Orioles trade Brad Brach to Braves for $250K in international slot money

BALTIMORE — Just about an hour after the Orioles earned a series win over the Rays on Sunday, the Orioles traded reliever Brad Brach to the Braves. The Orioles will receive $250,000 in international slot money in return for the right-hander.

In four seasons prior to 2018, Brach pitched to a 3.18 ERA or lower with the Orioles. Things have unraveled for Brach this season, inconveniently in a contract year. His 4.85 ERA in 39 innings pitched to-date marks the highest total of his career. His rookie season in San Diego saw a 5.14 ERA, but Brach only pitched seven innings in September call-ups. Brach, 32, exited the 2012 season with a 3.78 ERA, so he’s running out of time to turn what’s been the worst year of his career around.

Although Brach has struggled this season, he will be welcomed to a Braves bullpen that currently has the 19th-best ERA in the majors. Atlanta (55-47) sits 1.5 games behind the Phillies (58-47) for first place in the National League East. The NL Wild Card race is really crowded right now, so it makes sense for the Braves to add arms to their bullpen even with Brach’s recent struggles.

This trade speaks volumes to the Orioles’ efforts to restock the farm system with international talent. In recent seasons, for whatever reason, the Orioles stayed away from signing international players. In 2017, more than 350 international players joined MLB organizations. None of them were picked up by the Orioles.

As frustrating as this was, the Orioles have realized the error of their ways. For the first time in a long time, the Orioles aren’t freely giving away their international slots, but they’re adding on to what they already have in their funds.

“My strategy on the international market is to get there first, see the player first, and develop a relationship with the family and then make a good investment, get as many good young players as possible,” Duquette said on Sunday. “There’s a lot of interest in the international market because of the quality of the players and the finite number of bonus slots that clubs can utilize, so it’s a pretty interesting time right now, but it’s a good opportunity for the Orioles to get back in that market.”

After the trade became official, Brach spoke to the Baltimore media one final time. When Brach arrives in Atlanta, he will reunite with former Orioles Nick Markakis and Ryan Flaherty. Brach looks forward to the opportunity to win a ring with two former teammates who he played with in the Orioles’ American League Championship series against the Royals in 2014.

“Nick Markakis is an unbelievable teammate,” Brach said. “When I was here that one year he’s one of those guys you were always watching his every move and just kind of taking notes and that’s the guy you want to be when you’re at in his career and it’s definitely exciting to get to go and play with him again.”

“And Ryan Flaherty’s over there, who was here, and he’s one of my good friends, so it’s nice to go over there and have somebody who’s really familiar in that organization,” Brach said. “It’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.”

“He gets to go to a team that is pursuing a pennant race with young players, so he’s a good veteran presence and he will be reunited with people he played with here down in Atlanta to help stabilize their club and accomplish their goals,” Duquette said. “I want to congratulate Brad personally because he did a terrific job during his time here. I was very proud of the work that he did.”

With the trade of Brach, the Orioles wrapped up their trades pertaining to pending free agents who will receive new contracts after the 2018 season. Adam Jones will also hit free agency, but he has 10/5 rights and can veto any trade the Orioles make due to his 10 years of service to the MLB.

When asked about Jones’s status, Duquette made it seem like Jones wants to stay in Baltimore for the rest of this season.

Jones lives with his family in Baltimore during the season. He’s also heavily involved in town through his outstanding community service efforts. Although Jones would love to get a chance to compete for a pennant this season, he still feels an obligation to play out his contract and stay involved in the community, at least through the 2018 season.

No matter what happens with Jones, the Orioles will discuss resigning him in the offseason, but Duquette has made it clear that the Orioles will get younger during the rebuild.

“I would expect that the club would take the payroll down next year and the year after and reinvest those resources in younger ballplayers,” Duquette said on Saturday during a Q+A with fans. “We should be able to do that and get back to competitiveness.”

Image Credit: Camden Chat 

 

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Orioles finish June with 6-2 loss to Angels

BALTIMORE — On Saturday afternoon the Baltimore Orioles dropped a late afternoon game against the Los Angeles Angels 6-2 and extended their losing streak to seven straight.

After almost getting shutout in Friday’s series opener, the Orioles offense struck early on Saturday with two runs in the first inning. Tim Beckham got it started in the leadoff spot with a single to set the table. Adam Jones immediately followed him with a single of his own, allowing Beckham to round second and safely head to third. Manny Machado came up to bat next and battled Tyler Skaggs in a lengthy plate appearance before bringing Beckham in with an RBI single to left field.

The offense slowed down from here but the O’s still managed to push another run across with a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia. That would end the offensive output for the O’s on Saturday evening. The lineup went ice cold, just like the night before, and only mustered three more hits through the next eight innings.

Andrew Cashner got the start for Baltimore and did his best to make those two runs count. Cashner surrendered just one run in the fourth and finished his night after six innings. This quality start rounds out Cashner’s best month of the season so far. The veteran starter will finish June with a 3.21 ERA in five starts.

Brad Brach picked up where Cashner left off by completing a clean 1-2-3 inning on 17 pitches. Going into the eighth the Orioles maintained their slim 2-1 lead but it was only a matter of time before the inconsistent bullpen broke down.

Mychal Givens got the first out of the eighth but then unraveled by giving up a pair of walks and an RBI double to Albert Pujols. Buck Showalter quickly replaced Givens with Tanner Scott but the rookie pitcher could not stop the bleeding. Scott issued a walk to Andrelton Simmons before Chris Young brought home the go-ahead run with a fielder’s choice. Two more runs were scored in the inning after Scott hit Martin Maldonado with the bases loaded and then gave up a two-RBI single to David Fletcher.

When it was all said and done the Angels had not only come back, but also picked up a comfortable 6-2 lead. As you might have guessed, this lead was very safe through the final two innings and Los Angeles picked up their fifth win against the O’s this season.

The Orioles will finish June with a 6-20 record, meaning their latest incredibly miserable feat is not winning a single game against an American league team all month. The Orioles have also dropped 17 of their last 18 home games as they limped through the half way point of the season with the worst record in the league, 23-59.

Image credit: Gail Burton / Associated Press 

Orioles extend losing streak to seven after getting swept by Red Sox

Game 1 (2-0 BOS): After dropping a pair of extra inning games this past weekend in Toronto, the Orioles returned home on Monday and found themselves in yet another close battle that needed more than nine innings to resolve itself. Of course the O’s ended up on the losing end thanks to the offense taking the night off.

It’s no secret that the Orioles have been struggling to score runs recently. At their best they may put up three runs and we saw even less run production when the O’s played the Mets last week without a designated hitter. That felt like the lowest the offense could get but we now know that is wrong. On Monday the Orioles played without their best player as Manny Machado was left out of the lineup with an illness. Many fans expected the O’s to struggle without Machado, but getting shutout through twelve innings was still a new low for this offense.

The good news is the Orioles pitching staff showed up to play and did their best to extend the game as long as possible. Dylan Bundy got the start and allowed just three hits while striking out seven in eight innings of work. This deep outing would end up being even more appreciated as the game remained scoreless through regulation.

Richard Bleier kept the momentum going following Bundy’s exit and struck out two while retiring the side in the ninth on just eight pitches. Brad Brach was also fairly effective in 1.2 innings of work. The inconsistent reliever has cost the O’s a handful of games this season, but he provided a decent outing on Monday.

Brach made his way through the tenth inning without much trouble and then proceeded to get the first two outs of the eleventh pretty quickly. However, Brach put the next two batters on base and was forced out of the game before he could complete the inning.

Mychal Givens came in looking to shut the door and keep the Red Sox scoreless but proceeded to walk another batter and load the bases. To make things even more intense, Givens quickly fell behind Mitch Moreland in the next at bat and was now facing a 3-0 count. With his back against the wall, Givens reared back and delivered three straight fastballs to strikeout Moreland and escape the high tension moment.

You would hope an escape like that would kick the offense into high gear going into the bottom half of the inning, but the O’s remained uninspired at the plate. Chris Davis, Chance Sisco and Jace Peterson were due up but all three batters struck out and the game continued.

Givens made his way out of the eleventh by the skin of his teeth but the twelfth was not as kind. Givens allowed the first three batters to get on base before recording a single out. At this point it seemed inevitable that the Red Sox would break the scoreless monotony and that came true very quickly as Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. picked up RBI’s with a pair of sacrifice outs.

Game 2 (6-4 BOS): The Orioles got Manny Machado back on Tuesday but it was far from enough to propel them to victory. David Hess made his second start against the Red Sox and failed to make it out of the fourth inning. Hess has been a reliable piece of the rotations since making his major league debut in mid May, but Boston has given him a lot of trouble. In six starts Hess has given up fifteen earned runs and ten of them have come from the Red Sox lineup.

Miguel Castro entered the game after Hess and surrendered one more run to make it a 6-2 Boston lead by the end of the fifth.  The score would remain the same until the ninth inning when the O’s got two more runs. Mark Trumbo came through with a two RBI double, but the Orioles still found themselves down by two with just one out left.

Game 3 (4-0 BOS): In the series finale the Orioles turned to a new face to make a spot start. Andrew Cashner was originally scheduled to start but hit the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with a lower back strain. This opened the door for Yefry Ramirez to make his MLB debut. The 24-year-old joined the Orioles organization in 2017 after being traded by the New York Yankees for international signing bonus slots.

Facing the Boston Red Sox in your first career start is far from ideal, but Ramirez seemed up to the task early on. The O’s starter took care of business in the first two innings but fell victim to Mookie Betts in the third when the Boston right fielder sent a solo home run to center field.

Ramirez was able to settle in and make it through the fourth but was removed after one out in the fifth after he started to run into a jam. It is likely that Buck Showalter kept Ramirez on a short leash in his first start, but the young pitcher had already thrown 97 pitches by the time he was pulled.

Mike Wright entered the game and proceeded to allow three runs before finishing the inning. The first two were credited to Ramirez since he put them on base before exiting the game.

Down 4-0 the Orioles were already at a disadvantage but the lead seemed even more insurmountable with Chris Sale on the mound for Boston. The Red Sox ace has dominated the Orioles for most of his career with a 5-2 record and a 2.79 ERA against the Birds. On Wednesday Sale gave up just two hits and struck out nine in six innings of work. He exited the game in the seventh after putting two runners on and when one came around to score later in the inning, Sale was credited with a run.

That would end up being the only run of the afternoon for the Orioles as the Boston bullpen came in and shutdown the last three innings. The O’s had a chance to push a few more runs across in the ninth by getting two runners in scoring position with two outs. Joey Rickard came to the plate for the at bat but grounded out to third base to end the game.

Up next: The Orioles will finish this home stand with a weekend series against the Miami Marlins. This will be the only meeting between these two teams in 2018.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

Orioles swept by blue jays in four game weekend series

Game 1 (5-4 TOR): The Orioles opened up their series against the Blue Jays with a disappointing loss in extra innings. David Hess took the mound and once again gave his team a great chance to win by allowing just one run through six innings of work. Through his first five starts Hess is 2-2 with a 3.07 ERA. Thursday’s start also marked the third straight outing where he gave up one run or less.

Most pitchers would walk away from those three starts with a 3-0 record, but not Hess. Through his first four starts, Hess only received two runs of support per game and that’s obviously not a recipe for success. On Thursday the Orioles lineup actually showed up for their starter and scored four runs. It may have taken them a while to get the offense going but the support was there none the less.

Unfortunately, Brad Brach could not hold on to a 4-1 lead. Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier both worked an inning of relief and gave up just a hit each. When Brach came in for the save, he quickly ran into trouble. After getting the first out, Brach walked a batter and then gave up a double to put two runners in scoring position. Randal Grichuk brought them both home with double to make it a 4-3 game.

Buck Showalter opted to keep Brach in the game despite the shaky performance which ended up being a mistake. Brach failed to settle down and walked another batter before allowing a single to load the bases. An RBI single by Kevin Pillar tied the game and Showalter finally made a pitching change. Miguel Castro came in and worked out of the jam by inducing a double play to force extra innings

The pitching change kept the game alive for the O’s but certainly came too late. This is not the first time Brach has struggled this season in the closing role. With wins coming at a premium, Showalter’s decision is definitely confusing.

The controversial decisions continued as Showalter opted to let Castro come back out for the tenth inning. The reliever started the inning by putting two runners on but immediately followed it up with a pair of strikeouts. Castro would not finish off the inning and escape the jam this time though. Aledmys Diaz came up to the plate and delivered an RBI single to left field, completing the 5-4 walk off win.

Game 2 (5-1 TOR): Check out the full recap of Friday night’s game by Ian Schultz.

Game 3 (4-3 TOR): The Orioles played another extra inning game on Saturday and once again suffered the agony of a walk-off loss. It was a slow start for both offenses with only one run being scored in the first five innings. Kevin Gausman and Aaron Sanchez traded punches through their six-plus innings of work before turning it over to the bullpen.

Down 2-0 going into the seventh, the O’s offense finally came to life and pushed two runs across when an RBI double by Chance Sisco was followed by an RBI single by Adam Jones.

The Blue Jays responded with a solo home run by Grichuk in the next inning. The Toronto outfielder had a great series against the O’s this weekend by going 8-for-16 at the plate with two homers and five RBI.

A wild pitch by Tyler Clippard allowed Jonathan Schoop to score in the eighth and once again tie the game up. The score would remain tied at three through the ninth before these two teams entered extra innings for the second time this series.

The O’s did have a chance to take the lead in the ninth by getting Jones and Manny Machado on the corners with one out. However, in the ensuing at bat Jones misread a ground ball and was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice. The mistake may have cost the O’s a chance at a win in regulation but the bullpen continued to be a liability as the game continued.

Mychal Givens came in to pitch the tenth inning and proceeded to get two outs but also load the bases. Luke Maile stepped up to the plate and was quickly fed three balls outside the zone. In this scenario there isn’t a reason to swing and Maile did just that as ball four sailed up in the zone. It wasn’t the most exciting walk-off for Toronto but they all feel the same when you’re on the losing end.

Game 4 (13-3 TOR): Facing their first four game sweep of the season, the O’s were desperate for a win in Sunday afternoon’s finale. Unlike the extra inning thrillers on Thursday and Saturday, the O’s did not hang around with the Blue Jays and found themselves on the wrong end of a 13-3 blowout.

Alex Cobb got the start for the O’s and surrendered nine runs in just 3.2 innings. Cobb has had quite a few awful starts this year but this one stands as one of the worst. The nine runs allowed ties Cobb’s career high and inflates his ERA back up to 7.23. Pedro Araujo entered the game after Cobb and failed to stop the bleeding by allowing four more runs in just one inning of work.

Mike Wright and Darren O’Day combined to close out the final three innings but the damage had already been done. Even in the blowout loss it was nice to see O’Day return to the bullpen after spending most of May on the disabled list. The submarine pitcher struck out two while retiring the Blue Jays on 17 pitches in the eighth.

The O’s offense actually struck first on Sunday with a solo home run by Trey Mancini in the second inning. The Orioles would not get another until the seventh when Schoop did the same thing. The third and final run came later that inning when Jace Peterson picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice.

Up next: The Orioles return home on Monday to open a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox. This will be the Red Sox’ first visit to Camden Yards in 2018. The two AL East teams have met twice already with the Red Sox leading the season series 6-1.

Image credit: Baltimore Sun

Series Recap: Orioles end 11-day win drought with sweep over Mets

QUEENS, NY — The Baltimore Orioles earned a two-game sweep over the New York Mets on Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon. Baltimore’s record moves to 19-41, 22.5 games back in the American League East. The Mets fall to 27-32, extending their losing streak to six games. They now trail the National League East-leading Braves (36-25) by eight games.

Game 1 (2-1 BAL): The Orioles plated two runs in the first inning, and that ended up being all they needed to win for the first time in 11 days, ending a seven-game losing streak.

Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, and Manny Machado got it going right away with three straight singles to begin the game. Mancini scored on Machado’s single, which simultaneously moved Jones over to third. Then, Danny Valencia flew out to left field, but Jones scored and awarded Valencia an RBI.

Machado stole second base after his single, but Mark Trumbo struck out and Jonathan Schoop flew out to end the top of the first inning.

Alex Cobb breezed through his first four innings, as catcher Kevin Plawecki drawing a walk in the second inning wound up being the Mets’ only baserunner in the first four frames. The Mets cut Baltimore’s lead in half in the fifth inning when rightfielder Jay Bruce scored on a flyout by former American League East-foe José Bautista. Bruce singled to begin the inning, and moved to third on a Plawecki double. But, Cobb pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning, and left the game after throwing 99 pitches, 61 for strikes. His effort earned him his second win of the season, lifting his overall record to 2-7.

Mychal Givens pitched the seventh inning and one third of the eighth inning. He walked one and struck out two. Richard Bleier got the final two outs of the eighth inning, and Brad Brach earned his ninth save of the season despite walking Bruce with two outs.

New York starter Jason Vargas lost his fourth game of the season after winning two straight games, dropping his record to 2-4.

Game 2 (1-0 BAL): Both starters – Zack Wheeler and Dylan Bundy – cruised through seven shutout innings. Each allowed just three hits and stuck out five. Bundy led in walks over Wheeler 3-1. Bundy threw 96 pitches (62 strikes), and Wheeler tossed 93 (60 strikes).

The Orioles scored their lone and winning run in the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez, batting leadoff, singled on a ground ball thrown by relief pitcher Jeurys Familia. Craig Gentry came into the game to run for Alvarez. Mancini lined out to Bruce, but then Jones singled to left field, advancing Gentry to third base. Machado drove Gentry home on another single, this one to centerfield. The score led to Baltimore’s sweep and gave Familia his third loss of the season, lowering his record to 2-3.

Once again in the ninth inning, Brach earned his second save in 24 hours. Leadoff hitter Todd Frazier singled to begin the inning, but Brach regrouped and retired the side to end the game. Bundy received the win, raising his record to 4-7.

Up Next: The Orioles head to Toronto for their first series at the Rogers Centre of the 2018 season. The four-game series versus the Blue Jays features 7:07 pm starts on Thursday and Friday, and 1:07 pm starts on Saturday and Sunday.

Image Credit: NY Daily News

Orioles prepare for beltway battle against Nationals

BALTIMORE — The Orioles finished their longest road trip of the season this weekend with a series loss against Tampa Bay. The O’s managed a split against Chicago but dropped both series against their division opponents and now return home with a 4-7 record on the trip.

It’s a shame the Orioles dug themselves into this deep of a hole considering the west coast trip is already out of the way as well. We know the Orioles had one of the toughest schedules through the first month of the season but the road ahead looks much more friendly. Had the team floated around .500 early on, we would be having a much different conversation right now. However, there could still be a reason to celebrate in Baltimore this coming week.

Back in early May, Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette said that Memorial Day would be the benchmark for evaluating the future of the team. Nothing has changed between then in now. If anything it’s gotten worse for the Orioles as they enter this series with the worst record in the entire league. Fans can only hope this means a much needed sale is on the way. Manny Machado has continued to shine with MVP caliber numbers through the first two months, making him an even more attractive piece for contending teams. Separating with Machado would be tough for Orioles fans but it’s a reality many have come to terms with already.

Last meeting: The O’s and Nats were scheduled for a four game home-and-home series in early May last year. Being separated by less than 40 miles, each team hosted a pair of games that were meant to be played on consecutive days like a normal four game series. Due to a postponement, the final game was delayed a month but the series featured two walk off wins and each team won both of their home games to split the series 2-2.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Monday, May 28, 1:05 pm – Alex Cobb (1-6, 7.32 ERA) vs Gio Gonzalez (5-2, 2.38 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Tuesday, May 29, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (3-6, 4.45 ERA) vs Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 2.13 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Wednesday, May 30, 7:05 pm- David Hess (2-1, 4.15 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (8-1, 2.13 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • The Orioles have played more interleague games against the Nationals than any other National league team in the past decade. Adam Jones is the longest tenured player on the current roster and has started 48 games against Washington in his career. Jones holds a .318 batting average with 11 home runs and 30 RBI’s against the Nationals which helps account for roughly a third of his homers and RBI’s in interleague play.
  • This will mark the fourth straight year where the Orioles have played at home on Memorial Day. They hold a 4-3 record on the holiday since 2011.
  • Since running into some trouble at the end of April, which saw his ERA increase to over 6.50, Brad Brach has managed to regroup and get back on track. The Orioles closer has given up just six hits and surrendered no runs in his last 7.2 innings of work dating back to May 6. Brach has also recorded five saves in that span.

Notes on Nationals:

  • Former Orioles slugger, Mark Reynolds signed a minor league contract with the Nationals in April and made his way up to the major league level earlier this month after Ryan Zimmerman hit the disabled list. Since then Reynolds is 12/27 at the plate with five home runs.
  • Gio Gonzalez is set to start in Monday’s series opener. The lefty has been impressive all season to earn himself a 5-2 record and 2.38 ERA. Just to give you an idea of how dominate he has been this season, Gonzalez’s worst start came on April 23 when he gave up three runs in five innings of work. His history against the O’s is pretty good but coincidentally this is the second time he will be starting a Memorial Day game against Baltimore. In 2013 the Orioles picked up four runs off of Gonzalez in route to a 6-2 win over the Nationals on Memorial Day.

Image credit: Nick Wass / Associated Press

 

Orioles overcome pitching woes to take two from visiting Royals

Game 1: (15-7 KC): The Orioles returned home from their west coast trip ready for a fresh start. Jonathan Schoop was back in the starting lineup and Dylan Bundy was slated to start against the 11-22 Royals. Even with the Orioles early season woes, that doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for disaster but what ended up happening was easily the most embarrassing loss of the season for the O’s

Bundy turned in yet another bad start but that’s probably putting it way too lightly. The 25-year-old starter surrendered seven runs in the first inning without recording a single out. We’ve seen Mike Wright and Chris Tillman completely implode in the first inning a few times this year but at least they got an out or two before getting yanked. The terrible start puts Bundy in the MLB record books as the only pitcher to allow four home runs without recording an out. Three of those four came consecutively when Jorge Soler, Mike Moustakas, and Salvador Perez went back-to-back-to-back.

An early 7-0 deficit is surmountable but the Royals were not done yet. Mike Wright entered the game and proceeded to give up five runs of his own over the next five innings followed by Pedro Araujo who gave up three more. By the end of the sixth Kansas City held a comfortable 15-1 lead.

The O’s staged a small rally in the final two innings but it was far from enough to catch the Royals and their huge lead. Danny Valencia and Caleb Joseph got it started with solo homers in the eighth. In the ninth the Orioles focused on getting base runners and actually strung some hits together to score another four runs. Schoop knocked in two with an RBI single, Valencia picked up a sacrifice fly and Anthony Santander capped it off with an RBI single of his own.

Game 2 (5-3 BAL): After Tuesday’s game, which ended about as soon as it started, the Orioles were just looking to play a close game. That got their wish and ended up winning in a back and forth battle, creating a rubber match scenario for just the fourth time this season.

Andrew Cashner provided a much needed quality start for the Orioles by surrendering just three runs through six innings of work. The Royals struck first when Lucas Duda hit a two run homer off of Cashner in the fourth.

The Orioles responded quickly though and got two runners on base with one out in the bottom half of the inning. Mark Trumbo came to the plate and hit a pop up but Chris Davis was able to come through by launching a hanging fastball into the left field seats for a three run homer.

The O’s only managed to hold this slim lead for another inning before Cashner surrendered his third run of the night in the sixth. Duda got the best of the O’s starter once again, this time for a game tying RBI single.

Richard Bleier tossed an inning of work in Tuesdays game but still had plenty left in the tank to throw two more clean innings after Cashner’s exit. Bleier allowed just two hits while finishing the seventh and eighth on just 25 pitches, lowering his ERA to 0.40 in the process.

He would also get credited with his third win of the season as the Orioles managed to push two game winning runs across in the bottom of the eighth. Mark Trumbo made up for his missed opportunity in the fourth by bringing home Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop with a two RBI single. The big hit gave the O’s a 5-3 lead which Brad Brach successfully maintained in the ninth inning to secure a win.

Game 3 (11-6 BAL): The Orioles didn’t do themselves any favors early on in Thursday’s series finale. With a double header looming this weekend, Chris Tillman was given the opportunity to start. He was initially scrapped from the rotation coming into this weeks series but once again found himself on the mound due to the teams lack of depth.

Tillman started the game by loading the bases and then surrendered a grand slam to Salvador Perez. Things were looking dangerously similar to game one and another series loss looked imminent. However, the Orioles got a rare night out of their offense and the bullpen managed to stop the bleeding for an unexpected series win.

Down 6-3 Buck Showalter made the decision to pull Tillman after just one out in the second. The bullpen had been heavily taxed but the offense looked like they were capable of scoring six after getting three back in the bottom half of the first. Miguel Castro came in and slammed the door shut on the Royals offense. He would go on to pitch 4.2 innings of relief, changing the momentum of the game in the process. Tanner Scott and Mychal Givens followed and were even more effective. The duo gave up just two hits in three innings of work.

But how did the Orioles score eleven runs? I’m just as surprised as you but the O’s best offensive game of the season came on a night when it was much needed. Coming into the series, 23 of the Orioles 34 home runs had been solo shots. The team just wasn’t getting the most out of their brief sparks of offense but that changed on Thursday when Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Trey Mancini all picked up two run homers. Chance Sisco brought home the go ahead RBI’s on a double while Anthony Santander and Jonathan Schoop rounded out the scoring with RBI singles.

Up next: The Orioles will stay at home this weekend as the Tampa Bay Rays come to town. A double header has been scheduled for Saturday to make up for the rainout when these teams met just a few weeks ago.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP