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

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Robinson Cano’s go ahead homer lifts American League to fifth straight All Star Game win

MIAMI — The 88th annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game took 10 innings to complete, and pitching dominated throughout, but Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano became the headline late Tuesday night with his go-ahead solo home run that lifted the American League to a 2-1 victory over the National League.

Cano, 34, competing in his eighth career All-Star Game, became the first player to hit a home run in the mid-summer classic since Tony Perez in 1967, according to MLB Yankees reporter Bryan Hoch.

Following the game, Cano was named MVP.

Schoop leaves his mark: Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, the lone O’s representative in the 2017 show-casing, made an impact in his opportunity. Schoop entered the game on defense in the fourth, scoreless at the time, after Astros second-baseman Jose Altuve received the start.

In his lone at-bat in the fifth inning, hitting off Alex Wood of the Dodgers, Schoop laced a double to left field that bounced off third base and remained fair. Twins third baseman Miguel Sano got the American League on the board with a bloop single that landed in-between a pair of Nationals players in shallow right field – first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and right fielder Bryce Harper.

The lead did not last long for the American League, because an inning later the National League tied the game up when catcher Yadier Molina (who is 34-years-old) crushed a home run to right-center field off Ervin Santana of the Twins.

Cano’s go-ahead homer came at the dispense of Cubs reliever Wade Davis, who pitched in his third straight All-Star Game. He picks up the loss, while Boston pitcher Craig Kimbrel racked up the win with two strikeouts. Indians closer Andrew Miller earned the save in the 10th after Cano’s heroics. Red Sox star pitcher Chris Sale started the game for the American League, while Nationals ace Max Scherzer gained the nod for the National League.

For the first time since 2003, the All-Star Game will not decide who gets home field advantage in the World Series. Instead, the benefit goes to whichever team has the better regular season record.

Next year’s All-Star Game takes place on July 10, 2018 from Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Jonathan Schoop will represent the Orioles in the 2017 All-Star Game

BALTIMORE — The 2017 MLB All-Star Game rosters became public on Sunday night, and Orioles’ second baseman Jonathan Schoop is on the American League team.

Schoop will be making his first trip to the All-Star Game as the lone Orioles representative, although more players could be added before the break. Astros second baseman Jose Altuve will start for the American League, making Schoop a reserve.

“It means a lot for me and my family,” Schoop said on Sunday. “Buck [Showalter] told me and Bobby [Dickerson] starts crying. He’s known me since I was 16. I think he’s more happy for me than [I am] that I made it.”

Schoop, 25, is a native of the Netherlands. The Orioles signed Schoop in 2008, and he made his Major League debut late in the 2013 season. He is a lifetime .259 hitter with 73 home runs.

This season, Schoop is hitting .297 with 85 hits, 16 home runs, and 51 RBI. He leads the team in several statistical categories, including hits, home runs, RBI, and OBP. Historically, including this season, Schoop has been placed towards the bottom of Baltimore’s lineup. Recently, the offensive struggles of Manny Machado and the aging of Adam Jones have given Schoop an opportunity to bat third. He has not disappointed in that role.

“I’m beyond excited,” Machado said after hearing the news. “I know how much he’s worked to get here, and all the struggles he’s been through just to get to the big leagues.”

Machado and Schoop are widely known as best friends, both on and off the field.

You can check out the full 2017 MLB All-Star Game rosters here.

The 2017 All-Star Game takes place on Tuesday, July 11, at 8:00 pm from Marlins Park in Miami, Florida.

Image Credit: Just Fantasy Baseball 

Series Recap: Orioles put together two come-from-behind wins to sweep Pirates

BALTIMORE, MD — Despite trailing at at least four runs in both games, the Orioles were able to come from behind in both games and Sweep the Pirates, by scores of 6-5 and 9-6.

In game one, the Orioles trailed by scores of 4-1 and 5-3. Down by two in the ninth inning, it was the power bat of Jonathan Schoop that pushed the game into extra innings, as Schoop hit a two-run blast off of Pittsburgh closer Tony Watson. It was the second home run of the game for Schoop, who hit a solo shot in the seventh inning.

Schoop’s seventh-inning shot was back-to-back with that of Chris Davis.

In extras, Brad Brach made quick work of the Pirates’ lineup in the 10th inning, striking out David Freese and putting away Josh Bell and Andrew McCutchen via line-out and ground-out.

In the bottom of the 10th, Adam Jones singled with one out. Manny Machado was next up and almost won the game with a two-run home run, but left fielder Adam Frazier caught the ball up against the wall on the warning track. On the play, Jones was able to tag and reached second base, putting him in scoring position with two outs. From there, Mark Trumbo was the final hero of the night with a walk-off single on a 1-0 count. McCutchen’s throw was close, but not in time, and the Orioles were awarded with a 6-5 thrilling victory.

Starter Kevin Gausman once again had his fair share of struggles, mainly in the second inning when he allowed three runs. In his non-decision start, he pitched 6.2 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits, a walk and five strikeouts on 113 pitches.

Game two on Wednesday turned out to be very similar to Tuesday’s game. The Pirates got on the board first in the second inning when Max Moroff hit a two-run double. The Orioles answered quickly, when Hyun-Soo Kim hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning to cut Baltimore’s deficit to one run.

In the third inning, Elias Diaz would repeat the exact same thing, hitting another two-run double to put Pittsburgh up 4-1. Orioles starter Wade Miley had a rough night, and was done after 2 2/3 innings after throwing 83 pitches and recording eight outs. The game remained tied until the seventh inning, when Jose Osuna hit a two-run home run to extend Pittsburgh’s lead to 6-1.

From there, the Orioles scored eight unanswered runs to complete the second comeback in as many days. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Jones hit a solo home run. In the ninth inning, the Orioles scored four runs on a Joey Rickard sacrifice fly, a J.J. Hardy double, and a two-run home run by Trey Mancini. Mancini came through again in the 11th inning, hitting another home run; this time a three-run shot.

Mancini came off of the bench in the ninth inning, and finished the game with five RBI.

“I came in ready to hit in the last inning,” Mancini said after the game. “I knew that if guys got on base that I had a chance to get up there.”

“Trey obviously had a few big blows,” manager Buck Showalter said after the game.

In the game, Mike Wright had a solid relief outing, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and recorded three strikeouts. Also in the game, Machado was spiked by McCutchen when the outfielder was sliding into third base. The injury forced Machado out of the game, and Ruben Tejada replaced Machado in the lineup.

“[Manny] had an X-Ray, which was negative,” Showalter said. “They’re talking about getting an MRI tomorrow just to be on the safe side and make sure we know what we are dealing with.”

The Orioles are now 9-1 in extra inning games this season.

With the conclusion of this nine-game homestand, the Orioles now hit the road for eight games. The original schedule had the O’s off on Thursday, but now the Birds will head back to our nation’s capital for a makeup game with the Nationals. This 7:05 matchup takes place in response to the rain-out on May 11. The Orioles currently lead the 2017 “Battle of the Beltways” series, 2-1.