Following Wednesday’s action, the Orioles (24-61) still own the worst record in Major League Baseball and stand 33.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox (59-29) for first place in the American League East. The next-worst team in the majors, the Kansas City Royals (25-60) are only 22.5 games back in the AL Central, with the Cleveland Indians (47-37) leading that division.
Meanwhile, the Phillies (47-37) remain in a competitive run with the Atlanta Braves (49-36) for first place in the National League East division. Just 1.5 games behind Atlanta, the Phillies remain in the discussion of teams included in the Manny Machado sweepstakes. However, the Phillies appear much more open to signing Machado long-term, rather than shipping off a group of prospects for potentially a two-month rental.
It was hard to ignore the “We Want Manny” chants heard at Citizens Bank Park during this series. Although teams like the Diamondbacks, Indians, and Dodgers seem much more willing to deal some prospects to Baltimore, keep in mind that former Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail, the man who drafted Machado, is now the Phillies’ President of Baseball Operations. If Machado does not end up in Philly this month, look for a strong pursuit by MacPhail and the Phillies for Machado’s services after the season concludes.
Game 1 (3-2 PHI): After about an hour and 20-minute rain delay, Phillies starter Zach Eflin dazzled on Tuesday night, winning his sixth straight after limiting the Orioles to two runs on five hits and six strikeouts in seven innings. Mark Trumbo drove in Baltimore’s two runs on a solo home run in the second inning and a sacrifice fly in the fourth that scored Machado.
Aside from Trumbo, the rest of the Orioles offense produced just five hits and two walks. The two runs delivered by Trumbo would not be enough for Cobb, who lost his 10th game of the season. In the third inning, Maikel Franco singled with one out and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Eflin. After a mound visit, Cobb walked Cesar Hernandez. The following batter, Rhys Hoskins, scored both Franco and Hernandez on a double to Adam Jones. The Hoskins RBI double tied the game at 1, but the O’s regained a 2-1 lead in the fourth with Trumbo’s sac fly.
Baltimore did not hold the lead for long. In the bottom of the fourth, Andrew Knapp tripled with two outs to score Nick Williams, who had walked earlier in the inning. Knapp’s second three-bagger of the season ended up being all Philadelphia needed to seal the win, as neither team scored the rest of the game. Eflin now holds a 7-2 record, while Cobb sits at 2-10. Cobb gave the Orioles a chance to win, allowing three runs on four hits, three walks and five strikeouts over 6.2 innings, but the Knapp triple doomed him.
Game 2 (4-1 PHI): Despite it being the Fourth of July, there were not many offensive fireworks on Wednesday, especially on the Orioles end. Soon-to-be All-Star Aaron Nola was brilliant again for Philly, striking out nine Orioles hitters over seven innings and lifting his record to 11-2 in the process. He allowed one run on seven hits and two walks.
In the top of the third, the Orioles plated their lone run on a double by Jones that scored Tim Beckham, who reached base via walk. Beckham, Jones, and Jonathan Schoop each went 2-for-4 on the day at the plate.
Ramirez cruised through his first four frames, three of which were 1-2-3 innings. But, in the fifth, Williams walked with one out before Scott Kingery doubled to left field to put runners on second and third. Then, Jorge Alfaro hit a ground ball to first base that was easily playable for Chris Davis, but the ball found it’s way under the first basemen’s glove and continued rolling into right field. Both runners easily scored on the play, giving the Phillies all the offense they needed to complete the sweep.
After Ramirez’s five strong innings, David Hess made his first major league relief appearance. He tossed the sixth and seventh innings before Britton got some work in for the eighth inning. Off Hess in the seventh, Carlos Santana walked from the lead-off spot, then Williams delivered his 10th home run of the season that landed in the Phillies bullpen. Ramirez (0-2) collected the loss. Hess’s ERA is up to 6.06 and continues to rise.
Up Next: The Orioles continue their first July road trip at Target Field for a four-game set with the Twins (35-48) beginning on Thursday. The Twins, in third place and 11.5 games behind the Indians in the AL Central, took two of three from the Orioles to open up the regular season.
Image Credit: Derik Hamilton, Associated Press