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Baltimore Orioles: A win at the end of the line

The Baltimore Orioles concluded their truncated 2020 season this afternoon. Perhaps it’s fitting that the strangest season in history came to an end in a Buffalo minor league park – the temporary home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Keegan Akin got the ball, but in essence acted as “the opener.” Akin’s line 3.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

With Toronto leading 1-0, Renato Nunez‘s RBI-double in the third tied the score at one. However Toronto would put three additional runs on the board in the last of the third. Which in essence was consistent with the rest of this series, and perhaps the rest of the games that have been against Toronto this year.

But at some point the O’s decided to extend the summer just a little longer. They decided that they weren’t going into the night without a fight. Cedric Mullins‘ two-RBI triple cut the lead to 4-3, and out Toronto on notice that they weren’t going to end the season with a cakewalk. Mullins would later score on Austin Hays‘ sac fly-RBI which tied the game.

And that fourth inning was the final time the Orioles would trail in 2020. Rio Ruiz smacked an RBI-double in the fifth which have the O’s a 5-4 lead. The O’s would also get an RBI-groundout, and an RBI-single to run the lead to 7-4. Toronto would score on an error in the eighth, but the Birds pulled out a 7-5 lead.

And yes, that’s the end of the line. For 2020, at least! The season is now complete, and the O’s finished with 25 wins. But don’t underestimate the importance of winning this final game. That does mean something going into next year. Next season, which hopefully will are the return of normalcy to MLB.

As a tongue-in-cheek joke, the O’s will next take on the Atlanta Braves at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fl on February 27th – Opening Day of the Florida Grapefruit League season. Starters are TDB for both teams. Nothing set yet in stone, but I would think that game time would be sometime around 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means strong in loss to Toronto

John Means, who presumably will be the Baltimore Orioles’ Opening Day starter next year, had a solid outing in his final game of 2020. Only problem was the O’s couldn’t support him enough to get him the win. Means’ line: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K.

The teams played to a scoreless tie through five innings. Means was mowing Toronto hitters down. This until the sixth inning when Biggio smacked a solo homer. That was the lone run that Means surrendered. They say solo homer runs don’t hurt you. In general they don’t; but yet that solo homer earned John Means the loss.

This game was almost a tale of two games. The first half or so of the game was a pitcher’s duel. However runs came fast and furious in the second part of the game. Mostly from Toronto.

Oriole-killer Grichuk had the night off. In theory at least. But he pinch hit in the last of the seventh with two runners on, and promptly hit a three-run homer. That was Grichuk’s twelfth homer on the year. And his seventh against the O’s.

It’s amazing how some guys are just zero’d in on a team. There’s really no explanation for how Grichuk could be so hot against the Orioles. It seems that no matter what they do, he’s a step ahead.

Jose Iglesias‘ RBI-double in the eight got they Birds on the board. Iglesias would later score on an RBI-single by Ryan Mountcastle. However Toronto would also add on a run in the eight, taking the game, 5-2.

The series and the season conclude this afternoon in Buffalo. Keegan Akin gets the call for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Tanner Roark. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Jorge Lopez battered in Buffalo

The Baltimore Orioles went Jorge Lopez to the mound for his penultimate start in the 2020 season. Lopez ended up with the same fate as plenty of other Orioles’ starters against Toronto. They just seem to have the Birds’ number no matter what. Lopez’s line: 2.0 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Shocker, Toronto’s scoring started with Grichuk’s first at-bat. He smacked a solo homer in the second to give Toronto a 1-0 lead. Grichuk has hit eleven homers on the year (including this one). Six have come against the O’s. It’s uncanny.

Toronto kept the pressure on in the inning, putting base runner after base runner on base. And netting run after run. Before the second inning was over, they led the O’s 6-0.

The third inning brought a Toronto to 8-0, and Shaw’s fourth inning two-run homer put them ahead 10-0. Before the O’s could blink, they were that far behind. However the good news is that after that moment, the Orioles’ pen kept Toronto bats at bay. The damage had been done, but they were kept at bay from that moment forward.

And in fact, the O’s showed signs of wanting to get back into the game. Ramon Urias smacked a solo home run in the fifth. The O’s would get another homer that inning off the bat of Cedric Mullins. They’d also get one in the sixth from Jose Iglesias, and later an RBI-double from Hanser Alberto. That closed out Toronto’s 10-4 victory.

Before the game the Orioles announced that Anthony Santander had been voted the Most Valuable Oriole in 2020. He may have finished the season on the IL, but he made massive impacts on the team this year. Both on and off the field.

The series continues tomorrow in Buffalo. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Matt Shoemaker. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles break out at Fenway

Alex Cobb was the beneficiary of Baltimore Orioles’ bats finally breaking out of their funk last night at Fenway Park. And in fact, Cobb did his part as well, shutting down Boston’s offense that had looked so potent in the first two games of the series. Cobb’s line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

Rio Ruiz‘s second inning RBI-single got the Larry started. Later in the inning Cedric Mullins‘ two-RBI double ran things to 3-0. But they were only getting warmed up.

Two innings later Ramon Urias added an RBI-double, Hanser Alberto a sac fly-RBI, and Jose Iglesias a solo home run. And suddenly the rout was on. One inning later the Birds led 8-0, and Boston netted one token run. It was the lone run they would score in the game.

Everyone got into the act in this game. Pat Valaika‘s solo homer in the seventh gave the O’s a 9-1 lead. One inning later Ryan Mountcastle added an RBI-single in the eighth, and Austin Hays a solo homer in the ninth. The O’s would also tack on two additional runs in the ninth inning to run the final to 13-1.

It’s amazing how the O’s could look so bad in the first two games of this series, only to put everything together in the finale. But we’ve seen time and time again in baseball that things as such do happen. Boston may have won the series, but their final impression of the 2020 Orioles will be getting lambasted 13-1.

The O’s now head to Buffalo for the final series of the year against Toronto. As of now, starters for both teams in tonight’s series opener are TBD. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles’ bats going to sleep

The Baltimore Orioles are having issues scoring runs. That may not be a huge issue for 2020, as they’ve been officially eliminated from playoff contention, and the season ends on Sunday. But you do want to finish strong if possible. Dean Kremer wasn’t able to do that, as he got hit hard by Boston last night. Kremer’s line: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Bradley and Plawecki got Boston on the board in the first inning with RBI-singles. That meant the Orioles had to play from behind, which is tough to do at Fenway Park. This much we know.

Martinez added an RBI-double, and Plawecki an RBI-triple in the last of the third. Later in the inning Boston basically ended the competitive portion of the game. Chavis’ RBI-double ran the score to 5-0. And with the bases loaded Devers’ bases-clearing double gave Boston an 8-0 lead.

When you’re down 8-0 in the third, that’s tough to come back from. However Austin Hays would smack a solo homer in the seventh. Boston would also tack an additional run on in the eighth inning, running the final to 9-1.

It’s hard to say why Oriole bats are currently going to sleep. Granted the games now are technically meaningless. However as I said above I do think it’s important to finish strong. That means something going into 2021.

Needless to say, it’s been one of the strangest seasons in history. If not THE strangest. That became the case back on March 12th when spring training was suspended. At the time I recall thinking maybe it would just be a delay of a few weeks. That wasn’t to be. And here we are.

The series concludes this evening at Fenway Park. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Defensive missteps hit again

Keegan Akin became the latest Baltimore Orioles’ starter to fall victim to defensive missteps in the field. We’ve said time and time again that extra outs for the opponent will allow them to take advantage of the situation. And the Orioles’ opponents are doing just that – with Boston being the most recent beneficiary. Akin’s line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R (2 earned), 0 BB, 6 K.

DJ Stewart gave the Orioles an early 1-0 lead with an RBI-single in the first inning. However Dalbec’s RBI-double in the second tied the game at one. But it was a Rio Ruiz throwing error that allowed Boston to have a base runner in the first place. Mistakes are going to happen; this much we know. But the O’s need to find a way to limit them, as again opposing teams will and are taking advantage.

Boston would take the lead in that bottom of the second on Chavis’ sac fly-RBI. However the Orioles’ shoddy defense would strike again later in the inning, netting Boston another run. DJ Stewart dripped a routine pop up, allowing another run to score, giving Boston a 3-1 lead. This would extend to 4-1 in the third on Dalbec’s RBI-single.

But the O’s would battle back. Renato Nunez‘s solo homer in the sixth cut the Boston lead to 4-2. Later in the inning Rio Ruiz’s RBI-double would cut it to 4-3. Needless to say, despite the defensive miscues the Orioles were in this game.

Then the last of the sixth happened. Martinez’s three-run homer extended the lead to 8-3, putting it out of reach for the Birds. Granted the coup de grace so to speak had nothing to do with the issues the O’s had in the field earlier. However it all adds up.

The series continues tonight at Fenway Park. Dean Kremer gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means business in final home game

The Baltimore Orioles were finally able to keep Tampa at bay this afternoon, this behind starter John Means. In the closing home game of the very strange 2020 season, Means stepped up and put one in the books for the O’s. Means’ line: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 12 K.

Twelve strikeouts is a nice round number for the final game at Camden Yards. At least that’s what strikes me about the stat line. He was sending Tampa hitters down throughout his outing.

The Orioles again got on the board early this afternoon on Renato Nunez‘s two-RBI single. However predictably Tampa would even the score. The lone run Means surrendered was a solo homer by Adames in the fourth.

However the O’s stopped the Tampa rally in it’s shoes, shutting them down for the rest of the game. Again however, the story of the day was John Means, who spoke after the game on his twelve strikeouts (all quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I didn’t know it was that many. I knew that I was getting some swings and misses. I just had the fastball going today. Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t. I had my good fastball that was riding pretty well. I didn’t know it was that many, but I had an idea.

Means also briefly mentioned this being the last home game, and having no fans:

It just doesn’t feel the same, it doesn’t feel like the last game here. I feel like we’re just going to keep playing and playing and it doesn’t have that feeling. The only feeling is the weather, I guess. It’s a little chillier. It just sucks. The whole year, it is what it is, but it doesn’t feel like a true Major League Baseball season when you don’t have fans cheering you on. We’re playing meaningful baseball here and it’s tough to not get that support, but I know it will come.

Regardless of anything else. Means pitched a great game today, allowing the Birds to salvage a win in this series. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Means starting the next game played at Camden Yards either.

Baltimore Orioles: Not being able to score negates good pitching

The Baltimore Orioles are having no luck putting runs up against Tampa. This obviously puts a lot of pressure on the Birds’ pitching so as to in essence be perfect. And that perfectionitis hit starter Jorge Lopez last night, as he pitched the O’s to a quality start and ended up a hard-luck loser. Lopez’s line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

The O’s took an early lead when they loaded the bases in the first inning and Chance Sisco was hit by a pitch. That gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. And it held up – for awhile.

Tampa evened the score in the third on Tsutsugo’s solo homer. They then took the lead in the fifth on a two-run homer by Arozarena. And there’s your ballgame. Tampa pitching shut the Orioles down for the remainder of the game.

Tampa must really have a heck of a scouting report on the Orioles, because they’ve totally shut down Oriole bats. And mind you, the O’s had been hot and had been scoring coming into this series. But even when they square a ball up and hit it hard, it’s right at someone. It’s almost uncanny.

Jorge Lopez was optimistic after the game in terms of having a shot at the rotation next year. He was a pick up that was under the radar by Mike Elias, however he’s paid dividends thus far. Lopez him being in the 2021 rotation (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Yeah, absolutely. Since I got drafted and since I got called up it’s a big opportunity. I want to be a starter on the major league level. The most important thing is to get consistent. That was one of my toughest things. Just get consistent every outing, and that’s what I’m trying to show everybody. I just try to lock it in and execute and have a good plan and have that good energy out there always. It’s been really good.

The loss guarantees that the O’s will finish the season under .500, although they’re still mathematically alive for a playoff spot. I wouldn’t hold my breath. However. SS Jose Iglesias was hit on the wrist by a pitch last night, and appeared to be in immense pain. He was lifted from the game immediately. The Orioles also announced before last night’s game that 1B Chris Davis would remain on the IL for the rest of the season.

The Tampa series, and the home portion of the schedule will close out this afternoon at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Ryan Yarbrough. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb a hard-luck loser

Alex Cobb gave the Baltimore Orioles a quality start last night. Against Tampa. That can’t be argued. In fact, it may have been Cobb’s best start of the season. However it was Oriole bats that couldn’t get untracked in the game last night, equaling a loss for the O’s. Cobb’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Cobb gave up one run in the last of the first on Lowe’s RBI-single. And again, Tampa finds the littlest ways to beat you – or the least likely manner, I suppose I should say. That was set up by a triple – didn’t see that coming.

An RBI-single in the third would give Tampa a 2-0 lead. The lone Orioles’ run came in the fourth inning on Austin Hays‘ solo homer. But when you only score one run, the opponent only needs two. Tampa was able to get exactly what they needed, and defeated Cobb and the Birds.

After the game Cobb addressed the “streakiness” of his season (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It’s been up and down. I felt like I started off pretty well and then the middle part toward this later part I’ve been struggling to find … We’ve been trying to make a lot of adjustments with the delivery. I’ve been working with (Darren) Holmes and Brocail a lot, especially this last week to make some adjustments and I think it’s going to pay off a lot in the long run. But it’s a challenge to do that in-season and feel comfortable out there. But it’s something you have to go through in game situations to work on stuff to see how hitters are responding to your stuff and see if you’re on the right path. There’s been some games where I’ve had to battle and try to get through it, but I think we’ve made a lot of progress. And coming off the year last year, where my health got me and I had to have two surgeries, I knew this year was going to have these types of moments where they’ve been up and down and trying to find your delivery and stuff like that. It’s difficult, but I think that the trajectory has been moving up and I’m pleased with that.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Charlie Morton. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Hometown kid Bruce Zimmerman makes debut in loss

Bruce Zimmerman made his major league debut last night for the Baltimore Orioles. That in and of itself is cool enough. But in Zimmerman, the O’s also have one of their own in a sense. Zimmerman’s a Baltimore native. You really can’t beat making your major league debut in your hometown, with your hometown team, and in your hometown ballpark. Zimmerman’s line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Zimmerman obviously had some growing pains, but that’s to be expected. He surrendered a three-run homer in the first to Adames, giving Tampa a 3-0 lead. But the O’s battled back. Hanser Alberto smacked a solo homer in the second, cutting the lead to 3-1. One inning later Ryan Mountcastle‘s RBI-double brought the Orioles to within one.

But Tampa always pops back into the driver’s seat – this time on Renfroe’s solo homer in the last of the third. However, the O’s weren’t going to be outdone quite yet. Rio Ruiz‘s two-run homer in the fourth tied the game at four. And in fact, the O’s were able to take the lead. Later in the inning DJ Stewart‘s two-RBI double gave the O’s a 6-4 lead.

But this is Tampa we’re talking about. Their anything you can do we can do better outlook is always on display. Wendle’s two-run homer in the last of the fourth tied the game at six. They would manufacture four runs in the fifth, taking the nightcap off the doubleheader, 10-6.

However the story was Bruce Zimmerman, who spoke on his debut in his hometown after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It’s hard to put into words. Obviously, I’ve been working for it my entire career so far. Tried to get some sleep last night and was able to get some hours there. Woke up, took it easy, knew I was going to show up a little later than the rest of the guys since it was a doubleheader. Just tried to take it all in. I’ve been to this stadium numerous times with family and friends to watch the Orioles, but it was a little different feeling driving up to the stadium today and kind of taking it all in and realizing this was the culmination of a lot of hard work and just trying to make the most of it.

The series with Tampa continues tonight at Camdeb Yards. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Tyler Glasnow. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.

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