Ravens officially land wide receiver Willie Snead

OWINGS MILLS — On Friday, the Baltimore Ravens signed restricted free agent wide receiver Willie Snead to a two-year, $10.4 million offer sheet. The New Orleans Saints had a five-day window to match the Ravens’ offer and retain Snead. According to NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport, the Saints will not match the offer, officially landing Snead in Baltimore.

Snead, a four-year veteran out of Ball State, went undrafted in 2014. He bounced around in Cleveland and Carolina before being signed to the Saints’ practice squad in December 2014. Snead made the Saints’ 2015 53-man roster after a strong showing in training camp.

In three seasons, Snead has accumulated 149 receptions for 1,971 yards and seven touchdowns. 2015 marked Snead’s most productive season when he posted 69 receptions for 984 yards and three touchdowns.

Now in Baltimore, Snead looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2017 campaign. He served a three-game suspension early in the season for a DUI. After Snead returned from suspension, he suffered a thigh hamstring injury that lingered through the rest of the season and hurt his production. He finished the 2017 season with just eight receptions for 92 yards.

The signing of Snead marks another change to the Ravens’ wide receiver room. Baltimore cut Jeremy Maclin early in the offseason. Mike Wallace and Michael Campanero signed one-year contracts elsewhere. Snead will join fellow free agent acquisitions Michael Crabtree and John Brown on the Ravens’ revamped wideout corps, with Breshad Perriman (for now) and Chris Moore set to return.

Snead could develop into the slot receiver that the Ravens have long been searching for. Although last season was disappointing, when healthy, Snead has produced. With the NFL Draft just days away, the Ravens will likely add one or two more wideouts. There will be plenty of competition among wide receivers in training camp, and Snead will be hungry to put last season behind him and solidify a role in the Ravens’ passing attack.

Image Credit: Barstool Sports 

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Series Recap: Things only get worse for Orioles in Detroit

DETROIT — After getting swept by the Boston Red Sox to open up a two-series road trip, the Baltimore Orioles went into Detroit looking to at least take two of three against the struggling Tigers.

Well, that certainly didn’t happen. The Tigers made easy work of The Birds, sweeping them in three games at Comerica Park to extend Baltimore’s losing streak to six games, the second-longest losing skid in the majors aside from Kansas City’s eight-game tumble.

Game 1 (4-2 DET): Bad mistakes led to Baltimore falling behind in the series. Trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning, the Orioles had runners on first and second base with two outs. Adam Jones singled on a sharply-hit ground ball to right field, which scored the leading runner, Craig Gentry. However, Manny Machado, who’s been the culprit of several base-running blunders in recent memory, got caught in a rundown trying to advance to third base. Machado tried to dive out of the way of third baseman Jeimer Candelario, but was tagged for the final out of the inning with the game tied at 2.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, now trailing 3-2, the Orioles allowed the Tigers to score their final run of the game on a wild pitch from Mychal Givens. With a 1-1 count and two outs, Givens’ next pitch bounced underneath the legs of Caleb Joseph and made its way to the backstop, allowing Victor Reyes to score. Although the play only extended Detroit’s lead to two runs, these defensive breakdowns have been a problem for the Orioles all season long.

Andrew Cashner gave the Orioles a respectable start, going six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits, three walks, and five strikeouts. Victor Martinez hit a two-run homer off Cashner in the second inning, and Candelario tripled in the fifth inning to score Leonys Martin. Francisco Liriano earned the win for Detroit, striking out seven Baltimore batters, who finished the game with 12 K’s.

Trey Mancini hit his second home run of the season in the third inning. Mancini and Jones both led the Orioles with two hits in four at-bats.

Game 2 (6-5 DET): Despite coming from behind multiple times in the late innings, the Orioles still found a way to lose in heartbreaking fashion. Leading 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Darren O’Day imploded. After Miguel Cabrera struck out to open up the frame, Nicholas Castellanos doubled and Martinez singled. Then, John Hicks hit a three-run home run to left field to give Detroit the 5-4 lead.

With Joseph (0.81 average) set to leadoff the ninth inning, Buck Showalter sent recent call-up Luis Sardinas to the plate. Sardines answered the call, hitting his first home run of the season to right field to tie the game at 5. The Orioles then went 1-2-3 to send the game to the bottom of the 9th, where leadoff hitter Dixon Machado immediately hit his first home run of the season off Pedro Araujo to walk it off for Detroit.

With an adjusted delivery, Kevin Gausman delivered his best start of the 2018 season. In six innings, Gausman allowed two runs off nine hits and four strikeouts. The Orioles struck first in the second inning off Danny Valencia‘s second home run of the season. Machado and Chris Davis drove in one run each on singles, and Jones collected an RBI on a sacrifice fly-out.

Game 3 (13-8 DET): After not having a full spring training to prepare for the regular season, Alex Cobb struggled mightily again in his second start with the Orioles. Cobb threw 72 pitches over 3.1 innings on Thursday, allowing seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits, a walk, and four strikeouts. Through two starts, his ERA is up to 15.43.

When Cobb came out of the game, Mike Wright Jr. came on in relief and didn’t fare any better. Wright Jr. also tossed 3.1 innings, allowing five runs on five hits, a walk, and one strikeout.

Araujo came in after Wright and pitched the final 1.1 innings in relief, allowing a run on a Jose Iglesias double that scored Reyes.

Offensively, Davis hit his second home run of the year in the second inning that scored Jones and gave the O’s a 2-1 lead. Machado had a solid day at the plate, going three-for-five with two solo home runs, a double, and a ground-out that gave him four RBI on the afternoon. Along with Machado, Jones also went three-for-five with three doubles and two RBI.

Up next: The Orioles return home for their longest home-stand of the 2018 season, a 10-game stretch against the Indians, Rays, and Tigers. The first four games on that slate are against the Indians.

Image Credit: ABC News

Series Recap: Orioles’ problems further exposed as Red Sox sweep Birds at Fenway

BOSTON — 16 games into the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season, the Baltimore Orioles are off to their worst start since the 2010 season. That year, the Birds went 2-16 through their first 18 games. After getting swept by the American League East-leading Red Sox this weekend, the Birds own a 5-11 record with the worst run differential in the AL (-35).

Game 1 (7-3 BOS): Chris Tillman struggled mightily, again in his third start of the season. Tillman lasted just two innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks. He allowed four runs in the first inning, three coming off a three-run home run by Eduardo Nunez. Mookie Betts hit an RBI double in the second inning. After two consecutive singles in the third inning, Tillman hit Jackie Bradley Jr., and Buck Showalter had seen enough. Tillman got pulled after throwing 57 pitches, 31 for strikes.

Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo picked up the slack for Tillman, pitching two innings of relief and allowing one hit and one walk with three strikeouts. Manny Machado hit a double in the seventh inning that scored two runs.

Game 2 (10-3 BOS): Saturday was supposed to be a positive day for the Orioles, as Alex Cobb made his debut in a Baltimore uniform. However, Saturday was anything but positive for the Birds.

In the hours leading up to Saturday’s game, the Orioles announced that second baseman Jonathan Schoop would be placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right oblique strain. Schoop apparently suffered the injury while taking a swing during Friday’s game. The ensuing roster move was Cobb’s activation.

As a result of Schoop’s injury, the Orioles shifted Tim Beckham over to second base, and started Danny Valencia at third base. With a new team and unfamiliar infield behind him, Cobb got rocked. In the first inning, Andrew Benintendi got the rally started with an RBI double that scored Betts, who had to leave the game after scoring due to a foot contusion. After that, Hanley Ramirez hit his third home run of the season to give Boston the quick 3-0 advantage. In the third inning, J.D. Martinez hit his third homer of the season to extend Boston’s lead to four.

In the fourth inning, things only got worse for Cobb. Benintendi hit a single that scored two runs, and then Ramirez doubled to score Benintendi. It was here that Showalter decided to pull Cobb after 79 pitches, 49 for strikes. His first stat line as an Oriole read 3.2 innings, with eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits and one walk.

Miguel Castro tossed two innings of relief, allowing one earned run on three hits, one walk, and one strikeout. Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning.

Game 3 (3-1 BOS): The Orioles struck out 14 times in what was their fifth game scoring one run or less this season. That lone run came in the first inning on a double by Machado. Two of Baltimore’s three hits on Sunday came in the first inning.

Once again, the Orioles failed to get Dylan Bundy any run support. Bundy dazzled again in his fourth start this season, going 5.2 innings and allowing three runs (one earned) off seven hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. In the fifth inning, Benintendi hit a triple that scored Bradley Jr. A wild pitch would score another Boston run in the sixth inning, with the last run coming on a ground-rule double by Tzu-Wei Lin.

After Bundy’s exit, Richard Bleier threw the final 2.1 innings, allowing three hits with two strikeouts.

Following the conclusion of Sunday’s game, it was announced that Monday’s Patriot Day series finale would be postponed due to inclement weather. The O’s and Red Sox will make up the game on May 17, which will stretch a three-game weekend series to four games at Fenway Park.

Up next: The Orioles now have an off-day on Monday before heading to Detroit to face the Tigers in a three-game series at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers own a 4-9 record so far this season, good for fourth place in the AL Central. The Tigers were supposed to play three games against the Yankees this weekend, but only played one due to weather. That game occurred on Friday, where the Yankees topped the Tigers 8-6.

Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games will begin at 6:40 pm, with the Thursday series finale starting at 1:10 pm.

Image Credit: InfoGlitz

Series Preview: Orioles make pit stop at Camden Yards for tangle with Blue Jays

BALTIMORE — Despite enduring a freezing cold four-game series in New York that saw two contests go 12 innings or more, along with Mike Wright Jr.‘s complete flop on Sunday, the Baltimore Orioles found a way to take three games from the Yankees in the Bronx. After going 2-8 at Yankee Stadium in 2017 and beginning the 2018 campaign 1-5, this weekend lifted the spirits in the locker room and gave the O’s some much-needed confidence. The Yankees bolster one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball. Even though the pitching struggled at times, the bats finally came alive. For the first time in a long time, we saw the Orioles display that “never-die” attitude which has been a key characteristic of many Buck Showalter ball clubs through the years.

The Orioles return to Baltimore with a 4-6 record as the 6-4 Toronto Blue Jays come to town for more American League East action. The O’s are 1-2 at home this season after losing their opening series to the Twins. Toronto opened up the 2018 season with seven games at home – splitting a four-game series with the Yankees and taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox. The Blue Jays, currently on their first road trip of the 2018 season, took two of three from the Texas Rangers over the weekend. Many baseball pundits projected both the Orioles and the Blue Jays to finish in the bottom of the AL East this season, but Toronto has impressed early on.

Bullpen support on the way? With Friday’s game going 14 innings and Sunday’s thriller reaching 12 frames, the Orioles’ bullpen worked over 25 innings against the Yankees. Five different relievers threw at least 49 pitches over the four-game stretch. Richard Bleier stepped up big time, throwing 4.4 combined innings over the final three games (72 pitches). Miguel Castro (61 pitches) and Pedro Araujo (60 pitches) both tossed 4.1 combined innings, with their most recent appearances falling on Sunday.

Jimmy Yacabonis and Tanner Scott also made their Orioles debuts this weekend. Yacabonis appeared in Saturday’s 8-3 loss, giving up three earned runs on two hits and two walks in the seventh inning (27 pitches). Scott appeared in Sunday’s 8-7 win, going 1.2 innings and allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with a strikeout (32 pitches).

Following his Saturday debut, the Orioles optioned Yacabonis back to Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday. As of this writing, Scott remains on the roster, but ensuing roster moves could come later today to sure up a bullpen with several tired arms.

The Orioles will hope for Monday’s starter, Dylan Bundy, to eat up as many innings as possible. The good news for Baltimore is that Bundy has been by far the O’s best starter this season, as the right-hander has only allowed one earned run in 13 innings in his two starts.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Monday, Apr. 9, 7:05 pm – J.A. Happ (1-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (0-0, 0.69 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Tuesday, Apr. 10, 7:05 pm – Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (1-1, 4.09 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Wednesday, Apr. 11, 7:05 pm – Marco Estrada (1-0, 2.77 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (0-1, 8.00 ERA) – MASN, MLB Network (out-of-market), 105.7 The Fan

Up next: The Orioles pack their bags for another seven-game road trip. Following an off-day on Thursday (Apr. 12), The Birds will play four games in Boston and three games in Detroit.

Image Credit: Toronto Star 

Series Preview: Ice cold Orioles appropriately head to snowy New York to battle Yankees

NEW YORK — The first week of the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season could not have gone much worse for the Baltimore Orioles. The Birds currently hold a 1-5 record with the worst run differential in baseball (-20). Their starting pitching ERA is 6.00 (27’th in MLB), and their team batting average is .185 (28’th in MLB). It’s hard to even find something good to say about the one win the O’s do have, because it took them 11 innings to accomplish with just five hits.

The Orioles’ April slate of games would be a challenge for any team. However, the only starting pitcher to last more than five innings so far is Dylan Bundy. In addition, Baltimore has averaged just above six hits-per-game through the first six contests. That’s not nearly good enough to compete with the powerhouses of the American Leaue.

Perhaps the most frustrating part about the Orioles’ struggles so far is that they cannot get both the pitching and the hitting on the same page. On Tuesday, the bats finally got going, producing eight hits and six runs. Mike Wright Jr. surprisingly held the Houston lineup in check, giving up three earned runs in five frames. However, the bullpen imploded, highlighted by Nestor Cortes Jr. giving up a grand slam to Josh Reddick in the seventh inning. Then on Wednesday afternoon, Bundy threw six innings of one-run ball, but the Orioles could only produce two runs, and Miguel Castro fell victim to an Alex Bregman single that ended up being the difference in Baltimore’s 3-2 loss.

As if getting swept by the defending world champions wasn’t depleting enough, The Birds now head to the Bronx to battle the 2017 American League East runner-ups, the New York Yankees. The Yanks, currently 4-2, hold the second-best run differential (+14) in the American League. The O’s went 2-8 at Yankee Stadium in 2017, and will now face a lineup that includes four-time All-Star Giancarlo Stanton.

Winter weather expected: The Yankees’ were forced to cancel their original Monday home opener due to snow, and more snow is on the way to the Bronx this weekend. As of this writing, Friday’s forecast shows a 60% chance of rain/snow showers, with a 50% chance of rain in the evening. Saturday’s original forecast projected 3-5 inches of snow, but has since been reduced to a 10% chance of precipitation.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Thursday, Apr. 5, 6:35 pm – Andrew Cashner (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 1.50 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Friday, Apr. 6, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (0-1, 13.50 ERA) vs. C.C. Sabathia (0-0, 1.80 ERA) – MASN, MLB Network (out-of-market), 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Saturday, Apr. 7, 1:05 pm – Chris Tillman (0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. Sonny Gray (0-0- 2.25 ERA) – MASN, MLB Network (out-of-market), 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Sunday, Apr. 8, 1:05 pm – Mike Wright Jr. (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Jordan Montgomery (0-0, 1.80 ERA) – MASN, MLB Network (out-of-market), 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Recently acquired starting pitcher Alex Cobb threw a simulated game in Sarasota on Wednesday. He threw 74 pitches, allowing one run on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts. According to reports, Cobb could make his Orioles debut as soon as Monday.
  • In 35 career road games against AL East opponents, Trey Mancini owns a .331 average in 127 at-bats.
  • Thursday will mark Cashner’s first time pitching at Yankee Stadium. Against the Yankees, Cashner is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings pitched.

Notes on the Yankees:

  • While Yankees starters this season have only given up six earned runs in 33 innings, their bullpen has struggled, bringing a 6.63 ERA (19 innings) into Thursday.
  • With the Marlins, Stanton only played six games against the Orioles. In 24 at-bats, the O’s limited him to three hits and nine strikeouts, but Stanton walked four times.
  • On Wednesday, New York’s new three-headed monster, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Stanton, all homered in the same game for the first time this season as the Yankees topped the Rays 7-2.

Up Next: The Orioles return home for a quick three-game homestead at Camden Yards against the Toronto Blue Jays, beginning on Monday and ending on Wednesday. All three contests are nightcaps beginning at 7:05 pm. The Orioles will have their first off day of the 2018 season on Thursday.

Image Credit: NewsOk

Series Recap: Both bats and arms disappoint in Orioles’ opening series against Twins

BALTIMORE — The Minnesota Twins held the Baltimore Orioles to 11 hits over their three-game opening series at Camden Yards. The Orioles won the first game, 3-2 in 11 innings, but the Twins came back on Saturday and Sunday with 6-2 and 7-0 wins.

Game 1 (3-2/11 BAL): For the second year in a row, the Orioles won on Opening Day at home 3-2 in 11 innings off a walk-off home run. Both teams started slow offensively, with the Orioles striking first in the seventh inning. Trey Mancini reached first after striking out due to a wild pitch. Danny Valencia was intentionally walked, and both runners scored on a triple by Caleb Joseph.

Dylan Bundy dazzled on the mound, throwing seven shutout innings. He allowed just five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in 88 pitches. Darren O’Day tossed the eighth inning, recording a strikeout. Things got shaky in the ninth inning during Brad Brach‘s first save attempt of the season. Brach got Miguel Sano to strike out, then Eddie Rosario singled and made it to second on a passed ball. Brach then walked two of the next three batters – Logan Morrison (Ryan LaMarre pinch-runner) and Max Kepler – along with striking out Eduardo Escobar. With the bases loaded, Robbie Grossman singled to score Rosario and LaMarre, and Buck Showalter had seen enough. Mychal Givens had to come in for the final out, and the teams went into extras tied at two.

Givens pitched the 10’th inning, while Richard Bleier worked the 11’th. In the latter half of the inning, Adam Jones, playing in his 11’th straight Opening Day with the Orioles, slammed his first home run of 2018 to left field for the walk-off win.

For Minnesota, starter Jake Odorizzi pitched six shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. Bleier picked up the win, while Minnesota closer Fernando Rodney collected the loss.

Game 2 (6-2 MIN): Andrew Cashner‘s Orioles debut did not go as well as the 31-year-old veteran would have liked. After recording the first two outs in the first inning, Sano homered to left field. Jason Castro (third inning) and Kepler (fourth inning) also homered off Cashner. with the final earned runs tallied to Cashner came on groundouts. He lasted five innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits, two walks, and five strikeouts in 79 pitches.

Nestor Cortes Jr. made his Orioles debut on Saturday, pitching two innings. In the seventh inning, Joe Mauer singled to right field to score Brian Dozier, giving Minnesota a 6-0 lead. The Orioles cut into that lead in the ninth inning when Valencia doubled and Tim Beckham homered to left-center, but after that Chance Sisco struck out and Chris Davis flew out to end the ballgame.

The Orioles were limited to three hits on Saturday, with two of them coming in the bottom of the ninth. Cashner received the loss, while Kyle Gibson earned the win for the Twins. He tossed six innings, walking five and striking out six in 102 pitches.

Game 3 (7-0 MIN): After being limited to three hits on Saturday, the Orioles did it again on Easter Sunday. Kevin Gausman gave up four runs in the first inning and all the O’s could do was look up as Dozier, Sano, and Escobar homered off the 27-year-old right-hander. After Dozier homered on the first pitch of the contest, Mauer walked and made it to second base on a bunt ground ball hit by Rosario. With two outs, Escobar doubled to score Mauer, and then Gausman threw a wild pitch that left plenty of time for Rosario to reach home. The last run of the inning came on a single by Byron Buxton, scoring Escobar.

Gausman woulds settle down for a 1-2-3 second inning, but Sano and Escobar homered in the third inning. Gausman only lasted four innings, giving up six runs on seven hits, two walks and five strikeouts in 73 pitches. The Twins added their last run in the sixth inning when Dozier hit his second home run of the game off Orioles’ Rule 5 selection Pedro Araujo.

Sisco put up two of the three Orioles hits, and Manny Machado earned the third. Minnesota starter José Berríos pitched a complete game, walking one and striking out six. All three Minnesota starters that pitched in this series left Camden Yards with 0.00 ERA’s.

Up next: The Orioles embark on a seven-game road trip against two powerhouses in the American League. The Birds leave Baltimore on Sunday and travel to Houston for a three-game set with the defending world champion-Houston Astros, who will be celebrating their 2017 Championship during their Opening Day ceremonies on Monday. The O’s will then head to the Bronx for a four-game weekend series against the Yankees, although weather could have other plans. As of this writing, snow and rain are expected in New York on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Image Credit: Star Tribune

Series Preview: Orioles begin 2018 campaign at Camden Yards versus Twins

BALTIMORE, MD — Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is earlier on the calendar than ever before. On Thursday, Mar. 29, the Baltimore Orioles return to Camden Yards to begin the 2018 regular season with a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.

The first few months of Baltimore’s offseason did not feature many headlines, but following some splashes in free agency made during Spring Training, along with announcing a “Kids Cheer Free” initiative, there’s some excitement suddenly surrounding the Orioles.

Key Additions: As mentioned, the Orioles made some splashes in free agency, mainly after Spring Training began. When the Orioles first reported to Sarasota at the end of February, two starting pitchers made up their rotation. Since then, general manager Dan Duquette inked pitchers Andrew Cashner (two years, $16 million), Chris Tillman (one year, $3 million) and Alex Cobb (four years, $57 million), turning a significantly weak rotation into one that has the ability to compete with American League East foes.

Along with the rotation, veterans Colby Rasmus (outfield) and Danny Valencia (infield) will make the Opening Day roster and will contribute early in the season. Rasmus provides solid depth while top prospect Austin Hays recovers from an injury and continues to develop in the minors. Valencia owns a career .313 average against left-handed pitching.

Another veteran who could make an early impact is Pedro Alvarez, who will make the team as Mark Trumbo recovers from a Grade 2 quad strain suffered during Spring Training.

Rule 5 extravaganza: It’s no secret that Duquette loves his Rule 5 picks, and it appears that three Rule 5 players will make the Orioles’ opening day roster. This spring, outfielder Anthony Santander batted .292 with 19 hits, four doubles, four home runs, and 18 RBI in 65 at-bats. Santander played in 26 games with the Orioles last season. Pitcher Nestor Cortes, originally a 2013 draft pick by the Yankees, pitched to a 4.67 ERA in 17.1 innings. Finally, pitcher Pedro Araujo tossed 9.2 innings and tallied a 3.72 ERA.

Uncertainty looms: Although the optimism for the 2018 Orioles stands much higher than it did at the start of spring training, there are some important decisions to make in the warehouse this season. Both Duquette and manager Buck Showalter’s contracts expire at the end of the season, along with the contracts of superstar Manny Machado and team leader Adam Jones. Former All-Star pitchers Zach Britton and Brad Brach are set to become free agents as well.

If the Orioles end up contending, the chances of them dealing a big name like Machado go down. However, there have been no extension talks between the team and Machado, and almost no one believes that the Orioles will spend what Machado will ask for after the season.

Decisions like whether to deal Machado or not will become increasingly crucial as the season goes on. If the Orioles don’t start off well, the pressure to deal Machado will go up. Contending with the Yankees the Red Sox could be a large challenge this season. If the Orioles find themselves contending for a Wild Card spot, for instance, they still run the risk of not making the playoffs and getting nothing back for Machado. This is just an example, but all eyes should be on everything going on off the field this season, in addition to what’s occurring on the field.

Daunting April slate: Five of the Orioles’ first seven series this season are against 2017 AL playoff teams.

  • MIN (Mar. 29-Apr. 1)
  • @HOU (Apr. 2-4)
  • @NYY (Apr. 5-8)
  • @BOS (Apr. 13-15)
  • CLE (Apr. 20-23)

Flashback: Last season, the Orioles went 2-5 against the Twins. From May 22-24, Minnesota swept Baltimore at Camden Yards in what would turn into a seven-game losing streak for the O’s.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Thursday, Mar. 29, 3:05 pm – Jake Odorizzi (2017 w/TB: 10-8, 4.14 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (2017: 13-9, 4.24 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, Mar. 31, 7:05 pm – Kyle Gibson (2017: 12-10, 5.07 ERA) vs. Cashner (2017 w/TEX: 11-11, 3.40 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, Apr. 1, 1:05 pm – Josè Berrios (2017: 14-8, 3.89 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (2017: 11-12, 4.68 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Twins:

  • After breaking out in 2017, centerfielder Byron Buxton looks to dominate the Orioles like he did last season. In 22 plate appearances versus Baltimore in 2017, Buxton hit .364 with eight hits, two RBI, and two walks.
  • The Twins got a bit of good news last week when the team learned that third baseman Miguel Sano will not be suspended for assault due to insufficient evidence. Sano posted career highs in hits (112), home runs (28) and RBI (77) last season.
  • Like the Orioles, the Twins spent some money on their rotation this offseason. Along with Odorizzi (1 year, $6 million), Minnesota added veteran Lance Lynn (1 year, $12 million). Sure, this is nothing compared to what the O’s spent, but Baltimore has their acquisitions beyond 2018.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Although Cobb missed virtually all of Spring Training, the Orioles are hopeful that he can make his Orioles debut as early as April 9. Baltimore does have a day off on Mar. 30, but if they need an extra fifth starter until Cobb can contribute, Mike Wright seems to be the favorite.
  • Cashner comes into 2018 with a 2.57 ERA at Camden Yards. However, he has only pitched there twice. Against the Twins, Cashner is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA.
  • Chris Davis dealt with some elbow soreness in Spring Training. In four games since his return, Showalter penciled Davis in the leadoff spot to get him as many at-bats as possible. Davis is not a prototypical leadoff hitter, but Showalter has been unorthodox with lineups in the past. It’s hard to read into this, but seeing Davis in the leadoff spot could happen early in the season.

Up Next: The Orioles embark on a seven-game road trip. The first three games of the expedition take place at Minute Maid Park, home of the defending World Series Champion-Houston Astros. Houston starts their season on the road in a four-game series against the nearby Texas Rangers. The Orioles went 1-5 versus the Astros in 2017, including going 0-3 at Minute Maid Park. The O’s have not won a game in Houston since Jun. 4, 2015.

Image Credit: Flickr