Orioles go into All-Star break on high note with series win over Rangers

BALTIMORE — Despite losing eight of 10 games going into Friday, the Orioles took two of three from the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards to go into the All-Star break on a high note. Following this weekend’s action, the Orioles (28-69) sit 39.5 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox (68-30) in the American League East. The Rangers (41-56) also head into the All-Star break in last place, 22 games behind the Astros (64-35) in the AL West.

The All-Star Game takes place on Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30 pm from Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The lone Orioles representative is Manny Machado, who will start at shortstop for the AL. Trade rumors surrounding Machado get more intense by the day. Twitter exploded during Sunday’s game when Machado got pulled from the game in the fifth inning, which led many fans to believe that the 26-year-old superstar had been traded. As it turned out, the Orioles pulled Machado from the game due to sloppy field conditions following a 26-minute rain delay.

It’s been reported that the Orioles have received several offers from up to eight teams for Machado’s services. In a tweet sent out on Sunday morning, MLB insider Jon Heyman said that the Brewers, Phillies, and Dodgers have the best offers on the table and lead the Machado sweepstakes. With talks heating up by the day, Machado’s All-Star appearance could mark the last time we see him in an Orioles uniform.

Game 1 (5-4 TEX): Despite picking up a rare series win, the Friday opener did not provide a great start. Starters Alex Cobb and Cole Hamels cruised through four scoreless innings each before both teams scored one run each in the fifth inning. For the Rangers, Joey Gallo belted his 22nd home run of the season. Gallo is tied with Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion for fifth place in the AL for home runs.

In Baltimore’s half of the fifth, Adam Jones led off with a double and advanced to third on a ground-out by Mark Trumbo. Jones would score on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia to tie the game at 1.

Both offenses saw big innings of the seventh, but the Rangers out-scored the Orioles 4-3 in the frame which ended up being the difference. Cobb retired Ronald Guzman via ground-out to open up the Orioles’ seventh, but Robinson Chirinos singled in the ensuing at-bat, ending Cobb’s night. Tanner Scott was called upon, but struggled mightily in his appearance. Scott walked the first batter he saw, Gallo, before Ryan Rua hit his fifth home run of the season to give the Rangers a 4-1 edge. Scott struck out Shin-Soo Choo, but then walked Elvis Andrus, who crossed home on a double by Nomar Mazara, his 16th of the season.

In the bottom half of the seventh, the Orioles forced Hamels out of the game after the 34-year-old veteran allowed the Orioles to load the bases on singles by Trumbo and Valencia, as well as a walk by Chris Davis. Jose Leclerc relieved Hamels and got the second out of the inning, striking out Trey Mancini. However, Caleb Joseph followed that up with a line-drive to center-field that turned into a base-clearing double.

Despite the valiant effort, the Orioles could not find the fifth run. The Orioles got three runners on over the final two innings, but the Texas bullpen held their ground with Keone Kela picking up his 23rd save of the season. Hamels won his fifth game of 2018, now holding a record of 5-8. Cobb falls to 2-12. Both he and Andrew Cashner have just two wins to show for their 2018 efforts so far.

Game 2 (1-0 BAL): Wearing their special Maryland flag jerseys at a part of “Celebrate Maryland Night,” the Orioles registered their fifth shutout win of the season behind the bat of Jonathan Schoop, who plated Joseph in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly to center-field. Joseph had walked from the lead-off spot and advanced to third when Tim Beckham hit an infield single due to a throwing error by third basemen Adrian Beltre.

Schoop’s RBI led to Martin Pérez‘s fourth loss of the season. The 27-year-old left-hander went seven innings, allowing five hits and two walks with four strikeouts. In his fifth start of his rookie year, Yefry Ramirez went five innings, allowing two hits and three walks with a season-high seven strikeouts. Because the game was tied when Ramirez left the game, the win went to Brad Brach, who tossed the sixth inning and struck out two. Zach Britton, who’s name is also included in trade rumors, racked top his third save with two strikeouts.

During the game, the Orioles announced that Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson will now serve as a special advisor for the Orioles. The announcement was made at the conclusion of the fifth inning when Robinson received a huge ovation as he was shown on the video board in front of over 38,000 fans. Robinson, 81, has had health scares recently but is feeling better as of late. He’s more than excited to re-join the club he played 23 seasons for.

“I’ll be trying to get out in the community and doing some things to try and promote this club and get people to the stadium,” Robinson said. “It’s good. It’s fun. I look forward to getting out in the community and doing some things…I won’t be here every night, but if they need me, they’ll call me and I’ll try and help them.”

Game 3 (6-5 BAL): The Orioles planned on calling up Jimmy Yacabonis from Triple-A Norfolk to start Sunday’s game, but Yacabonis caught strep throat right before the weekend and was too sick to make the start. Chris Tillman‘s name was thrown around as a potential replacement, but Buck Showalter elected to go with Miguel Castro out of the bullpen. Tillman pitched for Norfolk on Sunday and actually performed well. He threw 5.1 innings (100 pitches), allowing two runs on eight hits, one walk, and three strikeouts in a 9-2 loss.

Castro’s day did not go as well as Tillman’s. Castro opened up his first start of 2018 by walking the bases loaded. He struck out Rougned Odor for the first out, but then Guzman plated four runs with a grand slam to right field, scoring Choo, Andrus, and Jurickson Profar. Castro settled down after that and ended up going 2.2 innings on 60 pitches (36 strikes) with two strikeouts. His final line looked a little odd with more runs (4) allowed than both hits (1) and walks (2). Castro’s first start of the season could have gone a lot better, but with such short notice, the plan was never to stretch him out more than necessary.

Before being pulled from the game in the fifth, Machado saw two at-bats and scored both times. He got the O’s on the board with two outs in the first inning with his 24th home run of the season. The Birds put up five runs in the third inning, two coming on a double by Jones that brought both Joseph and Schoop home. Joseph also drove in two via double, and Jones scored when Valencia reached first base due to a throwing error by Profar, playing third.

Choo hit his 18th home run of the season in the seventh inning off Mike Wright Jr., but the bullpen held on as the Orioles won their eighth one-run game of the season. They’re now 8-17 in one-run contests. Britton converted save #4 of his young season, but it did not come without some dramatics. With two outs, Britton walked Choo, who was taken out for pinch-runner Carlos Tocci, representing the tying run. The next hitter, Andrus, doubled to the right-field corner, forcing Trumbo to make a quick turn and hard throw to Schoop. Schoop fired the ball to Joseph, who had Tocci well-beaten at the plate for the final out of the game.

Scott won his first game of the season, pitching parts of the third and fourth innings with two strikeouts. Texas starter Mike Minor took the loss, evening his season record to 6-6. The five-run third inning doomed him, as the left-hander, like Castro, exited after 2.2 innings.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun

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