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

Series Recap: Orioles sweep Royals with dominant pitching performances

BALTIMORE — The Royals came into Baltimore having won 10 of 11 games, but the Orioles put a halt to that momentum. Baltimore swept Kansas City to tie the season series 3-3. The O’s only allowed three runs to a Royals team that currently owns the second Wild Card spot in the American League.

Along with their weekend series win over Texas, the Orioles find themselves winners of five straight. Baltimore now finds themselves one game below .500 (53-54) and 2.5 games back in the Wild Card Race.

Game One: 2-1 Orioles

Both teams struggled to score runs, leaving a combined 23 runners on-base. The Royals got to Ubaldo Jimenez early, scoring their only run on an Eric Hosmer double. Lorenzo Cain scored on the play.

The Orioles got on the board in the fifth inning when RBI-machinbe Jonathan Schoop collected an RBI single that brought Manny Machado home.

Despite the rough start, Jimenez settled down and went seven innings. He recorded six strikeouts while allowing five hits and two walks.

In his last two starts, Jimenez let up three runs on eight hits and four walks. He racked up 15 strikeouts in 13 combined innings. His nine-strike out total from his July 16 start agains the Rays marks his season-high.

Craig Gentry became the unlikely hero in the ninth inning of Monday’s contest. Caleb Joseph singled early in the inning. With two outs following a single by Ruben Tejada, Gentry smacked the ball up the middle to Cain. Joseph scored on the play, walking it off for Baltimore.

Game Two: 7-2 Orioles

The dominant starting pitching displayed another brilliant performance on Tuesday. Dylan Bundy’s eight inning, one-run performance earned him his 10th win of the season. In his gem, Bundy struck out five, allowing three hits and a walk. The run allowed was unearned.

Eight innings now represents the longest outing of Bundy’s career.

The Orioles started slow on offense in game one. Tuesday was different. Baltimore scored two runs in the first inning on a single by Schoop and a double by Trey Mancini.

Only up by one in the fourth inning, the Orioles doubled their lead when Adam Jones hit an RBI single top score Seth Smith. Tuesday was Jones’ 32nd birthday.

In the fifth inning, the O’s doubled their lead again with some two-out production. Following strikeouts by Chris Davis and Mancini, Tim Beckham, making his Orioles debut, collected his first hit and RBI as an Oriole. With Schoop also on base, Smith doubled to left field top bring home both Schoop and Beckham. Welington Castillo capped it off with and RBI single.

The Orioles scored their seventh and final run of the game an two innings later when Smith singled to score Beckham, giving Smith three RBI on the night.

Brad Brach ran into some trouble in relief of Bundy in the ninth inning. He allowed two doubles that resulted in Kansas City’s second run, but got the outs without making it interesting.

Game Three: 6-0 Orioles

Before making his Orioles debut, Jeremy Hellickson talked about how he used to not like pitching at Camden Yards. Hellickson’s first start with the Birds went about as good as it could go. He pitched seven shutout frames, picking up three strikeouts while allowing three hits and a walk.

Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day finished the job. Only one base runner reached via walk.

Beckham made an impact again in his second game in Baltimore. He finished with two RBI on a double in the second inning and a triple in the eighth.

Joseph smacked a two-run home run to left-center, and David hit a two-run double. The pitching was outstanding in this series, but the offense dazzled too.

Trumbo to DL: The Orioles did not put Mark Trumbo in Monday’s lineup, and afterwards the team placed Trumbo on the 10-day disabled list with a right rib cage strain. On Tuesday, Trumbo had an MRI, and the results seemed positive. If Trumbo does not suffer any setbacks, he could return early next week.

Up Next: The Birds remain in Baltimore for a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers. In May, the Tigers took two of three from the O’s in Detroit. Both teams currently sit in fourth place in their respective divisions.

Following this series, the Orioles embark on their annual west coast trip.

Image Credit: San Francisco Chronicle 

Series Preview: Orioles return home to face Royals

BALTIMORE — A .500 road trip may not look great, but compared to some of the road trips the Baltimore Orioles played earlier this season, we’ll take it. After dropping two of three to the Rays, Baltimore bounced back and picked up a series win over the Rangers.

The O’s leave Arlington with a 5-1 season series win against Texas, and look to carry that momentum into Camden Yards against the Kansas City Royals.

Over the past half decade, some would call the Royals a thorn in the Orioles’ side. Remembers when Kansas City swept Baltimore in the 2014 ALCS? The Royals also swept the O’s in mid-May. Baltimore entered that series with a 22-11 record and sole possession of first place in the American League East.

Things change quickly. Also prior to that mid-May showdown, the Royals sat in the AL Central cellar with a 13-21 record. They’re now seven games over .500, winning 10 of their last 11. An afterthought two months ago, Kansas City is very much alive.

Standings Update: The Orioles (50-54) come into the week 6.5 games behind the Yankees (56-47), the current AL East kings. Baltimore is 5.5 games back in the Wild Card Race. The Royals (55-48) sit just two games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians (57-46) in the AL Central. If the season ended yesterday, Kansas City would travel to Fenway Park to play the Wild Card game against Boston (57-49).

Trade Deadline Ends TODAY: As the Baltimore Orioles return to Camden Yards on Monday, the attention turns to the Front Office. With the Major League Baseball trade deadline ending at 4:00 pm EST, Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette’s window to make changes closes by the minute.

According to Fangraphs, the Orioles currently hold a 3.1% chance of making the playoffs. Despite this, Duquette made a buyer move on Saturday night. He acquired starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the Phillies for Hyun-Soo Kim and double-A pitcher Garrett Cleavinger. Philadelphia also received an international amateur signing bonus, while Baltimore captured cash considerations.

Hellickson currently sports a 4.76 ERA, but that ranks second in the O’s rotation. With Hellickson’s arrival, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Wellington Castillo, and Seth Smith could be moved later today. Just last week, Duquette said he would add an arm to the rotation, and he did that. Trading two all-star relievers and a starting catcher would raise eyebrows. Many baseball experts feel that Duquette needs to do it. A good chunk of Baltimore fans do too.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1Monday, July 31, 7:05 pm – Danny Duffy (7-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (4-7, 6.93 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2Tuesday, August 1, 7:05 pm – Ian Kennedy (4-6, 4.43 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (9-8, 4.53 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3Wednesday, August 2, 7:05 pm – Jason Vargas (13-4, 3.00 ERA) vs. TBD – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Royals:

  • Kansas City hit .327 against the O’s in May, scoring 16 runs on 33 hits, eight doubles, and five home runs.

Notes on the Orioles: 

  • With Baltimore yet to name a starter for Wednesday, Hellickson could make his Orioles debut then. Adding Hellickson to the rotation could mean trouble for guys like Jimenez, Wade Miley, and even Chris Tillman.
  • Over the weekend in Arlington, Jonathan Schoop finished with four RBI on two home runs and a two-RBI single. Castillo drove in four runs in Sunday’s game on a three-run homer and an RBI single.
  • Kevin Gausman’s 8.2 inning, no-run gem was the longest an Orioles starter has gone in a game this season. Jimenez is the last Orioles starter to toss a complete game (Sept. 5, 2016).

Up Next: The Orioles remain home for four games against the Detroit Tigers. Following the weekend, the O’s embark on their annual west coast trip. The journey out west features 10 games; three in Anaheim, four in Oakland, and three in Seattle.

Image Credit: Camden Chat