Podcast: WBAL’s Pete Gilbert breaks down the latest Orioles & Ravens tidbits

Welcome to the latest edition of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast! On today’s episode, WBAL TV & Radio Sportscaster Pete Gilbert joins Jake McDonnell for a mid-June discussion on the Orioles and Ravens.

The Orioles just took two of three from the Cardinals over the weekend, and are getting ready to face the defending American League Champions, the Cleveland Indians, in a four-game series this week at Camden Yards. What does the J.J. Hardy injury mean for the team? Will the pitching improve? What’s going on with the Yankees?

After some baseball talk, the conversation shifts over to football, as the Ravens wrapped up mandatory mini-camp last week. With training camp a month away, how will the Ravens address the offensive line? What needs to happen on offense for the team to compete in 2017? Who will win the middle linebacker and slot cornerback spots on defense? All of this and more on this episode.

Be sure to check out Pete’s work at WBAL, and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or SoundCloud. Thanks for listening!

Series Preview: Defending American League Champions coming to Camden Yards

BALTIMORE, MD — After taking two of three from the Cardinals over the weekend, the Orioles will conclude their seven-game home-stand with a four-game set with the Cleveland Indians, who are the defending American League champions.

Standings: The Orioles (34-34) enter the series in fourth place in the AL East. They are 4.5 games behind the Yankees (38-29) and the Red Sox (39-30), who are tied for first place. The Yankees have lost six straight games. 

With the Twins (34-33) going 3-7 in their last 10 games, the Indians (36-31) have overtaken first place in the AL Central. Minnesota is just two games behind the Tribe, with the other three teams in the division having losing records.

Last Meeting: The Orioles went 5-1 against the Indians in 2016, including a three-game sweep at Camden Yards in July. The O’s picked up 5-1, 5-2, and 5-3 wins, with Mark Trumbo hitting home runs in two of the three games. Kevin Gausman had a seven-inning, seven strikeout, scoreless start. Nolan Reimold hit a walk-off three-run home run in the third game.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups: 

Game 1Monday, June 19, 7:05 pm – Corey Kluber (5-2, 4.15 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (7-5, 3.29 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan.

Game 2Tuesday, June 20, 7:05 pm – Josh Tomlin (4-8, 5.83 ERA) vs. Chris Tillman (1-5, 8.07 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan.

Game 3Wednesday, June 21, 7:05 pm – Carlos Carrasco (7-3, 3.21 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (3-6, 6.60 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan.

Game 4Thursday, June 22, 7:05 pm – Pitching Matchup TBD – MASN, 105.7 The Fan.

Notes on the Indians:

  • Tomlin has struggled at Camden Yards in his three career starts, allowing 14 runs on 20 hits, four walks, and 15 strikeouts, leading to a 7.41 ERA.
  • Carrasco’s road ERA (2.89) is better than his home ERA (3.58).
  • Third baseman Jose Ramirez is the only Indian to be hitting above .300, with his mark currently being .306. In his last five games, he has gone 13-for-23 with six doubles, three home runs, and seven RBI.
  • The Tribe’s bullpen ERA is 2.59, best in the MLB. Former Oriole Andrew Miller’s ERA is 1.56, and Baltimore would love to have his services in their ‘pen right now.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Over the weekend, Trey Mancini went 6-for-13 with a double, a triple, two home runs, and four RBI. Mancini is hitting .310, and if it was not for Aaron Judge, Mancini could very well be a candidate for MLB Rookie of the Year.
  • Wade Miley, Thursday’s probable starting pitcher, has not made it out of the third inning in two of his four June starts.
  • Manny Machado has a career .318 average against Cleveland, with 27 hits and five home runs in 85 at-bats.

Up Next: At the conclusion of this home-stand, the Orioles will hit the road for a six-game road trip – three games in Tampa Bay, followed by three games in Toronto. The Birds have an off-day on Monday, June 26, in-between these two series.

 

Orioles Wrap-Up: O’s have successful Father’s Day weekend with two wins over Cardinals

BALTIMORE, MD — Perhaps the Orioles should wear their blue Father’s Day uniforms more often.

That’s because the Orioles went 2-0 while wearing the holiday gear, picking up 15-7 and 8-5 wins over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday and Sunday. Following a stretch in which they lost eight of nine, the Orioles have now won two straight and are now back at .500 (34-34). They still have a long way to go, as they are fourth place in the division, and five games behind the Yankees (38-28). Nevertheless, the offensive outburst had been a long time coming, and it was nice to see after the horrible stretch the O’s were on coming into the series.

Game 1 recap: Despite the offensive fireworks the Orioles had in the last two games of the series, Friday night’s game is a different story. The Orioles dropped game one, 11-2, as the Orioles allowed five home runs. Kevin Gausman was shaky yet again, this time going 5.2 innings and allowing five runs on nine hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. Gabriel Ynoa did not fare much better, pitching just 1.1 innings and allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits and two strikeouts.

The Cardinals’ pitching staff limited the Orioles to just five hits. Carlos Martinez earned his sixth win of the season with his six-inning, one run outing.

The only scoring the O’s could muster came on a third inning sacrifice fly by Manny Machado, and a ninth inning solo homer by Trey Mancini.

Game 2 recap: After getting blown out on Friday night, the Orioles returned the favor on Saturday. The Orioles offense came out of the gates early, scoring nine runs in the first two innings; seven in the second. Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo got things started with solo home runs in the first inning. Three outs later, J.J. Hardy and Mancini each hit two-RBI doubles, Manny Machado hit a two-run home run, and Jonathan Schoop singled to score Mancini.

Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, 35, did his best Orioles impression, lasting just 1.2 innings and allowing all nine of those runs on 47 pitches.

The Orioles did not take their foot off the gas, and went on to score six more runs, with three of those coming off two Schoop home runs. Mancini, Trumbo, and Schoop each finished with two home runs in the series. Schoop is tied for second on the team (Machado) in home runs with 13. Chris Davis, currently on the DL with an oblique strain, is in first with 14.

Even though the Orioles’ offense looked great, the pitching staff still had its fair share of struggles, really throughout the entire weekend. Wade Miley once again failed to get past the sixth inning. He lasted 5.2 frames, but allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits, four walks, and eight strikeouts. Walks continue to be a problem for Miley, and his pitch count climbs amazingly quick.

In the sixth inning, the Orioles made three pitching changes to record the final out of the inning. Miley came out of the game at 117 pitches (65 strikes) with runners on first and second. Alec Asher, after the announcement that Ubaldo Jimenez would start on Sunday, came on in relief and allowed a three-run home run by Dexter Fowler, and singles by Jose Martinez and Jedd Gyorko. Manager Buck Showalter trotted out of the dugout again, pulling Asher for Richard Bleier. Bleier proceeded to walk Greg Garcia, and Showalter angrily pulled Bleier for Mychal Givens, who recorded the final out and pitched the next two innings.

The combination of Givens and Brach did not allow a run in the final three innings, but going through four pitchers in the same inning just goes to show how bad the entire pitching staff has been recently.

Game 3 recap: Jimenez, who was put back into the rotation after a few “respectable” relief outings, gave the Orioles exactly what they needed on Sunday. The Orioles had not had a starting pitcher go seven innings since June 1, but Jimenez did just that on Sunday, allowing two runs on four hits, four walks, and three strikeouts.

The Orioles got a quick start again on offense, scoring one run apiece in the first three innings, including two on home runs by Seth Smith & Mancini. Trumbo hit a two-run bomb in the fifth inning, which was a four-run frame for the Birds. Wellington Castillo, who caught all three games, hit his seventh home run of the season in the fifth inning, giving the O’s four on the afternoon and 10 total in the series.

When Jimenez came out of the game, the O’s were up 5-2, but once again the bullpen was shaky. Vidal Nuno and Miguel Castro both allowed home runs, and Nuno failed to even record an out. Brach pitched for the second day in a row, striking out one.

Hardy injured: Hardy left Sunday’s game with a wrist injury after being hit by a pitch, thrown by Lance Lynn of the Cardinals. Hardy had an X-Ray on his right wrist (throwing hand), and the initial reports did not look promising.

“We took an X-Ray here, saw something that concerned us,” Showalter said after the game. “I know he has [an MRI] in the morning and we’ll have a little more definitive idea there.”

What’s next: The Orioles remain home this week as they host the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians for a four-game series. All four contests, starting Monday, begin at 7:05 pm. Check back for a series preview tomorrow.

Series Preview: Orioles look for signs of life in Chicago against White Sox

CHICAGO, IL — Coming off an embarrassing series in the Bronx in which they were outscored 38-8, the Orioles will conclude their current road trip with a four-game set in Chicago against the White Sox.

The Orioles (31-30), losers of four straight, come into the series now in fourth place in the American League East. They are six and a half games behind the New York Yankees (37-23). Over the weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays (34-32) overtook the O’s for third place in the division.

The White Sox (26-35) are in fifth place in the AL Central. The Minnesota Twins (32-27) man the top of the division with the defending American League Champion Cleveland Indians (31-29) hot on their tails. Chicago is coming off a nine-game road trip that had them in Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland. The White Sox went 2-7 on the trip, which included getting swept by the Tigers.

Road Woes: Dating back to May 17, the Orioles have lost nine straight games on the road. The Birds are 10-20 on the road this season, opposed to their stellar 21-10 mark at Camden Yards.

Last Meeting: From May 5-7 the White Sox visited Camden Yards for a three-game weekend series. The Orioles swept the series, by scores of 4-2, 6-5, and 4-0. The Friday night game was the contest in which Wade Miley was struck by two line drives in the first inning and had to leave the game. Gabriel Ynoa made his Orioles debut in relief of Miley, and pitched six shutout innings. In the Sunday afternoon game, Chris Tillman made his season debut, pitching five shutout innings. Not much positive has happened since then for Tillman.

From August 5-7 2016, the Orioles played a three-game weekend series at Guaranteed Date Field. The O’s took two of three from Chicago in that meeting.

Game times & pitching matchups:

Game 1Monday, June 12, 8:10 pm – Wade Miley (2-3, 3.27 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (2-5, 3.80 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan.

Game 2Tuesday, June 13, 8:10 pm – Alec Asher (2-4, 4.35 ERA) vs. Derek Holland (4-6, 3.99 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan.

Game 3Wednesday, June 14, 8:10 pm – Dylan Bundy (6-5, 3.05 ERA) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (4-7, 4.89 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan.

Game 4Thursday, June 15, 2:10 pm – Chris Tillman (1-4, 8.01 ERA) vs. David Holmberg (1-0, 2.74 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Over the weekend against the Yankees, Orioles starters combined to give up 19 earned runs. On Friday, Bundy allowed three runs over six innings, and then the tandem of Edwin Jackson and Stefan Crichton combined to allow five runs in the last three innings. Tillman allowed nine earned runs in his start on Saturday, the most he has ever allowed in a game. On Sunday, Kevin Gausman’s season struggles continued as he lasted just 3.1 innings after allowing seven runs.
  • The depleted bullpen’s problems only got worse over the weekend, as Darren O’Day was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Friday with a right shoulder strain. It is the third time that O’Day has been placed on the DL since signing a four-year, $31 million deal before the 2016 season, and the second time in that span that his stint to the DL has been a throwing-shoulder-related injury.
  • Manny Machado continues to nurse a strained left wrist that was sustained during Wednesday night’s 9-6 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Machado has missed four straight games and is still listed as “day-to-day.”
  • Chris Davis has a career .293 batting average against the White Sox, with 51 hits and 11 home runs in 174 at-bats against Chicago.

Notes on the White Sox: 

  • Former Oriole Miguel Gonzalez has a 3.55 ERA in two starts against his former ballclub, allowing five earned runs on 16 hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.
  • Three Chicago hitters have batting averages at .300 or above this season – outfielder Avasial Garcia (.332 in 226 at-bats), infielder Yolmer Sanchez (.302/162), and outfielder Leury Garcia (.300/180).
  • Four White Sox are tied for the team lead in home runs with 10 apiece – A. Garcia, infielder Jose Abreu, designated-hitter Matt Davidson, and infielder Todd Frazier.
  • Abreu has a career .356 average against the Orioles, with 31 hits and seven home runs in 87 at-bats against Baltimore.

Preview: Orioles can win season series vs. Nationals with win in makeup game

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Beginning on Tuesday, the Orioles started a journey that will have them play 22 games in 22 days. Two comeback performances had the O’s sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates in a quick two-game series at Camden Yards, and tonight the inter-league play continues with a makeup game against the Washington Nationals in our nation’s capital.

Tonight’s ballgame is the final game in a four-game series, famously named “The Battle of the Beltways.” The game was originally scheduled for Thursday, May 11, but rain forced the two teams to find another day to get the game in.

So far, Baltimore leads the season series with Washington, 2-1. The Orioles took the first two games of the series, played at Camden Yards, 6-4 and 5-4 (12 innings). In the first game, the Birds hit three home runs in the first inning off the bats of Joey Rickard, Mark Trumbo, and Trey Mancini. Kevin Gausman had a solid outing, going seven innings and allowing two runs on five hits, a walk, and eight strikeouts. In game two, Trumbo hit a walk-off single off Jacob Turner. The win was the sixth straight for the Orioles, and gave them the best record in baseball at the time.

The next night in Washington, the Nationals had a walk-off win of their own when former Oriole Matt Wieters hit a two-run single in the ninth inning to snap Baltimore’s winning streak. The loss sent Baltimore into a stretch where they lost six of seven games, and shortly thereafter the infamous seven-game losing streak took place from May 21-28.

As of this writing, the Orioles (31-26) are in third place in the American League East, 2.5 games behind the first-place Yankees (33-23). The Red Sox (32-26) are two games behind New York. The Nationals (37-21) sit very comfortably at the top of the National League East. The second-place Mets (25-32) are 11.5 games behind the Nats in the standings.

Tonight’s pitching matchup and game-time: 7:05, MASN 2 (Orioles), 105.7 The FanAlec Asher (2-3, 3.62 ERA) vs. Joe Ross (2-2, 7.34 ERA).

Orioles have travel advantage: Something to keep an eye on is that the Nationals are coming back from a nine-game road trip out west. Following their 2-1 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday, the Nats headed home and are not receiving an off-day because of this makeup game. For sports teams, a west coast-to-east coast trip is a lot harder than an east coast-to-west coast flight because of the time zone difference, so the Orioles have a clear rest advantage going into Thursday night’s game.

Machado injured: Manny Machado left Wednesday night’s game against the Pirates after being spiked by Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen. According to Orioles team doctors, Machado left due to “left wrist soreness.” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after the game that Machado had X-Rays on his wrist, which came back negative, but Machado will be getting an MRI done on Thursday to know what exactly the injury is. In Machado’s place, Ruben Tejada made his Orioles debut, going 0-4 with a strikeout.

So far this series – Orioles:

  • Trumbo: four hits, four RBI
  • Jonathan Schoop: four hits, one RBI
  • Caleb Joseph: six hits, two RBI
  • Brad Brach: two appearances (1.1 innings), four earned runs, six hits, two walks, one strikeout

So far this series – Nationals:

  • Bryce Harper: four hits, two RBI
  • Jayson Werth: four hits, one RBI
  • Wieters: five hits, three RBI
  • Blake Treinen: two appearances (two innings), one earned run, two hits, four strikeouts

Following tonight’s makeup game, the Orioles will head to New York to face Yankees in a three-game weekend series. The Orioles are 5-4 against the Yankees this season and 1-2 at Yankee Stadium.

 

Series Recap: Orioles put together two come-from-behind wins to sweep Pirates

BALTIMORE, MD — Despite trailing at at least four runs in both games, the Orioles were able to come from behind in both games and Sweep the Pirates, by scores of 6-5 and 9-6.

In game one, the Orioles trailed by scores of 4-1 and 5-3. Down by two in the ninth inning, it was the power bat of Jonathan Schoop that pushed the game into extra innings, as Schoop hit a two-run blast off of Pittsburgh closer Tony Watson. It was the second home run of the game for Schoop, who hit a solo shot in the seventh inning.

Schoop’s seventh-inning shot was back-to-back with that of Chris Davis.

In extras, Brad Brach made quick work of the Pirates’ lineup in the 10th inning, striking out David Freese and putting away Josh Bell and Andrew McCutchen via line-out and ground-out.

In the bottom of the 10th, Adam Jones singled with one out. Manny Machado was next up and almost won the game with a two-run home run, but left fielder Adam Frazier caught the ball up against the wall on the warning track. On the play, Jones was able to tag and reached second base, putting him in scoring position with two outs. From there, Mark Trumbo was the final hero of the night with a walk-off single on a 1-0 count. McCutchen’s throw was close, but not in time, and the Orioles were awarded with a 6-5 thrilling victory.

Starter Kevin Gausman once again had his fair share of struggles, mainly in the second inning when he allowed three runs. In his non-decision start, he pitched 6.2 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits, a walk and five strikeouts on 113 pitches.

Game two on Wednesday turned out to be very similar to Tuesday’s game. The Pirates got on the board first in the second inning when Max Moroff hit a two-run double. The Orioles answered quickly, when Hyun-Soo Kim hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning to cut Baltimore’s deficit to one run.

In the third inning, Elias Diaz would repeat the exact same thing, hitting another two-run double to put Pittsburgh up 4-1. Orioles starter Wade Miley had a rough night, and was done after 2 2/3 innings after throwing 83 pitches and recording eight outs. The game remained tied until the seventh inning, when Jose Osuna hit a two-run home run to extend Pittsburgh’s lead to 6-1.

From there, the Orioles scored eight unanswered runs to complete the second comeback in as many days. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Jones hit a solo home run. In the ninth inning, the Orioles scored four runs on a Joey Rickard sacrifice fly, a J.J. Hardy double, and a two-run home run by Trey Mancini. Mancini came through again in the 11th inning, hitting another home run; this time a three-run shot.

Mancini came off of the bench in the ninth inning, and finished the game with five RBI.

“I came in ready to hit in the last inning,” Mancini said after the game. “I knew that if guys got on base that I had a chance to get up there.”

“Trey obviously had a few big blows,” manager Buck Showalter said after the game.

In the game, Mike Wright had a solid relief outing, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and recorded three strikeouts. Also in the game, Machado was spiked by McCutchen when the outfielder was sliding into third base. The injury forced Machado out of the game, and Ruben Tejada replaced Machado in the lineup.

“[Manny] had an X-Ray, which was negative,” Showalter said. “They’re talking about getting an MRI tomorrow just to be on the safe side and make sure we know what we are dealing with.”

The Orioles are now 9-1 in extra inning games this season.

With the conclusion of this nine-game homestand, the Orioles now hit the road for eight games. The original schedule had the O’s off on Thursday, but now the Birds will head back to our nation’s capital for a makeup game with the Nationals. This 7:05 matchup takes place in response to the rain-out on May 11. The Orioles currently lead the 2017 “Battle of the Beltways” series, 2-1.

 

Ravens release tight end Dennis Pitta

OWINGS MILLS, MD — Dennis Pitta’s career as a Raven, and likely in the NFL, is over.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Ravens released the tight end with an injury waiver. This comes just five days after the 31-year-old suffered a third hip dislocation in four years. The injury was non-contact, and occurred in an OTA practice that was closed to the media.

No one, including Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, has addressed the media since Pitta’s injury, but after practice on Friday, General Manager Ozzie Newsome released a statement going over the sad details of Pitta’s injury:

Pitta re-negotiated his contract with the Ravens early this offseason, which included an injury waiver and a $2.5 million pay-cut over the next two seasons. By releasing Pitta with the waiver included, the Ravens will save about $2 million in cap space. No roster moved have been made since Pitta’s release, but that $2 million could help the Ravens’ chances in signing free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, or possibly Eric Decker, who the New York Jets are looking to trade or release.

Pitta came back last season after missing the entire 2015 season and the majority of the 2014 season. Despite missing all that time, he led all tight ends in the NFL with 86 receptions. He was the only tight end on the Ravens’ roster to start all 16 games, and set career highs in receptions and reception yards (729). He proved to be Joe Flacco’s favorite receiving target, finishing the season with two touchdowns and 121 targets, more than any player in Baltimore’s passing game.

Pitta finishes his career with 224 receptions for 2,098 yards and 13 touchdowns. He caught seven touchdowns in the 2012 season, and was one of the biggest weapons on the Super Bowl 47-winning offense.

With his release, Pitta is technically a free agent, but will be undergoing yet another hip surgery and long rehab process. No announcements have been made about his football career, but all are assuming that Pitta will retire after a third injury to the same hip.