuesday, and this game was only seven innings long. Alex Cobb was supposed to get the start, but he was sent to the IL before the game for an unspecified reason. Eshelman’s line: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R (2 earned), 3 BB, 1 K.

Cedric Mullins put the O’s on the board early with a solo homer in the last of the first inning. However one inning later New York had tied the game at one on a Sanchez homer. New York may be in a weakened state with all of their players on the IL, but they’re still the Bronx Bombers.

And in the third inning they loaded the bases due to an error. And before you knew it Gardner smacked a two-run scoring single. Tauchman would later walk with the bases loaded, giving New York a 4-1 lead. Incidentally, only two of those runs were earned.

And I’ve said this a lot this year, but other teams are holding the Orioles accountable. When mistakes are made in games, opposing teams are making them pay. They not only need to minimize the amount of opportunities that opponents can make them pay, but they need to find ways out of jams. So that other teams DON’T hold them accountable.

But the good news is that the Birds battled back. Rio Ruiz smacked a two-run homer in the fourth which cut the lead to 4-3. And one inning later in the fifth Renato Nunez smacked a solo shot, tying the game at four runs a piece.

The game went to extra innings. In reality, the teams played a full game (9 innings). But due to the league’s doubleheader rule where games are seven innings in 2020, it’s considered extras .

Similarly, the O’s had chances in the extra two frames. But they couldn’t push a run across to win the game. And New York toon advantage, pushing two across in the top of the ninth. The Birds would net one in the bottom of the inning, but it wasn’t enough. It was the Orioles’ 19 consecutive loss to New York.

The series continues with game two of this doubleheader this evening from Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Deivi Garcia. The game will begin in approximately 40 minutes.

Baltimore Orioles blow chance at big inning in loss

Baltimore Orioles’ starter John Means made into the sixth inning this afternoon against the New York Mets. Unfortunately he struggled with his control at the end, prompting his exit. And it was only downhill from there. Means’ line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Means unfortunately fell behind right away, as he surrendered a two-run homer to Conforto in the top of the first inning. But the O’s fought back – or tried to at least. At first. Ryan Mountcastle‘s RBI-single in the last of the second cut the lead in half.

That second inning was a key moment in the at game. The O’s would eventually tie the game at two when Cedric Mullins was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Obviously at that moment the bags remained juiced. But the O’s allowed New York off the hook, only tying the game.

The Orioles need to start taking advantage more when their opponents mess up. We saw Toronto hold the O’s accountable for pretty much 100% of their mistakes last weekend. The O’s need to start doing that also, because other teams are going to do it to them. Bases loaded would have been an opportune moment.

And it was Conforto again who put New York ahead in the fifth with an RBI-double. And the game snowballed from there. New York would put runs up here and there, before netting a four-run eighth inning. That put the game out of reach.

Jose Iglesias would add an RBI-single in the last of the ninth. An additional run would score on a throwing error, running the final to 9-4 in favor of New York. The teams split the short two-game set at Camden Yards.

Several of those runs in the eighth inning were scored on pass balls. And again, opponents are holding the O’s accountable for mistakes like that. It’s a reminder that when people get on base anything can happen. And often times it will.

But that second inning should stick out for fans. The O’s could have opened up a big lead. They could have had a big inning. And they let their opponent off the hook. That has to change.

The Orioles are off tomorrow, which is a good thing. They had to remove Renato Nunez after he struggled running out a ball up the first base line in the fifth inning. His status moving forward is unclear.

Baltimore Orioles: Renato Nunez starts the party and provides insurance

The Baltimore Orioles finally got a starter to go deeper than four innings. Asher Wojchiekowski pitcher five tonight against the NY Mets at Camden Yards. It may only be one more, but it’s something. It’s a start. Wojciechowski’s line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Renato Nunez put the Orioles ahead early with a three-run homer in the last of the first inning. However New York chopped away. A sac fly-RBI and an RBI-single in the second got them to within 3-2. Luckily for the O’s in that moment, Anthony Santander followed suit in the last of the second with an RBI-single, and Jose Iglesias pushed another run across on a fielder’s choice. The O’s appeared to be in the driver’s seat…

…until they weren’t. Cano smacked a solo homer in the third. That was innocent enough; it came with two outs and solo home runs generally aren’t going to beat you. But Gimenez’s two-run homer in the sixth suddenly tied the game at five.

This was a big moment in the game for the O’s. Mind you that they just came home from a series in Toronto in which they surrendered several leads, and lost games at the eleventh hour in walk off fashion. Psychologically that can grate on a team. But the Orioles battled back.

Pat Valaika immediately got the Birds the lead back with an RBI-double in the last of the sixth. And that was a big moment all and of itself. Because the O’s didn’t string things out and waste any time. They jumped on the horn immediately and took the lead back.

Anthony Santander would add a two-run homer later in the inning, as the Orioles started to pull away. And for good measure, they added on an insurance run in the seventh. This on Renato Nunez’s solo homer – his second homer of the game.

And that Nunez home run was important also in terms of exorcising the demons of that Toronto series. The Orioles took several one-run leads, only to settle for that one run. And it would more often than not end up not being enough. This time around they were having none of that, and they padded the lead – which turned into a 9-5 win over the New York Mets.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Michael Wacha. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

Baltimore Orioles break skid with extra innings win

Keegan Akin had a solid outing this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles. It was still a shortish outing, however he put the O’s in a position to win the game. And that’s all you can ask of your statrting pitcher. Akin’s line: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, (0 earned), 2 BB, 6 K.

The Birds took the lead early. Jose Iglesias‘ RBI-single gave them a 1-0 lead. And that lead stood up for awhile. Unfortunately for Akin however, it was surrendered on yet another botched play by the Oriole infield.

Toronto had one out and two runners in scoring position in the last of the fifth. However Biggio reached on a throwing error by Hanser Alberto at second base, allowing both runners to score. And giving Toronto a 2-1 lead.

This sort of thing has PLAGUED Oriole pitching this entire road trip. And the sad thing is that both Tampa and Toronto have taken full advantage of the Orioles’ mistakes. That’s certainly an incentive not to make mistakes like that, but sometimes they happen. But the Orioles have allowed those mistakes to kill them.

But the good news is that this time the Orioles fought back. And right away at that. Anthony Santander smacked an RBI-double in the top of the sixth, tying the game at two. This of course also letting Akin off the hook for the loss. And keeping the Orioles in the game.

And of course it was Santander who did it. As I’ve written previously, he’s quickly turning into a stud. And a fan favorite at that – if twitter mentions mean anything. He’s been the right guy at the right time in the lineup over various games this season, and today was no different.

However the game remained tied at two and went to extras. Just what the Orioles wanted after the way this road trip has gone. But Bryan Holladay‘s two-RBI double in the top of the eleventh gave the Birds a 4-2 lead. Toronto would net one in the last of the eleventhC but for once it wasn’t enough. And the O’s took the finale.

The infield play does need to be cleaned up. Now perhaps some of the miscues can be chalked up to playing this series on a minor league field. But those mistakes need to be fixed so that games aren’t in essence being given away.

The O’s also executed a trade before the deadline came and went today. They traded reliever Miguel Castro to the NY Mets in exchange for minor league pitcher, Kevin Smith. New York of course will be at Camden Yards playing the O’s for the next two days following today.

The O’s now return home to open the aforementioned short two-game set with the NY Mets. Neither team has announced a starter for tomorrow. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle homers but victory snatched from the O’s

In his debut as a Baltimore Orioles’ starter, Jorge Lopez looked pretty strong at first. However after having seen him once or twice, Toronto batters started to catch up. Lopez’s line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K.

The Birds gave Lopez an early lead. Ryan Mountcastle smacked his first major league home run in the first inning, giving the Orioles a 1-0 lead. It was a no doubter, and it landed out towards the highway on the other side of Sahlen Field. Luckily a Good Samaritan retrieved the ball and it was saved for Mountcastle’s private collection.

Toronto would tie the game at one on an RBI-single by Guerrero in the last of the fourth. One inning later Biggio’s RBI-single would give Toronto a 2-1 lead. Grichuk would later add a sac fly-RBI, chasing Lopez.

However the O’s seemed to regain their never say die outlook this afternoon. Pedro Severino‘s sixth inning RBI-single in the sixth cut the lead to 3-2. That brought Ryan Mountcastle back to the plate. With his first big league homer out of the way, he decided it was an opportune moment to hit his second. Except this one was a two-run shot, and gave the Orioles their lead back at 4-3.

But Toronto wasn’t done yet either. The Birds recorded two quick outs in the eighth, before Toronto put two runners on via a base hit and a walk. Tellez’s RBI-single then tied the game at four.

However the O’s came back again. With two outs in the top of the ninth, the Birds had runners at the corners and Jose Iglesias coming to the plate. A base hit would give them the lead. Iglesias hit a slow swinging bunt to short…

…it was so slow, it gave Iglesias a fighting chance of reaching base safely and scoring the run. Iglesias hustled out of the box, and ran down the line – HARD, down the line. And he was called safe at first, allowing the run to score and giving the Orioles a 5-4 lead.

Unfortunately for the O’s and closer Cole Sulser however, the game wasn’t over. They had two runners on in the last of the ninth with two outs and a full count. Sulser threw what everyone, including the hitter, Shaw, thought was strike three. Replays showed it was clearly on the edge of the batter’s box.

Everyone except home plate umpire Sean Barber thought it was strike three and that the game was over. He ruled it ball four, loading the bases. Hernandez’s subsequent two-RBI single won it for Toronto.

Now Sulser did put a couple of guys on, which didn’t help. When you put runners on base anything can happen. And umpires are in fact human. But it does sting to lose a game like that, when in fact the game should have been over. But to the victors go the spoils.

The Orioles also announced two trades before the game. Tommy Milone was dealt to Atlanta for a Player to be named later (PTBNL). Reliever Mychal Givens was also sent to the Colorado Rockies. In return, the O’s got infield prospects Terribly Vavra and Tyler Nevin. They also are receiving a PTBNL.

The series with Toronto concludes tomorrow at Sahlen Field. The Orioles haven’t announced a starter as of yet, and Toronto will throw Chase Anderson. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb haunted by defense behind him

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Alex Cobb didn’t pitch perfect this evening. Heck, he wasn’t in the game long enough for that. But I feel that he was pitching good enough to put the O’s in a spot to win the game. Which is the task of every starting pitcher. Cobb’s line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 2 K.

Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the last of the first when Guerrero smacked a two-run scoring single. However keep in mind that there were two runners in scoring position due to the fact that Santander misplayed the ball in the outfield. That ultimately came back and bit the O’s.

Toronto also netted a run in the fourth, but the Birds gave them an extra out. With a runner at third Fischer grounded into what would have been a tailor-made double-play. The Orioles were willing to concede the run, however Hanser Alberto has trouble transferring the ball to throw back to first. That doesn’t go as an error (because you never assume the double-play), but it cost the Orioles runs in the future, and of course it cost Cobb some pitches.

And in fact, Cobb gave up a two-RBI single to Biggio later in the inning. That ran the final to 5-0. Again, Cobb wasn’t perfect. But I think that he in theory pitched well enough to win. Errors and extra outs can at times do a pitcher in.

Here’s an interesting question; was this Cobb’s final appearance for the Orioles? With the trade deadline being Monday, he’s a veteran guy with good experience, and could be a candidate to be traded. Could he help a team for a potential stretch run in a stretch season? Yes, he could.

But there are a lot of other things at play. Are teams willing to part with prospects to potential work their way into the postseason in the strangest year on record? Furthermore? With potential labor unrest coming, do teams really want to commit themselves to a salary? All good questions. 

Four innings seems to be the magic number for manager Brandon Hyde. I find that interesting, and perhaps a little concerning. It’s one thing if the pitcher’s struggling. But we’ve seen Hyde pull pitchers who were doing okay or even holding their own at the four inning mark. The recognize that I’m a mastodon in the sense that I want my starters to go deep into games. If anything, bullpens are bigger than starters now. But four innings to me is a really short outing. I feel it taxes the bullpen too much.

This isn’t to be overly critical of Hyde. I recognize he’s doing the best job he can and that he’s only a second-year manager. Plus, nobody’s ever managed a sixty-game season before. It’s just interesting to me that he seems to get his starters after four innings. Just something I’ve noticed.

The series continues tomorrow afternoon at Sahlen Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Taylor Roark. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall on late walkoff homer

No matter what happens, Toronto seems to have the Baltimore Orioles’ number. No matter how the game unfolds, they just seem to find a way. John Means only made it four innings, and couldn’t even qualify for the win. Means’ line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Means gave up two solo homers. One to Guerrero, and one to Hernandez. Both occurred in the last of the fourth. Those were the only runs he surrendered. And then the O’s turned to the bullpen.

However the O’s fought back in the sixth. They loaded the bases, and Ryan Mountcastle‘s two-RBI single tied the game at two. However Toronto is quickly becoming the team who lives by the refrain anything you can do I can do better. Guerrero would score from third on a wild pitch in the last of the sixth, giving Toronto their lead back at 3-2.

But the Orioles weren’t finished yet. Renato Nunez tied the game at three in the eighth with a solo homer. And from there the game went to extra innings tied at three.

That mean that the O’s would start the inning with a runner on second base. After the runner was moved to third on a bunt, he was played by Hanser Alberto‘s bloop RBI-single. However unfortunately for the O’s, Toronto also gets as runner at second base to start the inning.

And the home team bats last. Toronto may not have been plying at Rogers Centre, but Sahlen Field is their de facto home – for now. Toronto was down to it’s final strike. And Grichuk smacked a ball over the fence for a walk off home run and the O’s had a 5-4 loss.

Grichuk has killed the Orioles over a couple of seasons. He can’t see to help but hit whatever they throw up there out of the park. It’s uncanny. However them’s the breaks.

The series continues tomorrow from Buffalo’s Sahlen Field. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Taijuan Walker. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles canceled in Tampa

Tropicana Field in Tampa isn’t exactly a spot that the Baltimore Orioles would have expected to have a cancellation or postponement. However tonight’s series finale in Tampa has been canceled after consultation with the league and the MLBPA. This in a effort to stand in solidarity with social justice initiatives throughout the sports world.

Both teams were planning on playing. The managers met early in the afternoon and the game appeared on par to begin. However late this afternoon the league came out and said that it would prefer that the entire slate of games be canceled. This as opposed to just a few games being played.

It’s unclear how this affects the season moving forward, or if further cancellations will occur. Does this mean that the weekend series in Buffalo with Toronto is in jeopardy? Tough to say. Time will tell. All we know is that there’s no game tonight.

As of now the Birds are supposed to open up a three-game set against Toronto tomorrow night at Toronto’s temporary home, Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY. Starters are TBD for both teams as of now. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall late despite Anthony Santander

The Baltimore Orioles seem to be in perpetual bullpen mode when it comes to starting pitchers. Asher Wojchiekowski was pitching well, but only went four innings tonight before being lifted. Incidentally lots of teams operate in that manner now, but I’ve noticed that the Orioles seem to do it also here and there. Wojciechowski’s line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K.

The O’s took the lead early tonight on the heels of a Hanser Alberto single in the first inning. Cedric Mullins was already on first base, and he scored when the Tampa outfield misplayed the ball. Hey if a team like Tampa’s going to give you runs like that, you take them!

Mullins would later score on a fielder’s choice by Renato Nunez. The Birds led, 2-0 and appeared in control. However Lowe’s third inning two-run homer tied the game at two. Two innings later in the fifth Diaz grounded into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded, giving Tampa a 3-2 lead.

As I’ve said, Tampa finds weird ways to score runs. That fielder’s choice came on a high Baltimore chop off the turf. The pitch of the chop allowed the Orioles to only record one out, which allowed a run to score. This as opposed to a ground ball double-play which would have gotten the Orioles out of the inning.

However as has been the case so often this season, Anthony Santander came to the Orioles’ rescue. To be blunt, the dude’s going out and having himself a season. He’s quickly winning the hearts and minds of Orioles fans from the Delaware line to Richmond (VA), and everywhere in between. He’s turning into a legit stud.

Nevertheless, his RBI-single in the seventh scored Hanser Alberto, and tied the game at three. However unfortunately, sometimes complaining does work. Tampa complained about the strike zone for most of the game. In the last of the eighth, it got really small for Oriole relievers. As a result, Perez smacked a misplaced slider out of the ballpark, giving Tampa a 4-3 lead. And a 4-3 victory.

Sometimes you have to roll with the punches. Tampa’s good at that. Their hitters adjusted to the strike zone. The Orioles did not. What that doesn’t change is the heroics of Anthony Santander, who lifted the team on it’s back when it needed it the most.

The series concludes tomorrow night at Tropicana Field. John Means gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Ryan Yarbrough. Game time is set for approximately 6:40 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: You can’t give extra outs and expect to win

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Tommy Milone gave the Birds a good outing tonight against Tampa at Tropicana Field. The result indicates he didn’t pitch good enough to win. But he put the Birds in a position to do so. And that’s all you can ask of a starter. Milone’s line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R (2 earned), 1 BB, 6 K.

Renato Nunez have Milone and the O’s am early 1-0 lead with a first inning home run. However an inning later Tampa took the lead at 2-1 on Renfro’s two-run shot. But it’s important to note that the only reason there was a runner on base was due to a Pat Valaika throwing error at shortstop. For good measure, Margot would launch a solo homer immediately following Renfro’s shot, giving Tampa a 3-1 lead.

In the fourth Ryan Mountcastle recorded his first big league RBI, with a single that cut the Tampa lead to 3-2. However in the sixth Tampa would extend it’s lead to 4-2 on Choi’s sac fly-RBI. And that would be the final, as the O’s fell to Tampa in game one of the series.

However it’s important to note once again that the bases were loaded in the sixth due to another Valaika throwing error. Now this isn’t to call out Valaika, as Tropicana Field’s a tough infield with the field turf. However the two errors were responsible for two unearned runs. And that meant the game in this instance.

I wrote earlier today that Tampa finds wacky ways to beat you. It doesn’t help when you give them extra outs. They usually find a way to bring a run into score, compounding your problems. You can’t give extra outs to anyone at any level of baseball. But Tampa’s a team to whom you really can’t do that, as they always find a way to come through.

Before the game the O’s announced that they had ended the season of pitcher Wade LeBlanc. He was placed on the 60-day DL with a stress reaction in his elbow. As you’ll recall, that forced him from Sunday’s game against Boston in the first inning. To take his spot, the Birds recalled LHP Keegan Akin from their alternative site in Bowie.

The series continues tomorrow at Tropicana Field. Asher Wojciechowski gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to announce their starter. Game time is set for approximately 6:40 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: #RIPFlanny

On this day in 2011 I said that so long as I penned a Baltimore Orioles’ column I’d remember August 24th. That was the evening that we learned of the untimely death of former Oriole Mike Flanagan. It’s a day that few people who follow the Birds will ever forget.

The Birds were in Minnesota, and the story of Flanagan’s death in essence unfolded as the game played out that night. It wasn’t until after the game that the Orioles and MASN television acknowledged Flanagan’s death. And that was by design.

This affected anyone who knew what Flanagan meant to the organization. Mike loved being an Oriole during his playing days. And he loved being affiliated with the organization after he retired. He spent numerous years in roles such as pitching coach, Vice-President of Baseball Ops, and of course as a broadcaster. He was beloved by the fans.

And he’s missed by the fans. His dry New England wit was unparalleled. But of course the reason he was so loved is because he was a great Oriole to begin with. Famously he was the last Oriole to pitch at Memorial Stadium. That means something. And it was done by design. He loved the Orioles and he loved the fans. And the fans loved him back.

So to Mike Flanagan’s family, I hope they know that Orioles fans are thinking of them today. These types of anniversaries are never easy. But they also help to remember the person. And no matter how he was connected to you, Mike Flanagan was someone you’d want to remember. May he rest in eternal peace.

Baltimore Orioles defeat Boston, split series

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Wade LeBlanc couldn’t make it out of the first inning yesterday. He surrendered a solo homer to Pillar on the second pitch, but with two outs he called for the trainer. LeBlanc left with what was later deemed elbow soreness, and Thomas Eshelman abruptly took over, pitching very well. Eshelman’s line: 4.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

The O’s loaded the bases in the last of the first but let Boston off the hook. They also loaded the bases in the last of the third, but weren’t quite as charitable. Rio Ruiz‘s two-RBI single gave the Birds a 2-1 lead. Almost immediately following Ruiz’s single, Andrew Velazquez pushed a bunt down the third base line, scoring a third run for the O’s.

Not a lot of guys are going to bunt with two strikes. And that might be part of the reason why Velazquez did it. Call it the element of surprise, perhaps. Either way it worked, and the O’s ended up with a two-run lead.

Boston however would rally in the fifth. Bogaerts’ RBI-double off the right field scoreboard would get them to within 3-2. However Miguel Castro recorded a strikeout with two outs, ending the threat with the O’s in the lead.

However the O’s got some insurance back in the seventh. Rio Ruiz’s two-RBI double gave them a 5-2 lead. And that turned into a 5-4 victory following Bradley’s two-run homer with two outs in the ninth. Another example of why insurance runs are important.

As sloppy as the first two games of the series were, the O’s earned a series split with Boston. That makes a world of difference in terms of momentum as they now hit the road. The Wade LeBlanc injury is a concern, and we’ll have to see where he stands moving forward. But tomorrow being an off day, the Orioles could also skip him in the rotation this week and not be too bad off. The Birds will head to Tampa for a series beginning Tuesday night following an off day tomorrow.

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander starts really that snaps skid

Alex Cobb did his job last night as the Baltimore Orioles’ starter. He put the team in a position to win. That’s what you ask of your starting pitcher in every game, but especially when you’ve lost six straight. Cobb’s line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

And Cobb has a brief lead in the game as well. Pat Valaika‘s solo homer in the second inning gave the Birds a 1-0 lead. However losing streaks don’t go easily. You had to know that both Boston, as well as “the losing streak,” were going to put up a fight.

Bradley’s solo homer in the fifth tied the game at one. Later in the inning Verdugo’s RBI-double gave Boston a 2-1 lead. One inning later, Pillar’s infield RBI-single extended Boston’s lead to 3-1.

And the Boston bullpen didn’t appear to be looking to allow the Orioles back into the game. Out after out was recorded, and the Birds seemed to be headed for their seventh straight loss. Only they weren’t.

Anthony Santander‘s spot came up in the eighth inning. He strode to the plate with a runner on and the Orioles trailing by two. And Santander delivered; he sent a deep shot down the left field line. The distance was never going to be an issue. But would it stay fair?

And the answer was YES, it would! Santander’s two-run shot tied the game at three, and put life into the Orioles. It’s tough to put into words what Santander means to this team right now, as he’s hitting everything that’s coming his way. And it’s generally leaving the ballpark. He also seems to have the clutch gene in him whereby he makes his presence known at the right times. A two-run homer in the first inning is a great thing. But doing it when Santander did is even better.

The game went to extra innings, which of course meant that Boston got to start the tenth inning with a runner at second base. Three walks later, they had a 4-3 lead. But that wasn’t about to render Santander’s earlier heroics null and void…

…because the O’s also got to start their half of the tenth with a runner at second. Cedric Mullins led off the inning and dragged a sacrifice bunt up the first base line. However Boston tried to make the out at third base, and instead got nothing. That gave the Birds runners at the corners with nobody out. A wild pitch later and the runner from third scored tying the game.

Following a single which also left runners at the corners, Boston would walk Anthony Santander. Being walked with second base open is respect. And fear. But it was probably the right call by Boston.

However the O’s weren’t about to squander this chance to win a game, and snap the skid. With the bases loaded, Pedro Severino‘s RBI-single gave the Birds a 5-4 win. And it’s a big win at that, as it snaps a six-game losing streak. Which is a load off of the minds of everyone in the clubhouse.

The O’s will try to go for the series split this afternoon at Camden Yards. Wade LeBlanc gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Zack Godley. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall in Ryan Mountcastle’s debut

John Means became only the latest Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher to be chased from a start early on. As was the case on Thursday, Boston came out swinging early. And for that they were rewarded. Means’ line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

Means gave up a solo homer to Bogaerts in the second inning, and a two-run shot from Martinez in the third. Those were the only runs that Means surrendered, however he still only stuck around for three innings. That was by design, as he was on a pitch count.

Devers smacked a three-run homer in the fifth, running it to 6-0. One inning later Chavis’ two-RBI single ran the score to 8-0. The O’s weren’t just losing, they were getting blown away.

But they did battle back. Pat Valaika and Cedric Mullins smacked solo homers in the seventh to cut the Boston lead to 8-2. Chance Sisco hit a three-run shot in the eighth. So the Birds didn’t just accept their fate lying down, but they did fall 8-5.

However the big story of the day was that the Orioles called one of their top prospects, Ryan Mountcastle up to the big leagues. Mountcastle replaced Chris Davis on the roster after he went to the 10-day IL. Mountcastle started in left field last night.

Mountcastle is of course expected to be one of the next generation’s stars in Birdland. So it was a historic night for both him and for the organization. Mountcastle drew two walks in four at-bats, and did score a run.

Mountcastle acknowledged before the game the bizarre circumstances surrounding his debut given the circumstances of the 2020 season (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

There have been no fans. I don’t think it’s going to be the same, but at the same time I know this is the highest you can play and there should be really good competition and I’m excited to get going.

No player will ever forget his big league debut. When Mountcastle looks back at his he’ll undoubtedly remember it two-fold given the situation.

The Birds will try to snap their losing streak as the series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall to Boston

The Baltimore Orioles continues their skid last night in game one of four against Boston. Starter Asher Wojchiekowski didn’t pitch horrendously. However he fell victim to a high pitch count. Boston hitters fouled off pitch after pitch, chasing him earlier than he would have liked. Wojciechowski’s line: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

Boston got on the board in the second on Peraza’s RBI-single. Incidentally, it was another run surrendered by the Birds on a softly-hit blooper. There isn’t much anyone can do about this. It’s just something that seems to happen a lot.

Later in the inning Verdugo grounded into a fielder’s choice-RBI. This very well could have been an inning-ending double play instead of another run scored. However Nunez had an ever-so-brief problem getting the ball out of his glove, which resulted in the Birds not being able to turn two. When things aren’t going well things like that happen.

An inning later Boston would get a solo homer out of Bogaerts. However the Birds briefly fought back in the seventh. Pat Valaika got them on the board with a solo homer. But the only thing that did was ensure they didn’t get shut out.

Boston would put four insurance runs on the board in the top of the ninth just for good measure. As I said, when things aren’t going well things like that happen. The O’s need to come back to the ballpark today rededicated to their fundamentals among other things.

Starters also need to go deeper into games. One of the reasons four insurance runs in the ninth inning happens is because the bullpen is taxed. If starters can start going deeper into games, that helps rest the bullpen.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the Birds, and Boston is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles swept by Toronto

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Tommy Milone pitched the Birds to a quality start this afternoon. Mind you, that’s classified as six innings plus of three earned runs or less surrendered. And in fact the way that Milone pitched sized up to being classified as a quality start. Milone’s line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 7 K.

The O’s were trailing as of the second inning when Grichuk smacked a solo homer. The guy literally couldn’t NOT hit any offering by an Orioles’ pitcher in this series. If they threw it, he hit it. And it generally went out of the ballpark. He single-handedly killed the O’s.

However Dwight Smith Jr.‘s run-scoring single in the fourth tied the game at one. The Toronto outfield mishandled the ball, allowing the run to score. That also allowed Smith to get to third base – on an error. The Birds would take the lead later in the inning on Pat Valaika‘s run-scoring single.

But with the aforementioned Grichuk in the Toronto lineup, no Oriole lead appeared to be safe. And that goes for the entire series, not just today’s game. But in the top of the sixth Grichuk hit his second homer of the game, this one of the two-run variety. That gave Toronto a 3-2 lead. Just to show he wasn’t kidding, Grichuk made a run at home run number three on the day in the eighth inning. But Dwight Smith Jr. was having none of that, and it fell safely into his glove. Toronto would later add two insurance runs, and take the game 5-2.

This wasn’t as bad a series for the O’s as one might think given the fact that they were swept. They weren’t far off in the games. Toronto had a lot of things bounce their way. And that’s how it goes sometimes in sports.

Incidentally, the Orioles have traditionally struggled against Toronto. They’re just a franchise that’s had the Orioles’ number for some reason. I can’t tell you why, they just always seem to find a way against the O’s. Grichuk’s antics this series is only the latest example.

The Boston Red Sox come to town tomorrow night for a four-game set at Camden Yards. Asher Wojciechowski gets the call for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander thrives in extra-inning loss

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Wade LeBlanc struggled last night against Toronto. He couldn’t fully locate his pitches, and Toronto hitters turned on them the second time through the order. LeBlanc’s line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

But the good news for the O’s is that they had Anthony Santander on their side. He smacked a two-run homer in the last of the first to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. However in the top of the third Grichuk’s two-run homer tied the game back up at two.

But Santander wasn’t going to be outdone. In the third he took the lead back with his second homer of the game, this a solo shot. However Santander continues to put the league on notice that he’s quickly turning into a big time slugger. And the Orioles couldn’t be happier about that.

However Toronto would put five runs on the board in the fifth inning. They loaded the bases with nobody out (chasing LeBlanc), and didn’t really look back. Five-run innings are tough to come back from. But the Birds would certainly try.

They got a two-run homer from Chance Sisco in the last of the fifth. That ran the score to 7-5, as the Birds inched their way back into the game. Renato Nunez would later add on a sac fly-RBI. That brought the Birds to within 7-6.

Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-single in the seventh tied the game at seven. And following that, to extra innings we went. However the O’s couldn’t sustain the momentum in the tenth. Gurriel reaches base on a fielder’s choice, allowing a run to score from third. And the O’s fell, 8-7.

Even in a losing effort we do see the Orioles’ knack for coming back. And as I said above, Anthony Santander is putting the entire league on notice that he’s arriving on the scene. That’s perhaps the biggest takeaway out of everything in terms of the Orioles’ start to the season. They may well have a bona fide slugger on their hands.

The series concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards. Tommy Milone gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Tanner Roark. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb a hard-luck loser on flukey plays

If you look at the Baltimore Orioles’ line score, Alex Cobb‘s Numbers don’t look so hot. However he was pretty on his game tonight. Sometimes the line or box score doesn’t tell the story that should or could be told. Cobb’s line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

Cobb retired Toronto in short order in the first two innings. However he allowed two infield base hits to start off the third. That’s two balls that were placed perfectly and had to be eaten. Two base runners, no outs.

Biggio then connected on another infield hit, in what amounted to a swinging bunt up the third base line. That scored a run, giving Toronto a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning Grichuk would smack a three-run homer, and the O’s trailed 4-0.

Now one might argue that a pitcher who gave up a three-run homer shouldn’t be called a hard-luck loser. And that’s a fair point. However keep in mind that those runners wouldn’t have been on base if not for the infield hits. So all things being equal, it easily could have just been 1-0 Toronto. Instead, it was 4-0.

Pedro Severino would get the O’s on the board in the last of the fourth with an RBI-single. However to their credit, Toronto pitching shut the Orioles down for the rest of the game. And in fact, Toronto would even score an additional run in similar fashion. Grichuk would dump a softly-hit bloop RBI-single into shallow right center field. And as insurance runs, Biggio would add a two-run homer in the ninth. Just for good measure, the O’s decided to get into the bloop game. Renato Nunez‘s bloop RBI-single tan the final to 7-2 in Toronto’s favor.

The Orioles have struggled over a great many years with teams that would nitpick them to death in this manner. Dating back over several different era’s. Think back to the 2014 ALCS against Kansas City. The O’s were paper cut to death in a series full of broken bat and bloop singles.

I’m not sure how you defend against this type of thing. The only defense is a good offense, and that didn’t happen for the Orioles tonight. If you keep the bats hot you can keep up in games. Even when the opponent’s getting every break in the book. Granted Toronto did get three runs off of homers. But the damage was done in simplistic manners.

The series continues tomorrow at Camden Yards. Wade LeBlanc gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Nate Pearson. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall despite Anthony Santander’s two homers

John Means didn’t even last an inning for the Baltimore Orioles against Washington today. In fact, he turned in the shortest outing of his career. If anything, Means was getting too much of the plate. Means’ line: .2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 0 K.

Means surrendered three runs, two on RBI-singles, and one on a sac fly-RBI. But in what’s become commonplace, the O’s showed signs of life. Anthony Santander‘s solo homer cut the lead to 3-1.

Washington would extend their lead to 5-1 in the fifth with two additional runs. But again, that aforementioned Santander homer was a harbinger of things to come. Both the act, and the person who did it.

The O’s were thrust right back into the game in the last of the sixth. Pedro Severino smacked a three-run homer, and suddenly the Birds we’re back to within one at 6-4. One inning later Anthony Santander came to the plate again. And he didn’t disappoint, smacking a solo homer and tying the game at five.

This Oriole team is nothing if not resilient. They battle back and they play to the final out. And they’re starting to do it with power. Anthony Santander is starting to turn into a legit stud at the plate. He’s not only hitting the ball, but it’s traveling a long way after he makes contact.

Unfortunately, Santander’s two homers weren’t enough today. Washington put a runner at third base in ten eighth, and he would score on an E5 throwing error. That would end up being the winning run for Washington.

And that really shows you the two aspects of this game offensively. It’s great to smack the ball out of the yard, especially when runners are on base. However sometimes when you put runners on base things happen. That run came with two outs, so it would have been the end of the inning.

The Orioles dropped this series, but as I wrote last night they’ve won the season series with Washington. Given that they’re the defending champions, that means something. This Oriole team is in good shape, and people are starting to notice.

The O’s begin a three-game set with Toronto tomorrow night at Camden Yards. The Birds are yet to announce a starter, but Toronto will throw Hyun Jin Ryu. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Birds fly on Jose Iglesias’ three hits

Asher Wojchiekowski got the start for the Baltimore Orioles against Washington tonight at Camden Yards. While his real potency only lasted five innings, he did his job in putting the O’s in a position to win the game. Wojciechowski’s line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Pedro Severino stayed hot from the get go, smacking a two-RBI double in the last of the first. And that was big for the O’s. After losing 15-3 last night, they needed to come out early and establish that it was an anomaly. That’s how you prevent losing streaks; you forget about a game like that by winning the next day.

Andrew Velazquez would add an RBI-triple, and Hanser Alberto a sac fly-RBI in the last of the second. The O’s led 4-0. However Washington would cut that lead in half at 4-2 in the fourth when Soto smacked a two-run homer. However Rio Ruiz‘s solo homer in the bottom of the inning to extend it back to 5-2.

Washington chawed Wojchiekowski following Turner’s two-run homer in the top of the sixth. But the Orioles’ bullpen shut them down from there. And the O’s even managed to put across an insurance run. Jose Iglesias‘ RBI-single in the last of the eighth ran the score to 7-3. It was Iglesias’ third hit of the game.

As I said, it was important that the O’s win tonight so as to get back on the horse after last night’s loss. You want to instantly forget games like that, and this is the best way to do it. Basically you can’t start a losing streak if you don’t lose two straight.

The O’s have also won the season series with Washington with this win. They can go for a series victory for the weekend tomorrow. But they’ve won the season series with Washington regardless.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Max Scherzer. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles re-sign Stevie Wilkerson to a minor league deal

The Baltimore Orioles have re-signed Stevie Wilkerson to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Wilkerson completed physical therapy last week after fracturing his finger in Philadelphia during an exhibition game. It cost him the entire 2020 season.

Wilkerson is excited about getting back to the team following his injury. He’s also excited about the possibility of having a normal off season following the craziness of 2020. He and his wife are in the process of moving to Sarasota, FL, which of courser is where the Orioles train.

Just as a reminder, a minor league deal isn’t a guarantee that Wilkerson will make the big league roster. However I suspect he’ll find his way onto the 25-man roster that goes north next year coming out of spring training. I doubt they would have re-signed him if thy didn’t want him.

Baltimore Orioles: On hiatus

The Baltimore Orioles and the rest of the baseball world is paying attention to the LCS’ in both the American and National Leagues right now. And that’s about all that’s going on. There’s not much to report in terms of team news.

So for the time being, this column is going on a bit of a hiatus. If for whatever reason there’s news about the Orioles, it will be reported here. But usually that’s not the case during the post season. And who knows when things start popping again. I suspect a lot of that has to do with COVID.

Nevertheless, fans can always correspond with me on twitter, @DomenicVadala. But once things in the off season get popping again, we’ll be back here on Birdland Crush. Back and better than ever!

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