Baltimore Orioles continue series against Boston

The Baltimore Orioles will continue their first home series this evening with the Boston Red Sox. Win or lose, Opening Day/the home opener is always an event, and always an amazing moment in Baltimore. Then the obligatory day off following it hits. And it hits like a ton of bricks.

Obviously that’s built into the schedule to accommodate the potential for a rain out. Especially this early in the season. It’s always a waiting game on that day off, however.

But luckily the series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Baltimore native Bruce Zimmerman gets 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: Musings on Ryan Mountcastle and umpires

One of the early season storylines for the Baltimore Orioles has been the outfield play of Ryan Mountcastle. To be blunt, Mountcastle’s been suspect in the field. Misplaying balls, taking ineffective routes to collect balls, etc. With Austin Hays on the IL, fans should get used to Mountcastle in the outfield for the time being.

Manager Brandon Hyde has been steadfast in his support for Mountcastle in the outfield, and he very much believes in him. This is evidenced by Hyde’s commentary following an errant play Mountcastle made earlier this week in New York (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I thought the ball came off hot, it’s windy, it hooked. I think it was a lack of experience, honestly, and I think we all have to remember that Ryan has not played much outfield. He did a nice job for the 30-plus games he was out there last year, he was a convert from last year, but it’s still going to be a new position. He’s going to make mistakes in the outfield. We’re OK with that. We’re going to be patient with him.

And while at times Mountcastle’s play is allowing base runners and runs to score, that’s unfortunately part of learning. It’s part of having a young team. It’s part of what GM Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde have been asking the fan base to buy into. This isn’t to say that they aren’t working with Mountcastle to help him to improve, but it’s all part of the process.

On a separate note, the Orioles and Orioles’ fans in the stands at Camden Yards yesterday became increasingly upset at some of the calls that went against the Birds. To be clear, the fourth inning strike/HBP involving Rio Ruiz could have gone either way. Upon looking at replay, it was probably a more reasonable call than previously thought.

I think Hyde’s issue with it was more the quick ejection as much as anything else. His comment after the game was that he asked one too many times how the umpires could see that as a swing. My personal opinion is that it was a pretty quick hook Especially for a hometown manager in his team’s home opener.

As the game went on there was the impression that close calls were persistently going Boston’s way. The hometown crowd took every opportunity they got to make their presence felt towards the umpires.

Here’s what folks need to remember; umpires don’t have a tally in their heads. At least they aren’t supposed to. They aren’t supposed to keep track of how many calls each team is getting. They’re supposed to call things as they see them. Now with that said, whether all of the calls are the correct calls is another story. But the story at least for yesterday was that there’s the impression that close calls went against the Orioles. Needless to say, Brandon Hyde didn’t need to be ejected as quickly as he was.

Baltimore Orioles: Birds fall in home opener; Brandon Hyde tossed

For the first time since September of 2019, the Baltimore Orioles welcomed fans into Oriole Park at Camden Yards this afternoon. The O’s started Matt Harvey in today’s home opener against Boston, and with mixed results. Harvey’s line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

Harvey gave up a two-run homer to Devers in the first, which gave Boston a 2-0 lead. However the Birds, you know, the home team who’s celebrating their home opener, battled back almost immediately. Ryan Mountcastle countered with a two-run homer of his own in the last of the sixth. Pedro Severino also added a solo shot in the fourth to give the O’s a 3-2 lead.

However following the Birds taking the lead the game took a strange turn. Rio Ruiz appeared to be checking his swing, and was then hit by a pitch. However the umpire gave the strike instead of the HBP. Manager Brandon Hyde came out and argued, and was VERY promptly ejected.

Personally I thought it was a very quick hook. Especially for the hometown manager in the home opener. Furthermore Hyde and Ruiz appeared to be right, according to replays. In fact, it struck me all game that many borderline calls went Boston’s way. In Baltimore. On Opening Day.

However that would rally Boston. Arroyo grounded out in the sixth which tied the game, and Cordero’s RBI-single later in the inning gave Boston a 4-3 lead. Martinez’s RBI-double and Gonzalez’s RBI-single in the seventh extended that lead to 6-3. Hernandez’s solo homer in the eighth would cap off their 7-3 win.

Hyde was right to stick up for the team. But somehow it rallied Boston more than it did the Orioles. Credit to Boston for feeling the energy, but somehow the O’s didn’t. I’m not sure what that says about either team, but it’s a fact.

The good news is that there are 80 more home games to go. And hope always springs eternal on Opening Day. This was one game out 162. After an off day tomorrow, we’ll come back and do it all again on Saturday.

Baltimore Orioles snap twelve-game losing streak in the Bronx

The Baltimore Orioles sent John Means to the mound at Yankee Stadium tonight, hoping to salvage one in the Bronx. Means in essence played the role of set up man, given how long he was in the game. Means’ line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

Brandon Hyde would lift means with two outs in the fifth I thought that was a mistake, however it worked out for the Orioles. But in general that’s one criticism I’d make of Hyde. Ultimately however KC he’s the manager and he knows the game.

New York took the lead in the third on an RBI-single by Hicks. However one inning later the game was tied after Cedric Mullins‘ solo homer. It was a ball that just kept carrying, and that made it over the wall.

Later in the inning the O’s took their first lead of the series on another solo homer – this time by Anthony Santander. And this homer was no cheapie. It would have been a homer in most parks.

And heat lead held up for the O’s, until the final moments of regulation, appeared to have things under control. However in the last of the eighth Urshela sent a double to left field. It ticked off the glove of Ryan Mountcastle, allowing a run to score.

It’s defensive miscues like that which will do you in. Mountcastle’s a rookie, and he’ll learn from this. However the fact is that these games count. Luckily however, the Birds stopped the blessing and allowed only the one additional run.

The teams swapped runs in the tenth, and come the eleventh the Birds were set to take the lead back. Chance Sisco pinch hit in the eleventh, and of course under MLB’s extra inning rules, each inning begins with a runner on second. As a result, Sisco’s RBI-single put the Birds back in the driver’s seat with a 4-3 lead. And a 4-3 win.

The win snaps a 12-game losing streak for the O’s at Yankee Stadium. But it was also a big win for the player’s mindset. “Just win baby!”

The Orioles now head for home in anticipation of tomorrow’s home opener at Camden Yards against the Boston Red Sox. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. First pitch is set for just after 3 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall again in the Bronx

Dean Kremer made his first start of the 2021 season for the Baltimore Orioles this evening at Yankee Stadium. Similar to what we saw last night, the numbers aren’t as bad as they would indicate. Kremer’s line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 5 K.

Kremer surrendered a solo homer to Bruce in the second inning. He then loaded the bases with nobody out in the third. And he managed to pitch out of it. Pitchers will get themselves into trouble; it’s the nature of the position. Decent ones will get themselves out of it. Kremer did that.

However after Kremer departed the game in the fourth the bases were loaded again. And NY would later score on a double-play (no RBI), giving them a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning Judge would notch an RBI-single, and Stanton an RBI-double in the last of the seventh. One inning later Judge would break the game wide open with a three-run homer.

However something interesting happened in the top of the ninth. New York still had that 7-0 lead, and there were two outs. Game’s over, right?

Ryan Mountcastle appeared to reach on an infield single. New York decided to challenge the play, and the call was upheld. Now personally, I thought it was a petty challenge. Winning 7-0, two outs in the ninth…it didn’t seem like a call that needed to be challenged. But on top of that, the New York bench seemed to chirp an awful lot after the call was upheld.

Again, it all seemed petty to me. But next up was Rio Ruiz, and he smacked a two-run homer. Also the first home run of the season for the O’s.

The pettiness seemed to inspire the O’s. Ironically it probably proved New York’s point, meaning that it wasn’t necessarily petty to challenge that call. But the point remains that you should play until the final out – win or lose.

The series concludes tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium. John Means gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Jameson Taillon. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Mac Sceroler keeps it in the family in losing effort

The Baltimore Orioles suffered their first loss of 2021 at Yankee Stadium this evening. Starter Jorge Lopez pitched better than his stat line indicates. Lopez’s line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

Lopez gave up a solo homer to Judge in the last of the fourth. In most ballparks that might not have been a home run, however Yankee Stadium of course has a short porch in right field. Hicks would walk with the bases loaded an inning later, chasing Lopez.

However the bases remained loaded for Stanton. And he took a pitch right down Broadway and sent it deep into the centerfield grandstand. That blew the game wide open, and LeMahieu’s RBI-single cemented the victory in a New York minute with an RBI-single in the last of the sixth.

But there was an aspect of this game that was very noteworthy for the O’s. They brought in Rule 5 pitcher Mac Sceroler in the sixth inning in a tight spot. Sceroler was previously of the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization, and is the nephew of former Oriole Ben McDonald.

Sceroler came into the game in a heck of a jam, one out and bases loaded. Oh, and Judge coming to the plate. But he managed to strike Judge out. And he induced a pop out of Hicks to end the inning.

Make no mistake that Mac Sceroler was the story of this game. He pitched 2.2 innings (closed the game out), and surrendered two walks. He shut down one of the most potent lineups in baseball. Granted he came in when the game was out of reach as it was, but what he did was incredible.

And he did it primarily with his fastball. Which is highly reminiscent of his Uncle Ben. He also had a very effective change up, which always compliments a flamethrower. However needless to say, it had to be a proud moment for Ben McDonald seeing his nephew make his big league debut. Especially for his former team.

As for the rest of the game, Stanton’s grand slam came on the heels of three walks. Including a lead off walk. The Orioles need to limit that. Less traffic on the base paths equals fewer opportunities for teams to score runs against them.

The series continues tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium. Dean Kremer gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Gerrit Cole. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Seven-run third equals a sweep at The Fens

Coming into this series most people probably thought that if there was a sweep it would have been Boston sweeping the Baltimore Orioles. Just by default, if nothing else. Boston isn’t expected to be much better than the Birds, but…they’re Boston. But the O’s won the first two games, and Bruce Zimmerman was a “beneficiary of circumstance” in the finale. Zimmerman’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

This game was over fast. Zimmerman blew balls by Boston hitters, and the Orioles weren’t about to waste his effort. Anthony Santander smacked an RBI-single, and Maikel Franco a two-RBI double in the first, giving the Birds a 3-0 lead.

Offensively the O’s took the second inning off, but then loaded the bases again in the third. Freddy Galvis walked with the bases loaded, running it to 4-0. But they wanted more…

…and they got it. Later in the inning Austin Hays‘ two-RBI double ran the score to 6-0. However unfortunately for the O’s, Jays had to leave the game. The Orioles later termed it hamstring discomfort. Hopefully it isn’t too serious.

But the Orioles still weren’t done. Trey Mancini‘s two-RBI double later in that third inning ran it to 8-0. Cedric Mullins would score on a passed ball later in the inning, and Ryan Mountcastle an RBI-single. When the smoke cleared, the O’s led 10-0 after three.

Boston did put up a couple of nominal runs. Hernandez’s sac fly-RBI in the last of the third cut the Orioles’ lead to 10-1. Martinez smacked a solo homer in the fourth, and an RBI-double in the sixth. But the competitive part of the game was over after the seven-run third put up by the Birds.

Cedric Mullins had a great game for the Orioles. Due to the long third inning, he has six at-bats; and he got on base in all six of them. Five hits and a walk, including a double whereby he later scored on Anthony Santander’s RBI-double in the ninth.

Ironically the sheer number of runs kind of overshadows the effort Bruce Zimmerman put forth out there today. Zimmerman dominated a very potent lineup this afternoon, in his first ever start for his hometown team. And that’s very consistent with the entire team, who dominated in their entire series against Boston at Fenway Park. For the record, out of the three games in Boston, two netted quality starts (including today).

The Orioles now head to New York to open up a three-game set against the NYY at Yankee Stadium. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Jordan Montgomery. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles win the series in Boston

Matt Harvey began his major league comeback this afternoon at Fenway Park with the Baltimore Orioles. Harvey came to within one o it of getting the win, and in reality only did not because he was lifted before the necessary five innings. Harvey’s line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 1 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

This was a pitcher’s duel in the first part of the game. Nobody got on the board until the fourth inning. And in fact, it was the Orioles who got on the board. Maikel Franco‘s two-run single gave the O’s a 2-0 lead.

The important thing to note there is that Franco’s hit came with two runners in scoring position. So it’s a hit with RISP. It also came on the heels of a Boston error and a passed ball. On one hand one might argue that the O’s wouldn’t have netted two runs without Boston’s mistakes. But on the other hand, they’re also holding Boston accountable for said mistakes.

Boston would get a run back in the bottom of the fourth on a sac fly-RBI by Gonzalez, however the O’s weren’t about to get themselves nervous over that. Anthony Santander‘s fifth inning RBI-single brought them back to being two up at 3-1. Boston would battle back in the last of the fifth however with Martinez’s infield RBI-single. That’s the play that eventually chased Harvey from the game. The ball bounced off of Harvey, allowing a run to score – not really much he could have done about it.

The O’s would add an insurance run in the seventh on a sac fly-RBI Trey Mancini. That’s also noteworthy, as for the second straight game the O’s put up an insurance run. And as we get into the season, that makes a difference.

When Harvey was lifted the O’s turned to Adam Plutko, who of course was acquired by trade and added to the final roster in the waning days of spring training. In fact, that trade occurred one week ago today. Plutko pitched 2.1 innings, and got the win on the afternoon.

We also saw Cesar Valdez in the closers role for the first time. And while he put the tying run on base, he closed out the inning, and a second win in as many games for the O’s. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, the Orioles have won their season-opening series in Boston.

The series concludes tomorrow at Fenway Park. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Garrett Richards. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: John Means with a performance for all time on Opening Day

We saw history this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles. John Means provided one of the greatest if not the greatest Opening Day performances in franchise history, against Boston at Fenway Park. Means surrendered a base hit on the first at-bat of the ballgame, had a runner reach on an error to start the second, and then proceeded to retire the following 18 hitters in a row. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K.

I suppose that where this ranks in terms of all-time performances by an Orioles’ pitcher on Opening Day is in the eyes of the beholder. But it’s certainly the best in my lifetime that I’ve ever seen. Means of course lost his father during last season, and also witnessed the birth of his son this past off season. Needless to say, it was an emotional moment for him to take the mound today. But there can be little doubt that he had his number one fan behind him in the sky.

The only drawback to today’s game, at least at first, was that Boston’s Eovaldi seemed to match Means pitch-for-pitch. The Orioles did have a few balls trickle through for base hits, but Boston would always seem to squash the rally. But eventually the O’s got more traffic on the bases and chased Eovaldi.

The O’s had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the sixth. Ryan Mountcastle, making his first ever Opening Day start (as the DH), came to the plate, and sent a deep shot towards left. It bounced off the green monster, netting Mountcastle and the Orioles a two-RBI double. And that’s key; obviously you can’t win if you don’t score (no matter how good your pitching is). But you don’t want to waste a performance like what Means put on today – whether it’s Opening Day, the last game, or anywhere in between.

The O’s would get in insurance run in the eighth on an RBI-single by Anthony Santander. And that’s just as key of a thing as the aforementioned two-RBI single by Mountcastle. You always want insurance runs; you want as many runs as you can possibly get. But especially in a park like Fenway. As the ultimate hitter’s park, you can never be too careful.

So a day late, but the O’s start the season 1-0. However you never want to put too much emphasis into one game – especially Opening Day. But the story du jour is John Means. Heck, he might be the story du jour across the entire league. Needless to say, it’s a game Means will never forget. And given his personal circumstances, it probably will resonate just a bit louder than it otherwise would have.

But make no mistake it would have resonated loudly anyways. It was an absolute virtuoso performance on all fronts. And make no mistake that it goes down in franchise history as one of the best ever by an Opening Day starter.

The series continues tomorrow afternoon at Fenway Park. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Tanner Houck Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: 2021 season preview (updated)

It’s here folks; Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles. Obviously the team begins today on the road, however hope springs eternal on Opening Day. Anything can happen.

The question is, what WILL happen for the Birds this year? The outlook isn’t exactly brilliant if you listen to various outlets. However the hope is that the entire team looks at things in the manner of second starter, Matt Harvey. On numerous occasions during the spring, he said that he didn’t buy into the idea of a rebuild. His goal is to win everyday.

The biggest weakness this team has is going to be starting pitching. Now that’s an awful spot to have your biggest weakness. However first off, we just don’t know how the rotation will turn as time goes on. Maybe guys out-perform themselves. But one strength might well be the bullpen.

And we’ve seen in the past how manager Brandon Hyde has been willing to use the bullpen in non-traditional ways. That goes from pulling starters after just three or four innings, to using an “opener.” It’s not cut and dry. And that’s what bothers traditionalists such as myself. But if it helps the team to win more games, maybe it’s worth it.

Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and others all had great springs. The Oriole outfield also looks to be a strength this year. The infield is a bit more undefined, although getting Trey Mancini back will be a big plus. Maikel Franco will also be an upgrade at the hot corner.

However it always boils down to pitching. Matt Harvey was a decent addition. The success or failure however of the likes of Bruce Zimmerman and Dean Kremer may well have a lot to do with the success or failure of this season. And unfortunately, the competition is tough. But that’s always the case in the AL East.

I can’t give you a won/loss prediction. There are too many intangibles, and too much can happen. We don’t know what happens to this team regarding injuries. Or to other teams in the division for that matter. But I’ll say the same thing I said last season, which is that they won’t finish in last place.

And it starts today, on Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. John Means gets the call for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.

Update: Due to inclement weather in the Boston area today, Opening Day has been postponed until tomorrow. The O’s will open the season tomorrow at 2 PM against Boston at Fenway Park.