Orioles begin post Manny Machado era by getting swept by Blue Jays

TORONTO — After the Orioles traded Manny Machado to the Dodgers on Wednesday, fans and baseball pundits alike knew that the already dreadful 2018 Orioles season would not get any better. That proved to be the case this weekend in Toronto, as the Orioles opened up the “second half” by getting swept by the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.

Following Sunday’s series finale, the Blue Jays own a 9-1 record against the Orioles this season. The Orioles, now 28-71, have lost 10 straight on the road. With the Royals already taking two from the Twins this weekend, the Orioles again have the worst record in the majors, over 40 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East.

Game 1 (8-7 TOR – 10 INN): The Orioles’ “second half” opener saw the Birds overcome a 7-2 deficit to send the game into extras, but Aledmys Diaz‘s walk-off single in the 10th inning off Paul Fry won it for the Blue Jays.

Dylan Bundy struggled again in his third start since coming off the 10-day disabled list with an ankle ailment. Bundy’s five innings on Friday night marked his longest outing since returning to the rotation, but he gave up five runs for the third time in those recent starts.

Diaz opened up the scoring in the second inning with his ninth home run of the season to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. In the fifth inning, Toronto plated four runs to chase Bundy out of the game. Russell Martin and Randal Grichuk went back-to-back with solo home runs to make it 3-0. After Diaz grounded out, Devon Travis walked and advanced to third on a ground-rule double by Curtis Granderson. Travis then scored on a Teoscar Hernandez sacrifice fly, followed by Grandson crossing home on a double by Justin Smoak.

Before Toronto plated four runs in the bottom of the fifth, the top of the inning featured a two-run home run by Tim Beckham, scoring Renato Nuñez. Nuñez, who made his Orioles debut on Friday, started at third base and went 1-for-4 at the plate. After being designated for assignment in April from the Texas Rangers, the Orioles picked up Nuñez one May 13 and sent him to Triple-A Norfolk. In 201 at-bats, Nuñez hit .289 with 58 hits, 23 walks, and five home runs with the Tides.

After Bundy’s exit, Jhan Martiñez, also making his Orioles debut, pitched the sixth inning and posted a strikeout. He threw 18 pitches, 11 for strikes. Martiñez is in his ninth professional season. He previously pitched in the big leagues for the Marlins, White Sox, Rays, Brewers, Pirates. and Rangers. Prior to his call-up, Martiñez held a 2.78 ERA in 45.1 innings at Norfolk this season.

Mychal Givens followed Martiñez for the seventh inning. Toronto added two runs before Givens recorded the first out. Diaz led off with a single, then Travis belted a triple on a line drive to Danny Valencia in right field, scoring Diaz. Next, Granderson singled, also to Valencia, to bring home Travis. Givens would then retire the side, but the two runs allowed marked the first runs given up by Givens since June 30, where he allowed four runs in a 6-2 loss to the Angels at Camden Yards.

After Blue Jays starter Sam Gaviglio limited the O’s to two runs in the first seven innings. things began to unravel in the eighth. With two outs, Chris Davis smacked his 10th home run of the season to right-center field, also scoring Adam Jones, who had singled with one out. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons pulled Gaviglio after the Davis homer, ending the right-hander’s longest start of both the season and his two-year MLB career. Gaviglio threw 103 pitches, 71 for strikes, allowing seven hits and a walk with eight strikeouts, also a season and career high.

Leading 7-4 in the ninth inning, Tyler Clippard looked to land his seventh save of the season. The Orioles offense had other plans. Trey Mancini led off with a double and scored on a wild pitch that sailed feet over Martin’s glove, and even the umpire’s head. Two of the next four batters Clippard faced – Caleb Joseph and Jonathan Schoop – belted solo home runs to tie the game at seven. It marked Joseph’s second of the season and Schoop’s 11th.

Gibbons pulled Clippard after Schoop’s homer. Ryan Tepera came on and struck out Jones to end the inning. The Blue Jays got two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth but did not score, sending the game into extras.

After John Axford retired the Orioles in order, Fry came back out for the Orioles’ 10th inning after recording the last out of the ninth. The Orioles got the first two outs of the frame with a Yangervis Solarte ground-out a strikeout from Kendrys Morales, but then Martin singled and Grichuk walked. The bitter end came when Diaz singled to Mancini in left field to score Martin and walk it off for the Blue Jays.

The loss marks the first of Fry’s young career. The 25-year-old left-hander is now 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings pitched. Axford’s effort in the 10th inning awarded him his third win of the season.

Game 2 (4-1 TOR): After the Orioles notched three hits off Marcus Stroman in the first inning, the offense hit a wall. Two of those three hits (Beckham and Jones) resulted in Baltimore’s lone run of the afternoon. Over the final eight innings, the Blue Jays limited the O’s to three hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts. Stroman went seven innings for his third win of the season. He is now 3-7 overall.

Two of Alex Cobb‘s first three innings saw the veteran retire the Blue Jays in order, but he unraveled in the fourth as Toronto scored three runs.

Smoak got the inning started with a walk. Solarte hit a grounder to Cobb, who fielded the ball and threw it to Beckham at second base. However, when Beckham received the ball, he took his foot off the bag too quickly, resulting in both Smoak and Solarte being safe. Then the Blue Jays got on the board when Grichuk doubled on a line drive to Joey Rickard in right field, scoring Smoak and advancing Solarte to third. Cobb then walked Morales, who would become the first out of a double play on a ground ball to third base hit by Diaz. However, Solarte scored and Grichuk still reached third on the play.

The third and final run of the inning came shortly thereafter, as Luke Maile singled to center-field, allowing Grichuk to score. In the fifth inning, Hernandez doubled to right field and eventually scored from third on a balk by Cobb. Cobb began his windup but abruptly stepped behind the rubber with his right foot, resulting in home-plate umpire Joe West making the balk call.

Cobb exited after the fifth inning, receiving his MLB-worst 13th loss of the season (2-13 overall). He went five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, three walks, and four strikeouts.

According to manager Buck Showalter, Cobb could have come back out for the sixth inning, but the Orioles decided to pull him, citing a blood blister on his throwing hand. It’s the second time this season that Cobb has been pulled early due to a blister on his right hand. Apparently, Cobb has dealt with these blisters in previous seasons, and said that he’ll be fine by his next start on Thursday night.

The rest of the game was pretty uneventful. The Orioles only got two base-runners on over the final two innings. After Cobb, Mike Wright Jr., Tanner Scott, and Zach Britton each worked an inning of relief. Scott racked up three strikeouts.

Game 3 (5-4 TOR): After the Orioles struck out eight times over the first four innings, the offense got things going in the later innings, taking a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning. After Solarte’s fourth-inning double off Andrew Cashner gave Toronto a 1-0 lead, the O’s scored four unanswered runs from a Jace Peterson RBI single (fifth inning), Schoop’s 12th home run of the season (sixth inning), an RBI double by Nunez (eighth inning), and Mancini reaching on a fielding error (eighth inning).

As we’ve seen far too often this season, the Orioles extended a lead late only for the bullpen to implode. Between Brad Brach and Scott, the bullpen allowed Toronto to plate four eighth inning runs for their third come-from-behind win of the series.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off with a single to right field, but was forced out in the ensuing at-bat that allowed Granderson to take Gurriel’s place at first base. Then Grichuk hit his 13th home run of the season to cut Baltimore’s lead to 4-3. Smoak followed that with a single to third and was replaced by Travis, who came on to pinch-run. Travis would advance to second on a Morales ground-out before Showalter replaced Brach with Scott. Scott would then lose the ballgame when the first batter he faced, Solarte, hit his 17th home run of the season to left-center to give Toronto the go-ahead run.

Aside from Beckham reaching base in the ninth after being hit by a pitch, Clippard got through the inning without any further damage. With a strikeout, Clippard picked up his seventh save of the season. Axford, despite allowing the two Oriole runs in the eighth, received the win.

Up next: The Orioles return to Camden Yards for their first home-stand following the All-Star break. Monday through Thursday, the O’s will host the first-place Red Sox for four games all beginning at 7:05 pm. This weekend, the Rays come to town for a three-game weekend series. Friday and Saturday’s games begin at 7:05 pm, followed by a 1:05 pm start on Sunday.

Weather could cause some trouble this week in Baltimore. There’s a 90% chance of rain/storms on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night, and a 50% chance of rain/storms during the day on Thursday, but the evening looks clear.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun 

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Orioles Head to Toronto to Open Post All-Star Break Play

TORONTO- The Baltimore Orioles will head across the border to start post All-Star break play with a three game set against the Toronto Blue Jays.

It will mark the first game for the club without former All-Star shortstop Manny Machado who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for five prospects on Wednesday night.

The Orioles enter the three-game series with a record of 28-69 which lands them in last place in the AL East, 39.5 games behind the division-leading Boston Red Sox (68-30). The Blue Jays first “half” of the season was a struggle as well and they will enter the series with a record of 43-52 which is good for fourth place in the division. They sit 23.5 games behind Boston.

Last meeting: The last time that these two clubs met was a series to forget for the Orioles as the Blue Jays swept the four-game set at Rogers Centre from June 7-10. The Orioles are 1-6 against Toronto this season and are just 2-8 over their last ten in Toronto dating back to last season.

In that four-game sweep, the Orioles dropped two extra inning games including a 5-4 decision in the opener that saw Brad Brach squander a 4-1 ninth inning lead to get the game into extras where the Blue Jays would win on a Aledmys Diaz single off Miguel Castro.

The Birds dropped a 5-1 decision in game two of the series with the Jays. This loss accounted for one of their 26 games so far this season in which they have scored 1 or less runs.  Toronto took the third game 4-3 in 10 innings and finished the sweep with a 13-3 drubbing in which Alex Cobb was beaten like a drum to the tune of nine runs on 11 hits over just 3.2 innings.

Toronto leads the all time series 334-293.

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Dylan Bundy will look to bounce back in the series opener. Image Credit: CBS Sports

Game times and pitching matchups: 

Game 1: Friday, July 20, 7:07 pm- Dylan Bundy (6-9, 4.35ERA) vs. Sam Gaviglio (2-3, 4.58ERA)- MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, July 21, 1:07pm- TBD vs. Marcus Stroman (2-7, 5.86ERA)- MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, July 22, 1:07pm- TBD vs. J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29ERA)- MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Blue Jays:

  • Happ, who will take the ball in game three for Toronto, is currently the subject of trade rumors with the Phillies and the Yankees reportedly interested. The 35-year-old lefty is likely to find a new home before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
  • Blue Jays slugger Josh Donaldson has struggled mightily this year for Toronto.  He has played in just 36 games due to various injuries and is hitting only .234 with five homers and 16 RBI on the year.
  • The 2018 Blue Jays offense has been paced by Yangervis Solarte who is hitting .241 with 16 home rubs and 48 RBI in his first year with the club.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Bundy will be looking for his first win since June 23. He will be making his third start since coming off of the disabled list with an ankle injury. In his last two starts since returning from the DL Bundy has given up 10 earned runs over 7.1 innings pitched.
  • The Orioles will be looking for someone to step up at the plate with the trade of Machado. Machado played a part in 113 of the Orioles 345 runs on the season. The team is 29th in the MLB and runs scored and just lost roughly 33% of that already meager production.
  • It remains to be seen who else will be traded before the trade deadline, but the Orioles are expected to be active in trying to move closer Zach Britton, reliever Brad Brach, and the longest-tenured Oriole, Adam Jones.

Image Credit: Associated Press

Orioles trade Machado to Dodgers, receive five prospects in return

On Wednesday night the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers officially announced the long-awaited trade that will send All-Star shortstop Manny Machado to  L.A. in exchange for five minor league players.

The five players the Orioles received are Yusniel DiazRylan BannonDean KremerZach Pop and Breyvic Valera. Diaz highlights the group as one of the Dodgers top five prospects but Bannon and Kremer can also be found in the MLB.com top-30 rankings for the Dodgers.

The 21-year-old Diaz entered the Dodgers system in 2014 after becoming a standout in Cuba’s top league and has since worked his way to Double-A Tulsa where he was hitting .314 with 30 RBI’s in 59 games. Diaz still has room to grow on defense but can play both center and right field. Scouts are still waiting for his power to develop but he currently makes up for that with above-average speed.

Bannon is in the middle of his first full season after being drafted in 2017. At Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, the 22-year-old is hitting .296 with 20 home runs in 89 games. Bannon has split time between third and second base this year but impresses at both thanks to a strong arm and good range. His bat has been consistent so far but it will have to get better before he continues to rise through the minor league ranks.

Kremer rounds out the trio of top-30 MLB.com prospects and also marks one of two pitchers in the deal. The Orioles put a heavy emphasis on acquiring pitching prospects in exchange for Machado since they have been unloading a handful of them away over the past few years. Kremer has spent most of his 2018 season in Rancho Cucamonga as well.

The 22-year-old right-hander has started 17 games so far in 2018 and holds a modest 5-3 record with a 3.03 ERA. Of his four pitches, Kremer uses his fastball the most. The heater clocks in between 91-94 mph but he likes to mix things up with a big-breaking curveball. He is also in the process of developing his slider and change up as he stays in the starting role.

Pop is the other pitcher included in the deal. He has split his 2018 campaign between Rancho Cucamonga and Great Lakes (the Dodgers other single-A affiliate). Pop has not started any games but holds a 1.04 ERA with 47 strikeouts in a little over 43 innings of relief.

The fifth player, Valera, is the only one in the group to reach the major league level so far. Valera made his MLB debut in 2017 at the age of 25 and has since played in 25 games for the Dodgers. Despite only batting .154 at the major league level, Valera has been successful with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The 26-year-old utility player is hitting .284 with 25 RBI’s in 56 starts at Triple-A this year. Valera is predominantly used as an infielder but has also spent some brief time in the outfield in both the minors and majors.

For days the baseball world seemed to revolve around Machado and where he would be ending up. There were reports this past weekend that he could find himself in Philadelphia when the season resumes. But, the Dodgers re-entered the mix on Tuesday as Machado was preparing to suit up in an Orioles jersey one last time for the All-Star game. The 26-year-old will now finish his 2018 season on the west coast in what the Dodgers hope to be their sixth straight trip to the postseason.

Los Angeles became the early favorite to land Machado earlier this season when they lost their starting shortstop, Corey Seager, to a season-ending injury. While Machado’s contract does expire after this season, he remains a valuable asset to any team trying to make a playoff run.

In seven seasons with Baltimore, Machado hit .283 with 162 home runs and 471 RBI. His hot start to 2018 put him the MVP conversation early on and since then he has remained consistent at the plate. He is on pace to have a career year in multiple stat categories but will now have to keep that up while facing some National League pitching. Machado is a .281 career hitter with 17 home runs and 67 RBI’s in over 100 interleague games.

Image Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Examining the Orioles 2018 Season to Date: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Baltimore Orioles came into the season with expectations to challenge for at minimum the second Wildcard spot in the American League.  The team had brought back most of its notable offensive firepower from last season and had bolstered their rotation through the free agent signings of Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner.

However, as the Orioles and their fans are enjoying the 2018 All-Star break, the team is sitting at 28-69 overall, a whopping 39.5 games behind the first place Boston Red Sox. Only the Kansas City Royals at 27-68 have a worse record than the Orioles on the season.

Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2018 season to date.

The Good

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Manny Machado at the 2018 All Star Game. Image Credit: Getty Images

At 28-69 it is extremely difficult to locate any positives with this ball club, but the one player who stands out is soon to be ex-Oriole Manny Machado.  Machado is having yet another monster season hitting .315 with 24 homers and 65 RBI as we hit the All-Star break.  Not surprisingly, Machado is also the only Orioles representative at the 2018 Mid-Summer Classic.

It is expected that the club is nearing a trade for Machado prior to the end of the All-Star break which means that we may have seen the last of Machado in an Orioles uniform. Machado will hit free agency this summer and many Orioles fans will be hoping he doesnt sign in the Bronx with the New York Yankees.

Honorable Mentions for the good would include center fielder Adam Jones  (.275, 10 homers and 36 RBI) and outfielder/DH Mark Trumbo (.251, 12 homers and 28 RBI) who have put together decent seasons in what otherwise has been a year to forget for Orioles fans up to this point.

The Bad

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Image Credit: MassLive

The bad could go on and on but some points have to be slotted into the ugly category so to start off the bad lets look at Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini.  Mancini was a lightning rod for the Orioles offense last season finishing the year with a .293AVG while belting 24 homers and adding 78RBI. Mancini, 26 was late in arriving to the majors but many Orioles fans were expecting more of the same from “Boom Boom” in 2018.

Mancini has struggled throughout the year and is hitting just .216 with 12 homers and 26 RBI at the All-Star break.  Mancini has not been the same player since he crashed into the wall at Camden Yards on April 20 against the Cleveland Indians. Prior to the injury that saw him miss two games, Mancini was hitting .284 but has seen his average drop consistently ever since.

Also lumped in with the bad are the struggles of second basemen Jonathan Schoop. After a career year in 2017, Schoop is hitting .229 with 10 homers and 25 RBI to this point in the year.  Schoop missed 20 games with a right oblique strain from April 14- May 8 but was hitting just .230 prior to the injury. With Machado on the way out the contract talks (or lack there of) with Schoop could garner headlines this summer.

The Ugly

Where to start? Let’s start with the absolute abyss that is Chris Davis and the Orioles financial obligations to the first baseman.  Davis is enjoying what could be the worst season in MLB  history hitting .158 with nine homers and 28 RBI through the first “half” of the season. The Orioles owe the 32 year old over $90 million over the next four seasons and Davis has been so poor that he has been benched at multiple points throughout the year.

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Alex Cobb has had a miserable first season in Baltimore. Image Credit: USA Today

 

Davis is not alone in the ugly category to say the least. Free agent signing Alex Cobb is the second most disappointing Oriole to date. Cobb, who arrived in Baltimore after Spring Training had begun on a four year $57M contract, has yet to find his footing with the Birds. Cobb is 2-12 on the season with a 6.41ERA. Cobb had been a consistently reliable starter throughout his tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays but he has been Ubaldo Jimenez bad this year for the O’s.

For the rest of the ugly let’s consider the plethora of other reasons that this team is a dumpster fire. Colby Rasmus is not an MLB player and walked away from the club. Chris Tillman is barely a Single-A caliber pitcher at this point but is still being considered an option for starts in the second half of the season.

Tim Beckham is not an MLB third basemen. Trumbo cannot play the outfield. Danny Valencia, Craig Gentry, and Jace Peterson shouldn’t rank in the top ten on your team in games played if you have any aspirations for the playoffs. Furthermore Valencia, Gentry, and Peterson are taking at bats from younger players who should be getting the call up from the minors.

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Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun

Which brings me to the ugliest of the ugly.  The Orioles organization as a whole is a complete and utter failure. No one seems to know who is in charge although according to sources it is not pending free agent GM Dan Duquette. If Brady Anderson is in charge now or in the future should we be optimistic about the guy who lobbied to bring in Cobb and other free agent bust Cashner?

Why at 28-69 has not a soul been fired including pending free agent Buck Showalter? I’m betting at this point that no one is going to be. There will be trades of fan favorites and some of the younger players folks have been pining for will be called up from the minors, but will we see any accountability from a coaching/front office perspective? If so when?

It has been a “first half” to forget in Charm City. There is plenty of intrigue regarding the Orioles and how their team and organization will look when they arrive at the end of the season and into the future.

Unfortunately it won’t be the on the field intrigue that many had hoped for in March.

Image Credit: MLB.com

Podcast Episode 8: Orioles mid-season awards & Ravens defensive preview

Welcome to Episode 8 of the new Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell and editor Nolan McGraw.

As usual the podcast opens with the weekly numbers segment (1:55). This week Jake and Nolan dive into the famous and not so famous number 8’s in Baltimore sports history. After this the duo transitions into a brief recap of the Orioles recent wins over the Texas Rangers as well as some more developments in the Manny Machado trade news (19:45). Be sure to check out Jake’s article highlighting the top 10 moments of Manny Machado’s career in Baltimore.

Last week on the podcast the Ravens offense was examined in depth so this week Nolan and Jake put the defense under the microscope and give their thoughts as the season approaches (50:00). The podcast concludes with a story from Jake about his recent vacation but the conversation quickly dissolves into a rant about the frustrations of driving (1:16:45).

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes. Please leave us a review, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

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

Orioles host Rangers in final series before All-Star break

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