The worst part for Kevin Gausman this afternoon is that the Baltimore Orioles gave him a three-run lead before he even stepped on the mound. Not only could Gausman not hold the lead, but he allowed Tampa to put up a crooked number in the third before leaving the game with two outs (in that third inning). Gausman’s line: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 1 K.
Things looked up for the Birds early on. They loaded the bases in the first inning, and took the lead on Chris Davis‘ sac fly-RBI. And incidentally, that came after a decent at-bat for Davis. While he isn’t hitting with the fire and fury that his contract mandates, there are other ways to contribute. He does so defensively game in and game out, and in this case he was able to plate a run for the Orioles – by recording an out.
The Orioles would re-load the bases again in the first inning, and would take a 2-0 lead on a Sisco walk. Craig Gentry‘s RBI-single would then run the score to 3-0. So if you’re at home you’re thinking that things are looking up for the Birds on this day. But it wasn’t to be.
Gausman would start giving runs back almost immediately on a solo homer by Miller. However he was able to get out of the inning without further damage, and he retired Tampa in the second 1-2-3. However Miller would come up again in the third with runners at second and third. And he would deliver a two-RBI double, tying the score at three.
Later in the inning Wendle would smack an RBI-single, giving Tampa the lead at 4-3 – and Wendle went to second on Mancini’s throw. Wendle would later score on an RBI-ground out after moving to third base. And that’s been something that’s plagued the O’s for a long time; guys not hitting the cut off man and trying to throw out a runner that isn’t going to be thrown out 95% of the time. When runners take extra bases on the O’s in situations like that, they almost always find a way to score.
Arroyo would add a two-RBI single before the inning could end, and when the smoke cleared the O’s trailed 7-3. Gomez would smack a solo homer in the seventh for good measure, and the O’s dropped this one 8-3. This game got out of control due to the big inning by Gausman for sure. However it’s not all on him. I mentioned Mancini not hitting the cut off man above; things like that have haunted this team all season. Lack of offensive production has done the same. The O’s couldn’t get anything going after the first inning.
And at the end of the day, you have to just keep grinding. There isn’t much else to say. It’s a long season, and while circumstances beyond their control haven’t been kind to the Orioles to this point, circumstances within their control haven’t been controlled either. And they can start keeping things under control by hitting the cut off man. Now with that said, also keep in mind that those mistakes are done out of wanting to make something happen. Not out of stupidity or lack of talent.
For what it’s worth, the Orioles weren’t thrilled with home plate umpire Mark Wegner’s strike zone for most of the day. There were numerous borderline pitches that they felt went Tampa’s way – whether they were in the field or at bat. Buck Showalter seemed to glare out towards home plate on numerous occasions. While pitch-track technology seemed to back up the Orioles’ point, often times when your pitching staff is struggling you won’t get those calls. Them’s the breaks.
The Orioles now head home to open up a three-game set with the Washington Nationals in the “Battle of the Beltways” on Memorial Day Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Gio Gonzalez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.
You might notice that Sergio Romo is starting for Tampa this afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles. He also started Friday night against the Birds. Is this the bizarro world?!
Not if you look at it under the guise of how Tampa and manager Kevin Cash are using their pitchers this year. Cash is employing a bullpen hand in many cases as an “opener;” this as opposed to using a closer. And after between 1-2 innings, that bullpen hand is being lifted for what one might call a regular starting pitcher.
This is all very unconventional, but baseball fans have learned to expect that from the Tampa Rays. They don’t do this for every game, although each turn of their rotation is in essence a “bullpen game.” But they tend to do it against lineups such as that of the Orioles which are heavily stacked with righties. Again, it’s unconventional, which is part of where a lot of the criticism towards Cash comes from – and for the record, Cash seems to take that in stride (quote courtesy of Doug Padilla, mlb.com):
I’ve been called an idiot, but that has happened before.
However Tampa’s attitude towards anything has always been well if it works who’s the dumb one? They were the team that started the trend of employing shifts on almost every batter. Old school baseball people such as myself weren’t really comfortable with that – a shift here or there is one thing, but every hitter? Heck, Tampa at times will put a fielder in motion during the at bat if they think it’ll give them an edge. Well now everyone seems to do that – the shifts, that is.
Speaking for myself, I think using an “opener” instead of a closer is ill-advised. You’re burning through your bullpen literally from the moment the game begins. However I suppose that part of the theory is that it prevents opponents from stacking their lineup for a starting pitcher, lest they want to make wholesale changes early in the game. But again, the fact is that it’s unconventional.
Does that make it wrong? No, of course not. But Tampa is a team that seems to want to re-invent the wheel at times. And again, the thing with the shifts has certainly caught on league-wide. However that’s not to say that this will as well. Because I believe that it’s asking a lot of bullpen relievers. It’s also asking a lot of coaches to literally play match-ups on every at-bat. To be quite blunt, I think it’s nothing more than a fancy way of dressing up the fact that they can’t find five viable starters.
Andrew Cashner pitched a lot better for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon than the numbers indicate. He threw some good pitches that rightfully should have ended in either strikes or outs. However Tampa and their unconventional ways got to him. Cashner’s line: 5.0 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 4 K.
Cashner allowed a base runner in the first with one out on a softly-hit blooper to center. And that’s part of what Tampa does. They seem to specialize in literally hitting the ball so softly that your outfield is too far back to get it. That was followed by an RBI-triple by Wendle, and an RBI-double by Ramos (who was tagged out oversliding the bag at second).
Again in those situations, Tampa sees that the Orioles are playing their outfielders straight away. So what do they do? They push the ball into the right field corner. It’s one thing to hit them where they ain’t. But Tampa seemed to always put it where they couldn’t possibly be, on the right side of the field.
Refsnyder would flick another softly hit blooper into right center in the second, which scored their third run on the day. Later in the inning Cron’s two-RBI double would round out Tampa’s scoring for the day. When the smoke cleared, the O’s trailed 5-0.
Again, the Orioles are a conventional team that tries to hit the ball hard. Tampa’s about as non-conventional as it gets. And that bit the Orioles in the derriere this afternoon. This is not to say that the general manner in which the O’s try to win games is wrong – or that Tampa’s way is right. Because we’ve seen games this year in which the Orioles have bludgeoned Tampa. It just didn’t happen today.
The O’s would get on the board in the seventh on an RBI-single by Chris Davis, which interestingly enough was hit to left field. One inning before that however Cashner would load the bases with nobody out, prompting his exit. Tanner Scott came into the game and proceeded to strike out the side. That was good to see, as Scott inherited a mess and got the team out of it. And if anything, it makes you wonder if Tampa themselves were caught off guard. They seem to pride themselves in being ready for anything, however it’s somewhat incriminating to have no outs and the bases loaded only to end up with no runs.
The Orioles will have an opportunity to win the series tomorrow afternoon in the rubber match. Kevin Gausman gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Sergio Romo. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.
David Hess got to face the same team tonight for the Baltimore Orioles that he faced in his big league debut. However this was a Tampa Rays team that changed a bit due to a flurry of trades consummated just prior to first pitch. But either way the result was the same, as Hess gassed the Tampa Rays. Hess’ line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K.
For once, we saw the Orioles taking outs away from an opponent, and even getting one back in a sense. With two outs in the first inning Jonathan Schoop struck out but reached on a pass ball. Danny Valencia proceeded to smack an RBI-single, giving the O’s a 1-0 lead.
But in the last of the first Hess picked a runner off second base. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s one out taken away on the base paths. And keep in mind, runners at second base aren’t picked off easily. The Orioles also gunned runners out trying to steal in the second inning and the fourth. So again if you’re keeping track at home, there are three outs taken away by the Orioles on the base paths.
The Birds also got an insurance run in the sixth when Schoop blasted a solo homer deep into the left field grandstand. And that’s your ballgame – in terms of scoring. However the story of the night was Hess. This is a guy who came through the Orioles’ organization and worked hard to get to the big league level. And that work is now really paying off, both for Hess and for the organization.
And we’re starting to see the Orioles take advantage of the opportunities with which they’re presented in games. Yesterday they faced a starter in Giolito who was off-kilter from the beginning. The Orioles jumped on that, and chased him after recording only four outs. Tonight they not only took advantage of opportunities they were given in the game (such as Schoop getting on base in the first inning), but they took opportunities away from Tampa.
In a game that ended 2-0 if you can record three outs on the bases as the Orioles did that’s a huge deal. In effect, they took an entire inning away from Tampa. Small plays in games like those do matter.
What a difference a day makes for the Baltimore Orioles. They were bludgeoned on Wednesday night on the south side of Chicago. This afternoon was a totally different story behind Dylan Bundy – and as has been said ad hoc, it all begins and ends with starting pitching. Bundy’s line: 9.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 14 K.
Those 14 strikeouts are a career-high for Bundy. But perhaps more importantly, he pitched a complete game. That sets up the Orioles’ ‘pen nicely for the weekend.
It begins and ends with starting pitching. But that obviously isn’t the only part of the game. Oriole bats needed to step up. And they did – the Birds loaded the bases in the first inning, which combined with Chicago starter Giolito being unable to find the strike zone, led to two runs walking in. Chance Sisco followed with a two-RBI single, and before Bundy even took the field he had a 4-0 lead.
And the Orioles kept the pressure on in the second. They got solo homers off the bats of Mancini and Jones respectively, and then they proceeded to load the bases again. And when Sisco walked he tallied the Birds a seventh run. One inning later they got RBI-singles from Manny Machado and Pedro Alvarez, running the score to 9-0.
A fourth inning three-run homer off the bat of Rondon was the only mistake that Bundy made. Heck, it was one of only two hits he surrendered in the game. Whereas bad games can have reverberations down the line because of the number of relievers used, games like this can reverberate in the opposite manner.
All it takes is one solid game to get things going in a good way. And this was certainly a solid one, as the O’s dominated in every phase of the game. And nobody knows that better than Buck Showalter (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):
It feels good. Nobody beats up on our guys more than they do, OK? Don’t let them get their feet on the ground. Don’t let them get a little confidence going and what have you, because somebody will pay for a long period of time. That’s just what we’re hoping. We haven’t even played a third of the season yet.
The Orioles now head to Tampa to open up a three-game series at Tropicana Field tomorrow night. While the Orioles haven’t formally named a starter, it’s expected to be David Hess; he’d be opposed by Tampa’s Sergio Romo. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.
It begins and ends with starting pitching for the Baltimore Orioles, and last night that meant Alex Cobb. It also meant that things weren’t going to go very well for the Birds on the south side of Chicago. Cobb’s line: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K,
The O’s took an early 1-0 lead as Peterson singled home a run. However that was the best the Orioles were going to do on this night. Chicago’s Moncada smacked a three-run homer in the third, and the ChiSox were off to the races. When the smoke cleared at the end of the game, the O’s had fallen 11-1. Not exactly the result that anyone affiliated with the ballclub was looking to achieve.
Mark Trumbo sat in this game with knee soreness, which is something of concern for the Orioles. Trumbo of course missed the first month of the season with an injury, and the Orioles’ offense was fairly stagnant during that period. Trumbo will see the Orioles’ doctors in Sarasota before tomorrow’s game in Tampa, but the team isn’t expected to need to make a roster move.
As for Alex Cobb, he’s well aware of the pressure on him from fans to perform, and that to this point he hasn’t really lived up to his end of the bargain (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):
There’s been some absolute difficulties for not only me, but us as a team to start the season. But I’m not going to look into how people view me as a pitcher. I’d obviously love to go out there and show the fanbase and all of baseball that the Orioles made the right decision in getting me, but it hasn’t gone according to plan to start the season. I no doubt believe that I will return to form, and this commitment that made – we made to each other – that it’ll end up working out for both sides. But you do your best convincing when you’re on the mound and pitching a good game. I plan on not looking too much into the stats and the overall season of numbers, but going game-to-game and trying to put a good streak together.
Cobb and his contract are being compared to that of former Oriole Ubaldo Jimenez, who vastly underperformed during his four years in Baltimore. Now in saying that, I always remind fans that over those four years there were plenty of times when the O’s needed a solid outing in a big spot and Jimenez delivered. That includes the 2014 AL East-clinching game.
However overall, would the Orioles still make that deal if they could do it over? Probably not. Is Cobb turning into Jimenez II? While a 1-6 start isn’t what anyone envisioned, it’s still far too early to tell.
And this season may not be the best judge, or at least the first half. Cobb missed basically all of spring training, which is obviously still affecting him. Having said all of that, there’s still a lot of season left. Cobb can still get it together, and his comment above should reassure fans that he has every intention of doing so.
The series concludes this afternoon, and the O’s will have a shot to split. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s Lucas Giolito. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.
I tweeted last night that Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter had pushed all the right buttons with reliever Mychal Givens the previous two games. Givens of course was brought in to pitch in a tight spot on Monday night, and got out of it. He was then brought in last night to complete the seventh inning after starter Kevin Gausman allowed a base runner. But did my observation end up being famous last words?
Gausman pitched a great game last night, and was well deserving of being the winner. Gausman’s line: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K. For once it was an opponent racking up double-digit strikeouts against the O’s. The only real struggle that Gausman had was the sixth inning when he had two runners in scoring position with nobody out. But he buckled down and struck out the next three batters, leaving those runners on base.
Gausman was getting his fastball over for strikes. That included his two-seamer, which was deadly and induced swing-and-misses. His off-speed breaking pitches were just as deadly, and almost always induced a weak flail at the ball from a Chicago hitter. It was a dominant performance, which as I said was well deserving of a victory.
And for most of the game it appeared that Gausman was going to get that victory. The Orioles got an RBI-double from Trumbo, and an RBI-groundout from Peterson in the second inning. They led 2-0 most of the way. They also had an opportunity to extend that lead in the fifth, however Chance Sisco was doubled off of second in a base running mistake. Those are the types of things you have to put up with from young players, but they hurt you when they happen at the big league level.
And as I said, Buck Showalter seemed to press just the right buttons with the bullpen when he brought Mychal Givens in to complete the seventh inning. He then proceeded to bring Givens back out for the eighth, which raised my eyebrows a bit. While you want to use as few relievers as possible, why not go to a set up type guy in that spot?
When Givens came back out for the eighth Palka hit what appeared to be a solo homer. The Orioles only wish they had been that lucky. The ball didn’t carry, and instead headed for the right field corner. Mark Trumbo made a valiant attempt at the ball, but it slipped out of his glove (keep in mind that Trumbo was playing shaded to center, so he had a lot of ground to cover to get that ball). Castillo followed with a bloop RBI-single (which was softly hit and barely made it past a fielder’s glove) that cut the Orioles’ lead to 2-1.
Chicago would put together two more RBI-singles in the inning, taking a 3-2 lead – which ended up being the final. Make no mistake about the fact that a loss like that is frustrating. Chicago wore the Orioles down in the end with their tenacity and their refusal to go away. They also faced pitchers in Givens and Richard Bleier who were tired. As I said, I thought that Givens shouldn’t have come out for the eighth.
The question at hand is whether Buck outthought himself a bit there. My point would be that it’s unfair for someone like me to be overly critical of a career baseball guy as accomplished as he is. Does that mean I would have started the eighth inning with a new pitcher had it been my decision? Yes. But Showalter had his reasons when asked why he kept Givens in and used Bleier as opposed to bringing someone else in, as he explained after the game (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):
Compared to who? We don’t have Darren (O’Day), we don’t have Zach (Britton). Those are our best options right now and they’ve done a good job for us.
Much of the trade speculation involving the Baltimore Orioles and Manny Machado has him going to the Chicago Cubs. The team on the north side of Chicago is certainly interested, but as with anything else it boils down to the price. However Machado certainly made a name for himself in the Windy City last night with a tape measure home run.
Andrew Cashner made it through the necessary number of innings to qualify for the win last night before growing tired. Cashner’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K. The game was a scoreless draw for almost four innings before the O’s got on the board with the aforementioned homer off the bat of Machado. And this was a long home run, folks. In a pitcher’s park at that.
The question is whether or not doing that in the Cubs’ backyard will help to convince them. My personal prediction is that Machado ends up on the Cubs, and potentially this week at that. The question is whether or not they’re willing to give the Orioles the haul they want for him. Or if the Orioles are willing to budge just a little on said haul.
Mark Trumbo would also smack a solo homer one inning later in the fifth to give the O’s a 2-0 lead. However Chicago would also get on the board that inning on an Abreu RBI-double. The Birds caught a break that inning however, as Chicago opted to send the trail runner in an attempt to tie the score. And Mancini’s throw nailed the runner at home plate, preserving the lead and ending the inning.
But the Orioles got their two-run lead back in the sixth on a solo home run by Adam Jones. However Cashner appeared gassed at that point, putting a few runners on in the last of the sixth. Garcia’s RBI-double cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-2, and on came Mychal Givens in relief – with two on and nobody out. And Givens pitched out of it, preserving the Orioles’ lead. That almost single-handedly won the game for the O’s.
After the game Adam Jones commented on how all facets of the team came together to win this game (quote courtesy of Jeff Arnold, mlb.com):
Today was a total team win … When you use every facet of your team, you generally do well. So it was good to see.
The Baltimore Orioles are in Chicago to take on the ChiSox, who of course share a city with the Chicago Cubs. That would be a team that’s apparently hot for Manny Machado. Since the Winter Meetings last December, the Orioles have been willing to trade Machado…for the right price. They’ve yet to see that price.
That aside, selling Machado would indicate that the franchise is potentially looking to sell players off and start over. I really hesitate to use the word rebuild, because in a sports sense I’m not a fan of it. It’s one thing to “warm-over” your team. But are fans really going to stand for a true rebuild? You know, where you tear EVERYTHING down and build it back up?
I’ve always said that’s a tough sell to fans. You’re asking people to continually spend their money to come out to the ballpark and pay big league prices for what amounts to a non-big league roster. And while someone such as myself might see the benefit of becoming entrenched with a group of players from the get-go, I’m in the minority. Most people want that big league product, and they want it now. That’s why the Orioles have never committed to rebuilding over the years – because it’s a tough sell to fans.
But I’ve noticed something in the past few years that challenges that line of thinking. Heck, everything else I know to be true in baseball is getting challenged (including the concept of a nine-inning game), why not that also?! The 2016 Yankees were a veteran team and they decided to cut ties with several players mid-year. The haul they got back included the likes of a guy named Judge. They went on to contend for the wild card that year.
The Tampa Rays of this year sold off what few big name players they had in the off season. They wiped the slate totally clean. And they’re playing way over their heads. In general I’m not a fan of youth, because I don’t want to deal with the on and off-the-field mistakes. But are the current youth different than before?
The answer is mixed. Young kids are always going to mess up here and there. And in saying that I suppose I’m talking more off the field than on. I’m talking about things such as Sidney Ponson‘s various driving violations among other things. That’s the type of thing that neither the Orioles, nor the fans want to have to deal with. No matter how good the player could be.
However many of these young players are also able to provide a shot in the arm to teams. Again, look at the 2016 NY Yankees, and this year’s Tampa team. In terms of wins and losses, they’re actually better than they were with the vets. Why is that?
You might chalk it up to youthful exuberance, however I need something a bit more tangible than an emotional argument. The fact is that college baseball as an institution is getting much stronger than it was even 20 years ago. I don’t think it’ll ever reach the point of being as popular as football or basketball, but it’s growing in popularity. And that means that there’s better coaching out there, and skill.
Point being that players are more ready when they get to the big leagues than they previously were. They have a stronger skill set, because they have solid foundations – both from the minors and from college. That makes a world of difference.
I still say that a full rebuild is too tough a sell to a fan base. Because what if it doesn’t work? What if you exchange your talent for what turns out to be lemons? You’re kind of up a creek without a paddle – that’s what happens.
It’s pretty tough to blame Chris Davis for the Baltimore Orioles’ woes this afternoon – which is what many fans have been apt to do lately. Davis was on the bench the entire game, getting the day off. While the O’s racked up double-digit hits (13, to be exact), none of those runs crossed the plate. And all but one of those hits was a single, for what that’s worth.
David Hess made the second start of his career, and while he took the loss he looked similar to how he did in his first start. Hess’ line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Hess is a guy who pitches-to-contact, which is fine in a sense. However when Boston makes contact, they really make contact. And the bats offensively didn’t do him any favors to say the least.
Boston took the lead in the second inning on a Martinez solo homer, which barely wrapped itself around the Pesky Pole in right field. That’s 303 feet from home plate, and it appeared to travel 303.5 feet. But a homer’s a homer, and Boston had the lead.
And when you hold your opponent to zero runs, that’s really all you need. But the BoSox would get two two-run homers in the fifth inning, which helped do the O’s in. Benintendi smacked the first one, followed later in the inning by Martinez again. And that’s your ballgame, folks.
The Orioles left 14 men on base in the game, which can’t be allowed to continue. There were various points where they had two runners on and were unable to score. Again, that won’t win you any games. Ironically, they even got a hit with a runner in scoring position – and didn’t score a run. That really drives home how inefficient the offense was today.
In general people shouldn’t worry about the bats. This is a team that can score runs in bunches, which is something that we’ve seen – even this year. But it didn’t happen in this game today. And obviously you don’t want to go on another long losing streak.
One thing that does need to happen is that the O’s need to find a way to keep David Hess on the roster and in the rotation. Yes he showed that he could be hurt by the long ball today, but they can work with that. He throws strikes and he has good control. Until he proves or shows that he shouldn’t be in the big leagues, he should remain here.
The O’s now head to the south side of Chicago to open up a four-game set with the ChiSox. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s Hector Santisago. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.