Orioles pick up pair of comeback wins over visiting Yankees

Game 1 (5-4 BAL): The Orioles kicked off their four-game series against the Yankees with a doubleheader. To the surprise of many, the O’s got the best of their American League East rival and snapped six-game losing streak with a 5-4 win.

Jimmy Yacabonis was called upon to make his second start of the year after turning in a decent outing in his first career start a few weeks ago. The Yankees jumped on the rookie pitcher early and picked up three runs in the first three innings. Yacabonis settled in after this and worked his way through five innings.

Mark Trumbo helped inch the Birds back into the game with a two-run blast in the fourth. It marked Trumbo’s 12th homer of the year and fourth this month. The Yankees got a run back in the sixth but the Orioles offense was not done yet. Trumbo led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Jonathan Schoop followed with a double, bringing Danny Valencia to the plate. CC Sabathia was approaching 100 pitches on the hill but remained in the game to face Valencia. This ended up being a somewhat questionable call as the right fielder sent a three-run shot to deep center, giving the O’s a 5-4 lead.

Mike Wright, Mychal Givens and Zach Britton closed out the last three innings with ease to secure the win. The victory marked the Orioles’ first in game one of a series since June 22 when they defeated the Braves in extra innings.

Game 2 (10-2 NYY): The Orioles could not keep their good fortunes going when game two rolled around. Yefry Ramirez got the start but failed to work at the fast pace he had displayed in his last two outings. Didi Gregorius put the Yankees on the board in the first inning with an RBI double. The lineup continued to threaten later in the inning by loading the bases but Ramirez escaped with a timely strikeout.

A two-run homer by Brett Gardner extended New York’s lead in the fourth. Ramirez’s pitch count was inflated but the rookie pitcher managed to finish off the inning. However, the Yankees finally forced Ramirez out of the game in the next inning after Greg Bird picked up an RBI single.

The score remained 4-0 in New York’s favor for the next three innings as Ryan Meisinger entered the game for the Orioles out of the pen. The 24-year-old made his MLB debut late last month and has seen a decent amount of appearances since then. Monday night’s outing stands as his best so far. Meisinger struck out three while tossing three perfect innings.

After Meisinger’s exit the bullpen completely fell apart. Brad Brach came in for the eighth and picked up two quick outs but failed to close the door. Four Yankees batters picked up two-out hits, including a home run by Austin Romine and an RBI double by Gardner. By the time Brach was yanked, the Yankees had picked up an insurmountable 7-0 lead.

Tanner Scott came in next but couldn’t get the third out fast enough. The Yankees loaded the bases and picked up an eighth run via a throwing error by Schoop. The Orioles finally got on the board in the bottom half of the inning when Tim Beckham hit his first home run since returning from the disabled list in late June. New York would go on to get those two runs back in the ninth as they wrapped up a dominant 10-2 win in game two of Monday’s double header.

Game 3 (6-5 BAL): On Tuesday afternoon it was reported that the New York Yankees had entered the trade conversations for Manny Machado. In a year filled with misery for O’s fans this felt like just another jab to the gut. However, those same fans were able to sleep well on Tuesday night knowing that Machado still remained on the O’s long enough to help lift his team to their fifth win over the Yankees this season.

The All-Star shortstop went 3-for-4 at the plate with two game-tying home runs. The first came off of Masahiro Tanaka on the very first pitch of the fifth inning. The New York starter had just come off the disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game but it was not a smooth transition back to the rotation for him. Tanaka only lasted 4.1 innings with Machado’s leadoff homer, marking the third and final run surrendered for the Yankees starter.

Machado’s second homer came in the seventh off of Chad Green. Adam Jones helped set the table by getting on base with a single and Machado followed with a deep shot to right field. Aaron Judge gave chase all the way back to the wall but the ball landed just out of reach for the 6’7″ right fielder as he leaped up in an attempt to rob Machado. The umpires needed to review the play despite the ball landing on the grounds crew roof but the correct call was ultimately made after a brief delay.

The game would remain tied going into the ninth inning. The Orioles bullpen had tossed 2.2 clean innings of relief and the offense responded with one more rally. With Dellin Betances on the mound it seemed almost certain that the game would be going into extra innings but the Orioles caught a break when Caleb Joseph got hit by a pitch in the first at-bat of the inning. Jones kept the momentum going with a double down the right-field line that somehow managed to stay fair. The big hit allowed Joseph to go to third for a sac fly opportunity.

Trumbo came to the plate and turned in a terrible four-pitch at-bat that ended in a strikeout. Trumbo appeared to be thrown off right from start and couldn’t find a pitch to drive to the outfield. After this, the weight of the game fell onto Schoop’s shoulders and the second baseman did not disappoint. After watching the first two pitches, Schoop found one he liked down and away in the zone. Schoop extended his arms down and poked the ball past the reach of Greg Bird at first base for the game-winning RBI.

Game 4 (9-0 NYY): After an exciting walk-off win on Tuesday the Orioles had stumbled into the opportunity for their second series win over the Yankees this year. However, New York’s offense jumped all over the Orioles pitching staff and forced a split with their second blowout victory of the series.

Dylan Bundy was on the mound for the O’s and struggled again in his second start since returning from a brief stint on the disabled list. Bundy had a clean start in the first two innings but quickly unraveled in the third. After putting runners on the corners with two outs, Bundy surrendered an RBI single to Giancarlo Stanton. The damage didn’t stop there. The Yankees loaded the bases and Bird came up big with a grand slam down the right-field line. The ball was hooking to the right but bounced off the foul pole before drifting too far.

Bundy worked one more inning before being replaced by the bullpen. Wright, Jhan Marinez and Donnie Hart all entered the game for the O’s but none of them could keep the Yankees off the board. New York picked up four more runs over the course of the rest of the game to eventually rack up a 9-0 lead.

Tyler Wade put the fifth run on the board in the sixth with his first career home run. Romine launched a solo home run as well and Stanton rounded out the scoring with another RBI single. The Yankees have outscored the Orioles 60-42 this year but the season series is tied up 5-5.

Up next: The Orioles were originally scheduled to have Thursday off but will now be playing a make-up game against Philadelphia. The Orioles and Phillies were meant to play a brief two-game series back in May but the first game had to be postponed due to rain. The O’s will finish off the week by hosting the Texas Rangers before getting a four-day break next week for the All-Star game.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

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Orioles place Colby Rasmus on restricted list after outfielder tells team he is leaving

On Tuesday afternoon Colby Rasmus informed manager Buck Showalter that he will be leaving the team. The Orioles promptly placed Rasmus on the restricted list.

Rasmus did not provide a specific reason for his departure but it is the second time in his career that he has left a team while under contract. Showalter told the media that Rasmus wished to “go home and discontinue playing.” The Orioles manager went on to say that the team will honor his request. “We wish him well, and we’ll see what the future brings.”

The restricted list doesn’t get brought up often but is in place for scenarios like this. Teams may place a player on the restricted list if they leave the team without a valid reason. A player may also be placed on the list after they announce retirement. This also ensures that the Orioles will remain in possession of the remainder of Rasmus’ contract if he does decide to return to baseball.

Some are speculating that Rasmus is announcing his retirement but the utility outfielder did the same thing last season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rasmus suffered a hip injury in 2017 that saw him hit the disabled list in June. On July 13 he told the Rays he would be leaving.

The same exact scenario appears to have played out once again in 2018 with Rasmus dealing with another hip injury. Rasmus landed on the disabled list earlier this season and only recently returned to the lineup in late June.

At the time of his departure, the veteran outfielder was batting .133 with one home run and 19 strikeouts in just under 50 plate appearances. Rasmus entered the tenth year of his professional career by signing a minor league contract with the Orioles this past offseason worth $3 million.

Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch podcast

Image credit: Steve Mitchell / USA Today Sports

Orioles swept by Mariners in series full of frustration

Game 1 (5-3 SEA): The Orioles returned home this week after picking up just their third road series win of the season this past weekend in Atlanta. For the visiting Mariners, this series marked the final stop of a lengthy east coast trip. It also marked their third straight series against AL East competition after they got swept by New York and only took one in Boston.

Seattle got back on track in Monday’s series opener. Dee Gordon got the scoring started with a two-RBI single in the second. It was a slim lead for the Mariners but the Orioles would end up playing from behind for most of the night.

A Jonathan Schoop solo homer put the O’s on the board in the fifth, but Denard Span got that run back in the next half inning with a homer of his own. The Orioles kept the offensive momentum going in the sixth and managed to tie it up thanks to a series of quality at-bats. Manny Machado got it started with a leadoff single. Mark Trumbo followed that up with a walk and then Chris Davis was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

The O’s failed to record a hit through the rest of the inning but still managed to score a pair of runs on two sacrifice ground outs. The missed opportunity for a bigger inning came back and bit the O’s almost immediately with the Mariners scoring two runs in the seventh to retake the lead.

Miguel Castro replaced Andrew Cashner after the Orioles starter gave up three runs through six innings of work. Castro put himself in a jam by loading the bases to start the inning. A wild pitch allowed the first run to score and Mitch Haniger followed that up with a sacrifice fly to make it a 5-3 game.

Just like the O’s in the previous inning, the Mariners left some potential insurance runs on base but the necessary damage had already been done. Tanner Scott replaced Castro out of the pen and picked up a pair of strikeouts with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Orioles offense failed to reach base in the final three innings as the Mariners bullpen made quick work of their lineup. Only 39 pitches were needed to retire the last nine Orioles hitters.

Game 2 (3-2 SEA):  Tuesday night saw another back-and-forth contest. This time the Orioles got on the board first when Danny Valencia hit a solo homer in the second inning. However, Kyle Seager responded by sending one deep to right field in the fourth.

The score would remain tied until the sixth inning when the O’s pushed a second run across. Unfortunately the inning played out very similar to the sixth inning of Monday’s game. The O’s opened up the inning by loading the bases but when Machado grounded into a double play, the momentum was killed instantly. The go-ahead run looks nice in the box score but there was some controversy surrounding the play since Machado did not run down the first baseline in an attempt to beat the relay throw.

The crowd responded by booing and Machado later apologized after the game. Whether Machado beats that throw or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the O’s offense has failed to cash in on some golden opportunities with these bases loaded situations.

This would become clearly evident once again when the Mariners mounted a small comeback in the eighth. With two runners on base, Seager got the best of the O’s pitching staff again with a two-RBI single to make it a 3-2 game. Seattle went on to close out the last two innings and walk away with another close win.

Darren O’Day was credited with both runs after putting them on base to start the inning. However, O’Day had to be replaced by Scott after re-aggrevating a hamstring injury during the second at bat of the inning. Jean Segura laid down a bunt toward the third base side of the mound but O’Day was not able to field it after taking a few steps and then slowing down with a limp.

After the game manager Buck Showalter spoke on the play and O’Day has been placed on the 10-day disabled list since. This is a huge loss for the Orioles who already had to watch their best reliever, Richard Bleier, go down with a season-ending lat tear a few weeks ago.

Game 3 (8-7 SEA): Wednesday’s game started and ended the same way as Tuesday’s game. Valencia struck first with a two-run homer in the first inning but the Mariners ended up coming out on top with a late inning comeback.

Seattle managed to tie the game up 2-2 in the third but Trumbo quickly put the O’s back on top with an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning. A second run scored on the play after a throwing error by Span and the Orioles had a 4-2 lead.

The Mariners would take it back in the fifth by jumping on the ever-inconsistent Alex Cobb. Seattle loaded the bases with just one out and later cashed in with a pair of runs via sacrifice fly and RBI single. The rough outing marked the seventh start this season where Cobb has surrendered at least five runs.

The score would remain 5-4 until the eighth inning when the Orioles got the best of Seattle reliever Alex Colome. Machado and Valencia led off the inning with a pair of first-pitch singles. However, the momentum slowed down significantly when Trumbo lined out and Schoop grounded into a fielder’s choice.

With runners on the corners, Davis came to the plate and worked himself in a favorable 3-1 count. Colome let his next pitch hang over the middle of the plate and Davis got all of it. The ball sailed down the right field line and landed on Eutaw street to give the Orioles a 7-5 lead going into the final inning.

In typical Orioles fashion, this would not be enough for a win. Zach Britton came in for the ninth and proceeded to throw away a late lead for the second time in a week. Haniger led off the ninth with a single and Seager followed with a two-run homer to tie the game up. The Mariners’ third baseman would go on to finish the four-game series with five hits and five RBI despite not starting on Thursday.

Britton did manage to close out the inning without surrendering the lead but the Orioles would end up losing in 11 innings. Span made up for his throwing error earlier in the game by driving in the go-ahead run in the eleventh.

Game 4 (4-2 SEA): With the first three games of the series all feeling like carbon copies of each other, it’s fitting that Thursday afternoon’s finale was another closely contested extra inning game.

With Dylan Bundy hitting the disabled list earlier this week, the O’s turned to Jimmy Yacabonis to make a spot start. The 26-year-old pitcher made his debut with the Orioles last season but didn’t appear in too many games. None the less, Yacabonis made a decent impression with a 4.35 ERA in a little over 20 innings of relief. However, that did not carry over into 2018 with Yacabonis struggling at the major league level so far this season.

Through the first three innings it looked like Yacabonis had a good grasp on the game. The Seattle lineup had proven deadly so far in the series but the young starter gave up just two hits while striking out four in the early innings. Yacabonis would get a rude awakening in the fourth, though.

After giving up a lead off walk to Haniger, Yacabonis fell victim to Nelson Cruz. The veteran slugger didn’t waste any time sending a fastball to right center field. Valencia made an attempt to snag the ball before it could get out, but Cruz’s towering shot came down fast and dropped just over the reach of Valencia for a two-run homer.

Yacabonis regrouped and finished off the fourth but his afternoon would come to an end in the next inning after giving up a pair of singles. With the O’s offense immediately responding in the bottom of the fourth, Buck was quick to pull his starter and go to the pen with the game tied 2-2. Solo home runs by Machado and Davis quickly erased the lead created by Cruz’s two-run blast.

Yefry Ramirez entered the game out of the pen and proceeded to turn in an amazing relief effort. Ramirez made a spot start a few weeks ago against Boston but did not fare very well against the Red Sox potent lineup. He made up for that on Thursday by tossing five scoreless innings of relief. Ramirez was outstanding and made quick work of the Mariners by getting 15 outs with just 52 pitches.

The Orioles offense could not take advantage of Ramirez’s impressive relief appearance and the two teams went to extra innings for the second day in a row. Once again the Mariners came out victorious thanks to their speed at the top of the order. Gordon led off the tenth with an infield single and Segura followed with a single to center field. Gordon got a great jump and was able to round second with ease but an error by Colby Rasmus allowed the speedy second baseman to keep going and head home for the go-ahead run.

Cruz added an insurance run later in the inning with an RBI single and the Mariners went on to close out another narrow win over the O’s and complete the four-game sweep. After their rallies in games three and four, Seattle is now 8-0 on the year in games that go to extra innings.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Podcast Episode 4: Pop the champagne, Chris Davis has been benched!

Welcome to Episode 4 of the new Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with Nolan McGraw and Jake McDonnell. Things sound a little different this week with Nolan hosting the show as Jake enjoys his vacation.

The podcast begins with a look at a few of the famous figures in Baltimore to wear the number four in their career. The guys follow that up by diving right into a few of the big Orioles stories from this past weekend, including Chris Davis being benched and the Orioles interviewing Ned Colletti.

After discussing the tough news surrounding Richard Bleier and his injury, the guys transition into some Ravens talk. Lamar Jackson got the opportunity to run the offense during practice this past Thursday which quickly caught the attention of the national media. Nolan and Jake give their opinions on Jackson’s progress thus far and comment on the media circus forming around the rookie QB and starter, Joe Flacco.

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Podcast Episode 3: Nothing can JUSTIFY how bad the Orioles are

Welcome to Episode 3 of the new Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell and editor Nolan McGraw.

The guys kick off the show today talking about two monumental events in the Baltimore/D.C. sports community – the Washington Capitals winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and Justify becoming the 13’th Triple Crown winner.

Ravens mandatory minicamp is underway this week, with the team holding three mandatory practices through Thursday. What did Nolan and Jake take away from the first day of camp?

Not much changes through the weeks when it comes to the Baltimore Orioles. The team now holds a 19-47 record, but no changes have been made as of now. The Charm City Bird Watch gang discusses Buck Showalter’s questionable managing decisions and the returns of both Zach Britton and Darren O’Day.

Last but not least, the return of one of our many new segments, Don’t Be A Jerk! Which sports figure will Jake call out this week for being a jerk? Listen and find out!

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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

Podcast Episode 2: Yes, we talked about hockey

Welcome to Episode 2 of the new Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell and editor Nolan McGraw.

We don’t normally talk hockey here on the podcast, but we would be remiss if we didn’t kick off the show by discussing the Washington Capitals 3-1 (2-1 during recording of podcast) lead in the Stanley Cup Finals over the Vegas Golden Knights. After years of coming up short, will Alex Ovechkin and the Caps finally bring the cup home to D.C.? Nolan and Jake discuss.

The Orioles are now 17-41 and on a seven-game losing streak. Over the weekend, Dan Duquette said that the team needs to “put a sharper focus on the future.” Will the ownership actually go for it, even with Duquette and Buck Showalter’s contracts expiring after the season? The CCBW crew dive into this ever-important debate.

There’s not much new to report on the Ravens front this week, but Nolan and Jake spent some time digging into OTA nuggets and contemplating the potential starting offensive line combinations. Hear who the guys see winning the spots at left guard, center, and right tackle.

Last but not least, we debut our second newest segment in as many weeks, What an idiot! And guess what? There are multiple culprits this week!

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!