Baltimore Orioles fall in Miami series finale

My personal opinion is that Bruce Zimmerman pitched to a valiant effort this afternoon in Miami. He joined the ranks of pitchers not going deep into games, however that doesn’t seem to bother manger Brandon Hyde as much as it bothers me. However that seems to be the direction in which the game’s going. Especially with seven-inning doubleheaders being introduced. Zimmerman’s line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

And if anything, I believe that Zimmerman could have probably stayed in the game for longer. But again, the game’s not going in that direction right now. Unless of course you have an epic-type starting pitcher. Which the Orioles don’t.

This was a strange week in a sense for the Orioles. Every team will have a week or two like this, but it all feels very unnatural. Off day Monday, game one of a series Tuesday night, game two (the finale) of the series Wednesday afternoon, and then off again Thursday. Obviously the silver lining for the O’s is that they’re now heading home. And following an afternoon game, they’ll be home fairly “early,” and enjoy a day off tomorrow at home.

Miami struck against Zimmerman in the last of the fifth with a two-RBI double by Aguilar. Duvall would add an RBI-single later in the inning, giving Miami a 3-0 lead. Which turned into a 3-0 win.

I’m not trying to say that Zimmerman or any of the relievers used this afternoon didn’t pitch well. This was a very well-pitched game by the Birds. However I think the goal should be for starters to go deeper into games. Now that’s obviously not AS important to Brandon Hyde, and that’s okay. I’m old school. He’s not. Again, that’s okay.

And the fact is that the Birds didn’t surrender any more runs aside from those three. When I make the distinction between old school and new school thinking on this subject, the new way would say that the goal is to win the game, not to have a starter go deep into the game. And that’s true. But if your starters aren’t conditioned to go deep into games, that further taxes your bullpen.

I suppose there’s no right or wrong way. I just feel that the goal should be for the starter to be in there as long as he’s able, otherwise every game may as well be a bullpen game. End of the day, the O’s completed a 3-2 road trip, which isn’t too shabby. Now they head home to take on the Oakland A’s over the weekend – one of the hottest teams in baseball.

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Harvey with the win as Birds hold on

Matt Harvey took to the hill for the Baltimore Orioles tonight in Miami. This was also the Birds’ first foray into interleague play, which meant that they O’s lost their DH – and Harvey had to hit. But that didn’t seem to stop the Orioles’ bats, which were hot from the beginning and gave Harvey a deep cushion. Harvey’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Maikel Franco‘s RBI-groundout in the first inning put the O’s in the driver’s seat. It also set the tone. Later in the inning Rio Ruiz smacked a two-RBI double, and the O’s led 3-0. They batted around in the first inning, ironically giving Harvey an at-bat before he even took to the mound.

But more importantly, he had the lead when he got on the mound. He did give a run back in the last of the first, but following an uneventful second inning the Birds opened the game wide open. Trey Mancini and Freddy Galvis each smacked solo homers. That gave the Birds a 5-1 lead in South Florida. One inning later they extended the lead to 6-1 on DJ Stewart‘s RBI-double.

Here’s the issue with having that sort of lead that early in a ballgame: there’s plenty of time for the opponent to come back. And Miami started chipping away. They put two across in the fifth, and two in the sixth. Before they knew it, the Orioles’ 6-1 lead had evaporated and it was only a 6-5 one-run lead.

Freddy Galvis’ RBI-single in the eighth gave the O’s a bit of insurance. But the good news is that the Orioles’ pen was sure, and they closed out the victory without much more drama. And given that this is a two-game series, winning game one is a big deal.

The downside of this win is that Anthony Santander sprained his ankle while on base in the top of the first inning. Santander appeared to be in pain, and had to be helped into the dugout. That’s definitely something on which to keep an eye. It wouldn’t shock me to see Santander headed to the IL tomorrow.

The short series in Miami concludes tomorrow afternoon at LoanDepot Park. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Miami’s Trevor Rogers. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Did ol’ blue screw the Birds?

The sad thing is that John Means should have been the story for the Baltimore Orioles today. He may well have turned in his best outing as a starting pitching this afternoon in Arlington, TX. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K.

Perhaps his best outing as a started is a bit much – his Opening Day start was pretty good. But this one is right up there, needless to say. The Birds sent Means to the mound this afternoon with a chance to sweep in Texas. They were unable to do that, but due in no part to anything Means did or didn’t do. He was magnificent the entire time he was in the game.

One thing I did notice on twitter is that a lot of people were critical of Brandon Hyde‘s decision to pull Means after seven innings. I’ve at times criticized Hyde for pulling starters early – but in the fourth or fifth inning of games. Seven innings is a bit different, especially after 93 pitches. I think he was pulled at the appropriate moment. Hyde on Means’ outing (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I just thought he was in total command. I thought he had a great fastball that he was locating, thought he threw some really good curveballs, the changeup was there. Seven shutout innings, nine punchouts, pretty much says it all right there. Two really good starters that were on today. Pretty good baseball game. Two really good pitching performances by both sides

Unfortunately for the Birds, they couldn’t score either – as Hyde alluded in the above quote, two great pitching performances on both sides. The game went to extra innings at a scoreless tie. Maikel Franco was at third in the top of the tenth, and Trey Mancini sent a single to right field. Franco was thrown out at home plate by a country mile trying to score, as he held up at third thinking he’d have to tag up.

However Brandon Hyde argued Texas catcher Trevino blocked home plate without the ball, which is against the rules. Hyde was emphatic in demanding a replay review, but home plate umpire Sam Holbrook seemed to not want to explore the rule. He eventually huddled with the three other umpires, and the crew decided that nobody had seen any evidence of blocking the plate. Texas would eventually win 1-0 on an RBI-single by Lowe in the last of the tenth.

Rule 7.13 says: Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. My personal opinion is that Trevino was well into the path of the runner before the ball arrived. In the opinion of the umpiring crew, that wasn’t the case. But it appeared to be.

Sometimes you have to deal with calls like that in sports. But it sure can be a bitter pill to swallow. For the record, it’s also listed in the rule book as a judgement call. That means that the Orioles couldn’t have played under protest or anything like that. It’s also worth mentioning that Texas would have still gotten to hit in the bottom of the tenth, and they would have begun the inning with a runner on base. But that’s sometimes the way the ball bounces. Although it appeared to bounce in a way that gave Texas a break this afternoon.

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini clutch in Birds’ victory

The Baltimore Orioles sent Dean Kremer to the mound in game two of three in Texas. Kremer pitched a great effort, although he was pulled in the fifth inning in an effort to match up. However he put his team in a spot to win the game. And as I’ve said many times, that’s all you can ask of a starter. Kremer’s line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

Kremer gave up one run, on an RBI-single to Dahl in the fourth inning. While no other runs were surrendered after Kremer left, the O’s couldn’t make any headway in the game. That is until they got into Texas’ suspect bullpen.

Cedric Mullins‘ RBI-single in the seventh tied the game at one. But it was Trey Mancini who made the biggest impact. His RBI-double later, in the eighth inning, put the Orioles in the lead. Later in the inning Ryan Mountcastle added a sac fly-RBI, closing out the inning with the Birds leading 3-1.

The Orioles would add a few insurance runs in the ninth. DJ Stewart‘s RBI-single ran the score to 4-1. Later in the inning Maikel Franco would add a two-run home run, giving the O’s a 6-1 win.

This was a good team win. Not one moment in theory was better than another. However Mancini giving the team the lead was huge. As were those insurance runs in the ninth inning. Too often teams get a lead or have a small lead for most of a game, only to see it disappear at the end. But insurance runs ensure that won’t happen.

This in theory also takes pressure off the Orioles. Winning the first two of a series gives them the impression of playing with house money tomorrow. If they lose, two-of-three isn’t bad. If they win, they’ve swept the weekend series in Texas. So again, house money.

The series concludes tomorrow at Globe Life Field. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Kyle Gibson. Game time is set for just after 2:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles knotch a win deep in the heart of Texas

Jorge Lopez got the ball for the Baltimore Orioles last night in the opener of a three-game set in Texas. He only stuck around for five innings. But that’s all you need to qualify for the win if you leave with the lead. And of course if your team retains it. Lopez’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K.

Part of the Orioles’ issue of late has been that they couldn’t put together a winning starting pitching performance with the offense yielding results. That wasn’t the case last night. Cedric Mullins smacked an RBI-double in the third which got the O’s on the board with a 1-0 lead. One inning later they doubled that on Rio Ruiz‘s solo homer.

The Birds won the game however in the fifth. Anthony Santander‘s sac fly-RBI ran the score to 3-0. But the big blow came from DJ Stewart. His two-run homer would give the O’s a 5-0 lead. And that was big because in the bottom of the fifth Lopez gave up back-to-back home runs. However following his (Lopez’s) exit, the Orioles’ bullpen was strong, and closed out a 5-2 win.

DJ Stewart talked after the game about what hitting that homer meant to him and to the rest of the team (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It was huge, just momentum-wise, confidence-wise. We had a meeting this morning and sometimes that’s how baseball is. It’s just not going our way, unlucky things, but it was big for us to get to them early and kind of put them away.

The series continues this evening at Globe Life Field. Dean Kremer gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Dane Dunning. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Was Maikel Franco a victim of the moment?

Baltimore Orioles’ pitching was solid in the series with Seattle, including in today’s game two of the doubleheader. For the most part, that is. And for the most part, Oriole bats were dominated by an equally strong showing by Seattle pitching. In this afternoon’s second game, it was Bruce Zimmerman who was a hard-luck loser at the hands of Seattle. Zimmerman’s line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

After the game Zimmerman claimed that his fastball command wasn’t as good as he would have liked, but his breaking pitches seemed to be working (quote courtesy of Rich Kubatko, MASNsports):

I definitely didn’t have as good of fastball command, so that kind of put me behind from the get-go as far as just having to battle more each at-bat. Kind of relied on my off-speed a little bit more today, for the most part I was able to get it over. The breaking ball was a little sharper than last outing, which helped, because we made an adjustment working on that this week, and that was good to see. Just didn’t have quite the command that I normally do, especially with being able to go in on guys, which sets up everything else for me.
But there wasn’t much to criticize overall in Zimmerman’s outing. He gave up two solo home runs, one to Moore in the third and one to Haniger in the fifth. Freddy Galvis smacked a solo homer in the last of the third for the O’s, who fell 2-1. The dropped three-of-four in the series at home against Seattle.

The old saying is that solo home runs don’t hurt you. But the fact is that they do hurt you when your team isn’t putting runs on the board. That’s what happened to the the Birds and Zimmerman today.

One thing that might not sit well with the coaching staff was Maikel Franco‘s at-bat in the last of the seventh (the final inning in a doubleheader). With the O’s down by one, you’re looking to get a runner on base in any manner possible. Get the tying run aboard to extend the game.

Franco led off the inning, and worked the count to 3-0. Now if it’s me, I want to make the pitcher prove he can throw the ball over the plate before I’m going to swing. And that’s in ANY situation, much less one like that where you absolutely need a base runner. So I wouldn’t have considered taking the bat off my shoulder unless the count was 3-2.

Instead, Franco swung on 3-0, and lined out to short. That’s the sort of thing that can make or break you in a game. And a veteran like Franco should know that. Did that single-handed my lose the game for the Orioles today? Absolutely not. But it’s small things like that which can often make a difference in games, especially in a big spot.

The Orioles now leave home and head for Texas for a three-game set with the Texas Rangers at the new Globe Life Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start tomorrow night for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Mike Foltynewicz. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini homers in loss

Matt Harvey drew the start for the Baltimore Orioles in game one of yet another twin bill against Seattle. The teams split a doubleheader on Tuesday after a rainout Monday night, and are playing two today following last night’s rainout. Harvey’s line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

The O’s took an early 2-0 lead on Trey Mancini‘s two-run homer. And other than that, the Birds were held off the board. Seattle pitching has been pretty good in this series thus far. The Birds only mustered five hits in total in the game.

Seattle would tie things up in the top of the fifth on a Haniger two-run homer. And those were the only two runs charged to Harvey. It’s easy to look at that stat line and suggest that a starter going 4.2 innings and giving up two runs isn’t that good. However keep in mind that these doubleheaders are seven inning games. So that isn’t bad in and of itself. Following Harvey’s departure, Crawford would smack a two-RBI double in the sixth, which provided for the winning runs in Seattle’s 4-2 victory in the first of this twin bill.

My aversion to the seven inning doubleheaders is well documented. And admittedly my reasoning is that a baseball game is supposed to be nine innings. I’m steadfast in that. I feel that seven inning stuff is total garbage.

However above I mentioned Matt Harvey only lasting 4.2 innings in the game, and how in a seven inning game that isn’t awful. Keep in mind that those two runs he surrendered affect his ERA in the sense that it’s based on nine innings. If you throw in several games that are managed differently in terms of starting pitchers and innings pitched, that throws stats off – be it up or down. That makes a difference.

The series and the doubleheader will conclude in short order at Camden Yards. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Justin Dunn. Game time is set for approximately 45 minutes after the completion of the first game, give or take at around 3:45 PM this afternoon.

Baltimore Orioles rained out again, prompting another doubleheader

Tonight’s Orioles vs. Seattle game at Camden Yards has been rained out. It’s been raining all afternoon in Baltimore, and the forecast doesn’t appear to be allowing for any sort of window to play tonight. Tomorrow the teams were scheduled to play a getaway day matinee, which is now a getaway day doubleheader.

You know the routine by now. Doubleheaders this year (and last) are seven innings long. I’ve said this before, but I’m not a fan. (Just thought I’d throw that in.) Game one will begin at 12:30 PM, and game two approximately 25 minutes (or so) after the completion of the first game. Fans with tickets for tomorrow’s game will be allowed to attend both games, as it’s a single-admission doubleheader. The Orioles will be on the move to Texas following the second game.

Baltimore Orioles: All’s well that ends well

Dean Kremer took to the mound in the second game of two tonight for the Baltimore Orioles against Seattle. As can often be the case for young pitchers, it was the second time through the order that got Kremer. In the first and second innings he got ahead of hitters. In the third they started figuring him out. Kremer’s line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

As I said, he fared well in the first two innings. Then he started putting guys on base, and while he tried valiantly, he just couldn’t re-adjust fast enough to limit the damage. Seattle took a 1-0 lead on Seager’s sac fly-RBI. That came with the bases loaded, which left three runners still on base. However they cleared quickly, as Marmolejos followed with a three-run homer.

The Birds had gotten themselves down in the second game of the doubleheader just as they did in the first inning. However this time it was really short lived. The O’s would load the bases themselves in the last of the third, and Maikel Franco‘s bases-clearing double would cut the Seattle lead to 4-3.

Later in the inning Ryan Mountcastle would tie the score at four with an RBI-single. But this time they didn’t stop at just tying the score. They would eventually take the lead…

…and they would do so in the last of the fourth. Cedric Mullins‘ RBI-double would give the O’s their first lead of the doubleheader. Later in the inning Anthony Santander would add a sac fly-RBI, giving the Birds a 6-4 lead. Insurance runs never hurt – especially in seven inning games.

Manager Brandon Hyde brought in reliever Adam Plutko, who pitched a very successful fifth and sixth inning. Mind you, these doubleheader’s are harsh on teams’ bullpens. Even in their shortened forms. Hyde opted to leave Plutko in for a rare three inning save.

However that was almost a big mistake. An understandable one, but it almost bit Hyde and the Al’s in the derrière. Plutko gave up a two-run homer to Haggerty in the top of the seventh – which mind you, was the last inning. That tied the game at six, when it appeared the O’s would cruise to snapping their four-game losing streak.

But as the title suggests, all’s well that ends well. With a runner on base in the last of the seventh, Ramon Urias‘ walk off RBI-single won it for the Birds. You would have preferred to not have to go to the bottom of the inning, however all that’s important is that the Orioles won the game. And having lost four straight, this win was a big one.

The series continues tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Justin Dunn. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles battle but drop first of a twin bill

Once starter John Means was able to settle down in the first game of two against Seattle today, he looked pretty good. Given that the game was only seven innings due to MLB’s doubleheader rule, I’m not sure what constitutes a quality start in this game. But Means may have pitched one. Means’ line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

Means gave up solo homer to France and Murphy in the first and second innings respectively. But again, after that he was pretty solid. He also surrendered an RBI-single to Haniger in the second, and that was it.

The issue was that his mound counterpart, Seattle’s Sheffield, was equally as good. He surrendered a two-run homer to Ramon Urias in the last of the fifth, which cut the Seattle lead to 3-2. Other than that, he kept the Orioles off the board.

But after Sheffield exited in following the sixth inning, things got interesting. With a runner on second, DJ Stewart smacked an RBI-double, tying the game at three. Which meant that we had to go to an eighth inning, which technically is extra innings. (Due to MLB’s doubleheader rule, which makes for two seven-inning games.)

However Seager’s RBI-double in the top of the eighth proved to be the eventual winning run for Seattle. However you have to admire the fight in the Birds, battling back against the Seattle bullpen. And they’ll get another shot at them very soon again this evening.

The series and the doubleheader will continue here in short order at Camden Yards with game two. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Nick Margevicius. The game will start at approximately 7:15 PM.