Series Preview: Orioles vs Nationals

WASHINGTON- The Baltimore Orioles head to DC to take on the Washington Nationals in a three game set at Nationals Park starting Tuesday evening in the Nation’s Capital. It is the first series in what will be a six game road trip for the Orioles who will head to Atlanta for a three game set after the series against their Beltway rivals.

The Orioles (20-50) will look to build off of a 10-4 victory against the Miami Marlins on Sunday.  Dylan Bundy (5-7, 3.81ERA) recorded the win for the Birds going six innings giving up four earned runs run on five hits while striking out five and walking just two.  The Orioles dropped two of three to the Marlins. Check out the series recap by Nolan McGraw for further details.

The Nationals (38-32) come into the contest after splitting a game and a half with the New York Yankees on Monday night.  The Nationals and the Yankees resumed a May 15 game that was suspended due to rain and the Nationals took that game 5-3.  The Yankees took game two of the unconventional match up 4-2.

Last Meeting: In the last meeting of the Battle of the Beltway, the Nationals recorded a three game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore from May 28-30.  The Nationals took game one of that set 6-0 with Gio Gonzalez going 7.2 innings to pick up the win for the Nats.  Game two of the series saw the Nationals victorious 3-2 with former Orioles Mark Reynolds and Jeremy Hellickson leading the way.  The Nationals completed the three game sweep with a 2-0 shutout led by ace Max Scherzer who went 8.0 innings giving up no runs on two hits while striking out 12.

The Orioles lead the all time series between the two clubs 38-29.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Tuesday, June 19, 7:05pm- David Hess (2-3, 4.13ERA) vs. Jefry Rodríguez (0-0, 0.00ERA) –MASN, MASN2 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Wednesday, June 20, 7:05pm- Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.98ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.01ERA)-MASN, MASN2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Thursday, June 21, 7:05pm- Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.48ERA) vs Max Scherzer (10-3, 2.06ERA)- MASN, MASN2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • The Orioles were the last team in Major League Baseball to reach the 20 win plateau with their 10-4 victory over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon. To put that into perspective, Orioles AL East rivals the New York Yankees picked up their 20th win on May 2 and the Boston Red Sox got to that number on April 29.
  • The Orioles are just 9-27 on the road this season which puts them on pace to win just 20 games on the road all season.  That would tie the Orioles with the 2012 Houston Astros for the fewest road wins in a season since 2010.
  • Orioles catcher Chance Sisco was scratched from the line up an hour before the game with a reported illness and has reportedly been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Sisco is batting .218 in 47 games played for the Orioles.

Notes on Nationals:

  • Nationals slugger Bryce Harper is struggling in what is the walk year of his contract.  Harper is hitting just .212 on the season and is 1-24 in his last 25 plate appearances.
  •  One of the brightest spots for the Nationals this season has been 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto.  Soto is hitting .325 with six homers and 14RBI in 25 games played with the big league club.
  • The Nationals pitching staff boasts a 3.38 team ERA which is good for third best in the MLB.

Image Credit: USA Today

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Washington Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz Resigns

WASHINGTON- Eleven days ago head coach Barry Trotz and his Washington Capitals had just put the finishing touches on the team’s first ever Stanley Cup championship in 44 year of existence. Since that moment, DC has been riding this momentum through championship celebrations including last Tuesday’s parade that saw upwards of 100’s of thousands of Capitals fans flock to DC to be part of the party.

And in blink of an eye, the momentum was dashed. The Washington Capitals announced today that Barry Trotz had resigned from the club and would be moving on effective immediately.

It has since been reported by various sources that the moment that Trotz guided the Capitals to the championship, a two year contract extension worth roughly $2 million per year had kicked in.  Unfortunately for the Capitals, this contract extension language was agreed upon in 2014 prior to the explosion of NHL head coaching contracts that started with Mike Babcock in Toronto and Joel Quenneville in Chicago.

Both of those former Stanley Cup winning coaches make upwards of  $5 million per season.  It is also being reported that both sides attempted to renegotiate the terms of the extension but the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement and ultimately Trotz chose to resign.

The real question is what does this mean for the Washington Capitals moving forward. It is widely expected that assistant coach Todd Rierden will be promoted to head coach with Trotz’s decision to resign. Rierden has been with the club since 2014 and he has largely been considered the coach in waiting.

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Image Credit: Sportsnet

According to Nick Kypreos, Rierden was in consideration for the head coaching vacancies in Arizona, Buffalo, and Florida last off-season and Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan denied interview requests for those teams to speak with Rierden. Many saw this revelation as an indication that perhaps Barry Trotz wouldn’t be back in Washington, Stanley Cup or not.

It is also important to note that on April 15, the Capitals were trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 in the best of seven series and on their way to another playoff disappointment.

Many fans and prominent reporters have also criticized Trotz throughout the season for questionable line up decisions and his unfaltering loyalty to struggling veteran players such as Brooks Orpik and Alex Chiasson among others. Often times, Trotz would scratch promising youngsters like Christian Djoos, Andre Burakovsky, and Jakub Vrana in favor of these veterans. All three younger players played a key role in the Caps finally climbing the Stanley Cup mountain.

It is unknown where Trotz will head next.  The only head coaching vacancies in NHL right now are the position that Trotz just resigned from and the New York Islanders. Trotz finishes his impressive four year tenure in Washington with a record of 205-89-34, which was good for the best record in the NHL.

Image Credit: Sporting News

Orioles fall 5-1 to the Blue Jays as bats remain dormant

TORONTO– After taking the first two games of their six-game road trip against the New York Mets, the Baltimore Orioles took their second straight loss to the Toronto Blue Jays by a score of  5-1 Friday night at Rogers Centre.

Andrew Cashner got the start for the Birds and performed admirably, going six innings and surrendering only three runs on nine hits while striking out four and walking two. Cashner (2-8, 4.98 ERA) continues to struggle with giving up the long ball as he was touched up for two more last night, bringing his season total to 13 which ranks him just outside of the top 10 in home runs allowed in Major League Baseball.

The Orioles’ offense managed to get Cashner an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. After a lead-off walk by Danny Valencia and a Jonathan Schoop flyout, Mark Trumbo walked to give the Orioles a scoring opportunity with runners at first and second and just one out.

Trey Mancini came to the plate and grounded into a fielders choice with Trumbo being forced out at second and Valencia scoring on a throwing error by Toronto second basemen Devon Travis. An Austin Wynns strikeout ended the inning for the Birds.

Cashner took the 1-0 lead to the hill in the bottom of the second inning and quickly picked up the first two outs, getting Justin Smoak to ground out and Kevin Pillar to strikeout. Russell Martin came to the plate for the Blue Jays and delivered a two-out homer to left field, his sixth, to tie the game 1-1.  A Randal Grichuk ground-out ended the inning.

After no runs in the third and fourth innings, the Blue Jays offense got back on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Grichuk homered to left to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. After the Orioles produced their fourth straight scoreless inning in the top of the sixth, the Blue Jays extended their lead to 3-1 on a Martin single, scoring Teoscar Hernandez. Cashner finished the inning but left trailing 3-1.

Tanner Scott pitched the seventh inning, yielding one run on two hits and Mike Wright Jr. took the eighth, also giving up a run on two hits.

J.A. Happ was the latest pitcher to silence the Orioles offense, going seven innings and scattering just one run on two hits, while striking out three and walking two. Happ (8-3, 3.71 ERA) picked up the 100th win of his MLB career in the victory.

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Orioles hitting Coach Scott Coolbaugh could be on the hot seat.

The Orioles are 19-43 on the season with the loss and have scored one or fewer runs in 29% of their games this season (18/62).  They are 28th in average, 29th in runs scored, and dead last in on-base percentage. It’s time to start wondering who will be the first to fall on the sword for the overall ineptitude of this ball club and it reasons to believe that Orioles hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh is currently the leader in the clubhouse.

Game three of the four-game set is Saturday afternoon and the Orioles will send Kevin Gausman (3-5, 4.63 ERA) to the hill looking to end the brief two-game losing streak. Gausman will be looking to bounce back from an 8-5 loss to the Yankees last Saturday. The Blue Jays (28-35) will counter with Aaron Sanchez. Sanchez (3-5, 4.48 ERA) will be looking for his second-straight win fresh off the heels of an 8-4 decision over the Detroit Tigers.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:07pm on MASN 2.

Image Credit: CNN

Orioles drop fourth straight in 3-2 loss to Nationals

BALTIMORE — The Orioles fell 3-2 to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at Camden Yards in the second installment of a three-game set in the Battle of the Beltway.

Dylan Bundy got the start for the Orioles and labored through six innings, giving up just three earned runs while scattering 11 hits and striking out six. Bundy (3-7, 4.46ERA) was twice plagued by the long ball again, running his season total of home runs allowed to 14, tying him for third in home runs allowed among MLB starting pitchers.

Bryce Harper got the scoring started with a one out solo homer to right field in the top of the first inning. This was Harper’s National League-leading 17’th home run of the year and staked the Nationals to a 1-0 lead. Manny Machado continued his torrid pace to start the season, answering the Harper home run by launching a solo shot to left field in the bottom of the first to tie things up at 1-1.  It was Machado’s 16’th home run of the season, tying him for fourth in the AL.

The Nationals pushed another run across in the top of the second inning when Wilmer Difo hit a two-out RBI single to break the tie, scoring former Orioles first basemen Mark Reynolds,who led off the inning with a single.

Reynolds wasn’t done for the night, as he added his 6’th home run of the season for the Nationals in the top of the fourth inning, extending the Washington lead to 3-1.  Reynolds has six homers and eight RBI in just 12 games since joining the Nationals.

Meanwhile, current Orioles first basemen Chris Davis continues to struggle as was well documented in Nolan McGraw’s piece last week. Davis, inexplicably batting cleanup last night despite coming in 4-46 in his last 50 plate appearances, responded accordingly going 0-4 with two strikeouts.

Buck Showalter

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s questionable lineup decision may have cost the Orioles in last night’s loss.

The decision to bat Davis cleanup by Orioles Manager Buck Showalter could have played a part in a key sequence in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Orioles attempted to start a rally off of former Baltimore starter Jeremy Hellickson.

After Joey Rickard struck out to open the inning, Chance Sisco was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a Jace Peterson single. After a Jonathan Schoop fly-out to center, Adam Jones delivered a two-out double, plating Sisco. Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson decided to wave Peterson home on the play where he was cut down on a great relay from the Nationals to end the inning.

What looked like a questionable send on the surface, especially given the result, was likely the right decision for a team with just 23 runs scored in their last 10 games. Considering that the Nationals likely would have walked Machado with a base open and two outs to pitch to the aforementioned Davis, the decision to send Peterson looks even better.

Hellickson went just five innings for the Nationals giving up two earned runs and striking out three on the evening. He picked up his second win of the season for the Nationals in what was his eighth start. The Nationals’ bullpen slammed the door in the last four innings giving, up just three hits while striking out six. Sean Doolittle picked up the save for the Nationals, his 12’th of the season.

The two teams will conclude their three game set this evening at Camden Yards. David Hess (2-1, 4.15ERA) looks to pick up his second straight victory for the Orioles as he gets the ball for Baltimore. Washington will counter with Max Scherzer (8-1, 2.13) who is coming off a win against the Miami Marlins on May 25.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm on MASN and MASN2.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun

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