Baltimore Orioles: Took a hometown Baltimore boy to turn it around

The Baltimore Orioles sent Adam Plutko to the mound to make a spot start in the series finale against New York this afternoon. And he spotted them four runs, including a two-run homer by Sanchez, and a solo shot by Frazier. Enter Baltimore kid Bruce Zimmerman in the second, and he seemingly stabilized everything. Zimmerman’s line: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R 1 BB, 6 K.

Zimmerman was recalled before the game for the purpose of bullpen strength, however his outing sent the message that he should have been put into the rotation outright today. Luckily for him, Oriole bats also came alive today.

Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI-double in the last of the first got the Birds on the board, cutting NY’s lead to 4-1. Pedro Severino would follow that up with an RBI-double of his own, making it 4-2. That merely foreshadowed the rest of the game.

The one bad pitch Zimmerman made resulted in a third inning solo homer by Judge. But he buckled back down, and Oriole bats picked him up. In the bottom of the third Mountcastle’s sac fly-RBI cut the lead to 5-3, followed by an RBI-double by Maikel Franco. Freddy Galvis’ RBI-single would tie the game at five after three innings.

Trey Mancini gave the Orioles the lead in the fourth with an RBI-single. And Maike Franco would give Bruce Zimmerman and the O’s some insurance runs in the seventh with a two-run homer. Mountcastle would add a two-RBI single in the eighth, and New York would add a meaningless run in the ninth. Ultimately the O’s took the finale of the series, 10-6.

But the story was Bruce Zimmerman. I suspect that he’ll be re-inserted into the rotation, once again giving the Birds five starters. His contribution this afternoon was more valuable than can be put into words. The zoo’s flat out lose this game if not for him. Where’s the line between winning and losing? Today that line was Bruce Zimmerman.

The O’s will have an off day tomorrow before Tampa comes in for a three-game mid-week set. Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM, and a 12:30 matinee on Thursday for the finale.

Baltimore Orioles: Jorge Lopez was too aggressive early

New York bats seemed hungry tonight, and they feasted on Baltimore Orioles’ starter Jorge Lopez. New York took a very aggressive approach tonight, swinging at anything and everything. And it worked. Lopez’s line: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K.

Lopez was aggressive as well. Evidenced by his four strikeouts. But when a pitcher is attacking the zone and the hitters are swinging early, that’s going to be a problem. New York loaded the bases in the first inning before even recording an out. LeMahieu scored on a passed ball, and Sanchez’s two-run single gave New York a 3-0 lead.

In theory one would think that a pitcher attacking the zone would be a good thing. But you also have to know when to back off a bit. With a runner on base in the second, Lopez elevated a fastball to Judge, who ran the score to 5-0 with a two-run homer.

The Judge homer came with two outs and on an 0-2 count. In a sense, Lopez had Judge right where he wanted him. However that’s a spot where you in essence want to waste a pitch. Throw a slider low-and-away (or anything off the plate), and see if you can get the hitter to chase.

Instead, Lopez threw a fastball and tried to attack the hitter. However that fastball was elevated. In other words, it missed it’s spot. And Judge made him pay for it. Sometimes you have to be smart enough NOT to attack the zone.

New York would score again in the sixth on a balk call (again with the bases loaded), and a two-run double by Voit. The O’s would get on the board in the bottom of that sixth inning on Trey Mancini’s RBI-groundout. They would also add a run in the last of the ninth inning on an RBI-single by Ramon Urias. That would make the final 8-2, in favor of New York.

The O’s used multiple relievers in this game, which compounds things going into tomorrow. They were considering making tomorrow a bullpen game, but now it might appear that they’ll have to call someone up and make a roster move. We don’t know that for sure right now, but it might stand to reason that’s where things are going.

The series concludes tomorrow at Camden Yards. As I said, the Orioles’ starter is TBD, but whomever he is he’ll be opposed by New York’s Jordan Montgomery. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Three-run homer sinks the Birds

Dean Kremer’s numbers look worse than his outing was tonight for the Baltimore Orioles. He left with the lead, however the go-ahead run was coming to the plate. However to that point he was solid, and he put the Orioles in a spot to be able to win the game. Kremer’s line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

The teams swapped home runs in the first inning. Judge for New York, and Austin Hays for the Orioles. Judge would come up again in the fourth, and smack a second solo home run, giving New York a 2-1 lead. They say that solo home runs don’t beat you. But it wasn’t a solo homer of which the Birds or Dean Kremer had to be wary.

Pedro Severino’s RBI-double in the last of the fifth tied the game back up at two. Pat Valaika would add an RBI-single, and the O’s suddenly had the lead at 3-2. For good measure, Trey Mancini would add an RBI-single of his own, giving the Orioles a 4-2 lead.

However that Mancini RBI-single may have been the biggest play of the game – for New York. Austin Hays tried to tack on a fifth run, but was thrown out at home plate. This prevented the Birds from a fifth run.

Kremer gave up a base hit and a walk with one out in the seventh. Urshela came to the plate with those two runners on, and promptly smacked a game-winning three-run homer. For the record, Kremer was non-decisioned in the game. But he deserved better.

Again, New York throwing out Austin Hays at home plate in the fifth was big. All other things being the same, the game goes to extra innings. Little things can often have ripple effects in games. That’s just the nature of the beast.

And as I said, the Orioles and Dean Kremer didn’t need to fear the solo homers. Instead it was the three-run shots that should have concerned them. But again, that’s the nature of the beast; that’s baseball.

The series continues tomorrow at Oriole Oark at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Domingo Germain. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Harvey hit hard in return to Queens

Matt Harvey gave the Baltimore Orioles a very un-Matt Harvyish start this afternoon at Citi Field against the New York Mets. Obviously Harvey broke into the majors with New York, and this was his first start back at Citi Field since leaving the organization. Needless to say, it wasn’t the outing he or anyone would have wanted. Harvey’s line: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

New York took a 2-0 lead in the last of the second on Pillar’s two-RBI triple. Ironically, that was one of the only balls against Harvey that was squared up. He fell victim to softly-hit balls and broken bat singles for much of hit outing. Which can be aggravating. What’s also aggravating is the fact that regardless of anything else, Pillar seems to always kill the Birds.

Later in that second inning Peraza’s RBI-single ran the lead to 3-0. And the rout was on. By the end of the fifth, New York had put seven runs on the board, and chased Harvey from the game. Chance Sisco would add an RBI-groundout in the seventh for the O’s, avoiding the shut out.

This was always going to be a tough series for the Orioles because it was so quick. They arrived in New York after the Boston game on Monday night, then a day-and-a-half later the series was over. Granted New York had to play in essence the same schedule, but there’s a difference between being at home or on the road for something like this.

The O’s do have two things in their favor, and that’s an early ride home to Baltimore this afternoon, and a day off at home tomorrow. However they then begin a grueling nine-game stretch, which will see the New York Yankees coming to Camden Yards this weekend, Tampa for three next week, and then a three-game weekend series in Washington. None of those games will be easy.

Certainly Matt Harvey wanted to pitch better in his return to Queens. However the fact that he’s in the big leagues again is a testament to his work ethic and his drive. He has nothing to be ashamed of. He just needs to buckle down in his next start, because as I said the Birds are going into a difficult stretch.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means solid, Birds fall late

Baltimore Orioles’ starter John Means followed up the best start of his life (a no-hitter) with about a lead solid an outing as one can have tonight at Citi Field against the New York Mets. Means didn’t yield another no-no, but he held the opponent scoreless for the second straight outing. And odds are he would have pitched deeper into the game had he not been coming up with the bases loaded and less than two outs. Means’ line: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Unfortunately for the Orioles, New York starter Stroman matched Means on just about every pitch. And that brought us into the seventh inning with no score. As I said, the bases were loaded with Means’ spot coming up. Under National League rules of course, Means had to hit.

But the O’s opted to lift him and they sent up Pat Valaika as a pinch hitter. And Valaika’s sac fly-RBI gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. One inning later with a runner on third, Freddy Galvis laid down a perfect bunt, squeezing the runner home. Galvis also beat the ball to first base, giving him an RBI-single, and giving the O’s a 2-0 lead.

Conforto’s RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth would get New York on the board. However after getting a couple of guys on in the ninth, they tied the game on Smith’s RBI-single. They would later walk off as winners on an infield RBI-single by Mazeika.

Closer Cesar Valdez gets the blown save and the loss. But New York had the look of crazy people in their eyes in the last of the ninth. They were determined. And the O’s stood in their way.

But that shouldn’t take anything away from Means’ performance. Technically I suppose one could argue that he fell off a bit given the fact that he didn’t pitch a no-hitter. But that’s obviously a tough act to follow. And this outing was strikingly good. It’s just a shame he was non-decisioned.

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Citi Field. Former New York Met Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Taijuan Walker. Game time is set for just after 12 PM.

Baltimore Orioles soar on pitching, Trey Mancini

Jorge Lopez turned in perhaps his best effort last night as a starter for the Baltimore Orioles. He didn’t stay around long enough to secure the win, but he put the Birds in a position to win the game. And that’s all one can ask, and it’s the job of a starting pitcher. Lopez’s line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead on a solo homer by Ryan Mountcastle in the second inning. Lopez struggled just a bit in the fourth, giving up a base hit and a HBP, and allowing both runners to advance on a wild pitch. Devers’ sac fly-RBI would later tie the game.

But Lopez limited the damage, which is a good thing. He also pitched out of a situation with a runner at third early in the fifth inning, not allowing the run to cross. In any of the first three games of the series that run would have scored, and probably led to a big inning for Boston. Not last night.

The Birds got the lead for good in the last of the sixth when Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer of his own. They say that solo home runs don’t beat you, but in a tie game they’re huge. Not only did that give the Orioles the lead, but also gave them momentum in the game.

Two innings later Mancini would net an RBI-single to give the Birds an insurance run. Freddy Galvis would add a second insurance run with a sac fly-RBI later in the inning. Boston went quietly in the ninth, and the O’s salvaged the series finale by a 4-1 score.

Manager Brandon Hyde praised Jorge Lopez after the game, along with the entire pitching effort overall:

So happy for Lopie. Got over the hump tonight, got through five and got into the sixth inning. Probably could have gone longer, but he hasn’t gone that far so far this year. We pitched so well tonight. I was so impressed with Lopie’s stuff, once again throwing 97 (mph) sinkers, utilizing all pitches, even throwing some sliders tonight. And then the other guys who came in just did a great job on the mound.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

But also keep in mind that Trey Mancini’s timely hitting played a huge role. He took advantage of the opportunities he was given to drive in runs. And that, along with solid pitching, is what wins you games.

The Orioles now head to Queens (NY) for a short two-game set with the New York Mets at Citi Field. John Means gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Marcus Stroman. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Aggressive approach doesn’t always work

Dean Kremer took to the mound for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon, and you might argue that he kept Boston more at bay than the O’s had done in the first two games of the series. However Boston’s a very aggressive team at the plate; and as a close friend pointed out to me this morning, there’s something about the Orioles that ticks Boston off. And he isn’t wrong. They just seem to play out of their minds against the Birds, and the bounces seem to go their way. Kremer’s line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

The Orioles seemed to want to adopt Boston’s philosophy of being aggressive today. They swung earlier in counts, as is reflected in the fact that the Birds only mustered four hits. I suppose that you chalk that up to not being able to con a con man.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead in the first on Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI-single. But Boston came right back with a solo homer in the second off the bat of Devers. But the Orioles got the lead back in the fifth with a solo homer by Cedric Mullins. However they couldn’t put any insurance on the board past there.

Which lends an ear to not being able to con a con man. Boston apparently is a team that can get away with being aggressive early in the count. The Orioles aren’t. You have to play your game. And Boston was able to get the Orioles out of their game today.

Devers’ RBI-double in the sixth and Renfroe’s solo homer in the eighth ran the score to 4-2. But Mountcastle (who had a great game) would come through for the Orioles once again in the eighth. His RBI-single cut the lead to 4-3, which was the eventual final.

The series concludes tomorrow evening at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Zac Lowther struggles in spot start

The Baltimore Orioles called Zac Lowther up from the minors to make a spot start last night against Boston. And the results were pretty much what you would have expected, as the Birds fell prey to the BoSox once again. Lowther’s line: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 2 K, 3 BB.

The O’s actually held the lead in this game, albeit ever-so-briefly. DJ Stewart’s RBI-single in the last of the first gave the Orioles a 1-0 edge. But Boston came right back with four in the second. Gonzalez’s run-scoring double tied the game in the second (due in part to a throwing error). Following Renfroe’s RBI-single, Chavis smacked a two-run homer before the inning ended.

The Orioles were able to put some runs up in this game, however while Boston was scoring in buckets, the O’s were piecemealing their way to the end. Freddy Galvis’ solo homer in the last of the second cut the lead in half at 4-2. However Boston would put three up in the third, two in the fourth, and another two in the sixth.

Trey Mancini and Ramon Urias would add RBI-doubles and singles respectively in the sixth. Luckily however by that point the faucet had been turned off in Boston’s scoring. Austin Hays would add a two-RBI single in the last of the ninth, but the Birds fell 11-6.

After the game Lowther pointed at his execution as the reason why he struggled, but also felt he made some good pitches:

Just not executing in the right spots. When I was missing I was missing over the heart of the plate, and to a good lineup like that you’re going to get hurt. I made a lot of good pitches, maybe not when I needed to, but I’m going to take the good from this and kind of just dump the bad. You can always learn from this stuff. I know what I need to do to get better, so just being able to work on that between outings is something I’m going to take forward.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The series continues this afternoon at Camden Yards. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nick Pivetta. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall after lengthy rain delay

I suppose the Baltimore Orioles should consider themselves lucky that last night’s game wasn’t rained out. It isn’t like we haven’t seen our share of seven inning doubleheader’s thus far in 2021. However Matt Harvey’s four-run fourth inning did the Birds in following an hour and thirty-eighth minute rain delay. Harvey’s line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R (0 earned), 1 BB, 3 K.

You notice that all four of those runs were unearned. Harvey himself committed a fielding error, allowing a runner to reach base. That runner then stole second, and reached third on a fielder’s choice. Therefore any runs in the inning were unearned.

Renfroe’s RBI-single scored the run, and following a walk Dalbec’s three-run homer gave Boston a 4-0 lead. But the O’s made a go of it in a sense. Trey Mancini smacked an RBI-single in the fifth, and Ryan Mountcastle a solo homer in the eighth. That cut the lead in half at 4-2.

However Boston would put two insurance runs across. They’d bet two RBI-doubles, one in the eighth and the other in the ninth. And in doing so they took the first game of the series, 4-2.

After the game Matt Harvey admitted that he wasn’t feeling it going in. He didn’t blame the weather or the delay, however that couldn’t have helped. Harvey on his outing:

I just really didn’t have it tonight. Kind of just was all over the place, really just physically didn’t feel that great and wasn’t able to get it done. I wasn’t able to limit the damage when I needed to that inning and it just wasn’t a good start. Didn’t feel good mechanically, didn’t feel good physically, didn’t feel I was that strong out there. It was a rough day. Chalk it up and move on and get ready for my next one.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Zac Lowther comes up from the minors to make the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Garrett Richards. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means No-Hits Seattle in an immortal effort

John Means is the story today – not the Baltimore Orioles. He became the first Oriole since Jim Palmer in 1969 to throw a no-hitter. (Four different Oriole pitchers shared a no-hitter in 1991.) That‘s pretty select company. Means’ line: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K.

Obviously a no-no doesn’t really mean much unless you score some runs. And the Orioles did; DJ Stewart and Ramon Urias would smack RBI-singles in the second inning. I’m theory those two runs would have been enough, but Pat Valaika would smack a solo homer in the seventh, and Trey Mancini added some insurance runs in the eighth with a three-run homer.

The image of John Means sitting alone in the dugout in the later innings isn’t one that Orioles fans will soon forget. Heck, the entire game is one that Orioles fans won’t soon forget. And let’s be frank; this much-maligned franchise and fanbase deserved this moment. It was a long time coming.

And one can’t even begin to imagine what was going through John Means’ head after the birth of his son this past off season, and the death of his father last year. And now this. It had to be a heck of a moment.

For the record, this easily could have been a perfect game. A Seattle hitter (Haggerty) struck out in the third, but the ball rolled away from the catcher. Haggerty took first base and was promptly thrown out stealing. All other things being equal, if not for that play we’re talking about a perfect game.

There were a couple of close calls. In the eighth inning a ball was hit to the warning track, but caught by Austin Hays. In a lot of parks that might have been a home run, which obviously would have broken up the no-hitter. Heck maybe even at Camden Yards. But today’s game was in Seattle – not Oriole Park. So it was an out.

Even the last out…could have been a flair into the outfield. But games such as no-hitters or perfect games always require great defense behind the starting pitcher. And we saw it today. And it won’t be quickly forgotten.

I’ve obviously glossed over the overall game highlights. Because in games like this they’re almost unimportant. ALMOST. But make no mistake that the Mancini three-run homer was huge at the time. It gave the O’s a sizable lead. Which in theory may have allowed them to relax a bit.

But here’s another point; the unwritten codes of baseball dictate no bunting in a no-hitter (after the seventh inning). But what happens in a close game? A 3-0 lead in theory is a save situation.

A smaller lead might have given Seattle an opening to lay down a bunt to break up the no-hitter, and justify it by saying it was a close game. Mancini’s home run took that option away.

As I’ve said, the Orioles and Orioles fans won’t soon forget this game. And I hope that people realize what happened here. Richard Nixon was President the last time a single Oriole pitcher threw a no-hitter. Let that sink in. Let it all sink in. John Means, of the Baltimore Orioles, threw a no-hitter today.