Three takeaways from Orioles series win over Rays

BALTIMORE — This weekend the Orioles picked up their first series win since the All-Star break by taking three of four from Tampa Bay. After dropping Thursday’s series opener 4-3, the offense exploded and scored 37 runs over the course of the next three games.

We all know wins have been hard to come by all year, so it’s not surprising to hear that this is just the second time that the O’s have won three games in a row this season. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but the Birds longest winning streak is four games and they will have a chance to match that as they head to New York on Tuesday. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the wins while they last. Here are some highlights from the Orioles big weekend.

1. Four quality starts:

The lineup stole the spotlight this weekend with a barrage of home runs and RBI’s but the starting rotation was locked in as well. Four of the five O’s starters got the chance to pitch in this series and each one turned in a quality outing. Alex Cobb got it started on Thursday with six innings of work. The veteran starter surrendered three earned runs and was served his 14th loss of the year but the performance was still a step in the right direction. Cobb finished June with a 6.75 ERA and has been able to slowly lower it down to 6.08 over the course of July. His 2-14 record on the year remains ugly but some of the recent losses can certainly be chalked up to a lack of run support.

Andrew Cashner kept the ball rolling in his start on Friday by going six innings and giving up just a pair of runs. Cashner continues to be one of the more consistent members of the rotation and has given up three runs or less in seven of his last eight starts.

The run support kept coming on Saturday but Kevin Gausman didn’t even need it as he turned in a great bounce-back performance to help the Orioles win 11-2. Gausman tossed seven innings and gave up just two runs which was a much-needed rebound from his previous three starts in which he struggled to go five innings and gave up over four runs per outing.

Dylan Bundy rounded out the weekend by picking up his seventh win of the season. After suffering an injury against Atlanta, Bundy hit the disabled list and lost the momentum he had built in the month of June. His return from the disabled list was very lackluster and consisted of three short outings where he gave up five runs each time. July has not been kind to Bundy throughout his three major league seasons but hopefully Sunday’s rebound start is a sign of a strong finish that is to come.

2. Curtain call for Jones:

The drama of the trade deadline has already hit the Orioles hard this year as Manny Machado was dealt to the Dodgers and then Zach Britton was shipped off to New York. Both trades saw good returns but the departure of those two players was hard to swallow for O’s fans.

As the deadline approaches on Tuesday, Adam Jones is the next name in the trade block. The 13-year veteran is in the final year of his contract which holds a no-trade clause that he must waive if the Orioles are going to deal him. Essentially Jones is in full control of his immediate future. The center-fielder has not been shy about giving his thoughts on the trade speculation and even presented a scenario earlier this month in which the Orioles trade him to a contender but he re-signs with Baltimore in the offseason.

This past weekend Jones reportedly met with the front office to discuss these potential trades. The Phillies, Giants and Indians have all reached out to the O’s and made offers but according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko, Jones has not shown any interest in waiving the no-trade clause and leaving the Orioles.

Things could change before Tuesday’s deadline, but for now it sounds like Jones will still be an Oriole on Wednesday. If things do in fact change, Sunday could mark Jones’ final home game as an Oriole. If that does end up being the case, the longtime Oriole will have left on a high note. Jones went 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI to help lift the O’s to an 11-5 win over the Rays.

3. Schoop’s streak:

Jonathan Schoop has been on fire all month. Coming into July he was batting just .197 and could not find his groove for any extended period of time. This led Buck Showalter to sit Schoop on the bench for a couple of games in an attempt to clear the second baseman’s head.

As the end of July approaches, Schoop has successfully raised his average to .244 by picking up a hit in 22 of his last 23 starts. The O’s second baseman came into Sunday afternoon with an 11-game hit streak but found himself in danger of losing it after going 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts early in the game. Schoop saw his final at-bat of the afternoon in the seventh inning and he made it count. After taking the first pitch for a ball, Schoop got ahold of a slider and sent it over the center-field wall into the Orioles bullpen to give the O’s a 9-3 lead and extend his hit streak to 12 games.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

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Offense stays hot as Orioles pick up 11-2 win over Rays

BALTIMORE — On Saturday night the Orioles offense picked up where they left off the night before and continued to dominate the Rays pitching staff with a continuous onslaught of runs. The score was close through the first three innings but the O’s offense would end up pulling away in route to an 11-2 win.

Joey Rickard led the way for the Baltimore offense, going 3-for-4 at the plate with five RBI. The right-fielder hit a solo home run in the second inning and added a pair of doubles in the fourth and sixth. Rickard may not play everyday but he sure has seen a great deal of success against the Rays so far this season. The last time Rickard picked up three hits in a game was on May 13 when the O’s defeated the Rays 17-1. Coincidentally he had five RBI in that game too.

Trey Mancini also turned in a great evening at the plate by recording the first four-hit game of his career. It all started in the second inning when Mancini launched a two-run homer into the left field seats to put the O’s up 2-1. His next three hits were all singles but he would come around to score on two of them. This outstanding performance was fitting as 25,000 fans in attendance received a Mancini bobble head prior to the game.

Lost in this surplus of runs was a great bounce-back performance by Kevin Gausman. The O’s starter went seven strong innings and gave up just two runs while striking out five. In his last three starts prior to Saturday Gausman surrendered a total of 13 runs and never made it past the fifth inning.

Mike Wright and David Hess combined to close out the final two innings. Wright took care of business very quickly by picking up three outs on just nine pitches. Hess was making just his second appearance of the month after losing his spot in the starting rotation at the end of June. The rookie pitcher got off to a rough start when he hit Daniel Robertson with a pitch, but he managed to settle down and pick up a pair of strikeouts while finishing off the inning.

The Orioles tied up their season series against the Rays with the 11-2 win on Saturday. Despite going 6-for-6 against Tampa Bay so far in 2018, the O’s offense has consistently attacked the Rays pitchers. Saturday marks the fourth game this year in which the O’s scored nine runs or more against Tampa Bay.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

Orioles return home to host AL East leading Red Sox

BALTIMORE — The post Manny Machado era is officially here and for a split second the Orioles managed to fool us into thinking they could compete without their best player. Anyone that watched this weekend’s series against Toronto knows that trickery was short lived though.

On Friday the Birds resumed their 2018 campaign by taking on the Blue Jays and even staged a late game comeback to force extra innings. However, the Orioles would end up losing after Tim Beckham misplayed a ground ball in the bottom of the tenth. Say what you will about Machado playing shortstop this season but if was on the field Friday night, that game doesn’t end in the tenth.

After dropping Saturday’s game 4-1, the Orioles found themselves in a position to win late in Sunday’s finale. An RBI double by Renato Nunez and a defensive error by Toronto allowed the O’s to score two in the top of the eighth and extend their lead to 4-1. Brad Brach entered the game out of the pen in the bottom half of the inning and proceeded to surrender a two RBI homer, cutting the lead to just one run. Tanner Scott followed Brach in an attempt to close out the inning but gave up a two run shot of his own, leading Toronto to their ninth victory over the Orioles this season.

To make things worse, the road ahead does not look encouraging for Buck Showalter’s team. The Orioles will play three more AL East opponents before the end of July rolls around, starting with this home stand against Boston.

Last meeting: The Orioles hosted Boston back in mid June and the visiting Red Sox came out on top with a three game sweep by outscoring the O’s 13-5. Looking back the sweep comes as no surprise as the Orioles were in the middle of a season high nine game losing streak.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Monday, July 23, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (4-7, 4.33 ERA) vs Rick Porcello (11-4, 4.13 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Tuesday, July 24, 7:05 pm – Yefry Ramirez (0-3, 3.09 ERA) vs Drew Pomeranz (1-3, 6.81 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Wednesday, July 25, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (6-9, 4.57 ERA) vs David Price (11-6, 4.17 ERA) – MASN, ESPN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Red Sox:

  • Mookie Betts is always a player to fear if you’re an Orioles fan. The Red Sox right fielder holds a batting average of .286 with 42 RBI’s in 71 career games against the O’s and so far in 2018 Betts has shown no signs of slowing down against Baltimore pitching. In the eight games between Boston and Baltimore so far this season, Betts has gone 11-31 at the plate with three home runs and six RBI’s.
  • Drew Pomeranz will be making his first start since May 31 on Tuesday. The Boston starter landed on the disabled list earlier this season with biceps tendentious, halting his season before he could get some momentum going. In the eight starts prior to the injury Pomeranz accumulated an ERA of 6.83 and only made it past the fifth inning on two occasions. Pomeranz holds a 2-4 record with a 4.01 ERA in nine career appearances against the Orioles.

Notes on Orioles:

  • Mychal Givens has had a roller coaster season in the Orioles bullpen. The inconsistencies have resulted in a 4.56 ERA but if there is a team that you can trust Givens to perform well against, it’s the Red Sox. Givens holds a 1.71 ERA against Boston, which is the lowest ERA against any team he has thrown at least 20 innings against.
  • With Manny Machado out of the lineup, the Orioles are in desperate need of a consistent leader at the plate. Jonathan Schoop may be having a down year but so far in July, the second baseman has been producing in his at bats. The O’s second baseman has recorded a hit in 16 of his last 17 games to help give himself a .352 batting average in the month of July.

Image credit: Patrick McDermott / USA Today Sports