Baltimore Orioles cough up big lead

Toronto’s always been a bit of a bugaboo for the Baltimore Orioles. No matter what the stakes, circumstances, or odds, they seem to find a way to beat the Birds. Dylan Bundy got the start last night, and put the Orioles in a spot to win. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 8 K.

The O’s took an early 2-0 lead in the first two RBI-doubles; one by Rio Ruiz, and the other by Austin Hays. Toronto immediately cut that lead in half in the second on Bichette’s RBI-single. But in terms of scoring, we didn’t hear from Toronto again for awhile.

Trey Mancini‘s two-RBI double in the second extended the lead to 4-1. The Birds then proceeded to get homers in the fourth from Jonathan Villar and Anthony Santander, and when the smoke cleared they led 7-1. Seemed like a safe lead, right? Not against Toronto.

Bichette tacked on a run with an RBI-single in the sixth. However a seventh inning three-run homer by Hernandez should have put the Orioles on alert that Toronto wasn’t going away. In truth, it did.

The O’s tacked on two runs on sac flies in the seventh and eighth. So if you’re an Orioles fan you’ve seen the Birds all but take their foot off the gas, allow Toronto back into the game, and then tack on a couple more runs to extend their lead back to four. But there was one problem…

…Toronto put up six runs in the ninth to take the lead. Including a dramatic grand slam by Grichuk. The Birds would tack on one more in the ninth, but ended up falling 11-10.

Toronto usually finds a way against the Orioles. It’s almost uncanny how much they have the Orioles’ number. Last night they came back from a six-run deficit. It just doesn’t matter how tough things look, they find a way against the Orioles.

The series concludes tonight at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Gabriel Ynoa gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Wilmer Font. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Mental lapse haunts Birds late

The Baltimore Orioles claimed Chandler Shepherd off of waivers earlier this year. They called him to the majors last night to start against Toronto. It was a so-so outing, and one in which he was in essence on a pitch count. Shepherd’s line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

Trey Mancini gave the Orioles the lead in the first inning with a two-run homer in the last of the first. It was Mancini’s 34th home run of the season. It’s undeniable that Mancini’s had such a great year, and it stands to reason to me that he’ll be voted the Most Valuable Oriole for 2019. Just a prediction – obviously you never know.

Toronto bounced right back in the second with a solo homer by Grichuck, that cut the Orioles’ lead in half at 2-1. The issue was that one inning later Biggio smacked a two-run homer which gave Toronto the lead at 3-2.

But once again it was Mancini who brought the Orioles back. His sac fly-RBI in the fifth tied the game at three. Two innings later, Mancini gave them the lead back. His RBI-single in the seventh put the Birds ahead 4-3.

The Orioles brought Shawn Armstrong onto pitch the eighth in a setup role. He recorded a quick out, before allowing Biggio aboard with a double. However that didn’t immediately indicate doom for Armstrong and the Orioles, as Armstrong’s pitched out of numerous jams since joining the Birds. And what happened tonight aside, I think he’s a keeper going into spring training next year.

However Armstrong allowed Biggio to time him in a sense. Biggio timed his timing to home plate, and was able to successfully steal third base. He later scored on Gurriel’s sac fly-RBI. And the game was tied.

Those are the types of things that the Orioles need to work on. As close as most games are (they had a one-run lead which was in essence surrendered on that play), that’s the type of thing that can make a huge difference. Again this isn’t to say that Armstrong doesn’t have a spot with the Orioles moving forward – because I think he does. It’s just something that he has to work on.

Unfortunately for the O’s, Toronto our four runs up in the ninth inning. Jonathan Villar smacked a solo homer in the last of the ninth, but it was too little too late. The Birds fell to Toronto on this night, 8-5.

The series continues tomorrow at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Clay Buchholtz. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles show that unwritten codes are alive and well

John Means had his struggles this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles’ series finale in Detroit. Call it a so-so start, in the wrap-around game of a four-game set. Means’ line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Means gave up a two-run homer to Mercer in the first. And in reality, Detroit never really looked back. Reyes would double in two runs in the fifth, giving Detroit a 4-0 lead.

Trey Mancini would smack his 33rd homer of the season in the top of the sixth, which cut the Detroit lead to 4-1. A half inning later in the last of the sixth Lugo would tack on a sac fly-RBI, and Austin Hays‘ RBI-single in the seventh cut the lead to 5-2. The O’s would load the bases in the ninth, however Mancini would strike out to end the game, sending the O’s down to defeat by the score of 5-2.

They split this wrap-around series with Detroit, two games a piece. Therefore Detroit still has a worse record than the Orioles, which is fine by them. Make no mistake that while some fans think it’s funny or fashionable to want to finish dead last to get the top pick in the draft, the players and coaches take issue with that attitude. You want to win as many games as you can.

This game did have a brief controversial moment towards the end. Renato Nunez was hit by a pitch on the hand in the eighth inning. Nunez would eventually exit the game, and x-rays were negative. However he didn’t appear happy about the HBP.

In the last of that eighth inning the Orioles’ Ryan Eades hit Detroit’s leadoff hitter. Both benches were warned. As it turned out, there was no further conflict in the game.

Was that a purpose pitch? Needless to say, it looked suspicious. But if it was keep in mind that it was a matter of Eades thinking that Nunez shouldn’t have been hit, and taking up for his teammate. We can argue until we’re blue in the face that the game’s unwritten rules are good or bad. But the fact is that they exist – like it or not.

People often take about players needing to just scrap these unwritten codes. I have no issue with them – the game polices itself. However there’s only one way to totally get people to stop hitting opposition players intentionally: make ANY HBP an automatic ejection. And I can guarantee you the players association would never allow that, as the fact is that sometimes players get hit. Sometimes pitches innocently have pitches get away from them. That happens, and guys would end up getting tossed for it.

So unless you’re willing to take draconian measures like that (which would never fly), baseball’s unwritten codes are here to stay. They’re part of the fabric and the present of the game – like it or not.

The Orioles now head home to open their final home stand of the season against Toronto at Camden Yards. The O’s haven’t yet named a starter, while Trent Thornton will start for Toronto. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles prompted to victory by Hanser Alberto’s squeeze

The Baltimore Orioles handed Asher Wojchiekowski the baseball this afternoon in the Motor City, and got exactly what they needed. They got a starter who put them in a position to win the game. And in the process they’re finding out more and more that Wojciechowski could be a keeper going into next year. Wojchiekowski’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

Detroit took an early 1-0 lead on Wojchiekowski and the Birds, on an RBI-double by Mercer in the last of the first. However an inning later the O’s bounced back and tied it on DJ Stewart‘s RBI-single. Detroit briefly had the lead back on Greiner’s RBI-single in the last of the second. But the Orioles weren’t about to let this one get away from them after blowing two late leads and losing in walk off fashion in the twelfth last night.

They took control for good in the third. Hanser Alberto tied it with an RBI-single. The great thing about that was that it was a bunt RBI-single. The Orioles put on the squeeze play and Alberto bunted for a base hit. And…it worked!

And as I’ve been saying all year, sometimes things happen when you get traffic on the base paths. Because later in the inning with two runners on, Rio Ruiz stepped to the plate and smacked a three-run homer. That gave the Orioles the lead for good at 5-2.

Jonathan Villar‘s two-RBI single in the sixth rain the score to 7-2, however the game was interrupted by a 40 minute rain delay as some storms passed over Detroit. But the O’s didn’t let up once play resumed. In fact, they racked on an insurance run. Anthony Santander‘s RBI-single in the eighth ran the final to 8-2.

The Alberto squeeze play was the catalyst for the win. That’s a play on which the Orioles normally aren’t able to deliver. However it’s possible that the fundamentals that the coaching staff have been preaching all season are finally starting to kick in. While many fans will say that’s too little too late, it helps the O’s going into spring training next year. It’s a rebuild; the future is everything.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Comerica Park. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Tyler Alexander. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Nibbling doesn’t work

The Baltimore Orioles sent Gabriel Ynoa to the mound this evening in Detroit, although he ended up being one of many. One of many in a twelve inning game, that is. Ynoa’s line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Ynoa yielded Castro’s solo homer in the third, giving Detroit a 1-0 lead. After Ynoa has left the game Reyes’ RBI-single in the fifth extended the lead to 2-0. And at various points it appeared that’s how the game was going to end. Boy was that an incorrect prediction.

That 2-0 Detroit lead held until the top of the eighth. The Birds got two runners on, and Trey Mancini strode to the plate. And Mancini smacked a three-run homer into the stands. That gave the O’s a 3-2 lead in later innings.

However that lead wasn’t about to hold either. Reyes came to the plate once again with Detroit down to their final out. And Reyes sent a pop fly to right, which just barely made it over the fence for a solo game-tying homer. Was it a cheapie? Yes. But it still counts.

The game went to the twelfth, where Rio Ruiz gave the Orioles the lead back with an RBI-single. The Orioles were in good shape, but they still needed to close out the twelfth inning. Detroit had to hit again.

Michigan native Paul Fry walked a batter, recorded an out, and then gave up a double to put two runners in scoring position. He then intentionally walked a guy to load the bases and set up a double-play. The Orioles then turned to Ryan Eades.

Eades struggles from the get-go. He walked away in a run to tie the game on four straight pitches. There went the Orioles’ lead. He then gave up a game-winning walk off grand slam to Detroit’s Hicks, which sent the O’s to defeat.

Eades didn’t have the eye of the tiger from the beginning. He tried to nibble his way into outs. This is part of why being a big league pitcher is so tough; you don’t want to get too much of the plate, but you just can’t nibble. All that does is record balls and drive your pitch count up.

Fry took the loss, but make no mistake that the game was lost when a Eades started nibbling. Now it’s also a team effort – you can’t put it all on one guy. The Orioles lost the lead in one other occasion in the game as well. But nibbling shows no confidence, and it’s a sure way to help your opponent in getting more confidence.

The series continues tomorrow at Comerica Park. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Edwin Jackson. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles are better year-over-year

The Baltimore Orioles came into tonight’a game in Detroit with 47 wins on the year – which is where they finished 2018. So behind starter Aaron Brooks tonight, they had an opportunity to cement themselves as better than they were last season. Brooks’ line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 0 K.

Trey Mancini got the Orioles on the board off the bat with an RBI-single in the first inning. The lead remained at 1-0 through the fifth inning, when DJ Stewart smacked a two-run home run. Mason Williams‘ RBI-groundout would tack on an additional run later in the inning. And with that, the Birds took a 4-0 lead.

Two RBI-singles in the last of the fifth got Detroit on the board. Those RBI-singles also cut the Orioles’ lead in half at 4-2. But the Orioles weren’t done.

Trey Mancini smacked a two-run homer in the seventh gave the Orioles a couple of weeks insurance runs, and ran the final score to 6-2. Incidentally for what it’s worth, nearby Pontiac, MI native Pail Fry pitched a scoreless seventh for the Birds, striking out two. Fry’s parents were in attendance at tonight’s game, and their son didn’t disappoint when getting the opportunity to pitch in his hometown. As I’ve said before, that has to be a thrill for players.

And with that, the Orioles have 48 wins on the year. Not anywhere near the threshold the organization will eventually demand of manager Brandon Hyde and his players. However in the here and now, bettering your mark from the previous year will do.

Make no mistake that there’ll be nobody popping champagne because the Birds won more games this year than they did last year. But when you’re rebuilding you have to celebrate and take the good along with the bad. I think that this does mean a lot, contrary to what some people (including Brandon Hyde) say.

Before the season I said that success in 2019 would resemble winning more games than they did in 2018. The Orioles have now done that. Even if they don’t win another game this year (doubtful), that means something. Or at least it should – to both players and fans.

The series continues tomorrow night at Comerica Park. Gabriel Ynoa gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Daniel Norris. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: To the victors go the spoils

Dylan Bundy pitched another decent game for the Baltimore Orioles again this evening. He battled and then battled more. That’s what you want out of a starting pitcher. That’s what you want out of any player. Means’ line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R (two earned) 2 BB, 6 K.

The Orioles drew a walk and had to HBP’s in the first to load the bases. Austin Hays would then walk with the bases loaded, giving the O’s a 1-0 lead. However an RBI-single by Lux in the second would tie the game at one. But the Orioles took the lead back in the fifth with a solo homer by Pedro Severino.

After that, things got strange. First off, Rio Ruiz allowed the bases to get loaded with a fielding error in the sixth, bringing Martin to the plate (with two outs). Martin appeared to offer at a two-strike pitch, but on appeal first base umpire Jim Wolf said he checked in time. That kept the at-bat alive.

Bundy then proceeded to strike Bundy out swinging, which in theory preserved the Orioles’ lead. However Severino let the ball go right by him behind the plate, and it went to the backstop. Not one, but two runs scored on a passed ball. An oddity for sure.

The check swing is a judgement call. Plays as such also happen very quickly. Umpires have to make snap decisions. However the Orioles’ dugout was up in arms when that call was made. As was Dylan Bundy.

And that may well have made him dig just a little deeper to strike Martin out. However that extra sauce on the ball may well have led to Severino’s passed ball, which lost the game for the Orioles. Mind you folks, it’s never one thing that causes a win or loss. It’s the sum of the parts. But those two things stand out in this game.

I don’t believe that quirky things like that are gifted to you when you’re a “good team” such as Los Angeles. It would be ludicrous to suggest that. But good teams bound for the playoffs always take advantage of the opportunities they’ve been given. The game’s based on failure – either the hitter or pitcher is going to fail. And again, a good team will take advantage of your failures.

The O’s now head to Detroit for a four-game set at Comerica Park. Aaron Brooks gets the call for the O’s tomorrow, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Jordan Zimmerman. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles equal 2018

With tonight’s win, the Baltimore Orioles equaled their 2018 mark of 47 wins. They did it tonight behind a fine effort by John Means. He tamed one of the best lineups in baseball for all intents and purposes. Means’ line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K

Dwight Smith Jr’s RBI-double gave the O’s a 1-0 lead in the last of the second. And that lead held up until the sixth when Pollock smacked a two-run homer. Los Angeles is one of the best teams in baseball; you can’t totally shut them down.

However the Birds weren’t going to be stopped. Dwight Smith provides an additional RBI-single in the bottom of that second inning to tie the game at two. Right when it looked like we might end up in extra innings, Oriole bats came to life.

Jonathan Villar gave the Orioles the lead back in the seventh. He hit a no doubter into the stands, which opened up a 5-2 lead for the O’s. The record will also show forevermore that Villar hit the 6,106th home run of the 2019 big league season – a new major league record. Again, forevermore the record will show that said record was broken by an Oriole.

Pedro Severino would add a two-run shot in the eighth, and LA would add a run in the ninth. However when all was said and done, the Orioles had a 7-3 victory. Their 47th of the year.

As I said, that ties last year’s win total. My goal at the beginning of the season was for the Orioles to win more games than they did in 2018. So tonight they equaled that mark. Incidentally, they only reached 47 wins on the last day of the season last year.

The prevailing odds are that they’ll achieve my goal. Many people say that’s setting the bar too low. Maybe it is. But at the end of the day they’ll be able to say they did better year-over-year. And that’s an important sentiment to take into spring training next year.

The series with Los Angeles concludes tomorrow evening at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by LA’s Rich Hill (himself a former Oriole). Game time is set for approximately 7:15 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Outdone by a contender

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Ty Blach found himself grossly overmatched this evening. However that’s true of the entire Orioles squad up against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With their win tonight, Los Angeles clinched the NL West Division crown.

Bellinger’s RBI-single in the first inning got things going early on. LA would later put two runners on with Seaver coming to the plate. And Seager’s three-run homer opened the game up wide in the first inning with the O’s trailing 4-0.

The third inning would bring Seager back up to bat, and with that another home run. Seager’s two-run homer ran the score to 6-0. Lux’s solo shot in the fifth topped things off at 7-0.

The Orioles would get on the board in the eighth when DJ Stewart would smack his first homer of the season. But perhaps the best thing you can say about these Orioles is that they keep playing regardless of the situation. Renato Nunez‘s RBI-single in the eighth, combined with an errant throw, cut the lead to 7-3.

As I’ve said previously, you get people on base and things can happen. Even against a team as good as Los Angeles. The O’s were far outmatched this evening by a team in serious contention. But it also gives the O’s something to shoot for. Their aim and their belief is that they’ll get back to that stage at some point down the line.

As I said, this game was Los Angeles’ clincher for their division. With the win, they’re NL West Champions. So the normal array of champagne, beer, etc. was wheeled into the visitors’ clubhouse at Camden Yards this evening for their use. Now their goal will be to win a World Series.

The series continues tomorrow night with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Los Angeles’ Ross Stripling. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Changes in the organization

The Baltimore Orioles let go of several scouts a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday we found out that they weren’t finished making changes in the front office or throughout the organization. The O’s are apparently not renewing the contracts or parting ways with several people, but most notably former Orioles Scott McGregor, Calvin Maduro, Ryan Minor, and Jeff Manto – again, among others.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of this. I feel that former players should be taken care of. As much as Buck Showalter (who’s son was one of the scouts let go) was criticized for being overly loyal to veterans, I’m right there with him. And that also extends to former players. I think that there should be a place in the organization for those who want to remain a part of it after their playing days.

Obviously it goes without saying that the person has to be doing good work – and there was never any indication that any of the aforementioned alumni were falling short of their duties. This move is more about GM Mike Elias wanting to shape the front office in the manner he prefers. And I do understand that – and I understand it in full. But I also see Scott McGregor, who was on the mound for the final out of the 1983 World Series, who’s now sent packing from the only organization he’s ever known.

At the end of the day, if Elias can mold the Orioles into World Series champions down the line this will have had little to no effect on it. I just wish there were a way that they could have kept former Orioles in the organization. But these are the things that happen when you rebuild. You have to trust the process.

The O’s open a three-game set at home this evening with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Los Angeles’ Ross Stripling. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: MLB needs to re-think it’s interleague strategy

The Baltimore Orioles will open a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers tomorrow night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Los Angeles of course comes in with an eye on the post-season, while the Orioles are in effect playing out a string. However that wasn’t always the case at this time of year.

As we know, the Orioles won more regular season games than anyone in baseball between 2012-2016. They were always very much in contention at this point. So you, the Orioles fans, know what that’s like. You obviously want things to go as smoothly as possible for you.

Interleague games can sometimes throw a wrench into that armor. From the Dodgers’ perspective, that’s what they’re having to deal with right now. However from the perspective of an American League team, it’s even worse – you surrender your DH. And there have been plenty of times when the Orioles of the aforementioned era have had to do that in these all-important September games.

This is symptomatic of MLB wanting to have an interleague game on every day of the season. Literally from Opening Day until the season concludes. So whenever your team has an interleague game at what could be deemed an inconvenient moment, just keep in mind that someone had to play interleague today.

But I think it made much more sense to do interleague games in blocks, which is how it used to be. Normally the weeks leading in and out of Memorial Day weekend (and Memorial Day weekend itself), and the last couple of weeks in June would be interleague games. So whether you were home or away, that’s when you would be playing games against the opposite league.

MLB moved away from that, however I think it’s something they should reconsider. Once you get to September it should be about one of two things; the playoffs, or playing out a string. I suppose if you’re the Orioles and you’re playing out a string, it’s not that big a deal. However the L.A. Dodgers have to get used to a style of play with which they’re not familiar, at a very sensitive moment.

Again, the Orioles have had to do that in the past as well. However if the league went back to the former rules on interleague play, that would cease to be an issue.

Baltimore Orioles swept away by Texas

The Baltimore Orioles gave the ball to Asher Wojchiekowski in this afternoon’s series finale in Texas. And unfortunately, the net result was about the same as what we had been seeing in the first three games of this series. Wojciechowski’s line: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

RBI-singles in the first and second innings gave Texas a 2-0 lead. The backbreaker for Wojciechowski was Solak’s two-RBI single later in the second inning. And that ended Wojciechowski’s day.

The O’s however did try to make a run of things. Renato Nunez smacked a solo homer in the last of the second to get the Orioles on the board. However Texas just kept piling on run after run. Solo homers in the third and fourth innings gave Texas a 6-1 lead. Pedro Severino‘s RBI-double would cut it to 6-2.

Again however, Texas kept piling runs on. When the smoke cleared, they beat the Orioles 10-4 this afternoon. This while sweeping this series at Camden Yards.

Obviously you never want to get swept at home, but this series gave the Birds a chance to see some additional players that might make a difference going into spring training next year. Part of rebuilding is the evaluation process. And the O’s have their work cut out for them.

Baltimore Orioles need to reverse-scout their own pitchers

The Baltimore Orioles did a bit of a number on themselves this evening. Not by what they did in the game, but by what they didn’t do. It was obvious that Texas had studied and scouted Orioles’ starter Aaron Brooks ad hoc. And the Orioles played right into the trap of not scouting their own people. Brooks’ line: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R (6 earned), 1 BB, 3 K.

Brooks loaded the bases in the first inning before even recording an out. He managed to induce a comebacker, but his throw home was wide of the bag. Now the good news was that Brooks retired the final three hitters in the inning 1-2-3. The bad news was that came after an RBI-single, and a grand slam which gave Texas a 6-0 lead.

However the O’s tried to battle back. Anthony Santander‘s RBI-single in the last of the first cut the lead to 6-1. Trey Mancini would later score on a wild pitch, and Mason Williams‘ sac fly-RBI would cut the lead to 6-3. It looked like a night for the offenses.

Texas would tack on three additional runs before the game ended. Rio Ruiz would also smack a solo homer. The Birds would end up falling in this one, 9-4 – due in large part to a wild first inning.

But what happened in that first inning which causes me to talk about scouting or lack thereof? Brooks has actually been fairly solid of late in the past couple of weeks. That’s been due in large part to his changeups being so deadly. He’s really mastered the art of the changeup very well.

But the problem is that he’s gone to the well too many times. Texas obviously felt that Brooks was going to rely on his changeup early in the game; that’s probably what their scouts told them. They trusted their scouting, and it paid off with a big inning right out of the gate.

So again, would it not behoove the Orioles to in effect scour their own players? Maybe have their scouts look at games as if they were scouting another team for the O’s, but in essence to have them report on what they’re noticing about the Orioles? Because dipping into the well once too often on changeups is something that a scout would have noticed. Texas’ game plan was to expect the changeup early. Their hitters did just that, and the Orioles did their part to ensure that the changeups came in early and often.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Mike Minor. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles battle but fall to Texas

The Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen was unable to hold the lead for Dylan Bundy this evening. Bundy didn’t get credited with a quality start, but he put the Birds in a position to win. And he left with the lead in the seventh. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

One thing I’ve noticed out of numerous Oriole pitchers (including Bundy) this year is that many of them are actually getting too much of the plate at times. Bundy’s one walk evidences that in a way. Pitches were in the zone, and many hitters took advantage of that – starting with Texas’ Calhoun, who smacked a solo homer in the first inning.

However they didn’t lead for long. Trey Mancini hit his 30th homer of the season (a solo shot) in the last of the first, tying the game. And Richie Martin provided a three-run homer in the second inning, giving Bundy and the O’s a 4-1 lead.

However Texas rallies twice in this game – the first time being in the wake of the Martin homer. Texas put two men on in the third, and Calhoun was coming back to the plate. And he would connect again, tying the game at four.

But the Orioles has a rally of their own in them in the fifth. With a guy on base, Anthony Santander put the Birds back in the driver’s seat with a two-run home run to give them a 6-4 lead. However the lead’s only as good as the bullpen staff trying to protect it, and the Birds’ ‘pen couldn’t get the job done this evening.

The seventh inning found Bundy chased from the game, and back-to-back RBI-singles gave Texas three runs. It also gave them the lead at 7-6. Which turned into a 7-6 victory over the Orioles.

End of the day, Texas rallied twice, and the Orioles only once. Most of these games are tight, and you have to be able to rally. The O’s couldn’t do it tonight.

The series continues tomorrow at Camden Yards. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the O’s, and Texas has yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means a hard-luck loser

The Baltimore Orioles got another great start out of John Means last night against Texas. However the bats were quiet, making Means a hard-luck loser. It’s unfortunately part of being a starting pitcher sometimes in baseball. All Means can do is his job and handle the things he can control. He did that last night, it just didn’t work out. Means’ line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Means is going through a bit of a situation in his personal life, as his father was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. You may remember awhile back when he was placed on the family emergency list – he had traveled home to the Kansas City area to be with his Dad and his family. The Orioles then arrived in Kansas City, where Means turned in one of the best starts of his career in his hometown surrounded by his family. Needless to say, baseball’s a nice distraction for him right now.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the last of the sixth, after playing to a 0-0 tie to that point. Renato Nunez pushed a run across on a sac fly-RBI. However one inning later Solak smacked a two-run homer for Texas, giving them a 2-1 lead. Forsythe’s ninth inning RBI-single in the ninth gave them an insurance run, and Texas beat the O’s 3-1 in game one of four.

Manager Brandon Hyde on Means’ outing (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I didn’t think he was especially sharp in the first, but he really settled down and had a really good changeup going. He was just cruising into the seventh inning. He was throwing the ball really well and just left a changeup out over for the two-run homer. But that really wasn’t the story. He did a great job, but we just didn’t hit with runners in scoring position. We didn’t do a very good job with situational hitting tonight. We had our opportunities. He definitely deserved better, but we just didn’t get it done offensively tonight.

The O’s were 0-for-13 with RISP last night. While it begins and ends with starting pitching, that right there was the game. Had even one of those runners scored, the game unfolds differently.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Brock Burke. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Season’s success is on the line

The Baltimore Orioles open a four-game set with Texas this evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. To be blunt, the series is meaningless in terms of this season. Or is it?

The O’s currently stand at 46 wins on the season. Last year they won 47 games; and incidentally, win 47 came on the last day of the season. But I digress. This is about this year.

In my season preview back in March I said that if the Orioles can improve year-over-year 2019 will be a muted success. They stand on the doorstep of equaling last year’s mark. That will come with their next victory, which could be tonight for all we know.

I think it’s obvious that the O’s will reach that plateau at some point. They would have to lose the rest of their games to NOT equal last year’s mark, and in order to simply tie the mark they’d have to win one more game and that’s it. I think you’d have to try to do that, so it’s going to happen – even if by default.

Some of you are reading this saying to yourself, how could he declare this particular season a success? It’s a fair question. But when you’ve admitted since day one that the season was going to be a tough one, you have to set the bar low. Beating last year’s record was always about as high of a bar as this team was going to have. Even if only incremental improvement, they’ll have shown improvement…if they get there. Which they will

The series with Texas opens this evening at Camden Yards. The Orioles haven’t yet announced a starter, but whomever he is he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Kolby Allard. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Does instant replay need to be tweaked?

The Baltimore Orioles find themselves with a previously-unscheduled off day today due to contingency plans for Hurricane Dorian. However in the second game of a twin-bill yesterday, the Birds found themselves in some controversy when Richie Martin was called for interference for being inside the first base line. It took a run off the board, and began a downward spiral for the Orioles in the game.

As the rules stand now, that’s not a play that could have been reviewed. (The ball has to be by the bag for it to be reviewable.) However even if it could have been reviewed, would it have been overturned?

And the answer is no, it wouldn’t have been overturned. Personally I thought the call was questionable at best. While the base runners do need to stay to the left of the line, most of the times you see that called are when the runner’s physically on the grass. Martin wasn’t anywhere near the grass – if anything he was kind of straddling the line. Not over the line, mind you, but straddling it.

So the play wouldn’t have been overturned because there wasn’t clear and concise evidence that the call on the field was incorrect. Had Tampa challenged the play saying that he was out of the baseline, the same would have been true. Not enough evidence to overturn the ruling on the field.

However I suppose my point would be that perhaps we should look making calls in the infield reviewable. We’ve all seen our share of balls that have appeared to go over the bag get called foul. Would the game not be better for getting those correct?

What I wouldn’t want to see is something in line with what the NFL’s doing with their replay system. Allowing coaches to challenge pass interference in games to me is akin to managers being allowed to challenge balls and strikes. So I think there are some things which should remain judgement calls. But why not encompass as much as possible in what is in fact reviewable?

Baltimore Orioles: Did the Birds get hoodwinked?

You really have to tip your cap to Baltimore Orioles’ starter Gabriel Ynoa. He pitched a gem of a ballgame in game two of a doubleheader this evening at Tropicana Field, more than putting his team in a position to win the game. Ynoa’s line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

In a nutshell and on paper, the game result came down to two plays. Meadows smacked a solo homer in the last of the fourth, and Garcia’s RBI-single in the seventh gave Tampa a 2-0 lead – which was the final. So that’s it, right? Nothing more to see here? Yeah, right.

Chris Davis doubled down the left field line to start the third inning. Before I go any further I want to mention that regardless of his struggles, Davis has always been a decent opposite-field hitter. And we saw it this evening.

That brought Richie Martin to the plate, and he produced a swinging bunt on the left side of the infield. Following an errant throw, Davis scores and Martin ended up at third base with nobody out. Great way to begin the scoring in game two of a doubleheader, especially after winning game one. Am I right?!

No folks, I’m wrong. After the play was over the umpires huddled up and somehow came to the decision that Martin had run inside the base line, and ruled it interference. Despite the errant throw, and despite the fact that Martin never crossed the line, he was ruled out. Davis was sent back to second base, and the run taken off the board.

To further compound things, Jonathan Villar smacked a double in the next at-bat. Davis got a poor read, and stopped at third base. Villar poorly read Davis, and tried to advance to third – resulting in a rundown and Villar being tagged out. The Orioles should have held a 2-0 lead there, however they came away with nothing.

Much later in the game Trey Mancini was called out on a check swing (to end the eighth). Mancini thought he checked in time, as did manager Brandon Hyde, who continued the argument between innings. I’m not sure if it was after he kicked dirt on home plate or before, but Hyde was eventually ejected.

Hyde admitted when asked after the game that he may have brought up the bizarre call in the third inning involving Davis and Martin when he went out to argue for Mancini. Here would be my issue with that call if I were a manager: it wasn’t made until AFTER the play. If you’re going to make a controversial call as such, make it in the moment.

In this case, the umpires all looked confused as they huddled up after the play to discuss it. That almost gave the semblance of them having to call something to take the run off the board. Furthermore the call came from the third base umpire – not the ump at home plate, who’s call rightfully it should be. How could the guy at third see who was in the base lines?

Obviously the Villar play has nothing to with any controversial calls. That was the result of bad reads by Davis and Villar. However it added to the frustration of the Orioles in general. The perception for much of the season has been that he opponent always seems to get the benefit of the doubt. The O’s are hoping at some point that that the pendulum ticks back their way.

Baltimore Orioles tame Tampa in game one of twoi

Ty Blach got the start this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. And in doing so, he put the Orioles in a position to win, which as I’ve said many times is all you can ask of a starting pitcher. Especially in the first game of a doubleheader. Blach’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 H. 2 R, 4 BB, 2 K.

As I said, this was game one of two today. The teams were scheduled for a night game this evening, and a day game tomorrow. But uncertainty over the path of Hurricane Dorian caused Tampa and MLB to alter the schedule. So we end up with a straight doubleheader today.

Tampa took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on d’Arnaud’s two-run homer. Blach had been mowing hitters down, but hung a pitch that was ultimately jumped upon. However he would regain his form, and pitch through five.

Rio Ruiz smacked a solo homer in the fifth to bring the O’s to within 2-1. One inning later Anthony Santander‘s two-run homer gave them the lead at 3-2. And as good as Blach was in this game, the Orioles’ pen played a huge role as well. Sean Armstrong pitched two quality scoreless innings to hold the Birds over into the later innings.

Tampa-area native Mychal Givens did the same in the eighth, pitching out of a small jam. Small things like that can make a huge difference in games. The O’s also got an insurance run from Mark Trumbo in the last of the eighth to pad the lead, which turned into a 3-2 win.

The series concludes in just a few moments at Tropicana Field. Neither team has announced a starter at this time. Game time is set for about 25 minutes from now.

Baltimore Orioles: Mark Trumbo comes up big in Birds’ loss

Mark Trumbo made his long-awaited 2019 debut for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon in Tampa. Trumbo last played in a regular season game last August in Cleveland, before having knee surgery; he tried but failed to make a comeback in spring training, leaving that to today. And in doing so he got to see a decent outing from starter Asher Wojchiekowski. Wojchiekowski’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Tampa took a 2-0 lead on Meadows’ two-run homer in the third. The ball was a line drive that at first had the look of being an out, but simply refused to come down until it had just barely cleared the wall in right field. Two innings later it was 4-0 on Pham’s two-RBI double.

Hanser Alberto‘s solo homer in the sixth got the O’s on the board. After a couple of outs and a couple of baserunners, Trumbo came striding to the plate. Mind you, Trumbo knows what’s going on here. His contract’s up at the end of the season, and odds are he doesn’t fit into the Orioles’ plans for the future. There’s not even a guarantee that there’s a spot on a big league roster at all for Trumbo after this year. But he’s worked incredibly hard to get back to be able to play. And in doing so made a big impact on today’s game.

With the aforementioned two runners on, Trumbo smacked a two-RBI double to cut the Tampa lead to 4-3. Talk about a nice first hit of the season! Trumbo would later score on Pedro Severino‘s RBI-single which tied the game. Trumbo on today (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It was really nice. I was kind of hoping to do something today to help the cause. But yeah, being out there in itself was a good feeling, but it feels much better if you can do something to help the team, especially against a good opponent like this.

The game went to extra innings, however Pham’s RBI-single in the last of the tenth won it for Tampa. But today was about Mark Trumbo, who as I said worked incredibly hard to get back to being able to play. The fact that he worked so hard in what he knew from the get-go would be a down year, speaks to his character. Whether he returns or not, the Orioles are lucky to have had them come their way.

The series continues tomorrow at Tropicana Field in the first game of a doubleheader. Ty Blach gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Trevor Richards. Game time is set for just after 3 PM. (Game two will begin approximately thirty minutes after the conclusion of game one.)

Baltimore Orioles barbecued late in Kansas City

Aaron Brooks was unable to regain the form he showed on Tuesday night in Washington for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon in Kansas City. I would argue that he was lifted too early. However he did have his struggles, and the Orioles are trying to win games. Yes, you naysayers read that correctly – the Orioles are trying to win games. Brooks’ line: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

Things began well for the Orioles, as they began the game immediately by putting guys on base. They took a 1-0 first inning lead on Renato Nunez‘s sac fly-RBI. However Kansas City got on base-happy as well, and took a 3-1 lead with a two-RBI double and an RBI-single in the last of the first.

But the good news is that the O’s continued getting guys on base. They tied the game at three in the third on Trey Mancini‘s two-RBI single. While the Birds dropped the finale, they remained competitive.

And in fact, the Orioles also came back and took the lead. Pedro Severino pushed a run across in the sixth on a swinging bunt with a runner on third. Kansas City tried to get the out at the plate, however Villar slid in safely. And the Birds had the lead.

However two RBI-singles in the seventh and eighth inning respectively gave Kansas City the lead back. Merrifield added a solo homer, and the O’s fell 6-4. This was the first series rubber match Kansas City had won since June of 2018.

The Orioles now head to Tampa, however the series has been altered due to the uncertainty surrounding Hurricane Dorian. Tomorrow’s game will go on as scheduled. However the teams will play a single-admission doubleheader on Tuesday, starting at 3 PM. Game two will begin approximately 30 minutes after game one is completed.

That leaves Wednesday as an off day for the Orioles. It doesn’t appear that Hurricane Dorian is going to significantly affect the greater Tampa area, however you have to make snap decisions sometimes when it comes to storms and situations like this. I’m somewhat of a weather enthusiast, but you don’t have to be interested in weather to know that this is a very serious storm, and any precautions which can be taken must be.

The aforementioned series in Tampa begins tomorrow at Tropicana Field. Asher Wojciechowski gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Ryan Yarbrough. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Fair is foul, foul is fair

The Baltimore Orioles once again got a solid outing out of a starter in Kansas City, as Dylan Bundy put them in a position to win. Bundy had his struggles in the outing, however he did his job. He left the game with the lead, in fact. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R (3 earned), 3 BB, 7 K.

Kansas City would take a 1-0 lead on Starling’s solo homer in the second. However two innings later the O’s tied it on a solo shot by Anthony Santander. Kansas City would hear from him later in the game as well.

However in the bottom of that second inning Kansas City would get the lead back on a sac fly-RBI by Phillips – on a pop fly that was dropped by Wilkerson in center. That would lead to two other runs in the inning, giving Kansas City a 4-1 lead. However in the fifth Chance Sisco‘s solo homer would cut that lead to 4-2.

But remember when I said that Kansas City would see Anthony Santander again? That moment came later in the fifth when he smacked a three-run homer. That put the Birds in the lead at 5-4. At first the umpires weren’t sure that the ball was a homer, as it hit a sponsor board (over the wall) and bounced back into play. The umpires huddled up, called it a homer, and that was upheld on review.

While Dylan Bundy put the Birds in a position to win, they still had to bring it home. And unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen tonight. Dozier’s solo homer in the seventh tied the game at five. Kansas City used three consecutive bunts in the last of the eighth to load the bases with nobody out. A sac fly by a Merrifield and an RBI-ground out by Dozier later, and the Birds had fallen 7-5.

I mentioned the three bunts above to load the bases. The last two of those were fielded by catcher Chance Sisco, who made errant throws and allowed the base runner to advance. Now it’s worth mentioning that if one of those throws was good it might have been a different game.

However more poignantly, both of those final two bunts had a shot at rolling foul. However Sisco picked them up and tried to throw the runners out. That’s a very small, albeit it important detail.

You can’t fault Sisco too much for trying to get the runners out on the bases. Even one out would have changed the dynamic of the inning. However sometimes as an athlete in a game you have to stop yourself from playing playing to your desires in a sense. If he at least attempts to let those balls roll foul, the game is vastly different. His intentions without a doubt we’re good. But details such as fair and foul can be the difference between winning and losing at times.

The series in Kansas City concludes tomorrow afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Danny Duffy. Game time is set for 2:15 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means business in return to his hometown

John Means of the Baltimore Orioles got to watch a dream play out last night in Kansas City. Means’ hometown is about 30 minutes from there, and he grew up a huge Kansas City Royals fan. Athletes dream of playing in their hometown against their hometown team; not only did Means get to do it, but he pitched a gem in doing so. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Means was welcomed home in a semi-inauspicious manner, as Kansas City took a 1-0 lead in the first on a solo home run by Soler. However Means had some help in this game; that help of course in the form of Oriole bats. Pedro Severino‘s RBI-single in the second tied the game at one. Kansas City never had the lead or even got close again.

Anthony Santander smacked a three-run homer in the third, and the O’s were off to the races. Severino would add another RBI-single later in the inning, and Richie Martin a sac fly-RBI. Kansas City’s other lone run came on an RBI-single by Cuthbert in the last of the fourth. Other than that, Means kept them off the board.

And for their part the Orioles couldn’t stay off the board. Hanser Alberto‘s two-RBI single in the fifth opened the game up wide. Jonathan Villar would later steal home in the seventh to give the O’s a 9-2 lead. When all was said and done and the smoke cleared, the Orioles had defeated Kansas City 14-2.

Oriole bats were huge in winning this game – that goes without saying. But you have to feel good for John Means, who was able to provide such a dominant performance in his hometown in front of his parents and other family and friends. Means on the outing (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports:

It almost felt like my debut. I had so many friends and family here. The first inning, a little butterflies, you know in my home ballpark. But it was a cool experience. I didn’t think I would ever make it here, to be honest with you. It was always my dream, but I was a realist as a kid; I’ll probably have to get another job. But it was really cool. The big crown in center field. I grew up (and) probably came to 200 games here in my lifetime. I’m definitely familiar with the park.

Means seems like he understands what a cool moment he was afforded last night. And in saying that I mean the opportunity to get to play in his hometown, albeit as a visitor. Not every athlete gets to do that. Not only was he afforded that opportunity, but he seized it and ran with it. Pitching a gem like that in what amounts to his home ballpark is probably something that neither he nor his parents will ever forget.

The series continues tonight at Kauffman Stadium. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the I’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Jorge Lopez. Game time is set for 7:15 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Are the Birds impacted by Kansas City’s potential sale?

The Baltimore Orioles open up a three-game set in Kansas City tonight over Labor Day weekend. There was an interesting story that broke this week considering this weekend’s opponent. Apparently the owner of the Kansas City Royals, David Glass, is in talks to potentially sell the team. If the deal goes through, the sale price is rumored to be $1 Billion.

Let’s get the thank you Captain Obvious moment out of the way; that’s A LOT of money. Probably more than any of us is every going to see in this lifetime. However this does relate just a bit to the Orioles. There have been rumors that either owner Peter Angelos, or the family of owner Peter Angelos could be interested in selling the O’s at some point in the near future.

So if the Kansas City Royals net a sale price of $1 Billion, what does that say about what the Orioles might be worth? Could Angelos or his family not then turn around and tell a potential buyer, the Royals got this, so we should at least get that? Is it really that simple – as just to say that?

You have to look at both franchises and what they have going for them. Both are in the basement right now, but building their cores. Kansas City does have a recent World Series title, which the Orioles can’t tout. However, while both franchises are smaller markets, Baltimore is the 26th largest media market in the country. Kansas City is the 32nd largest. While those are only separated by a few slots, being a top 30 market is still huge.

One could also argue that the fact that the Orioles often have to compete for fans within their own backyard with another franchise makes them a tougher sell. However on the flip side, they also draw from the much larger Washington, D.C. media market. So it goes both ways.

It seems that each time you make an argument for one franchise being worth more, there’s an inverse argument which in theory could cancel that argument out. At the end of the day the Orioles and Kansas City Royals are probably worth very similar sale prices. So this is definitely something to watch, as if Kansas City sells for that $1 Billion price, one could definitely expect the same of the Orioles if they’re ever sold.

The aforementioned series with Kansas City begins tonight at Kauffman Stadium. The Orioles are yet to announce a starter, and Kansas City will start Eric Skoglund. Game time is set for 8:15 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Richard Bleier sounds off on shifts

The Baltimore Orioles are once again being talked about due to a public spat between a player and a coach. Reliever Richard Bleier came out of last night’s loss in Washington, and appeared to have words with third base coach Jose Flores. Later it was confirmed that the issue at hand was defensive positioning:

I think I just let frustration kind of boil over about some stuff that … some balls that I thought maybe defensive positioning, I guess. I probably could have done better for myself to keep my mouth shut, and unfortunately, I may have said something and you guys saw the rest.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Bleier surrendered a single down the first base line in last night’s game, on yet another play where the Orioles played a shift. And the ball would have been hit right to the first baseman had the shift not been on. As has been chronicled in this column ad hoc, teams seem adept at beating the Orioles in a shift. Bleier went onto say:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean, I think that we’re all adults. It’s not like I’m mad at anybody. Right now, we’re not thrilled with each other, maybe, but I’m sure we can move past this and get back to a healthy relationship.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

First and foremost, regardless of anything else I’m not a fan of players verbally confronting coaches in public. I always remind folks – this game is a job to these guys. Think about your job, whatever that may be; if you have an issue with how a boss or supervisor is conducting things, do you verbally confront him in the middle of the office? In general, no you don’t.

Now having a closed door meeting with your superior and airing your concerns in a civilized manner might be another story. In general that’s a much better conduit for change. It also comes across as much more professional. And if you look at those quotes Bleier seems to understand that.Perhaps he understands it in retrospect, but he seems to understand it.

That said, I obviously agree in principle with Bleier. My personal view is that the Orioles play these shifts far too often. And on top of that, when they play them they usually play fairly radical shifts. There may be only one opportunity for a guy to get a base hit with some of these shifts – but they’re finding that one hole of daylight, all other things be damned.

Not all of this can be avoided. Some hitters just luck out at times. However how many situations have we seen such as in last night’s game where the ball is literally being hit to the exact spot a fielder would have been had there been no shift? That’s something that should stand out to fans.

I think what we’re seeing is that at the end of the day these shifts are just going to make guys into better hitters. The idea behind a shift is to cover the spots on the field where the hitter usually hits the ball. The fatal flaw of the shift is that the game’s still played by human beings. Sometimes fluky things happen. And if I were the Orioles, it would give me pause when I saw that they seemed to happen to me an awful lot.

Baltimore Orioles split Battle of the Beltways

It began and ended with Asher Wojchiekowski tonight for the Baltimore Orioles. Because it begins and ends with starting pitching. Wojchiekowski couldn’t make it happen tonight against Washington. Wojchiekowski’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H 5 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Wojchiekowski got himself in trouble early with Soto’s RBI-triple giving Washington a 2-0 lead. The key for the Orioles is not to let guys get on base. If you think back to last night, nobody for the most part was on base for Washington. Once guys get on base anything can happen. And it happened early this evening.

Cabrera would add an RBI-single, and Suzuki a two-run homer. By the end of the first inning, the Orioles trailed 5-0. However they battled back. There’s no quit in this team. They were able to cut the lead to 5-1 on Anthony Santander’s RBI-double in the third, and 5-2 on Chance Sisco‘s solo homer in the fifth.

However the last of the fifth would yield Washington twoRBI-doubles, the second which scored two runs. That all but broke the Orioles’ backs. They would get a two-run Homer’s year by Chris Davis, but it was too little too late.

The O’s split this series in Washington, as well as the season series. Each team won one and lost one at home. Given the fact that Washington’s in contention, the Orioles atoned for themselves fairly well.

And this ends another Battle of the Beltways. The two teams will play four times (twice in each park) next year once again. They’ll also play a home-and home in spring training. That doesn’t always happen. But in 2020 it will.

Baltimore Orioles with a pitcher’s duel in the Nation’s Capital

My personal opinion is that Aaron Brooks pitched his best game as a member of the Baltimore Orioles tonight in D.C. Brooks struggled just a bit out of the gate in the first inning. The only thing he was getting over for a strike was his changeup. But he settled in, and gave the Orioles a true quality start. Brooks’ line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

However the Orioles had the lead even before Brooks took the field. After the O’s put two on base early, Anthony Santander‘s RBI-double Gabe them a 1-0 lead. That left two runners in scoring position, and Jonathan Villar‘s sac fly-RBI put the Birds ahead 2-0.

And as I said, Brooks settled down. Unfortunately for Oriole bats, so did Washington’s starter Corbin. However with little doubt, this was a classic throwback type of game. A pitcher’s duel. Pitchers on both sides were mowing them down left and right. In this age of the home run ball and baseball’s wound tightly and juiced up, it was refreshing to see for once.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of the shift. That isn’t to say that there’s not a time and place, however when it’s newsworthy when teams pitch someone straight up, it’s gone too far. I recognize that the all-important analytics’ say that you have to play these shifts. But the game is still played by human beings.

Once again, we saw the Orioles in effect victimize themselves in this game due to the shift. In the last of the fourth with Rendon on first, the Orioles played a shift to the right side of the infield on Cabrera. Sure enough, Cabrera grounder out to the second baseman for the second out of the inning.

However Rendon had been in motion on a hit-and-run. Not only did Washington stay out of an inning-ending double-play, but with the infield shifted all the way over there was nobody covering third. Rendon took the opportunity to take third base.

The next hitter popped out and the inning was over. However it would stand to reason that Washington anticipated the Orioles’ shift, and put on the hit-and-run – thinking they could get the runner to third. Which they did. That’s where the shift hurts you, and at times it’s negatively affected the O’s all season.

With the O’s still leading 2-0 in the last of the eighth and Hunter Harvey onto pitch, we finally saw a Washington rally. They loaded the bases against Harvey with one out. However while Harvey managed to get himself into that situation, he also got himself out of it by striking out two to end the threat. In what was perhaps the first test of Hunter Harvey’s big league career, he managed to pass. As did the Birds, who beat the hottest team in baseball at their place, 2-0.

The series continues and concludes tomorrow night at Nationals Park. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Max Scherzer. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles head for D.C. to battle for beltway supremacy

The Baltimore Orioles head down I-95, US 1, the B/W Pkwy, etc, to Washington D.C. this evening to open up a two-game set with Washington. The teams split a two-game series last month at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. However Washington’s gotten hot since then. Very hot.

However the Orioles also are coming off of a winning home stand, where they took four-of-seven games. The big difference between these games and others is that the Birds will have to surrender their DH, and the pitchers will have to hit. The teams themselves aren’t really into that. But the players certainly are – the pitchers, that is.

Speaking for myself, I despise the concept of the designated hitter. I know that the National League is much more likely to adopt the DH than the American League is to drop it, however I digress. I’ll grant you however that it puts American League teams at a disadvantage in these interleague games. But them’s the breaks.

The series begins this evening at Nationals Park in D.C. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Patrick Corbin. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles pounce early, split with Tampa

Dylan Bundy took to the mound this afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the Baltimore Orioles, and in the process put the O’s in a spot to win. I would also add that he collected the victory himself. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

The Birds got at it early today, taking a 1-0 lead on Renato Nunez‘s RBI-single. Two innings later Nunez came up with two runners in scoring position, and smacked a two-RBI double to give the O’s a 3-0 lead. Tampa was put on notice early on that their pennant race would have to wait until after leaving Baltimore this afternoon.

Later in the inning DJ Stewart‘s RBI-single tan the lead to 4-0. Tampa would net a run however in the top of the fourth on Kiermaier’s RBI-single. But the Orioles weren’t about to allow that to bother them. They extended the lead to 5-1 in the last of the fourth with a solo homer by Jonathan Villar.

Incidentally, in a season where we’ve seen opposing hitters hit balls a long way against the Birds, that Villar home run might be one of the longest we’ve seen all season. It almost flew into the entryway where fans go from the seating bowl to the concourse. Anthony Santander would add a two-RBI single before the inning ended, giving the O’s a 6-1. Incidentally, Santander also had the first five-hit game of his career this afternoon.

Tampa would tack on two runs in the fifth in an attempt to inch their way back into the game. The O’s also managed to lose pitching coach Doug Brocail, who was ejected in the top of the fifth. It was a bit of a quick hook by the first base umpire after Brocail questioned a check swing that was called a ball, but nevertheless ejections come at the discretion of the umpire.

But the O’s weren’t about to allow the loss of their pitching coach do them in. Stevie Wilkerson added a sac fly-RBI in the last of the fifth, and Anthony Santander added a solo homer in the seventh. With the 8-3 victory, the O’s split the series with Tampa – a team I would remind fans, that’s in contention.

The two wins the O’s took in this series were good victories. They didn’t back into winning the games or anything along those lines. It falls on deaf ears in a sense because Friday night the Orioles were officially eliminated from playoff contention, but the two victories in this series were solid ones.

But there is one thing that’s worth mentioning. In my season preview back in March I said that a successful season for the Orioles this year was going to be to beat last year’s win total of 47. Today was win number 43. With over a month left to play before the season ends, are we to believe that the O’s are only going to win three more games? So as tough as this season has been at times, based on pure math you have no choice but to admit that the organization is going the right way.

Baltimore Orioles’ Hanser Alberto intimidates Tampa, Birds win

It begins and ends with starting pitching for the Baltimore Orioles. This evening, that means it began and ended with John Means. After falling off just a bit after the all-star break, Means stepped up tonight and pitched himself and the Orioles to a quality start. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K.

Means was on point throughout the entire outing. However the zero walks really stands out. In a year where the Orioles have seemingly allowed the entire world to homer or walk, Means didn’t issue any free passes. In a year where John Means has impressed from the beginning, he was outstanding tonight.

And for once, the Orioles got a quality start and the bats followed suit. They put two runners on base in the first inning, and Hanser Alberto scored on a wild pitch. Tampa of course employer an opener, however the Orioles chased him before the first inning was even over.

However the lone dim moment for the Orioles came in that first inning when they allowed Tampa to turn a double-play with the bases loaded and one out. You have to hold opponents accountable when they get into jams. Because in this case Tampa’s usually the type of team that says thank you very much when given opportunities. Luckily for the O’s, that didn’t happen tonight.

Tampa brought in Pruit to pitch after the opener, and he found himself similarly in trouble in the last of the third. The O’s had runners at the corners with nobody out, and Tampa employee a shift. Hanser Alberto was at third, and with nobody holding him on at third base he began creeping down the line. As he danced around between third base and home plate, he was obviously causing Pruit angst on the mound…

…and Pruit as a result would allow the runner at first to steal second, and an additional base runner at third. Still intimidated by Alberto, he eventually hung a fastball to Pedro Severino. And Severino find.’the disappoint, depositing a grand slam in the left field grandstand, and giving the Birds a 5-0 lead.

Don’t underestimate the role that Hanser Alberto played in that sequence. In case you don’t follow my twitter feed and aren’t aware of my stance on shifts, I’m not a fan. And that situation illustrates one of the many reasons why. Tampa gave Severino the entire left field line – because his spray charts show you don’t really have to guard that area against him.

But what the shift doesn’t foresee is having a runner on base who’s pushing the limits of coming down the line. Alberto was dancing around between third and home for several minutes, and Pruit was very wary of it. And T affected his concentration, causing him to hang that fastball to Severino.

To top it off, Alberto and Jonathan Villar would go back-to-back on solo homers one inning later. That ran the lead to 7-1. Tampa’s Brosseau would smack a solo shot of his own in the fifth, cutting the lead to 7-1. But that doesn’t overshadow Means’ superb outing, or Alberto’s antics. Granted Pedro Severino still had to hit that grand slam out of the park, but credit part of it to Hanser Alberto.

The series continues tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the call for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: In memoriam for the late Mike Flanagan

August 24th is a day that Baltimore Orioles’ fans will likely never forget. In 2011 the team was in Minnesota on a road trip. As that evening’s game unfolded, news from back in Baltimore started coming in of a body being found on the Baltimore County property of former Oriole Mike Flanagan.

At some point during the game local police confirmed that the body was that of Flanagan. The next few days were a blur for Orioles fans. At that point in time Mike Flanagan was a color analyst for Orioles games on MASN. But obviously his entire adult life had been dedicated to the Baltimore Orioles.

On that day I swore that so long as I penned and Orioles’ column I’d always remember the late Mike Flanagan on this day. He was the very heart and soul of the team and perhaps the city through some very magical years. He was witty and had a charm about him that was symptomatic of his New England upbringing.

Flanagan also came from a time when athletes moved themselves to the city in which they played. That doesn’t really happen any longer. Some do that, but not many. So Flanagan and his family lived amongst the fans. His kids went to school with your kids and so forth. He was very much a member of the greater Baltimore community much more so than just playing for the Orioles.

I suppose I’ll never forget the way that this horrible news was received by Orioles fans and the Baltimore community. There was an outpouring of support both for and from the Orioles themselves, and from fans all over when the team returned from Minnesota that weekend. And my hope is that Mike Flanagan is never forgotten. He was a great Oriole, and remains so in death.

Some events rock the world. This one very much did for Orioles fans. Mike Flanagan will always remain a focus in the Orioles’ story over time. While his death sent shock waves across Baltimore, my hope is that Orioles fans just remain grateful that he came their way.

Baltimore Orioles: One bad inning equals a bad outing

Ty Blach learned a valuable lesson in his start last night for the Baltimore Orioles. One bad inning against an opportunist team such as Tampa (who’s in contention as it is) will do you in. In Blach’s case, it’ll also get you sent out to the minors after the game. But I digress. Blach’s line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

Blach threw 15 pitches in the first inning. And 47 in the second. That obviously did him in. Now personally I feel that only three of those seven runs should have been earned, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But the end result is still the same.

Kiermaier got Tampa going in that second inning with an RBI-double against the shift. I’m sometimes asked why I sometimes point out that a hit or RBI comes against the shift. My personal view is that these shifts are being played too often in baseball. So when I see a play where a guy gets a hit to a spot where a player would have been had they not been shifted, I take notice.

That Kiermaier hit would have been right to the third baseman had the defense been straightaway. Now it was also very softly hit so it still might have been a hit. But would a run have scored? Debatable, I suppose.

Zunino’s two-RBI single later in the inning gave Tampa a 3-0 lead. Later in the inning Pham hit what I thought was a routine grounder to Hanser Alberto at second base. Alberto dropped the ball, and everyone was safe. That brought Meadows to the plate with the bases loaded, and his grand slam gave Tampa a 7-0 lead.

we may be arguing semantics just a bit. However I would argue that the four runs from the grand slam should be unearned. Again, my personal view was that the grounder to Alberto was fairly routine. I suppose it may have been semi-slowly hit (or something along those lines), which is why a hit was credited to Pham.

But if that’s ruled a routine play, given that there were two outs any runs coming after that play would be considered unearned. Tampa could have scored five more runs in the inning, and they would have been unearned. Idea being that the inning would have been over if not for the error. At the end of the day it really only affects the pitcher’s ERA. However I thought those runs should have been unearned.

Jonathan Villar‘s solo homer in the eighth inning would get the O’s on the board. However this game shows the importance of starting pitching. Blach had one bad inning. And in reality it did the Orioles in. Those seven runs in the second were the only runs Tampa scored. That one inning literally cost the Orioles the game.

The series with Tampa continues this evening at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Jose Alvarado. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles upended by Tampa, rain

Asher Wojchiekowski was pitching a decent game last night for the Baltimore Orioles. However an hour and 45 minutes into last night’s games, the rains came. And in saying that I mean a torrential downpour. Two hours and 15 minutes later, the game resumed – with Wojchiekowski out of it. Starters usually don’t return after rain delays of that magnitude. Wojchiekowski’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

The O’s took a 2-0 lead in the last of the first on Trey Mancini‘s RBI-double. However the double itself only attested for one of those runs. Mancini would come around to score on a two-base throwing error by Tampa.

However Tampa would chip away. Meadows smacked a solo homer in the third. Adames would follow suit in the fifth, tying the game. It’s important to note that the rain delay came during the last of the fifth with the game tied. If not for that second Tampa homer, the game would have been official. But since the game was tied, in essence it had to be completed. And it would be completed very late at night as a result.

Play resumed after 11 PM, and Tampa took the lead in the sixth on Adames’ two-RBI single. That seemed to break the game wide open in a sense. Oriole bats were seemingly quieted for the remainder of the night. Meadows would score in the ninth on a wild pitch, and the Birds dropped this one, 5-2.

Tampa’s in contention. The Orioles are not. So that’s one reason that they Birds were quiet offensively after the delay. However that’s compounded by the fact that they were sitting for almost three hours waiting to resume the game.

You can’t use that as an excuse, mind you. The conditions and the circumstance was the same for both teams. It’s unfortunate given that the rain knocked Wojchiekowski out of the game, and you just don’t know how it would have played out, but it can’t be an excuse. And given that Tampa’s in contention, this game could be important to them. Otherwise it probably would have been canceled and perhaps not made up.

The series continues this evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Ty Blach gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Trevor Richards. GMe time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: These Birds are royal

It doesn’t begin to pay Kansas Coty back for the 2015 ALCS, but the Baltimore Orioles walloped Kansas City this evening to take two-of-three. The Birds got a decent start for the second in as many games, this evening out of Aaron Brooks. Brooks’ line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

For the first time in what feels like forever, the O’s put up some wayward – or caddywampus – numbers. I thought that perhaps this past Sunday in Boston was going to be a game like this, however Boston came back and beat the Orioles handily. But Kansas City aren’t the BoSox. And this wasn’t Fenway Park.

Jonathan Villar got the party started in the second inning with a two-rum homer. Stevie Wilkerson would add an RBI-double later in the inning, and the O’s led 3-0. They jumped out to a lead, and never looked back.

Kansas City did however make a slight motion to get back into the game. Merrifield smacked a solo homer in the third inning. However that would be as far as they’d get. While Kansas City takes it’s team name from a color, the true colors of this game and this series were orange and black.

The Orioles would net back-to-back homers in the last of the fifth, which in effect blew the game wide open. Anthony Santander smacked a two-run shot, and Renato Nunez a solo homer. The Orioles at that point led 5-1.

And they also put out a few add-on runs. Probably unnecessary with the way this game ebbed and flowed, but always nice to have. And in fact with how this season’s gone for the Orioles, you can never have enough runs. Hanser Alberto hit a three-run homer in the sixth, and the Birds went into win by the score of 8-1.

The add-on runs are a good sign. As is the fact that the Orioles continued the momentum gained from the previous game. In fact, Jonathan Villar hit the walk off homer last night, and picked right up where he left off this evening. He of course hit the first home run in this game. Again, these are all good signs.

The Orioles will now open up a four-game set with Tampa at Camden Yards. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Ryan Yarbrough. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Hanser Alberto slugs Hunter Harvey to his first big league win

First and foremost, the Baltimore Orioles snapped an eight-game losing streak this evening. Dylan Bundy pitched an absolute gem for the Orioles tonight. Yet he was unable to get the win. Instead it went to Hunter Harvey in relief – note worthy because it was his first big league win. Bundy’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K.

In a season where more and more balls are flying over the fence, tonight we had the pleasure of seeing an old fashioned pitcher’s duel at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. To some of us, it was a refreshing sight. Let’s face it, home runs are exciting. But the game’s always been more than just the long ball. Pitching and defense have their place also.

The Orioles allowed a single to Gordon in the second inning, which wouldn’t have happened if not for the shift. The ball was hit right to where the second baseman would have been had the O’s played their defense straight away. An additional base hit an a Villoria RBI-single later, and the O’s trailed 1-0.

And that one-run lead held up for Kansas City for some time. For awhile it looked like their pitching was going to do all they could not to even let the Orioles on base. However on the other side the Birds still had Bundy dueling right there with Kansas City’s starter. And he was let off the hook for a loss when Rio Ruiz smacked an RBI-single in the seventh.

However they lifted Bundy after the seventh, and Harvey pitched the eighth. A flawless eighth I might add – striking out two. That was the top of the eighth. Then came the last of the eighth.

Trey Mancini led the inning off with a walk. However it was a heads up play that he made while on first which made a huge difference a in theory. An out was recorded on a foul pop, sending the Kansas City third baseman into the Kansas City dugout on the third base side. While he made the catch, he did so falling into the dugout and with his back to the field. Mancini alertly tagged up and went to second base.

Hanser Alberto came to the play following an additional walk, and send a three-run homer into the Orioles’ bullpen in left center field. That gave the Orioles a 4-1 lead, which translated into a 4-2 victory. Harvey of course was the pitcher of record when they took the lead, so he gets the win. Again, his first as a big leaguer.

The reason I say that Mancini’s heads-up base running made a huge difference IN THEORY is because they took the lead on a homer. However Mancini got himself into scoring position, and was ready to score on a base hit. Small things like that win you games.

The O’s will go for the series win tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Mike Montgomery. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Mental lapses cost you wins

John Means have the Baltimore Orioles five incredibly solid innings this evening against Kansas City. The issue of course was that he seemingly fell apart in an abrupt manner – before the O’s could get him out. While an error certainly helped things along in that sequence, Means tired quickly. Means’ line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 earned), 2 BB, 4 K.

Again for five innings, Means looked good. And the O’s had a lead. DJ Stewart‘s RBI-double in the second inning gave them a 1-0 lead.

However a base hit and a botched fielder’s choice and an error in the top of the sixth gave Kansas City runners at the corners. Before the O’s could get someone ready in the bullpen Merrifield’s RBI-single would tie the game at one. Later in the inning Dozier’s two-RBI single gave Kansas City a 3-1 lead.

I’ve said this before but teams are holding the Orioles in account for 100% of their mistakes. Now the Orioles are in some instances starting to do the same, but if you get into games which are decided by the team that commits the fewer errors and so forth, generally a rebuilding franchise is going to lose that.

However the Orioles don’t quit. That’s certainly to their benefit. Jonathan Villar‘s solo homer in the last of the sixth cut the lead back to one. However the Orioles managed to run themselves out of that inning, with two runners being well off the bases in the end trying to advance. With two outs. Kansas City had both runners in a run-down, only needing to nail one of them. And they did.

And again, they made the Orioles pay for that. They led off the seventh with back-to-back home runs. That broke the Orioles’ back in a sense. Again, the Birds managed to run themselves out of the previous inning. And Kansas City held them to account.

But turnaround can also be fair play. As I said, the O’s are starting to do that also. Stewart would smack a run-scoring single in the last of the seventh which scored a run due in part to an error. Rio Ruiz would smack a solo homer in the last of the ninth, but it was too little too late and the O’s fell 5-4.

Those mental lapses, whether they show up in the scorecard or not, cost the Orioles the game. Think back to that unearned run in the sixth. Think back to the O’s running themselves out of that inning. If things break differently this could be a win instead of a loss.

However that’s part of rebuilding. Lesson learned, in a sense. These games will happen, and as I’ve said many times the organization all but promised fans that at the beginning. It’s a painful process. You just have to hope that if the process is administered properly it culminates in the organization being in a good spot.

The series with Kansas City continues tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Brad Keller. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Ball always bounces for Boston at the Fens

I would say that Ty Blach‘s day for the Baltimore Orioles was slightly more good than bad. However he certainly had an interesting game, getting six runs and then giving them back. Blach’s line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 6 K.

Some of the runs Blach surrendered behooved he and the Orioles in that they had a lead and they gave them outs. But they all add up. The O’s took an early 3-0 lead on Renato Nunez‘s three-run homer in the first inning. It looked like it might be a good day for the O’s at that point.

Trey Mancini‘s second inning two-RBI single extended the lead to 5-0. One inning later Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-double extended it to 6-0. But that’s a dangerous position in which to find oneself at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. It’s perhaps the quirkiest park in the majors, and those quirks usually play to the advantage of the home team.

Comebacks always start innocently enough. Boston better two runs in the last of the third on RBI-groundouts. And as I said, it somewhat behooved Ty Blach to surrender those runs. The Birds got outs out of the deal, and they were only one run at a time. Speaking for myself, as a coach I would take that 100% of the time. But in retrospect, Boston was piecemealing their comeback together.

The turning point of the game came in the fourth inning. Jonathan Villar was called out in an inning-ending play on the base paths when he contacted the Boston shortstop. The umpires ruled that he had impeded the fielder’s ability to field the ball.

My point would be what is he supposed to do, run around the guy? Either that or allow the fielder to make the play and then potentially tag him out? It’s a judgement call, but one that went in Boston’s favor. And as I said, the game all but changed on that moment, especially seeing that the bottom of that fourth inning brought a solo homer by Travis (cutting the Orioles’ lead to 6-3).

The last of the sixth was the nadir of the game. Vazquez’s RBI-double cut the lead to 6-4, and left runners at second and third. Moreland then sent a pop into shallow center field. And…the ball fell in the “Bermuda triangle.” This allowed both runners to score, tying the game at six. The ball always bounces Boston’s way at Fenway Park.

I did have a question about the tying run, however. The runner nic’d catcher Chance Sisco as he went by, making it tough for him to field the incoming ball and have a shot at tagging the runner out. Earlier in the game Villar had been called out on the base paths for contacting a fielder. Apparently that rule isn’t universally applied. Sisco would later leave the game after taking a ball to the groin. Again, the ball bounces Boston’s way at Fenway Park.

Bogaerts would smack a two-RBI single later in the inning to give Boston a lead, and they never looked back. Trey Mancini would smack a sac fly-RBI in n the ninth, but the Birds ended up falling 13-7 in Boston. They went 0-for-7 on the road trip.

Many of the tack on runs Boston scores came on singles which were either just slow enough, or against the shift. Oriole pitchers put out several good pitches which justifiably should have gotten them out of the at-bat. But Boston hitters managed to find the holes. Far too often the Orioles are using the shift and opposing teams are either finding a hole, or hitting the ball right where a fielder otherwise would have been had there been no shift on.

And there’s no science to that. It just happens. And it happens a lot to the Orioles. Ultimately it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t, regarding a shift. The ball just bounced the other way a lot today – and the bounces always go Boston’s way at Fenway Park.

The O’s now head home to open a three-game set with Kansas City. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Jorge Lopez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Hunter Harvey makes big league debut in loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Could Aaron Brooks be an opener?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles called out by national writer Jon Heyman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Turning to brass versus turning to gold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Homers the Birds’ bugaboo once again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Are pitches being tipped?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles fall to Houston as 1989 team looks on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Return of the ‘Why Not’ Orioles

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Update on Hyde and Davis

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Orioles: Trouble in paradise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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