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

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Orioles return home looking to avoid longest losing streak of season

The Orioles return to Camden Yards this week after taking a six game road trip on the west coast. To no ones surprise, that six game road trip turned into a six game losing streak and the O’s season is still in free fall.

This six game skid is tied for the longest losing streak of the year and we are just getting into May. The Orioles were outscored by the Angles and Athletics 35-17 and held a lead for just two innings between both series. But hey, at least they avoided giving Albert Pujols his 3,00th hit.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this season is the lack of excitement. That sounds obvious and I understand winning is a direct contributor to excitement but through the first 34 games there is an uncomfortably annoying sense of predictability. When the pitching starts to settle in you can always count on the offense to struggle or even come close to getting no hit. It goes both ways though. Anytime the offense has a breakout game the bullpen appears to be actively trying to blow the game.

All of this has left fans desperate for some sort of change. Whether it’s a coach getting fired or Manny Machado being traded, the fan base doesn’t really care at this point and is just hoping upper management has the ability to see the same things they do.

At the very least the Orioles starting rotation will be going through some minor changes in the coming weeks. After turning in a great outing against the Tigers, Chris Tillman reverted back to his normal state and proceeded to give up seven runs in one inning against the Angels last Thursday. Many would say it is long overdue but the abysmal start has forced Buck Showalter to bump Tillman from the rotation.

Andrew Cashner will now move up to pitch on Wednesday with Kevin Gausman behind him for the series finale on Thursday. It is unknown at this time who will replace Tillman but it’s probably safe to assume whoever gets the call will be at least a little more reliable.

Tillman has won just one game (4/27/18 vs Detroit) in the past year and holds a 8.52 ERA in that span. A lack of pitching depth has allowed him to linger around longer than he would with other teams but even this years Orioles roster can provide someone better.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Tuesday, May 8, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (1-4, 3.76 ERA) vs Danny Duffy (0-4, 5.63 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Wednesday, May 9. 7:05 pm – Andrew Cashner (1-4, 4.89 ERA) vs Eric Skoglund (1-2, 6.84 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Thursday, May 10, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (2-2, 3.30 ERA) vs Ian Kennedy (1-3, 2.92 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • We already know that the Orioles offense is awful but it’s getting to a point where even the bright spots aren’t that great. The O’s have hit 34 home runs so far this season but 23 of them have been solo homers. Manny Machado is often the only reliable player in the lineup but all nine of his team leading home runs have been solo shots.
  • Andrew Cashner has started just three games against the Kansas City Royals in his nine-year career but holds a 1.69 ERA in those outings. His most recent outing against the Royals came last season when he tossed six scoreless innings and surrendered just three hits.
  • It appears that the Orioles will be getting their second baseman back this week. Jonathan Schoop hit the disabled list back in mid April with a mild oblique strain and is now prepared to return to the major league club after making some starts with the Frederick Keys and Norfolk Tides this past weekend. Schoop will be looking to jump start his offense after opening the year with a .230 batting average and 19 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances.

Notes on Royals:

  • Mike Moustakas continues to be one of the Royals most dangerous bats in 2018. However the veteran third baseman has been much better at Kauffman Stadium than on the road. Moustakas’ line at home (.324/.363/.622) is spectacular while the road numbers look drastically different (.246/.283/.439).
  • Eric Skoglund will face the Orioles for the first time in his career on Wednesday. The 25-year-old is playing in his second major league season after starting five games in 2017. Skoglund, a lefty, has struggled so far this year with a 6.84 ERA in five starts. He has only pitched past the fifth inning once and has given up four or more runs in all but one of his starts. The Orioles offensive woes could allow for a break through though. Baltimore is currently hitting just .236 against left-handed pitchers in 2018.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

Orioles swept by Angels as Pujols inches closer to special milestone

Game 1 (3-2 LAA): The Orioles started their west coast trip by getting a long-awaited quality start out of Alex Cobb. Through the first month of the season Cobb had been lackluster to say the least but on Tuesday he gave up just four hits through the first five innings.

Cobb quickly retired the first two batters in the sixth before giving up what should have been a double to Andrelton Simmons but a throwing error by Manny Machado allowed the Angels short stop to score the first run of the game.

Luis Valbuena followed that up with a solo homer to make it a 2-0 game. Cobb got out of the inning and ended his night with two runs given up through six innings of work.

The rare quality start was almost completely wasted as the Orioles offense was nowhere to be found for most of the game. Machado picked up a double in the first but that would be the only Orioles hit through eight innings. Trey Mancini broke that streak with a leadoff single in the ninth and Machado hit another double to bring him home. Adam Jones followed with an RBI single of his own to tie the game 2-2.

In the bottom of the ninth Buck Showalter opted to replace Richard Bleier with Brad Brach. Bleier had already thrown a little over an inning but did so on just 15 pitches. As the Orioles best reliever he has been getting a lot of work lately, but Brach isn’t exactly a guy you can be confident about, especially in a tie game. This decision would end up being costly as the Angels quickly loaded the bases for Justin Upton who picked up a walk off single to give the Angels a win in game one.

Chance Sisco had to leave the game early in the seventh inning after colliding with Pedro Alvarez while chasing a pop up in foul territory. Sisco had his eyes on the ball and ran face first into Alvarez’s raised elbow. The hit knocked the O’s catcher down where he remained for a few minutes before sitting up and then walking off the field with trainers. Sisco missed Wednesday’s game but returned to the starting lineup on Thursday.

Game 2 (10-7 LAA): It’s amazing that this game ended up being as close as it was. Manny Machado put the O’s up 1-0 in the first with a solo homer but the Angels went on to score nine unanswered runs between the first and the sixth. Justin Upton continued to cause problems for the Orioles pitching staff by driving in four of the nine runs himself. He would end up finishing the series 5/13 and six RBI’s.

Albert Pujols picked up a pair of hits in the game, including a solo home run, to inch himself closer to the 3,000 hit milestone.

Down 9-1 after seven innings the game appeared to be over but the Orioles mounted a little bit of a comeback in the final two innings to make it a surprisingly close game. Machado pushed another run across in the eighth but most of the work would be done in the ninth. Eduardo Paredes came in to finish for the Angels but ended up surrendering five runs by the time he could get one out. Chris Davis and Trey Mancini both picked up an RBI on a single and sacrifice fly respectively while Jace Peterson continued to make the most of his time with the Orioles by hitting a base clearing triple.

With the best Orioles hitters still due up, a comeback actually looked like a possibility but the scoring once the Angels replaced Paredes with Jim Johnson. The former Orioles closer gave up a hit to Pedro Alvarez but retired Manny Machado and Adam Jones to end the game.

Game 3 (12-3 LAA): Looking to salvage a win the Orioles sent Chris Tillman to the mound on Thursday. That’s not the easiest sentence to type without laughing but in all fairness Tillman was coming off of his best start of the year and has pitched well in two previous starts at Angel Stadium.

Unfortunately none of that carried over to Thursday night’s series finale. Tillman gave up five runs in the first inning and two more in the second without recording an out. Miguel Castro came in to finish the second and pitched into the fourth where he loaded the bases with one out. Mychal Givens relieved him and quickly allowed four more runs on back-to-back hits by Simmons and Valbuena.

To make things even worse, it took the O’s offense five innings to get a hit. Trey Mancini broke up the no hitter in the sixth with a double and Manny Machado followed with an RBI single to bring him home and finally remove the goose egg from the run column.

James Barria was still excellent in his start. After cruising through the first five innings he encountered some trouble in the sixth that ended his night a little shorter than he may have liked. However, Barria gave up just two runs through six innings of work and was very much in line for his second win of the year when he left the game.

Hardly lost in all of this was the man of the night, Albert Pujols. The 38-year-old veteran picked up hit number 2,999 in the second inning with a two RBI double but had trouble getting the elusive 3,000th hit in his next three at bats. Pujols battled Miguel Castro in the fourth but ended up taking first base after getting hit by a pitch. He returned to the plate in the sixth but didn’t find success there either after hitting a pop fly into foul territory.

Pujols got one more chance at reaching the special milestone in the eighth inning but quickly fell behind Darren O’Day with two foul balls and then popped out to right field on the third pitch. The Angels will start a five game road trip this weekend which likely means Pujols will not reach the 3,000th hit mark in front of the home crowd.

Up next: The Orioles will continue their west coast road trip this weekend with a three game set against the Oakland Athletics.

Image credit: Mark J. Terrill / AP

Alvarez leads Orioles past Tigers with four home runs in weekend series

Game 1 (6-0 BAL): The Orioles kicked off their second series against the Tigers with their best win in a long time. Chris Tillman, of all people, tossed an absolute gem and the O’s offense was consistent from start to finish.

Tillman was locked in right from the beginning and didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning. He finished his night after seven innings with just one hit and two walks allowed. The performance was also enough to earn Tillman his first win since May 7 of last year.

The O’s scored six runs thanks to some home runs by Manny Machado and Pedro Alvarez. Machado got it started with a solo shot in the first and Alvarez followed with two homers in the fifth and seventh inning. Machado would pick up another RBI with a single in the ninth and Jace Peterson continued to produce at the plate with another RBI double.

Game 2 (9-5 DET): After putting together a rare quality win on Friday the Orioles reverted back to their normal ways on Saturday. The O’s just can’t  seem to string any wins together to save their life. In fact they have only won back-to-back games once so far this season.

Andrew Cashner was looking to get back on track when he took the mound on Saturday night. His last start on April 22 was far from awful but the eight hits and four runs he surrendered was not quite up to par with what he has being doing so far this season. Cashner ended up turning in his worst start of the season by going just four innings and giving up six earned runs.

The Tigers jumped all over Cashner and managed to grab an early 7-0 lead. The O’s offense wasn’t completely lost but the deficit was just too much to overcome. The Orioles pushed one run across in the fifth and then jumped on Detroit’s starter, Francisco Liriano in the seventh before chasing him out of the game.

Warwick Saupold replaced Liriano out of the pen but ended up having even less control. After going to the bullpen one more time the Tigers finally ended the seventh but the Orioles had already gotten four runs back thanks to a pair of bases loaded walks and an RBI single by Manny Machado.

Game 3 (5-3 BAL): The Orioles have only played two rubber matches prior to Sunday’s series finale and came away with a loss in both of them. While it was not as pretty as Friday’s win, the O’s did what was needed to get the job done.

Just like game two, the O’s got things started with a couple of home runs. This time it was Trey Mancini hitting the first inning solo shot. Pedro Alvarez followed with another two run bomb in the second to make it a 3-0 game. Alvarez was red hot at the plate this weekend, going 4-7 with four homers and six RBI’s.

Kevin Gausman got the start for the O’s and turned in a solid outing, leaving the Tigers off the board through the first four innings. John Hicks broke that up with a solo shot in the fifth but Gausman didn’t lose control and finished his afternoon with four strikeouts through 5.2 innings of work.

An RBI single by Craig Gentry in the sixth brought O’s lead back up to three and it would end up being a huge run as the O’s bullpen let the Tigers inch back into the game following Gausman’s exit. Brad Brach stepped outside of his closer duties to pitch the seventh inning and gave up two runs on a pair of RBI doubles by Jeimer Candelario and Niko Goodrum.

Mychal Givens pitched a lockdown inning in the eighth to hold the slim lead and in the bottom half of the inning Alvarez did it again. The 31-year-old launched a solo shot to right field, giving the O’s a little more breathing room before the final inning.

Darren O’Day came on in the ninth and recorded his second save of the year on a one-two-three inning. It also gave the O’s their first home series win of the season.

Up next: The Orioles will take a six game road trip this coming week that starts with a series against the Angels.

photo credit: Greg Fiume / Getty Images

Orioles look to end losing streak in weekend series against Cleveland

In the span of three weeks the Orioles fan base has gone from cautiously optimistic to crisis mode. That’s not to say there hasn’t been a good reason though. The O’s enter this weekend with a six game losing streak and a 2-8 record in their last ten games.

The Birds have quickly sunk to the bottom of the AL East while the Red Sox continue to dominate and build a comfortable lead early in the season. As of today, the Orioles are nine games below .500 and 11.5 games out of first place with no signs of erasing that deficit anytime soon.

So what are we to blame for this terrible start? Surprisingly, the starting rotation is not the go to answer. Instead, the offense has continued to be the let down so far this season. Through the first 19 games, only four O’s players are batting above .250 and two of them, Pedro Alvarez and Chance Sisco, are not even playing everyday.

Of course this has resulted in some league lows in almost every offensive category. The Orioles currently hold the second worst batting average and slugging percentage in the league. The run production has suffered as well. In their last six games, the Orioles have been outscored 43-22 and have currently rank in the bottom five for RBI.

So where are these runs coming from? In years past it would be easy to point to some of the unreliable starters that made up the rotation but in a surprising turn of events, the bullpen has been the main liability so far in April. Only Brad Brach and Richard Bleier have an ERA below 3.50 while the other four to five regular members of the bullpen have traded awful relief efforts, costing the O’s and their anemic offense a few potential win opportunities late in the game.

Lets not let the starting five completely off the hook though. Sure, Dylan Bundy has shown signs of becoming a true ace in his first four starts and Andrew Cashner has proven to be consistent, but there are still some big issues present. Alex Cobb has clearly proved that he was not ready for the regular season after giving up 12 earned runs in two starts that lasted less than four innings.

Cobb could have benefited greatly from more time in extended spring training but with Chris Tillman and Mike Wright both struggling to go at least five innings in most of their starts, the Orioles were forced to roll the dice and bring their newly acquired starter up a little early.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Friday, April 20, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (0-2, 1.40 ERA) vs Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.25 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, April 21, 4:05 pm – Chris Tillman (0-3, 11.91 ERA) vs Mike Clevinger (1-0, 2.70 ERA) – FS1, MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, April 22, 1:05 pm – Andrew Cashner (1-2, 3.00 ERA) vs Corey Kluber (2-1, 1.52 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Monday, April 23, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57 ERA) vs Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 2.60 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Image credit: NBC Sports

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 extend losing streak to five after getting swept in Houston

The Orioles entered their second series of the 2018 season with a lot to correct but they ended up getting swept by the defending world champion Houston Astros, extending their losing streak to five.

Game 1 (6-1 HOU): After failing to score a run off of a starting pitcher in their opening series against Minnesota, the Orioles stumbled into Houston and embarrassed themselves on national television. The Astros home opener was full of festivities including the unveiling of a world series banner, but the fun didn’t stop there as the home team proceeded to put on a show for their fans.

Chris Tillman took the mound for the O’s and clearly didn’t have the command needed to retire a lineup of this caliber. To Tillman’s credit, he was able to work his way out of a couple jams in the first two innings. Going into the third, Tillman was still a ticking time bomb but the 29-year-old starter managed to instill a false sense of security by retiring Jose Altuve, J.D. Davis, and Josh Reddick on just eight pitches. Considering the environment and the back-to-back lead off doubles he surrendered in the first, Tillman had handled things pretty well. That was great for about 10 minutes and then things got ugly.

The Astros scored three runs in the fourth, exposing Tillman who had pitched a decent three innings despite not having his best stuff. Marwin Gonzalez got the big inning started with a lead off homer. Derek Fisher and George Springer followed that up with an RBI triple and single respectively to give the Astros a more comfortable lead.

With the Orioles bats still ice cold, that four run lead felt more like ten. Unlike this past weekend, there were certainly opportunities for the O’s to score runs and potential come back. Good patience in the second inning resulted in a two out bases loaded situation for the birds, but Caleb Joseph was not able to bring anyone home after lining out to first base.

A solo home run by Trey Mancini in the ninth ended the shutout but that would be the lone highlight for the Orioles in a night full of frustration.

Game 2 (10-6 HOU): Coming off of Monday night’s disappointing performance there was not a lot to be exited about. When you looked at the pitching matchup, things got even more grim. With Alex Cobb still working his way through an extended spring training stint, the Orioles turned to Mike Wright for an early season spot start. Wright had not started a game for the O’s since 2016 and proved to be unreliable in his relief efforts as well. Shaky pitchers are nothing new for the Orioles but with Justin Verlander getting the start for the Astros, there was a clear disadvantage on paper.

However, in true baseball fashion, Wright gave the Orioles a good chance to win by only surrendering three runs in five innings of work. The offense woke up in game two as well with the O’s only finding themselves down by one run at the time of Wrights exit.

The teams continued to trade runs as both managers dipped into their bullpen but a five run seventh inning would end up being the difference maker for the Astros as they picked up a 10-6 win.

A handful of Orioles batters had a great night at the plate that they hope will jump start their season in terms of offense. Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones both went 3-5 and combined to drive in four of the O’s six runs.

Runs were coming at much more of a premium for both teams resulting in a tight contest from start to finish. The Orioles struck first with a run in the first inning thanks to a miss play by Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. The 2017 MVP lost the ball in the sun and allowed Adam Jones to get on base with what should have been a routine out.

The Orioles had to scrap for their second run of the game as well. In the fourth inning the O’s had runners on first and second with Craig gentry coming to the plate. The outfielder proceeded to ground into what looked like an inning ending double play but made up for it by flashing his speed to beat out the relay throw. The lead runner, Danny Valencia, used this opportunity to round third and make a break for home plate, catching the Astros off guard once again.

Houston would tie the game up again in the sixth by getting their second run off of Bundy and then took their first lead the following inning with an RBI single. Miguel Castro entered the game after Bundy for his fourth inning of work this season. The 23-year-old reliever got two quick outs but walked Derek Fisher, who put himself in scoring position with a steal. Alex Bergman brought Fisher home with an RBI single and that would end up being all the offense necessary for the Astros to complete the sweep.

Up Next: Things won’t get any easier for the Orioles as the prepare to face the New York Yankees in a four game series this weekend. This will be the Orioles first look at the new Yankees lineup that features even more power hitters than last year. Certainly not the easiest team to face when you’re looking to correct some pitching issues.

Image credit: Bob Levey / Getty Images