Baltimore Orioles: Big seventh inning lifts Birds in Seattle

We hear teams like the Baltimore Orioles say all the time that you want to stay out of the big inning. That’s very true – when you’re in the field, that is. When you’re at bat, you certainly want a big inning. And last night Alex Cobb was the beneficiary of a big inning that the Orioles manufactured, on their way to a 5-3 victory in Seattle. Cobb’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Cobb gave up a solo homer to Cano in the first inning. Other than that he pitched out of everything into which he got himself. And there weren’t many situations of note, I might add. All he needed was some run support. And he got it in the top of the seventh.

The Birds started off by tying the game on a solo homer by Renato NunezJonathan Villar‘s RBI-single later in the inning would give the Birds a 2-1 lead. Joey Rickard would add a sac fly-RBI, and Trey Mancini‘s RBI-double capped off the inning. When the smoke had cleared, the Orioles led 4-1.

I’m not sure what qualifies as a “big inning,” but four runs is decent enough. And it’s also something that’s alluded the Orioles for much of the season. Not only did it pick up their starter, but the fact that it occurred in the seventh limited the amount of time that Seattle had to come back.

They did net two runs on a force out and throwing error in the last of the eighth, which made things interesting to say the least. However Chris Davis added an RBI-single which acted as an insurance run in the ninth. Seattle went quietly in the last of the ninth to close out the Orioles’ 5-3 victory.

This was a good win for a young team to grind out. It’s unclear whether or not some semblance of this group is going to be the lineup into the distant future. Heck, it’s unclear if this group is going to be the lineup going into spring training next year. But they showed some grit in battling in this game the way that they did.

They also showed some spark in that seventh inning in terms of putting some runs on the board. Alex Cobb wasn’t perfect, but he put his team in a spot to win. And finally he was rewarded. For what it’s worth, with this victory the Orioles have officially surpassed the 1962 Mets’ win total. In other words, they won’t challenge for the worst record ever over a 162-game schedule.

The O’s will attempt to take the series from Seattle this evening in the finale at Safeco Field. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Mike Leake. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles, Josh Rogers fall in pitcher’s duel to Seattle

In his second career big league start, Josh Rogers turned in another decent performance for the Baltimore Orioles: Rogers’ line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K. However Rogers fell victim to what amounts to an age-old problem for Orioles’ starters this year. He didn’t get the run support he needed to win.

When you give up two runs, you’ve done your job. You’ve put your team in a position to win. The issue is that your team only netted one run for you. That makes it tough. And as has been documented here all season and as I just said above, Orioles’ starters have dealt with this all season. It seems that either the pitching shows up and the bats are quiet, or the inverse. It’s been tough to see it all come together at once.

Jonathan Villar gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the fourth with a solo home run which he bent around the right field foul pole. Seattle would tie the game in the bottom of the inning on Healy’s RBI-single. However we also saw a bright spot for the future on that play. Cedric Mullins relayed the ball back into the infield, and Healy was thrown out trying to extend that single into a double.

One inning later Gordon would give Seattle a 2-1 lead on a sac fly-RBI. And that was the game. This wasn’t a game that netted either team a lot of opportunities. However Seattle took advantage of theirs. The Orioles did not. Another storyline from the 2018 season for the O’s.

Buck Showalter said after the game that he was a fan of Rogers’ approach to pitching, and that he saw improvement in some of his secondary pitchers over his first outing (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I thought his secondary stuff was better. Roger (McDowell) and I were talking about it. You’ve got a little crispness in the air finally. Guys, pitchers especially, it kind of freshens up their arms. Yac’s velocity was up a little bit from as a starter. He had three days’ off and I wanted to get him out there and not let him sit around too long.

Josh was good. I love his presentation, his aggressiveness and the way he comes down the hill at people. But I thought his command was a lot better. Not so much command, but just his usefulness of some secondary pitches that he didn’t show as much the first time.

The aforementioned play with Mullins relaying the ball to nail a runner at second base isn’t something that shows up on the scorecard, but it’s huge. If the rebuild is successful and in a few years’ time the Birds are playing meaningful games at this point in the season, that’s the type of thing that can propel a team onward. Hitting the cutoff man and doing so with precision isn’t something that’s always happened. It sounds simple enough, but in practice it appears to be challenging.

The series continues this evening from Safeco Field. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Wade LeBlanc. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles swept out of Kansas City

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter put out a lineup in yesterday’s series finale in Kansas City that would have made a spring training travel roster blush. And I don’t say that to be critical; Showalter had a few players that he wanted to rest due to some nagging injuries. So in effect he had no choice but to put out the lineup that he did. Granted, it didn’t help starter David Hess, who took the loss. Hess’ line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R (4 earned), 0 BB, 3 K.

As seems to be the pattern, the Orioles actually had the lead early. Jonathan Villar smacked a solo homer in the first inning. But it was downhill from there. Kansas City tied it an inning later on Escobar’s RBI-single. Regardless of who was playing in the game, the Orioles could never recover.

Kansas City would take the lead in the third, on two throwing errors by Hess and an RBI-double. Hess attempted to pick two different runners off, and ended up making errant throws. Runs scored on both plays. As has been stated several times, this Kansas City team doesn’t really take their foot off the gas. They just keep adding on; one run here and another there. When the smoke cleared after nine innings, they had swept the Orioles with a 9-1 victory.

And the aforementioned sequence where Hess committed two throwing errors is classic of how Kansas City wins games (in good seasons or bad). They kind of sit back and take whatever they can. If that’s a sac fly-RBI, they happily take it. If it’s an RBI-single or a run-scoring double-play (no RBI), they take it with joy. If you hand a breaking ball or a fastball leaks back over the middle, they’ll also hit the ball out of the ballpark.

They also bank of teams like the Orioles pushing too hard, and ending up making mistakes. You can certainly excuse David Hess’ errors in this instance because he’s still a rookie and he was trying to make something happen. But that’s a trap into which Kansas City can lull you. And seemingly they’ve done it to the Orioles time and time again since the 2014 ALCS.

This loss probably seals the fact that the O’s will get the top pick in next year’s draft. Granted the Birds could have an amazing September and Kansas City could tank, so you never know. While you never want to be in a position to have the top pick, when the draft comes around it’s certainly a nice luxury.

The Orioles will now head to the west coast to open a three-game set in Seattle. Josh Rogers gets the start for the O’s tonight, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Erasmo Ramirez. Game time is set for just after 9 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Mychal Givens gives up walk off homer to Kansas City

The Baltimore Orioles and Mychal Givens were reminded last night that small ball isn’t just a way to play the game, it’s almost a way of life. And part of that way of life is that you literally don’t stop playing. Whereas in the AL East it seems that once a late death blow has been issued, all’s done. But small ball teams like Kansas City have a different world view.

Dylan Bundy came within two outs of a quality start last night. Bundy’s line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 8 K. Almost doesn’t cut it, however. The Orioles were though able to take an early lead on a sac fly-RBI by Andreoli. That was complimented two innings later by Tim Beckham‘s solo homer, and the Birds appeared to be setting themselves up for a nice win on a Saturday night in Kansas City.

But again, part of the small ball mentality is that you just don’t quit. Kansas City got a solo homer by Phillips in the fourth, and an RBI-double from Goodwin and an RBI-single from Herrera in the sixth. Before you knew it, the O’s trailed 3-2 and Bundy had been chased from the game.

But Trey Mancini got the Orioles right back on track in the top of the eighth. His solo home run tied the game at three, and it was followed up later in the inning by Beckham’s RBI-double to give the O’s a 4-3 lead. However again, in the AL East that right there would have probably ended the game. Unfortunately for the Birds, they weren’t playing a division game.

Mychal Givens promptly walked the lead off guy – not what you want to do with a one-run lead in the last of the ninth. Merrifield promptly deposited a Givens pitch into the stands, giving Kansas City an improbably 5-4 victory in walk off fashion. To his credit following the game, Givens didn’t beat around the bush when it came to his outing (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

Walked the leadoff guy and made a bad 0-2 pitch. Today, especially with how our team’s been playing. We’ve been playing really good, battling circumstances with what’s been going on this year. Today, I failed the team as far as [I] didn’t close out the game. They worked their butts off getting back in the game. Just have to do a better job. A bad 0-2 pitch. I was trying to just locate it down and away. The ball got away from me, and got into his bat path.

This is a Kansas City team that’s been a thorn in the Orioles side no matter the circumstances. When the teams met in the ALCS their exuberance and never say die attitude dipped and dunked the Orioles to death with bloops and broken bat singles. Now the same is true with both teams struggling – the exuberance part, at least.

The O’s will try to salvage one game this afternoon at Kaufman Stadium. David Hess gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Jorge Lopez. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins homers in Birds’ loss

Cedric Mullins to date has been as good as advertised for the Baltimore Orioles. It’s easy to see why Adam Jones was apparently lobbying for the youngster to come up to the big leagues for some time. Mullins had two hits in an otherwise forgetful game last night in Kansas City, one of which was a homer. Fittingly, Mullins (in the short time he’s been with the club) has been a bright spot in an otherwise forgetful season in Birdland.

Andrew Cashner got the start, and he bent but didn’t break. That’s the best way I can put it. Cashner’s line: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 1 K. He walked a bit on the wild side and flirted with disaster, but never really gave up the death blow. That came later.

Mullins led the game off with a solo homer. The Orioles are batting Mullins lead off because he does in fact get on base frequently, and in doing so is a constant threat to steal with his speed. Of course the act of hitting the ball out of the ballpark makes that a moot issue! (And incidentally, while you’ll take it you really don’t want your lead off guy smacking the ball out like that.)

Kansas City however came right back in the last of the first and put runners at the corners with nobody out. But again, Cashner bent but didn’t break; he induced Dozier to ground into a run-scoring double-play. Kansas City, being a small ball team, is fine with that because they get a run and go on their merry little way. But make no mistake that it’s a win for the defense. You’ll sacrifice one run early in the game like that for two outs.

Kansas City would take the lead in the last of the fourth on a sac fly-RBI by Merrifield. However one inning later Dozier would smack a solo homer, as would Gallagher one inning after that. Sandwiched in between those home runs was a sac fly-RBI by Trey Mancini, which for a short period brought the O’s to within one. But it wasn’t to be their night.

One thing about Kansas City, who like the Orioles are now in rebuilding mode after some great years – they don’t really take their foot off the gas. It’s easy enough to say that you should never take your foot off the gas, but let’s face facts; when you’re up big it’s easy to do. I can tell you from personal experience that I’ve done it many times – I play pickup basketball every week, and we play games to seven. If my team’s up 6-0, generally we’ll end up winning 7-3 or 7-4. Because instinctively you kind of take your foot off the gas.

Kansas City doesn’t seem to do that. They keep it going, and they add runs on if they can. When the smoke cleared last night they had won the game 9-2. It’s almost a Bill Belichek-like mentality in that it’s not their job to stop their offense.

Again however, the good news for the Orioles is that Cedric Mullins is coming along as a player. One thing that’s interesting is that many people love to decry the Orioles’ minor league system. People think that they can’t develop talent, and they use the fact that so many players leave the organization and thrive as evidence of that. While there are legitimate criticisms to be made, Mullins appears to be evidence that the idea of talent development with the Orioles isn’t a foreign one.

The series continues this evening at Kaufman Stadium. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Heath Fillmyer. Game time is set for 7:15 PM.