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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

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Orioles fall short of sweep in Atlanta but still pick up a rare road series win

ATLANTA — Despite dropping the series finale 7-3, the Orioles

Game 1 (10-7 BAL): It’s hard to describe just how crazy Friday night’s series opener was. The unusualness of the game came pretty early before culminating into an insane ninth inning. With Alex Cobb on the mound, many expected the O’s to be forced to dig themselves out of a hole early on. However, Cobb turned in a great outing and held the Braves to just one run through seven innings of work.

The unlikely scenarios didn’t stop with Cobb. Chris Davis returned to the starting lineup after being benched for eight games and put the O’s on the board in the fifth with a solo homer to left field. Davis’ struggles at the plate have been well documented this season so no one expected the big man to make this kind of splash in his return.

The game remained tied until the eighth inning. Tanner Scott gave up another pair of runs and the Braves took a 3-1 lead going into the ninth. What happened next was even more unexpected than Cobb’s quality outing or Davis’ flashy comeback. The O’s sent ten batters to the plate and came through with six hits to score six runs and take a 7-3 lead.

Adam Jones and Manny Machado led off the inning with a single and a walk respectively. Danny Valencia brought Jones in with an RBI single and Jonathan Schoop followed with a ground rule double to score Machado and tie the game. The Braves made a pitching change but it didn’t stop the next four batters from picking up RBI’s with either a hit or a sacrifice fly.

With this being a road interleague series for the O’s, a pinch hitter was needed when the bottom of the lineup came around late in the game. After making his major league debut on Wednesday, Steve Wilkerson got the opportunity to hit in the ninth in place of Brad Brach. The 26-year-old got a pitch he liked right away and hit a shallow line drive into right field for his first career hit and more importantly his first career RBI.

The game had already provided enough surprises but the Braves still had three outs to work with. Zach Britton came in to close out the final inning but encountered his first rough outing since returning from injury earlier this month. Britton quickly loaded the bases before recording an out, which certainly didn’t inspire much optimism, but he did have a four-run lead to work with.

Unfortunately, Britton never gained control in his appearance. The next three Braves batters all picked up RBI hits to tie the game up at once again. As fate would have it, former Oriole Nick Markakis was responsible for driving in the game-tying run with a double to right field. To make things even worse, only one out had been recorded and it seemed that the most heartbreaking loss imaginable was now unavoidable.

Darren O’Day came in after Britton’s implosion and was tasked with the seemingly impossible mission of keeping the game tied 7-7. However, with the winning run at third base, O’Day dialed in and picked up a crucial strikeout. He later finished off the nightmare inning two batters later by getting Dansby Swanson to fly out to right field.

The O’s were fortunate enough to survive the bottom of the ninth and force extra innings but there was a lot of baseball left to be played before the wild ride ended. It didn’t help that both offenses failed to keep their momentum going after scoring a combined ten runs in the ninth. Through the next five innings the Braves only managed to pick up three hits and the O’s only reached base once via walk.

The Orioles finally broke through in the 15th. Craig Gentry led off the inning and reached base after being hit by a pitch. Two at-bats later, Machado put the O’s back on top with a two-run homer down the left field line. Just like the ninth, the Orioles added an insurance run after taking the lead as Colby Rasmus picked up a hit and later came around to score on an RBI single by Schoop.

The O’s bullpen was locked in through all six extra innings. Miguel Castro pitched three hitless innings and Mike Wright finished off the game with two strong innings to earn his first win of the season.

Game 2 (7-5 BAL): It’s difficult to turn around and play the next day after going through a game like Friday night’s series opener. The important thing is the Orioles walked away with a win, but it took over five hours to get it with the final out being recorded around 1:00 am on Saturday.

The quick turnaround didn’t have an effect on the Orioles lineup. In the first inning, the top of the lineup loaded the bases very quickly for Mark Trumbo. The O’s cleanup hitter fell behind in the count but still managed to blast a grand slam to center field and put the Orioles up 4-0 right away.

The Braves got one back in the bottom half of the inning but Dylan Bundy held the Atlanta lineup down for most of his 6.1 innings of work. A second run was manufactured by the Braves in the fifth, but the O’s offense had already scored three more in the top half of the inning, so the score remained comfortable in Baltimore’s favor.

Atlanta did manage to make it a closer game after Bundy exited. Most of the reliable bullpen arms had already been used the night before so Donnie Hart was called upon to pick up where Bundy left off. Hart was making just his seventh relief appearance of the season and couldn’t quite get into a rhythm. The Braves loaded the bases and then Markakis brought two home with an RBI double to make it 7-4 game. Buck Showalter was quick to pull Hart and replace him with Mychal Givens who finished off the inning with just nine pitches.

Givens and Britton combined to close out the final two innings. Britton’s ninth inning appearance was strange considering how bad he performed with a bigger lead the night before. However, Britton rebounded and earned his first save since Sept. 17 of last year.

Game 3 (7-3 ATL): The Orioles had already secured a rare road series win but a sweep was still on the table Sunday afternoon. David Hess got the start for the Orioles and turned in another rough outing. It marked the third straight start where Hess gave up five runs in less than five innings of work.

It started right away in the first inning when Freddie Freeman drove in two runs with an RBI single. The next three came in the third inning on a pair of doubles by Markakis and Charlie Culberson. Markakis had a great series against his former team by going 6-for-14 at the plate with four doubles and five RBI.

Trumbo also had a standout weekend despite not being in the starting lineup on Sunday. Buck Showalter still found a way to get Trumbo’s bat into the game as a pinch hitter in the fifth and the right fielder came up big with a two-run homer to make it a 5-3 game. It marked Trumbo’s fifth home run in the last seven games and gave him his sixth RBI of the series.

That would be the end of the afternoon for the Orioles offense as they only picked up one hit through the final four innings. The Braves padded their lead in the eighth with a two-run homer by Swanson and went on to close out a 7-3 win. By salvaging a win on Sunday, the Braves avoided what could have been just their second sweep of the season.

Up next: The Orioles will return home this week to open up a seven-game home stand against two west coast teams. It starts with a four game set against Seattle and then a weekend series against the Angels will follow.

Image credit: Daniel Shirey / Getty Images

Orioles prepare to take on Braves in first trip to SunTrust Park

ATLANTA — The Orioles will continue their six game interleague road trip this weekend with a three game set against the Atlanta Braves. Earlier this week the O’s dropped two of three against Washington. This didn’t come as too much of a surprise but it did mark the first time since 2007 that the Orioles have lost their season series to the Nationals.

In a season full of disappointment and frustration, this coming series against Atlanta might be one of the toughest to watch for O’s fans. Not because of the Orioles terrible offense and inconsistent pitching, but because of who is in the opposing dugout.

Nick Markakis currently finds himself in the middle of a career year at the age of 34. It also marks the final season of his four year deal with the Braves. These past four seasons have been filled with regret for the O’s as Markakis has continued to be a consistent force in the Atlanta lineup and almost seems to be getting better with age.

Markakis is batting .323 with 44 RBI’s and just 32 strikeouts so far this season. On top of all of this is the fact that the veteran right fielder will most likely be making the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. The accomplishment is long overdue but if there was ever a year where he was deserving, it’s 2018

Last meeting: These two teams have not met since 2015 when Markakis made his return to Camden Yards for the first time in a different uniform. The Orioles ended up walking away from that series with a three game sweep.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Friday, June 22, 7:35 pm – Alex Cobb (2-9, 7.14 ERA) vs Sean Newcomb (8-2, 2.70 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, June 23, 4:10 pm – Dylan Bundy (5-7, 3.81 ERA) vs Julio Teheran (5-4, 3.97 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, June 24, 1:35 pm – David Hess (2-3, 4.82 ERA) vs Mike Foltynewicz (5-4, 2.16 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • Adam Jones has been exceptional so far this season against national league opponents. Up until Thursday’s game against Washington, Jones had recorded at least one hit in every interleague game so far this season. Overall, Jones is batting .367 with one home run and four RBI’s in 12 interleague games so far this year.
  • Darren O’Day and Zach Britton both made their return to the O’s bullpen early this month. So far both have been able to jump back in and be highly effective. The duo has combined to strikeout 12 while throwing a little over eight scoreless innings since June 10.

Notes on Braves:

  • Markakis isn’t the only Braves player on a tear right now. Freddie Freeman should definitely be on the radar of every Orioles pitcher since he is also on his way to a career year at the plate. Freeman and Markakis both currently lead the national league in hits with 93 each.
  • The Braves will be happy to get Mike Foltynewicz back for this series. The Atlanta starter hit the ten day disabled list this past Sunday but he appears ready to return to the rotation this weekend. Foltynewicz is off to the best start of his career, with a 5-4 record and a 2.16 ERA through his first 14 starts.

Image credit: Carolyn Kaster / AP