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Baltimore Orioles: American League Cheaters Series?

The Baltimore Orioles can take solace in the fact that they swept both ALCS participants (Houston and Boston) at their respective parks. At different points of the season, that is. That did happen.

That aside, Major League Baseball has a problem. I suspect that after the cheating scandals of 2017 and 2018, the last two teams MLB wanted squaring off in the ALCS are Boston and Houston. Yet, that’s what we have.

Mind you, both franchises received discipline for their transgressions prior to last season. I personally thought that the punishments were fair. What I didn’t expect was that these two teams would be meeting in 2021 for the right to play in the Fall Classic.

There’s no evidence of anyone having cheated this year. But the optics of this are poor for the league no matter how you spin it. This despite both teams being very good.

At the time (and we’re talking immediately prior to the pandemic), many fans thought the teams should receive postseason bans. I personally did not agree with that. This isn’t a college sport where you’re chosen by a committee for postseason play. You earn your way there by having a better record than anyone else.

So I’m not saying these teams shouldn’t be at this stage. Unless evidence of further cheating is brought forward, they earned it. I’m just saying the optics are bad. And given how much gambling has come into sports of late, that makes it even worse. But can it be helped? Not in the least.

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Baltimore Orioles: Calls for mercy on a day of infamy

Today is a day most Baltimore Orioles’ fans won’t forget. It’s the anniversary of the famous “Jeffrey Maier home run” against the Birds in the 1996 MLB playoffs. It vaulted the New York Yankees to victory over the O’s, and an eventual victory in the series.

I’ve always said that if not for that botched home run/fan interference call, the Orioles would have won the World Series that year. The ‘96 team was that good, and they had that sort of synergy. Furthermore, I’ve always said that Orioles’ manager Davey Johnson should have played the game under protest. Let the league handle the matter – you just never know what would have happened.

I remember watching the game with my Dad and my sister that day. It was a late afternoon game, and my Dad came home to watch it with us; I was in high school. When Maier reached over the wall and gave Derek Jeter a home run, my Dad jumped off the sofa screaming right along with Orioles’ outfielder Tony Tarasco. I did something similar. It was a terrible call and it should have never been allowed to stand. But it did, and it cost the Orioles a World Series (in my view).

However the next day something happened which softened my view of umpire Al Garcia, who made the call: he apologized. He flat out admitted that he botched it. He said that if he could do it over again, he would have ruled fan interference.

Umpires don’t do that – for the most part. They didn’t do it then, and they don’t do it now. I’m sure that the stakes in the game played a role as to why Garcia came out and said that, but he said it. And that’s to his undying credit.

It doesn’t change what happened. And Garcia knew that. But for a guy to do that in a field of work whereby it’s expected that you don’t have to address your mistakes, I always felt that spoke volumes about Al Garcia as a person. And as an umpire.

Quite frankly, it’s that sort of integrity that Orioles fans should expect out of today’s umpires. I use the word integrity because Garcia proved he was fair by calling himself out like that. And that’s all anyone wants in officiating: FAIRNESS.

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Baltimore Orioles: 2021 Season Recap

The Baltimore Orioles were forced to wait an extra day to open the 2021 season at Fenway Park due to early spring weather in Boston. But it was worth the wait; John Means pitched what was at the time his best outing as a pro, and the Orioles defeated Boston. They would go on to sweep the series. Unfortunately, that was probably the pinnacle of the season. In terms of a team effort, that is.

Not much was expected of this 2021 Orioles team. However their valleys were probably far deeper than anyone expected. Yet, their peaks were often pretty high as well. That’s often the trade-off you get when you rebuild. One week after that opening series they’d be swept by that same Boston team in their home-opening series.

This season was always going to be strange. The O’s were only allowed to sell 11K seats per game due to social distancing regulations at first. That changed on June 1st. But the Orioles struggled along to that point. They often looked somewhat respectable against some teams, but within their division, they struggled. They were swept by Boston twice in the first two months. They also struggled against New York and Tampa. They lost 15 straight games to close out May – a harbinger of things to come.

But May provided one unbelievable moment, that will be cherished by Orioles fans for generations. The Birds were in Seattle for a Wednesday afternoon matinee on May 5th, closing out a west coast road trip. John Means was on the mound, and low and behold…we saw the first Orioles’ no-hitter since the 1960’s. Throngs of Orioles fans had seen fanbase after fanbase celebrate their guys throwing no-no’s. Finally it was Birdland’s turn!

There were never too many wins built into this team. Pitching was shaky at best, be it starting or in relief. But the Orioles never gave up in games. And that speaks to their character. And at times, they seemed to learn from their mistakes. After being swept by Washington in late May, the Birds returned the favor in late July. Then they turned around and lost 21 consecutive games, two shy of the franchise record. But end of the day, they may have been bad, but they never quit.

One would think that in finishing the season 52-110, it would be tough to find bright spots (aside from the aforementioned John Means no-hitter). But the year was full of outstanding individual performances. Orioles fans got a good look at the future, starting with Cedric Mullins becoming the first 30-30 guy in Orioles’ history. That’s incredibly meaningful.

There’s also a lot of hope instilled in the likes of Ryan Mountcastle, who set a franchise record with 33 home runs as a rookie. When you look back at the players this franchise has had and you think that Mullins is the only 30-30 guy among them, and Mountcastle set a franchise record for a rookie, it would appear that there are some special guys in this current mix of Orioles. And let’s not forget Trey Mancini, who’s all but a shoo-in to be Comeback Player of the Year after returning from cancer last year.

However now the 2021 season fades to black. It’s all but a mere memory, as we watch the 2021 Postseason unfold before us. This while the Birds build towards Sarasota and spring training next February. And remember, hope ALWAYS springs eternal every season!

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Baltimore Orioles: So what now?

Today is the first day of the 2021-22 off season for the Baltimore Orioles. It’s kind of amazing if you think about it; seems like yesterday we were excited about five thousand fans at Fenway Park on Opening Day with John Means pitching. Last year was by far the strangest season ever, but this season had it’s peculiarities also. Teams having to limit attendance was odd for sure.

So what comes next for the Orioles? The answer is, “nothing much.” Teams not involved in the postseason generally lay very low during October. And speaking for myself, I’m almost thankful for that. The MLB postseason is so compelling, and so fun to watch. Especially the Wild Card games, which this year feature New York and Boston on the American League side. You can just add this to the litany of moments between those two in the playoffs.

Speaking for myself, I stand firmly behind Dodger Blue in this postseason. They’ll of course take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card game on Wednesday night. Should be fun.

But back to the Orioles; certainly they’ll do some internal things, such as evaluate their coaching staff here and there. Perhaps even some player evaluations. Speaking of players, they’ll be taking their “exit physicals” this week as they all disperse for the off season. But don’t expect anything big to be announced regarding anything until after the World Series. That’s just how things work!

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Baltimore Orioles: End of the line for 2021

Bruce Zimmerman got the start in Toronto this afternoon, but the Baltimore Orioles seemed intent on using everyone today. And given that it was the last day of the season, maybe that’s okay. Zimmerman’s line: .2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

In a fashion that seemed typical against Toronto this year, the O’s fell 12-4. If it wasn’t Springer getting Toronto on the board, it was Springer with a grand slam. Not that it mattered. For this year, anyways.

Tyler Nevin did hit his first major league home run for the O’s today, a solo shot in the third inning. The O’s rallied late to make it 12-4, however this series was all Toronto. And today was no exception.

And with that, we enter the off season. The O’s finished with a record of 52-110, which earned them the number one pick in next year’s draft. Not exactly an “honor” you want, however it should help the organization at the end of the day.

And that’s the end – for now. So what comes next? Later this week I’ll publish a season recap. And we’ll enter the off season in earnest. It should be an active one, pending the league’s labor situation. This season was tough on everyone, but we made it through. And remember folks, hope always springs anew next year.

Here’s a parody of sorts for you! The Orioles’ next game is set for February 26, 2022 against the New York Yankees at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fl. Both teams are yet to announce a starting pitcher. Game time is TBD.

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Baltimore Orioles: John Means hampered by common cold in final start

John Means made his final start of the year for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon in Toronto. We didn’t find out until after the game, but Means was hampered by a cold in today’s game. Many would say that’s an excuse for his performance today. However I would submit that there’s a difference between an excuse and the truth. Means’ line: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R (6 earned), 0 BB, 2 K.

I’ve heard a lot of current and former athletes talk on this topic. Many say common illnesses never bothered them. Former Washington quarterback Sonny Jurgensen once said that he always played better when he was a little bit sick. Because he had to concentrate harder, and that would make a difference.

Others can’t pull that off. It would appear that Means is in that category. And for the record, if I were an athlete I would be in the same boat. I’m the most miserable patient known to man when I’m sick! Brandon Hyde addressed Means’ outing after the game:

He gave us everything he had today, really gave us everything he had this year. And this is a small blip on Meansie’s season. Happy with his year. He’s still early on in his career. Looking forward to the adjustments he’s going to make going into next spring training. Even though he didn’t have a good one today, he had a really nice year.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Toronto got on Means and the Orioles from the beginning. Guerrero smacked a two-run homer in the first inning. Hernandez added a solo shot later in the inning. Ryan McKenna would cut the lead to 3-1 in the second with an RBI-groundout.

But that was as close as the O’s would get. Springer’s three-run homer in the second broke the game wide open at 6-1. Toronto would also get homers from Bichette and Jansen. When the smoke cleared, they had defeated the O’s, 10-1.

The series and the season conclude tomorrow at Rogers Centre. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Hyun Jin Ryu. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: These colors don’t run

A lot has been said about the 2021 Baltimore Orioles. But nobody’s ever said that they were quitters. Behind an outstanding effort from Alexander Wells this evening in their final home game of the series, the O’s proudly reminded the field that they were leaving their stamp on the playoff race. Wells’ line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

Wells surrendered a solo homer in the first to Hernandez. And that was the lone run that Boston scored off of the Birds’ starter. The Birds’ starter, who’s all but earned his way onto this team next season. At least earned his way to spring training.

The O’s took the lead in the last of the third when Ryan Mountcastle smacked a three-run homer. Mountcastle continues to make his case for Rookie of the Year, as that was his 33rd homer of the season. It could be said in fact, that Ryan Mountcastle’s had the best rookie season in Orioles’ history.

Tyler Nevin’s two-run single in the sixth extended the lead to 5-1. Later in the inning Pay Valaika would add a sac fly-RBI, and the O’s led 6-1. The final ended up 6-2, as Boston put a second run across on a wild pitch.

The Orioles took two-of-three from a Boston team who was looking for them to roll over. But it was important to these Birds to show the world that they had heart. They played hard in all three games of this series. And THAT’S what the orange & black stands for, across all era’s.

The O’s will head to Toronto tomorrow to open their final series of the season at Rogers Centre. The O’s are yet to name a starter, but whomever he is he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Steven Matz. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles blanked by Boston in penultimate home game

The Baltimore Orioles sent Zac Lowther to the mound in their penultimate game at Camden Yards this season. Lowther was tagged with the loss, but he showed more promise. And he’s been showing promise here during the past few weeks. Oriole pitching as a whole has done so. Lowther’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R (1 earned), 0 BB, 4 K.

Many Oriole pitcher’s, including Lowther, are in effect auditioning for a spot on the roster in Spring Training next year. And I think it’s good that these competitions are already occurring. Because it gives the coaches a chance to see who’s willing to compete for a job. And the better the completion before the regular season, the better the pitching will be in the regular season.

Lowther gave up a solo homer to Martinez in the second inning. Martinez would double home two additional runs in the sixth. Only one of those was earned, as a runner was allowed to get into scoring position by way of an error. Boston would add insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings, closing out their 6-0 victory.

But end of the day, that’s all Boston needed. Their pitching shut the Orioles down at the plate, and those three runs stood up and gave them the victory. End of the day however, the O’s are in evaluate mode. And evaluate they’re doing.

The series (and the Orioles’ home schedule for 2021) concludes tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Alexander Wells gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nick Pivetta. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles having their day in the Wild Card race

The Baltimore Orioles recalled starting pitcher Bruce Zimmermann before tonight’s series opener against Boston at Camden Yards. And Zimmerman set the trend for the game, which the Orioles won. Zimmermann’s line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

The lone run Zimmermann surrendered was a solo homer by Schwarber in the second inning. After Zimmermann had departed Renfroe smacked a solo shot in the sixth inning. From Boston’s standpoint, they were off to the races.

But the Orioles had other ideas. Ryan Mountcastle continued his all out assault on the Orioles’ record books by tying the game in the last of the sixth with a two-run homer. It’s going to be tough for Mountcastle to win AL Rookie of the Year given that he plays for a losing team. But make no mistake that he’s made a strong case, and absolutely should be in the running.

Later in that sixth inning Pedro Severino gave the Orioles the lead at 3-2 with an RBI-single. And Ryan McKenna supplied an RBI-single in the last of the eighth, giving the Orioles an insurance run. And eventually a 4-2 victory.

Boston entered the night in possession of the second wild card spot, one game behind New York for the top spot. They were also a game ahead of Toronto, who’s currently out of the playoff picture. So the Orioles are going to leave their mark on the AL playoff race one way or the other.

They have two more this week against Boston of course, and then they close the season this weekend in Toronto. So the Birds will be heard. They’ll have their say on the final standings.

The series continues tomorrow night at a Camden Yards. Zac Lowther gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: When’s the next series at Camden Yards?

The Baltimore Orioles are scheduled to open up their final home series of the season tonight against the Boston Red Sox. Ironically, the Birds not only began their home schedule against Boston, but a week prior opened the season against them at Fenway. That seems like a lifetime ago. Yet here we are at the end of the year.

The schedule says that the Orioles will open 2022 at home, back at Camden Yards against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 31st. This of course after a month’s worth of games in the Florida Grapefruit League. But the question is whether or not that’ll be the circumstance or whether it’ll be another circumstance in which the Birds will next play at Camden Yards.

This is sort of a preview of something that I’m afraid may be a big issue this off season. There’s labor unrest on the horizon, in the very near future. The collective bargaining agreement expires this year, which in theory puts next season in question. That’s not set in stone – the sides could reach a deal. But the reaching of a deal isn’t set in stone either.

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of it now while there are still games going on. But once the post-season has ended this is something that’s going to start popping up in the news. And I will say this; a labor stoppage in baseball would be CRIPPLING to the league and it’s product. There’s already mistrust amongst the players and owners given the 60-game season that was forced on teams by the league last year due to the pandemic. And I suspect that the MLBPA won’t soon be forgetting that fact when the negotiations kick into high gear.

Nevertheless, the Boston series is set to open up tonight at Camden Yards. Bruce Zimmermann gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Chris Sale. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles evaluating talent in win

The Baltimore Orioles sent starter Chris Ellis to the mound this evening. It would stand to reason to me that Brandon Hyde (and Mike Elias) knows what Ellis is capable of doing. Furthermore it would stand to reason that Ellis probably is included in the Birds’ 2022 Spring Trainng plans – because Ellis pitched well tonight, but was lifted after three innings. Ellis’ line: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Brandon Hyde managed this game in short like a Spring Training game. He mixed and matched pitchers and hitters, and all but had a schedule of who was going to pitch tonight. It’s amazing how sometimes the end of the season can resemble Spring Training.

And the good news is that to a man, every Oriole pitcher used recorded outs. Nobody “blew it,” per se, and they all held up the integrity of a pitcher’s duel.

But Texas seemed to hold up it’s end of the bargain as well. They held the Orioles off the board for the most part. For most of the game, at least.

But that ended in the seventh inning. With a runner at first Pat Valaika sent a double all the way to the wall in left field. And it went down as an RBI-double, as Mancini scored from first. And the Birds had a 1-0 lead.

Later in the inning Kelvin Gutierrez smacked a two-run homer, and the O’s led 3-0. And those two runs ended up being insurance runs. Because Texas would smack solo homers in the eighth and ninth innings, but the O’s held on for a 3-2 lead.

The O’s have pitched very well the last couple of weeks, but their late-game pitching has been somewhat suspect. Last night Texas put five runs across late to win. Toronto’s caused the O’s some horrific ninth innings. And for a split second, it could have happened again tonight. Something to work on next year in Sarasota.

The series with Texas concludes tomorrow. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Dane Dunning. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins hits 30-30 in Birds’ loss

Alexander Wells put the Baltimore Orioles in a spot to win tonight in his start. Granted he only pitched the minimum five innings to get the win, he still got it. This despite Texas taking the lead early on. Wells’ line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R.

Wells surrendered a two-run homer in the first inning to Lowe. And that was the worst pitch he made. He was outstanding for the rest of his outing.

Richie Martin would ground into a force out with a runner on third in the last of the second, getting the Orioles on the board. Later in the inning Cedric Mullins came to the plate. And Mullins delivered, smacking a three run home run, and giving the Orioles the lead at 4-2. Texas would tack on an additional run, and Ryan McKenna’s eighth inning RBI-single would give the Birds an insurance run. However Texas would put up five in the ninth to go home with an 98-5 victory.

This wasn’t just any game. Cedric Mullins didn’t hit just any old home run to put the O’s in the lead for good. That was Mullins’ 30th homer on the season, inducting him into to 30-30 club.

30 homers and 30 stolen bases – that’s absolutely one of the most incredible offensive single season feat. Furthermore, Mullins is the first Oriole to join this exclusive club. So both the Orioles and Cedric Mullins are now in the famed “30-30 Club!”

Fans should view Mullins’ accomplishment with pride. In an otherwise forgettable season, they had a no-hitter, and someone else break a Ripken record. And now Mullins in the 30-30 club. That’s quite a dear.

The series continues this evening at Oriole Park. Chris Ellis gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Jordan Lyles. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles win a pitcher’s duel

The Baltimore Orioles came into last night’s game against Texas having lost two consecutive pitcher’s duels in Philadelphia. As a staff, Oriole pitching has been really good – this week. And that continued last night behind starter Zac Lowther. And finally, the O’s were able to get one back in a sense and win a pitcher’s duel. Lowther’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K.

Lowther may have turned in his best outing as an Oriole last night. I suspect that a lot of guys know that they’re playing for a roster spot in Sarasota next spring. And they’re turning it up right now. And that’s to their credit.

The Birds had runners at the corners in the fourth, and Richie Martin’s squeeze bunt brought a run in and gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Ryan Mountcastle also smacked a solo homer in the 5th, extending the lead to 2-0. And Austin Hays’ solo shot in the eighth made it 3-0. Which also became the final.

And the Orioles’ bullpen took care of the rest. Which is key, because in the last few weeks the O’s have had leads in lots of games. This only to blow the lead later in the game. The fact that they held the lead last night is a good sign.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Alexander Wells gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Spencer Howard. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles fall in Philly finale

The Baltimore Orioles found themselves in another pitcher’s duel in the series finale in Philadelphia last night. The Birds played Philadelphia tough in all three games; sometimes two teams are just great matches for one another. Keegan Akin got the start last night at Citizens Bank Park, and he rebounded nicely after last week’s start in Boston. Akin’s line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

The game was a scoreless tie through five innings. Austin Hays’ RBI-double in the sixth gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Hays would take third on the relay throw home, however that was the only run the O’s would net in that sequence.

And the Orioles leading the game didn’t last long. McCutchen smacked a two-run homer in the last of the sixth. And Philadelphia held a 2-1 lead. But the Orioles would tie it back up an inning later, on Trey Mancini’s RBI-groundout. And on we went tied at two.

However Philadelphia would put two across in the last of the seventh. And while the Birds did threaten in the eighth when Pedro Severino smacked an RBI-double, that was too large a lead for the O’s to overcome. Philadelphia took the finale 4-3, and the series two games to one.

Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde credited the team after the game with going toe-to-toe with a playoff contender:

I’d like to give our guys credit for playing a postseason contender in kind of the situation we’re in roster-wise and how beat up we are and we’re playing a lot of guys that haven’t played in the big leagues hardly at all. I thought we pitched well. We made a couple mistakes out of the bullpen tonight, but for the most part for three days we pitched pretty much the best we pitched since the beginning of the year. So, I’m taking that as a positive and we hung in there with a good team over here with a big payroll. And we’re scraping right now, we’re limping in.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Speaking of Hyde, the team announced that he would be returning as manager next year. His original contract was through this season, so in theory he could have entered this season as a lame duck. But over last off season his contract was amended to go through 2022. It’s unclear if the two parties will negotiate a new deal this off season, or if Hyde will enter 2022 as a lame duck. Time will tell.

The Orioles now return home for the finale home stand of the season at Camden Yards, starting tonight against Texas. Zac Lowther gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Glenn Otto. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: No need for replay if it does no good

The Baltimore Orioles utilized a bullpen game model last night in Philadelphia. Connor Greene got the start, but in effect was an opener. It was almost like a spring training game. Greene’s line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

Ironically this was a pitcher’s duel. And all pitchers who rotated in and out for the O’s seemed to hold up their end of the bargain. They Birds took the lead in the fourth on an RBI-single by Ramon Urias.

Two innings later however Philadelphia tied the game up at one on an RBI-double by McCutchen. And regulation ended with the score tied at one. and the O’s got the lead back thanks to the ghost runner on second base rule in extra innings. Austin Hays’ RBI-double in the tenth put the Orioles ahead 2-1.

But both teams get to utilize the ghost runner rule. Philadelphia also put a runner on the old fashioned way in their half of the tenth. That combined with the ghost runner meant that Realmuto’s triple in the last of the tenth scored two runs, winning it 3-2 for Philadelphia.

Backing up a bit, Cedric Mullins hit a foul ball in the top of the third, which was close to a home run down the right field line. Replays seemed to show the ball hitting off the foul pole. Or at worst, showing the ball passing by the foul pole and changing it’a direction and rotation after doing so – indicating contact with the pole. Meaning that it rightfully should be ruled a home run.

The Orioles challenged the play, but the umpire in New York upheld the call on the field. Now I’ll grant you that it was close. And I have no issue with the umpires on the field missing the call, because the contact with the foul pole occurred far away from them. But…to not reverse it on replay?

I suppose I would ask what exactly is clear and convincing evidence? Because it appeared to me that the ball made contact with the foul pole, making it a home run. Is it really worth stopping the game and reviewing something if you’re ultimately going to still blow the call?

And we’ve been left flabbergasted several times this year on replay reviews. and not just the Orioles; we’ve seen this across the league. Incidentally, that home run would have made Mullins a 30-30 man. And all things being the same, the O’s would have won the game 3-1. So getting that call right would have made a HUGE difference.

The series concludes tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Keegan Akin gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Busy isn’t necessarily bad

The Baltimore Orioles entered tonight’s game almost as the golden boys in a sense. 2-0 appeared to suffie, according to starter John Means. And by that I mean as a final score as an adult. Means’ line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

Pedro Severino and Ryan Mountcastle both had RBI-singles in the first inning. But that didn’t seem to matter. Surely two runs scored in the first weren’t my going to stand up for the Orioles in the end…right?!

But in the end, they did! Philadelphia never really offered a threat in this game, and the two runs stood up as the game winners. Means also became the first pitcher in over ten years to smack an extra-base hit. It was that kind of night for the O’s.

The series continues tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park. Starters for both teams are still TBD. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles battle but fall in Fenway finale

Alexander Wells got the start for the Baltimore Orioles in their final game in Boston this year at Fenway Park. This of course where the Birds opened the season on Opening Day. Wells’ line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

The results of course were the same as the previous two games in this series. However make no mistake that the O’s battled in this game. And even while playing out a string, that makes a difference. To fans at least it does.

Boston was at it early today, however. They loaded the bases in the first, and Dalbec was hit by a pitch, walking in a run and giving Boston a 1-0 lead. Plawecki would later add a two-RBI single, giving Boston a 3-0 lead. (Plawecki was also thrown out trying to advance.) Hernandez’s RBI-single in the second would run their lead to 4-0.

But in the third the Orioles started battling back. Anthony Santander’s RBI-double got them on the board and cut Boston’s lead to 4-1. Austin Hays would add a two-RBI single, cutting it to 4-3. However Martinez’s homer in the bottom of that third inning would run it back to 5-3.

Trey Mancini would come up with the bases loaded in the seventh, with the Orioles still trailing by two. And he did more than bring them closer or tie the game. His bases-clearing double have the Orioles a 6-5 lead. Now Mancini was thrown out at third trying to extend, but he made a big impact.

Unfortunately however, it wasn’t enough. Three RBI-singles in the last of the seventh gave Boston the lead back at 8-6. And that was the final score, dropping the O’s to defeat once again.

As I said, this team battled hard today, which is a good sign. They just came up short, which is actually to be expected given how young they are, and how they’re playing out a string. But their attitude is strong, and will serve them well going into next year.

The O’s now head to Philadelphia for a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Ranger Suarez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle hits 30 homers in loss

Zac Lowther got the start for the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. If anything, the O’s may even be evaluating pitchers for next year, although against a contending team at Fenway may not be the fairest spot to do it. Lowther’s line: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

Ryan Mountcastle gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run homer. It was Mountcastle’s 30th homer of the season – and counting. However Devers’ RBI-single in the last of the first cut the lead to 2-1. Dalbec followed with a two-RBI double, and Boston led 3-2 after one.

Austin Wynns actually tied it back up with a solo homer in the second inning. However Boston would get the lead back in the fifth with Bogaerts’ RBI-single. And Boston would then continue their assault on Orioles’ pitching. When the smoke cleared, the Birds fell 9-3.

Ryan Mountcastle of course broke Cal Ripken Jr.’s franchise record of 29 home runs as a rookie earlier in the week. With his homer yesterday, he has 30 on the season. And as I said, “…and counting.”

Mountcastle’s making his case for Rookie of the Year. 30 homers is a pretty good season as it is – much less for a rookie. And to be able to say you broke one of Cal Ripken’s records is pretty solid. The Orioles are in good shape with Mountcastle in the lineup in future years.

The series concludes this afternoon against Boston at Fenway Park. Alexander Wells gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles fall in Beantown

Keegan Akin got the start for the Baltimore Orioles last night in game one of a three-game set at Fenway Park. And the results were probably what you would have expected. Boston has a high-powered offense and they’re in the thick of the playoff race. The Orioles are playing out a string on the season. Akin’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 0 K.

Let me rephrase that; in many cases the Orioles are playing hard as they play out a string. They did play hard last night. They just wound up on the short end. Boston’s a good team – some things can’t be helped.

The Orioles did have a lead in the game for a short period of tine. Austin Hays smacked a solo homer in the second inning, and the Birds led 1-0. However Boston would tie the game and then take the lead in the bottom of that second inning. Iglesias’ RBI-double and Hernandez’s sac fly-RBI would give them a 2-1 lead.

Two innings later Dalbec would add a solo homer, and Martinez an RBI-double. And Renfroe would come to the plate with the bases loaded in the last of the sixth. And he’d clear the bases with a double, running the final score to 7-1.

This was the Orioles’ 100th loss of the year. Keegan Akin addressed this point after the game, explaining the team’s attitude regarding this:

I don’t think it’s really on the top of our minds right now. We get here every day and take care of business and go out and play. No one’s really talking about it. I didn’t find out until after I came out of the game that it could have been the 100th loss when I was in the clubhouse. Everybody comes here and it’s not really the priority. Just try to finish strong.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

That’s probably the best attitude that they could take. “Just finish strong,” is the goal. They may be playing out a string, but they’re still trying to win games.

The series continues this afternoon at Fenway Park. Zac Lowther gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nick Pivetta. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Did Umpire Tim Timmons “punk” the Birds?

John Means got the start for the Baltimore Orioles this evening at Camden Yards against the New York Yankees. And as is usually the case, he did his job, in putting the O’s in a position to win. As I’ve said many times, that’s all you can ask of a starter. Means’ line: 5.2 IP, 4 H. 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

Means made one bad pitch. And it came in the third inning with a runner already on base. Urshela smacked a two-run homer, giving New York a 2-0 lead. It appeared that New York was picking up right where they left off last night.

Backing up for just a second, Sanchez made an attempt at a homer in the second inning. He sent a ball deep to the deepest part of the park, and in fact it was over the wall. I’ll say that again; it was over the wall. But Cedric Mullins tracked the ball the entire way, climbed the wall, and reached out and brought the ball back into play. With ann NA gold glove caliber play, Cedric Mullins saved two runs.

However Austin Hays wasn’t about to let this get away without a fight. He smacked a solo homer in the sixth, cutting the lead to 2-1. Then two innings later in the eighth he smacked a two-run homer, giving the Birds a 3-2 lead.

As we went to the ninth, the Orioles’ award-winning grounds crew stood poised behind the tarp as there was rain in the area. And in fact, as New York put two runners on base, the rain was about to hit. However with one out, crew chief Tim Timmons did something never before seen. He walked towards the tarp down the right field line and EMPHATICALLY ordered the grounds crew to leave the field. And I mean EMPHATICALLY.

It came across like Timmons was refusing to call for a rain delay in that moment. Approximately 30 seconds after the grounds crew left the field, the skies opened up. That left the Orioles to play defense in a driving rain storm. And sure enough, we started seeing how the ball was becoming slippery. Routine plays were botched, primarily due to rain. Ultimately Gardener’s bloop two-RBI single gave New York a 4-3 lead, and a 4-3 win.

First and foremost, as I said the O’s were in essence forced to play defense in a driving rain storm. Obviously it’s up to Timmons as the crew chief whether or not to call for the tarp. So there’s no guarantee that he would have done that. You don’t want to see a delay that late in the game. But if conditions become dangerous or one team is at a disadvantage…you get the idea. And by the time New York was in the field, go figure, the storm was over.

But there’s another side to this also. The Orioles’ grounds crew, led by head groundskeeper Nicole Sherry, has won awards. They’re the best in the business. They were treated in a very unprofessional manner by Tim Timmons. This for doing their jobs.

The series concludes tomorrow from Camden Yards. Chris Ellis gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Jordan Montgomery. Game time is set for just after 5 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles done in by New York homers

Alexander Wells got the fun task of starting against the New York Yankees last night at a Camden Yards. The good news is that he didn’t give up any manufactured runs. The bad news is that the Bronx Bombers lived up to their nickname last night. Wells’ line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Wells allowed a two-run homer to Judge almost right off the bat in the game. This came in the first inning. Two innings later in the third, Stanton added a two-run shot of his own. This putting the O’s behind, 4-0.

Voit joined the homer parade later in that third inning with a solo shot. However the O’s tried to rally two innings later in the fifth. Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI-double cut the lead to 5-1. But New York would smack two additional homers, both of the solo variety. Gallo in the eighth, and LeMahieu in the ninth.

The O’s attempted to rally a bit in the ninth, putting some runners on base. They got an RBI-single from Kelvin Gutierrez, making the final score 7-2. But they also forced New York to utilize their closer (Chapman) to get the final out, something they just as soon as would not have done.

Manager Brandon Hyde lifted catcher Pedro Severino with leg soreness during the game. It’s a nagging injury that’s bothered Severino for about a week. Hyde on the injury:

Kind of aggravated it early in the game. After that second at-bat, running out of the box, it looked like it grabbed him a little bit, so took him out of the game for that. These things happen. For the most part, we’ve been pretty fortunate throughout the year and now we’ve got almost three weeks left and we do have a lot of nagging things going on. That just gives other guys opportunities and we hope that some of these guys can get on the mend quick and be OK. But you just never know.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

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

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Baltimore Orioles fall in a heartbreaking and bizarre manner

Keegan Akin was the star for the Baltimore Orioles in game two of a twin bill last night. In a seven inning game, he took a no-hitter into the seventh. Now it’s important to note that MLB isn’t recognizing no-hitters in these seven innings doubleheader games as no-hitters. But the fact is that Akin had one going last night. Akin’s line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Cedric Mullins’ solo homer in the third inning gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. And that one run stood up for almost the entire game. As I said, Akin didn’t allow a base hit – until the seventh inning.

He gave up the hit right away as the inning began. However that brought Bichette to the plate, and he immediately gave Toronto the lead with a two-run homer. That in and of itself is a tough pill to swallow, especially given that Toronto took the lead in almost the same manner late in the first game of the twin bill.

However this ended up being very different. First off as well as he pitched, Akin ended up with the loss. But when the smoke cleared…Toronto put up eleven runs in the seventh inning. Guys just kept getting on base and driven in by other guys by way of home runs.

You have to take into account that the O’s won a game earlier in this homestsnd with an eight-run inning. So these sorts of games happen. Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.

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

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Baltimore Orioles drop a donnybrook in game one of twin bill

Dean Kremer made his return to the big leagues this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles in game one of a doubleheader against Toronto. And while Kremer surrendered his share of runs, he did so on a day when Oriole bats appeared to be primed to keep up. Kremer’s line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Anthony Santander, last night’s hero, picked up right where he left off in last night’s game. He smacked a first inning two-run homer to give the O’s a 2-0 lead. However Gurriel would do the same (two-run homer) in the second, and we were tied at two.

But not for long. Richie Martin grounded into a fielder’s choice in the last of the second which scored a third run, giving the Birds the lead – at least until the end. Austin Hays would add a two-run homer later in the inning.

Toronto tried to chip away. Guerrero smacked a solo homer in the third, but that only seemed to make the O’s want it that much more. Ryan McKenna’s two-RBI double gave the O’s a 7-3 lead. Jansen’s two-run homer in the fourth narrowed it to 7-5. However Hays added a second homer (a solo) in the bottom of that fourth inning. Ryan Mountcastle added one of his own, and Pedro Severino’s RBI-single ran it to 10-5.

Toronto would add four in the top of the seventh, however. This including a two-run homer by Springer. And that ultimately won the game for Toronto, 11-10.

The series continues at Camden Yards this evening with game two of the twin bill. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Thomas Hatch. Game time is set for just after 8:30 PM, approximately 45 minutes after this game ended. (Note that being a doubleheader, both games are seven innings long.)

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Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander cements win over division rival

The Baltimore Orioles are becoming more and more impressed with starter Chris Ellis. In general, if Tampa releases a pitcher with no apparent problem brewing, you might consider pouncing on him. The Orioles did, and it’s paying off. Ellis put them in a spot to win tonight against division-rival Toronto. Ellis’ line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

The Orioles may be playing spoiler right now. But they’re also getting a head start on seeing what they have going into next year. And Ellis appears to be a keeper. Tampa’s loss for once is the Orioles’ gain.

Ellis also had an early lead tonight. Cedric Mullins’ solo homer in the first gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning Ryan McKenna smacked a two-run shot. And the Orioles led 3-0.

The lone run that Ellis surrendered came off an RBI-single by Bichette in the fifth. One inning later Toronto was within one at 3-2 on a fielder’s choice by Bichette (aided by a series of errors). It was one of the more bizarre plays you’ll see. It started with an errant throw to third, and culminated with an errant throw home. I’m between, the Toronto runner collided with an Oriole infielder, and – let’s just say that it was a mess. And the Orioles were lucky to surrender only one run.

Later in the sixth Semien’s run-scoring double tied things up at three. This of course prevented Ellis from having a shot at the win, but it doesn’t take away from how he pitched. And it doesn’t take away from how good he’s looked since joining the club.

But the Orioles weren’t about to be stopped tonight. They weren’t about to waste Ellis’ effort. They put two aboard in the seventh, bringing Anthony Santander to the plate. And his three-run home run gave the O’s a 6-3 lead. Which became a 6-3 win.

The series continues tomorrow at Camden Yards with a doubleheader (two seven inning games). Both teams are yet to announce their starters (for the first game). Game one is set to begin just after 4:30 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Never count this team out

Matt Harvey pitched into the fifth for the Baltimore Orioles last night. It was a solid outing for the most part. But Harvey just didn’t figure into how the game ended. Not many people would have had it ending the way that it did, in fact. Harvey’s line: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R (3 earned), 1 BB, 2 K.

Over the course of…oh, the first seven innings or so, the Birds spotted Kansas City a five-run lead. That included a solo homer by Perez in the top of the seventh. Common sense said that the Birds had to know they were staring a loss in the face, while Kansas City was cursing to victory. But part of the beauty of baseball is that sometimes you see things you’ve never seen before.

Austin Hays and Anthony Santander smacked RBI-doubles and singles respectively in the last of the eighth. That narrowed the lead to 5-2. Admittedly, you’re thinking, “okay two token runs, cool” at first. But what would you do if I told you that was only the beginning?!

Ramon Urias added an RBI-single, and Kelvin Gutierrez a two-RBI single. And we were tied. And the O’s really started piling it on after that. Cedric Mullins reached on an error which allowed two runs to score. Ryan Mountcastle smacked a two-run homer. And when the smoke cleared, the O’s led 9-5.

Now Kansas City tried to come back. They put up three in the ninth, but couldn’t come all the way back. And the O’s went home with a 9-8 victory.

This team never quits. And they okay every game until the final out. Nobody would have blamed them for pumping the brakes when they were down 5-0 at the start of the eighth inning. But they didn’t. They found a way. And that mentality will do them well as time goes on. All I know is to never count the Orioles out.

The series concludes tonight at Camden Yards. John Means gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Carlos Hernandez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Mike Bauman gets first big league win in debut

The Baltimore Orioles didn’t face much competition in tonight’s game from Kansas City. Alexander Wells got the start, and while he left with the lead, he didn’t qualify for the wins by only pitching four innings. Wells’ line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Anthony Santander gave the Orioles the lead in the last of the first with an RBI-single. But the Orioles weren’t done in the inning. Not by a long shot. Austin Hays’ RBI-groundout ran it to 2-0, and DJ Stewart’s two-run homer put the Birds ahead 4-0.

Kansas City’s Lopez would cut the lead to 4-1 in the third with an RBI-single. However Austin Hays would do him one better in the bottom of the frame with a two-run homer that broke the game wide open. The O’s led 6-1.

Santana would smack a solo shot in the fourth to cut the lead to 6-2. And that appeared to chase Wells, who again only pitched four innings. They then turned to rookie Mike Bauman, who had been called up from Norfolk yesterday afternoon.

And Bauman, who was only making his big league debut (with his entire family cheering him on in the stands), was really strong. He sent Kansas City down 1-2-3 in the fifth, and in doing so became in line for the win.

Bauman pitched with ice water in his veins. He could have pitched that one inning, hit the showers, and left it at that. And it would have been a successful debut. But he instead lasted 3.2 innings, giving up two hits and one unearned run. And he earned high praise from manager Brandon Hyde:

He was absolutely outstanding. I loved the aggressiveness in the strike zone. I like how he attacked hitters. I thought his fastball had a ton of life to it. Had him scheduled for two-to-three innings tonight and he goes three-plus. Going 3 2/3, not giving up an earned run. I thought he flashed some good secondary stuff, as well. A couple good sliders, a couple good curveballs to add in there. But I just liked his aggressiveness in the strike zone, challenged hitters.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Cedric Mullins would smack a solo homer in the seventh, and Kansas City would score the aforementioned unearned run on an error in the eighth. But the O’s coasted to a 7-3 victory, giving Mike Bauman the win in his major league debut. And make no mistake, that’s a big deal.

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Mike Minor. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Improbable game and series win goes to the Birds

To paraphrase a popular baseball poem, the outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Baltimore Orioles (or “Baltimore Nine”) today. Nobody would have blamed the Birds for dropping today’s game. And it looked like that’s how things were trending when starter Keegan Akin gave up a grand slam to Sanchez in the second inning. Akin’s line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

Backing up for just a moment, the Orioles did hold the lead in this game after Austin Hays smacked a solo homer in the top of the second. However Sanchez’s grand slam in the bottom of the frame put NY ahead. And again, nobody would have blamed the O’s for packing it in.

But instead they chipped away. Jorge Mateo’s sac fly-RBI cut the lead to 4-2 in the fourth. However an inning later Rizzo’s RBI-single re-extended the NY lead to three runs.

But it was the Orioles who appeared to have something for which to play today. Each time New York put runs up, the Orioles came back. Cedric Mullins smacked a two-run homer in the sixth which brought the O’s to within 5-4. But a two-run homer by Sanchez in the bottom of the sixth gave New York a 7-4 lead.

But as I said, the O’s always came back. Jahmai Jones’ two-run double in the seventh again brought the Orioles to within one at 7-6. But this was the Orioles’ day, and the Orioles’ series in the Bronx. Jorge Mateo tied the game at seven with an RBI-single later in the inning, and Kelvin Gutierrez’s RBI-single gave them the lead for good. And the O’s defeated New York 8-7 at Yankee Stadium.

To review, the O’s fell in extra innings to New York on Friday night. But they came back to win the series with grind-em-out wins on Saturday and again this afternoon. That shows a lot of character in that clubhouse. Furthermore the O’s are getting contributions from guys like Gutierrez and Mateo. That’s a great sign going into next year. But for now, they’re at least leaving their mark on the AL playoff race.

The O’s now return home to open a three-game set with Kansas City tomorrow at Camden Yards. The O’s have yet to name a starter, but whomever he is he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Kris Bubic. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Is the pitching staff turning a slight corner?

You’d be hard-pressed not to notice that the Baltimore Orioles’ pitching staff (both starters and bullpen) have been performing well the past few games. This against pretty stiff competition in Toronto and New York. This afternoon it was starter Chris Ellis in the Bronx, who kept a potent New York lineup at bay. Ellis’ line: 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Ellis and the bullpen led the Birds in a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. Again, this against a potent New York lineup. And the Birds even held a lead from the fourth inning on. Trey Mancini scored from third on a wild pitch in the fourth inning.

And that’s also a good sign. Mancini had to make a snap decision whether to run. And he decisively went for it, and slid in safely to home plate to give his team the lead. As much bad base running as we‘ve seen from this team this season, that was good base running and that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

The Orioles would also get an RBI-double from Cedric Mullins, and an RBI-single from Austin Hays in the seventh. However Torres would break up the no-hit bid in the bottom of the inning with an infield RBI-single. One inning later Gallo would smack a two-run homer to tie the game.

However down the stretch New York would load the bases a couple of times. And the Orioles would pitch out of it. Many people will say, “yeah but they loaded the bases.” Pitchers will get themselves in trouble – it’s the nature of the position. But good ones will work their way out of trouble also. The Orioles did that today by way of ground ball double-plays.

And the game itself was there for the taking. In the ninth it was the Orioles’ turn to load the bases. And they’d score on a sac fly-RBI by Pedro Severino. Now again, a crass person’s going to say “but they only got one run.” Well in a tie game in the ninth inning if you get one run, you’re in good shape. It’s all in the context of the situation. And the Birds went onto a 4-3 victory over New York.

People might argue that this is just a good stretch that Oriole pitching is going through. And it might be the case – we’ve seen that before, just as we’ve seen bad stretches. But it also could be the staff coming together here as we go into the home stretch of the season. They certainly played a bug role in winning a ballgame today.

The series concludes tomorrow at Yankee Stadium. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Corey Kluber. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles battle hard in the Bronx, but fall in extras

John Means anchored the Baltimore Orioles’ pitching effort last night in a pitching duel that went to extras. With the Orioles playing out a string on the season and New York in the thick of contention, maybe you couldn’t have expected much last night. Out of even a an ace like Means, or out of the Orioles in general. But we saw what this group of Birds could be last night. We saw the future, and it was good. Means’ line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

You don’t expect a team like the Orioles to match New York, the “Bronx Bombers,” pitch-for-pitch in a pitcher’s duel. But they did. Means was strong in his five innings. He didn’t totally keep New York off the board, but he put the Birds in a position to win. And that may have been more than anyone was expecting.

New York tagged Means for a solo homer by Stanton in the fourth, and a sac fly-RBI by LeMahieu in the fifth. And make no mistake that Means will take a solo homer and a sac fly. For the most part those aren’t going to hurt you. And they didn’t last night.

However the O’s wanted to remind the Bronx crowd that there were two teams playing in this game. Granted the same applies – in that solo homers aren’t going to beat you – when you get two solo homers towards the latter part of a game you’re losing 2-0, that’s a big deal. The Orioles got solo shots off the bats of Trey Mancini (6th inning) and Jorge Mateo (7th inning). That tied the game at two.

The game went to extra innings, and the Orioles took a brief lead. Ryan Mountcastle took advantage of the ghost runner on second in extra innings rule, and smacked an RBI-single in the tenth. However in the bottom of the frame LeMahieu did the same, tying the game. One inning later Stanton’s RBI-single would send the O’s to defeat, 4-3.

But you have to tip your cap to the Birds. They battled last night. And they battled hard. That shows a lot of character, especially at a time when perhaps coaches, players, and fans alike are looking to the end. But there’s no quit in these guys, and it showed last night.

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

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Baltimore Orioles: Birds fall despite battling in Toronto

Toronto’s been a house of horrors for years for the Baltimore Orioles. Despite losing last night and dropping the series, they held their own tip there this time out. Matt Harvey got the start at Rogers Centre, but didn’t stick around long enough to see the end. Harvey’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 0 K.

Harvey gave up a solo homer in the last of the first to Semien right off the bat. But the O’s battled back. They loaded the bases in the second inning, and Cedric Mullins walked in a run. That tied the game at one.

But the Orioles weren’t finished Ryan Mountcastle walked in a second run, and the O’s suddenly led, 2-1. Incidentally Mountcastle had a great series. Is it possible that someone on the Orioles finally is actually cut out to hit in the dome?!

Toronto would tie things back up in the fourth on Hernandez’s RBI-single. They would then take the lead on Gurriel’s two-RBI single. And the Orioles trailed 4-2.

But the O’s never quit. They got to within 4-3 in the sixth on Austin Wynns’ RBI-single. One inning later Trey Mancini’s RBI-double would tie the game at four. The game would go to the last of the ninth tier at four, but Grichuk’s sac fly would score the winning run, and Toronto won it 5-4.

As I said, Rogers Centre has been a tough place for the Orioles to play over the years. Going back a long way. Granted they lost 7-3 on Monday, but they battled to the end. They won on Tuesday, and lost a close one last night. This was not your typical Rogers Centre visit for the Orioles. Furthermore, as I said, Ryan Mountcastle had a great series. Having a young guy who suddenly seems to hit well at Rogers Centre could be a big asset as time goes on.

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Baltimore Orioles: Keegan Akin and Ramon Urias save the day

Keegan Akin has quietly pitched a couple of good outings for the Baltimore Orioles. This including tonight at Rogers Centre in Toronto, where he dominated one of the most potent lineups in baseball. Akin’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 H 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Amin’s some bad pitch ended up in the seats. Jansen smacked a solo homer in the third. However Oriole bats are first didn’t appear to be complimenting the effort Akin was putting forth. It took until the sixth for the O’s to score their first base hit of the game.

And that was on a Mountcastle double. He would later score on an RBI-single by Austin Hays. That tied the game at one, but the O’s weren’t done. Ramon Urias’ two-RBI double layer in the inning would give the O’s a 3-1 lead.

That lead was briefly cut to 3-2 on Guerrero’s solo homer, but the O’s quickly got that run back. Jahmai Jones’ RBI-single in the seventh gave the O’s a 4-2 lead. Which is how the game ended.

Akin and Urias turned in perhaps their best performances as Orioles tonight. But the biggest factor was the the O’s hit with RISP this evening. They only had four hits, but they were 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position. That’s how you win games.

The series at Rogers Centre concludes tomorrow night. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Steven Matz. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles swept away again by Tampa

The Baltimore Orioles continued their mark of only beating Tampa once this season, as Tampa swept the three-game set at Camden Yards. Starter Spenser Watkins went five innings, but couldn’t really put the Orioles in a position to win the game. That’s what you ask of your starter. Watkins’ line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

Tampa hasn’t missed one pitch that the Orioles have thrown up there this year. Today was no exception. They took a 1-0 lead in the first on Arozarena’s RBI-single. Wendle would add one of his own and the Birds trailer 2-0.

However something else we’ve seen is that the Orioles fight back. They may not make it all the way, but they try. Austin Hays cut the lead in half with an RBI-single in the last of the first. Tampa and the Orioles would swap homers in the second and third respectively, with the Orioles’ coming off the bat of Ryan Mountcastle.

However Tampa got a two-run homer by Meadows, and a solo shot by Wendle in the sixth. And the O’s seemingly woke Wendle’s bat up – he hadn’t hit a home run since June. BUT…Jorge Mateo’s two run homer in the last of the sixth cut the lead back to 6-4.

However as I said, the Orioles woke up Wendle’s bat. His seventh inning grand slam extended the lead to 10-4. But the O’s kept fighting none the less. Trey Mancini’s RBI-single and DJ Stewart’s RBI-groundout in the seventh cut it to 10-6.

But Tampa had to prove a point. Franco sent a soft blooper with two on and two out into center in the eighth. It fell, netting one more for Tampa. But the Orioles were lackadaisical in getting the ball back in, allowing another run to score for Tampa.

That really illustrates how you have to be on your game when you play Tampa. They pay attention to every detail, and they gladly accept every little opening they get in a game. If you stumble, they’re right there to hold you accountable for it.

The O’s would put up two more on Cedric Mullins’ two-run homer in the eighth, but that would be it. The Birds fell 12-8, and were swept in the series.

The Orioles now head to Rogers Centre in Toronto for the first time since 2019. Chris Ellis gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Robbie Ray. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Matt Harvey pitches to a quality start in loss

Matt Harvey did his job for the Baltimore Orioles tonight. Certainly he had some issues in the first inning, but he did his job. He put the O’s in a position to win the game. Harvey’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

I’ve written a lot about how the Orioles needed to get men on base over the course of the losing streak. And in fact, that’s how they broke the streak eventually. Luckily for Tampa, getting people on base isn’t a problem. Neither is clearing the bases.

Diaz’s RBI-single in the first gave Tampa a 1-0 lead. Margot followed later in the inning with a two-RBI single. After one, Tampa held a 3-0 lead.

However Austin Hays’ two-run home run in the last of the fourth cut the Tampa lead to one at 3-2. But the mark of this game was pitching. Tampa bent but they didn’t break. They allowed the Orioles base runners, but prevented them from crossing the plate.

Tampa’s Zunino would smack a three-run homer in the seventh which doubled their run total at 6-2. But again, their pitching shut the Orioles down. Save for at the end when Cedric Mullins hit a solo homer. But there were already two out in the ninth, and the game was already going Tampa’s way.

I wouldn’t put too much stock in this loss. First off the O’s just lost – this as opposed to looking inept against Tampa, which was the case the last time they were in town. Plus the O’s were still getting guys on base. That’s key to stopping another losing streak.

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

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Baltimore Orioles: From the depths of despair to a series win

The Baltimore Orioles entered this series with Los Angeles on an 18-game losing streak. After the streak was snapped (following it reaching 19), the Birds turned their attention to winning today, and thus winning the series. Keegan Akin got the cheery assignment of providing a decent start in the wake of last night’s exciting win. And he pitched to a quality start, putting the Birds in a spot to win. Akin’s line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K.

It didn’t start well; Ohtani smacked a solo homer in the first inning, giving Los Angeles a 1-0 lead. But that was the only highlight for LA. Kelvin Gutierrez‘s RBI-single in the last of the third tied the game at three. Only downside there was that Gutierrez was thrown out trying to extend it to a double. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that you have to have base runners to be competitve.

Two innings later the O’s had the lead for good, thanks to Trey Mancini‘s RBI-single. And they never looked back. In fact, they kept pushing.

The O’s also got an RBI-double from DJ Stewart in that fifth inning. However it was only 3-1, which meant that the Los Angeles Angels were still technically “in the game.” But Pedro Severino kind of ended that sentiment. His grand slam blew the game wide open, giving the Birds a 7-1 lead. What was that about getting guys on base again?!

The O’s got an RBI-single from Ramon Urias in the seventh, this in advance of another big inning in the eighth. I think that Los Angeles had already waved the white flag, but the hit parade continued. Ryan Mountcastle smacked a two-RBI single, Ramon Urias an RBI-double, and Pedro Severino two-RBI single. When the smoke cleared, the previously hapless O’s had a 13-1 victory, and a series win.

It should go noted that fans, opposing teams, and even national writers had piled onto this Orioles team. But those people are now having to look and see that the O’s not only broke their skid, but they won a series. And go figure, they now find themselves on a two-game WINNING STREAK.

The O’s will open up a three-game series with Tampa tomorrow at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Shane McClanahan. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Let the good times roll!

Well folks it finally happened again – the Baltimore Orioles won a game! They snapped a 19-game losing streak, avoiding team history and league history. For futility. Chris Ellis, who was recently claimed off of waivers from Tampa, got the start, but didn’t really figure into the final decision. Ellis’ line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander smacked solo homers in the first to give the Birds the lead early. However Ellis hit a batter in the second, and Marsh’s two-RBI single tied the game. Walsh’s solo homer in the fourth gave Los Angeles the lead at 3-2. Marsh would subsequently smack a three-run homer, and LA led 6-2. The O’s and the fans had to be thinking well, maybe tomorrow.

However as I’ve said before, losing streaks don’t go quietly into the night. They tend to go away kicking and screaming. But needless to say, the Orioles seemed to finally get the message about getting guys on base, and how it correlates to winning.

With a runner on in the fourth, DJ Stewart cut the lead to 6-4 with a two-run homer. Mullins would tack on a run in the seventh with an RBI-groundout. The Birds were within one at 6-5. Then the eighth inning happened.

Again, guys getting on base is often the key to winning. And the fact is that when you put ducks on the pond, anything is liable to happen. The O’s loaded the bases in the eighth, and Ramon Urias drew a walk, tying the game at six. Kelvin Gutierrez would also walk, giving the O’s the lead back.

However the truly fatal blow would come from Austin Hays, who smacked a two-RBI double. Cedric Mullins would add a sac fly-RBI for good measure, and the O’s went home with a 10-6 victory. Again, snapping a 19-game losing streak.

You could almost see this coming on Tuesday when Los Angeles had a massive lead and the O’s still battled back. This lifts a huge weight off the team’s shoulders, as now they can come to the ballpark everyday and focus on just playing baseball. This as opposed to that streak. Let the good times roll!

The series with Los Angeles concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by LA’s Jaime Barria. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles drop their 19th straight

The Baltimore Orioles’ losing streak reached 19 straight games last night. That’s two shy of the franchise record. Spenser Watkins was beaten around early and often. Watkins’ line: 2.0 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

The Los Angeles Angels aren’t exactly a great team. Yet what they did last night was get people on base early on. And that’s what’s plagued the Birds in August; they’ve hit some home runs in games, but they’ve mainly been solo shots – including some last night. Opponents have smacked homers with people on base.

Ryan Mountcastle smacked a solo homer (true to form based on what I said above) in the first to give the Birds the lead. And that’s another thing this losing streak has seen – the O’s held leads in a lot of these games. However Los Angeles put five across in the top of the second, giving them a 5-1 lead.

And as has been the case throughout this streak, the opponents’ rally started on a fluky play – a batter reaching base on a wild pitch. The margin of error for the Orioles is so thin right now. It isn’t even funny.

LA would put up three in the third and another five in the fifth. But then suddenly, the O’s somehow snapped out of it. Anthony Santander’s RBI-double in the last of the fifth cut the Los Angeles lead to 13-3. Ramon Urias would follow later in the inning with a two-RBI single.

One inning later Mountcastle would homer again (a solo shot), and Santander would send a two-run shot into the Baltimore night. Los Angeles would tack on an additional run in the eighth, running the final to 14-8. Needless to say, in yet another loss the Birds never stopped battling.

As I said, opposing teams are putting guys on base and finding a way to get them in. Usually by way of home runs. And the O’s started doing that in the second half of the game. One has to hope that’s the beginning of a trend, and they can snap this loss streak starting tonight.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. The Orioles are yet to name a starter, but Los Angeles will start Shohei Ohtani. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: #RIPFlanny

Today’s a tough day in Baltimore Orioles history. And honestly, I can’t believe it’s been ten years…ten years since the late Mike Flanagan passed away. That was one of the toughest game nights I’ve ever been through, and one I’d just as soon as never experience again.

I vowed on that night to never let an August 24th pass while writing this column without writing about “Flanny.” Ten years later, there’s not much left to say that hasn’t already been said regarding Mike Flanagan. He was an Oriole through and through. And he loved being an Oriole, along with being a part of this organization.

A year later the O’s made the playoffs for the first time since 1997. I thought a lot about Mike Flanagan that season, as the O’s returned to glory. He would have been so proud to have seen that season. Again, because he was proud to have been an Oriole.

Mike not only loved being an Oriole, but he loved Baltimore. He moved his family to the area, and his kids grew up here. He lived the “Baltimore life” everyday. So today, ten years after his untimely death, I send my thoughts and prayers to all who loved him. He’s certainly missed by everyone in the Orioles’ family.

The O’s begin a three-game set with The Los Angeles Angels tonight at Camden Yards. Spenser Watkins gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Los Angeles’ Dylan Bundy (also a former Oriole). Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: John Means a hard-luck loser

The funny thing is that the Baltimore Orioles played well enough to win in all three games against Atlanta this weekend at Camden Yards. But they couldn’t make it over the hump. This isn’t to say that they aren’t trying or are purposely throwing games. They just can’t put it all together in games right now. John Means put them in a spot to win today, which is all you can ask. Means’ line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

Make no mistake that Means was good today. Remember that a minimum of six innings of three-runs or less ball goes down as a quality start. As I said in the title, Means is very much a hard-luck loser today.

Means gave up a solo homer to Soler in the fourth inning. And that will happen with him on occasion. He will give up a home run ball here and there. But a lot of them are solo shots, and odds are those won’t hurt you.

What hurt more than the home run was DuVall’s two-RBI double later in the inning. Ramon Urias would get the Orioles on board in the bottom of that fourth inning with an RBI-double. But that closed out the scoring for the day, and the Birds fell, 3-1.

One might draw a silver lining on the fact that the Birds were competitive against one of the best teams in baseball this weekend. But there are no moral victories in baseball. Or any sport for that matter.

The Birds will enjoy a much-needed day off tomorrow at home. The Anaheim Angels come in for three start long Tuesday.

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Baltimore Orioles: Phantom hit-by-a-pitch

The Baltimore Orioles are finding out that when a losing streak reaches into the teens, it finds ways to taunt you. Matt Harvey pitched well tonight, and without a doubt put the O’s in a spot to win. They also fought tooth and nail against Atlanta to win this game, but to no ends. Because these losing streaks find ways to taunt you. Harvey’s line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Ryan Mountcastle’s solo homer in the first inning gave the O’s the lead early on. Mountcastle picked up where he left off when he went into concussion protocol. And that‘s a good sign for the future.

But it was in the third inning that the O’s began to see the relentlessness of the losing streak. With a runner already on, Freeman was hit by a Matt Harvey pitch. He gets first base, right? Pretty simple…but is it?

The rules specifically state that if they’re hitter doesn’t attempt to get out of the way of the pitch, the umpire can neglect to award him first base. (It’s rare, but I’ve actually seen it called.) Not only did Freeman not try to get out of the way, but he appeared to lean into the pitch. Freeman would later score on Swanson’s two-RBI double, and Atlanta led 2-1.

Is this petty? Tough to say. That very well could have been called, and Freeman prevented from taking first base. But those are the things that happen when you’ve lost 16 straight games. As I said, the losing streak begins to taunt you.

Atlanta would extend their lead in the fourth with a solo homer by Pederson. But the Birds would come back in the last of the fourth and tie it up at three. They got back-to-back homers from Anthony Santander and Ramon Urias.

But Atlanta would take the lead right back in the top of the fifth on Riley’s solo homer. They’d also get an insurance run in the ninth, and for their sake it’s a good thing they did. Because Santander smacked his second solo homer of the game, cutting the final score to 5-4.

But consider the fact that had that Freeman HBO been called as it could have been, the game’s at best a tie. The O’s had other opportunities for sure, but that’s a tough pill to swallow. But again, when losing streaks get out of hand, they begin to taunt you.

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

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Batlimore Orioles: Jorge Lopez potentially injured as Birds fall again

Baltimore Orioles’ starter Jorge Lopez never looked comfortable in this afternoon’s game. Manager Brandon Hyde and the medical staff came out to check on Lopez early in the first inning when his velocities were down, and he loaded the bases with nobody out. Lopez convinced Hyde that he was fine and to leave him in, however his struggles continued. Finally after the second inning, he was replaced. Lopez’s line: 2.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

As I said, Lopez loaded the bases before he was able to record an out. He eventually walked Meadows, which gave Tampa a 1-0 lead. Choi would ground into a double-play which scored a second run, but also gave the Orioles and Lopez two outs.

And in that situation in general you’ll take that. 2-0 early in the game isn’t anything, so you’ll trade an additional run for two outs. The issue of course is that these are the Tampa Rays. They don’t just fall apart in games. They cause you to do that.

Lowe would smack a two-run homer against Lopez in the last of the second, and the O’s trailed 2-0. Two innings later it was another walk with the bases loaded, and a two-RBI single by Choi. That gave Tamp a 7-0 lead. And they never looked back.

Richie Martin‘s RBI-single in the fifth, and Ramon Urias’ solo homer in the ninth would give the Orioles their nominal runs for the day. However the concern isn’t that this was their 15th straight loss, or that they can’t seem to find anything to go right for them in games. The concern right now is for Jorge Lopez. I would assume that Brandon Hyde will update the media of anything regarding Lopez’s health in short order. But he didn’t look comfortable on the mound today, and his velocity was down.

The O’s head home now to open a three-game set with Atlanta at Camden Yards. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Atlanta’s Max Fried. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: You basically have to be better than perfect

The Baltimore Orioles lost their 14th straight game last night, tying a season high. Spenser Watkins put them in a position to win the game, but as can often be the case the Birds couldn’t get out of their own way. Tampa slides in when they’re given opportunities in games, no matter how small the opening. You have to be better than perfect to beat them, and the Orioles haven’t been. Watkins’ line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K.

The O’s actually started out with the lead, and they had it before Watkins even took the field. Cedric Mullins led off the game with a solo homer. Later in the first inning Pedro Severino’s RBI-single gave the O’s a 2-0 lead. However that was fool’s gold in a sense.

With one out in the last of the first, Franco got aboard with what was ruled an infield single. It could have been an error however, as Martin misplayed the ball at shortstop. And there’s your small little opening for Tampa to get in. True to form, Choi produced a two/m-RBI single later in the inning to tie the game at two.

Lowe’s RBI-single in the fourth gave Tampa the lead at 3-2. Lowe would later steal second – another small opening. Tampa puts runners on with the expectation that they’ll score. And they do whatever they need to do to ensure those ends. Sure enough, Franco would double Lowe home, and Tampa led 4-2.

Franco would add an RBI-single in the sixth, and Cruz a sac fly. Meadows would add a sac fly of his own, and Tampa held a 7-2 lead. Meadows also added an RBI-double in the eighth. However the O’s got two back in the seventh and eighth, on an RBI-single by Austin Wynns, and solo homer by Ryan Mountcastle.

The series concludes this afternoon at Tropicana Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Shane McClanahan. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: One error snowballs on John Means, Birds

Things are going south quickly for the Baltimore Orioles. And when they go south…boy do they go south. Even ace John Means is affected. Means’ numbers look poor from last night. But he was semi-on his game. It was one small thing that sent things to disaster. Means’ line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R (4 earned), 0 BB, 7 K.

The strikeouts and walks are obviously the Means we know. Through three innings he was very good, and the Orioles were in the game. However in the fourth Franco reached on a fielding error by Jorge Mateo. It was just a routine ground ball that Mateo bobbled. No problem, right? Ground ball double-play gets you out of the inning…

…not against Tampa. They live for the small little opening in a game that they can find, and they jump through. Franco would steal second, and then Margot would send a ground rule RBI-double bouncing over the wall. If not for the error and the steal, no run would have scored. That’s what Tampa does.

Zunino’s two-run homer later in the inning would give Tampa a 3-0 lead. They’d also get a three-run homer by Cruz in the fifth, followed by an RBI-double by Lowe. To add insult to injury, Lowe would later score on an error by Ramon Urias. It was a routine infield pop up, and Urias just dropped it.

Cruz would smack a second homer, this of the two-run variety, in the last of the sixth. But the real story in this one were the errors. Again, Tampa exploits your biggest weaknesses, and they pounce on your mistakes. Even John Means suffered as a result.

Manager Brandon Hyde said after the game that he felt Means battled. And he wasn’t wrong:

I thought the first three innings, he was really good. I thought they battled him tough. A lot of foul balls, a lot of deep counts. He was making good pitches. They’re a scrappy team and he was at 60-ish pitches after three innings, putting up zeros. He had a tough time finishing guys. I’m sure when the game started, his thought were to stop this and to pick us up because he’s a super competitor and he’s a good starting pitcher and he’s going to be good. Just didn’t make pitches there in the fourth and fifth, and I don’t know if trying too much there, just not executing.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The series continues this evening at Tropicana Field. Spenser Watkins gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Louis Head. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles sunk on homer parade

Matt Harvey’s numbers make his start look worse than it was for the Baltimore Orioles last night in Tampa. He put the O’s in a position to win, save for a couple of errant pitches. Overall he was good. Harvey’s line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

The O’s put runners at the corners in the first, and took a 1-0 lead on Cedric Mullins’ sac bunt-RBI. However that lead only lasted until the fourth. Meadows’ two-RBI triple gave Tampa a 2-1 lead. One inning later Kiermaier’s solo homer ran it to 3-1.

Lowe would smack a solo shot of his own in the fifth, and Wendle an RBI-double. And in typical Tampa fashion, they find ways to score against the Orioles that you just wouldn’t expect. Phillips’ inside-the-park homer counts as that sort of thing. Tampa has a lot of speed, and sometimes the ball does funny things when it rattles around in the outfield after hitting the wall.

Tampa would net three more runs on two homers in the sixth and seventh. Trey Mancini would get one back for the O’s on an RBI-double in the eighth. Brandon Hyde said after the game that the team was still fighting and trying to stay upbeat:

I think we’re handling it the best we possibility can, to be honest with you. I thought the energy in our dugout tonight was unbelievable for a team that’s winning as many games as we have, just our record. I think our clubhouse is still positive, I think our coaching staff has done a great job of trying to stay positive through these rough stretches that we’ve gone through. I think the effort is there, I do. I think we’re playing hard. We’re not executing and we make bad pitches during bad times and we’re trying too hard at the plate in big moments and that isn’t how it works in this game. Our strike zone discipline at the plate is an issue and when guys are over-aggressive it doesn’t lead to big innings.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The series continues tonight at Tropicana Field. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Drew Rasmussen. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: It all goes the other way in a losing streak

In four innings of work, Keegan Akin threw one bad pitch for the Baltimore Orioles. However you can probably excuse that in the sense that it was tough for both teams to know where the strike zone was. Home plate umpire Greg Gibson kept everyone on their toes with what appeared to be a revolving strike zone. Amin’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Anthony Santander got the Birds on the board before Akin even took the mound. He reached first on a base hit, and went to second on a throwing error, the same error which allowed an Oriole run to score. However the Birds also then had two runners in scoring position with one down. And that was the only run they netted.

Akin seemed to get squeezed immediately. He walked a batter following a base hit in the last of the first, this after appearing to throw strike three. That seemed to get to him, and he uncorked a wild pitch – allowing the runners to advance. They would later score on Martinez’s three-run homer.

As the title suggests, when you’re in the midst of a losing streak, things go the other way. The Birds could have had a big first inning. Instead they let Boston off the hook. And Akin couldn’t adjust to the strike zone, although as we would later find out it was going to be tough for any Oriole pitcher to adjust.

Boston would also put three across in the sixth. Oriole pitching issued three walks in the inning, one of which walked in a run. All three had pitches in the sequence which should have been a called strike three. But they were called balls. Again, when things aren’t going well, borderline calls usually go against you.

Jorge Mateo’s seventh inning RBI-single got the O’s to within 6-2, but that was about it. They fell into an 11-game losing streak, not aided by the strike zone today. However you also need to adjust to the strike zone. Now I’ll grant you that it seemed to move around. However the O’s also tried to nibble on just about every corner of the plate for the entire game. That didn’t seem to work.

Manager Brandon Hyde addressed adjusting to the zone indirectly while giving kudos to Boston:

I just see how much better we have to get in our strike zone discipline. You watch them (and) compared to us, they’re hitters and they’re more experienced. They have a bunch of guys who have been in the postseason and have won a lot of games. But there’s just a level of understanding the strike zone and understanding what the pitcher is trying to do and not chase, not let pitchers off the hook. They got squeezed, there’s no doubt about it, but they weren’t swinging on balls on the edges and were continuing to get them. And we just have a tough time having innings like that because we are in swing mode and good pitchers can pitch to that.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The O’s now head to Tampa for the first of four games at Tropicana Field. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: It seems useless

It really didn’t matter who the Baltimore Orioles started yesterday – for the record, it was Jorge Lopez. They looked beaten before the game even got underway. Boston started scoring, and basically didn’t really stop until the game itself ended. Lopez’s line: 3.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

Boston scored on a wild pitch in the first, followed by a three-run homer by Devers. Verdugo added an RBI-single in the second, followed by an RBI/l-double by Bogaerts. At that point it was 6-0, and while Boston still had a ways to go the game appeared already over.

Austin Hays and Trey Mancini did offer up back-to-back homers in the third. However that was only a brief respite from the onslaught Boston was bringing. They cut the O’s a break and only posted one in the fourth, but if the game wasn’t already out of hand, a seven-run Boston fifth made it so. When the dust settled, the O’s fell 16-2.

Now you can’t blame Boston, for the record. At a certain point they stopped trying to manufacture runs. But the hits kept on coming, and they kept scoring. It’s the Orioles’ job to put a stop to that. And they couldn’t do it.

Manager Brandon Hyde said after the game that the team just needs to get better across the board:

We really have no choice, except to come out and play hard and do our best to try to stay in games and try to compete and try to win as many games as we can. That’s been the mindset here. We haven’t pitched very well of late. We’re not scoring a ton of runs, either. We’ve just got to get better in all areas. We’re a long ways away.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The series concludes this afternoon at Fenway Park. Keegan Akin gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Spenser Watkins struggles in Fenway debut

Spencer Watkins of the Baltimore Orioles is only the latest pitcher to struggle in his debut at Fenway Park. Guys have grown up watching games there on television, knowing what the park symbolizes in the sport, and knowing that big green wall is behind them. And as a result many guys struggle. Watkins’ line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 1 K.

Watkins struggled with his control, evidenced by the three walks and only one strikeout. Now to his credit, Watkins said after the game that the venue didn’t make a difference. However Fenway’s a tough play to pitch for the best pitchers, much less a rookie. But needless to say, Watkins said the right things on pitching at Fenway:

Same as every other place. Of course, Fenway is Fenway. Any baseball player can go onto that field and be a little bit wide-eyed, but I felt like it was more so me just staying focused mentally. Was there crowd noise? Absolutely, but there’s crowd noise everywhere. I think it’s just a matter of me staying focused mentally.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Boston started their party in the second inning. They got an RBI-single from Duran, an RBI-double from Dalbec, and a sac fly-RBI from Hernandez. This after Watkins loaded the bases with nobody out. The Birds’ line offensive bright spot came in the third, when Richie Martin smacked his first home run in two years – a solo shot.

Boston would add homers in the last of the fourth, sixth, and seventh. And they would take game one of this series, 8-1. It‘s the Orioles’ ninth straight loss.

The series continues this afternoon at Fenway Park. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Chris Sale. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Free Shoeless Joe

The Baltimore Orioles played in the late afternoon yesterday, allowing for fans to watch the “Field of Dreams Game” between the Yankees and White Sox in Dyersville, Iowa. First and foremost, I think the game was incredibly well produced. Kevin Costner coming out of the cornfield followed by the players, the game itself being played at dusk in a cornfield, and a walk off home run into said corn. As Costner said, “it was perfect.”

The movie Field of Dreams is incredibly special to those of us who play, follow, or write about baseball. Personally my favorite moment and the most poignant for me has always been when Ray sees his Dad removing the catcher’s gear and he says, “…oh my God…it’s my father.” At that moment it’s manifested both to Ray and the audience what the true meaning of the voice’s messages, and thus the story was. It’s not about baseball, and it’s not about Shoeless Joe Jackson. It’s about father’s and son’s. And not only is that the greatest story ever told, but it’s the very essence of the game.

Field of Dreams is my favorite movie. Nothing could ever top it; so I’m glad that Major League Baseball is in effect embracing it, and in essence bringing it to life. I’m glad that they appear committed at least to do it again next year, although I’m not sure they could ever come close to the spectacle that they put on last night. That is unless maybe the real Shoeless Joe and his friends came back and played.

To harp on that point for a moment however, it’s not lost on me that Shoeless Joe Jackson remains in a state of banishment in Major League Baseball. You hear part of the story in the movie itself; Jackson and seven of his teammates fixed the 1919 World Series – called the Blacksox Scandal. As Ray tells his daughter, he did take their money, however there’s no proof that he ever did anything to lose any of the games. He even hit the series’ sole home run.

However as we’ve found out in modern times, it’s disputable as to whether or not Jackson ever took the money. There are numerous reports, including those of the seven other players involved, saying that Jackson refused the money. And that he tried to report the fraud to the team as it was happening. Yet he was still thrown out of baseball, and remains ineligible for the Hall of Fame.

I guess I would submit that if MLB wants to make the Field of Dreams game such a huge part of the narrative, should we not maybe consider re-instating Shoeless Joe? And I suppose I say that for purposes of Hall of Fame induction. I think it would be a great ending to that story, for baseball to be one with the legend of Shoeless Joe once again.

It’s been suggested formally on numerous occasions, including to current commissioner Rob Manfred. However they’ve always scoffed at the idea. So let me be only the latest person to say it: FREE SHOELESS JOE!!!

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Baltimore Orioles: Even John Means looked pedestrian against Detroit

One might have thought that John Means might have been just what the doctor ordered for the Baltimore Orioles against Detroit. But even Means couldn’t put a stop to the Birds’ losing ways against Detroit. Means’ line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

The Orioles actually held the lead in this game early on. Cedric Mullins in effect stole home plate in the first inning during a rundown. It was an incentive way to get a run across, and it was very much against the run of play from the first twins games. And I suspect that was the intention.

But that didn’t do much to rally the team in a sense. Detroit tied the game in the fourth on an RBI-double by Candelario. Later in the inning Nunez smacked a two-run homer, giving Detroit a 3-1 lead. Further into the inning, Reyes’ two-run homer ran jt to 5-1.

The good news is that even in a losing effort, the Orioles tried to fight back. DJ Stewart homered twice, in the fourth and the sixth. Both were solo’s. But Stewart’s had a decent series against Detroit, and he appears to be heating up. Unfortunately those homers were sandwhiched by Detroit’s Grossman smacking one of his own (a solo shot). The O’s would add one in the seventh, but fell 6-4.

Means said after the game that he tried to dial his fastball back a bit yesterday after firing it hard in his last outing:

You know, I really tried to slow down a little bit today. Just try to kick it back into first gear. I felt my last outing, I was pretty jumpy and a little too aggressive. I thought today I would slow it down. I thought it was pretty good for the first few innings and that one inning, I was missing my spots. Physically, I feel good. My mechanics, I’m going kind of going back and forth on certain things and trying to get back in that rhythm I went on before. Trying some different things out. I’m not going to quit.

Quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports

Sometimes pitchers do things like that. And sometimes it works. Detroit hitters could have been waiting for blazing fastballs in the game. Instead they were waiting for whatever Means threw. Sometimes that sort of strategy can work; yesterday it didn’t.

The O’s now head to Fenway Park in Boston for a three-game series. Spenser Watkins gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nick Pivetta. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis retires

Chris Davis, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, released this statement this morning:

The Orioles then subsequently released this statement:

So there you have it folks, Chris Davis is retiring. Perhaps the one piece that was “semi-left over” from the 2012-2016 era. I don’t need to tell folks of Davis’ recent struggles, because they’ve been well-documented over the years. However so were his immense highs.

It’s my hope that Orioles fans will remember Davis as hitting 50 home runs one year, as opposed to not even coming close to the Mendoza Line. Perhaps more poignantly, until his final appearance in a major league game, he remained an above-average big league first baseman.

That’s not something you’re going to hear covered in a lot of commentary about this today. Most people will talk about his massive contract and how he never lived up to it. But that’s only at the plate. Davis ALWAYS earned his keep in the field. As a first baseman, he has a career fielding percentage of .995. He’s also 1-0 as a pitcher – who could forget the game against Boston where he came into pitch in extra innings, earning the win?!

But going back to Davis as a fielder for a moment, he played parts of six seasons at third base as well. When Mark Reynolds was struggling at the hot corner in 2011-2012, Davis was asked to go across the diamond to play at the hot corner, leaving first base to Reynolds. Not only did he do it, but he fielded at a .911 clip at third. That doesn’t sound great, but for a first baseman I see it as outstanding.

Point being, he was a team player. He was willing to play wherever the Orioles wanted him to play – including the outfield. And in the aforementioned example, Reynolds turned out to be a pretty decent first baseman also. It was a win-win.

Davis was traded to the Orioles from Texas mid-2011, and the rest is history. He and his wife Jill were always very generous with their time when it came to charities in the Baltimore area. Even when his hitting tailed off significantly, he always represented the very best of Baltimore and of the Orioles. Best wishes in retirement, Chris. I hope I speak on behalf of the team and the fans when I say you’ll always have a special place in Baltimore’s heart.

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Baltimore Orioles fall again to Detroit

Matt Harvey became only the most recent Baltimore Orioles’ starter to ensure a long rain delay before taking the field against Detroit. Storms rolled into the Baltimore area, forcing the tarp on the field. The delay lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. Harvey’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Harvey cruised along and kept Detroit off the board for the most part. Towards the end of his outing Detroit caused him trouble. Cabrera’s solo homer in the fifth gave Detroit a 1-0 lead. Goodrum added a two-RBI double later in the inning, and after five innings Harvey and the O’s trailed 3-0.

One very positive thing out of this start was that Harvey apparently didn’t experience any discomfort in his knee, which had bothered him last week at Yankee Stadium:

It’s not a serious issue. It’s just something that’s kind of crept up on me a little bit. But it definitely wasn’t an issue at all.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Detroit would also net a sac fly-RBI in the sixth. They would score another on a wild pitch, running the score to 5-0. Anthony Santander would smack a two-run homer for the O’s in the last of the eighth, but the Birds fel again to Detroit, this time. 5-2.

A silver lining here would be that they weren’t blown out. The Orioles snapped a streak of six games in which they had surrendered nine runs or more. It’s been a struggle of late for the O’s. But that also comes and goes in waves. A couple of weeks ago they were riding high when. They swept Washington at home. And I predict that at some point in the near future, the fortunes will turn back around.

The series concludes this afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Matt Manning. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.