BALTIMORE — For the Orioles and their fans, next week’s All-Star Break will give everyone a recess from what’s been an abysmal 2018 season. Although the Orioles picked up two wins earlier this week against the surging Yankees, they’ve lost eight of their last 10 games, including a gut-wrenching 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Thursday night.

Before players either head home or to Washington, D.C. for All-Star festivities, the Orioles have one more series to play this weekend against another struggling team, the Texas Rangers. Coming into Friday, the Orioles (26-68) still own the worst record in the majors, 39.5 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox (66-29) in the American League East.

The Rangers come into Baltimore with a 40-54 record, good for last place in the AL West. Baltimore marks the final stop of a 10-game road trip for Texas. They began the current trip in Detroit, where they split a four-game series with the Tigers. Monday through Wednesday, the Red Sox swept the Rangers at Fenway Park.

Manny watch: As expected, a number of teams have been in contact with the Orioles inquiring about Manny Machado, who is expected to be traded in a matter of days. A recent article by Jon Heyman of FanCred Sports, seven teams have live offers for Machado sitting on the table, with up to nine teams in the race.

According to Heyman, the Dodgers, Yankees, Brewers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Indians, Cubs, and possibly the Cardinals are looking to work a deal for Machado’s services.

The Yankees’ farm system ranks among the top in baseball, and they could easily put a package together that the Orioles would have to take. However, Peter Angelos has avoided trading with division rivals in the past, and I doubt the front office wants to see Machado in pinstripes 19 times a year. Not to mention that Machado would play third base if moved to the Yankees, a move that the 26-year-old has said he does not want to make.

The Dodgers, Brewers, and Phillies could all use a shortstop, but when J.P. Crawford returns in four-to-six weeks (hand), that problem will be solved. Crawford has been out since June 19 after being hit by a pitch. Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has been subject to trade talks all season, and the club likely won’t make a move for MAchado unless they decide to part ways with Russell. The Indians definitely do not have an opening at shortstop with Francisco Lindor in the midst of an All-Star season.

Last meeting: The Orioles went 6-1 (.857) against the Rangers in 2017, their best winning percentage against any team they faced last season. That 6-1 mark included a four-game sweep over Texas at Camden Yards from July 17-20. In that series, the Birds outscored the Rangers 34-11, including 12-1 and 10-2 wins in games 3 and 4.

In that series, Jonathan Schoop went 7-for-16 with nine RBI on a home run, two separate two-run doubles, a two-run single, a one-run single, and a sacrifice fly. Chris Davis finished with six RBI in the second game on a grand slam and a two-run home run. In games 1-3, the Orioles received three quality starts from Chris Tillman, Dylan Bundy, and Kevin Gausman. Each starter went six innings, allowing one earned run.

Game times and pitching matchups: 

Game 1Friday, July 13, 7:05 pm – Cole Hamels (4-8, 4.28 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (2-11, 6.67 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, July 14, 7:15 pm – TBD vs. Yefry Ramirez (0-3, 3.93 ERA) FOX, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, July 15, 1:05 pm – TBD vs. Jimmy Yacabonis (0-0, 7.15 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Rangers:

  • Against Baltimore, 39-year-old third basemen Adrian Beltre owns a .294 average with 127 hits, 27 home runs, and 68 RBI in 432 at-bats. Those stats date back to 1998, it’s amazing that Beltre continues to produce at such an advanced age. This season, he’s hitting .288 with 64 hits, four home runs, and 64 RBI in 222 at-bats.
  • Another ageless veteran, Shin-Soo Choo, is a lifetime .350 hitter at Camden Yards. In 103 at-bats, Choo has tallied 36 hits, seven home runs, and 16 RBI. Against the Orioles in general, Choo is 56-of-202 with 12 homers and 32 RBI.
  • Out of all ballparks Hamels has pitched in, his 8.83 ERA at Camden Yards is higher than his ERA in any other MLB ballpark. In three starts at Camden Yards, Hamels has allowed 17 earned runs on 22 hits (five home runs), nine walks, and 13 strikeouts.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Andrew Cashner (neck) has been placed on the 10-day disabled list for the second time this season after receiving an injection in his neck. Cashner is the fourth pitcher on the opening day roster that’s currently on the DL, joining Pedro Araujo, Darren O’Day, and Richard Bleier. Cobb is also nursing a blister on one of the fingers on his throwing hand, but he will start tonight. Cashner underwent a similar injection during the All-Star break last year, but did not miss significant time. Yacabonis’s Sunday start originally belonged to Cashner.
  • According to reports, the Orioles are also considering calling up Chris Tillman, who pitched for Frederick on Tuesday, tossing 6.1 innings. He allowed six earned runs with three walks and four strikeouts (102 pitches). If he is not called up on Sunday, he will start at Triple-A Norfolk against Gwinnett.
  • Zach Britton‘s name has floated around the rumor mill over the last few days, with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies all in the mix. It will be interesting to see if multiple upcoming free agents end up with AL East foes.

Image Credit: Boston Herald