Hess’s strong start lifts Orioles over Rays 2-0

ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles may have found a solution for finding a fifth starter in the rotation, and his name is David Hess.

Making his third major league start on Friday night, Hess led the Orioles to a 2-0 final over the Tampa Bay Rays for Baltimore’s second shutout win of the 2018 season. Hess threw 91 pitches (61 strikes) over 6.2 innings, giving up just four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Hess leaves Friday with a 2-1 record and the positive of bouncing back from a rough 4.2 outing in Boston that saw him give up five runs.

After the game, Hess fell victim to a pie to the face from, you guessed it, Adam Jones.

The win lifts Baltimore, now on a two-game winning streak, to 17-34. The Rays fall to 23-26 and, with Toronto’s 6-5 win over Philadelphia tonight, the Blue Jays jump ahead of Tampa for third place in the American League East.

The Rays, experimenting with a new pitching method, threw out reliever Sergio Romo to start the game. Romo is also slated to start Sunday’s series finale. Right away in the top of the first inning, the Orioles scored their first run on a double by Danny Valencia that scored Jones, who reached base with one out via single. Jones finished the game with three hits for the second straight day.

Following Valencia’s RBI double, Rays manager Kevin Cash trotted out to the mound and took out Romo, replacing him with Ryan Yarbrough. Yarbrough would record the next 21 outs with eight strikeouts.

In the sixth inning off Yarbrough, the Orioles added their second run on a solo home run by Jonathan Schoop, his fifth of the season. The ball went 442 feet at 107.9 MPH.

After Hess came out of the game in the seventh inning, Mychal Givens recorded the final out. Richard Bleier and Brad Brach handled getting the final six outs, with Bleier picking up a strikeout and Brach notching his eighth save.

Trumo likely headed to DL: Mark Trumbo missed all of April due to a quad strain, and he’s likely headed back to the disabled list after just over three weeks of action. During Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the White Sox, Trumbo aggravated a knee injury while sliding into second base. An MRI revealed some arthritis and some chrondromalacia (cartilage damage under the kneecap) that Trumbo will need to deal with for the rest of his career, but all of the ligaments are intact and there is no structural damage. Trumbo received a cortisone injection and had the knee drained on Friday, so he will likely head to the 10-day disabled list.

The Orioles plan to announce Trumbo’s status and a potential roster move ahead of Saturday’s 4:10 pm start at Tropicana Field. The pitching matchup sees Andrew Cashner (2-5, 4.72 ERA) taking on Ryne Stanek (0-0, 5.40 ERA).

Image Credit: BTA

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Series Preview: Orioles make first trip to St. Petersburg for weekend tilt with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — After going 3-5 over the first eight games of an 11-game road trip, Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette’s apparent plan to “evaluate” following Memorial Day weekend remains a possibility. The Orioles (16-34) have struggled mighty on the road thus far in 2018, playing to a 6-21 record away from Camden Yards. The Rays got off to a rough 3-12 start, but ended the month of April with a 13-14 record and have basically played .500 baseball since, now 23-25 on the season. Like it always is in the American League East, the Rays will not go down without a fight against a struggling Baltimore ball-club.

So, Mr. Duquette, be ready to “evaluate” early next week if this weekend does not go well.

A look at the standings: Speaking of the AL East, the Rays come into the weekend 10 games behind the Red Sox (34-18), who lead the division by one game ahead of the Yankees (31-15). The Blue Jays (23-27) sit 11 games back, with the O’s 18 games out of first. The Rays won their game on Thursday night 6-3 over Boston, but lost the series 1-2 at Tropicana Field.

New approach for Tampa: The Rays are trying a new approach to managing their pitching staff as of late, and that approach is called “bullpenning.” Last weekend against the Los Angeles Angels, reliever Sergio Romo started the final two ballgames of a four game series, going 1.0 and 1.1 innings in his appearances. Ryan Yarbough (6.1 innings) took over in the third game, and the Rays used three different pitchers following Romo in the fourth game with none of them going more than 3.1 innings. This weekend, Rays relievers will start all three games versus the Orioles.

The “bullpenning” movement came to fruition due to more runs being scored in the first inning than any inning for American League teams. Another reason Tampa manager Kevin Cash is trying this with his squad is because a lot of starters, particularly veterans, struggle while pitching their third time through an order. If Cash uses a reliever to start the game, he pushes a “starter’s” third time through the order back at least an inning. Using relief pitchers to start the game for an inning or two does no harm, as they are already accustomed to pitching a few times a week for a handful of innings total.

Last meeting/season series: This marks the third series played between the AL foes this season, and the first one at Tropicana Field. The season series is tied 3-3. From May 11-13, the Orioles took three of four from the Rays at Camden Yards. The O’s outscored Tampa 35-18, including a 17-1 win on Sunday May 13’th. Kevin Gausman, David Hess, and Dylan Bundy each turned in a quality start, highlighted by Bundy’s seven-inning, two-hit performance with seven strikeouts. Manny Machado hit three home runs for seven total RBI over the first two games of the series, and then the shortstop brought in two runs on doubles during Sunday’s big win.

The Orioles went 3-6 at Tropicana Field in 2017.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1Friday, May 25, 7:10 pm – David Hess (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Sergio Romo (1-0, 4.34 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2Saturday, May 26, 4:10 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-5, 4.72 ERA) vs. Ryne Stanek (0-0, 5.40 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3Sunday, May 27, 1:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.48 ERA) vs. Sergio Romo – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Orioles:

  • At this time last week, the Orioles expected to activate Darren O’Day (hyperextended elbow) off the disabled list during the Boston series, but since then O’Day wasn’t feeling good enough to throw a scheduled Wednesday bullpen session. O’Day is reportedly waiting to see if the elbow feels any better by today (Friday), but he will likely receive cortisone shots.
  • In Thursday’s 9-3 win over the White Sox, the Orioles batted around in both the first and second innings. It marked the first time since Jun. 30, 2009 against Boston that the Orioles sent more than nine batters to the plate twice in the same game. The O’s won that game 11-10.
  • In 25.2 career innings against the Rays, Mychal Givens is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. He’s struck out six times as many hitters (30) than he’s allowed runs (5).

Notes on the Rays:

  • In 6.2 career innings against the Orioles, Romo has a 4.05 ERA with one save.
  • The Rays play in spurts; they’re a very streaky team. They’re the only team in the majors with multiple 5-game winning streaks and five-game losing streaks this season. Last night’s win over Boston snapped a three-game losing streak. The Rays had gone on a six-game winning streak before that losing streak began.
  • Tampa is 10-6 so far this season in series openers.

Image Credit: Birds Watcher 

The tragedy of Chris Davis and the worst contract in Orioles history

The day is Apr. 5, 2013. It’s Opening Day at Camden Yards and Chris Davis just launched a grand slam into the left field seats to put the Orioles up 9-5 in the eighth inning. It marks his fourth home run in as many games to start the season but he is only getting started. Davis went on to finish that season with a franchise record 53 homers to accompany a solid .286 batting average and 138 RBI’s.

Fast forward five years and Davis is on pace for another 200+ strikeout season while hitting a measly .152 in the second month of the season. The O’s first baseman has reached a point where he would contribute more by riding the bench and it’s justifiably left the fan base very angry. Unfortunately, this terrible stretch is far from an anomaly for Davis, who has now hit below .250 in three of the last four seasons.

Plenty of players at the MLB level will put up similar numbers but only one has received a seven-year contract worth $161 million and that’s exactly where the problem comes in. Davis pulled one of the biggest con jobs in baseball history by turning two standout seasons into the most lucrative contract to ever come out of the front office in Baltimore.

Now let’s make no mistake, 2013 was a special year for Davis and his numbers don’t lie, but it’s the only year of his career where he produced something worthy of $23 million. Sure, 2012 and 2015 were quality years for Davis as well but far from enough to justify the deal he received. Despite this, you cannot deny Davis was an integral part of the Orioles’ successes between 2012 and 2015, which made him favorable in a town that had been starved of baseball glory for over a decade.

CaptureI would argue that the warning signs of Davis’ downfall were present between 2012 and 2015, particularly in 2014 when Davis slumped for most of the season before making an early exit due to suspension. This forced him to take nearly 150 less plate appearances than the year before but it didn’t stop him from striking out 173 times.

Yes, that is a lot of strikeouts. In fact, it now sits as the sixth highest single season strikeout total in franchise history. Now I know what you’re thinking. That’s ridiculous. Well, it gets even worse when you realize that all six of Davis’ seasons in Baltimore can be found on this list.

We tend to focus on the strikeouts a lot when it comes to Davis but 2014 was bad for him in almost every offensive capacity. His .196/.300/.404 line was one of the worst in his career, dating back to his time with the Texas Rangers where he never started a full season.

When the O’s ended up making the ALCS that year, many looked past or simply forget Davis’ concerning numbers at the plate. By the time he fixed them the following year, it was too late. The fan base was craving more playoff baseball after falling short of a World Series appearance the previous year and Davis’ bat was surely the answer to get them back, right? When the final weekend of the 2015 season rolled around, Davis received a standing ovation and pleas to stay in Baltimore from the home crowd at Camden Yards. Everyone was so convinced that Davis would be gone in a matter of weeks.

As luck would have it, weeks turned into months and Davis still had not reached a deal with another team. How could this be? These teams all saw what the Orioles didn’t, and that was a flawed, one-dimensional player asking for way too much money. After realizing they could make Davis an offer and he would actually listen, the Orioles got baited into paying him an insane sum of money to be their franchise first baseman until he turns 36 in the year 2022.

Not only was Davis a flash in the pan on offense, his defense has also taken a hit since signing the mega deal. Fans loved to taught the first baseman’s defensive skills but was he really that good? Davis has never won a Gold Glove, but you might be surprised to know he has some Gold Glove-worthy numbers under his belt. Davis posted a higher ultimate zone rating (UZR) than American League winner Eric Hosmer in both 2014 and 2015. The UZR metric is used to measure a player’s defensive ability by factoring in the aspects of defense that don’t show up in stat sheets like range and arm strength as well as the differences between different ball parks.

22d15a04-e051-4f7b-b2a7-51fe4182a407While he was not better than 2016 winner Mitch Moreland, Davis was still considered an above average defender based on UZR. It was around this time that fans were able to dismiss some of Davis’ troubles at the plate because they were not quite the norm yet and he was still a plus defender. However, the defensive numbers have taken a troubling dive in the past year and at this point we can’t even point to Davis’ defense as an excuse for him being in the lineup. His -2.4 UZR since the beginning of 2017 is the second-worst among qualified first baseman in the American league.

What makes Davis’ contract the worst in franchise history extends beyond his own numbers. The time period in which it happened is what truly makes the deal so puzzling and indefensible in hindsight. Obviously, no one would agree to this contract knowing what we do now but there’s really no sensible reason for the O’s to have fallen into this trap.

The Orioles are currently on the verge of a harsh reality. They have been avoiding this moment for a while but there is no way around it at this point. The core of this team is about to take a big hit and there isn’t anything in the farm system to compensate for that. It’s hard to say just how long the O’s can expect to be bottom feeders in the American league but we all remember the 14-year playoff drought that ran through the 2000’s. Those 65-to-75 win seasons are back and might be here to stay for the next few years.

I’m by no means blaming the Orioles’ current situation on Davis’ contract. The inability to develop pitching talent in-house and trading your farm system away for rentals at the deadline are contributors to the state of the Orioles in 2018, but Davis’ contract is certainly a big factor as well and here’s why.

Let’s start with the money. In the upcoming offseason the Orioles are set to lose their best player, Manny Machado. This has been a long time coming and now that the O’s know they have no chance of signing Machado, the only option is to trade him. Whether that actually happens or not doesn’t matter because we already know Machado will not be in an O’s uniform come 2019. In today’s market, $161 million is only a fraction of what Machado will command, but the O’s would certainly like to at least have that on hand to make him an offer because let’s be honest, Davis’ has not touched Machado in terms of value even when he is at the top of his game.

We knew Machado would be the better player in 2013 and we certainly know that now, but in case you need some numbers consider that Machado has had a higher WAR and WAA than Davis every year since 2013. Yes, that includes Davis’ two monster years where he hit 53 and 47 homers respectively.

Okay, maybe you’re not a fan of rolling out a huge deal for Machado either. That’s understandable. Especially considering there are more needs for this O’s team right now. That $161 million could have come in handy over the past few years when the Orioles were trying to entice free agent starters. Or maybe it could be divided into a couple of extensions for the young talent, like Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini and Dylan Bundy. Instead, you have an Orioles team with no financial leverage and $92 million still committed to a first baseman who has more strikeouts than hits and walks combined since signing his contract.

Besides the easy financial complaints we can look at the Orioles prospect options coming out of 2015. The previously mentioned Mancini made his MLB debut toward the end of the 2016 season, which didn’t come out of nowhere. He would follow that up with a full season in 2017 and finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote behind New York’s Aaron Judge and Boston’s Andrew Benintendi. Why on earth would the O’s commit seven years to a first baseman when you knew you had a prospect like Mancini ready to make his debut within the next year? Even if Mancini didn’t make it to the majors until the midway point or the end of 2017, you would be able to fill that hole at first for a much cheaper price than Davis.

In addition to that, everyone in the organization should have seen that Mancini was a more balanced hitter with the ability to hit for both contact and power while Davis is an aging free swinger with a home run-or-bust mentality. Now you have created a scenario where your first baseman of the future is getting a majority of his playing time outside his natural position.

I fear the negative effects of this signing have a chance to linger long into the future, which is why it should be considered the worst in franchise history. It’s not just Davis turning in bad numbers. It’s the fact that he is now stuck at the Major League level because of the financial commitment you made to him and he is bringing down the players around him.

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The Sporting News / Getty Images

So what other contracts can compete with this? Up until recently, Albert Belle was considered the worst signing in franchise history. After agreeing to a five year deal worth $65 million, Belle only played two years for the Orioles before being forced to retire because of the osteoarthritis in his hip. The loss was extremely disappointing due to how unforeseen it was but Belle had not shown any signs of dropping off and rarely missed time with injuries. In fact when Cal Ripken ended his consecutive game streak in 1998, Belle became the holder of the longest active streak.

Even though he was injured for three of those five years, Belle was worth his contract in the brief time he spent in Baltimore. The veteran slugger averaged 30 home runs and just 75 strikeouts in 1999 and 2000 while hitting .289. He would also extend his streak of 100 RBI seasons to nine by picking up 117 in 1999 and 103 in his final season.

Over the final three years of Belle’s contract he did not play for the Orioles but still took up a spot on the 40-man roster. This is the only aspect of the contract that made the team look especially foolish, but that changed when the O’s were reimbursed $27.1 million of the $39 million they paid Belle between 2001 and 2003 due to an insurance settlement.

Belle gets a lot of flack for being a clubhouse cancer and not playing a majority of the most expensive baseball contract of the late 90’s. However, Davis has already surpassed Belle in terms of being a bust with just under five full seasons left on his deal.

There isn’t really good answer as to what to do with him. No matter what it’s a waste of money but you have to decide if you’re willing to put a $161 million man in the minor leagues. Many would say yes but at the very least you have to try to give him less at bats if he is staying at the major league level. That means moving him down to the bottom of the order, where he belongs, or benching him for extended periods.

The Davis issue has been on everyone’s mind this week as Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer made some interesting remarks on the first baseman and his effort. “You’ve got to make some adjustments,” Palmer said. “I don’t see anything. I don’t see a wider stance. I don’t see him dropping his hands. I don’t see anything.”

The comments seemed normal enough until Palmer dropped a bit of a bomb on listeners.

“He told everybody in spring training that he worked with Scott Coolbaugh,” Palmer said. “So, I asked Scott, ‘Hey, you must have really put in a lot of work.’ He goes, ‘We didn’t work.’ So, I don’t believe anything.”

The legitimacy of Palmer’s comments have been debated with Coolbaugh and Davis defending their work. Assuming these claims are true, the Orioles have an even bigger problem on their hands than an overpaid player. They have an overpaid player unwilling to make adjustments like any other struggling player would. It makes you wonder if benching Davis even sends a message. Buck Showalter seems to think so but continues to place Davis in the middle of the lineup almost every day.

Unfortunately, the only thing we can do now is watch the madness of this contract continue to unfold. It probably won’t be pretty and I’d be willing to put money on the entire situation getting worse before it possibly gets better. All the evidence is right in front of us and it’s not even debatable anymore. Chris Davis’ seven year, $161 million contract is the worst in the history of the Baltimore Orioles. By the time it’s all said and done, it could be among the worst in Major League history.

Image credit: Nick Wass / AP

Orioles offense steps up in series finale to split four game set against White Sox

Game 1 (3-2 BAL): The Orioles opened up their second four-game road series in a row with a quality performance. Andrew Cashner got the start for the Orioles and battled his way through five strong innings before turning it over to the bullpen.

Three relievers entered the game after Cashner’s exit to close out the final four innings of a one-run game. Mychal Givens tossed two clean innings and Richard Bleier worked through the eighth on just 10 pitches. Brad Brach has been shaky this season both in and out of the closer role and that didn’t stop on Monday. Brach caused a scare by loading the bases in the ninth, but still managed to escape and pick up his seventh save of the year by striking out the side.

The O’s offense was not particularity dominate but utilized three solo home runs by Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Adam Jones to edge past the White Sox.

The Orioles also got some crucial defensive plays from Trey Mancini and Machado in the fifth inning that ended up being huge in maintaining the slim lead. It started when Chicago’s Adam Engel tried to stretch a hit into a double but ended up getting cut down by Mancini’s throw to second base. The White Sox base runners did not learn their lesson and once again tried to be aggressive with two outs in the same inning.

With runners on first and second, Jose Abreu came through with a clutch double to left field that looked like it might score two. Mancini recovered the ball quickly and got it in to Machado who fired his relay throw to home plate in time to save a run.

Game 2 (3-2 CHW): These two evenly matched teams played another close game on Tuesday that ended in the same score as game one. However, this time the White Sox came out on top after picking up three runs in the eighth inning.

Kevin Gausman was even more effective than Cashner the night before, tossing 6.1 innings of work and racking up 10 strikeouts. Gausman has been the most consistent member of the O’s rotation so far this season and did a good job of getting back on track after a rare six-run performance last week against Boston.

Unfortunately the Givens and Bleier combo was not as effective as they were in game one. Givens finished off the seventh without any issues but ran into trouble in the eighth after giving up a leadoff triple and then loading the bases. Bleier entered the game and quickly traded the lead for the second out of the inning when Yoan Moncada hit a sacrifice fly. Yolmer Sanchez followed with an RBI single to give the White Sox their first lead of the game.

Miguel Castro closed out the inning but the damage had already been done and the O’s offense was left with just one inning to get their lead back or at least tie it up. Chris Davis walked and Trumbo singled to get two on with one out, but the potential rally ended there and Chicago escaped with a comeback win.

Game 3 (11-1 CHW): Full recap of Wednesday’s game by Ian Schultz

Game 4 (9-3 BAL): After completely imploding on Wednesday the Orioles regrouped and got great outings from both the offense and Dylan Bundy to force a series split. It started right away in the first inning when the Orioles offense took everything that was being given to them by White Sox starter Lucas Giolito.

The O’s started the first very impatient, getting two runners on but also picking up two outs after just eleven pitches. Davis, of all people, was the patient one at the plate and took a walk to load the bases and start the string of  good at-bats. Giolito could not settle down after walking Davis and proceeded to give up a pair of runs by walking the next two batters. Chance Sisco capped off the inning with a two-RBI single to make it a 4-0 game early.

Through the next two innings the Orioles offense would add five more runs. Mancini and Jones went yard back-to-back in the second while Machado and Pedro Alvarez added RBI singles in the third to put the O’s up 9-0.

Bundy also delivered a great start that was much needed after Cobb made an early exit the night before. Bundy went the distance for the second complete game of his career. He only ran into a little trouble in the fourth when Jose Rondon launched a three run homer to left field. It resulted in a weird box score as Bundy hit a batter and then allowed another to reach base on a wild pitch strikeout earlier in the inning. After the fourth the White Sox had scored three runs but recorded just one hit.

Bundy settled down after this and gave up just one more hit through the next five innings as he picked up his third win of the year. He would also finish with 14 strikeouts, just shy of the franchise record for most in a single game. The record of 15 strikeouts has been reached by three different pitchers with Erik Bedard being the most recent in 2007.

Up next: The Orioles wrap up their road trip this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays. This marks the third meeting between these two AL East teams so far this year, but the first time in St. Petersburg.

Image credit: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Cobb Crumbles as Orioles Fall 11-1 to the White Sox in Chicago

CHICAGO —  The Baltimore Orioles thought they had acquired a crown jewel of what was widely considered a successful offseason when they acquired Alex Cobb in the waning hours of free agency. Through May 23, they could not have been more wrong.

Cobb (1-6) struggled again as the Orioles dropped the third game of a four-game set in Chicago 11-1 against the White Sox on Wednesday evening. Cobb went just 3.2 innings giving up six earned runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out three. Cobb saw his season ERA rise to 7.32 in the process.

After the Orioles got the lead in the top of the second on a Jace Peterson single that plated Danny Valencia, the White Sox responded with 11 straight runs to rout the Birds.

Yoan Moncada started the White Sox parade to the plate in the bottom of the third inning when he launched a three-run homer to center field to put the White Sox in front 3-1. It was Moncada’s seventh home run of the season. The trouble for Cobb continued in the bottom of the third with two outs when Daniel Palka hit a single to center, scoring Jose Abreu and extending the White Sox’ lead to 4-1.

After the Orioles were retired to start the top half of the fourth inning, Cobb continued to unravel. After inducing a Jose Rondon popout and a  Tim Anderson lineout, Adam Engel drew a two-out walk. Engel stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Cobb. Cobb then walked Moncada and issued back to back RBI singles to Yolmer Sanchez and Abreu to extend the White Sox lead to 6-1.

The Orioles relievers didn’t fare much better as Pedro Araujo and Tanner Scott combined to give up five runs over the next 3.1 innings before Mike Wright Jr. pitched a scoreless eighth.

The Orioles’ offense continued to struggle as they could only muster six hits off of White Sox starter Dylan Covey. He went seven innings, striking out eight and walking one to pick up his first career major league win. Covey (1-1, 3.46 ERA) was able to settle in after the Orioles were able to get to him in the top of the second.

The Orioles got just one base runner to second base after the second inning. In the fifth frame, Jonathan Schoop hit a two-out single, advancing Trey Mancini who had led off the inning with a single of his own. Unfortunately for the Birds, Chris Davis struck out looking to end the threat.

Davis continues to be a story early on this season. After last night’s 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, Davis saw his average drop to .154 on the season. That average ranks him tied for last in baseball among qualified players with Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun . Baltimore’s first baseman has struck out 65 times in just 162 plate appearances to date in 2018.

The four-game set wraps up this afternoon in Chicago as the Orioles look to salvage a split with the White Sox. The Birds will send Dylan Bundy (2-6, 4.70 ERA) to the mound who will be looking to rebound from a 6-3 loss to the Red Sox in his last outing. The White Sox will counter with right hander Lucas Giolito who is 3-4 on the season with a 6.42 ERA. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10pm.

Image Credit: MLB.com

Podcast: Jake and Nolan analyze where the Orioles are, and talk Ravens as OTA’S begin

Welcome to the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell and author Nolan McGraw.

With the Orioles 17.5 games back in the American League East, some decisions need to be made in the warehouse. At what percentage do Jake and Nolan think players like Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach could be moved? The guys also ponder what to do with Chris Davis, and look ahead to this week’s series against the White Sox.

On Monday, Organized Team Activities (OTA’s) begin for the Ravens in Owings Mills. The CCBW duo go over the biggest storylines surrounding the Ravens at this point in the offseason, including the relationship between Joe Flacco & Lamar Jackson, the retooled receiving core, the position battles along the offensive line, and the impact of concession price reductions at M&T Bank Stadium.

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes. Please leave us a review, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode!

Series preview: Orioles continue road trip with four game set in Chicago

The Orioles broke their lengthy road losing streak during this past weekend’s series against Boston. However, that win would be the only one they got in a four game set. The O’s just couldn’t handle the division leading Red Sox resulting in some disappointing loses like Sunday afternoon’s series finale, where they outhit Boston 13-12 but failed to score a single run.

Now the O’s find themselves entering another four game road series against the White Sox. Fortunately the Chicago South Siders are struggling just as much, if not more, than the Orioles so far this season. The White Sox are coming off of a series win over Texas but hold a 5-10 record in their last 15 games.

As we know the Orioles are in a similar boat, sitting right next to the White Sox at the bottom of the American league standings. Both teams are floating just above .300 in terms of win percentage and hold two of the worst run differentials in all of baseball. If anything this four game set should be evenly matched.

When will the good news come?:

Ever since the O’s got off to a terrible 8-20 start in the first month of the season, fans have been wondering when the team would switch to a rebuild mentality. When will management come to terms with this flawed team and start making the trades necessary to compete in the future? Early this month Dan Duquette said the benchmark for evaluating the team would be Memorial Day. With that evaluating point just one week away, the Orioles are still basement dwellers with no signs of changing drastically.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Monday, May 21, 8:10 pm – Andrew Cashner (1-5, 4.83 ERA) vs Hector Santiago (0-1, 5.29 ERA)- MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Tuesday, May 22, 8:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.88 ERA) vs James Shields (1-4, 4.88 ERA) – MASN 2. 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Wednesday, May 23, 8:10 pm – Alex Cobb (1-5, 6.56 ERA) vs Dylan Covey (0-1,6.00 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Thursday, May 24, 2:10 pm – Dylan Bundy (2-6, 4.70 ERA) vs Lucas Giolito (3-4, 6.42 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • Joey Rickard has sparked debate among Orioles fans since making his major league debut in 2016. He has his supporters but probably more than his fair share of detractors as well. Regardless of how you feel about Rickard and his legitimacy as a starter, he is making the most of his time with the O’s so far this season. The 27-year-old outfielder has started in six games over the last month and holds a .333 batting average in that span. His two home run, five RBI performance on Mothers Day has accounted for most of his numbers but overall his at bats have been pretty good. In a lineup full of free swinging batters, Rickard has struck out just four times in 24 plate appearances.
  • Coming out of a terrible month of April there was not much hope for the O’s. Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop found themselves on the disabled list early this season but their returns have not changed much. Trumbo is batting .274 with six home runs since coming back on May 1st but has taken just one walk, which doesn’t compliment his 19 strikeouts very well. Schoop has yet to heat up as well. In 12 starts this month, the O’s second baseman has had some timely hits to gather eleven RBI’s but is only batting .220

Notes on White Sox:

  • The White Sox have been experiencing some major consistency issues with their starting rotation this season. Of the four pitchers with at least eight starts this year, only one (Reynaldo Lopez) has an ERA below 4.50. With Miguel Gonzalez on the disabled list and Carson Fulmer getting sent down, the White Sox will turn to Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey to make some starts in this weeks series. Santiago is a veteran pitcher but hasn’t been a consistent member of a rotation since 2016. Covey, on the other hand, is a young pitcher who has yet to win a game at the MLB level and holds a 7.58 ERA in 13 career starts with the White Sox.
  • First baseman, Jose Abreu will be a player to watch out for this week. Mookie Betts got the best of the O’s once again this past weekend and continued to crown himself the official Oriole killer but Abreu might be just as dangerous. Despite facing him less than Betts, Abreu holds a .379 average with seven homers and 17 RBI’s against Baltimore since 2014.

Image credit: Michael Dwyer / AP