Orioles drop abbreviated series to visiting Rays

The Orioles first series against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 was cut short to just two games after a rainout on Tuesday. This is the second time in April that the O’s have had one of their games postponed but that might be a good thing. At this point, the Orioles can probably use every extra off day they can get. April has been relentless in terms of competition and only allowed for one scheduled off day.

These teams will meet again next month. A doubleheader is now scheduled for Saturday May 12 to make up for Tuesday’s rain out.

Game 1 (8-4 TB): On Wednesday Alex Cobb got the chance to face off against his former team for the first time as a member of the Orioles. Cobb’s time in Baltimore has been rather lackluster so far due to an abbreviated spring training, but what better way to right the ship than against your former team.

Through the first four innings it looked like Cobb had finally figured it out. He surrendered a run in the first on a fielder’s choice but entered the fifth with just five hits allowed on 56 pitches.

Cobb’s strong start quickly faded and turned into another mediocre outing. The 30-year-old starter gave up four runs in the fifth and only managed to record two outs before being yanked by Buck Showalter. Sadly, five runs on ten hits through 4.2 innings of work easily qualifies as Cobb’s best start of the year. It’s a harsh reality that Orioles fans are coming to terms with, but Cobb is averaging less than four innings per start with a 13.11 ERA to go along with it.

To make things even worse, the offense was actually getting work done early in the game to give Cobb a lead. Following the Rays run in the top of the first, the Orioles responded with a run of their own and then added two more in the second inning. Adam Jones and newly acquired utility man, Jace Peterson picked up RBI doubles to bring home the three runs.

After Cobb’s exit, Miguel Castro and Tanner Scott combined to give up another three runs in the next two innings. The Orioles mustered a fourth run in the fifth on a Chance Sisco solo homer but only reached base once after that.

Game 2 (9-5 TB): Dylan Bundy kicked off his season with five good starts. In a year where nothing seems to be going the Orioles way, Bundy has been one of the few bright spots. His 1.42 ERA is a testament to that, but Bundy has been overdue for an off night and Thursday certainly qualified as one.

The O’s young ace surrendered seven earned runs in just 4.2 innings of work. It started with a pair of two run homers in the first and second inning but Bundy never managed to settle down. The Rays notched five hits and pushed two more runs across in the third inning, giving themselves a comfortable 6-0 lead that they would hold for the rest of the game.

Just like game one, the Orioles offense attempted to stage a comeback but could not overcome the defect created by the pitching staff. Trey Mancini started the effort with an RBI double and Manny Machado later brought him home with an RBI single.

Adam Jones put two more on the board in the fifth inning with a homer run to center field and Danny Valencia rounded out the scoring for the O’s with a solo shot.

Up next: The Orioles will wrap up this home stand over the weekend when the Detroit Tigers come to town. These teams just met last week with Detroit picking up a three game sweep.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

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Orioles prepare for battle with AL East leading Red Sox

In 2017 the Orioles and Red Sox engaged in a season long battle that saw many ugly games and a lot of tension. This weekend, the two AL East teams will meet for the first time in the 2018 season. The only question is, will the tension spill over?

Orioles fans will certainly remember the ongoing antics between the Red Sox pitching staff and Manny Machado after the O’s third baseman injured Dustin Pedroia on a slide into second base early last season. They will also remember the racial slurs that were directed at Adam Jones when the O’s traveled to Boston the following week. There is no question that these were two of the lowest points of 2017 for both teams. Even though the extra circulars faded as the season progressed, the games remained intense and highly entertaining with the Orioles barely taking the season series 10-9.

As these two teams prepare to meet for the first time this season, many wonder if the nonsense of last year will carry over to 2018. I don’t have the answers to that question, but what I do know is that this series will be very important for both teams despite it only being April.

The Red Sox are off to a hot start. They will enter this weekend’s series sitting at the top of the AL East with a 10-2 record. The Orioles, on the other hand, will enter this four game set seeking yet another bounce back performance as they continue to try to get some momentum going in the first month of the season.

It should also be noted that the Orioles are coming off of their only scheduled off day this month while the Red Sox are coming into the weekend fresh off a heated series with the New York Yankees.

On paper this has all the makings of a great series. The Patriots Day festivities will draw a lot of attention on Monday but the first three games should be just as entertaining with a handful of good pitching matchups throughout the series. Sunday’s stands out with both teams top starters, Dylan Bundy and Chris Sale, squaring off.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Friday, April 13, 7:10 pm – Chris Tillman (0-2, 8.68 ERA) vs Eduardo Rodriguez (0-0, 7.36 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, April 14, 1:05 pm – Alex Cobb (2017: 12-10, 3.66 ERA) vs Hector Velazquez (1-0, 3.12 ERA) – MLB Network, MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, April 15, 1:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (0-1, 1.35 ERA) vs Chris Sale (1-0, 1.06 ERA) – MLB Network, MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Monday, April  16, 11:05 am Andrew Cashner (1-1, 2.50 ERA) vs David Price (1-1, 2.40 ERA) – MLB Network, MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Red Sox:

  • This weekends series in Boston will conclude with the annual Patriots Day game on Monday. The game will start at 11:05 am to coincide with the Boston Marathon and will mark the seventh meeting between the Orioles and Red Sox on the holiday. Boston holds a 4-2 advantage in those games and have also won 12 of their last 17 games on Patriots Day.
  • The Red Sox have started the 2018 season with more than their fair share of divisional matchups. Facing so many familiar opponents in such a short span of time is difficult for any team but Boston has already won eight of their ten games against other AL East teams.
  • Over the past four seasons Mookie Betts has played 63 games against the Baltimore Orioles. He holds a .278 batting average with 12 home runs and 36 RBI’s in his career against the O’s, making him the top threat every time these teams square off.

Notes on Orioles:

  • Chris Tillman will get the start in game one and will be looking for his first win in quite some time. After signing a one-year deal to return to Baltimore this season, Tillman had a lot to prove if he was going to get another chance at the major league level. So far that process has not gone well for the veteran starter. Tillman has not been credited with a win since May 7 of last year and holds a 7.93 ERA since then.
  • Fans will get their first look at Alex Cobb as an Orioles starter this weekend. The Red Sox are a tough lineup to face in your first start of the year but Cobb has seen some good success at Fenway Park in his six major league seasons. The former Tampa Bay Ray holds a 5-1 record with a 3.15 ERA in seven career starts in Boston. Cobb has also only surrendered one home run in 40 career innings at Fenway.

Image credit: Sports Illustrated

Orioles, starting pitcher Alex Cobb reach agreement on four-year contract

SARASOTA, FLA — With opening day under two weeks away, the Baltimore Orioles have finally put together a five-man rotation. On Tuesday evening, the team reached a deal with former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb. The deal is reportedly a four-year contract. The exact dollar figure is unknown yet, but believed to be around $56 million, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN.

The 30-year-old starter played six seasons down in Florida for the Tampa Bay Rays, where he accumulated a career record of 48-35 with a 3.50 ERA, before entering the free agent market this offseason. Cobb’s road from 2011 to 2018 has certainly been a rollercoaster though. In 2013 and 2014 he held a 2.82 ERA and gave up just 24 home runs between both seasons.

On the other hand, Cobb has had some disappointing seasons in recent history. After missing all of 2015 with a UCL tear, Cobb only started five games in 2016 and finished with an ugly 8.59 ERA. His return to form in 2017 that resulted in a 12-10 record and a 3.66 ERA earned him some interest in the free agent market and the Orioles ended up giving him the multi-year deal he wasn’t getting offered by others.

The biggest question for a new Orioles pitcher is always how they will perform in Camden Yards. With Cobb playing in the American League East his entire career, he had the opportunity to take the mound in Baltimore more than others. In seven career starts at Camden Yards, Cobb is 3-1 with a 4.62 ERA.

One of the things that stands out about Cobb is his ability to limit the long ball. He has averaged just under 11 home runs per season in his career, which the Orioles hope will translate to his new home. With Camden Yards being a notoriously hitter-friendly park, Cobb’s talents will be tested. He has surrendered four homers in seven starts there.

Cobb will not get much spring training time to prepare before opening day rolls around but his presence rounds out an Orioles rotation that has been under question all offseason. There may not be much depth and none of the five starters stand out as a true ace, but I think fans should feel more comfortable with these five taking the mound instead of one of the many Triple-A arms in the system.

This move will also likely end the talks of making Miguel Castro a starter. The 23-year-old showed a lot of promise out of the pen last season but Buck Showalter gave him a lot of innings of work in a short amount of time. Castro clearly showed fatigue after pitching 66 innings in 2017 so stretching him out into a starter never sounded like a reasonable option.

Image credit: Kim Klement / USA Today Sports