Series Preview: Orioles make first trip to St. Petersburg for weekend tilt with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — After going 3-5 over the first eight games of an 11-game road trip, Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette’s apparent plan to “evaluate” following Memorial Day weekend remains a possibility. The Orioles (16-34) have struggled mighty on the road thus far in 2018, playing to a 6-21 record away from Camden Yards. The Rays got off to a rough 3-12 start, but ended the month of April with a 13-14 record and have basically played .500 baseball since, now 23-25 on the season. Like it always is in the American League East, the Rays will not go down without a fight against a struggling Baltimore ball-club.

So, Mr. Duquette, be ready to “evaluate” early next week if this weekend does not go well.

A look at the standings: Speaking of the AL East, the Rays come into the weekend 10 games behind the Red Sox (34-18), who lead the division by one game ahead of the Yankees (31-15). The Blue Jays (23-27) sit 11 games back, with the O’s 18 games out of first. The Rays won their game on Thursday night 6-3 over Boston, but lost the series 1-2 at Tropicana Field.

New approach for Tampa: The Rays are trying a new approach to managing their pitching staff as of late, and that approach is called “bullpenning.” Last weekend against the Los Angeles Angels, reliever Sergio Romo started the final two ballgames of a four game series, going 1.0 and 1.1 innings in his appearances. Ryan Yarbough (6.1 innings) took over in the third game, and the Rays used three different pitchers following Romo in the fourth game with none of them going more than 3.1 innings. This weekend, Rays relievers will start all three games versus the Orioles.

The “bullpenning” movement came to fruition due to more runs being scored in the first inning than any inning for American League teams. Another reason Tampa manager Kevin Cash is trying this with his squad is because a lot of starters, particularly veterans, struggle while pitching their third time through an order. If Cash uses a reliever to start the game, he pushes a “starter’s” third time through the order back at least an inning. Using relief pitchers to start the game for an inning or two does no harm, as they are already accustomed to pitching a few times a week for a handful of innings total.

Last meeting/season series: This marks the third series played between the AL foes this season, and the first one at Tropicana Field. The season series is tied 3-3. From May 11-13, the Orioles took three of four from the Rays at Camden Yards. The O’s outscored Tampa 35-18, including a 17-1 win on Sunday May 13’th. Kevin Gausman, David Hess, and Dylan Bundy each turned in a quality start, highlighted by Bundy’s seven-inning, two-hit performance with seven strikeouts. Manny Machado hit three home runs for seven total RBI over the first two games of the series, and then the shortstop brought in two runs on doubles during Sunday’s big win.

The Orioles went 3-6 at Tropicana Field in 2017.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1Friday, May 25, 7:10 pm – David Hess (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Sergio Romo (1-0, 4.34 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2Saturday, May 26, 4:10 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-5, 4.72 ERA) vs. Ryne Stanek (0-0, 5.40 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3Sunday, May 27, 1:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.48 ERA) vs. Sergio Romo – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Orioles:

  • At this time last week, the Orioles expected to activate Darren O’Day (hyperextended elbow) off the disabled list during the Boston series, but since then O’Day wasn’t feeling good enough to throw a scheduled Wednesday bullpen session. O’Day is reportedly waiting to see if the elbow feels any better by today (Friday), but he will likely receive cortisone shots.
  • In Thursday’s 9-3 win over the White Sox, the Orioles batted around in both the first and second innings. It marked the first time since Jun. 30, 2009 against Boston that the Orioles sent more than nine batters to the plate twice in the same game. The O’s won that game 11-10.
  • In 25.2 career innings against the Rays, Mychal Givens is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. He’s struck out six times as many hitters (30) than he’s allowed runs (5).

Notes on the Rays:

  • In 6.2 career innings against the Orioles, Romo has a 4.05 ERA with one save.
  • The Rays play in spurts; they’re a very streaky team. They’re the only team in the majors with multiple 5-game winning streaks and five-game losing streaks this season. Last night’s win over Boston snapped a three-game losing streak. The Rays had gone on a six-game winning streak before that losing streak began.
  • Tampa is 10-6 so far this season in series openers.

Image Credit: Birds Watcher 

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Orioles offense steps up in series finale to split four game set against White Sox

Game 1 (3-2 BAL): The Orioles opened up their second four-game road series in a row with a quality performance. Andrew Cashner got the start for the Orioles and battled his way through five strong innings before turning it over to the bullpen.

Three relievers entered the game after Cashner’s exit to close out the final four innings of a one-run game. Mychal Givens tossed two clean innings and Richard Bleier worked through the eighth on just 10 pitches. Brad Brach has been shaky this season both in and out of the closer role and that didn’t stop on Monday. Brach caused a scare by loading the bases in the ninth, but still managed to escape and pick up his seventh save of the year by striking out the side.

The O’s offense was not particularity dominate but utilized three solo home runs by Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Adam Jones to edge past the White Sox.

The Orioles also got some crucial defensive plays from Trey Mancini and Machado in the fifth inning that ended up being huge in maintaining the slim lead. It started when Chicago’s Adam Engel tried to stretch a hit into a double but ended up getting cut down by Mancini’s throw to second base. The White Sox base runners did not learn their lesson and once again tried to be aggressive with two outs in the same inning.

With runners on first and second, Jose Abreu came through with a clutch double to left field that looked like it might score two. Mancini recovered the ball quickly and got it in to Machado who fired his relay throw to home plate in time to save a run.

Game 2 (3-2 CHW): These two evenly matched teams played another close game on Tuesday that ended in the same score as game one. However, this time the White Sox came out on top after picking up three runs in the eighth inning.

Kevin Gausman was even more effective than Cashner the night before, tossing 6.1 innings of work and racking up 10 strikeouts. Gausman has been the most consistent member of the O’s rotation so far this season and did a good job of getting back on track after a rare six-run performance last week against Boston.

Unfortunately the Givens and Bleier combo was not as effective as they were in game one. Givens finished off the seventh without any issues but ran into trouble in the eighth after giving up a leadoff triple and then loading the bases. Bleier entered the game and quickly traded the lead for the second out of the inning when Yoan Moncada hit a sacrifice fly. Yolmer Sanchez followed with an RBI single to give the White Sox their first lead of the game.

Miguel Castro closed out the inning but the damage had already been done and the O’s offense was left with just one inning to get their lead back or at least tie it up. Chris Davis walked and Trumbo singled to get two on with one out, but the potential rally ended there and Chicago escaped with a comeback win.

Game 3 (11-1 CHW): Full recap of Wednesday’s game by Ian Schultz

Game 4 (9-3 BAL): After completely imploding on Wednesday the Orioles regrouped and got great outings from both the offense and Dylan Bundy to force a series split. It started right away in the first inning when the Orioles offense took everything that was being given to them by White Sox starter Lucas Giolito.

The O’s started the first very impatient, getting two runners on but also picking up two outs after just eleven pitches. Davis, of all people, was the patient one at the plate and took a walk to load the bases and start the string of  good at-bats. Giolito could not settle down after walking Davis and proceeded to give up a pair of runs by walking the next two batters. Chance Sisco capped off the inning with a two-RBI single to make it a 4-0 game early.

Through the next two innings the Orioles offense would add five more runs. Mancini and Jones went yard back-to-back in the second while Machado and Pedro Alvarez added RBI singles in the third to put the O’s up 9-0.

Bundy also delivered a great start that was much needed after Cobb made an early exit the night before. Bundy went the distance for the second complete game of his career. He only ran into a little trouble in the fourth when Jose Rondon launched a three run homer to left field. It resulted in a weird box score as Bundy hit a batter and then allowed another to reach base on a wild pitch strikeout earlier in the inning. After the fourth the White Sox had scored three runs but recorded just one hit.

Bundy settled down after this and gave up just one more hit through the next five innings as he picked up his third win of the year. He would also finish with 14 strikeouts, just shy of the franchise record for most in a single game. The record of 15 strikeouts has been reached by three different pitchers with Erik Bedard being the most recent in 2007.

Up next: The Orioles wrap up their road trip this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays. This marks the third meeting between these two AL East teams so far this year, but the first time in St. Petersburg.

Image credit: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Series preview: Orioles continue road trip with four game set in Chicago

The Orioles broke their lengthy road losing streak during this past weekend’s series against Boston. However, that win would be the only one they got in a four game set. The O’s just couldn’t handle the division leading Red Sox resulting in some disappointing loses like Sunday afternoon’s series finale, where they outhit Boston 13-12 but failed to score a single run.

Now the O’s find themselves entering another four game road series against the White Sox. Fortunately the Chicago South Siders are struggling just as much, if not more, than the Orioles so far this season. The White Sox are coming off of a series win over Texas but hold a 5-10 record in their last 15 games.

As we know the Orioles are in a similar boat, sitting right next to the White Sox at the bottom of the American league standings. Both teams are floating just above .300 in terms of win percentage and hold two of the worst run differentials in all of baseball. If anything this four game set should be evenly matched.

When will the good news come?:

Ever since the O’s got off to a terrible 8-20 start in the first month of the season, fans have been wondering when the team would switch to a rebuild mentality. When will management come to terms with this flawed team and start making the trades necessary to compete in the future? Early this month Dan Duquette said the benchmark for evaluating the team would be Memorial Day. With that evaluating point just one week away, the Orioles are still basement dwellers with no signs of changing drastically.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Monday, May 21, 8:10 pm – Andrew Cashner (1-5, 4.83 ERA) vs Hector Santiago (0-1, 5.29 ERA)- MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Tuesday, May 22, 8:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.88 ERA) vs James Shields (1-4, 4.88 ERA) – MASN 2. 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Wednesday, May 23, 8:10 pm – Alex Cobb (1-5, 6.56 ERA) vs Dylan Covey (0-1,6.00 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Thursday, May 24, 2:10 pm – Dylan Bundy (2-6, 4.70 ERA) vs Lucas Giolito (3-4, 6.42 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • Joey Rickard has sparked debate among Orioles fans since making his major league debut in 2016. He has his supporters but probably more than his fair share of detractors as well. Regardless of how you feel about Rickard and his legitimacy as a starter, he is making the most of his time with the O’s so far this season. The 27-year-old outfielder has started in six games over the last month and holds a .333 batting average in that span. His two home run, five RBI performance on Mothers Day has accounted for most of his numbers but overall his at bats have been pretty good. In a lineup full of free swinging batters, Rickard has struck out just four times in 24 plate appearances.
  • Coming out of a terrible month of April there was not much hope for the O’s. Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop found themselves on the disabled list early this season but their returns have not changed much. Trumbo is batting .274 with six home runs since coming back on May 1st but has taken just one walk, which doesn’t compliment his 19 strikeouts very well. Schoop has yet to heat up as well. In 12 starts this month, the O’s second baseman has had some timely hits to gather eleven RBI’s but is only batting .220

Notes on White Sox:

  • The White Sox have been experiencing some major consistency issues with their starting rotation this season. Of the four pitchers with at least eight starts this year, only one (Reynaldo Lopez) has an ERA below 4.50. With Miguel Gonzalez on the disabled list and Carson Fulmer getting sent down, the White Sox will turn to Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey to make some starts in this weeks series. Santiago is a veteran pitcher but hasn’t been a consistent member of a rotation since 2016. Covey, on the other hand, is a young pitcher who has yet to win a game at the MLB level and holds a 7.58 ERA in 13 career starts with the White Sox.
  • First baseman, Jose Abreu will be a player to watch out for this week. Mookie Betts got the best of the O’s once again this past weekend and continued to crown himself the official Oriole killer but Abreu might be just as dangerous. Despite facing him less than Betts, Abreu holds a .379 average with seven homers and 17 RBI’s against Baltimore since 2014.

Image credit: Michael Dwyer / AP

Orioles offense dominates in series win over Rays

Game 1 (9-4 BAL): The Orioles kept their momentum rolling into this weekends series against Tampa Bay to win their third game in a row. While that may not seem like much of an accomplishment, it marked the longest win streak on the year for the O’s.

Kevin Gausman continued to stay hot on the mound as well. The Orioles starter followed up last weeks nine inning shutout with a strong 7.1 inning performance in which he struck out six and gave up just a pair of runs. Since kicking off the year with a rough outing Gausman has settled in and lowered his ERA from 13.50 to 3.18 in eight starts.

Richard Bleier entered the game after Gausman looking to finish off the eighth inning. Unfortunately it ended up being rough performance for the O’s reliever. Coming into Friday’s game Bleier had surrendered just one earned run in 22.2 innings of relief. Friday was a rare poor performance for Bleier who quickly allowed another pair of runs while recording just one out.

The good news is the Orioles offense had just pushed five runs across in the previous inning to make it a 8-1 game so Bleier’s miscues were not costly. Brad Brach recorded the final out of the eighth and then picked up his fifth save of the year by closing it out in the ninth.

The Orioles offense put up nine runs thanks to a huge night by Manny Machado. The O’s shortstop launched two home runs, including a grand slam in the seventh, to pick up six RBI’s. The grand slam also marked Machado’s 150th career home run.

Game 2 (6-3 BAL): The Orioles started Saturday’s doubleheader with another solid game from both the offense and pitching. David Hess made his major league debut and earned the first win of his career by giving up just three runs in six innings of work.

With the rotation struggling to find consistency so far this year, there were some major concerns coming into this weekend surrounding the bullpen. A doubleheader is never easy to manage but Hess certainly helped by making his way through six innings before turning it over to the relievers. A three run homer by Matt Duffy in the first inning was the only blemish in Hess’ debut.

Manny Machado continued to dominate with another solo shot in the third while Jonathan Schoop picked up his first multi home run game of the year. Almost lost in the excitement of Machado and Schoop’s homers was some great base running by Chance Sisco. The O’s catcher picked up an RBI double in the second and stole home later in that inning. Coincidentally it was Sisco’s first stolen base of his career. The last Oriole to do the same was Cal Ripken Jr. in 1982.

Game 3 (10-3 TB): The second half of Saturday’s doubleheader was not as kind to the Orioles. Alex Cobb surrendered a run in each of the first four innings against his former team leading to an early 4-1 lead for the visiting Rays.

A heavy rain storm hit Baltimore in the sixth inning, forcing about an hour long delay. The Orioles used this break to regroup and managed to cut the Tampa Bay lead to just one shorty after the storm let up and play resumed. Trey Mancini got it started with an RBI single and Jonathan Schoop added the second run on a productive ground out.

However, the Rays would go on to pad their lead with six more runs in the final three innings. Jimmy Yacabonis, Pedro Araujo and Mike Wright pitched in relief for the Orioles and combined to give up the late innings runs, leading to a 10-3 win for Tampa Bay.

Game 4 (17-1 BAL): The O’s got back on track for Sunday’s series finale. Many were praising the return of the Orioles offense earlier this week but Sunday’s 17-1 blowout made it official.

It was an all around great effort by the Orioles that started with Dylan Bundy redeeming himself after making one of the worst starts in MLB history this past Tuesday. The O’s starter stifled the Rays offense with seven shutout innings of work in which he gave up just two hits.

Donnie Hart came in to pitch the eighth inning and gave up two hits and a run on 20 pitches. Mike Wright followed him and closed out the ninth with a quick 12-pitch inning to secure a series win for the O’s.

The Offense was the star of the day though. The O’s batters put up 17 runs, the most since August 25 of last year when they beat the Red Sox 16-3. Joey Rickard led the way in his third game of the season by going 3-5 at the plate with a pair of home runs and five RBI’s. Danny Valencia was just as impressive, grabbing four hits and four RBI’s of his own. All nine starters picked up at least one hit and the lineup batted around two times over the course of Sunday afternoon’s game.

Up next: The Orioles will have Monday off before wrapping up their home stand with a brief two game series against the Phillies starting Tuesday. This will mark the first interleague matchup of the 2018 season for the O’s.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

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

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 grab win on Friday but drop sixth series of the year

Game 1 (3-1 BAL): The Orioles kicked off the weekend by breaking their six game losing streak. With Dylan Bundy on the mound there was plenty of reasons to be optimistic from a pitching perspective but could the offense pick up the slack? In his previous four starts, Bundy received just 1.5 runs of support per outing.

That changed on Friday though. Bundy started his night by surrendering a run in a bases loaded jam, but quickly settled down to go six innings and earn himself a long overdue win.

Short Stop Manny Machado had a great series offensively and defensively. With the Orioles offense still asleep, Machado jump started the scoring effort with a solo homer in the fourth inning to tie the game at one. The following inning the O’s put together some good at bats to get some runners on base before turning the lineup over. Leadoff hitter Trey Mancini followed this up with a two run double to the left center gap, giving the Orioles a lead they would not give up.

There hasn’t been very many reliable relievers in the bullpen so far this season but Buck Showalter pulled out his best options to hold the 3-1 lead. Richard Bleier worked through the seventh and eighth inning on just 19 pitches. After allowing a pair of base runners in the seventh, Bleier found himself in a little bit of trouble. Cleveland third baseman, Jose Ramirez smoked a ball up the middle that looked like an easy RBI off the bat. To the crowds surprise Manny Machado make a phenomenal diving stop before flipping the ball to second base for the inning ending out.

In the ninth inning Showalter opted to bring Darren O’Day out for the save instead of closer Brad Brach. The decision paid off as O’Day struck out two and retired the side on 16 pitches to earn his first save of the year.

The only problem to arise in Friday’s win was when Trey Mancini suffered a knee injury. In the eighth inning Mancini gave a pop up in foul territory a good chase before sliding and just missing out on a great catch. Unfortunately, Mancini’s momentum carried him farther than he wanted and his right knee made contact with the unpadded section of the third base line wall. Mancini immediately grabbed his knee in pain but returned to his feet to walk off the field. Post game MRI’s revealed no major issues but Mancini was left out of the starting lineup for the rest of the series.

Game 2 (4-0 CLE): The O’s limited offensive production did not carry over to Saturday afternoon. Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger pitched a complete game shutout, giving up just two hits and two walks. Meanwhile the Orioles were forced to send Chris Tillman out for another start. The veteran pitcher quickly fell behind the Indians and surrendered two runs through the first four innings but managed to keep his pitch count down.

Tillman entered the sixth looking pretty decent but ended up giving up a pair of solo homers that inning to end his afternoon. It was far from pretty but still marks the best start of the year for Tillman. A quality offense could certainly work with four runs through six innings but so far this year the Orioles offense has been anything but quality.

Tanner Scott tossed two clean innings of relief following Tillman’s exit, giving up just one hit. Scott saw action against the Yankees earlier this month and surrendered a run in 1.2 innings of work. This was certainly a nice bounce back performance for the 23-year-old lefty but we will see if Buck Showalter gives him more innings in the near future.

It was a rough afternoon for the Orioles but a few defensive plays by Chance Sisco are worth noting. With the Orioles facing a stretch of right handed pitchers, the left-handed-hitting catcher Sisco has gotten more opportunities to start behind the plate.

On Saturday the rookie threw out three Cleveland players trying to steal second base between the sixth and ninth inning. This is the first time an Orioles catcher has successfully thrown out three base runners in a game since Matt Wieters in 2012. Sisco has now stopped seven of the eleven base steal attempts against him this season.

Game 3 (7-3 CLE): The Orioles lineup came back to life in time for Sunday afternoons game. Andrew Cashner didn’t have his best stuff working, allowing four runs through six innings, but the O’s managed to score three runs off of Corey Kluber to make it a close game anyway.

Manny Machado hit two more solo home runs and Chris Davis brought home the third run on a RBI single. Through four starts prior to this weekend, Kluber had not surrendered more than two runs in an outing. However, the O’s could not keep that momentum going and were completely shutdown by the Cleveland bullpen.

With that being said, the Orioles didn’t have much of a shot at a comeback or walk off after Brad Brach gave up three runs in the top of the ninth. Place the blame wherever you want but at the end of the day the O’s, once again, found themselves in the loss column.

Game 4 (2-1 CLE): Monday nights series closer was another close game. Kevin Gausman looked like he might have been in for a rough outing when he gave up a two run homer in the second to Yonder Alonso, but found his rhythm and ended up giving up just two more hits through the next six innings. Gausman ended his night after eight innings with seven strikeouts.

Of course the offense was borderline nonexistent, rendering Gausman’s phenomenal start useless. The O’s responded to the Indians two run homer by getting one back in the bottom half of the inning but tat ended their run production for the night. With runners on first and second, Chance Sisco came to the plate and picked up his fifth RBI of the season.

The Orioles saw three different pitchers and struck out 11 times, marking the teams sixteenth game this season with double digit strikeouts. Coincidentally, the loss also marks the Birds sixteenth game where they scored three runs or less.

Up next: The Orioles will host the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday through Thursday this week. Alex Cobb is slated to start in the series opener, which will be his first time pitching against his former team. The Rays are the only AL East team the O’s have not faced yet this season and currently sit three games games above Baltimore in the standings.

Image credit: Gail Burton / AP