Baltimore Orioles have to limit the homers

Manager Brandon Hyde‘s said it on numerous occasions: the Baltimore Orioles need to keep the ball in the ballpark if they’re going to win games. This evening against Tampa, they gave up several solo shots (and a multi-run homer as well). Starter David Hess probably figured those solo homers wouldn’t hurt him – but obviously if you give up several, that’s a different story. Hess’ line: 2.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

Lowe smacked a three-rum homer in the first inning, and Tampa was off to the races. Zuni o would add an RBI-single in the second, and Tampa led 4-0. The Orioles hung a lot of pitches in this game, and when they weren’t hanging pitches Tampa was guessing right. That said, the Orioles probably aided them a bit in guessing what was coming.

The O’s went down 1-2-3 in the top of the third, and all three were strikeouts and called strike three’s by home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor. All three pitches were low and inside – well out of the strike zone, and well beyond the point where a hitter should swing with two strikes. The Oriole bench was beyond livid.

Tampa’s a team who uses just about every piece of analytical data that they can to win games. Every team uses analytics now, but their usage is almost shameless. So they saw that the Orioles were overly jazzed up about the strike zone. And they used that piece of “data” to their advantage.

It didn’t take a genius to think ahead and figure that Hess was going to try to pitch low and in. Hess and the Orioles figured that since Tampa got those calls, so why shouldn’t they? And sure enough, the Orioles pitched down and in – resulting in back-to-back solo homers by Choi and Diaz.

To add insult to injury, Bucknor ejected Brandon Hyde in the last of the third. But it wasn’t Hyde who was complaining – once the smoke cleared it was Tim Cossins who was ejected. Bucknor has such a bad night that he couldn’t even eject the correct guy.

Tampa would add two additional runs on RBI-doubles, and Rio Ruiz would get the O’s on the board with a solo homer. So message to the Orioles; keep the ball in the ballpark, and try to contain your anger even when an outburst is justified. Sometimes that can telegraph your eventual intentions.

The series concludes tomorrow at Tropicana Field. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis spoil Patriot’s Day in Boston

Today is Patriot’s Day throughout New England, and the Baltimore Orioles were simply the opponent. The Boston Red Sox always play a special 11 AM home game on this holiday, and again the Orioles were supposed to just be the opponent. Dan Straily got the start, and effectively dominated Boston – on their day, no less. Straily’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

This was the second year in a row that the Orioles were scheduled to be the opponent on Patriot’s Day in Boston, although last year’s game was rained out and rescheduled. I suspect that Boston is wishing that the same had happened today. On their holiday and in front of their fans, they were taken to task by the Birds.

The Orioles got on the board early on an RBI-single by Renato Nunez in the second inning. And in reality, they never looked back. The fifth inning was where the big damage was done however, as the O’s put up three runs and busted the game wide open. Jonathan Villar smacked an RBI-single of his own, and Dwight Smith Jr.’s two-run homer gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead.

Boston’s lone run on the morning/afternoon came in the last of the fifth on a controversial play in which Pearce grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing a run to score. However Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde challenged the play, claiming that a Boston runner had overshot the base. While replays were inconclusive, Hyde had a decent argument. The problem was that he continued to argue after the play was upheld by instant replay – earning him his first ejection as a big league manager.

So on a very early day, Hyde was sent for his first early shower. But it didn’t make the Orioles fold by any means. If anything, it emboldened them. In the finale of a series in which Chris Davis got his first hit of the season, he also recorded his first homer of the year. This of the two-run variety in the top of the eighth. One inning later Dwight Smith would add a two-RBI double, giving the O’s an 8-1 victory.

Make no mistake that while this goes down as a series split, it might as well be a series win for the Orioles. There are very few circumstances in which a rebuilding team would expect to do anything less than lose or get swept in a series by the defending World Series champions. Especially at their place, and with the series finale being on a special holiday (to the home team).

Perhaps more importantly, Chris Davis broke out this weekend in Boston. Granted Boston’s pitching hasn’t been the greatest, and this weekend was no exception. But if Davis can somehow use this series as a launching point to becoming some sort of force on offense once again, the Orioles will be in great shape.

The O’s now head south to Tampa for a three-game set at Tropicana Field starting tomorrow. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Tyler Glasnow. Game time is set for just after 7 PM tomorrow night.

Baltimore Orioles blanked by Boston

The Baltimore Orioles can’t win many games if they don’t put any runs on the board. It really doesn’t matter who the starter is, or how good he looks. And this on a day where starter John Means looked pretty good. Means’ line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

On the flip side however, games such as these will happen to young teams. And the Orioles are certainly a young team. Furthermore, they’re a young team playing against the defending champions. At Fenway Park. Just for context.

Bogaerts would put Boston ahead in the last of the fourth with a sac fly-RBI. That would be the lone run the aforementioned John Means would surrender. Speaking for myself, I’m fairly impressed with Means and the two starts he’s made thus far. They both came in losing efforts and they both were shorter outings, however Means showed promise in both.

They key today was that he attacked the zone. Boston hitters almost looked as if they were expecting him to nibble. (Maybe because they’ve seen Oriole pitchers nibble at Fenway for years.) But Means attacked the zone, potentially providing for some shocked gazes from the BoSox and their fans when their players would strike out.

However in the end, it would be Bogaerts who would put the game out of reach as well. His eighth inning three-run homer against the Orioles’ bullpen gave Boston a 4-0 lead. That would end up being the final, as Boston blanked the Orioles on this Sunday afternoon at Fenway Pahk.

The Orioles originally had Dwight Smith Jr. in today’s starting lineup, however he was scratched about 90 minutes before game time with a sore leg. However manager Brandon Hyde said that he would be available to play if needed.

Hyde also said that the team is eyeing next weekend as a potential return for starter Alex Cobb. Cobb of course has been on the Injured List with back issues. The O’s want to be as cautious as they can, given the sensitivity of back problems. However the aim is next weekend’s home series with Minnesota.

The weekend series with Boston of course culminates tomorrow at Fenway Park for the annual Patriot’s Day morning game. Dan Straily gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Hector Velasquez. Game time is set for just after 11 AM. (Yes you read that correctly – 11:00 AM!)

Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis back with a vengeance as Birds defeat Boston

Chris Davis‘ struggles for the Baltimore Orioles have been well-documented. That seemed to end this afternoon as Davis finally got himself on the board with a base hit. And not just any base hit, a two-RBI single. In total, Davis drove in four runs and recorded three hits this afternoon, much to the delight of starter Andrew Cashner. Cashner’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

That aforementioned two-RBI single came right off the bat in the first inning. The Birds had two on and one out, and Davis clubbed the second pitch he saw into right field, scoring two. The Orioles’ bench flooded onto the field and applauded, and Davis appeared to be trying not to laugh. To their credit, the Fenway crowd applauded for Davis.

But they applauded more in the third inning when Vasquez smacked a two-run homer, tying the game at two. And that moment represented a crossroads for the Orioles. It would have been easy to fold up and assume that the defending champions would make quick meat of them from then on out. Granted Boston’s spotty play didn’t allow that to happen, but neither did the Orioles’ mindset. And that mindset was a winning one today.

The O’s would take the lead back two innings later, once again off the bat of Chris Davis. He smacked an RBI-double, and the O’s held a 3-2 lead. They would extend that lead to 4-2 one inning later in the sixth on Renato Nunez‘s RBI-single. Rio Ruiz would add an RBI-single, and the O’s led 7-2.

And the interesting thing about that is that the ball hit off of several Boston players. That happened several times this afternoon, putting Orioles on base on what should have been outs. It looked like the way games have spiraled out of control for the Orioles at times. Except today it worked in their favor.

Boston put a couple on in the last of the sixth, however the Birds induced a run-scoring double-play, which cut the lead to 7-3. However that’s a win for the defense in a sense. When you’re up by five you’ll trade one run for two outs. The O’s would add an additional run on an error in the seventh, and Nunez would ground into a force out which scored a run. The O’s took a 9-3 lead, and appeared to be cruising.

Boston would threaten once more, however. Vasquez’s two-RBI double cut the lead to 9-5. But this was the Orioles’ day, as well as that of Chris Davis. No Boston rally was going to spoil that.

And as I said above, this was a very sloppy game by the Boston Red Sox. Orioles fans know all too well how that feels, although the Orioles will take any advantages that are given to them. Opponents certainly don’t waste their time taking liberties with the O’s when they are able.

And the fact that Davis won’t have to be hounded and/or hound himself due to that hitless streak will hopefully smooth things out for the entire team. When you set a new MLB record for futility, in general it takes on a life of it’s own. This was no exception. And it’s not as if Davis got his hit and recorded outs the rest of the day. He had three hits and four RBI on the day!

The series continues tomorrow from Fenway Park. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s David Price. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: David Hess gets Fenway’d

David Hess pitched a halfway decent game for the Baltimore Orioles this evening. In fact, he pitched one out short of a quality start. The issue of course was that Hess and the Orioles were facing the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Boston makes their home park work for them – and against you. Hess’ line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Those aren’t perfect numbers. But as I said, if you’re going by the letter of the law it’s one out shy of a quality start. The goal for any starter is to put your team in a position to win the game. Did Hess do that tonight at Fenway Park? My personal opinion is that he did.

Hess was cruising along until Benintendi smacked a solo homer in the third inning. It counts, but it barely cleared the Green Monster. Boston always takes advantage of every little bounce at Fenway, and those bounces normally go their way.

This isn’t to say that Boston has an advantage of any sort – per se. Both teams play on the same field with the same dimensions. They just naturally know the ballpark better, and everything that comes with it. That includes wind currents, bounces, etc.

As an example, Bogaerts smacked an RBI-double in the fourth. It came with Moreland on first base; Moreland ran from first base as soon as he saw the trajectory of the ball. He knew it was going to hit off the top of the wall, giving him plenty of time to score from first. Most other parks, you end up with runners and the corners in that situation. Not Fenway.

Nunez’s RBI-single (also off the green monster) later in the inning would run the score to 3-0. But this shows why pitching at Fenway can be so difficult. There are so many funny bounces and hops the ball can take. Heck, and if it gets into the corner and starts rattling around out there, you never know what’s going to happen.

But there is a silver lining to this. And that’s that the O’s fought back. Dwight Smith Jr. smacked a two-run homer in the seventh, cutting the Boston lead to 3-2. However Boston would tack on a few insurance runs in the later innings, running the score to 6-2 going into the ninth. Keep in mind who the opponent was/is; Boston has some big bats in it’s lineup. But while they hit the ball hard, they didn’t slug the Orioles out of the ballpark. Their runs came in drips as opposed to droves.

The O’s would mount a late rally in the ninth, getting to within 6-4 on a two-run homer by Eduardo Nunez. But while the rally fell short and the O’s ultimately fell by that score, that was a big deal. Following the homer Boston brought in it’s closer, Braiser. He had already warmed up and sat back down once Boston was no longer in a save situation. But he had to get ready again, and in a hurry at that. Something along those lines could affect the Boston ‘pen for the remainder of the series. Time will tell.

Again, not a horrible outing by David Hess tonight. It’s tough to limit Boston to anything at Fenway. (Or anywhere for that matter.) he did a pretty decent job of it, as Boston runs trickled in. This as opposed to coming in an avalanche. Pitching at Fenway however isn’t for the faint of heart. Opposing pitchers often get the bounces that Hess did tonight. It’s part of what makes the AL East so tough.

The series continues tomorrow at Fenway Park – with an immediate quick turnaround in the form of an early day game after a night game. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Second time through order haunts Dylan Bundy

Dylan Bundy‘s outing this afternoon typified what we’ve seen from Baltimore Orioles pitching since late 2017. First time through the order Bundy dominated. However once Oakland hitters saw him once, they adapted. Bundy did not, and the Orioles suffered as a result. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 8 K.

If you remove the run total, Bundy actually had a decent outing. Zero walks and eight strikeouts is a decent outing. However Bundy gave up the long ball, which of course has haunted the Orioles all year to date. Manager Brandon Hyde said after the game that he thought this was Bundy’s best outing to date this year. In truth, he’s right. But the home runs have to stop if the O’s are going to win games this year.

The O’s actually held the lead in this game early on. Dwight Smith Jr. smacked a solo homer in the first, giving the Birds a 1-0 lead. For the record, the ball was projected to travel 440 feet, the longest Oriole homer to date this year. Ultimately however it doesn’t matter how far it travels, only that it goes over the fence.

And that was a motif that Oakland followed again today, starting in the fourth. Davis’ two-run homer gave them a 2-1 lead. One inning later Phegley smacked a two-run shot of his own, extending the lead to 4-1. Unfortunately however, Davis wasn’t done. He came up again in the sixth and smacked a solo homer – his second home run of the day.

Later in the inning Oakland would add another solo homer and a sac fly-RBI. And before you knew it, the Orioles trail. And trailed big; 7-1.

But the silver lining in this game was that the Orioles rallied. They managed to load the bases with nobody out in the seventh, a sequence that included a Chris Davis walk. (If you can’t get a hit, at least you can get aboard with a walk, which helped perpetuate a rally.) The Birds would cut the Oakland lead to 7-2 when catcher Pedro Severino was hit by a pitch.

For the record, Severino was hit in the head; the crack of the ball hitting the helmet rang out throughout Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Severino ran for himself, but was replaced in the eighth inning as a precaution. Brandon Hyde said that by all accounts Severino is going to be fine – no sign of concussion or any other serious injury.

The Orioles would net two more runs on a wild pitch, and an RBI-groundout. Dwight Smith would also add an RBI-double, cutting the lead to 7-5. And for a moment, it appeared as if the Birds night have a shot to come back. But a late eighth inning homer by Semien and the Oakland bullpen put a stop to that idea, and Oakland took this game 8-5 (winning the series three games to one).

Life doesn’t get easier for the O’s, as they now head out on the road. First stop: Fenway Park. Not exactly conducive to keeping the ball in the ballpark. But nobody said this was easy. The toughness of it is part of what makes baseball special.

While Brandon Hyde said that he thought Bundy’s pitch location was unpredictable, the results of the past few games might say otherwise (regarding all pitchers). The fact that Oakland got going after going through the order once could be evidence of that as well. It might be worth looking into whether or not pitches are either being tipped, or if they’re getting too predictable in terms of pitch calls.

The Birds open up the aforementioned four-game series on Boston tomorrow at Fenway Park. David Hess gets the fall for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles victimizing themselves by giving up homers

Baltimore Orioles’ fans got their first dose of starting pitcher Dan Straily this evening. And I suspect that many of them came always wondering why the organization signed him. However keep in mind that he was thrust into this starting role this evening due to injuries, and only signed with the O’s last week. Straily’s line: 3.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

Straily pitched to contact – and it showed. Oakland hitters didn’t miss much. And much of what they didn’t miss ended up in the seats.

Ponder smacked a solo homer in the second inning, which was followed up by an RBI-double in the third by Chapman. Later in the inning Davis would single Chapman home, giving Oakland a 3-0 lead.

Those were the only two Oakland runs of the game which didn’t come off the long ball. Profar would smack a two-run home run in the fourth, and Chapman another two-run shot in the fifth. The runs seemed to come in two’s, in the form of two-run homers tonight for Oakland.

The Orioles did get a brief respite in a sense come the last of the fifth. The Birds’ first hit of the game came in the form of a Trey Mancini home run – of the solo variety. Later in the inning Rio Ruiz would hit a two-run homer of his own, cutting the Oakland lead to 7-2.

Chapman and Davis would however homer for the second time in the seventh inning. Chapman with a two-run shot, and Davis with a solo shot.

The Orioles cannot continue to give up the number of home runs they’re surrendering. People can talk all they want about how the Orioles aren’t “trying to win” this year and so forth. I don’t believe for one moment that the players and coaches are buying into that mentality. They’re trying to win every time they’re putting their uniforms on.

Which is why something has to be done about the homers. This Oriole offense can get guys on base and get them home. But if they’re already too far behind to have a few runs make a difference, there’s not much we can say or do. If you continually give up the long ball, especially with guys on base, that makes it all the more difficult to function as a team with the goal of winning games.

One bright spot for the Orioles was reliever Mike Wright, who pitched the eighth and ninth innings. He gave up one hit in that period, closing out the game for the O’s. Critics will point out that coming in with the team already trailing by seven certainly isn’t a high-yield situation. However the fact is that the guy looked good, and he probably saved the O’s from having to use an additional reliever in the ninth inning.

The series with Oakland (and the home stand) concludes tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Aaron Brooks. Game time is set for just after 12:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Using position players as pitchers could afford to cease

The Baltimore Orioles used infielder Hanser Alberto as a relief pitcher yesterday. It’s understandable why; the game was out of control, and manager Brandon Hyde wanted to save his bullpen. However whether or not that’s a good idea in general is another story.

Again, I understand the reasoning behind the move. In fact, Hyde indicated after the game that Alberto might have saved the team from having to make a roster move when asked if that was a possibility:

I definitely was thinking that during the game. But then Hanser picked us up, so it’s something we’re going to discuss after this.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

There’s something to be said for that. It’s also a trend that we’re seeing across the big leagues. Heck, Tampa sometimes uses their pitchers in the field and then swaps them onto the mound. And I’m submitting that perhaps some of these practices need to stop.

Nobody uses a position player as a pitcher in a close game. It’s generally done in the manner that Brandon Hyde did it yes

terday; an out-of-control game so as to save a reliever. But are we really doing a service to the game itself when pulling a stunt like that? Are we really giving people what they paid good money to see?

As bad as it was seeing the Oriole bullpen get lit up time after time yesterday, that beat seeing Alberto messing himself on the mound. And I say that in the sense that Alberto isn’t a pitcher. He doesn’t have the training and practice that pitchers usually have. Never mind the fact that someone could get hurt.

I just feel that there’s a better way to do things than using a position player. However it’s not something that I think should be against the rules. I would submit that the manner in which the Orioles used Chris Davis as a pitcher is a totally different story. If a team’s in extra innings and they’re out of pitchers, obviously someone has to come in. But I’d like to see managers stay away from that in a game such as a blowout.

So let’s put it this way; it should be legal. There should be no reason as per the rules of the game why a position player should be barred from pitching. But it’s something from which I wish managers would stay away unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Baltimore Orioles’ pitching knocked around in series finale

David Hess‘ outing for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon looked and felt vastly different than his previous outing. Hess, as you’ll remember, was lifted in the seventh inning on Tuesday evening while throwing a no-hitter. While I do feel that Hess was squeezed a bit from the beginning by the home plate umpire, this outing most certainly doesn’t compare. Hess’ line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

However we also need to be fair to Hess. New York starter German refused to allow the Orioles to do anything offensively. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before it was broken up. He pitched an outstanding game. The Orioles were unable to provide an answer for what he was throwing.

New York got on the board in the second inning on solo homers by Torres and Frazier. Before his big homer last night, Frazier’s last major leaguer homer cam in 2017. Hit hit two this series.

Sanchez would smack a two-run home run in the third, doubling New York’s lead. Frazier would come back up again in the sixth, and added insult to injury. As if his homer wasn’t enough, he provided an RBI-single in the sixth. When the smoke cleared in the sixth and seventh innings; New York held a 9-0 lead.

While the Orioles couldn’t put anything scores against German, they did chase him in the seventh inning. And that allowed them to at least put a few runners on. And just like that, they were able to load the bases in the last of the seventh. If nothing else, this game tells you that good pitching will generally win out, regardless of how good or bad the hitting is.

Jonathan Villar was able to score from third (with the bases loaded in the last of the seventh) on a pass ball to get the Birds on the board. Trey Mancini would score on a subsequent wild pitch. So while in a big time losing effort today, the O’s put two runs across without a hit to drive the runs in.

Later in that seventh inning Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-single would cut the lead to 9-3. But apparently New York wasn’t done yet. Sanchez smacked a two-run homer in the eighth, to run things to 11-3. It wasn’t just Sanchez’s third homer of the game, it was his third two-run homer of the game.

Frazier decided to add a two-run shot of his own in the ninth inning, which prompted the Orioles to use Hanser Alberto as a pitcher. Not ideal under any circumstances. After Alberto hit the first batter, Romine followed up with yet another two-run homer.

I wouldn’t have used Alberto as a pitcher. In fairness to Brandon Hyde, it didn’t affect the outcome of the game. But would a real reliever have surrendered another homer in that situation? We don.’the know. But losing 15-3 only hurts the team’s confidence: again however, it’s only one of 162.

New York smacked seven homers in this game. All but one of their runs came off the long ball. So on one hand you could argue that the O’s forced NY to become one dimensional and use the long ball exclusively to beat them. The bad news is that NY did just that.

For a young rebuilding team, games like this are going to happen. So are series’ like this. You never want to get swept, but getting swept at home by a division rival is really no fun. But keep in mind that if the Orioles’ top brass does it’s job in the coming years during the rebuild, one day the numbers in this series might be flipped.

The Orioles open up a four-game series with Oakland tomorrow night. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Marco Estrada. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Did Miguel Castro respect NY too much?

Baltimore Orioles’ reliever Miguel Castro gave up a go-ahead three-run homer in tonight’s game against New York. It was the eventual game-winner, hit by Frazier. Scouting reports say that Frazier hits fastballs better than sliders. So Castro feeds Frazier a two-strike slider with two outs and two on, which ended up in the seats.

Dylan Bundy got the start for the Orioles, and while he ended up being ineffective his pitch count was once again an issue. New York hacks and hacks, fouling pitch after pitch off – and raising their opponents’ pitch count. Needless to say, Bundy will be happy his next start won’t come against New York. Bundy’a line: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

The teams traded solo homers in the first inning; Judge for New York and Trey Mancini for the Birds. Judge would also smack a two-run shot in the third, and New York took a 3-1 lead. For what it’s worth, both of Judge’s homers came on two-strike counts. So did the aforementioned homer by Frazier.

Renato Nunez‘s fifth inning RBI-single brought the Birds to within 3-2. Two innings later the O’s sent Chris Davis up as a pinch hitter with a runner on third. Davis didn’t get a base hit, however he did get an RBI on a sharp dribbler up the line which was bobbled by the first baseman. That allowed a run to score, tying the game at three. Later in the inning Rio Ruiz would rack on a sac fly-RBI, giving the Birds a 4-3 lead.

Which brings us back to the aforementioned Frazier homer in the eighth. Castro seemed to feel that if he threw a fastball to Frazier the ball would end up traveling a long way. However New York is the type of team that can sense fear. And sure enough, the O’s basically told NY that they didn’t want to throw them a fastball with the game on the line. That was anticipated, and it cost the Orioles.

In fairness to Castro, he had nothing to do with the Orioles going 1-for-14 with RISP. The Orioles has their chances to get, pad, and preserve a lead. They just couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities that they had. It’s tough to win when you can’t get guys in, and that includes leading off two innings with doubles and having the runners die at second.

The O’s will try to salvage one game tomorrow against New York at Camden Yards. David Hess gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Domingo German. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles sign RHP Dan Straily

The Baltimore Orioles resume their season and their series with New York this evening after the “traditional” post-Opening Day off day. And they do so with a slightly different roster than what we’ve seen to this point. Late yesterday the Birds signed RHP Dan Straily to a major league deal.

Straily, 32, was released by Miami last week following spring training. He has a 4.23 ERA over seven big league seasons. Last year he went 5-6 with Miami, pitching to an ERA of 4.12. Infielder Drew Jackson was DFA’d to make room on the roster for Straily.

This isn’t an earth-shattering signing on the Orioles’ part. Straily won’t make any big headlines. However he will add a veteran presence to the rotation, which will help other pitchers along. Incidentally, his salary is also being paid by the Miami Marlins. So the O’s have that going for them.

What this does to the rotation remains to be seen. However many might look at the likes of Cobb, Cashner, and now Straily and wonder why the Orioles are shaping themselves such a veteran rotation for a young team. Keep in mind that if Cobb and/or Cashner do their jobs properly, they could both be dealt at the deadline this summer. If that happens, the Birds still have a veteran in the rotation.

The current series with New York will continue this evening from Camden Yards as the O’s try to get even. Dylan Bundy 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 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: What to do about Chris Davis?

Today is the annual off day after the Baltimore Orioles’ home opener. It used to be on a Tuesday back when Opening Day was on a Monday. But I digress. There’s no game today, and the weather reflects that.

In reading my twitter feed during and after yesterday’s game, there’s a lot of angst over Chris Davis. Davis went 0-for-3 in yesterday’s game, and was lifted for a pinch hitter late in the game. A pinch hitter who ended up getting a base hit. For the season, Davis is 0-for-17 with a walk and an RBI (the walk came with the bases loaded).

0-for-17 is tough to fathom in terms of starting the season. Especially when Davis is coming off of a season such as last year. Now anytime I talk about Davis I always throw in the fact that he’s still a good defensive first baseman. And make no mistake that’s an important part of any player’s game. Even in a losing effort, his glove saved a couple of runs at various points in Wednesday’s game at Toronto.

Again, make absolutely no mistake that defense is a massive part of the puzzle in baseball. It’s similar to basketball in that you can be playing terribly on offense, but still playing spectacular defense on the other side of the court. Believe me, I do that all the time myself in my own pickup basketball games! (Let’s be frank; I don’t play spectacular defense, but my D is better than my shooting average!)

That aside, Davis is a liability at the plate. The amount for which the Orioles are on the hook according to his contract is an even bigger liability. I’ve said this before and probably will do so again; if the Orioles were to cut Davis (designate him for assignment), they would still have to pay him the entirety of his contract. Even if someone else picked him up.

In essence, Davis could get DFA’d off the roster, be claimed by another team, and still be on the Orioles’ payroll. MLB contracts are guaranteed; this as opposed to NFL contracts where a player can be cut and owed nothing. So…is it not a poor look for the Orioles to be paying a guy to potentially be playing against them?

But it’s also a poor look for someone to be struggling the way that he is at the plate. The Orioles find themselves in a true Catch-22, given all of this. And again, don’t discount Davis in the field. If he’s no longer in the lineup, you do lose a decent glove in the field.

I’m not sure what the answer is. Maybe a trip to the Injured List might be in play at some point – if Davis’ hamstrings or lateral muscles were to become sore of something along those lines. Mind you, being on the Injured List comes with the potential for a rehab assignment, which can last up to a month. Davis would get at-bats in the minors, allowing him to potentially get some sort of groove back.

Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. Whether anything happens or not remains to be seen. Fact is it’s still early. But something needs to happen.

Baltimore Orioles: Was Mike Wright the wrong guy?

Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles dawned brightly at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. People wanted to call this the “home opener,” but please folks…it’s fair to call it Opening Day! Pickles and Sliders across the street were open for business at 6 AM, and a festive holiday mood set in across Baltimore.

Luckily for the home team, starter Alex Cobb was ready to go from the beginning. This was Opening Day for Cobb as well, given that he began the season on the Injured List. He was probably on a shorter leash than he otherwise would have been as a result, but he put the O’s in a position to win. That’s all you can ask of a starter. Cobb’s line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

Jonathan Villar led the game off in the home half of the first with a solo homer over the scoreboard in right field. That began a flurry in the first inning for the Birds. They ended up loading the bases, and while no bases-clearing knock took place, the O’s did clear the bases.

Trey Mancini scored on a balk by NY starter Paxton, who then proceeded to uncork a wild pitch scoring another run. Okay, maybe they didn’t totally clear the bases. But the Orioles held a 3-0 lead after one. However that was trimmed to 3-1 in the third after Torres’ solo homer. The O’s would run the lead back to three runs on an RBI-single in the last of the fifth by Renato Nunez.

However New York decided to show up in this game, albeit late. Sanchez smacked a solo homer in the sixth. New York proceeded to put two more runners on base, bringing Torres back to the plate. And unfortunately for the Orioles on their Opening Day, Torres decided he was going to have a day. He smacked his second homer of the game, this one of the three-run variety. Tack on a ninth inning three-run homer by Voit, and New York would go onto win by that 8-4 margin.

Cobb was lifted in favor of Mike Wright following the Sanchez homer, a move that was criticized by many fans on Twitter. Keep in mind first off that Cobb came off the Injured List to make this start. Brandon Hyde certainly wanted to be careful with him in that sense. Furthermore many starters are on shortish leashes in their maiden starts in a season.

Could Cobb have gone on in the game? Probably. (Recording an additional two outs would have qualified him for a quality start.) However odds are Hyde pulled him for precautionary reasons.

Now, should Wright have been the guy to come into the game in that situation? I’ll let you debate that amongst yourselves. However it.’a worth keeping in mind that Brandon Hyde is managing in his seventh big league game. Furthermore Wright got a fairly dramatic save in his last outing (the first save of his career). Some days pitchers are on, and some days they aren’t. And it’s Mary impossible to predict when they’re going to be on or off. Especially relievers. Games like these happen – all you can do is hope that the next game yields better results.

Baltimore Orioles fall in Toronto finale

The Baltimore Orioles utilized Nate Karns this afternoon as an “opener” once again. In the final game of the season’s opening road trip, the Birds were going for the sweep in Toronto, with Karns only starting in name only. Karns’ line: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 earned), 0 BB, 4 K.

Karns gave up a run-scoring single to Hernandez in the first inning, in a sequence that included an E5. You can’t give teams extra outs at this level, because they’ll take advantage. After Karns had given way to Jimmy Yacabonis however, Gruchuk added a solo homer in the third inning to give Toronto a 2-0 lead.

Prior to the game the Orioles DFA’d reliever Pedro Araujo, and called up Matt Wotherspoon from the minors. (Araujo will now be offered back to the Chicago Cubs, as he still had Rule 5 status.) Wotherspoon had his opportunity to make his big league debut at Rogers Centre today, however it didn’t go quite according to plan…

…Wotherspoon allowed a homer and an RBI-double in the eighth. In effect, that put the game semi-out of reach for the Orioles. However they did get a late three-run homer from Trey Mancini in the ninth. But the Birds ended up falling on this day, 5-3. (Incidentally the Orioles are expected to send Wotherspoon back down, as they’ll need to make another roster move before tomorrow’s game.)

While Chris Davis isn’t putting out the offensive stats that the Orioles wasn’t right now, he’s always been a solid defensive first baseman. He saved numerous runs today with his glove work at first base. The Orioles would like to see more out of him at the plate for sure, however one way or the other he’s contributing.

It’s always a bit of a downer to lose the final game of a series, even after winning the first two. You’d almost rather lose the first or second game and then win the third – it almost feels like you lost the series. But the fact is that the Orioles didn’t lose this series. They head home now with a 4-2 record, having taken two-of-three in two division series’ on the road.

It’s still very early in a season which still looks to be a tough one for these Orioles. But the fact is that NOBODY saw a 4-2 record coming after six games. Heck, there were people who expected them to be 0-6 going into the home opener. That’s not the case. Even in a losing effort today, they still made a run in the ninth. This could still be a mirage; but this team could also be just a bit better than anyone thought.

The Orioles will now return home for their home opener tomorrow at Camden Yards against New York. Alex Cobb, gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s James Paxton. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Andrew Cashner outduels Toronto

Andrew Cashner atoned for his Opening Day outing very well this evening at Rogers Centre in Toronto for the Baltimore Orioles. Cashner dominated a Toronto lineup which is as young and inexperienced as that of the Orioles, yet appears to have more issues in figuring out who they are or will be. Cashner’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K.

Cashner was masterful. He didn’t surrender a hit until the last of the fourth inning. That was the first hit off of an Orioles’ starter since Sunday afternoon in the Bronx. For a team that didn’t know what it’s starting rotation was going to look like two weeks ago, that’s pretty impressive.

This game was a pitcher’s duel for most of the evening. Toronto’s starter Stroman matched Cashner almost pitch-for-pitch. However as can be the case in many instances, one team caught the opposing pitcher right as he was running out of gas. Best time to score runs against a pitcher who’s on his game, as Stroman was!

Stroman started to run out of gas in the sixth inning. Unfortunately for Toronto, they couldn’t get him out quick enough. Or more realistically they couldn’t get the bullpen ready in time. And that was to the Orioles’ benefit tonight.

The O’s got on the board in the top of the sixth on Jonathan Villar‘s RBI-triple. And it was a tight grounder all the way down the right field line and into the corner. Rogers Centre has been a house of horrors for the Birds over the years. But for once it was the Orioles who took advantage of the dimensions and the turf at the ballpark in the great white north, yielding them a run.

Later in that sixth inning Trey Mancini would plate Villar with an RBI-single, giving the Birds a 2-0 lead. And that would end up being the insurance run in a sense. The O’s threatened in the ninth but were unable to put an additional run across. Toronto would smack a solo homer in the last of the ninth, but that was the only threat they posed. And it was an inconsequential threat at the end of the day.

MASN’s Gary Thorne asked manager Brandon Hyde how the O’s are grinding games out after the game. His response was defense. When you’re playing good defense you’re limiting your opponents’ opportunities to put runs on the board. That in essence makes your opponent’s success contingent on the long ball. Which as we know is what the Orioles were last year. That aside, if you can keep guys off base by racking up outs, your odds of winning games goes up exponentially.

The series at Rogers Centre concludes tomorrow afternoon. Nate Karns gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Matt Shoemaker. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: David Hess’ Monday Funday

David Hess is the first Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher to record a quality start in 2019. If you’re keeping track at home, that is. And Hess put on quite a performance at that. Hess’ line: 6.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K.

Hess was also the beneficiary of the Birds scoring runs early and often. Jonathan Villar smacked a two-run home run early in the first inning. That not only set the tone for the rest of the inning, but also for the game.

Later in that first inning Chris Davis would come up, and with the bases loaded at that. Davis worked the count full, refusing to swing at a would-be called strike three. And eventually Davis would draw a walk, scoring the Birds’s fourth run of the game. Rio Ruiz would later score on a pass ball, and Trey Mancini added a sac fly-RBI in the second to give the O’s a 5-0 lead.

During Spring Training Chris Davis swung at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone, and looked at several called third strikes on the black. Following that was frustrating for a lot of fans, and I’m sure for Davis himself. However that’s why they play those spring games – to get the players ready for the regular season.

Here now we had Davis with a situation where he could have broken the game wide open early. However he wasn’t about to go after bad pitches just to wish on a prayer in a sense. He worked the count, probably with some of those spring at-bats in his mind. While technically he didn’t break the game open per se, he netted the Orioles a run. Which probably wouldn’t have been the case had he pushed too hard.

The story of the game of course was manager Brandon Hyde removing Hess in the seventh inning. With a no-hitter going. Hyde said after the game that Hess was on a pitch count since he had to pitch on Thursday in NY. So the move was all about Hess’ long-term health and that of the team.

Was it a curious move by Hyde? Yes. However he gave a legitimate reason as to why he lifted Hess. Maybe you as a fan accept that explanation, maybe you don’t. But quite simply, it is what it is.

Mancini would smack a solo homer in that seventh inning as well. However Toronto would get a two-run homer in the last of the seventh following Hess’ departure. They would also put two across in the last of the ninth to make it interesting, but it was too little too late. With the win, the Birds snapped a ten-game losing streak in Toronto.

The series at Rogers Centre in Toronto continues tomorrow evening. Andrew Cashner gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: By any Means necessary

Dylan Bundy would have been in line to record the Baltimore Orioles’ first quality start of 2019 this afternoon in the Bronx. After a three hour and twenty minute rain delay to start the game, Bundy was masterful. The only reason he didn’t get a quality start was due to a very high pitch count. Bundy’s line: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 7 K.

The O’s jumped all over NY early on. Renato Nunez smacked a three-run homer in the first inning. Trey Mancini would add a solo shot in the third. And we were off to the races!

While Bundy looked very good today (his three surrendered runs crossed after he left the game), the real star of the show was reliever John Means. When Bundy loaded the bases in the fourth, Means entered to mop up. Means would walk in a run, and allow a two-RBI single to Judge. But he limited the damage as best he could.

And…he pitched the Orioles through into the later innings. And in a division game that figured to be close, that’s a huge service done for the team. And on a day when the team earned a big win, that made a massive difference.

Dwight Smith Jr. would add an RBI-single in the fifth, but NY’s Sanchez would smack a solo homer in the seventh. However as I said yesterday, often these games come down to insurance runs. And the Orioles got them today.

Those insurance runs came in the form of a three-run homer in the eighth inning by Joey Rickard. That extended the Orioles’ lead to 7-4. While NY would threaten in the ninth and tack on a run, Bird was the word in the Bronx today.

For what it’s worth, the Orioles took two-of- three in this series. The season is very young. That goes without saying. But how many people saw this coming? Very few, that’s for sure. And again, the key guy in this one was John Means. Incredible effort. But it was an overall team effort as well. And that’s how big wins are supposed to be.

The O’s now head to Toronto where they’ll open up a three-game set at Rogers Centre. David Hess gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Sean Reid-Foley. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles record first win of 2019 with the Wright stuff

I’m on record as saying that I’m wary of the new trend in baseball which was embraced today by the Baltimore Orioles, as they used an “opener.” Maybe I’m just not used to it, however it seems to me that as often as managers over-use their bullpen it’s not something that should be done. Nevertheless, it worked this afternoon with Nate Karns. Karns’ line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 K.

Karns managed to load the bases in the first with one down. Keep in mind however what I’ve always said. The position of pitcher yields itself to getting in trouble. The decent ones will get themselves out of trouble as well. And that’s what Karns did, inducing an inning-ending 1-2-3 double-play.

That really set the tone for the game in a sense. Despite being picked to be historically bad, this team never gave up today. Karns didn’t give in, and it got him out of the inning.

However NY would get on the board first, with an RBI-single by LeMahieu. However two innings later the Birds rallied. Dwight Smith Jr. tied the game at one with an RBI-single. That scored Jesus Sucre, who made a very important play earlier in the inning. He tagged up and moved from second to third on a routine pop fly to the outfield. That’s an aggressive risk to take – and it worked.

And then a moment later, the O’s held their first lead of 2019. They executed a double-steal, and the ball ended up in the outfield. A run scored, and the Birds took a 2-1 lead. Throughout spring training we heard about how they were going to be more aggressive on the base paths. And we saw it in today’s game. When you put pressure on the defense, sometimes they’ll commit errors. That happened to NY’s defense today.

Sucre would extend the Orioles’ lead to 3-1 in the seventh with an RBI-single, and would add an RBI-single in the seventh to run the lead to 3-1. He would come up again in the top of the ninth and sacked a two-RBI double, giving the Orioles two insurance runs and a 5-1 lead.

And you always need insurance runs when you play New York. Because come the last of the ninth Tulowitzki smacked a solo homer, followed by NY putting runners at the corners with one down. That prompted manager Brandon Hyde to bring in Mike Wright Jr. from the bullpen, for what would be his first save at any level. However Voit’s softly-hit bloop RBI-single would bring them to within 5-3.

However make no mistake about the fact that Hyde’s decision to go with Wright won the game. Both for the Orioles and Hyde, who recorded his first win as a big league manager this afternoon. Wright attacked the strike zone, and went after NY hitters. He struck out Andujar to win the game with two outs in the last of the ninth, and the Birds had their first win in 2019.

Many pundits joked about this Orioles team going 0-162. Any fool knows that’s nary impossible. However the Orioles showed a lot of grit in winning this game. Yes they allowed NY to make it interesting in the end, but it was a team-earned win and that’s really the main story.

In spring training I mentioned the importance of insurance runs. As I alluded above, you really saw it today. The two main points of this win were the insurance runs and the good base running by the Birds. By virtue of the victory, the Orioles are now at .500 on the year. Yes only two games in, but most people pegged them at 0-2 at this point.

The Orioles will conclude their three-game set at Yankee Stadium tomorrow afternoon. Dylan Bundy starts on the mound for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s J.A Happ. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles to use Nate Karns as an opener

After an off day yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles will resume their young season this afternoon in the Bronx. That would be game two of the season, and in the current series with the NY Yankees. Again for those dismayed by the loss on Opening Day, today’s a new day. Every game is one of 162.

The Orioles this afternoon are expected to employ Nate Karns in the role of an “opener.” Of course this was a concept popularized by Tampa last year – this instead of a “closer.” Manager Brandon Hyde has said that he was amenable to using this tactic if it made sense, as it does apparently now:

Our bullpen will be rested, and we’re trying this out. It’s new for us, new for me. But to be able to have your bullpen rested before that game is key, so that’s why we picked it that way.

Quote courtesy of Jon Meoli, Baltimore Sun

I’ll be honest, I’m wary of this tactic, and I’m way of it league-wide. Granted some of that is probably due to the fact that it’s not something I’m used to seeing. However my point would also be that as many managers that we see struggling with bullpen management, the tactic just moves up the opportunities for bullpens to be mismanaged. Nevertheless, it’s something that the Orioles are going to try.

The Birds will play game two at Yankee Stadium this afternoon. The aforementioned Nate Karns is on the mound for the Orioles (as an opener), and he’ll be opposed by New York’s James Paxton. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Opening Day musings

In reviewing my twitter feed, there was a lot of angst following the Baltimore Orioles’ 7-2 loss to New York yesterday on Opening Day. I’m not suggesting that it was a stellar performance. However games like that are part of the rebuilding process.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Birds had what could have amounted to a rally in the first inning. Jonathan Villar was on first base and what appeared to be a base hit was going between first and second. That would-be single smacked Villar on the foot, making him automatically out. Now ironically, no umpire called him out, so he kept running – and was thrown out at third. So whether that was a base running blunder or a bad break is anyone’s guess. (Odds are had he been safe at third New York would have challenged the call – and won.)

Manager Brandon Hyde addressed some of the bad breaks after the game:

I thought we had some unlucky breaks there. For the most part we’re going to give singles the other way to Stanton and Judge and Gary Sánchez, guys like that that can hurt you and do real damage. They found some holes against us today. Over time that will go the other way, I would believe, and some balls go through the other way on us today and hopefully we can take advantage of that offensively at some point also.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

But as former Washington DC sportstalk host Ken Beatrice used to say, if ‘if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, oh what a party we would have!’ Those were the types of breaks that went against the Orioles all season last year – and they were plentiful. But you have to play the games as they unfold, not wish they unfolded differently.

Whatever your thoughts on the game itself may be, remember that it’s one of 162. That game counts as much as next Tuesday night’s game in Toronto. Or Monday night, or Wednesday afternoon. Things are certainly under more scrutiny on Opening Day because…it’s Opening Day. And Opening Day is special, because baseball’s special. But again, one of 162. Long way to go!

Baltimore Orioles: Nibbling causes walks which costs you games

The Baltimore Orioles were unable to muster much in the Bronx this afternoon on Opening Day. Andrew Cashner got the start of course, and was ambushed early. And I mean early. Cashner’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

New York didn’t take long to get the lead. With two on in the first inning Voit smacked a three-run home run. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise to the Orioles or Orioles fans. Voit tore up the Birds in Spring Training the past two seasons. That’s not to say that the Orioles should be expecting to fail when Voit’s at the plate, but he seems to thrive against Oriole pitching.

If there’s a silver lining it’s that the Orioles seemed to minimize the damage after that…for the most part. New York would load the bases against Cashner in the third, but he induced a ground ball double-play. That surrendered another run, however it also recorded two outs for the O’s. That’s a win for Cashner.

The Birds did at various points look like the offense was going to do something. They cut the lead to 4-1 in the fourth on Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-single. However New York came right back in the last of the fifth and loaded the bases yet again – once again with nobody down. That brought Voit back to the plate, and Cashner promptly hit him with a pitch. A sac fly-RBI later, and New York had extended it’s lead to 6-1.

Trey Mancini sacked an RBI-double in the eighth to cut the lead to 6-2. Mancini had a great game on Opening Day, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. He immediately cemented himself as a “veteran” leader on this team at the beginning of the spring, and that seems to have continued right into the regular season. However Bird’s solo homer in the eighth extended the lead to 7-2, which was the eventual final. It certainly wasn’t the Opening Day that the Orioles wanted, but it left them with a few tough lessons.

And one of those lessons was that pitchers shouldn’t nibble. Both Cashner and Mike Wright (who followed Cashner in the game) seemed to want to nibble on the corners. That’s a textbook symptom of an inexperienced team playing a team with a lot of power. It shows a certain hesitation, and a certain angst. Can it work on occasion? Sure. And on occasion it’s something that pitchers should do.

But nibbling shouldn’t be the way that you think you’re going to get guys out. In effect, you’re relying on the home plate umpire to give you the call. And you never want to rely on someone else when you can take matters into your own hands. Oriole pitching walked eight hitters today, which isn’t conducive to winning games.

Here’s an example; Voit’s first inning home run came on a 3-1 count. The 2-1 pitch was a low slider, which according to replays did in fact catch the bottom of the strike zone. In an ideal world, the next pitch would have come on a 2-2 count and would have then been a pitcher’s pitch. (In fairness, Jesus Sucre probably also could have brought that ball up just a bit, and framed it in the strike zone.)

Instead Cashner ended up with a 3-1 count on the next pitch, and with two runners on base knew that he needed to throw a strike. Voit knew it also, and came up swinging – the ball ended up in the seats. Now ironically that’s a situation in which Cashner in theory nibbled successfully. However again when you decide to nibble intead of pitching, you’re relying on ol’ blue to give you the call. It should have happened in that instance, but it didn’t.

The O’s of course are off tomorrow, which would have been a rain date for Opening Day had there been foul weather in NY today. But they’re back at it Saturday afternoon.

Baltimore Orioles: Opening Day, 2019

The rosters are finalized, the equipment’s in the clubhouse, and the players are ready to go – the Baltimore Orioles are set to open the season this afternoon in the Bronx. For this year st least the O’s will open the season on the road, and jump right into division play at the same time. They get the task of opening with a three-game set against the mighty New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

It’s a new day in Baltimore, and it’s unfair to new manager Brandon Hyde (who makes his big league debut as a skipper today) to continually bring up Buck Showalter. However one thing of which Buck would constantly remind us is that today’s game is only one of 162. It counts just as much as Saturday or Sunday’s games. It counts as much as a random game on a Tuesday night in June. Opening Day is special for sure, but at the end of the day it’s one game. I suspect Hyde would agree.

There isn’t much in-depth analysis I can provide you at this point. That is until game time comes around. Just a reminder, fans can follow me on Twitter (@DomenicVadala) for game updates and analysis. That’s true today and for all games this year.

Again, the Birds will open the season this afternoon against New York at Yankee Stadium. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Masahiro Tanaka. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: 2019 Season Preview

2019 will be a different type of season for the Baltimore Orioles and their fans. For starters, Brandon Hyde will be manning the Orioles’ dugout instead of the venerable figure of Buck Showalter. You can also substitute Mullins for Jones in center, Villar for Schoop at second, and Nunez for Machado at third.

But it’s more than just different players. The Orioles started over, in essence smack in the middle of the season last year. 2019 is all about youth and finding new talent to plug into various positions. It’s about trusting that process as headed by new GM Mike Elias, and seeing it through.

Whereas in past season previews I’ve said the Orioles will go as far as their pitching takes them, this year the slogan will be trust the process. And seriously, I’m not sure how often in the past I said that but about pitching, but it was often. As I said, 2019 will be a different type of year in Birdland.

However that should also excite Orioles’ fans. Odds are, this won’t be the year where the Birds will come out of nowhere to contend. Granted, you never know – this world is capable of some pretty strange things. However these aren’t the 2012 O’s. I wouldn’t bet on it.

But what will happen is that the foundation will begin to be laid for whatever happens in the future. IF the Orioles are contending in 2022 for instance, fans might point back to this year and realize that this is kind of where it began. As I said, the foundation will begin now.

Ironically one area in which the Orioles do resemble last year’s team is the starting rotation. Alex Cobb of course will start the year on the injured list, however many of the faces we saw last year (the Cashner’s, Bundy’s, Wright’s, and Hess’ of the world) in fact remain. One thing that is different is that the Birds are expected to go with using Nate Karns (who signed as a free agent) in the role of an “opener.”

Offensively the Orioles don’t have the horses that they’ve had in the past. Again folks, this is the foundation for what’s to come. However also keep in mind that last year when they did have the horses things weren’t exactly smooth. It’s also worth noting that Brandon Hyde’s philosophy seems to be to be more aggressive on the base paths. So…could they perhaps be better offensively?

I’m not sure if better’s the term for which we’re looking. But if the spring slate of games is any indication, we’ll see more team speed, more guys in motion, etc. Yes, that means that mistakes will be made on the base paths. However when you put guys on base and put pressure on the defense, mistakes can happen. And if nothing else, advancing a runner into scoring position or staying out of a double-play could represent the fine line between winning and losing.

All of that said, it’s going to be a tough year in Birdland in terms of wins and losses. Keep in mind that last year’s team won 47 games. Will this year be easy? Not in the least. Will the improvement in terms of wins and losses be exponential? Doubtful. But will the O’s win more than 47 games? I believe so.

Baltimore Orioles: A new era dawns

A new era of Baltimore Orioles’ baseball dawns this week. On Thursday to be exact. Certainly manager Brandon Hyde and GM Mike Elias are the faces of that new era – for now. Ideally however, that will change.

Orioles fans are still used to the likes of Adam Jones being the face of the team. But those are the Birds of yesteryear. Ideally the new face of the team should be Cedric Mullins. But…is there a rule that says it has to be the center fielder?

The answer to that of course is no. Jones wasn’t the face of the team because he played center field. It happened organically, which is how it should be. Jones was the right guy for this team at the right time. You have to hope that someone on the roster now or someone who’ll be on the roster very soon takes up that mantle.

There was a lot of controversy over the Orioles deciding to leave much of their young talent in the minor leagues – for now. Many fans critical of that decision are saying that they’re opting to go with “AAAA talent” instead of having young stars in the big leagues. GM Mike Elias would probably respond, guilty as charged.

The Orioles didn’t do anything that I didn’t expect them to do. In fact, think back to some of the trades they made last year. For instance, as great of a prospect as Yusniel Diaz appears to be (and he had a great spring), former GM Dan Duquette all but admitted that neither he nor anyone else was probably big league ready. That may or may not be the case as the season goes on. But for now, the Orioles’ brass has decided that the young players are where they need to be.

The last thing that anyone is going to want is for them to rush guys to the big leagues before they’re ready. That’s a great way to not only ruin someone’s career, but also ruin the rebuild process. Furthermore the O’s have been up front about the fact that this is a long process. Trust that process.

One way or the other, this is the dawn of a new era in Birdland. The era of Showalter, Jones, Machado, Hardy, et al, will always be special to the fans of Baltimore. It was a magical time in Birdland. But you have to move on when the time comes. If the process is allowed to proceed properly, the era of Hyde, Mullins, Diaz, and Mancini could well be just as special.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles fall, potentially lose Alex Cobb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles blanked in Dunedin

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Kids still cheer free in 2019

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Walk off grand slam sinks the Birds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles fall late after Dylan Bundy shines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles, Andrew Cashner win a donnybrook in Lakeland

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

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

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

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

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles defeat Toronto on a late Austin Hays homer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: David Hess knocked around in Birds’ loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy with mixed results in loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Six unanswered runs defeats Toronto late

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles lose late lead, fall to NY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones to Arizona

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Manufactured runs make a difference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles defeat Boston as injury concerns creep in

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

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

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

Quote Courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

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

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

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

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles fall despite finding some Wright things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Late rally lifts Birds over Tampa

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

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

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

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb better in Birds loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy struggles as Birds fly over Minnesota

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

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

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wright went on about trying to make the team:

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb smacked around in loss to Tampa

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

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

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

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

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

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles play Philadelphia to a tie

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

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

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

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles, Dylan Bundy Burt second time through the order

Despite pitching only five innings, Dylan Bundy did exactly what the Baltimore Orioles wanted last night. This in the sense that he put the Birds in a position to win the game. And as I’ve said many times and about many different teams and starters, a starting pitcher’s job is to put his team in a position to win the game. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

The Birds actually jumped out in front early in this one. Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-single in the first inning gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. Two innings later they doubled the lead on Renato Nunez‘s RBI-single. (He would take second on the throw.)

And on that note, that run should be partially attributed to Dwight Smith Jr., who scored it. Smith got aboard on what became a single in the third inning. (I put it like that because he ran out a routine grounder to second, was ruled out, and then awarded a base hit upon the play being overturned on replay.) He would then proceed to steal second base – allowing him to score on Nunez’s base hit.

However Tampa wasn’t to be outdone. Diaz’s sac fly-RBI in the fourth cut the lead in half. That didn’t feel like that big a deal, because the Orioles recorded an out. However later in the inning Garcia smacked a two-run homer, giving Tampa a 3-2 lead. Garcia would also provide Tampa with an insurance run with an eighth inning RBI-single.

Bundy dominated Tampa through the first three innings. Tampa didn’t exactly start scoring runs in buckets after that, however their hitters adjusted. Second time through the order, they were almost waiting for Bundy.

And the inverse scenario is also true. The Orioles were getting guys on base and driving them in the first time through the order. After that, Tampa pitchers seemed to adapt. The Orioles didn’t have a hit after the fourth inning.

And unfortunately that’s what Tampa can do to you. Their hitters refuse to give in under any circumstances, which wears down your pitching. And again, the inverse is also true. Their pitching seemingly refuses to give in, and ultimately your hitters seemingly get worn out. I can’t tell you why or how that happens, it just does when you play Tampa.

The series continues tomorrow night at Tropicana Field. David Hess gets the start for the O’s, with Tampa’s starter TBD. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means victimized by soft hits and bad luck

Pitcher John Means has the opportunity to make his first career start (after working out of the bullpen to this point) for the Baltimore Orioles this evening. They say that stats don’t lie, but I would submit that in this case perhaps they do. I felt that Means pitched well tonight, making perhaps one bad pitch. Yet his stat line indicates the exact opposite. Means’ line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R (1 earned), 1 BB, 1 K.

Means fell victim to the 2018 Orioles’ fate, one that’s shared by the 2014 Orioles (in the ALCS) as well. Oakland found ways to get on base with softly hit balls, plus a little bit of luck. Or bad luck, from Means’ standpoint. And again similar to 2018, the main rally began with two outs.

Means issued one walk in the first inning, but got out without any damage. Again, for the most part he was pitching well. Perhaps one of the two mistakes Means made was not covering first on a grounder to the first baseman Ruiz. A softly hit grounder, which turned into an infield single. A swinging bunt and another infield hit later, and the bases were loaded…with two outs.

Profar would come to the plate, and send a soft grounder to the hole at short. The Orioles never had a shot at it, and a run scored. But it was only one. No big deal, right?

Not exactly. A Hanser Alberto throwing error scored another run. Incidentally that error came on yet another softly hit ball in the infield. John Means induced a lot of infield ground balls, which is the goal. It just didn’t work out in his favor.

But following that second run Semien would smack a three-run homer, on the only other mistake that Means made. Well after Means had been sent to the showers Profar would also smack a solo home run. So to that point Oakland hit exactly two balls hard, and they had six runs. Very similar to what we saw last year.

Pedro Severino would get the Orioles on the board in the last of the seventh with a two-RBI double. However Oakland would put four runs back up in the eighth, putting the game out of hand at 10-2. Oakland would plate three more after a balk in the ninth to run it to 13-2.

For what it’s worth, that four-run eighth inning rally did in fact feature plenty of hard-hit balls. But that doesn’t help John Means, who as I said was in line to pitch a good game. He was just unlucky. Five runs, one earned is all you need to know.

The Orioles also has to send starter Alex Cobb and reliever Nate Karns to the Injured List before the game. Both were surprises, and both are on the 10-day IL. Cobb was to start tomorrow night, however it’s assumed that whomever is called up will make the start.

So the series with Oakland will continue tomorrow night at Camden Yards. The Orioles are still to announce a starter, but whomever he is will be opposed by Oakland’s Frankie Montas. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles rebound after big loss

The Baltimore Orioles got a semi-solid start out of Andrew Cashner, as they snapped their four-game losing streak by defeating the Oakland Athletics. Cashner did what you ask of a starter defensively: he put the team in a spot to win. Cashner’s line: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R (3 earned), 1 BB, 1 K.

The O’s has the lead from the beginning in this one, although it was threatened a couple of times. Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer in the first to give the Birds a 1-0 lead. One inning later Cedric Mullins smacked a two-RBI triple. However as Mullins slid into third, the ball ticked away, allowing Mullins to score.

It’s the same effect as an inside-the-lark home run. However it goes down as a triple and an error. Just a scoring difference, but it’s the same amount of runs.

The only issue with Cashner’s performance tonight was that immediately after getting that four-run lead he tried to give it back. He surrendered a two-run homer in the third, cutting the Orioles’ lead in half. However the Birds extended it back to four again almost right away when Jonathan Villar snacked a two-run homer in the last of the fourth.

Oakland would try to inch closer with a solo homer in the fifth and a sac fly-RBI in the sixth. However the O’s would come back and put up three more runs before the eighth inning. And at the end of the day, the lead ballooned to 12-4. And the Birds has snapped their losing streak.

The win gets the Orioles back to .500 on the year at 5-5. They were beaten around this past weekend at the hands of NY, as has been mentioned ad hoc on various outlets. This was the response, which is a good sign.

Not that this means that the Orioles are going to the post season or be in contention. But the fact that this team responded to a 15-3 loss with a 12-4 victory should vouch for something. It tells you that this team plays with pride, and furthermore they have the ability to put losses behind them.

The series with Oakland continues tomorrow at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Brett Anderson. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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