Author Archive

Baltimore Orioles: And some days you’re the bug

Former Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter used to harp on the old saying that some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug (which obviously gets squished). The Orioles today we’re definitely the bug; after dropping the first game of a twin-bill, Alex Cobb and the Birds fell 16-7 in the nightcap. Cobb’s line: 2.2 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

If there’s a silver lining for Cobb, it would be that he didn’t walk anyone. He was pitching-to-contact in the strike zone, and Minnesota hitters were making contact. And with that, the balls were traveling far.

Cruz and Cron homered in the first, with Cruz’s being of the two-run variety. In fact, most of the homers hit in this game were two-run shots. Following a second inning Garver RBI-double, Rosario would follow up in the third with his third home run of the day (he of course smacked two in the first game), and the O’s trailed 6-0.

And it only snowballed from there. Even former Oriole Jonathan Schoop got into the act with a two-run homer. Renato Nunez would ensure that the O’s weren’t shut out in the fourth, smacking a two-run homer of his own. Hanser Alberto would add a two-run shot of his own in the sixth – the first homer of his career. The Birds would also score three runs in the eighth, including a second Renato Nunez homer.

It’s worth taking an opportunity to remind fans after this one that the current regime of GM Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde have been up front with the Orioles’ fan base about how tough of a process this is. As has ownership. These types of games are going to happen. They already have, and they probably will so again this year.

One thing that remains of interest to me is that many of the homers and other RBI occurred with two strikes. That’s been happening all season, and quite frankly even dating back to last year. It makes you wonder if Oriole pitchers aren’t just a bit too predictable at times. In fact, I often call pitches myself in my head – and I find that I’m correct more often than not.

Ultimately you have to “keep grinding” (another Buckism). If you allow yourself to become an automatic win for teams, you will be. And I don’t think that to this point the Orioles have done that. They’ve battled in games and played until the end. Now granted it’s tough to battle and keep your head in the game when you’re getting your brains beaten in. But ultimately as I said, you have to keep grinding.

An otherwise lackluster game did have one exciting moment. The O’s called up RHP Branden Kline to the major leagues from Norfolk – as their 26th man for the doubleheader. Kline sent Minnesota down 1-2-3 in the seventh. Kline would give up two solo homers in the eighth, but don’t let that get in the way of what’s ultimately a great story. For the record, Kline’s the 27th Maryland native to play for the O’s.

Kline is a Frederick, MD native, and he grew up an Orioles fan. He missed most of three seasons following Tommy John surgery, and battled hard to make it back to the point that he was in a position to come to the big leagues. That combined with being in the big leagues with his hometown team (which he grew up watching) and in the park where he had attended games his entire life…needless to say it was a special moment. It’s also a reminder of how cool baseball can be.

The series concludes tomorrow at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the fall for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Winning is tough when you leave a team on base

The Baltimore Orioles fell just short against Minnesota today in game one of a doubleheader. Dan Straily got the start, and did exactly what you want a starter to do: put the team in a position to win. Straily’s line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

Rosario had a big day for Minnesota; astute readers won’t be surprised by that, as he had a few big games against the O’s during spring training as well. However he smacked a solo homer in the second, which was followed by a solo homer by Astudillo. Minnesota went back-to-back, and took a 2-0 lead.

However the Orioles battled back, which was good to see. They went back-to-back themselves in the third with Dwight Smith Jr, and Renato Nunez smacking homers. Smith’s was a two-run shot, and the O’s led 3-2. But Rosario struck again, smacking a solo homer in the fifth tying things back up at three.

Minnesota would put three more runs on the board in the sixth, on Buxton’s two-RBI double, and Cruz’s RBI-single. But even still, the Birds weren’t going to be held down. Pedro Severino‘s solo homer in the bottom of the inning brought the O’s back to within two at 6-4. Backing up for just a moment however, Rosario wasn’t kidding around in having a good game. Chris Davis flat out hit an apparent opposite-field home run to left to lead off the sixth – and Rosario brought it back, saving a run.

The O’s would put runners back on again in the eighth, and Trey Mancini‘s RBI-double got them to within 6-5. However they also stranded two runners in scoring position to end the inning. And that’s a microcosm of the entire game.

The O’s stranded left ten men on base over the course of the entire game. That has to improve if this team is going to win consistently. This was a one-run win for Minnesota; if even one of those ten men had been able to score, all things being the same (which is always a tough sell) it’s a totally different ballgame.

Obviously, the would-be homer that Chris Davis has robbed from him factors big also. However Rosario wasn’t letting anyone steal the limelight from him in this game. But the Orioles as a team need to work on their situational hitting, as every runner on base could in theory become a run. And when you lose a one-run game and realize you left ten men on base, it gives you a sickening feeling.

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards with game two of this traditional twin-bill. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for 8 PM this evening, which is about 10 minutes from the time this is being written!

Baltimore Orioles rained out

I probably didn’t need to tell you that the Baltimore Orioles weren’t going to play tonight. All you probably had to do was look out the window and see what the weather is bringing us in the mid-Atlantic region. In short, not good.

So the first game of the Birds’ series with the Minnesota Twins will not be played tonight. It will however be played tomorrow. Along with tomorrow night’s regularly scheduled game.

The Orioles and Minnesota will play a traditional doubleheader tomorrow at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. That means you get to see two games for the price of one – good deal, right?! Game one will begin at 4 PM, with the second game starting approximately 20-25 minutes after the completion of the first one.

Fans with tickets for tonight’s game can exchange them for a later date – including the doubleheader. (Tickets for Friday night will not be automatically honored for Saturday.) If you have tickets for the scheduled Saturday game, you’re in luck – you now get to see two! Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s in game one, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Jose Berrios.

Baltimore Orioles: A character win

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde called this evening’s 6-5 win in Tampa a heart attack type of game. He also called it a character win. It didn’t need to go to Extra Innings, as Andrew Cashner pitched well enough to win. The Birds just couldn’t get the job done in nine. Cashner’s line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

One of those runs came in the first inning ON AN RBI-single by Pham. However Renato Nunez got the Orioles on the board in the third with an RBI-single of his own. Later in the inning Joey Rickard would leg out an infield hit, allowing another run to score and giving the Orioles the lead.

However Tampa would immediately tie the game back up in the last of the third on a solo homer by Phan. That said, last night belonged to the O’s. It may have taken extra time, but it belonged to the Orioles. The O’s took the lead back in the fourth on Pedro Severino‘s solo home run.

And the Birds extended their lead from there. Richie Martin‘s RBI-single in the seventh Gabe them a 4-2 lead (Martin was tagged out on the base paths). Dwight Smith Jr.’s sac fly-RBI in the eighth gave the Birds a 5-2 lead, which one would have thought was safe.

But Tampa put two runs on the board in the last of the eighth on Zunino’s two-RBI double. One-run leads in the last of the ninth are the worst types of leads to have. Especially against a team like Tampa that utterly refuses to quit. Sure enough, Garcia smacked a solo homer in the ninth, sending the game to extra innings.

Chris Davis smacked a two-out single in the 11th. However the key play of the game was Davis going from first-to-third on Ruiz’s subsequent single. As beleaguered as Davis has been, he’s starting to find ways to contribute. That bit of good base running all but won the game for the O’s.

Especially seeing that Joey Rickard would later double Rickard home, giving the Birds a 6-5 lead – which turned into a 6-5 victory. It’s often things that don’t show up on the line score that can be the difference between winning and losing. Chris Davis’ clutch base running in the eleventh inning last night is a prime example.

The O’s now head home to open up a three game series with Minnesota tomorrow night at Camden Yards (weather permitting). Alex Cobb will come off the DL and makes the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Jose Berrios. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles have to limit the homers

Manager Brandon Hyde‘s said it on numerous occasions: the Baltimore Orioles need to keep the ball in the ballpark if they’re going to win games. This evening against Tampa, they gave up several solo shots (and a multi-run homer as well). Starter David Hess probably figured those solo homers wouldn’t hurt him – but obviously if you give up several, that’s a different story. Hess’ line: 2.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

Lowe smacked a three-rum homer in the first inning, and Tampa was off to the races. Zuni o would add an RBI-single in the second, and Tampa led 4-0. The Orioles hung a lot of pitches in this game, and when they weren’t hanging pitches Tampa was guessing right. That said, the Orioles probably aided them a bit in guessing what was coming.

The O’s went down 1-2-3 in the top of the third, and all three were strikeouts and called strike three’s by home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor. All three pitches were low and inside – well out of the strike zone, and well beyond the point where a hitter should swing with two strikes. The Oriole bench was beyond livid.

Tampa’s a team who uses just about every piece of analytical data that they can to win games. Every team uses analytics now, but their usage is almost shameless. So they saw that the Orioles were overly jazzed up about the strike zone. And they used that piece of “data” to their advantage.

It didn’t take a genius to think ahead and figure that Hess was going to try to pitch low and in. Hess and the Orioles figured that since Tampa got those calls, so why shouldn’t they? And sure enough, the Orioles pitched down and in – resulting in back-to-back solo homers by Choi and Diaz.

To add insult to injury, Bucknor ejected Brandon Hyde in the last of the third. But it wasn’t Hyde who was complaining – once the smoke cleared it was Tim Cossins who was ejected. Bucknor has such a bad night that he couldn’t even eject the correct guy.

Tampa would add two additional runs on RBI-doubles, and Rio Ruiz would get the O’s on the board with a solo homer. So message to the Orioles; keep the ball in the ballpark, and try to contain your anger even when an outburst is justified. Sometimes that can telegraph your eventual intentions.

The series concludes tomorrow at Tropicana Field. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles, Dylan Bundy Burt second time through the order

Despite pitching only five innings, Dylan Bundy did exactly what the Baltimore Orioles wanted last night. This in the sense that he put the Birds in a position to win the game. And as I’ve said many times and about many different teams and starters, a starting pitcher’s job is to put his team in a position to win the game. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

The Birds actually jumped out in front early in this one. Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-single in the first inning gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. Two innings later they doubled the lead on Renato Nunez‘s RBI-single. (He would take second on the throw.)

And on that note, that run should be partially attributed to Dwight Smith Jr., who scored it. Smith got aboard on what became a single in the third inning. (I put it like that because he ran out a routine grounder to second, was ruled out, and then awarded a base hit upon the play being overturned on replay.) He would then proceed to steal second base – allowing him to score on Nunez’s base hit.

However Tampa wasn’t to be outdone. Diaz’s sac fly-RBI in the fourth cut the lead in half. That didn’t feel like that big a deal, because the Orioles recorded an out. However later in the inning Garcia smacked a two-run homer, giving Tampa a 3-2 lead. Garcia would also provide Tampa with an insurance run with an eighth inning RBI-single.

Bundy dominated Tampa through the first three innings. Tampa didn’t exactly start scoring runs in buckets after that, however their hitters adjusted. Second time through the order, they were almost waiting for Bundy.

And the inverse scenario is also true. The Orioles were getting guys on base and driving them in the first time through the order. After that, Tampa pitchers seemed to adapt. The Orioles didn’t have a hit after the fourth inning.

And unfortunately that’s what Tampa can do to you. Their hitters refuse to give in under any circumstances, which wears down your pitching. And again, the inverse is also true. Their pitching seemingly refuses to give in, and ultimately your hitters seemingly get worn out. I can’t tell you why or how that happens, it just does when you play Tampa.

The series continues tomorrow night at Tropicana Field. David Hess gets the start for the O’s, with Tampa’s starter TBD. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis spoil Patriot’s Day in Boston

Today is Patriot’s Day throughout New England, and the Baltimore Orioles were simply the opponent. The Boston Red Sox always play a special 11 AM home game on this holiday, and again the Orioles were supposed to just be the opponent. Dan Straily got the start, and effectively dominated Boston – on their day, no less. Straily’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

This was the second year in a row that the Orioles were scheduled to be the opponent on Patriot’s Day in Boston, although last year’s game was rained out and rescheduled. I suspect that Boston is wishing that the same had happened today. On their holiday and in front of their fans, they were taken to task by the Birds.

The Orioles got on the board early on an RBI-single by Renato Nunez in the second inning. And in reality, they never looked back. The fifth inning was where the big damage was done however, as the O’s put up three runs and busted the game wide open. Jonathan Villar smacked an RBI-single of his own, and Dwight Smith Jr.’s two-run homer gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead.

Boston’s lone run on the morning/afternoon came in the last of the fifth on a controversial play in which Pearce grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing a run to score. However Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde challenged the play, claiming that a Boston runner had overshot the base. While replays were inconclusive, Hyde had a decent argument. The problem was that he continued to argue after the play was upheld by instant replay – earning him his first ejection as a big league manager.

So on a very early day, Hyde was sent for his first early shower. But it didn’t make the Orioles fold by any means. If anything, it emboldened them. In the finale of a series in which Chris Davis got his first hit of the season, he also recorded his first homer of the year. This of the two-run variety in the top of the eighth. One inning later Dwight Smith would add a two-RBI double, giving the O’s an 8-1 victory.

Make no mistake that while this goes down as a series split, it might as well be a series win for the Orioles. There are very few circumstances in which a rebuilding team would expect to do anything less than lose or get swept in a series by the defending World Series champions. Especially at their place, and with the series finale being on a special holiday (to the home team).

Perhaps more importantly, Chris Davis broke out this weekend in Boston. Granted Boston’s pitching hasn’t been the greatest, and this weekend was no exception. But if Davis can somehow use this series as a launching point to becoming some sort of force on offense once again, the Orioles will be in great shape.

The O’s now head south to Tampa for a three-game set at Tropicana Field starting tomorrow. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Tyler Glasnow. Game time is set for just after 7 PM tomorrow night.

Baltimore Orioles blanked by Boston

The Baltimore Orioles can’t win many games if they don’t put any runs on the board. It really doesn’t matter who the starter is, or how good he looks. And this on a day where starter John Means looked pretty good. Means’ line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

On the flip side however, games such as these will happen to young teams. And the Orioles are certainly a young team. Furthermore, they’re a young team playing against the defending champions. At Fenway Park. Just for context.

Bogaerts would put Boston ahead in the last of the fourth with a sac fly-RBI. That would be the lone run the aforementioned John Means would surrender. Speaking for myself, I’m fairly impressed with Means and the two starts he’s made thus far. They both came in losing efforts and they both were shorter outings, however Means showed promise in both.

They key today was that he attacked the zone. Boston hitters almost looked as if they were expecting him to nibble. (Maybe because they’ve seen Oriole pitchers nibble at Fenway for years.) But Means attacked the zone, potentially providing for some shocked gazes from the BoSox and their fans when their players would strike out.

However in the end, it would be Bogaerts who would put the game out of reach as well. His eighth inning three-run homer against the Orioles’ bullpen gave Boston a 4-0 lead. That would end up being the final, as Boston blanked the Orioles on this Sunday afternoon at Fenway Pahk.

The Orioles originally had Dwight Smith Jr. in today’s starting lineup, however he was scratched about 90 minutes before game time with a sore leg. However manager Brandon Hyde said that he would be available to play if needed.

Hyde also said that the team is eyeing next weekend as a potential return for starter Alex Cobb. Cobb of course has been on the Injured List with back issues. The O’s want to be as cautious as they can, given the sensitivity of back problems. However the aim is next weekend’s home series with Minnesota.

The weekend series with Boston of course culminates tomorrow at Fenway Park for the annual Patriot’s Day morning game. Dan Straily gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Hector Velasquez. Game time is set for just after 11 AM. (Yes you read that correctly – 11:00 AM!)

Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis back with a vengeance as Birds defeat Boston

Chris Davis‘ struggles for the Baltimore Orioles have been well-documented. That seemed to end this afternoon as Davis finally got himself on the board with a base hit. And not just any base hit, a two-RBI single. In total, Davis drove in four runs and recorded three hits this afternoon, much to the delight of starter Andrew Cashner. Cashner’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

That aforementioned two-RBI single came right off the bat in the first inning. The Birds had two on and one out, and Davis clubbed the second pitch he saw into right field, scoring two. The Orioles’ bench flooded onto the field and applauded, and Davis appeared to be trying not to laugh. To their credit, the Fenway crowd applauded for Davis.

But they applauded more in the third inning when Vasquez smacked a two-run homer, tying the game at two. And that moment represented a crossroads for the Orioles. It would have been easy to fold up and assume that the defending champions would make quick meat of them from then on out. Granted Boston’s spotty play didn’t allow that to happen, but neither did the Orioles’ mindset. And that mindset was a winning one today.

The O’s would take the lead back two innings later, once again off the bat of Chris Davis. He smacked an RBI-double, and the O’s held a 3-2 lead. They would extend that lead to 4-2 one inning later in the sixth on Renato Nunez‘s RBI-single. Rio Ruiz would add an RBI-single, and the O’s led 7-2.

And the interesting thing about that is that the ball hit off of several Boston players. That happened several times this afternoon, putting Orioles on base on what should have been outs. It looked like the way games have spiraled out of control for the Orioles at times. Except today it worked in their favor.

Boston put a couple on in the last of the sixth, however the Birds induced a run-scoring double-play, which cut the lead to 7-3. However that’s a win for the defense in a sense. When you’re up by five you’ll trade one run for two outs. The O’s would add an additional run on an error in the seventh, and Nunez would ground into a force out which scored a run. The O’s took a 9-3 lead, and appeared to be cruising.

Boston would threaten once more, however. Vasquez’s two-RBI double cut the lead to 9-5. But this was the Orioles’ day, as well as that of Chris Davis. No Boston rally was going to spoil that.

And as I said above, this was a very sloppy game by the Boston Red Sox. Orioles fans know all too well how that feels, although the Orioles will take any advantages that are given to them. Opponents certainly don’t waste their time taking liberties with the O’s when they are able.

And the fact that Davis won’t have to be hounded and/or hound himself due to that hitless streak will hopefully smooth things out for the entire team. When you set a new MLB record for futility, in general it takes on a life of it’s own. This was no exception. And it’s not as if Davis got his hit and recorded outs the rest of the day. He had three hits and four RBI on the day!

The series continues tomorrow from Fenway Park. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s David Price. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: David Hess gets Fenway’d

David Hess pitched a halfway decent game for the Baltimore Orioles this evening. In fact, he pitched one out short of a quality start. The issue of course was that Hess and the Orioles were facing the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Boston makes their home park work for them – and against you. Hess’ line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Those aren’t perfect numbers. But as I said, if you’re going by the letter of the law it’s one out shy of a quality start. The goal for any starter is to put your team in a position to win the game. Did Hess do that tonight at Fenway Park? My personal opinion is that he did.

Hess was cruising along until Benintendi smacked a solo homer in the third inning. It counts, but it barely cleared the Green Monster. Boston always takes advantage of every little bounce at Fenway, and those bounces normally go their way.

This isn’t to say that Boston has an advantage of any sort – per se. Both teams play on the same field with the same dimensions. They just naturally know the ballpark better, and everything that comes with it. That includes wind currents, bounces, etc.

As an example, Bogaerts smacked an RBI-double in the fourth. It came with Moreland on first base; Moreland ran from first base as soon as he saw the trajectory of the ball. He knew it was going to hit off the top of the wall, giving him plenty of time to score from first. Most other parks, you end up with runners and the corners in that situation. Not Fenway.

Nunez’s RBI-single (also off the green monster) later in the inning would run the score to 3-0. But this shows why pitching at Fenway can be so difficult. There are so many funny bounces and hops the ball can take. Heck, and if it gets into the corner and starts rattling around out there, you never know what’s going to happen.

But there is a silver lining to this. And that’s that the O’s fought back. Dwight Smith Jr. smacked a two-run homer in the seventh, cutting the Boston lead to 3-2. However Boston would tack on a few insurance runs in the later innings, running the score to 6-2 going into the ninth. Keep in mind who the opponent was/is; Boston has some big bats in it’s lineup. But while they hit the ball hard, they didn’t slug the Orioles out of the ballpark. Their runs came in drips as opposed to droves.

The O’s would mount a late rally in the ninth, getting to within 6-4 on a two-run homer by Eduardo Nunez. But while the rally fell short and the O’s ultimately fell by that score, that was a big deal. Following the homer Boston brought in it’s closer, Braiser. He had already warmed up and sat back down once Boston was no longer in a save situation. But he had to get ready again, and in a hurry at that. Something along those lines could affect the Boston ‘pen for the remainder of the series. Time will tell.

Again, not a horrible outing by David Hess tonight. It’s tough to limit Boston to anything at Fenway. (Or anywhere for that matter.) he did a pretty decent job of it, as Boston runs trickled in. This as opposed to coming in an avalanche. Pitching at Fenway however isn’t for the faint of heart. Opposing pitchers often get the bounces that Hess did tonight. It’s part of what makes the AL East so tough.

The series continues tomorrow at Fenway Park – with an immediate quick turnaround in the form of an early day game after a night game. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

%d bloggers like this: