Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones to Arizona

On this, the only off day in camp, there’s news about a former member of the Baltimore Orioles. It appears that Adam Jones has landed. Last night the news broke that Jones had apparently agreed to a one-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, worth $3 million guaranteed.

Jones will join another former Oriole, catcher Caleb Joseph, in Arizona with the Diamondbacks. I think this is a good situation for Jones, as he’s going to a team that believes it’s ready to contend now. Obviously Jones is a veteran, he’s a proven leader on and off the field, and he has post season experience. So odds are this is a very good match.

When I heard the news I admittedly thought back to that day last autumn – the last day. The moment that Jones was lifted in the top of the ninth inning to a well-deserved Standing O is one that I think will be remembered for some time in Baltimore circles. Adam Jones will always be an Oriole, regardless of which colors he’s wearing.

Obviously this kind of works out for Orioles fans also in that he’s going to a National League team. He won’t be competing with the Orioles per se, although the Birds do visit Arizona this year. However it certainly won’t for the most part be the Orioles that Jones knew with a few exceptions – the Davis’, Trumbo’s, etc of the world.

I hope that Orioles fans will join me in wishing Adam Jones the best in Arizona. Baseball is a better game with him in it, and as a starter at that. For what it’s worth, Orioles fans will in theory get a shot to see Jones play in person in the region this year. Arizona comes to Nationals Park in Washington on June 13-16th. And incidentally, does anyone recall who the first manager in Arizona Diamondbacks’ history was? That would be BUCK SHOWALTER!

Baltimore Orioles: Manufactured runs make a difference

The Baltimore Orioles closed the unofficial first half of their spring slate of games this afternoon against Philadelphia at Ed Smith Stadium. The Birds sent Josh Rogers to the mound for the start, and with some limited success at that. Rogers’ line: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Rogers said after his outing that he felt good, and that he felt he made some strides in this outing. I suspect that Rogers could be earmarked for the Norfolk Tides’ rotation, however the fact that he’s being given starts in spring games tells you that he is in fact competing for a roster spot for the Birds as well. Time will tell who breaks camp with the big league club, however at the end of the day this first half of the Grapefruit League schedule has involved some intense competition by some very young pitchers. That bodes well for the future.

The Orioles took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI-single by DJ Stewart. That scored Jonathan Villar, on what in essence was a manufactured run. Following a single Villar went to second on a wild pitch, to third on a groundout, and then scored on a subsequent single.

Philadelphia would tie the game on a solo homer in the second by Gosselin. However the O’s also manufactured another run in the last of the third inning, and again it involved Jonathan Villar. He got aboard once again with a single, and proceeded to steal second base. He took third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch. As I’ve said many times, traffic on the base paths can lead to runs being scored.

However Philadelphia would plate four runs in the fourth which opened up a 5-2 lead for them. The Orioles brought in Paul Fry, who pitched two perfect innings and struck out one. Fry was not only perfect in terms of not allowing a base runner, but he served as a stabilizing factor in the game, allowing the Birds to get back into it.

The O’s got to within 5-4 in the last of the sixth on Joey Rickard‘s two-RBI double. They were able to tie the game back up at five later in the inning on Diaz’s sac fly-RBI. However the top of the eight brought the lead back to Philadelphia, who was also able to break the game open. They took a 6-5 lead on Guzman’s RBI-double, and that lead was extended to 8-5 on a two-run homer by Plouffe.

While the O’s fell to Philadelphia on this day, don’t shoo off the effect of those two runs manufactured by Jonathan Villar. That’s one aspect that’s been missing from the O’s for some time; they were consistently unable to get runs home by any manner other than homers. That made them predictable, and easy to which to pitch.

The fact that they’re doing this in spring training is a good sign. These games may not count, but you ultimately play like you practice. Does this mean that the O’s will contend this season? No. But perhaps a run here and there in spots where they otherwise wouldn’t have scored runs previously will give them an additional win here or there. Every little bit helps.

Tomorrow is the Orioles’ lone off day of the Grapefruit League season. In fact, the Ed Smith Stadium complex will be closed to players. The idea is for them to be anywhere but the facility. The regular season of course has off days built in all over the place – but consider this one akin to perhaps the all-star break in comparison with the regular season!

Baltimore Orioles: David Hess appears rotation-bound but Birds fall to New York

Following the Baltimore Orioles’ “B team” defeating Tampa 17-15 earlier in the day, the “A team” took on New York under the lights at Ed Smith Stadium. And before us we see the stretching out of David Hess, who drew the starting assignment, and could be penciled in as a back end starter for the Birds at this point. Hess’ line: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Despite the two runs surrendered, Hess looked good. His fastball had good zip and his breaking pitches were dropping in for strikes. The idea was for Hess to pitch four full innings, however he was lifted early due to an elevated pitch count. Hess on his outing (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I think there were some good things to take away from it. Anytime you lead off the game with a double like that and limit it to one run, that’s a good way to go about that. But I think there were a lot of positives to build off and some things to work on, as well.

New York got on the board immediately in the first inning with a sac fly-RBI by Sanchez. That came after the runner took third base on a medium depth pop fly – just a reminder to the O’s that teams are going to keep the pressure up, even in these spring games. Bird’s RBI-single in the fourth inning closed the book on Hess, and gave New York a 2-0 lead.

Richard Bleier pitched the fifth inning for the O’s, his first game action since injuring his lat last season. The big news is that he got into a game. However he probably deserved a better fate, as NY out three runs up against him. However one came on a throwing error, which also allowed the runner to go to second base. The second came on a subsequent RBI-double, and the third came on a bizarre play in which the ball bounced off home plate, and through the wickets of two Oriole infielders into left field for an RBI-single.

This left the O’s trailing 5-0, with the eventual final being 6-1 (in favor of New York) after an Aguilar solo homer in the ninth. The Birds would eventually get on the board with a solo homer in the last of the ninth by J.C. Escarra.

Regarding Richard Bleier, the stat line could obviously be better. But again the win for Bleier and for the organization was that he got into the game at all. And he pitched much better than the numbers indicate. It just shows how fickle stats themselves can be (especially in the spring) as a pitcher, as you’re only as good as the defense behind you at times.

The home standing Orioles will remain at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow afternoon as the Philadelphia Phillies come to town. Josh Rogers gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Keeping the beer cold one draft at a time

The Baltimore Orioles recently had radio announcer Joe Angel retire. Angel was an institution among Orioles fans, and he definitely had what they call the “golden pipes” behind the mic. However when Angel first came to the Orioles (in the first of his three stunts), he was working with a name that was and still is legendary: the great Chuck Thompson.

I do a tribute column to Chuck Thompson every year in Spring Training. Simply put, Chuck was the best. THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN THE BUSINESS. His name wasn’t as well know perhaps as the likes of a Vin Scully, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, or Mel Allen. But he was Baltimore’s version of those guys – and THAT made him the best!

I was only privileged to hear Thompson towards the end of his storied career, mainly while he worked part-time for the Orioles. However his prowess behind the mic was no less prevalent than in his heyday. He had that smooth delivery and that conversational tone that made you feel like he was describing the game for you in your living room.

And his trademarks – who could forget that?! The title of this article is an obvious play on his best-known catchphrase, ain’t the beer cold?! That would come out anytime the Orioles would win. During a game if they would make a frat play, Chuck would drag out his other catchphrase, go to war, Ms. Agnes! Allegedly that was an ode to an old race horse named the Ms. Agnes. When you use either one of those phrases with people of a certain age in Baltimore, they know exactly to what and to whom you are referring.

Part of the reason that Chuck Thompson and so many others (such as the names I mentioned above) were so special to Baltimore and their respective cities is because radio is how people followed the games. Often times they weren’t televised. And if they were, it might only be one game a week – which may or may not have featured your team.

So the voice of Chuck Thompson was how fans followed the Orioles. The same is true of Harry Kalas in Philadelphia, Jack Brickhouse in Chicago, and Red Barber in Brooklyn. They were the voices of baseball, and thus the voices of summertime – good times, vacation, etc. That’s powerful.

Many of the Orioles’ games aired on Home Team Sports by the time this 80’s kid came along. For the most part, one game per series would appear on over-the-air television (with two on HTS). However I also had a father who famously and out of principle refused to pay the nominal up charge to include HTS in our cable package. So I spent a lot of nights and afternoons listening to games on the radio. In that sense I’m somewhat of a throwback to previous generations, as those voices with whom I grew up mean something to me.

I found it ironic a few years ago when the O’s were down in DC to play the Washington Nationals on Memorial Day. My route to the ballpark that day took me through a Washington Harbor, where I noticed a large boat docked near The Sequoia (the former Presidential Yacht). The boat was named The Miss Agnes, and it was listed as being from Baltimore. As a kid who grew up listening to Chuck Thompson call games on the radio, I got a kick out of that. It was also cool to see in Washington, because Thompson called Washington Senators games for a few years in the early 1960’s.

We’re still here Chuck, keeping the beer cold one draft at a time!

Baltimore Orioles defeat Boston as injury concerns creep in

The Baltimore Orioles were once again able to defeat Boston this afternoon, this time at Ed Smith Stadium. Andrew Cashner got the start, and was effective – although he didn’t last long in the game. Cashner’s line: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K. Cashner gave up an RBI-double to Lin in the second inning before being lifted, giving Boston a 1-0 lead.

However the bigger news for the Orioles on the day was a few injury situations that are starting to creep up on the Birds. Chris Davis had an MRI on his hip this morning. Manager Brandon Hyde on Davis:

He is feeling better today, but we’re doing a precautionary MRI this morning. We just want to get it looked at. But he did feel better coming in this morning. It sounded like everything was going well.

Quote Courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Then there’s the issue of Mark Trumbo, who’s trying to rebound from surgery back in September. The target was for Trumbo to get into games next week, but Hyde isn’t sure that’s going to happen:

We’ve talked a lot about Mark. I’m not putting any kind of timeline on Mark. I want to do what’s best for Mark. I want Mark to be healthy during the season and not try to force or rush.

For me, opening day is just a number. It’s a real special day. It’s just one of 162, so I’m not trying to cram in his rehab to try to make it on that day. I want to do what’s best for him. And if that means middle of April or May, whatever it is, I want him to be 100 percent and go forward and not be 80 percent and have it nagging throughout the season.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Nate Karns was able to get into this afternoon’s game and pitch a scoreless inning, however the odds of him starting the season in the rotation are going down. The Orioles could extend him in the end of camp, or he might just have to start out in the bullpen – or on the Injured List. Time will tell.

Renato Nunez came up to hit in the last of the fourth and the Birds trailing Boston 1-0, and brought the Orioles even with a solo home run. Two innings later Hanser Alberto‘s RBI-double gave the Birds the lead at 2-1. Tack on Chance Sisco‘s RBI-single, and the Orioles had a 3-1 lead over Boston.

This continues a great spring thus far for Sisco. He’s currently hitting .417 on the spring, which has been a welcome surprise thus far for the Orioles. My personal opinion is that Sisco was already going to be on the roster, however his play this spring has probably cemented that. I suspect he’ll be the starting catcher for the Orioles on Opening Day.

Anthony Santander would add an RBI-double in the seventh, which ended up being semi-big because Boston would tack on a run in the ninth on an error. End of the day, Boston had the tying run at the plate when they made the game’s final out. Those add-on runs late do come in handy, and can often be the difference between winning and losing.

The Birds will have another split squad day tomorrow, with the A team taking on New York at Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow night (the B team will journey to Port Charlotte to take on Tampa in the afternoon). David Hess gets the start for the Orioles, with New York yet to announce a starter as this is being written. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall despite finding some Wright things

One of the more unsung stories of camp thus far for the Baltimore Orioles might be Mike Wright Jr. Wright got the start today against Pittsburgh, and turned in another great effort. Wright’s line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Mike Wright’s appeared in four games this spring. He’s yet to give up a run, and has seven strikeouts. Needless to say, he’s been pretty darned impressive. However as he said after the game, he’s unsure of which role (reliever or starter) for which he’s auditioning (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I’m still in the (mode of) whatever role is what it is. Right now I was on four days’ rest, so the fifth day, that’s exciting. But moving forward I’m going to continue doing the same thing I’ve been doing and try to make the team.

Again needless to say, he’s been doing all the right things. Or the Wright things.

The O’s took the lead in the second inning this afternoon on Alcides Escobar‘s RBI-single. One inning later it was 2-0 on an RBI-single by Rio Ruiz. Toss in Steve Wilkerson‘s fifth inning solo homer, and the O’s led 3-0.

However Pittsburgh would put up two solo homers in the fifth, and and two in the seventh. That gave them a 4-3 lead, once again proving the idea that solo homers won’t beat you. The Orioles has to lead the league in defensive games which ended up being losses, highlighted by the opponent’s solo homers last year.

However in this instance it wasn’t truly the solo homers that beat the Orioles. Because the Birds came back and tied the game in the top of the eighth on Anthony Santander‘s RBI-single. So to their credit, they didn’t allow that flurry of solo home runs to beat them.

The walk off home run in the last of the ninth by Tucker did that. Granted, it was a solo homer. However a walk off’s a walk off. It’s a luxury afforded to the home team.

But that doesn’t take away from Mike Wright and his prowess this spring. No runs and seven strike out’s in four appearances is impressive. That said, we’re not quite halfway through camp. He has to keep it up if he wants that roster spot.

The Orioles will return to home play at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow as Boston comes to visit for the first time this spring. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Darwinzon Hernandez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Late rally lifts Birds over Tampa

The Baltimore Orioles made their first visit to Port Charlotte this afternoon to take on the Tampa Rays. John Means got the start for the Birds, and with decent numbers at that. Means’ line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB. 5 K.

However in Means’ opinion that stat line is deceiving. He said after concluding his day of game work that his last outing was better:

I think I probably felt a little better last outing, actually. This outing is one of those where you see the box score, you see the strikeouts and you think it’s a good outing. I just didn’t really have as much feel for my curveball. I couldn’t really dump that in for a strike, but I still felt good, I still feel strong.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

I’d be careful if I were Means. There are potentially a couple of roster spots on the line, and he turned in a great stat line this afternoon. His “honesty” could be just the thing that plays him out of one of those slots if he isn’t careful!

The scoring in the game didn’t commence until after Means had exited the game. Tampa scored in the last of the fourth on a HBP, a walk with the bases loaded, and an RBI-groundout by Wong. Your typical Tampa ways of scoring against the Orioles. Both in the past and here in spring of 2019.

However the O’s fought back. Anthony Santander smacked a solo homer in the fifth, in a harbinger of what was to come for the O’s. Later in the inning Cedric Mullins would also smack a two-run homer, tying the game at three. Today’s game was very much about power for the Birds.

However two sac fly-RBI in the last of the fifth gave Tampa the lead back. Not only did they get the lead back, but they got a two-run lead back. Which obviously is harder to overcome from the Orioles’ perspective. But…

…the O’s were up to the challenge. The Birds opened up the eighth inning with a single and two walks to load the bases. That brought Yusniel Diaz to the plate, and he smacked a two-RBI double to give the Orioles a 7-5 lead. If the spring that Diaz is having is any indication, the Birds were right to include him in last year’s Machado trade. Diaz is hitting .409 with a homer – pretty good as far as spring stats go. The O’s would tack on two more in the ninth on a two-run homer by Mike Yastremski, and Tampa would score a run in garbage time (in the last of the ninth) on an errant throw on a steal attempt. Ultimately the Birds took this one, 9-6.

The Birds will head to Bradenton tomorrow to take on Pittsburgh. Mike Wright Jr. gets the start for the O’s, with Pittsburgh yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb better in Birds loss

Alex Cobb got the start this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota against Pittsburgh. Cobb himself showed marked improvement from his last outing, although the O’s fell to Pittsburgh. Cobb’s line: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

The lone run Cobb surrendered was on an RBI-double by Frazier in the third inning. Again, this was a much better outing than what he turned in last time out. That should give Orioles fans hope.

Stevie Wilkerson‘s sac fly-RBI in the last of the fourth tied the game at one. Later in the inning Jace Peterson‘s RBI-single gave the O’s the lead at 2-1. However Pittsburgh turned in a big inning in the fifth, and when the smoke cleared they held a 6-2 lead.

In effect, Pittsburgh kept the pressure on the Orioles, which is why they won this afternoon.’a game at Ed Smith Stadium. Most of that cake well after the starters had exited the game. But the Orioles are going to need to stay out of the big inning this year if they’re going to compete.

Alex Cobb said after coming out that he felt better on the mound, which was obvious by the results (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

First time out there it’s really difficult to prepare for. You throw as many bullpens and sim games and whatever, but once you get on the mound the game speeds up on you. I feel like I’m old enough now to where it shouldn’t be speeding up on me, but it did a little bit in that first game. You tend to leave some balls up and over the plate and they get hit.

The Orioles has to scratch Chris Davis from the lineup today, as he apparently strained a hip flexor on Sunday against Detroit. It doesn’t appear to be a serious injury7, but just precautionary to keep him out of the lineup. He could be available for tomorrow’s trip to Port Charlotte to take on the Tampa Rays.

The Orioles will in fact head to Port Charlotte tomorrow to take on Tampa. John Means gets the start for the Birds, and at this moment Tampa is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy struggles as Birds fly over Minnesota

Dylan Bundy got the start this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles against Minnesota, and appeared to still need to shake some rust off. Bundy’s line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K. Bundy did have those three strikeouts which were good, but it seems he needs to focus on keeping guys off base. Bundy on his outing:

Overall pitch-wise, I thought all of my pitches were better today. Now, the location of it, the fastballs weren’t so good to Cron in both at-bats. Just trying to get a fastball down and away for a strike and it was more thigh-high than it was down in the zone. And then trying to go up and in on him and it wasn’t up or in.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

The aforementioned Cron smacked a solo homer in the last of the first. However the Orioles seized the lead in the third inning. Renato Nunez hit a grand slam, giving the Birds a 4-1 lead. Hanser Alberto would add on a sac fly-RBI, and the Birds held a 5-1 lead. Cron would smack a second homer in the last of the third, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 5-3.

Anthony Santander would score on a wild pitch in the last of the eighth to run the score to 6-3. However in garbage time, the top of the ninth, the Birds escalated things a bit further. Martin Cervenka, of the Czech Republic, smacked a three-run homer in the top of the ninth, giving the Birds a 9-3 lead, which after a throwaway homer by Minnesota in the ninth, turned into a 9-4 victory.

David Hess was a huge bright spot for the Orioles today, pitching three full perfect innings – nine up and nine down. Fans shouldn’t worry about Bundy, as he’s going to be on the roster. And he’s going to be ready to go come Opening Day. However Hess didn’t make things easy on the Orioles’ coaches with his outing today. And that’s precisely how they’d like it.

I wouldn’t put too much concern into Bundy at this point. As I’ve said, pitchers can often look to work on certain pitches in these spring outings. That isn’t to say that’s what Bundy was doing today, however it’s something to consider. As I said above, odds are that come the regular season he’s ready to go.

What is promising is that the O’s are adding runs on. That late tack-on run by Santander came on a wild pitch. And when you have traffic on the base paths you can score runs when that happens. Not to mention the three-run homer in the ninth, although I see no scenario in which Cervenka makes the big league team. But if the current team can find ways to tack on runs like that late in games, perhaps we won’t see as many late losses this season.

The Orioles return to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow as Pittsburgh comes to town. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Chris Archer. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles squeak out a win in the eighth after Andrew Cashner’s struggles

Andrew Cashner made his maiden Grapefruit League start of 2019 for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Cashner deposited a few really strong breaking pitches into the strike zone for strikes. However his fastballs also caught a bit too much of the plate. Cashner’s line: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

I wrote several times this past off-season that Cashner should be better this year as opposed to out of the gate last season. He’s getting the benefit of a full slate of spring workouts and games. Point being that Cashner will be able to get his wiggles out in the spring this year, as opposed to in the regular season. Cashner on his outing (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I thought, you definitely get excited back out, first time out. I thought I spun the ball really well. Something I’ve been working on, more slider strikes instead of balls. Changeup had good depth. I’ve just got to get my four-seam, get more extension.

And that quote illustrates another reason you can’t put too much stock in these spring results. Cashner’s words indicate that he was really working on his sliders this afternoon. (And as I said above, I noticed that his breaking pitches were falling in for strikes.) The pitches that were thrown to certain hitters in certain counts were probably not what we would have seen in a regular season game. Cashner’s a veteran, and in general vets will progress or regress to their career means.

Cashner started out with a hit batsman and a base hit, prompting Goodrum to smack a three-run homer in the first inning. Cashner appeared to settle down, however he did allow one last run before leaving. Dustin Peterson’s RBI-double tan the score to 4-0. However the Birds weren’t about to be shut out early in their home spring yard. Austin Hays‘ solo homer in the last of the third cut the Detroit lead to 4-1.

In fact, the Orioles weren’t about to go down in their home spring yard without a fight. Anthony Santander smacked a three-run homer in the last of the fourth to tie the game at four. However Goodrum haunted the Orioles again an inning later with an RBI-single that gave Detroit the lead back at 5-4. However the Birds came back again, tying the game at five on Joey Rickard‘s seventh inning RBI-single.

At the end of the day however, it was the Orioles who ended up in the sun. They loaded the bases in the last of the eight, and took a 6-5 lead on Drew Jackson‘s sac fly-RBI. TJ Nichting followed suit with an RBI-single, running the final to 7-5. That said, the inning was set up by DJ Stewart‘s very professional at-bar, walking to lead off the inning. And the Birds were able to take advantage of a struggling Detroit reliever, and like a couple of runs on late to win the game. All good signs, even though the ends of these games are featuring mainly minor leaguers (with the exception perhaps of Stewart).

The Orioles head down to Ft. Myers yet again tomorrow to take on Minnesota at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and as this is being written Minnesota is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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