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Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis finishes the spring strong as O’s fall to NY

The Baltimore Orioles welcomed the NY Mets to Ed Smith Stadium this afternoon in the final spring tune up in Grapefruit League play for both team Dylan Bundy got the start for the Orioles, lasting only into the fifth. Bundy looked good in the first inning, but had his struggles as time went on. Bundy’s line: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

In a game where both teams literally had their bags packed ready to go north, the Birds battled – and struck first. Dwight Smith Jr. got the O’s on the board with a solo home run in the last of the first. Rio Ruiz would follow later in the inning with an RBI-double, and he would later score on a two-run homer by Chris Davis.

Speaking of Davis, he seemed to take a bit of a turn in terms of his production at the plate at the very tail end of spring training. He finished Grapefruit League play hitting .189 – not good by anyone’s standards. But it’s better than last year’s regular season average. And better than earlier in the spring when he was hitting in the .120’s.

However Bundy immediately began the process of giving the lead back. Rosario’s RBI-single in the second cut the lead to 4-1. Conforto would push one across on an RBI-groundout in the third, and later in the inning Ramos’ sac fly-RBI brought New York to within one. However Dwight Smith, who’s had a great spring in the time he’s been with the Orioles, re-extended the lead to two runs, smacking his second solo homer on the day.

Two innings later NcNeil would cut that lead back to one at 5-4 on a solo homer. Two innings after that, Davis’ solo homer tied the game at five for New York. However Zach Vincej‘s solo homer in the last of that seventh inning gave the Orioles the lead once again at 6-5, before Thompson’s solo homer tied it in the eighth. Yet the O’s weren’t going to be denied more runs. Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-single in the eighth gave the Orioles that one-run lead back at 7-6, which would have been the final – if not for Smith’s three-run homer in the ninth. The O’s were an out away from winning – but them’s the breaks, and the O’s fell 9-7.

And THAT, folks, is a wrap for the 2019 Florida Grapefruit League season. The O’s finished the spring 12-17-3, and will now officially break camp, and head home where they’ll have a workout on the field at Camden Yards tomorrow. Of course they’ll be in New York on Thursday, Opening Day. Just as a matter of housekeeping, final rosters aren’t due until noon (EST) on Thursday, March 28th. That’s just about an hour before the Orioles’ game is scheduled to start.

Coming up this week on Birdland Crush, we’ll take a look at what this new era of Orioles’ baseball is, and what it means. I’ll also provide a formal season preview. Thanks for following along this spring, and I look forward to providing the same in-depth game coverage starting again on Thursday in the regular season!

Baltimore Orioles fall to Pittsburgh, Andrew Cashner the Opening Day understudy

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde announced before this afternoon’s game against Pittsburgh that starter Andrew Cashner would be pitching a shorter outing this afternoon. If Alex Cobb is unable to pitch in the Bronx on Thursday for Opening Day, Cashner will be the one getting the ball – so he was limited in his work this afternoon. Cashner’s line: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

Cashner gave up a solo homer in the first inning to Kang, which is the only run the Birds surrendered. The game was a pitcher’s duel to the end. However the Orioles have suddenly sustained a few injuries in the past 24 hours – literally the worst time possible in spring training.

I mentioned in last night’s column that Austin Hays injured his thumb sliding into a base in a minor league game. Hays wasn’t expected to start the season in the big leagues, however he’s a great prospect and has had a great spring. He also missed most of last season with injuries. I suspect he was definitely someone who should expect to be in Baltimore at some point this year – and his injury status is something to watch.

Brandon Hyde also announced before today.’a game in Sarasota that Mark Trumbo would be starting the season on the injured list. Trumbo of course had knee surgery last September, and had been appearing in games for the past two weeks or so. It’s disappointing, however not a total surprise. It’s unclear how long Trumbo will be out – it could be a few weeks, could be a month.

Which brings us back to Alex Cobb. Hyde said that he (Cobb) felt better this morning, and that limiting Cashner in today’s game was only a precaution. However it’s a decision that will probably need to be made by Tuesday or early Wednesday at the latest.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the case of Chance Sisco, who’s had a great spring. In my view, he’s earned a roster spot. However they also have Jesus Sucre, who’s opt out was extended to tomorrow. If he isn’t on the big league roster, he can become a free agent. On top of that, the Birds claimed Pedro Severino off of waivers from Washington on Friday.

They really like Sucre, and it seems to me that they wouldn’t have claimed Severino (a veteran catcher) if they weren’t going to put him on the roster. (Granted they could try to pass him through waivers and send him to the minors.) They also like Sisco, who again has had an outstanding camp. However he has options, unlike the other two. If the decision were mine, I’d go with Sisco and Sucre. Either way, this should be more clear by tomorrow.

And Chance Sisco figured big in the Orioles tying today’s game. He went 3-for-3 on the day, including a double in the eighth inning with the Birds still trailing 1-0. He would eventually et to third, and then score on a sac fly-RBI. While the game goes down as a 1-1 tie, Sisco is still making it tough for them to send him down. And that’s to his credit.

The O’s will play their final Grapefruit League game tomorrow afternoon as the NY Mets come into Ed Smith Stadium. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Zack Wheeler. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall, potentially lose Alex Cobb

Just today I was telling someone that there’s one small silver lining to the Baltimore Orioles Opening the season with two of their first three series’ being against New York. And that’s the fact that New York has a plethora of injuries right now. If you’re going to play six games in a week against them, you might as well do so when they aren’t at full strength.

Then Opening Day starter Alex Cobb took the mound this evening in his final spring start of the year, vs. Minnesota. Cobb pitched one inning, and showed no sign of discomfort. However when the last of the second came around, Cobb was out of the game. The Orioles later announced that he had groin tightness, and after the game they said it was a mild groin strain. They felt they got him out in time, but that remains to be seen.

No folks, my commentary about New York’s injury issues didn’t cause this. Just a coincidence. As of when this is being written, Cobb is still slated to start on Opening Day. It’s unclear if that’ll end up being the case. It just matters how Cobb feels going through this week. Cobb’s line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

This meant that the Orioles’ bullpen was called into early action – not something that happens often in spring games. Jimmy Yacabonis gave up a two-run homer to Castro, Cruz added an RBI-double, as sos Rosario (in the third). The Orioles trailed 4-0.

But the Orioles did make a small run. Dwight Smith Jr. smacked a solo homer in the last of the third. Later in the inning Chris Davis smacked a moonshot solo homer, and the O’s had cut the lead in half at 4-2.

However Minnesota put up another four runs in the fourth. A softly-hit bloop RBI-single, and a three-run homer; the Birds trailed 8-2. However Smith came back up in the last of the fourth and reached on a Schoop error, scoring a run. However two innings later in the last of the sixth Eduardo Nunez‘s solo homer cut the Minnesota lead to 8-4.

Dwight Smith has a great game, smacking a two-RBI double later in that sixth inning. One inning later Rio Ruiz‘s solo homer brought the O’s to within 8-7. And that ended up being your ballgame. But the Birds have bigger issues now than dropping this game.

As this column is being written, Alex Cobb is still the Opening Day starter on Thursday. Will that change? If so, who now gets the ball?

The Orioles really find themselves in an unfortunate position in that regard. It would seem to me that the next man up would in theory be Andrew Cashner – who’s also scheduled to start tomorrow afternoon’s game. If Cashner were to now start tomorrow, he’d find himself pitching on short rest on Thursday (if in fact he was the new Opening Day starter).

So I’m short, Cobb couldn’t have possibly injured himself at a worse time. To make matters worse, Austin Wynns injured himself a n a minor league game today. The injury occurred as he slid into a base, and he’ll have an MRI on his wrist tomorrow. Not good news for the O’s.

Tomorrow the Orioles’ “A team” will remain in Sarasota to take on Pittsburgh (while the “B team” heads to Clearwater to take on Philadelphia). Again as this is being written the aforementioned Andrew Cashner is slated as the Orioles’ starter, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles blanked in Dunedin

Mike Wright Jr. got the start for the Baltimore Orioles this evening in Dunedin against Toronto. While he only pitched four innings in his penultimate spring outing, he was able to atone for himself fairly well. Wright’s line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Wright exited after four innings but continued his work in the bullpen. He allowed a solo homer in the second inning to Smoak, and Pillar would ground into a run-scoring double-play in the fourth. As I’ve said many times this spring, solo home runs in theory won’t beat you. The Orioles in 2018 found ways to allow solo homers to defeat them, but also keep in mind that 2019 is a new season.

Toronto would add two more in the fifth on a two-run homer by Drury. The concerning thing there isn’t so much that it happened, but that it happened on a full count. First off the O’s made a living last year allowing hits and homers on two-strike counts. However if you groove a pitch on a full count, big league hitters are going to hit it – and a long way at that.

However it.’a tough to score runs when you only muster four hits. And it’s tough to win when you don’t score runs. And the O’s got blanked by Toronto on this night, 4-0.

The Orioles return home to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow night as Minnesota comes into Sarasota one more time this spring. The Birds will send Alex Cobb to the mound for his final spring start, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Jose Berrios. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Walk off grand slam sinks the Birds

David Hess atone for himself fairly well in his spring finale for the Baltimore Orioles. He spotted Pittsburgh two runs, but settled down. Hess’ line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Hess gave up a solo homer in the first and second innings, giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead. However as we say so often, solo home runs aren’t ever going to kill you. In fact Hess only gave up one more hit on the outing.

But the O’s got things tied up quickly. Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer in the fourth inning. Later in the inning Joey Rickard‘s RBI-double tied the game at two. The Orioles would proceed to take a 3-2 lead later in the inning on Handed Alberto‘s sac fly-RBI.

Pittsburgh would tack on a solo homer in the sixth to tie the game at three. But the Birds were poised to win the game late on Drew Jackson‘s two-RBI single. However that was short lived…

…because the home team bats last. And when that home team smacks a grand slam down two in the ninth, it’s a walk off grand slam. The Birds fell on this day, 7-5.

The takeaway from this game was that Hess was roughed up just a bit. But as I’ve said, pitchers will get themselves in trouble. The good ones will get themselves out of it. Hess retired 11 of his final 12 batters faced. So that’s something.

Tomorrow evening the O’s head to Dunedin Stadium to take on Toronto for the final time this spring. Mike Wright Jr. gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Anibal Sanchez. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall late after Dylan Bundy shines

The Baltimore Orioles sent Dylan Bundy to the mound this evening against Boston, in what could have been his penultimate spring start. And despite a couple of struggles, he turned in a dazzling performance. Just as a note, Bundy may well get one more outing for all we know – that’s up to the coaches. But this would be a good way to wrap up the spring. Bundy’s line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Cedric Mullins led the game off with a solo homer, giving the O’s an early 1-0 lead. Bundy’s one tough inning however was the third. He loaded the bases with nobody out off the bat. He did induce a ground ball double-play by Nunez, but that tied the game at one.

Bundy showed shades of last year in that third inning. He had numerous Boston hitters down in the count on two-strike counts, only to allow them to get aboard. However to his credit, Bundy minimized the damage and worked out of the problem. Pitchers will get themselves in trouble in games. The decent ones find ways out of it also.

The teams played to a 1-1 tie into the middle innings. The Orioles did however make Boston starter Porcello work for his outs, which was good to see. With a runner on first in the last of the sixth, Cedric Mullins hit what appeared to be a single, which would have left runners at the corners. However Mullins hustled into second base, turning a single into a double. Jonathan Villar would subsequently smack a two-RBI single, giving the Orioles a 3-1 lead.

Part of that sequence should be credited to Mullins. He hustled, and was able to get into second. That’s not something that’ll show up in the scorebook. However it’s one of those intangible aspects of a game that will help you to win.

Boston would net a run in the seventh on a wild pitch, however Dwight Smith Jr. would smack a solo homer in the bottom of the inning which extended the Orioles’ lead to 4-2. This only to have it cut back to one at 4-3 in the eighth when the Birds couldn’t complete a double-play. They would later tie the game at four on a wild pitch.

An additional error on the catcher and an RBI-single later, and Jimmy Yacabonis has blown the save. Not all of those runs were Yacabonis’ fault. Again in shades of last season, an Orioles’ opponent found every which way to put runs on the board. Yacabonis was also playing with lots of backup people in the game, which should go as duly noted. All of the runs were earned, but there certainly was a lot that seemed beyond Yacabonis’ control.

While the Birds dropped this one by the aforementioned 6-4 score, it’s important to note that the Orioles’ starters still gave a great showing this evening. Especially Dylan Bundy and Cedric Mullins. The lion’s share of the errors were committed by guys who’ll probably end up in the minors. However that’s also part of learning and part of what rebuilding is about. So this game gives the O’s a lot on which to build.

The Orioles will head up to Bradenton tomorrow to take on Pittsburgh at Lecom Park. David Hess gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Chris Archer. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles, Andrew Cashner win a donnybrook in Lakeland

The Baltimore Orioles gave starter Andrew Cashner a great deal of run support this afternoon in Lakeland against Detroit. At first however, it appeared to be similar to a great deal of Cashner’s starts with the Orioles last year. One bad pitch and no run support. But that changed eventually – and it did so in a fast and furious manner. Cashner’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K.

Cashner gave up a solo homer in the first inning to Castellanos, the second batter of the game. And that was it in terms of runs surrendered by Cashner. He buckled down and pitched to a dazzling start. In fact, it could well have been the best outing by an Oriole starter thus far in the spring. Cashner on his outing:

I thought it kind of finally all came together today. I thought I slowed my pace down a little bit. Thought the biggest thing was made an adjustment out of the bullpen, keeping my chin quiet.

I thought I spun the ball a lot better today. Kind of made some tweaks with my curveball. Kind of got a little late start on the curveball. Just didn’t feel right in the beginning. Hadn’t thrown it much and I thought today was big progress with that.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Last season Cashner had several starts where he had no run support, as I said above. Through four innings, it appeared that this one might be similar. Then the donnybrook that was the fifth inning happened.

The Orioles managed to load the bases with one down in the fifth. Jonathan Villar then smacked a bases-clearing double, giving the O’s a 3-1 lead. Trey Mancini would tack on another run with an RBI-triple, and the Birds led 4-1.

The Orioles would also get an RBI-single from Ryan Mountcastle, and a sac fly-RBI by Joey Rickard. This all in the fifth, and it left the Orioles and Cashner with a 6-1 lead. Mancini had a good day as well, on his 27th birthday. Mancini went 1-for-3 with a walk.

The Orioles kept the pressure on in the later innings. Dwight Smith smacked a two-run homer in the seventh to run the Birds’ lead to 8-1. Zach Vincej would add an RBI-single later in the inning, giving them a 9-1 lead. That Vincej RBI-single also came on the heels of a Detroit fielding error which extended the inning.

Another mark of last year’s Orioles’ team was that they often allowed teams off the hook when they made mistakes. Thus far in the spring, that hasn’t been the case. The Birds were able to tack on several more late runs, taking this game 14-1. One of the more runaway victories if you will this spring – hence the term donnybrook.

The Orioles return home to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow as Minnesota comes to Sarasota for what feels like the 100th time this spring. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Mike Wright Jr. knocked around in loss to New York

The Baltimore Orioles took on the New York Yankees this afternoon in the final meeting between the two teams before Opening Day. Mike Wright Jr. got the start, but struggled in terms of giving up the long ball. Wright’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

Wright got a lot of the strike zone in his outing, possibly too much. He admitted after coming out that the issue was the home runs (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I’m going to have 3-1 counts. That’s just the bottom line. It’s just how you get out of them, how you approach them. A walk in that situation wouldn’t have been the end of the world.

Wright gave up a two-run homer in the first, and a solo shot in the third. He also surrendered a second solo shot in the fourth, giving New York a 4-0 lead. As Wright said, a walk in theory is better than a homer.

The O’s got on the board in the sixth on an RBI-groundout by Alcides Escobar. Carlos Perez added a solo homer in the eighth, and suddenly the O’s has cut the lead in half. Unfortunately for the O’s, NY pitching shut down Oriole bats for most of the day.

But the good news for the Birds is that they also managed an RBI-single in the eighth following the Perez homer. And that single came off the bat of Chris Davis. Again, that should be the takeaway for today’s game. Davis has started to hit – even if only a little. That could be a good sign for the O’s moving forward.

New York would tack on an RBI-double in the ninth, taking the game 5-3. I suppose that it’s safe to say that the luck of the Irish was with them today. On this St. Patrick’s Day. Again as so said, the next time these two teams meet will be on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. New York also comes to Baltimore incidentally for the Orioles’ home opener.

The O’s head to Lakeland to take on Detroit tomorrow, in the beginning of the home stretch of spring training. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Jordan Zimmerman. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles defeat Toronto on a late Austin Hays homer

The Baltimore Orioles traveled north to Dunedin Stadium to take on their AL East rivals, Toronto, this afternoon. Announced Opening Day starter Alex Cobb got the start, and looked crisper than his stat line indicates. Cobb’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 8 K.

I say that he pitched better than his stat line indicates because of the three runs. Obviously the eight strikeouts over five innings is outstanding. Not to mention the zero walks. In some senses, Cobb looked every bit the Opening Day starter.

The teams played to a 0-0 tie through three innings. However the Orioles took the lead in the fourth on Renato Nunez‘s RBI-double. Later in the inning the O’s got a second RBI-double, this time by Stevie Wilkerson. And the Birds were off to a 2-0 lead. One inning later a Sisco walk with the bases loaded ran it to 3-0.

However the fifth inning did Cobb in. He gave up three runs, allowing Toronto to tie the game at three. End of the day, Cobb pitches pretty well. But the fact that yet another presumed started seemed to tire in the fifth inning is somewhat disheartening.

However the Orioles weren’t going to be held to any moral victories on this day. The O’s got a solo homer from Austin Hays in the eight inning, giving them a 4-3 lead. And that turned into a 4-3 victory.

Hays has had a great spring in his own right, and is making a great play to be on the roster. Time will tell if he is at the end of the day. But he.’a certainly making his case.

The O’s return to Sarasota tomorrow as New York comes into Ed Smith Stadium. Mike Wright Jr. gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Jonathan Loaisiga. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: David Hess knocked around in Birds’ loss

David Hess had about as tough a day today for the Baltimore Orioles as any pitcher is going to have. Regular season game, exhibition game – ultimately it doesn’t matter. Going into today’s game it appeared that Hess was looking at a rotation slot. I have to assume that’s still in play, however Hess didn’t do himself any favors today. Hess’ line: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Before you could blink, Hess had given up nine runs. They came on a plethora of homers, singles, and doubles. All in all, not a good day for David Hess. For Hess’ sake, he has to attempt to shake it off. If he does, he’s probably still in line for a rotation spot. However for the crew who says Hess is washed up, keep in mind that pitchers are going to have days like this. Over the course of a season a pitcher’s going to have ten good starts, ten bad starts, and ten in between. The season hasn’t started yet, but this would go in the bad category (if the regular season had already started).

But all wasn’t lost for the Orioles. They battled back, and that’s been a staple of this Oriole team this spring. Regardless of home or away, or who’s in the game, these guys have battled and have never given up.

Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-single in the fourth got the Birds on the board. Later in the inning Joey Rickard‘s two-RBI double cut the Minnesota lead to 9-3. As I said, these guys flat out haven’t ever given up. That’s the type of character you want as part of your team and organization.

Trey Mancini would score from third in the fifth on a wild pitch, and Rickard would later smack another RBI-single, cutting the Minnesota lead to 9-5. Joey Rickard had three RBI on the day, once again making his own case to be a part of the big league roster. However that aside, the Birds found themselves to within 9-7 in the sixth after Drew Jackson‘s two-run homer.

However unfortunately for the Orioles, one inning later Minnesota extended it’s lead to 12-7. This following back-to-back homers, the first of which was a two-run shot. The Orioles would tack on two runs late, however while they battled and valiantly forced themselves back into the game, it wasn’t their day. And they fell 12-9 to Minnesota.

The Orioles will head to Dunedin Stadium tomorrow to take on Toronto. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Sam Gaviglio . Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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