Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy’s quality start snaps losing streak

The Baltimore Orioles snapped yet another long losing streak last night, this time behind a quality start from Dylan Bundy. It was a welcome sight for the Birds to find themselves on top of a score after nine innings (or eight-and-a-half, needless to say), but also for Bundy to see himself in the win column. It was his first win since July. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K.

The O’s appeared on a mission from the get go in this game, hoping not to get swept – this time at home. Tim Beckham‘s two-RBI single in the first gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Of course Beckham was also thrown out at second base trying to extend it into a double, but he did give the O’s the lead early. And it’s a good thing he did, because Piscotty’s solo homer in the second cut that lead to 2-1.

The O’s ran the lead to 3-1 in the fourth on an RBI-single by John Andreoli, followed by an RBI-single from Breyvic Valera. Oakland would plate two more runs over different innings, although most poignantly they cut the lead to 4-3 in the eighth when Olson walked with the bases loaded. That was the moment where you felt everything would come crashing down. And in fact, it almost did. However the O’s pitched out of the jam, leaving the lead at one.

And in fact, Jace Peterson would give them an insurance run with an RBI-double in the last of the eighth. That gave the O’s some breathing room, and they cruised to a 5-3 win. However the story of the game was Bundy, who was praised profusely by manager Buck Showalter after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

That was fun to watch. He had a really good feel for his breaking ball. He just had the one pitch, I thought that he was trying to go down and away off the plate and he let it leak back enough over the plate. He’d like to have that one back. But I thought he had just a good feel for pitching.

He made them beat his breaking ball. He had a good breaking ball, he had good command of it and they didn’t seem like they were seeing it or following it. And he had two of them. Really happy for Dylan. I almost took him out after the fifth inning, just to give him a positive note, but he seemed to get a little better as the game went on.

It’s interesting that Showalter said he almost lifted Bundy after the fifth. While that certainly would have qualified him for the win, it wouldn’t have gone down as a quality start. And pitchers take a lot of pride in that overall.

The Orioles will remain at home tonight to open up a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox. Luis Ortiz will get the call for the Birds (in his first major league start), and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s James Shields. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Are Orioles’ pitchers easy to figure out?

After Andrew Cashner departed tonight’s game, I tweeted about a concern I’ve had all year about Baltimore Orioles’ pitchers. And there have been several, mind you. Cashner’s line: 2.0 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Cashner pitched into the third inning, and was lifted after giving up eight runs. The Orioles’ bullpen would go onto give up two additional runs, making the score 10-0 after three innings. And that would end up being the final score.

All season I’ve noticed in several games that starters would start things off in a decent manner. Cashner certainly did tonight. He allowed a base runner in the first inning, and mowed Oakland down in the second. Then the third hit…and Cashner got hit.

That third inning wasn’t quite one turn through the order. However the Birds started getting hit left and right. No matter what Cashner threw up there, he either issued a walk or got hit. So…what gives?

I’ve said for some time that Oriole starters have been figured out after one or two turns through the order. And while it’s not out of the realm of possibility (although I’m sure it’s happened), I’m not even saying that opposing teams are stealing signs. I’m saying something along the lines of what the NY Jets did the other night in their NFL game against Detroit. They announced after the game that they knew Detroit’s plays before they were even called.

Now I’m not necessarily going to get into the smarts of announcing that you knew someone else’s plays before they were even called. (Because not all of your opponents will know that you’re trying to learn their playbooks.) But what I’m saying is that other teams are somehow figuring out what the Orioles are doing, possibly down to pitch selection and location – all before it happens. This can be achieved through scouting, and by watching game film – not necessarily by stealing signs.

On a similar note, the O’s have had problems with two strikes and/or two outs all season. Opposing hitters have in essence been emboldened in these situations, when in reality they should probably be on their heels. This is all stuff that we will discuss in the off season, as it has to change going into next year if the O’s are going to even improve their win total year-over-year.

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

Baltimore Orioles: Is Alex Cobb’s season done?

Alex Cobb left this evening’s Baltimore Orioles’ game early – after two innings to be exact. Cobb’s line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K. That’s a decent stat line, if this is spring training. However Cobb had to leave the game due to a recurring blister on his throwing hand.

Cobb was in obvious discomfort even while warming up in the bullpen before the game with Oakland this evening. Television camera’s caught him in a rarely honest moment for a pitcher when he realized he wouldn’t be able to go on in the game. He certainly wasn’t happy as he went down the tunnel to the clubhouse. And in reality, you can’t really blame him.

Cobb of course didn’t have nary any spring training or this year, as he signed very late in camp. He started the season in disappointing fashion, but eventually his numbers improved. Notice I said his numbers improved – not necessarily his record. While he churned out quality starts for much of the summer, the Orioles’ offense couldn’t put runs up for him.

And unfortunately for the O’s, they were playing a team in Oakland tonight who’s very much positioning for a playoff spot. These guys had something to play for. The Orioles in truth did not.

Oakland took a 1-0 lead on Chapman’s RBI-double in the third. They would net two more runs in that third inning on long reliever Mike Wright, both on RBI-singles. The Orioles would continue to allow base runners, and Oakland would get them in.

The Orioles did try to come back, and it was on the bat of Jonathan Villar. He smacked a solo homer in the sixth, and an RBI-single in the eighth. But that’s all that the Orioles could salvage on this night, and they fell to Oakland 3-2.

From my standpoint it would stand to reason that the Orioles just shut Alex Cobb down for the season. Depending on the severity of the blister (which still remains to be seen), he might have what? Perhaps one start left in him? Is it really worth the Orioles risking further injury to Cobb?

By further injury, I don’t mean aggravating the blister. I mean anything else that could happen; a knee injury, a torn achilles, being hit by a comebacker, etc. The O’s would do the player and themselves a favor by just shutting Cobb down for the remainder of the season.

One way or the other, the Oakland series continues tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Orioles, and at this point Oakland has not named a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Some events rock the world

The Baltimore Orioles are scheduled to take on Oakland this evening at Camden Yards in the first of three games. However given the weather it’s unclear whether or not this game – or really any on this home stand – will be played. It’s almost reminiscent of this exact day 17 years ago, when games across MLB would end up being canceled.

Some events rock the world, and the September 11th attacks most certainly did for all of us who were of a certain age. I do believe that sports played a major role in the healing of America in the wake of that terrible day, perhaps baseball being chief among them. The image of the President of the United States throwing out the first ball in the World Series in New York that year was awe-inspiring.

However today is about the victims and their families, as well as about our country. Which is why I won’t give the starting pitching matchup for tonight’s game as I normally do. It’s irrelevant. Not because of the Orioles’ record, but because some events truly do rock the world, rendering the rest of it meaningless.

Baltimore Orioles: Your hometown forecast

Following a three-city road trip, the Baltimore Orioles are off today. And if you believe some of the forecasts, they may actually be off for awhile. Oakland, Chicago, and Toronto are scheduled to come into Camden Yards starting tomorrow – a nine-game home stand. But the weather will play a role in whether or not that home stand actually plays out.

They’re calling for rain – and lots of it. Then at the end of the week we see the potential impacts of Hurricane Florence, which may or may not impact our area. Somewhat similar to Mike Trout, I’m kind of interested in the weather and the patterns. And I know enough about it to know not to start making predictions on hurricanes.

The first part of the home stand against Oakland is probably the most important – from the league’s perspective, that is. Oakland is still in the play off race, and MLB is going to want all three of those games played to completion. Granted one of them, possibly two (if you throw in the potential of a doubleheader) might well get rescheduled. Perhaps even until after the season.

However the Chicago and Toronto series’ might be a different story. Neither of those teams, nor the Orioles, are in the play off chase. It would be interesting to see if the league would allow the cancellation of what amounts to two series’, giving the Orioles only 154 games. But in the same respect, what would be the point of playing them?

Forecasters are saying that if Florence stalls, it could bring a massive amount of rain to various areas over several days.That’s where things are uncertain right now. But one way or the other…we motor on.

Baltimore Orioles can’t recover after tough first inning in Tampa finale

The tale of this afternoon’s Baltimore Orioles series finale in Tampa was the first inning. Starter Josh Rogers gave up five runs in the inning, and six total. And that was the game. Rogers line: 1.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 0 K.

Cron got the scoring started with an RBI-double in that first inning. He would later score on an RBI-single by Adames, who would ultimately score on Lowe’s three-run home run. One inning later Smith stole home plate in a double-steal, and Tampa took a 6-0 lead. A run that was charged to Rogers.

Following Rogers’ departure things stablized just a bit for a few innings. Gomez would smack a solo homer in the sixth inning to run things to 7-0, before the O’s put a few on the board as well. Jace Peterson‘s two-RBI triple cut the lead to 7-2, and the O’s would garner a third run on Caleb Joseph‘s sac fly-RBI. Pham would double home one additional run in the eighth, and the Orioles were swept out of Tampa with an 8-2 loss.

After the game Buck Showalter announced that Josh Rogers would be shut down for the remainder of the season. Rogers on his season being done (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Yeah, it’s pretty unfortunate because I’ve had too pretty OK outings starting my career off and trying to build off those. This will sink in and it’ll be a long offseason thinking about this one, but just taking away the positives of the experience of being here so far. It’s a learning experience and it’s a great opportunity here and I’m excited about it.

I was supposed to be in Trenton in Double-A. I was going to be the fifth starter in Trenton and I just kind of got lucky. It kind of worked out. I was going to be in the bullpen in Triple-A and we had a guy go up and I made a start and did well and just kind of ran with it.

I pitched well and I’ve always been a starter and always wanted to be a starter. I was fortunate enough to get that opportunity with the Yankees and to have a couple months with them and then have the opportunities here it was really exciting. If this was my last one, I’ll work hard this offseason and I’ll come into spring ready to go.

Withstanding this, his final appearance of the season, Rogers is someone that the Orioles definitely want to continue looking at into next year. I would expect him to get a good look in spring training. Rogers obviously wants to start, however I would remind him to keep in mind once spring games start that when you pitch is irrelevant. The idea is to get your work in. And he will.

The Orioles looked every bit of a team that was playing out a string on the season this weekend. While Tampa’s still mathematically alive for the post season, the odds aren’t in their favor. But they played like there was no tomorrow. They refused to relent on pressure in games, whether it was double-steals, or their manager challenging calls to net them a run when they’re up ten.

You can talk about how that doesn’t bode well for the Orioles if you would like. But keep in mind that the team that’s on the field now probably isn’t going to be the team on the field on Opening Day next year. Many of these guys still have the deer in the headlights look going. Give them a chance.

Baltimore Orioles: Is a message being sent on Adam Jones

Adam Jones hasn’t been in the Baltimore Orioles’ lineup for the first two games of this weekend’s series in Tampa. The Birds fell Friday night, and again of course tonight. Would Jones’ presence in the lineup made a difference? Probably not. Jones isn’t expected to be in the lineup for tomorrow’s finale either, although Buck Showalter said he’d play again this month.

Like Showalter, Jones is in the final month of his contract. My personal view is that the Orioles need Jones moving forward, both as a veteran presence but also as a team leader/captain. GM Dan Duquette has said that the Orioles’ payroll is going to be much lower going into next year. Many read that to mean Jones’ time in Baltimore is all but done. But is it possible that Buck Showalter is using this series as a manner by which to signal Duquette and upper management that Jones’ presence on the roster behooves the franchise?

David Hess got the start in tonight’s game, and while his numbers indicate a struggle he was ultimately failed by outside forces. Hess’ line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R (2 earned), 0 BB, 3 K. Hess allowed four runs in the first inning. One of those came on a wild pitch, but ultimately runners were only on base due to throwing errors. Tampa would also get a fifth run in the second on a squeeze bunt by Wendle.

The O’s battled back starting in the third. And they battled back several times, but Tampa never seemed to allow it. Villar’s RBI-single in the third cut the lead to 5-1. One inning later Renato Nunez smacked a two-run homer, and the O’s were within two at 5-3.

As I said, Tampa just kept adding on. After two six inning runs, the O’s got back to within 7-5 in the seventh on Villar’s two-RBI single. But Tampa just wasn’t in the mood to be losing on this night, and they took the game 10-5. In fairness to the O’s, nary one break seemed to go their way in this game. Tampa hitters got the benefit of balls hitting the catwalk, errors getting them on base, the ball slipping out of David Hess’ hand for a wild pitch – among other things. I suppose that good things happen to you when you play a rebuilding team.

However I can’t shake the thought that Adam Jones was kept out of the lineup to send a message. In essence, this is what the team would look like without Adam Jones. Would a manager like Showalter pull a stunt like that? Tough to say, because Buck’s all about winning. But if he thought it might help the organization moving forward…anything’s possible.

Officially, the word is that Showalter wants to get a look at some other guys (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It’s a great opportunity for some guys to get some big league experience. It’s good to see some guys get big league experience, get into some games, get into some action. I’ve shown what I can do, so it’s good to, if you’re going to move forward with the new future, so right now is no time like the present to get them some at-bats.

For whatever that’s worth.

The series in Tampa concludes tomorrow afternoon at Tropicana Field. Josh Rogers gets the start for the Orioles, and at this point Tampa hasn’t named an opposing starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: In this game there are unwritten codes

The Baltimore Orioles lost their 100th game of the season last night in Tampa behind Dylan Bundy‘s latest lackluster starting outing. The story of the game and the loss? Walks. But there was seemingly a lot more than 100 losses to discuss. Bundy’s line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 3 K.

Bundy issued a two-out walk following a single in the second, and then proceeded to give up a three-run homer to Ciuffo. He also gave up two walks an inning later with two outs, and then gave up a second three-run homer to Kiermaier. That said, the O’s did appear to get out of the inning when they challenged what would have been the third out at first base. However the call on the field was upheld and the runner ruled safe – despite what the replays appeared to show.

Tampa would also get a grand slam after a couple of walks from Choi in the sixth inning. That wasn’t off of Bundy, but again the walks were the key. Nothing good ever happens after a walk. The lone Orioles’ runs of the game came on a two-run homer by Joey Rickard in the the top of the sixth.

Tampa led the Orioles 12-2 in the seventh inning. That game was over for all intents and purposes – right? Apparently not in Tampa’s mind. With a runner at third base, Ciuffo sent a foul pop down the left field line towards the Orioles’ bullpen. Left fielder John Andreoli hustled over and caught the ball. (Quite frankly, it was a long run for Andreoli and a great hustle – especially in a game that was basically over.) The runner from third tagged up and scored.

Anyone who’s read me knows that I do stand by baseball’s unwritten codes. You don’t manufacture a run when you’re up big (five runs plus) in the later innings (seventh inning or later). Personally I felt that was a run that didn’t need to cross the plate. I obviously don’t know if that directive came from the bench or if the runner tagged up on his own, however when you’re up by ten at that stage of the game it’s fairly poor form to tag up on a play like that.

Later in the inning Tampa netted their 14th run in what I would term similarly obtuse fashion. Smith appeared to ground out to first base with a runner at third to end the inning. (Incidentally, that runner was only at third base because he tagged up on the aforementioned sac fly-RBI when they were up ten.) However Tampa manager Kevin Cash decided to challenge the call. Replays appeared to show that at worst the ball and the runner tied in getting to first – which in theory would mean the runner was safe.

The call was overturned, giving Tampa their 14th run in a 14-2 game. Let’s be frank; there’s no old school unwritten rule about challenges in baseball because the instant replay system is only a few years old. But for the same reason you don’t tag up and score on a soft pop up when you’re up by ten, it’s probably pretty poor form to challenge a play to net yourself a 14th run – when you’re up by 11.

If the score’s 13-10 or something along those lines, I definitely would be challenging a close call like that. You have to play to the scoreboard, and quite frankly that’s something that Cash should have let go. And to the crowd out there who says that you never take your foot off the gas, or you never know if the opponent is going to put up eight or nine runs in an inning, or it’s not over until it’s over so you keep scoring, ask yourselves…would Buck Showalter ever pull stunts like that?

Piling on runs in that manner is designed to do one thing: embarrass the opponent. Or remove Buck from the equation all together; insert the name of any well-respected manager in baseball history. I’m talking the LaRussa’s, Torre’s, Francona’s, Weaver’s, etc. of the world. If a batter gets a base hit in a blowout and a run scores, that’s one thing. But I don’t see any of those managers, or Buck Showalter, doing something like that designed to run up the score.

One might say if you don’t want to be embarrassed, play better. Okay, point taken. But we all know that games like these happen. Both to good and bad teams. The Orioles beat Tampa 17-1 earlier in the season. But once it was evident that the game was out of hand, the Orioles didn’t try to manufacture runs. They may have scored on a base hit or something along those lines. But no tagging up, stealing, etc. And certainly no challenging a call to net one additional run.

To add injury to insult, tonight’s scheduled starter David Hess was apparently throwing a football around the outfield before the game, and got clocked in the face. The injury isn’t serious per se, but Hess was seen jokingly wearing an LSU football helmet on the bench during the game. Having said that, Hess’ status as tonight’s starter is now in question as a result. Talk about a team that can’t catch a break.

The series continues tonight at Tropicana Field. The aforementioned Davis Hess is currently scheduled to get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Diego Castillo. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Status of Buck Showalter needs to be addressed

The white elephant in the room regarding the Baltimore Orioles is manager Buck Showalter. Or one of them, at least. Everyone knows he’s now in the final month of his contract. As tough as this season’s been, everyone also knows his track record in Baltimore and what he’s meant to the franchise.

I would argue that what he could mean for the franchise in the future should also be evident. If you’re asking whether or not I think Buck Showalter should be the manager moving forward, the answer is yes. Or at the very least I think it should be his job if he wants it. And obviously it goes without saying that my personal view is that the Orioles should offer him a legitimate contract that he would accept if in fact he wants to continue managing. Basically, the decision should be his.

And here’s another opinion of mine; I suspect that there are in fact negotiations going on behind the scenes. Because I do believe that if there weren’t, it would be announced that Buck wasn’t going to be back. However I do believe that something needs to be said, addressed, etc. on this. And soon.

The players on the roster right now do have a right to know in which direction the organization is looking to go. That goes without saying. I do feel that changes in some form are coming, whether that’s Showalter, Dan Duquette, both, or perhaps someone else.

However I also believe that some sort of announcement should be made for another reason…FOR THE FANSIf the organization wants to go in a different direction from Showalter, the fans are going to want to know. Not just for the sake of the direction of the organization, but for the immediate interim as well.

Buck Showalter’s meant a lot to this city since his arrival in 2010. He jumped right in as manager, and immediately engrossed himself in the organization and the city. He spent two weeks prior to being hired scouting the farm system to know what he had to work with. He immediately formed bonds with local charities, and began almost immediately in restoring pride to the organization. It was quite a spectacle…

…and a funny thing happened. They started winning. Not right away, but within two years. That all of course recently came to a crashing halt. However again if Buck’s not going to be back, I think that the Angelos family owes it to the fans to give them an opportunity to show their appreciation to Buck Showalter and his family. That means the possibility of a packed Camden Yards on the final weekend among other things.

Nobody does nostalgia like the Orioles. We saw it when they closed Memorial Stadium, we saw it during the Ripken streak, and we saw it again for the 60th anniversary of the team coming here. Again if Showalter won’t be back, I suspect that the fans would like to see a similar display. However to be clear, my personal opinion is that he should be offered the chance to stay.

The Orioles travel to Tampa tonight to open up a three-game set. Dylan Bundy gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Blake Snell. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles drop Seattle finale

With how this season’s gone the Baltimore Orioles are counting their blessings that they won a game in Seattle at all. They did have a shot at taking the series last night, but dropped the finale in Seattle as Andrew Cashner had a tough time getting himself going. Cashner’s line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 0 K.

The O’s trailed starting in the third inning, as Haniger deposited a Cashner pitch into the center field grandstand to give Seattle a 1-0 lead. However they did claim the lead for awhile. The Birds were able to tie it in the fifth on an E3, which goes as an unearned run. Adam Jones would later reach on an E6, which yielded another run, and the O’s took a 2-1 lead.

Both runs that the Orioles scored in the game were unearned. The scary thing is that the Orioles have struggled over the years at Safeco Field. When I say that I mean the core of Jones (who’s actually played very well in Seattle individually), Davis, Machado, Hardy, et al. That group of Orioles at least has struggled in Seattle. This is a totally new group of Orioles. Granted Jones is still here, but now you have the Joseph’s, Nunez’s, Mullins’, et al of the world. Luckily for them, the Birds only come to Seattle once a year.

Cashner was chased after giving the lead right back in the last of the fifth. Home runs by Cruz and Span ended his night, and ended the Orioles’ claim to the game overall. That gave Seattle a 3-2 lead, which was extended to 4-2 two innings later on Span’s softly-hit bloop RBI-single. They would also add a sac bunt-RBI in the seventh to run the final to 5-2.

Both Cashner and Alex Cobb have had really tough years, following their signings with the Orioles. Analysts far and wide praised the Birds for those signings, including myself. That of course was back in spring training before anyone knew what a donnybrook of a down turn this season was going to become.

Why bring that up now? Because the commonality between the two is that neither had much of a spring training with the Orioles. Cashner had a couple of appearances towards the latter half, but Cobb did not. They, along with countless other players signed very late – call them victims of circumstance if you will. And that’s something we’ll discuss in the off season. Because while the rebuild will certainly continue into next year and beyond, my personal opinion is that the O’s have no choice but to improve year-over-year.

Both Cashner and Cobb have under performed to their career numbers. And again, the commonality is that they signed late and didn’t have a full spring in camp. That will obviously not be the case going into next season. Which by default, in theory should mean that the team’s record should be better next season.

The Orioles now head to Tampa, but have an off day today. It’s one of three off days this month, meaning that they have two left in the season. And it works out nicely for me, because it allows me to catch the NFL season opener tonight, and the season premier of Monday Night Football next Monday!