Baltimore Orioles: Another Philly special courtesy of the Birds

The Baltimore Orioles were hoping that starter Wade LeBlanc was going to go deep into last night’s games due to overusing the bullpen on Tuesday. Unfortunately LeBlanc only made it into the fourth inning. However that was the only disappointment on the night for the O’s. LeBlanc’s line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Philadelphia took the lead in the second on Knapp’s RBI-double. However an inning later the game was tied due to Anthony Santander‘s solo homer. But Philadelphia would get spotted two additional runs, giving them a 3-1 lead.

The Orioles’ mark appears to be sneaking up on people. Their rallies begin innocently, and before you know it they’re right back there in the game fighting. In the fourth the Birds did just that, putting a couple of runners on base. Then Chance Sisco‘s two-RBI single (he later took second on the throw) tied the game at three.

And an inning later the O’s had the lead. And for good. Rio Ruiz‘s solo homer in the fifth took care of that. For good measure in the seventh, Sisco would homer in the seventh – another solo shot. Philadelphia would push another run across in the eighth, but the sum of the parts equals an Oriole victory.

Keep in mind, there are people out there who predicted that the Orioles would only win 15-20 games. Heck, the only prediction I was willing to give at the beginning was that they wouldn’t finish in last place. I’m standing b my that prediction as of now, incidentally.

But the O’s have defied predictions – THUS FAR. Philadelphia on the other hand was expected to potentially contend. Fans or no fans in the stands, it can’t sit right with their fans to be getting shown the door by a team like the Orioles, who wasn’t expected to make any noise. The O’s have taken the first two games of the three-game set. And their confidence appears to be at a high. They’re putting the rest of the league on notice.

The series concludes this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Thomas Eshelman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by former Oriole Jake Arrieta. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays’ inside-the-parker finally wins it for the O’s

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Alex Cobb cMe within two outs of a quality start this evening in Philadelphia. That’s considered six innings at a minimum, and three runs or less. Cobb’s line: 5.1 IL, 3 H, 3 R (2 earned), 2 BB, 2 K.

Cobb pitched-to-contact all night, hence the low walk and strikeout totals. He gave up a two-run single to McCutchen in the third inning. He also surrendered a solo homer to Bruce in the fifth, which gave Philadelphia a 3-0 lead.

But as usual, the Orioles weren’t about to go away. In fact, perhaps it’s not so much about not going away as it is in-game adjustments. The 2020 O’s seem to be really good at making in-game adjustments. In other words, identifying something that’s working for the opponent, and finding a work-around. That’s the mark of a solid coaching staff.

Renato Nunez got the O’s on the board with an RBI-single in the sixth. Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-double got them to within one at 3-2. And that’s where things really began to open up for the O’s. You could almost see the tide turning in their favor. And they weren’t about to let up.

Dwight Smith Jr.‘s RBI-single tied the game at three later in that sixth inning. And again, you could see the Birds gaining confidence as time went on. They did to Philadelphia what they did to Washington; snuck up on them.

But the O’s weren’t simply content with tying the game. They wanted to win it. And once again it was Hanser Alberto who got the party started. His RBI-double gave the O’s the lead at 4-3 (Alberto would take third on the throw). Anthony Santander would extend the lead to 5-3 with an RBI-single, scoring Alberto.

The O’s May have made some great in-game changes, but at the end of the day Philadelphia muscled the win. Harper smacked a two-run homer in the eighth tying the game. Segura followed suit with a solo shot, giving Philly a 6-5 lead. It’s a tough way to lose, but the Orioles are doing a lot of things right. You win some, you lose some. Only…

…the O’s didn’t lose. The game’s nine innings, not eight. The Birds would load the bases in the ninth, and tie the game at six on Nunez’s RBI-single. What happened next is anyone’s guess.

Pedro Severino (with the bases loaded) popped a ball up just off the pitcher’s mound. It appeared to be the end of the inning. However Philadelphia’s infield botched the play and let it drop. That scored two runs for the O’s, giving them an 8-6 lead…

…but wait, there’s more. Philadelphia loaded the bases in the last of the ninth, and were down to their last strike. But Gregorious blooped a softly-hit two-RBI single into center, tying the game. That’s part of being the home team – having the last at-bat.

Of course it would be an unconventional play that would turn the tide back to the O’s – for good. With a runner starting on second base, Austin Hays sent a liner to center. It went under the glove of the diving outfielder, and went all the way to the wall. Hays ended up with a two-run inside-the-park home run. Philadelphia would push one across in the tenth also, but it was meaningless. O’s win, 10-9.

The series continues tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park. Wade LeBlanc gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Zach Eflin. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles head to South Philly

The Baltimore Orioles open up a three-game set in Philadelphia tonight against the Phillies. Discounting the exhibition game the teams played at Citizens Bank Park last month, I remember well the last time the Birds were in Philly. July of 2018.

For the record, the Orioles lost both games of that short two-game series. It was the beginning of the end of the Showalter/Jones era. However as a history buff I really enjoyed getting to go around Philadelphia to locations such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, etc…ON THE FOURTH OF JULY. History’s one of my passions in life. So while I didn’t have time to wait in line to go into the signing room, I felt that simply being at that hallowed ground on that day put me in the presence of some of the greatest men in American history.

The series begins tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Zach Wheeler. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Falling through the cracks of justice

As I said yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles lead Washington 5-2 with one out and two men on in the top of the sixth. That would be yesterday’s game, which is suspended. The Birds now have to wait in suspense. They’re just held in animated suspense.

However the O’s know when said suspense will end; that would be Friday when Washington comes to Camden Yards for their previously scheduled series. The game will be completed at some point prior to the regularly-scheduled 7:35 game. Washington will bat last in the completion of the first game, and thus be the home team. (Once that’s completed, the Orioles of course retain their home team status.)

This sounds unfair to a degree. Because the Orioles obviously were winning the game when it was suspended. And had the Washington grounds crew handled their duties properly in terms of getting the tarp out and covering the field, it would have probably been a thirty minute delay and the game would have been completed.

However the fact is that by the letter of the law, it was handled properly. MLB Rule 7.02(a) states:

Light failure, malfunction of, or unintentional operator error in employing, a mechanical or field device or equipment under the control of the home club (e.g., a retractable roof, a tarpaulin, or other water removal equipment)”

Obviously this situation falls under the realm of the tarpaulin (tarp). However it does feel just a little jaded in this case. Overall, this is a good rule. However I don’t think it properly takes into account the potential of the home team being part of the problem. The Nationals’ grounds crew indubitably didn’t sabotage the field on purpose (hoping to get the game suspended and perhaps helping the Nationals). But their actions certainly were a big cause as to why the game was suspended.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was semi-coy with his comments after the “game” (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNSports):

So now I know. Not being able to get the tarp on the field. I guess it’s a recent rule. I’ve never been a part of something like this, so I didn’t know.

I guess what I’m saying, and what Hyde would appreciate, is perhaps in a case like that the game could be considered official. Something along the lines of if in the assessment of the umpire/league the suspension was caused by the actions of one team, the game is considered official. Yes, a clause like that would have given the O’s the win yesterday.

The issue with that however would be that when you leave something up to someone else’s “discretion,” you’re almost asking for trouble. However one way or the other, the Orioles are kind of falling through the cracks of justice in this one. And they’re being held in suspense.

Baltimore Orioles: Game in Washington suspended

The Baltimore Orioles are currently leading Washington 5-2 in the top of the sixth inning with one out. Starter Asher Wojchiekowski is long gone, starting on short rest. Wojchiekowski’s line: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

Washington starter Strasburg kept the O’s at bay for the most part, as did the Orioles’ pen with Washington. But that changed in the fifth inning. Bryan Holaday smacked an RBI-single to give the O’s a 1-0 lead. Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-double later ran the score to 3-0. Tack on an RBI-single by Anthony Santander, and the Birds held a 5-0 lead.

Washington got two back in the bottom of the inning on Castro’s two-run homer. However the Birds made it out of the inning. And it appeared to be smooth sailing moving forward.

But as is the case in life at times, that wasn’t the case. A torrential downpour came out of nowhere in the sixth inning, prompting the umpires to call for the tarp. But the grounds crew was ill-prepared. On top of that, it appeared that the tarp hadn’t been put away properly to begin with. Because the Washington grounds crew struggled, and struggled…and struggled more. Just to get the tarp on the field. 15 minutes later, the rain was beginning to cease, but the field was a mess. There was mud all over the infield.

Two hours later, the game was finally suspended. It will be picked back up with one out in the sixth inning and two runners on base in the top of the sixth. This will occur on Friday at Camden Yards, with Washington as the home team. The time of the game hasn’t been announced, but the previously-scheduled game will occur after the completion of this one.

For the record, any stats that occur on Friday will be retroactive to today. Any players who exited the game won’t be able to play in the continuation. It’s literally as if the game never stopped.

The O’s are off tomorrow and head to Philadelphia for three games on Tuesday.

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander and company chump the champs

Thom Eshelman got the start for the Baltimore Orioles tonight in Washington D.C., but didn’t last as long as the Birds would have liked. Eshelman wasn’t awful, but he didn’t have that glossy finish on his pitches as we’ve sometimes seen. As I’ve said before, roughly a third of a pitcher’s starts are going to be great, a third poor, and a third in between. That final category is where Eshelman was tonight. Eshelman’s line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

Washington got a solo homer from Soto, and a sac fly-RBI from Suzuki in the second inning. Washington would also net an RBI-double in the last of the sixth by Thames. It’s important to note, that run started out as a swinging bunt, and it snowballed…

…when you get runners on base things happen. Reliever Shawn Armstrong came off the mound to field a swinging bunt, and threw errantly to first base. That gave the runner second, and he took third on a wild pitch. That allowed him to score on Thames’ RBI-double.

Obviously he would have scored on a double anyways – most probably, at least. But when you give up extra bases like that you also allow teams to find ways score runs simply by putting the ball in play. That’s what the Orioles need to stay away from.

While the Birds put up 11 runs on 19 hits on Friday night, through seven they had only mustered two hits tonight. This perhaps prompted Brandon Hyde to send up two pinch hitters in the eighth: Pat Valaika and Pedro Severino. And they didn’t disappoint; they smacked back-to-back solo homers to put the O’s right back into the game, cutting the Washington lead to 3-2.

So that run allowed by Shawn Armstrong was the only thing standing between the Orioles and pay dirt. Washington has led almost the entire game, and their pitching had dominated the Birds. But it was a tense lead. It felt like they were allowing the O’s to hang around. And they paid royally for that.

Later in that eighth inning the O’s had a couple of guys on, with Anthony Santander coming to the plate. And he sent a towering fly ball towards left…it barely cleared the fence, but it was a home run. And a three-run shot at that, which gave the O’s a 5-3 lead. And an eventual win.

Washington did mount a rally attempt in the last of the eighth. Cole Sulser, who’s quickly earning the trust of Brandon Hyde, put two runners in scoring position. However with the game hanging in the balance, he knotched a strikeout with two outs ending the threat and the inning.

One thing we know about these Orioles is that they play until the final out is recorded. Washington almost seemed to lose interest as the game wore on. And the Birds cranked it up when it mattered most. With the win, the Orioles have officially won the D.C. leg of the Battle of the Beltways.

The series concludes tomorrow at Nationals Park in D.C. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. Game time is set for just after 12:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Someone paid

Former Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter used to say that eventually someone was going to pay for the types of offensive struggles the Birds has this week. And we saw that phenomenon tonight; it was the Washington Nationals. Starter Tommy Milone was dominant against the organization which drafted him, and Oriole bats were hot from the beginning. Milone’s line: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Jose Iglesias‘ RBI-double in the first inning got the party started. The Birds opened the game with back-to-back doubles. One inning later Austin Hays smacked an RBI-single, and Hanser Alberto tacked on a run on a fielder’s choice. That easily could have been the end of the game. When your pitching limits the opposition to zero runs, you don’t need many to beat them. But…the runs just kept coming.

Iglesias, who ended up with four hits in the game, would add an RBI-single in the fourth. But it was Renato Nunez‘s three-run homer in the sixth which broke the game wide open. That have the O’s a 7-0 lead, an led signaled that the Birds has no intention of looking back.

Pedro Severino and Anthony Santander also got involved in that sixth inning in terms of putting runs on the board. And they came in buckets. When the smoke cleared, the O’s had themselves an 11-0 victory over the defending World Champions.

I always say that in a game that gets out of control like this one, it’s never indicative of either teams’ true capabilities. Games like this happen, and the O’s have been on the other end of their share of them also. So from the Orioles’ perspective you gladly take the win, move onto tomorrow, and take it with a grain of salt.

But again as Buck Showalter used to say, someone’s eventually going to pay for the type of slump in which the Birds found themselves this week. Washington ended up being that lucky team tonight. We saw the O’s break out of the slump partially last night. So that in a way acted as a harbinger for what we saw in D.C. this evening. Now…if another body in that city could get their act together in the same manner, we’d be in business. (Looking at you, Congress!)

The series continues tomorrow night at Nationals Park. Thom Eshelman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Austin Voth. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Bats come alive but Birds fall

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Wade LeBlanc surrendered the lead to Miami this evening on the first pitch. Former Oriole Villar smacked a first pitch homer. It would act as a harbinger, as the O’s fell and were swept in four games by Miami. LeBlanc’s line: 3.1 IP, 7 H 6 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

However Renato Nunez brought the Birds right back in the second by tying the game with a solo homer of his own, only to have Miami take the lead again with a sac fly-RBI in the bottom of the inning. But Anthony Santander followed Nunez’s example of tying the game – an inning later in the third with an RBI-triple.

The O’s held a brief lead later on in the third when Dwight Smith Jr. drove a run in with. A sac fly-RBI. But Miami would come right back, and put two runs on the board to take the lead back in the last of the third. But again, the O’s weren’t down for long. Chance Sisco‘s solo homer tied the game right back up at four.

Miami tried to pull away, putting two runs of their own on the board in that fourth inning. But again the O’s battled back, netting solo homers from Renato Nunez and Dwight Smith Jr. However Miami put two across in the seventh and stayed off a late Orioles’ rally to win the game 8-7 despite the Birds putting one across in the ninth.

Despite the loss, fans should take heart that Oriole bats came alive tonight. The longer you go into a team slump at the plate, the harder it is. Now the losing streak itself is another story. But we know that at least now as the O’s hit the road, they do so with their bats having corrected themselves.

Tomorrow the O’s head down to D.C. for the first of three against Washington at Nationals Park. Tommy Milone gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s TBD. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Miami pitching wearing Birds out

The Baltimore Orioles has two hard luck losers in yesterday’s doubleheader: Alex Cobb and Asher Wojchiekowski. Cobb’s line (game one): 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 Ann, 7 K. Wojchiekowski’s line (game two): 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

The O’s in this series have really suffered from death by paper cut. Oriole pitching has been great in the three games thus far with Miami. However Miami’s pitching’s been superb.

Cobb gave up a solo homer to Anderson in the fourth inning of game one. Normally a solo homer isn’t going to beat you. But when you don’t score any runs, it’s entirely capable of beating you. And in that case, it did.

Aguilar got Miami on the board right away in game two with a sac fly-RBI. Later in the inning Anderson’s RBI-single would run the score to 2-0. And the Birds held Miami off the board for the rest of the day. They did however mount a slight comeback when Austin Hays‘ RBI-single in the sixth cut the lead to 2-1. But that was the final, and the O’s were swept in the doubleheader.

And incidentally, it was perhaps the strangest doubleheader in franchise history. Per MLB’s new rules for this year, doubleheader’s are only seven innings. On top of that, the Birds played the doubleheader at Camden Yards. Yet they were the visiting team in game two.

Seeing the Birds bat first in the inning at Oriole Park was just bizarre. The Orioles still wore their home whites, but for the purposes of last at-bats and so forth Miami was the home team. That will be the case tonight also.

The series concludes tonight at Camden Yards – again with Miami “hosting” the O’s. Wade LeBlanc gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Miami’s Jordan Yamamoto. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Is Brandon Hyde mismanaging the bullpen?

Baltimore Orioles’ starter John Means wasn’t in the game for very long tonight. But he was outstanding when he was Mean hung one pitch, and in reality it was the only one that counted. Means’kine: 4.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Means surrendered a solo homer with two outs in the fifth to Miami’s Cervelli. And manager Brandon Hyde popped out of the dugout immediately to relieve him. Now to be fair, Means started the season out injured. This is also only his second start. So perhaps Hyde being careful with him is understandable.

But it just seemed to me to be a fairly quick hook. Especially with a guy in Means who had pitched as well as he did to that point. This doesn’t mean that Hyde’s a bad manager. I actually like how he’s coming along in that department. And managing the bullpen is probably the toughest thing that a manager needs to learn. But especially with a doubleheader tomorrow, I wonder if it wouldn’t have paid to leave Means in the game further.

Miami’s Berti would smack ab RBI-single in the sixth. Miami would later load the bases, and a third run would score on an E5. Miami would add an insurance run in the eighth in the form of a solo homer by Aguilar.

Miami’s pitching obviously shut down Oriole bats tonight as well, and that’s to their credit. This is an Oriole team that was soaring coming out of the weekend, and it would have stood to reason that would have continued given that Miami had to assemble an almost new team. But their pitching shut the Orioles down. And that can sometimes happen.

It almost took divine intervention to get the game off at all. A tropical storm blew through Baltimore in the first part of the day, and then later on there were issues with some COVID tests on Miami’s side. But better to be safe than sorry. The game was delayed 45 minutes and all was eventually well.

The O’s and Miami will play a doubleheader tomorrow at Camden Yards , with the Orioles as the visiting team in game two. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s in game one, and he’ll be opposed by Miami’s Elieser Hernandez. In game two Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the Orioles, and Miami’s starter is TBD. Game one begins at 5 PM, with game two beginning approximately 30 minutes after the completion of game one.

Baltimore Orioles: MLB announces game schedule vs. Miami

Major League Baseball has announced the game schedule for the Baltimore Orioles’ and Miami Marlins this week. The O’s will host Miami starting tomorrow at 7:30 PM. The teams will play a doubleheader on Wednesday, starting at 5 PM. The Orioles will serve as the home team in game one, and Miami as the home team in game two. Both games will be seven innings long, a first in Oriole history.

The second game of the doubleheader (the one in which Miami will be the home team) will begin approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. And on Thursday evening the teams will conclude their series with a game at 7:30 PM in which Miami will be the home team. So far as I know (and I’m going off of memory on this), it’ll be the first time in the history of Camden Yards in which the Orioles will be the visiting team. Because, 2020…

…although that’s not technically true. Circa 2007 or 2008 the O’s had a game in Chicago suspended due to rain in the seventh inning. The game was completed the next time the ChiSox played the O’s, which was a month later at Camden Yards. The game was completed prior to the regularly-scheduled game, with the Orioles technically as the visiting team. But I digress.

All of this is up in the air, as a Hurricane Isaias moves up the east coast. It’s anticipated to dump a lot of rain into the Baltimore area tomorrow. What’s unclear is whether or not this will affect the 7:30 PM game at Camden Yards. What’s also unclear is what the contingency plans would be, if any. It might just go as a rainout, only to be made up if need be. Time will tell.

Baltimore Orioles show the pride of the Orange and Black in sweeping Tampa away

With a sweep potentially in play, the Baltimore Orioles tasked Tommy Milone with getting them to pay dirt this afternoon. Tampa’s a team that’s tormented the Orioles over the years. So a sweep of their division rivals this weekend would go a long way towards erasing those memories. And Milone didn’t disappoint. Milone’s line: 5.0 IP, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K.

When I say Tampa’s tormented the O’s, I mean more so how they’ve beaten them as opposed to just beaten them. New York’s beaten the Orioles’ brains in at times. But you’d almost rather than than have a bunch of mad scientists literally finding stats for everything and using it to their advantage almost every time. They’d nickel and dime the O’s, and then kill them by paper cuts. And just when the Birds thought something was going right, someone would climb the wall and make some miraculous play in saving a homer. Not today.

The O’s took the lead on Renato Nunez‘s solo homer in the third inning. Tampa tied the game in the sixth on Lowe’s solo shot which chased Milone. But the Birds were seemingly on the cusp for most of the afternoon. Finally in the last of the seventh they broke through.

Hanser Alberto smacked an RBI-double which gave the O’s the lead for good at 2-1. Nunez’s RBI-single would extend the lead to 3-1, and Jose Iglesias‘ RBI-double ran it to 4-1. The competitive part of the game seemed to be over.

But the O’s did put up an all-important insurance run before all was said and done. Pat Valaika, last night’s hero, smacked a solo homer in the last of the eighth, putting a capper on the Orioles’ 5-1 win. And their first sweet of Tampa since 2016.

Keep in mind, the games mean more due to the shortened season. And these games mean even more than others because they’re division games. Needless to say, the pride of the Orange & Black is alive and well, and it was on display all weekend.

The Orioles found out yesterday that they’re going to be off tomorrow. However as we know the schedule’s been retooled. We know that the Birds will be scheduled to play Miami at Camden Yards on Tuesday – in some form. And there’s also a hurricane that’s supposed to be here on that day. So stay tuned!

Baltimore Orioles: All’s well that ends well

The Baltimore Orioles sent starter Wade LeBlanc out there tonight and tasked him with putting the team in a spot to win. LeBlanc did that, and very effectively at that. LeBlanc’s line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

The Orioles may have caught Tampa at a good time, as they’re struggling a bit offensively. But often times playing against a young pitching staff can snap bats back into form. Thus far in the series, Oriole pitching hasn’t allowed that to occur.

The Birds on the other hand came into the series with “hottish” bats. Renato Nunez got the Orioles on the board early with a solo homer in the last of the fourth. Later in the inning Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-single extended the lead to 2-0.

Tampa would get a run back in the sixth on a solo homer, however the Orioles were dialed in. I’ve written a lot, both surrounding exhibition games, and now in the regular season about insurance runs. I’m not sure when runs become “insurance runs,” but we saw the O’s add runs on after Tampa cut the score in half. And that’s a good sign.

Pedro Severino‘s RBI-single (in the aforementioned last of the sixth) extended the Birds’ lead to 3-1. Rio Ruiz would also add a sac fly-RBI to make it 4-1. It’s also worth pointing out that the only reason that run was made possible was due to a pass ball. That got the runner to third, and it shows the Orioles starting to hold their opponents accountable in games.

Unfortunately for the O’s, those insurance runs weren’t enough. A Shawn Armstrong throwing error in the eighth started a sequence which ended with Tampa putting three runs across and tying the game. While all three runs were charged to Anderson, Miguel Castro allowed the final run to score.

The game went to extra innings, which meant that the O’s were subject to MLB’s new extra innings rule for the first time, starting each inning with a runner on second base. Ironically it was the Orioles (as opposed to Tampa) who used that to their advantage defensively. They began the tenth by scoring a 7-5 double play. They also notched a 1-2 double-play in the eleventh.

Ultimately, Pat Valaika was the hero of the day. His RBI-single in the last of the eleventh won the game for the O’s. It also guaranteed them a series victory, and against an AL East rival at that.

The Orioles also found out yesterday what awaits them this coming week. The four games with Miami will be made up on Tuesday-Thursday, with Monday being an off day. One of those days will be a doubleheader, and Miami will be the home team in two of the four games. Which games are which is still unclear.

The series with Tampa concludes tomorrow at Camden Yards. Tommy Milone gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Yonny Chirinos. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: These colors don’t run

The Baltimore Orioles have struggled against Tampa the last few years. They almost find a way to beat the Orioles, no matter what happens. They took a 2-0 lead on starter Alex Cobb last night, and it appeared that the trend was continuing. Cobb’s line; 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Tampa put up runs in the first and third on RBI-doubles, following an hour rain delay before the game. And that’s one of the many ways they’ve done the Orioles wrong over the years. They get people on base and quickly get them in. They have no issue piecemealing one run here and one run there. One run means their opponent has to score two to beat them.

The Orioles however could have rolled over and played dead. Knowing the history of Tampa prancing to victory using any means possible, what would have been the point. But orange and black…those colors don’t run.

The Birds showed Tampa the way that they operate. As opposed to piecemeal, they score runs in clumps. Anthony Santander tied the game at two with a two-run homer in the fourth. A few minutes later, the Birds had the lead when Pedro Severino went back-to-back and smacked a solo shot.

Tampa tried to win by playing the Orioles’ game with a solo homer by Lowe to tie the game in the fifth. But the orange and black weren’t going to allow this night to be spoiled. They got the lead back in the last of the fifth on Santander’s RBI-single. Rio Ruiz would reach base in the seventh in a fielder’s choice in the last of the seventh, and a run would score on a throwing error. And Hanser Alberto would add a solo homer in the eighth to complete the Birds’ 6-3 victory.

I do think it’s important to note that this is a team that’s given the Orioles problems. Not as many as say New York, but I digress. They’ve always seemed to be able to find a way to win. But the Birds didn’t allow it on this night. Because these colors don’t run.

The O’s also consummated a trade after the game. Reliever Richard Bleier was traded to the Miami Marlins for a player to be named later. An interesting turn of events for sure, but that’s the news.

The series continues this evening against Tampa at Camden Yards. Wade LeBlanc gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Tyler Glasnow. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall late

The Baltimore Orioles put up a fight last night against New York. However starter John Means has a lackluster first outing. Means never pitches well against New York, however he certainly wanted to look better than he did. Means’ line: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Before you could blink, New York put five runs on the board in the first inning. This included a grand slam by Voit. Means stabilized, but he was lifted in the third.

However the O’s battled back. And almost immediately at that. Hanser Alberto‘s two-run homer in the last of the first brought the O’s to within 5-2. One inning later Rio Ruiz hit a two-run shot of his own, putting the Orioles right back into the game, and within one run at 5-4.

The skies opened up in the sixth inning, causing an hour-and-a-half rain delay. When the game resumed, the O’s took the lead in the eighth inning. Pedro Severino‘s two-run homer gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead. Unfortunately however, New York had a guy in Judge who was capable of a three-run shot. And he gave NY the lead back in the ninth. And the O’s fell 9-6.

I’ve written on the important of insurance runs several times thus far this season. And we saw it last night. Especially when playing against the likes of Judge, Stanton, et al. However the good news is that the O’s battled back after being down big early on. With a young team, that’s how you have to look at things.

Tomorrow the Orioles will welcome in the Tampa Rays to Camden Yards for a three-game weekend series. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Blake Snell. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall in home opener

Due to the ongoing situation with the Miami Marlins, the Baltimore Orioles opened their home schedule against New York last night. I suspect that the Birds and starter Asher Wojchiekowski wish it had been Miami they were playing, as New York came out swinging early and hit the O’s hard. Wojchiekowski’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 7 K.

Wojchiekowski surrendered a solo homer to LeMahieu in the first at-bat of the game. Solo home runs aren’t going to beat you, but these are the Bronx Bombers. They do more than just one solo shot in the first inning.

They would net another run on Ford’s sac fly-RBI later in the inning. However even though NY was throwing it’s ace, Cole, the O’s battled back. Jose Iglesias‘ RBI-single in the last of the first cut the lead in half at 2-1. But again, the Bronx Bombers don’t just go away. Judge’s solo homer in the third extended their lead to 3-1.

Hicks would smack a two-run homer later in the third, and LeMahieu and Judge would add RBI-singles in the sixth. The thing about teams such as New York is that they don’t really stop adding runs on. I wrote about insurance runs last weekend, and how it was good to see the Birds adding them on. That’s never been a problem for a team like New York.

The O’s did get a two-run homer from Dwight Smith Jr. in the seventh, but again New York kept adding on runs. Even in the ninth inning. When the smoke cleared, they beat the Orioles 9-3.

Perhaps the bigger story was that first baseman Chris Davis wasn’t with the team last night. Manager Brandon Hyde said before the game that he wasn’t available and wasn’t with the team. He was unable to say anything further, which of course naturally makes people think that this is COVID-related.

In the wake of the Miami situation Davis had said that he was more concerned about the situation. Certainly it’s a concern for anyone, but especially a guy like Davis who has young children. He has remained on the active roster, so in terms of him staying with the team that’s a positive sign.

The disjointed series will be “paused” until next week following tonight’s game, and truly finalized next Wednesday night when New York returns to Camden Yards. John Means makes his season debut 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: Schedule in flux

The Baltimore Orioles will take on the New York Yankees tonight and tomorrow at a Camden Yards. It of course will be the Birds’ home opener. It was supposed to be against the Miami Marlins, however due to the COVID-19 outbreak in their clubhouse their season has been placed on hold.

So New York comes in tonight, and they were also supposed to be in Baltimore from August 3rd-5th – next week. Monday and Tuesdays games in essence have been rescheduled for tonight and tomorrow. Wednesday August 5th’s game is still on against New York.

Presumably, if Miami is able to continue their season next week, those games will be played on Monday and Tuesday. In fact, you might even see doubleheader’s, so as to makeup the games canceled earlier in the week in Miami. All of that remains to be seen. If Miami is unable to continue their season, presumably those dates will just remain as off days for the O’s.

The “disjointed series” with New York begins tonight at Camden Yards. Alex Wojchiekowski gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Gerrit Cole. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles not playing tonight (updated x2)

Commissioner Rob Manfred announced last night that the Baltimore Orioles game tonight in Miami has been postponed. There was talk about playing today at Camden Yards (either one game or a doubleheader) with the O’s as the visiting team in their home park, but that’s been scrapped. Manfred on the situation:

Our first concern obviously is the health of the players and their families and making sure that we do everything possible to minimize the spread of the virus among our employees. We’ve been fortunate so far. We’ve done tens of thousands of tests, our positive rate has been 0.4 percent, so we feel like the protocols have worked pretty well.

Not withstanding that fact, we have made some decisions. The Miami Marlins will not play their two games in Miami tonight and tomorrow. We’re doing some additional testing. If the testing results are acceptable, the Marlins will resume play in Baltimore on Wednesday against the Orioles.

Quote Courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The Orioles are scheduled to play Miami on Wednesday and Thursday nights at Camden Yards. Those games of course are previously scheduled, and are Oriole home games. Now what could theoretically happen is that assuming Miami is cleared to play, perhaps they do a doubleheader on Wednesday (at Camden Yards) with Miami as the home team, and another doubleheader Thursday with the Orioles as the home team.

Whether both teams and the union would approve of two doubleheaders in a row is another story. That would certainly put the Orioles at a disadvantage going into a weekend series with division foe, Tampa. More realistically, I think you put those two games on the back burner and play one or both of them at the end of the season if need be. Either that or find a common off day and play a doubleheader.

For the record, the Orioles have adhered to all of the agreed-upon guidelines in terms of social distancing, masks, and putting themselves in essence in a bubble while on the road. The issue of course lies with the Miami Marlins. I would submit that baseball fans, players, coaches, etc. everywhere should be looking at them with contempt when they played on Sunday in Philadelphia knowing that the virus was spreading in their clubhouse. Infections are going to happen. It’s how you handle them that makes the difference. They handled it about as poorly as anyone could. More as we hear it.

Update: We’re hearing that the league has now at least temporarily suspended the Miami Marlins’ season. So that would wipe out tomorrow and Thursday’s games between the O’s and Miami at Camden Yards. It’s unclear what the league will do moving forward, however at this time canceling or suspending the MLB season as a whole doesn’t appear to be on the table.

There are all kinds of ideas being thrown around, including one that has the NY Yankees coming to Baltimore for games tomorrow and Thursday evenings. NY was otherwise supposed to have been here for three games next week – Monday-Wednesday. Again, that’s just an idea. It’s unclear if that means that perhaps things could shift regarding Miami by then, and maybe they could play here and just swap series’…?

MLB appears to not be overly concerned about one team playing a few fewer games than others. So if someone ends up playing 55 games, that’s fine – they’ll do standings by win percentages. And in a scenario like what we’re seeing this year, I think that’s smart. I’m not sure they planned for an entire team to have it’s season suspended, but here we are. More as we hear it.

Update II: MLB has announced that the New York Yankees will be coming to Baltimore tomorrow and Thursday night to take on the O’s at Camden Yards. This replaces the Miami series. Presumably both games start at 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles’ game canceled in Miami (updated)

The Baltimore Orioles are in Miami in anticipation of tonight’s game with the Marlins – which has apparently just been canceled. The Miami Marlins are actually still in Philadelphia, where they played this weekend. Over the course of the series, four Miami players tested positive for Covid-19.

There are multiple reports and stories out there, but some of them pin as many as 14 positive tests in the Miami clubhouse. What happens from here remains to be seen. As of now tomorrow’s game and the two-game set in Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday are still on.

It’s possible that if enough taxi squad guys can make it to Miami by tomorrow and the rest of the team tests negative, perhaps they could play a doubleheader. Or maybe a doubleheader at Camden Yards later in the week with Miami acting as the home team in one of the games. Again, remains to be seen. All we know for now is that today’s game is canceled.

Incidentally the aforementioned scenario’s are only ideas out of my head. None of it was said with any sort of prior knowledge. But this is kind of a big moment for MLB, because something like this was bound to happen eventually. Hopefully we can move forward taking as many precautions as possible. This story will be updated if need be as more details about the schedule are made available, however in the interim please join me in sending prayers and good vibes to manager Don Mattingly and the entire Miami Marlins organization.

Update: The O’s are apparently going to be flying back to Baltimore this evening. So while nothing official yet, that would mean that tomorrow night’s game at the very least isn’t going to be played in Miami. With the Marlins in Philadelphia, they could easily bus down to Baltimore and play a doubleheader tomorrow at Camden Yards – obviously with Miami serving as the home team.

It’s unclear if that’s what’s happening, but it appears that the Orioles’ stay in South Florida is going to be cut short, needless to say. I suspect that an attempt to play the doubleheader at Oriole Park tomorrow will be made, and if worst comes to worst they’ll just postphone both games for now. More as we hear it.

Baltimore Orioles: Big wheels keep on turning

The Baltimore Orioles turned to Wade LeBlanc this afternoon at Fenway Park in the series finale with Boston. And LeBlanc didn’t disappoint. While for the second straight day the O’a fell short of a quality start, it was also the second straight day where starter put them in a great position to win a game. LeBlac’s line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Whether it was Fenway Park’s dimensions or something else, Oriole bats were hot right off the bat. They took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-run homer by Rio Ruiz. For a short period, it appeared that it might be a game – Boston cut that lead to 2-1 in the second on a solo homer by Vasquez.

But that was short lived. The O’s came right back. Jose Iglesias‘ RBI-double in the third have the Birds their two-run cushion back. And it was full steam ahead from there, as they’d get a sac fly-RBI from Austin Hays, and a solo homer from Anthony Santander in the fourth. They also chased the Boston starter before the end of the inning.

Boston would get a solo homer from Pillar in the fifth, and an RBI-single by Bogaerts in the sixth. Other than that, the Orioles shut the door on Boston. Chris Davis even added an insurance run with an RBI-double in the ninth. (Davis would later commit an unforced base running gaffe by getting doubled off second, but luckily it didn’t cost the O’s.)

The star of the day had to be Anthony Santander. He had the aforementioned solo home run. He also saved a homer by Bogaerts in the last of the fourth. The ball looked to be curling around the Pesky Pole, however Santander lept into the empty stands and caught the ball. Shades of the final game last year.

It’s worth reminding folks that 2019 began the same way. The Birds fell on Opening Day in NY, and won the final two games of the series to register a series victory in the beginning of an otherwise forgetful season. However I think there were a lot of people who expected the Birds to get swept this weekend in Boston. Yes, Friday was bad. But they bounced back in the final two games in convincing fashion. That should mean the world to fans.

Even in a sixty-game sprint, it’s too early to look at the standings. But while they have the same record as the NY Yankees, if you really want to be technical the Birds are ahead of them in the standings. Because the Orioles’ wins were division games. But it’s still early. ; don’t read into too much. You’d just rather win two-of-three in the opening series than drop two-of-three or get swept. As the title states, big wheels kept on turning this weekend for the O’s.

The Orioles now head to South Florida for a short series against Miami at Marlins Park. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Miami’s Pablo Lopez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb shines in Birds’ first win of 2020

Reports of the Baltimore Orioles’ demise might have been slightly exaggerated after last night’s big loss. The O’s sent veteran Alex Cobb to the mound this afternoon at Fenway Park, and he didn’t disappoint. Keep in mind that it’s been over a year since Cobb has pitched, due to being shelved with an injury last April. Cobb’s line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K.

The Orioles had that determined look in their eyes this afternoon right from the get go. They wanted to get the stink of last night’s loss shoved to the side, and they hit the ground running right away. The Birds put two runners in scoring position right out of the box. And Renato Nunez smack a two-RBI double off the green monster in left field, giving the O’s a 2-0 lead.

Nunez would later score on a fielding error, extending the lead to 3-0. One inning later Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-single ran it to 4-0. Jose Iglesias‘ RBI-single later in the inning gave the Birds a 5-0 lead.

However the key was Cobb. Granted it helped that he got some runs early, but he kept a decent Boston lineup in check for the most part. He absolutely painted the corners throughout his entire outing. He employed late movement on his pitches, that kept Boston hitters guessing all day.

Cobb went back out to start the sixth inning, and after recording an out surrendered a homer to Moreland. That ended his day. Boston would also get an infield RBI-single from Plaweki, cutting the lead to 5-2. However one of the more unsung moments of the game was Miguel Castro coming out of the Birds’ pen with two outs, throwing three pitches, and ending the inning. Two potent fastballs and a sweeping slider. Good morning, good afternoon, and good night. 

With Boston looking to rally and Cobb long gone, that was a huge moment in the game. And Castro rose to the occasion. Oriole bats also rose to the occasion an inning later in the seventh. One thing we’ve seen from the Orioles in 2018 and ’19 was the lack of insurance runs. We did see it a little bit in Sarasota, which I recall saying at the time was a good sign. But it’s lacked in recent years, and that’s helped losses to pile up.

But it wasn’t the case today. Anthony Santander smacked a two-RBI double in the seventh, extending the Orioles’ lead back to five at 7-2. Again, that’s something I remember nothing in the spring which I thought boded well. While the Oriole bullpen never allowed Boston to get back on the board, insurance runs are never a bad thing. The sum of all these parts gave the Orioles their first win of 2020, 7-2 over Boston.

The series concludes tomorrow at Fenway Park. Wade LeBlanc gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Ryan Weber. Game time is set for just after 1:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Tough loss on Opening Day

Baltimore Orioles’ starting pitcherTommy Milone dominated Boston in his first ever Opening Day outing. You read that right; he dominated Boston – for about two innings. Milone’s line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

During the first two innings Milone Moses Boston hitters down. He changed speeds very effectively, and seemed to be ready for prime time. However in the third inning once the Boston hitters got a second look at him, he began to struggle.

Milone surrendered four doubles in the third inning, which gave Boston a 4-0 lead. I did find it interesting that manager Brandon Hyde opted to lift Milone. On a normal Opening Day I don’t think that would have happened given the same circumstances. But each game counts approximately 2.5 – 3 times as much as a game in a 162-game schedule. The urgency of today is much greater than it normally would be.

Boston would load the bases in the last of the fourth, and six runs later they led 10-0. They busted the game wide open. And while the O’s burned two different bullpen relievers in that fourth inning, Boston bats were still strong. Often when you wake a team up they find ways to stay hot. And Boston certainly did that tonight.

Part of the issue is that Oriole pitching allowed Boston hitters to get ahead in the count from the get-go. When you get behind in the count you’re pitching from a position of weakness. Thus you end up forced to throw a strike, and the pressure ends up on you. Especially when the bases are loaded. Allowing a Boston hitters to get ahead in the third and fourth innings tonight allowed Boston to run away with the game.

Renato Nunez would smack an RBI-double in the sixth to at least get the Orioles on the board. However Boston came right back with two more runs in the last of the sixth. And they did so once again by smacking doubles – this time off the green monster in left field.

Rio Ruiz brought the Birds to within 13-2 in the seventh as he smacked the Orioles’ first homer of the year. This one of the solo variety. It means little for the sake of this game, because you aren’t coming back from being down 13-2. But Ruiz started to hit for more power in the latter half of last season. And that appears to have continued.

The series continues tomorrow at Fenway Park. Alex Cobb gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for just after 1:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles 2020 Season Preview

This is the first season preview I’ve written for the Baltimore Orioles in late July. But that’s about par for the course in 2020. Opening Day high temperature records are being obliterated this year. And we all know the reason why. But such is the situation in which we find ourselves in 2020.

In March I was planning on predicting that the Birds would take a few steps forward this season. And by that I mean in the win/loss column. The 2019 O’s won 54 games – which was an improvement over 2018. Who knows what the prediction would have been had this year gone off properly. Needless to say however, I can confidently tell you that the 2020 Birds won’t even approach 100 losses. In fact, this will probably be the lowest loss total in franchise history.

It begins and ends with pitching, and that’s a work in progress. Even still however, Oriole pitching was having a decent spring before things shut down. A better spring than I would have expected. So could they be slightly better than advertised? Perhaps. But they’ll suffer a bit at first, with staff ace John Means missing the Opening Day start tonight due to soreness.

More realistically in a sixty-game sprint, the bigger question might be how the middle relief stacks up. How do the Cody Carroll‘s and Richard Bleier‘s of the world faire in games? We’ve already started to see the concept of an “opener” in MLB the past few years. Might we start seeing more out of middle relievers? In a sixty-game season, that might be necessary.

Hitting of course is a big deal also. The O’s will be without Trey Mancini this year of course due to his cancer treatments. Chris Davis had an exceptional exhibition season, and the hope is that he can continue that starting tonight and into the regular season. If the Orioles are going to keep up in games they’re going to need runs and base runners. That also means that the Hanser Alberto‘s, Rio Ruiz‘s, and Anthony Santander‘s of the world will need to have big games as well. Get on base; the runs will come.

This was already going to be another rebuilding year for the O’s. But will it be? We’ve certainly never seen a sixty-game sprint as a season. Could it play to the Birds’ favor? That’s a tough question to answer. So what’s my prediction for 2020? Again, tough question to answer. While most people assume the O’s will finish in the cellar, I don’t think they will. So that’s my prediction – while I don’t think they’ll contend, I do think they’ll stay out of last place.

Opening Day of course is today, and the Birds find themselves in at Fenway Park for the first of a three-game set. Tommy Milone gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles name Tommy Milone Opening Day starter

Prior to yesterday’s 6-4 exhibition loss in Washington, the Baltimore Orioles named Tommy Milone their Opening Day starter for Friday night in Boston. I see Milone as a curious choice, given that he didn’t see that much action in the spring. However it’s entirely possible that manager Brandon Hyde is almost seeing this as a spot start:

The bottom line with Tommy is that he’d just be getting one extra days of rest, so we keep everybody on regular rest. I didn’t want to bring anybody back short. In this kind of unusual space and time when we only had a short time to get these guys ready, they’ve done an amazing job of getting ready. We just didn’t want to take the chance of bringing back somebody on short rest, and we felt that Tommy was just one day away. So he’s going to have five days before his start. It just works out for us in that way.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

John Means of course was supposed to be the Opening Day starter. However arm fatigue is holding him back. I do think that Means will make a sizable contribution this year. It just won’t be as the Opening Day starter.

I’m sure that a lot of people didn’t have Tommy Milone making the start on Opening Day. But it’s about par for the course for 2020. How many of us had Opening Day occurring in July?!

Baltimore Orioles battle but fall in D.C.

The Baltimore Orioles started Kohl Stewart this evening in D.C. for their exhibition finale. He struggled early, but seemed to regain some composure as time went on. This in what started out at least as a fairly lackluster game for both sides. Stewart’s line: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

The Orioles actually started this game in a good way. Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-double in the first inning gave them an early 1-0 lead. The Birds would extend that lead to 2-0 on a subsequent RBI-single by Jose Iglesias.

However Washington came right back against Stewart. Soto played a run on an RBI-groundout, and Kendrick’s RBI-double tied the game at two. But then both Kohl and Washington starter Corbin settled in a bit. And we played on at a 2-2 tie.

Washington would take the lead in the fourth on a fielder’s choice by Kendrick. Two innings later they’d take a 5-2 lead on Castro’s two-RBI single. It appeared that the Birds were probably going to be content playing out this game as a string and heading home. But they didn’t.

One thing I noticed last year was that in August (but much more poignantly in September), this team started to come together. That didn’t necessarily translate into more wins, but the team seemed to come just a bit closer together and want to play hard for each other. That trend seemed to continue into Florida Grapefruit League play earlier this year. And we saw it again tonight.

The Birds weren’t going to go down without a fight. Chris Davis, who’s had a great camp (both in Florida and in Baltimore) led off the seventh with a double to the deepest part of the ballpark. He would score on Dilson Herrera‘s subsequent RBI-triple. He would later score on Rio Ruiz‘s sac fly-RBI.

Washington would tack on another run in the last of the seventh, running the score to 6-4. And then in the eighth inning the skies opened. And that was the end of the game. What can be taken away from this game or from any of the three exhibition games during summer camp? Basically nothing. Onto the regular season.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb strong in Birds’ loss

Alex Cobb gave them Baltimore Orioles exactly what they were looking for tonight against Washington in an exhibition game. He got his work in, and looked fairly solid in doing so. Cobb’s line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

Cobb of course missed most of last season with an injury, and the organization’s goal is to have him ready for the regular season. The thought is that he’ll be pitching the second game of the year in Boston. But we’ll have to see. With this start tonight they did actually set him up to pitch that night.

Cobb surrendered a tworun homer in the fourth to Kendrick, giving Washington a 2-0 lead. However Chris Davis began the last of that fourth inning with a double. And I think that’s important to note. Davis of course has struggled the past few seasons, at times swinging straight through pitches right down the pike. He was having a great spring before play was halted. If he can continue getting on base and so forth, the Orioles will be in a much better position in games this season.

Following a swinging bunt that sent Davis to third, he scored on an RBI-groundout by Rio Ruiz. That cut Washington’s lead to 2-1. But more importantly it showed that the Orioles were capable of manufacturing a run.

Washington would add two more in the seventh, and Renato Nunez added about RBI-single in the eighth as the Birds fell 4-2 in this exhibition game. Incidentally, the Nunez RBI-single was a good sign also. He fought a tough pitch off and sent a flare into shallow right field. Opposing teams have made careers out of picking the Orioles to death over the years. It’s good to see they can do the same on occasion.

The takeaway from this game is that Cobb was crisp. He did surrender that two-run homer, however in reality he threw one bad pitch. I think the Orioles can live with that sort of outing out of Cobb. Or any starter for that matter.

The O’s will close out their summer camp exhibition schedule tomorrow night as they take on Washington again, this time at Nationals Park in our nation’s capital. Kohl Stewart gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Patrick Corbin. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Two injuries in an exhibition win

The Baltimore Orioles has to use Tom Eschelman as a spot starter tonight in their exhibition opener in Philadelphia. Keep in mind, Eschelman appeared in ten games for the Birds last year, and had an ERA north of six. Tonight was a different story; he “mowed ‘me down.” Eschelman’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Whatever we’re calling this, Spring Training or Summer Camp, it was an exhibition game. So it’s tough to decipher how this translates to a regular season game for Eschelman. However he kept a pretty decent lineup at bay for five innings. In a game he didn’t know he was starting until a day before.

Pedro Severino got the scoring started in the game with a solo homer in the second inning. Hanser Alberto added on in the top of the fourth with an RBI-single. The Orioles were off to a 2-0 lead in front of one of the nicest crowds in Philadelphia sports histories. There was also nobody in the stands. See what I did there?!

Philadelphia attempted a rally in the seventh with a Harper RBI-single, but the Orioles’ pen shut the door. Cedric Mullins smacked a solo homer in the eighth, giving the O’s their two-run lead back. Pat Valaika added a solo shot of his own in the ninth, and the O’s took home a 4-1 exhibition victory.

But was the final score really 4-1? Because when the game ended it turned out that there were a few guys who were scheduled to get work tonight, so the teams went to a very strange tenth inning; even in spring training, I’ve never seen a tenth inning when one team was ahead.

And it worked out for the O’s, as Ryan Mountcastle smacked a solo home run. The game ended after 9 1/2 innings. Again, somewhat strange.

But this win potentially came at a cost. Mullins was in the game because Austin Hays was drilled in the knee by a pitch. He exited, and is considered day-to-day. Earlier in the game Stevie Wilkerson was lifted after appearing to injure himself sliding to make a catch. You hate to see this anytime, but especially in games that don’t count. The status of both players for the regular season is unclear.

The win puts the Birds at 10-7 in spring training. They were 9-7 when everything stopped, and the records just pick up where they left off. It’s worth mentioning that the Orioles were having a good camp when things shut down. They appeared to pick right up where they left off tonight.

The O’s now head home for their lone exhibition game at Camden Yards, tomorrow night against Washington. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Birds, and Washington is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles head to Philly for exhibition opener

I’m not sure if Florida Grapefruit League Opener is the right term for what the Baltimore Orioles will do tonight. And consequently I’m not sure that we should even use the term exhibition opener. We certainly could use it, and I did in the title. But…I think you get my gist.

In accordance with the return to play agreement, MLB teams were allowed to schedule up to three exhibition games leading into the season. So as has been previously reported, the O’s will head to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia tonight, then home tomorrow evening against Washington, and then against Washington again on Tuesday at Nationals Park. That gives them two full days (plus much of Friday) to get ready for the regular season.

This of course is a season that’s everything BUT regular. It’s almost shocking to me to think that I’m writing about a real game tonight that the Orioles will be playing. I still remember the day that everything was canceled back in March – the O’s had a 6 PM game at Minnesota (in Fort Myers, FL), and while everyone knew the game would probably be canceled nothing official had come down the pike. The Oriole buses made it five minutes out of Ed Smith Stadium before being turned around to go back. And that’s where we left off…

…until tonight. Now mind you folks, if exhibition games are vanilla in nature and have next-to-no pizzazz to them, these three exhibition games will probably be worse than what we’re used to. This isn’t spring training; spring training is fun and light-hearted, everyone’s in Florida enjoying the weather and the beaches, and fans get more access to players. These games will be games that don’t count played in empty ballparks with piped in crowd noise.

And perhaps that in and of itself is part of the reasoning as to why these games are going to be played. Yes it helps teams get ready for a very irregular regular season. However playing in empty parks is going to be a big change. Better to be accustomed to it before it counts for real.

One thing of concern, John Means was meant to start this game, putting him on line to start Friday in Boston (Opening Day). However Means was scratched due to what might be termed mild “dead arm.” It’s unclear if he’ll be ready to go on Friday.

As is aforementioned in this column, the O’s head to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia for tonight’s game. Tom Eschelman gets the start for the Orioles, and at this moment Philadelphia is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles tab John Means as Opening Day starter

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde announced yesterday that John Means would be the Birds’ Opening Day starter on July 24th in Boston. While there were other candidates, a Means getting the assignment was all but a foregone conclusion. He was the team’s lone all-star representative last year.

Means was 12-11 last season, with a 3.60 ERA. However he also had a Wins Above Replacement number of 5.0. He was a huge surprise for the Orioles last year, and has the potential to anchor Oriole rotations as the ace in years to come.

The Orioles have also put three exhibition games on the schedule, as is allowed under the re-start procedures. On Sunday, July 19th they’ll travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies, followed by a home-and-home with the Washington Nationals. Monday the 20th at Camden Yards, and Tuesday the 21st at Nationals Park. All games will begin at 6 PM, and my understanding is that none of them will be covered by MASN or the Orioles’ radio network.

Baltimore Orioles’ 2020 schedule is out

Major League Baseball yesterday released the Baltimore Orioles’ “new and improved” schedule for 2020. The Birds will open on Friday, July 24th at Fenway Park at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. Game time is 7:30 PM.

The Birds will then head to Miami for two games, before their home opener on Wednesday, July 29th – also against Miami. You can visit Orioles.com for the full schedule. The O’s will play 60 games in 66 days. Let us begin.

Baltimore Orioles: Hope springs eternal

Let’s try this again; the Baltimore Orioles report to Spring Training today. Let that sink in. I’m not sure if we’re calling this Spring Training, or Spring Training 2.0. I’ve also heard the term Summer Camp thrown around. But ultimately you know what I’m talking about!

Camp will be held at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and potentially at one of the Orioles’ minor league facilities as well. I’m thinking either Bowie or Frederick. Needlesss to say, it all starts today.

We’ve been over much of this, but the Orioles will be able to schedule up to three formal exhibition games between now and Opening Day on July 23rd or 24th. I would assume that those will be scheduled against Philadelphia and Washington. The regular season schedule hasn’t been released yet.

But here’s some connecting of the dots; don’t be shocked if the second series of the year (Presumably starting Monday, June 27th) is against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards. I say that with no prior knowledge, but just a suspicion. MLB has already announced that New York will open the season at Washington that first weekend. So it makes sense that they would just come up the pike to Baltimore for a series while already in the mid-Atlantic region.

The Orioles, the State of Maryland, and the City of Baltimore are all looking into whether or not there’s a way they can admit fans this year. I would suspect that at least for starters that won’t be possible. But nothing has been announced.

We know what many of the rule changes are this year already, such as a universal DH. But another thing that the league is doing is mandating no fraternizing of players on opposing teams before games inside of six feet. No handshaking, spitting, or fighting. And apparently they’re serious about this, because it’s under a penalty of ejection. Players and coaches who confront umpires on the field will also be ejected if they come within six feet of the umpire. This might make arguments look strange, but it’s a new world in which we live.

Regarding coverage on this site, we’ll slowly rev back up to daily columns. Back in March when everything closed down I said that while I wouldn’t write daily columns because I felt it was inappropriate (given the circumstances), I’d cover news as it came in. I’ll certainly do the same as Spring Training 2.0 revs up, just maybe not daily. Until games start, of course.

Baltimore Orioles: Exhibition games

According to MLB on FOX and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Major League Baseball informed the Baltimore Orioles and the rest of the league’s teams today that exhibition games would be permitted in Spring Training 2.0. The league will allow teams to schedule up to three (3) games before the end of Spring Training 2.0. Or summer training; however you want to call it.

In short, if teams don’t have other teams close in their vicinity, they can schedule those games against their Opening Day opponent. In the Orioles’ case, those two elements could well be the same. It would stand to reason that the Birds’ exhibition opponents would include (and perhaps be limited to) Philadelphia and Washington. But those are also two National League teams that will feature prominently on the Orioles’ regular season schedule. Perhaps even on Opening Day.

Both of those cities are within driving distance of Camden Yards. The Orioles could bus to either one, and either team could bus to Camden Yards. Again, it’s unclear if fans would be admitted to these events. What’s also unclear is whether or not these games would be fully covered by the local media the way that Grapefruit League games are done. As I said in an earlier column, baseball 2020 is just a fluid situation. As is the entire world right now.

Baltimore Orioles: Details on the 2020 season

The Baltimore Orioles sent out a release yesterday to the general public with a few details of the 2020 season. Much of it we already knew, but now it’s on paper. Keep in mind however that as is the case with society, baseball’s in a fairly precarious state in 2020. All things are fluid and subject to change at the drop of a dime.

Training camp will begin on July 1st, which if you’re keeping score at home is next Wednesday. It will be held at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It will probably consist of mostly workouts, drills, and scrimmages. However the team might schedule an informal exhibition game or two against another team. Presumably that other team would be either Washington or Philadelphia.

The formal season schedule needs to be agreed upon by the league and the player’s association. That should be done within the next week. One thing we do know is who the Orioles will be playing. Of the sixty games, forty will be against the regular AL East opponents. The remaining 20 will be against the NL East – Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, and the New York Mets.

When the season begins teams will be allowed to have a 30-man roster. Two weeks in that’ll go down to 28, and two weeks after that (the “midpoint” of the season) it’ll go down to 26. It’s expected that there’ll be a 10-day DL, but also a separate list for players who are ineligible due to Coronavirus.

What’s not addressed is the admission of fans. I don’t know this for a fact, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see MLB do something similar to what the NFL is planning on doing, which is to leave it up to the teams and local governments. Again to be clear, I don’t know that. It’s just a prediction.

The Orioles have been mum on this issue as well. However Maryland is seeing daily drops in it’s infection rate. So if there’s a team who might be in a position to admit fans to home games, the Orioles would be a candidate. This isn’t to say that every seat would be available for sale, as I suspect social distancing measures would have to be in place. But I do think there’s a way it could be done safely. How many people are willing to come to games given the health situation is another story. But time will tell.

Baltimore Orioles: Welcome to the 2020 season

Despite the cumbersome process to get there and the less-than-satisfactory situation, it appears that Baltimore Orioles baseball might be on the verge of coming back. Last night MLB released the following statement:

“Today, the Major League Baseball Players Association informed us that they have rejected the agreement framework developed by Commissioner Manfred and Tony Clark. Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development.

“The framework provided an opportunity for MLB and its players to work together to confront the difficulties and challenges presented by the pandemic. It gave our fans the chance to see an exciting new Postseason format. And, it offered players significant benefits including:

1) The universal DH for two years
2) A guaranteed $25 million in playoff pools in 2020
3) $33 million in forgiven salary advances that would increase the take home pay of 61% of Major League players
4) Overall earnings for players of 104 percent of prorated salary
5) Over the last two days, MLB agreed to remove expanded Postseason in 2021 in order to address player concerns

“In view of this rejection, the MLB Clubs have unanimously voted to proceed with the 2020 season under the terms of the March 26th Agreement. The provisions listed above will not be operative.

“In order to produce a schedule with a specific number of games, we are asking that the Players Association provide to us by 5:00 p.m. (ET) tomorrow with two pieces of information. The first is whether players will be able to report to camp within seven days (by July 1st). The second is whether the Players Association will agree on the Operating Manual which contains the health and safety protocols necessary to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason.”

Courtesy of mlb.com

In short, the agreement between the player’s association and the league on March 26th gives the commissioner the right to effective impose the season. It’s believed that Commissioner Manfred will impose a season of approximately 60 games (as opposed to the previous number of 50), and that it could begin over the weekend of July 24-26th. Spring training 2.0 would in theory begin July 1st.

This is all far from ideal. Obviously baseball deciding to have labor strife in the middle of a global pandemic rubs a lot of people the wrong way – including me. With people out of work and countless other sick and suffering (or deceased), it really hasn’t been a great look for the league. And now on top of that we’re going to see a 60-game season.

Someone asked me last week if I thought there should be an asterisk by this year in terms of whomever wins the World Series. Should they be considered legitimate champions and so forth? And my answer is that there should be no asterisk, and yes they’ll be legitimate champions. Everyone’s playing by the same rules and parameters. As long as that’s the case, whomever wins this year should be considered legit.

The presumption is that home parks will be used for this year, although MLB has reportedly revisited the bubble idea as well given recent Coronavirus spikes in various parts of the country. However those spikes include both Florida and Arizona – the two places that were being considered to host the bubbles.

What’s also unclear is whether fans will be admitted. It wouldn’t shock me to see some teams allow fans and implement some sort of system whereby fans can social distance themselves. But that remains to be seen, and probably has a lot more to do with each individual area than it does the league.

But one way or the other, for better or for worse, it appears that baseball is on it’s way to returning in some form. More as we hear it.

Baltimore Orioles: Trust the process

If you read the twitterverse, you know that numerous Baltimore Orioles’ fans were shocked and many were dismayed at the team picking Heston Kjerstad second overall out of Arkansas last night. I’m not going to suggest that I saw them going in that direction. Is it possible and perhaps probable that it was done for financial reasons? Yes. However GM Mike Elias made it very clear that they’re really big on Kjerstad’s bat.

When I looked at his power stats, it was evident to me that part of why they liked him was because he hit from the left side. The short porch in right field at Camden Yards came to mind immediately. And in fact, Elias indicated that Kjerstad’s hitting style would fit well in Camden Yards. He was considered the second best power option in the entire draft.

However again, there seems to be angst among the fan base with this pick. Many folks wanted Elias to select third baseman Austin Martin out of Vanderbilt. However he fell to fifth and was selected by Toronto. Sometimes drafts have surprises. Martin may well have been the right guy to select. Kjerstad could end up a bust. Or he might not.

I would simply say that Mike Elias and his team have researched all of these players for a long time. They know what the needs of the team are, and they obviously felt after a large amount of research that Kjerstad was the guy to select. I think that fans have to trust that research. It’s all part of trusting the process.

The story of this draft won’t be written now. Or this year, or the year after. It won’t be written for another 3-5 years, when the players who were selected last night are starting to come onto the league’s stage. If Kjerstad’s a perennial all-star, we’ll know they made the right decision. If not, then it’s fair to question what went into picking him.

The Orioles also selected shortstop Jordan Westburg from Mississippi State with the 30th pick. Again, trust the process.

Baltimore Orioles draft OF Heston Kjerstad from Arkansas

The Baltimore Orioles kind of shocked the experts this evening in drafting OF Heston Kjerstad out of the University of Arkansas. Over three years at Arkansas, Kjerstad’s hit .343. He also has an OBP of .421, and he’s hit 37 homers with 121 RBI.

Again, this was a surprise pick. The Orioles went with an underslot selection, presumably because he’ll sign for cheaper. That gives them more money to spread over their other picks.

Kjerstad is considered the second best power hitter in the draft. So he does have a tremendous upside. He also hits from the left side, which is good with Camden Yards’ short porch in right field.

One concern is his 129 strikeouts, which means he swings for the fences. However the understanding is that he’s worked on cutting down his swing. Hopefully for the Orioles’ sake some of the minor league coaches can work with him on that.

This is a selection that will be scrutinized a bit both nationally and locally. Mainly because it was unexpected. But Kjerstad appears to have a bright future in baseball. Just because it was an unexpected pick doesn’t mean it’s running a terrible risk.

Baltimore Orioles: Draft Day

The Baltimore Orioles may not be playing on the field, but they’ll be participating in this evening’s annual MLB Draft. The Birds will pick second overall, meaning that only one top player will be off the board when they choose. With the status of the season itself very much in flux, the draft adds just a bit of normalcy.

My personal opinion is that the Orioles need to pick the best player available on the board. But who might that be? That’s the question that will be answered, however Orioles’ GM Mike Elias has said that they’ve narrowed their list down to five names or so.

Detroit is rumored to be taking first baseman Spencer Tokelson with the first selection overall. However Elias and company are familiar with the full range of candidates on the board:

We put a lot of work into it. We had met with the candidates in person this winter. I did personally and there are others that we did to that we met over Zoom and it worked pretty well. There’s a lot of background that goes into it other than meetings. The scouts do a ton of background work, we talk with people around the program – the coaches, the strength coaches, the guy in our minor league system who used to play there. Just everyone.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Stay tuned here to Birdland Crush for details on who the Orioles pick. The draft begins at 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Return-to-play proposal coming

Baltimore Orioles fans might not have to wait much longer for news about the 2020 season. Multiple reports came out yesterday suggesting that within the next week the league will submit a return-to-play proposal to the player’s association. It’s unclear what that proposal will entail, however the word on the street is that the league wants to start the season in late June or early July.

First off keep in mind that the players will have to come to terms with the league on some major things, including salary. There are virtually no scenario’s out there which involve fans being able to be admitted to games – at least at first. If situations in certain cities improve over the course of the season, perhaps that could cease to be the case. So the owners are presumably going to want the players to agree to further pro-rated salaries given the loss of gate revenues.

Again, word on the street is that the league will look to start “Spring Training 2.0” sometime during the second week of June or so. It also appears that will be occurring in teams’ home ballparks. So the O’s would be training at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

What’s unclear is whether or not a slate of exhibition games would be included in this “Spring Training 2.0.” If teams are training in their home parks, I would assume that might not necessarily be the case. You might have some teams such as the O’s and Washington, the NY teams, Chicago teams, etc, who might consider setting up joint practices or perhaps the equivalent of NFL scrimmages of yesteryear, however I wouldn’t think teams would be traveling to other teams’ parks to play formal exhibition games. But I could be wrong.

There are all kinds of rumors in terms of how the season will unfold in terms of the divisions, but the most feasible idea I’ve seen is putting the O’s in a division (only for this year) with Miami, Tampa, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, the NY teams, Boston, and Toronto. Those teams would make up the entire 2020 schedule. But time will tell how that turns out.

And that’s another reason why this is taking longer than it probably should. Baseball can’t just start games up where teams would be have been in their schedule otherwise. They’re going to have to release an entirely new schedule with new dates and new games. It takes awhile to postulate how that’s going to work, and presumably that will be part of what’s rolled out to the players in the next week.

Baltimore Orioles: MLB drops the ball on Boston cheating scandal

As the Baltimore Orioles and the rest of the league await news about the beginning/resumption of the 2020 season, MLB came down with their discipline of the Boston Red Sox for their cheating in 2018. And unless you’re a Boston fan, I think you’ll be sorely disappointed:

  • T.J. Watkins, formerly the BoSox’s video replay system technician operator, is suspended for the entirety of the 2020 regular season and postseason. The league found that he at times utilized game feeds to steal signs.
  • Boston forfeits their second round pick in the 2020 first year player draft
  • Now former manager Alex Cora is suspended for the entirety of the 2020 season. Cora of course has already been deposed of his duties, so all this means is that he couldn’t sign with another team or play a role in this season – whatever this season ends up being. (For the record, this discipline is the result of his actions with the 2017 Houston Astros, and not the 2018 Boston Red Sox.)

The Boston Red Sox issued a statement in response:

As an organization, we strive for 100% compliance with the rules. MLB’s investigation concluded that in isolated instances during the 2018 regular season, sign sequences were decoded through the use of live game video rather than through permissible means.

MLB acknowledged the front office’s extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules and concluded that Alex Cora, the coaching staff, and most of the players did not engage in, nor were they aware of, any violations. Regardless, these rule violations are unacceptable. We apologize to our fans and Major League Baseball, and accept the Commissioner’s ruling

-MLB

I’ll put it like this – these “penalties are flat out INSULTING to any non-Boston fan. I might accept that their level of cheating might not have been as hands-on as that of Houston in 2017. But this is seriously less than a slap-on-the-wrist. Again, in my view it’s flat out insulting.

And I’ll be honest; if there was something that could have made the Houston Astros look sympathetic, it was this. Because if I’m Houston I’m pretty ticked off at the penalty that my team got, compared with the Boston Red Sox. This utterly wreaks of the rich just get richer.

Losing a second round pick might be serious for a team, but again if I’m Houston I’m questioning how they only lost a second round pick and I list a first and a second in two different drafts. Nevertheless, this is what the league and commissioner Rob Manfred have decided. So the matter is now closed.

Baltimore Orioles: Where we stand on a season

Greetings and salutations, Baltimore Orioles fans! We’ve all heard the potential contingencies for getting the season started, and there are positives and negatives to them all. The question is where exactly do we stand?

You can go on message boards and Facebook sites and get a wide array of opinions. From some saying “shut it down” and “we just have to accept that there’ll be no baseball maybe until 2021 or even ‘we,” to “play now with fans in the stands.” My personal opinion on the matter is that this is the moment to at least discuss what MLB will be in 2020. The curves do appear to be flattening. So it’s worth discussing.

Baseball’s in a much different and frankly better spot than sports such as hockey or basketball. They were in the home stretch of their respective seasons. But baseball would have just begun a couple of weeks ago. Baseball also has the ability to schedule doubleheader’s, thus getting in more games. That doesn’t happen in other sports.

I’ve advocated the idea of scrapping the AL and NL for one season, and playing the Grapefruit League against the Cactus League. My Pearson’s view is that’s a better alternative than the entire league going to Arizona. Teams have their own facilities in those respective places, and it would still give them a sense of playing “at home.” Not totally, but at the very least you’re playing in a ballpark that you feel is “yours.”

This past week we also hear another idea, that of putting the league into regional divisions and you play games in your division only. The O’s would have been lumped in with Washington, Philadelphia, both NY teams, and probably Boston. Something along those lines. It’s unclear exactly how the standings and/or post-season would have worked, but I digress. This would also allow for teams to play games in their home ballparks.

The one thing that all of these plans (and presumably the contingencies of which we haven’t heard) has in common is that they don’t allow for fans. Teams would be playing in empty ballparks. And I think it would have to be that way – at least at first. I don’t deny that it’s possible (albeit unlikely) that teams could admit fans later in the summer. But we would have to cross that bridge when we would get there.

What happens remains to be seen. But America needs sports. People can say it’s not essential and so forth – and that may be true. However it gives people repose from the real world. So my hope is that one of these plans, or one of which we haven’t heard, moves forward. And soon at that.

Baltimore Orioles: Mark Reynolds retires

Veteran journeyman infielder Mark Reynolds, a former member of the Baltimore Orioles, announced his retirement yesterday. Over the course of his 13-year career, Reynolds hit .236. However again over the course of those 13 years, he averaged 29 home runs a year. It was pretty much either a home run for Reynolds, or a strikeout.

Reynolds played for the Orioles in 2011 and 2012. He became somewhat of a cult hero amongst Orioles fans. Again, he had the potential for majestic, tape measure-type home runs. I once covered a game where he hit the ball into the club level seats at Camden Yards (on the second deck). At other times he looked lost at the plate, and swung through the same pitches he previously hit into the stratosphere.

It’s kind of a microcosm into life in a sense. We all have moments where we’re really on, but others where we’re really off. The Orioles first signed Reynolds prior to the 2011 season to play third base. However it turned out that his skills at third had regressed. Then they started playing him at first; and he played a very decent first base. Again, a microcosm of life. If one thing doesn’t work, something else might.

Reynolds of course was a member of the 2012 Orioles, which returned the franchise to the postseason for the first time in 14 years. And that added to the cult following that Reynolds assembled during his time in Baltimore. Nevertheless, I hope Birdland joins me in wishing Reynolds well moving forward!

Baltimore Orioles: Idea for the 2020 season

The Baltimore Orioles and the rest of MLB remain in a holding pattern regarding starting the season. I have to admit this is one of the strangest situations I’ve seen in my life – springtime with no baseball. No NBA or NHL playoffs. The NCAA tournament being canceled.

There are various opinions as to whether or not the season will eventually start. I still say that at some point it will. Whether that’s June or July remains to be seen. But I do personally believe we’ll have baseball this year. But who knows.

There are also multiple scenario’s for when the season will start, how many games will be played, etc. I’ll spare the details because there’s no point in going over that now when we just don’t know. However many of the ideas seem to center around teams playing games in spring training parks – which at first would be empty. (Perhaps eventually they could admit fans.) One even has the entire league centering in Arizona given that the parks are so close together.

However here’s another thought, or perhaps another spin on that. Throw out the concept of American League and National Leauge – just for this year. Assuming the 2021 season goes off as planned, everything would revert back to normal for that. But there are 15 teams (including the Orioles) in the Florida Grapefruit League, and 15 in the Arizona Cactus League.

You see where I’m going with this, obviously. Why not play out the season using that as a “line of demarcation” in a sense, and have teams battle it out to go to the playoffs in their spring training “divisions?” Then obviously you have a World Series between whomever comes out of the Grapefruit League, and whomever comes out of the Cactus League.

At first, it would keep teams in one geographic area, and yes this would presume that at least at first there would be no fans. However as time goes on, perhaps things loosen up a bit, allowing fans to attend games. On top of that, perhaps at some point and in certain situations, games could transition back to the cities that the teams represent.

There would be a lot of logistics involved in this sort of idea, including rules. I would hope that in this model the league might agree on one uniform set of rules, meaning either the use of a DH or having pitchers hit. You would obviously still have series’ and so forth, and yes there would potentially be doubleheaders.

I’m not big on gimmicks in baseball. I’m somewhat of a purist, and in general I don’t think the sport should be amenable to too much change. But if you’re going to utilize the spring training facilities and so forth, that seems like a plausible way to do it. One way or the other, there’s going to have to be some movement away from the norm in order for a season (potentially a shorter season) to be played. One way or the other, my hope is that the words PLAY BALL! ring out from somewhere fairly soon.

Baltimore Orioles: News on the regular season

Yesterday was tough for Baltimore Orioles fans, and fans across baseball. Yesterday should have been Opening Day. Fans should have congregated at Pickles & Sliders across from Camden Yards, and fans should have poured into the ballpark early for batting practice. Speaking for myself, I kind of took it personally in a way.

However yesterday also brought what could be deemed as some good news. It appears that the players and owners came to an agreement on the 2020 season. The deal isn’t yet official, but is expected to be ratified at noon today.

In effect, training camps will be resumed in mid-May, setting up a late May or early June start to the season. Each team will play somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 games, with the regular season lasting through October. The post-season would thus be in November.

The league will also schedule doubleheaders so as to get more games in. Perhaps in some cases two per week. Which would be an interesting dynamic.

Again this isn’t official, however my understanding is that camps would be resumed at individual ballparks as opposed to spring training facilities. However the schedule of games itself will have to be somewhat fluid. Some cities will become unplayable – such as New York at the moment. So games will have to be moved, played in front of no fans, etc. Everything would be on the table.

Presumably this means that the spring slate of games won’t be picked up. Teams will just have workouts and presumably intrasquad games. All of this of course is dependent upon the virus itself. If it starts to go away or is brought under control, the league will open up. If areas are still infested, they’ll remain closed.

Baltimore Orioles: Today would have been Opening Day

Today should have been Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles. John Means should be on the bump this afternoon for the Birds against New York. The Inner Harbor should be buzzing, crowds should be gathering at Pickles & Sliders across the street, and people should be raring to get into Oriole Park at Camden Yards for batting practice.

But as we all know, none of that is happening today. First and foremost, I feel badly for the players and fans. Today should be a holiday with a carnival atmosphere. Instead it’s the reality with which we’ve all been living the past couple of weeks. It’s just – nothing. (Now in all honesty, just sitting here penning this column does give me a certain twinge of normalcy.)

However I feel very badly for the businesses around the ballpark who rely on the Orioles to be vibrant. Pickles and Sliders across the street are just the two most prominent examples. However there are countless street vendors, store owners, restaurant owners, hoteliers, etc., who rely on a boon from people attending Orioles games everyday. Heck, Opening Day on it’s own is a huge amount of revenue. It will be back; this much we know. But in the immediate interim that doesn’t help the business owners, all of whom are hurting.

However MLB’s indicated that perhaps there’s some light at the end of the tunnel in this. Please note the word perhaps. If the Coronavirus is still ravaging our shores, baseball obviously won’t be played. There have been a lot of scenarios discussed, including a “doomsday scenario” which has no games being played. Meaning that the season would be canceled.

However the one scenario that seems to be gaining steam (according to multiple reports yesterday) is starting the season in early June. The regular season would then go into October, and the post-season in November. That would probably include neutral site post-season games in warm weather cities or domes.

What’s unclear is whether or not 162 games would be played. The Player’s Association has indicated that they’d be willing to accept scenario’s where it’s members played up to two doubleheaders a week to beef up the number of games. That isn’t to say that it would still get teams to 162 games, however.

What’s also unclear is if they’re just going to keep the schedule as it is and move the dates back. However my own personal twist on this would be for the league to suspend interleague play for this season, which would trim several games off the schedule. Games which theoretically would have been unnecessary anyways – because when was the last time interleague play figured into who made the playoffs and who did not?

Either way, I think they’ll need to reshuffle the schedule. I think that’s a given. Especially if doubleheaders are going to be scheduled. And on that note I would submit that they should agree that perhaps Saturdays and one other floating day be deemed the doubleheader days. Perhaps make it so that Fridays and Sundays are never doubleheader days to avoid guys doing it on back-to-back days, however ultimately the more games that can be played the better.

All of that remains in limbo, however. If the Coronavirus remains in play as a factor in our society, baseball won’t start in June. On the flip side however, we might see it before then. Teams will have to resume spring training in some capacity. It’s unclear if that will include exhibition games or just workouts, but it’s possible May could bring us a truncated slate of exhibition games. Time will tell.

In the mean time there’s something that Orioles fans can do today to remind themselves of what should be taking place. First pitch was scheduled for just after 3 PM this afternoon. At that time, go on Facebook (assuming you have a Facebook feed) and check into Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Just as a reminder that today was to be Opening Day. And in hopes that it isn’t too far down the road.

Baltimore Orioles: Season won’t start April 9th (updated)

The Baltimore Orioles and the rest of MLB remain in a holding pattern as the nation and the world battles the Coronavirus. However USA Today’s Bob Nightengale is reporting that commissioner Rob Manfred has said that the season won’t begin by April 9th. So again, we remain in a holding pattern.

Nightengale (who’s article I linked above) also said that the league is looking at various options that still include playing a 162-game schedule. It’s unclear what those options are, however I have to assume that most of them would involve playing well past when the league’s been comfortable playing in the past. Meaning presumably into November.

Again, the situation is fluid. What’s also unclear is the status of the crowds at games. Whether or not fans would be allowed come whenever they start the season remains to be seen. It’s unfortunate that we find ourselves in this situation. But here we are.

Update: The league announced that the start of the season has been pushed back to at least mid-May:

It’s tough to imagine an April and early May without baseball. But we’re about to find out what that’s going to be like. And it’s still unclear whether or not fans would even be allowed at games come that point.

Baltimore Orioles: We WILL get through this

The fact that the Baltimore Orioles and everyone else is kind of in a holding pattern right now is secondary. For people such as myself who breath this sport and this team (for purposes of this column) 365 days a year, that’s a bitter pill. It isn’t the off season, it’s just…nothing.

But that’s the way it has to be, folks. It just is. Public health is something that’s too important to risk just for the sake of even America’s pastime. Or the NCAA Tournament, and so forth. Orioles’ PA rep Chris Davis spoke yesterday on what the players’ plans are with the start of the season delayed at least two weeks:

I think a lot of it is up in the air. Hopefully, in the next few days, there are going to be more answers to the questions that we’ve had, but right now we’re just in a holding pattern.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Davis went onto say that some players would like to remain and work out at Ed Smith Stadium so as to get ready for the season (which eventually will begin). However it’s unclear if that will be possible or allowed. This truly is an unprecedented situation.

As you may have noticed, I find something to write everyday in the off season. Some days that’s not easy, but I find something – even if only fluff. It just keeps the site “tended to,” and up to date with fresh content. However it doesn’t come off as appropriate for me to do that given the current situation.

So in a sense similar to the league, this column is being put into a holding pattern. If there’s relevant news about the O’s or the league, I’ll report it. That might not come for a week or two, or it could come tomorrow. We just don’t know. Furthermore when things resume, we’ll still have daily coverage of the Orioles and the games – be they exhibition games or regular season.

However I want to leave you with a thought for the time being. We WILL get through this. And I don’t mean the O’s or the league, I mean the country as a whole. And of course the rest of the world. America’s made it through bad situations before, and we’ll do so again this time. If people listen to the authorities, stay home when ill, self-quarantine, etc, the numbers will go down. And before we know it, the screams of PLAY BALL! will be heard at Camden Yards.

Americans are resilient. We always have been. We’ll get through this. I say that as sure as hot dogs at a ballgame. My hope and prayer is that all readers stay safe and healthy during this uncertain period of time.

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini recovering after colon surgery

When it rains it pours for the Baltimore Orioles. However the start of the season being pushed back pales in comparison to what Trey Mancini‘s been through this week. Mancini’s recovering this evening after having a malignant tumor removed from his colon.

Mancini of course left the team last weekend for an undisclosed medical procedure. We now know what that was for. The Orioles have said that at this time there’s no news on his rehabilitation, or when he’ll be ready. That might come next week. I don’t think that timetable should be a problem for anyone.

Join me in keeping Mancini in your prayers and wishing him well.

Baltimore Orioles: Season on hold

Major League Baseball has announced that the Baltimore Orioles’ season is on hold – along with the rest of the league. The statement by the league:

The Orioles themselves followed with a statement of their own:

This is obviously more serious than anyone would have ever thought it to be even a week ago. I’m not sure what else to say other than that. My hope and my prayer is that the situation improves substantially in the near future. This both for the sake of public health, and for the sake of the season. But mainly public health.

More as we hear it.

Baltimore Orioles: Season on the brink

As of right now, the Baltimore Orioles play Minnesota tonight in Ft. Myers. They play Toronto tomorrow in Sarasota. They open the regular season at home against New York on March 26th at 3 PM. That’s what the schedule says.

You know where this is going. In a very short span of time, the Coronavirus has ravaged American life. And as a “germophobe” myself, it’s not overly shocking. I guess what is shocking to me is that it’s gotten to the point to where the NBA is suspending it’s season, and the NCAA is no longer allowing fans at it’s post-season tournament games.

I shouldn’t say that it’s “shocking” to me. It’s just shocking in the sense that it’s come to this. When I think of pandemics, I think of the Spanish Flu circa 1918. Or the Black Death in Europe in the Middle Ages. I don’t think of 2020 and whether or not we’re going to play ball.

Look we all know the various options out there, and what the situation is. Some localities (Seattle and Oakland to name two) have banned mass events of more than 250 people. The Seattle Mariners have already said that they would be relocating home games to start the year.

Assuming the spread of the virus doesn’t severely curtail, my personal prediction is that the season will start similar to how the NCAA is doing things – games with no fans. The Orioles’ organization is obviously familiar with that concept, having had a fanless game in 2015 following civil unrest in Baltimore. And I suspect that’s a scenario they’d rather not have to repeat.

However here’s a much more grave prediction; the moment one player tests positive, MLB will follow the NBA’s example and suspend the season. Now when I say suspend, I mean suspend – not cancel. What happens once it’s safe to resume play is anyone’s guess.

This is a situation that’s changing on the fly. It seems like every hour yesterday there was something new. But any and all of these steps are probably necessary. Again, the O’s play tonight against Minnesota. All we can do is take things on a game-by-game basis.

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