Orioles pick up pair of comeback wins over visiting Yankees

Game 1 (5-4 BAL): The Orioles kicked off their four-game series against the Yankees with a doubleheader. To the surprise of many, the O’s got the best of their American League East rival and snapped six-game losing streak with a 5-4 win.

Jimmy Yacabonis was called upon to make his second start of the year after turning in a decent outing in his first career start a few weeks ago. The Yankees jumped on the rookie pitcher early and picked up three runs in the first three innings. Yacabonis settled in after this and worked his way through five innings.

Mark Trumbo helped inch the Birds back into the game with a two-run blast in the fourth. It marked Trumbo’s 12th homer of the year and fourth this month. The Yankees got a run back in the sixth but the Orioles offense was not done yet. Trumbo led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Jonathan Schoop followed with a double, bringing Danny Valencia to the plate. CC Sabathia was approaching 100 pitches on the hill but remained in the game to face Valencia. This ended up being a somewhat questionable call as the right fielder sent a three-run shot to deep center, giving the O’s a 5-4 lead.

Mike Wright, Mychal Givens and Zach Britton closed out the last three innings with ease to secure the win. The victory marked the Orioles’ first in game one of a series since June 22 when they defeated the Braves in extra innings.

Game 2 (10-2 NYY): The Orioles could not keep their good fortunes going when game two rolled around. Yefry Ramirez got the start but failed to work at the fast pace he had displayed in his last two outings. Didi Gregorius put the Yankees on the board in the first inning with an RBI double. The lineup continued to threaten later in the inning by loading the bases but Ramirez escaped with a timely strikeout.

A two-run homer by Brett Gardner extended New York’s lead in the fourth. Ramirez’s pitch count was inflated but the rookie pitcher managed to finish off the inning. However, the Yankees finally forced Ramirez out of the game in the next inning after Greg Bird picked up an RBI single.

The score remained 4-0 in New York’s favor for the next three innings as Ryan Meisinger entered the game for the Orioles out of the pen. The 24-year-old made his MLB debut late last month and has seen a decent amount of appearances since then. Monday night’s outing stands as his best so far. Meisinger struck out three while tossing three perfect innings.

After Meisinger’s exit the bullpen completely fell apart. Brad Brach came in for the eighth and picked up two quick outs but failed to close the door. Four Yankees batters picked up two-out hits, including a home run by Austin Romine and an RBI double by Gardner. By the time Brach was yanked, the Yankees had picked up an insurmountable 7-0 lead.

Tanner Scott came in next but couldn’t get the third out fast enough. The Yankees loaded the bases and picked up an eighth run via a throwing error by Schoop. The Orioles finally got on the board in the bottom half of the inning when Tim Beckham hit his first home run since returning from the disabled list in late June. New York would go on to get those two runs back in the ninth as they wrapped up a dominant 10-2 win in game two of Monday’s double header.

Game 3 (6-5 BAL): On Tuesday afternoon it was reported that the New York Yankees had entered the trade conversations for Manny Machado. In a year filled with misery for O’s fans this felt like just another jab to the gut. However, those same fans were able to sleep well on Tuesday night knowing that Machado still remained on the O’s long enough to help lift his team to their fifth win over the Yankees this season.

The All-Star shortstop went 3-for-4 at the plate with two game-tying home runs. The first came off of Masahiro Tanaka on the very first pitch of the fifth inning. The New York starter had just come off the disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game but it was not a smooth transition back to the rotation for him. Tanaka only lasted 4.1 innings with Machado’s leadoff homer, marking the third and final run surrendered for the Yankees starter.

Machado’s second homer came in the seventh off of Chad Green. Adam Jones helped set the table by getting on base with a single and Machado followed with a deep shot to right field. Aaron Judge gave chase all the way back to the wall but the ball landed just out of reach for the 6’7″ right fielder as he leaped up in an attempt to rob Machado. The umpires needed to review the play despite the ball landing on the grounds crew roof but the correct call was ultimately made after a brief delay.

The game would remain tied going into the ninth inning. The Orioles bullpen had tossed 2.2 clean innings of relief and the offense responded with one more rally. With Dellin Betances on the mound it seemed almost certain that the game would be going into extra innings but the Orioles caught a break when Caleb Joseph got hit by a pitch in the first at-bat of the inning. Jones kept the momentum going with a double down the right-field line that somehow managed to stay fair. The big hit allowed Joseph to go to third for a sac fly opportunity.

Trumbo came to the plate and turned in a terrible four-pitch at-bat that ended in a strikeout. Trumbo appeared to be thrown off right from start and couldn’t find a pitch to drive to the outfield. After this, the weight of the game fell onto Schoop’s shoulders and the second baseman did not disappoint. After watching the first two pitches, Schoop found one he liked down and away in the zone. Schoop extended his arms down and poked the ball past the reach of Greg Bird at first base for the game-winning RBI.

Game 4 (9-0 NYY): After an exciting walk-off win on Tuesday the Orioles had stumbled into the opportunity for their second series win over the Yankees this year. However, New York’s offense jumped all over the Orioles pitching staff and forced a split with their second blowout victory of the series.

Dylan Bundy was on the mound for the O’s and struggled again in his second start since returning from a brief stint on the disabled list. Bundy had a clean start in the first two innings but quickly unraveled in the third. After putting runners on the corners with two outs, Bundy surrendered an RBI single to Giancarlo Stanton. The damage didn’t stop there. The Yankees loaded the bases and Bird came up big with a grand slam down the right-field line. The ball was hooking to the right but bounced off the foul pole before drifting too far.

Bundy worked one more inning before being replaced by the bullpen. Wright, Jhan Marinez and Donnie Hart all entered the game for the O’s but none of them could keep the Yankees off the board. New York picked up four more runs over the course of the rest of the game to eventually rack up a 9-0 lead.

Tyler Wade put the fifth run on the board in the sixth with his first career home run. Romine launched a solo home run as well and Stanton rounded out the scoring with another RBI single. The Yankees have outscored the Orioles 60-42 this year but the season series is tied up 5-5.

Up next: The Orioles were originally scheduled to have Thursday off but will now be playing a make-up game against Philadelphia. The Orioles and Phillies were meant to play a brief two-game series back in May but the first game had to be postponed due to rain. The O’s will finish off the week by hosting the Texas Rangers before getting a four-day break next week for the All-Star game.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

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Orioles remain winless on road trip, fall to Twins 6-2

MINNEAPOLIS-  The last time we saw Orioles starting pitcher Dylan Bundy he was picking up his sixth win of the season in the Orioles 7-5 triumph over the Braves on June 23rd in Atlanta. Bundy was placed on the DL shortly after that victory after he rolled his ankle running the bases.

Bundy returned to the mound for the Birds last night against the Twins and appeared to be rusty, only lasting 3.1 innings while giving up six runs (five earned) on nine hits. Bundy, who took the loss to fall to 6-8 on the season, struck out two while walking one in what eventually became a 6-2 loss to the Twins.

The trouble began for Bundy in the bottom half of the first inning. After back-to-back singles from Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario to lead off the frame, Bundy gave up another single to Brian Dozier. Two runs scored on the play as a result of a throwing error by Orioles third basemen Tim Beckham. Two batters later, Jorge Polanco delivered a two-out single to extend the lead to 3-0.

After a scoreless second and third from both clubs, the Twins got back on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning. The inning would prove to be Bundy’s last as he surrendered a bunt single to Polanco before giving up a two-run moon shot to Orioles killer Max Kepler to extend the Twins lead to 5-0. Kepler is 6-18 lifetime against the Orioles with four extra base hits.

After a Jake Cave single and a walk from Mitch Garver, Mauer singled to left, scoring Cave to push the lead to 6-0, ending Bundy’s outing early.

The Orioles offense picked up 11 hits on the night with Beckham, Caleb Joseph, Manny Machado, and Mark Trumbo all recording multi-hit games. Beckham could’ve joined Joseph with a three-hit night when he drove the first pitch of the night from Twins starter Lance Lynn deep to center field, but Cave took a homer away for the second consecutive night.

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Caleb Joseph paced the offense last night going 3-4. Image Credit: PressBox Baltimore

Lynn picked up the win for the Twins, moving his record to 6-7 on the season. He labored through six innings giving up one run on six hits, striking out three and walking two. Lynn was a candidate for the Orioles rotation this offseason prior to signing a one-year $12 million agreement with the Twins.

The Orioles only RBI of the night came courtesy of a Chris Davis single in the top of the sixth inning, scoring Machado who had worked a lead-off walk. The single gave the Orioles runners on first and second as Trumbo had followed Machado with a single. But with two on and nobody out, Jonathan Schoop grounded into a double play and Trey Mancini followed with a ground out to end the threat.

The Orioles were threatening again in the seventh when Joseph and Beckham picked up back-to-back one out singles. Adam Jones grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Joseph from second base on a throwing error by Logan Morrison. The RBI cut the Twins lead to 6-2.

With runners on first and second and one out, Machado delivered a single to left field but Beckham was gunned down at the plate by Rosario. Trumbo flied out in the next at-bat to end the inning.

The Orioles mounted a minor threat in the ninth with Joseph and Beckham providing back-to-back one out singles but Jones popped out to short and Machado followed by fouling out to first.

The defeat marked the Orioles fourth in a row and with the loss the Birds have dropped 11 of their last 12 games.

Game three of the series is Saturday afternoon at 2:10pm on MASN.

Image Credit: MASN Sports

Orioles swept by Mariners in series full of frustration

Game 1 (5-3 SEA): The Orioles returned home this week after picking up just their third road series win of the season this past weekend in Atlanta. For the visiting Mariners, this series marked the final stop of a lengthy east coast trip. It also marked their third straight series against AL East competition after they got swept by New York and only took one in Boston.

Seattle got back on track in Monday’s series opener. Dee Gordon got the scoring started with a two-RBI single in the second. It was a slim lead for the Mariners but the Orioles would end up playing from behind for most of the night.

A Jonathan Schoop solo homer put the O’s on the board in the fifth, but Denard Span got that run back in the next half inning with a homer of his own. The Orioles kept the offensive momentum going in the sixth and managed to tie it up thanks to a series of quality at-bats. Manny Machado got it started with a leadoff single. Mark Trumbo followed that up with a walk and then Chris Davis was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

The O’s failed to record a hit through the rest of the inning but still managed to score a pair of runs on two sacrifice ground outs. The missed opportunity for a bigger inning came back and bit the O’s almost immediately with the Mariners scoring two runs in the seventh to retake the lead.

Miguel Castro replaced Andrew Cashner after the Orioles starter gave up three runs through six innings of work. Castro put himself in a jam by loading the bases to start the inning. A wild pitch allowed the first run to score and Mitch Haniger followed that up with a sacrifice fly to make it a 5-3 game.

Just like the O’s in the previous inning, the Mariners left some potential insurance runs on base but the necessary damage had already been done. Tanner Scott replaced Castro out of the pen and picked up a pair of strikeouts with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Orioles offense failed to reach base in the final three innings as the Mariners bullpen made quick work of their lineup. Only 39 pitches were needed to retire the last nine Orioles hitters.

Game 2 (3-2 SEA):  Tuesday night saw another back-and-forth contest. This time the Orioles got on the board first when Danny Valencia hit a solo homer in the second inning. However, Kyle Seager responded by sending one deep to right field in the fourth.

The score would remain tied until the sixth inning when the O’s pushed a second run across. Unfortunately the inning played out very similar to the sixth inning of Monday’s game. The O’s opened up the inning by loading the bases but when Machado grounded into a double play, the momentum was killed instantly. The go-ahead run looks nice in the box score but there was some controversy surrounding the play since Machado did not run down the first baseline in an attempt to beat the relay throw.

The crowd responded by booing and Machado later apologized after the game. Whether Machado beats that throw or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the O’s offense has failed to cash in on some golden opportunities with these bases loaded situations.

This would become clearly evident once again when the Mariners mounted a small comeback in the eighth. With two runners on base, Seager got the best of the O’s pitching staff again with a two-RBI single to make it a 3-2 game. Seattle went on to close out the last two innings and walk away with another close win.

Darren O’Day was credited with both runs after putting them on base to start the inning. However, O’Day had to be replaced by Scott after re-aggrevating a hamstring injury during the second at bat of the inning. Jean Segura laid down a bunt toward the third base side of the mound but O’Day was not able to field it after taking a few steps and then slowing down with a limp.

After the game manager Buck Showalter spoke on the play and O’Day has been placed on the 10-day disabled list since. This is a huge loss for the Orioles who already had to watch their best reliever, Richard Bleier, go down with a season-ending lat tear a few weeks ago.

Game 3 (8-7 SEA): Wednesday’s game started and ended the same way as Tuesday’s game. Valencia struck first with a two-run homer in the first inning but the Mariners ended up coming out on top with a late inning comeback.

Seattle managed to tie the game up 2-2 in the third but Trumbo quickly put the O’s back on top with an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning. A second run scored on the play after a throwing error by Span and the Orioles had a 4-2 lead.

The Mariners would take it back in the fifth by jumping on the ever-inconsistent Alex Cobb. Seattle loaded the bases with just one out and later cashed in with a pair of runs via sacrifice fly and RBI single. The rough outing marked the seventh start this season where Cobb has surrendered at least five runs.

The score would remain 5-4 until the eighth inning when the Orioles got the best of Seattle reliever Alex Colome. Machado and Valencia led off the inning with a pair of first-pitch singles. However, the momentum slowed down significantly when Trumbo lined out and Schoop grounded into a fielder’s choice.

With runners on the corners, Davis came to the plate and worked himself in a favorable 3-1 count. Colome let his next pitch hang over the middle of the plate and Davis got all of it. The ball sailed down the right field line and landed on Eutaw street to give the Orioles a 7-5 lead going into the final inning.

In typical Orioles fashion, this would not be enough for a win. Zach Britton came in for the ninth and proceeded to throw away a late lead for the second time in a week. Haniger led off the ninth with a single and Seager followed with a two-run homer to tie the game up. The Mariners’ third baseman would go on to finish the four-game series with five hits and five RBI despite not starting on Thursday.

Britton did manage to close out the inning without surrendering the lead but the Orioles would end up losing in 11 innings. Span made up for his throwing error earlier in the game by driving in the go-ahead run in the eleventh.

Game 4 (4-2 SEA): With the first three games of the series all feeling like carbon copies of each other, it’s fitting that Thursday afternoon’s finale was another closely contested extra inning game.

With Dylan Bundy hitting the disabled list earlier this week, the O’s turned to Jimmy Yacabonis to make a spot start. The 26-year-old pitcher made his debut with the Orioles last season but didn’t appear in too many games. None the less, Yacabonis made a decent impression with a 4.35 ERA in a little over 20 innings of relief. However, that did not carry over into 2018 with Yacabonis struggling at the major league level so far this season.

Through the first three innings it looked like Yacabonis had a good grasp on the game. The Seattle lineup had proven deadly so far in the series but the young starter gave up just two hits while striking out four in the early innings. Yacabonis would get a rude awakening in the fourth, though.

After giving up a lead off walk to Haniger, Yacabonis fell victim to Nelson Cruz. The veteran slugger didn’t waste any time sending a fastball to right center field. Valencia made an attempt to snag the ball before it could get out, but Cruz’s towering shot came down fast and dropped just over the reach of Valencia for a two-run homer.

Yacabonis regrouped and finished off the fourth but his afternoon would come to an end in the next inning after giving up a pair of singles. With the O’s offense immediately responding in the bottom of the fourth, Buck was quick to pull his starter and go to the pen with the game tied 2-2. Solo home runs by Machado and Davis quickly erased the lead created by Cruz’s two-run blast.

Yefry Ramirez entered the game out of the pen and proceeded to turn in an amazing relief effort. Ramirez made a spot start a few weeks ago against Boston but did not fare very well against the Red Sox potent lineup. He made up for that on Thursday by tossing five scoreless innings of relief. Ramirez was outstanding and made quick work of the Mariners by getting 15 outs with just 52 pitches.

The Orioles offense could not take advantage of Ramirez’s impressive relief appearance and the two teams went to extra innings for the second day in a row. Once again the Mariners came out victorious thanks to their speed at the top of the order. Gordon led off the tenth with an infield single and Segura followed with a single to center field. Gordon got a great jump and was able to round second with ease but an error by Colby Rasmus allowed the speedy second baseman to keep going and head home for the go-ahead run.

Cruz added an insurance run later in the inning with an RBI single and the Mariners went on to close out another narrow win over the O’s and complete the four-game sweep. After their rallies in games three and four, Seattle is now 8-0 on the year in games that go to extra innings.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Orioles extend losing streak to nine before salvaging a win over Marlins in series finale

Game 1 (2-0 MIA): The Orioles came into this weekend’s series with an eight game losing streak, their longest of the season. They were, and still are, extremely down on their luck, but with the struggling Marlins in town there might have been some room cautious optimism.

I know that sounds crazy but consider the fact that just last week the Orioles rallied for a pair of interleague wins over the Mets. Miami isn’t too far off from the Mets in terms of competition. In addition to that, the Orioles would be playing in their home stadium this time, meaning the much needed DH position could be used.

However, this brief moment of optimism was erased pretty quickly in Friday’s series opener. Kevin Gausman was decent enough in his 5.2 innings of work. The O’s starter gave up just two runs on five hits and struck out seven. Completing the sixth inning would have been nice but you can’t complain about that kind of start.

As you should expect at this point, that quality start was completely wasted as the Orioles offense mustered just three hits and never crossed home plate. Jose Urena got the start for the Marlins and ended up turning in his best performance of the season. The 26-year-old starter shut down the O’s with eight strong innings to earn just his second win of the season. The great start not only marks Urena’s deepest of the year, but also the first start this season where he kept the opposing lineup scoreless.

If there was a bright spot for the O’s, it was the bullpen. Four relievers entered the game after Gausman and they combined to give up just two hits in a little over three innings of work. Zach Britton made his second appearance of the season and looked much better than he did earlier this week. While Britton escaped that inning of relief on Tuesday without giving up any runs, he did allow three walks to put himself in a jam. On Friday Britton made quick work of the Marlins to retire the side in order with a pair of strikeouts.

Game 2 (5-4 MIA): The Orioles played another close game on Saturday but came up short once again. The Marlins looked like they might run away with it early after scoring four runs in the first three innings, but the Orioles would eventually make it a close contest. J.T. Realmuto led the scoring effort for Miami with an RBI single in the first and then a two run homer in the third.

In the bottom of the third, Manny Machado cut the Marlins lead in half with a two RBI single. The score remained 4-2 through the fifth but then Realmuto came around and got the best of Alex Cobb once again by launching a solo homer to make it three run game.

The Orioles offense was able to respond once again with a Jonathan Schoop solo home run in the bottom of the sixth. Danny Valencia followed that up with an RBI single in the seventh to cut the Marlins lead to one run, but the comeback would end there for the Orioles.

Brad Ziegler and Drew Steckenrider provided some much needed composure for the Marlins out of the pen. The duo combined to shut down the eighth and ninth innings while securing a win for Miami.

Game 3 (10-4 BAL): After playing from behind in the first two games, the Orioles didn’t waste any time taking the upper hand in Sunday’s series finale. Just like the Marlins did the day before, the O’s lineup was able to take an early 4-0 lead by the end of the third inning.

Jace Peterson got it started in the second inning by sending a ball deep to center field. It sailed over the outfielders heads and landed on the warning track before bouncing over the wall. Luckily for the O’s, this ground rule double didn’t have a negative impact since Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop were both in scoring position to start the at bat.

In the third inning the Orioles added two more runs thanks to an RBI double by Trumbo and an RBI single by Trey Mancini. The two runs would end up being huge considering the O’s started the third with two quick outs. Despite this, the heart of the order managed to pick up three hits, including the two RBI’s, and a walk before ending the inning.

By the end of the fifth the Orioles had captured an impressive 8-1 lead. Adam Jones knocked in two with a double in the fourth and Peterson added another two with a home run in the fifth.

Dylan Bundy was on the mound for the Orioles and looked like he was on pace for a great afternoon. Through five innings Bundy had already received more than enough run support, but also held the Marlins lineup to just one run, which came via a home run by Justin Bour.

Bundy was working at an impressive pace and had kept his pitch count down early on. The sixth inning would stop him in his tracks though. After putting two runners on base to start the inning, Bundy had to face Bour for a third time. Once again the Marlins designated hitter got the best of Bundy and sent a three run homer over the right field wall to make it a 8-4 game.

Bundy’s afternoon came to an end after it took him just shy of 30 pitches to finish off the sixth. With the Marlins threatening again in the seventh, Buck Showalter opted to use three different relievers to get through the inning. Miguel Castro got the inning started but quickly loaded the bases without recording an out. Mychal Givens came in and picked up two outs but was replaced by Tanner Scott with Bour coming up to the plate. The 23-year-old lefty handled the pressure very well and got Bour to strikeout looking.

The O’s offense had already done enough but they still managed to push two more runs across in the late innings. A Mark Trumbo solo homer and RBI single by Manny Machado helped cap off the ten run afternoon for the O’s. Brad Brach and Zach Britton closed out the last two innings with ease to break the Orioles nine game losing streak.

Up Next: The Orioles will take Monday off before making a short trip down the beltway to face the Nationals. When these two teams met at Camden Yards back in late May, Washington walked away with a sweep. These next three games will wrap up the season series between the Nationals and Orioles for 2018. The Nationals only need to win one game for their first season series win over the Orioles since 2007.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

Orioles must change offensive approach to end losing ways

The Baltimore Orioles (17-41) enter the week of Jun. 4 with the worst record in the Majors. Losers of seven straight games, the 2018 season is already over. Now over two months into the season, Orioles ownership faces a cloud of uncertainty with the contracts of both general manger Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter expiring after the season. That’s not a good situation for a team like the Orioles who sit 22.5 games out of first place in the American League East.

Whether Duquette sticks around or leaves town following the 2018 season, the Orioles’ offensive approach needs to change in order for the team to find success again. Since Duquette arrived in Baltimore, the Orioles have relied on lineups full of power bats to carry the team via the long ball. From 2012-17, the Orioles finished in the top 3 in home runs, and they led the major leagues in 2013, 2014, and 2016. Also in that time span, Baltimore finished within the top 10 in strikeouts three times. So far this season, the Orioles rank fifth in strikeouts (523) and 14’th in home runs (65). They’re also 27’th in walks taken (159), 27’th in average (.230) and 29’th in both on-base percentage (OBP) (.293) & runs scored (210).

While these stats span just over two months total, it’s not hard to figure out that these numbers do not point to a successful offense. While ranking 14’th in home runs still puts the Orioles in the middle of the pack, they’re not scoring enough runs, not getting on base enough, and they’re striking out at an alarming rate.

Currently, only four regular starters in the Orioles lineup – Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, and Mark Trumbo – own OBP’s above .300. This means that over half of Baltimore’s lineup is failing to reach base in seven-of-10 at-bats. Guys like Jones and Trumbo have done all they can to carry the offense, but even they carry free-swinging power bats who will see large strikeout totals when the 2018 season comes to a close.

Easily, the biggest disappointment for the Orioles dates back to the 2016 offseason, and that’s Chris Davis. Since signing a seven-year, $161 million deal in the winter preceding the 2016 season, Davis has hit an alarming .196 with 68 home runs and 487 strikeouts. Things seem to be hitting rock-bottom this season with Davis hitting .152 with just four home runs. Davis has hit at least 21 home runs in seven of 11 seasons, but he’s on pace to finish 2018 with 12 home runs (and about 219 strikeouts).

One factor playing into the declining offensive numbers has to be age. The Orioles are a veteran-heavy team with Jones, Davis, and Trumbo all at the age of 32. Pedro Alvarez, who’s been playing fairly often in the DH spot, is 31. Jonathan Schoop and Mancini are both 26, and Machado turns 26 on Jul. 6. When Davis, Jones, and Trumbo were in their late 20’s, relying on the home run got the Orioles by. Now, a lot of these guys are well above 30 and have started to decline. None of them will admit to it, but the Orioles are a veteran team in need of a turnover that includes plenty of youth.

This should not come as a surprise, but the Red Sox (40-19), Yankees (37-17), Astros (37-23), and Braves (34-24) are the highest scorers of the 2018 season to date. Boston, Atlanta and Houston make up the top three teams in hits while the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros hold the top three spots in RBI. Meanwhile, the Rangers (25-36), Padres (26-34), Giants (28-30) and Orioles make up four of the top five teams in strikeouts this season, with third-place Philadelphia (31-25) being an exception. The stats don’t lie. Teams that hit consistently, score runs and play small ball see success more often than not. Home runs will only get you so far, and strikeouts are the killer.

The scary part about this situation is that the Orioles’ front office appears to be very naive to the issue with no real drive to change the offensive approach. Despite a plethora of designated hitter, power bat types already on the roster (in the forms of Davis, Trumbo and Alvarez), Duquette recently expressed interest in 34-year-old free agent Hanley Ramirez. Duquette has prior experience with Ramirez from his tenure with the Red Sox, but signing a 34-year-old power bat to a team that should be selling makes no sense. With a 17-41 record and a lineup full of aging, undisciplined batters, comments like these from Duquette are extremely concerning.

Another frustrating practice the Orioles implement is neglecting their farm system of international talent. In May, Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote a story highlighting Baltimore ownership’s refusal to spend money in the international market. As Badler wrote in the piece, Duquette’s input only goes so far since the decisions on talent are ultimately made by the Angelos family. The decision to not dip into the international market not only limits the scouting the Orioles can do, but the return the team gets for sending off their international pool money amounts to almost nothing.

The struggles of the 2018 Orioles must not all fall on the offense. The pitching has not been perfect either, with the starting rotation sporting a 5.43 ERA and a bullpen that’s dealt with several injuries. However, since defeating the Red Sox 7-4 on May 18, the Orioles scored three runs or fewer in 13 of their last 14 games, going 3-11 in that span. Even if Dylan Bundy or another Orioles starting pitcher delivers a quality start, the chances of the Orioles’ offense providing just three runs have not been good as of late.

With just under two months remaining before the 2018 MLB trade deadline, there’s still time for Duquette and Orioles’ ownership to make some moves to better the club beyond 2018. All aspects of the club could use some work, but the offense appears to be the biggest issue plaguing the team. The scary reality Orioles fans are faced with is that the team’s ownership has been extremely reluctant to make any sort of changes to the way they construct their team, and no recent events point to that pattern changing. The reliance on the home run worked for a few seasons, but it’s time to change the offensive approach. Until the Orioles do that, the team’s losing ways will continue indefinitely.

Image Credit: Beyond the Box Score

 

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

Mark Trumbo to miss start of season after MRI reveals quad strain

After experiencing some lingering issues in spring training, Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo underwent an MRI on Tuesday. The test revealed a Grade 2 quadriceps strain that will sideline the slugger for three to four weeks.

Trumbo recently missed about a week of action but returned to the field on Wednesday for the Orioles game against the New York Yankees. The 32-year-old was penciled in the lineup as a designated hitter and saw three plate appearances.

Manager Buck Showalter said Trumbo was fine during the game but experienced some stiffness and soreness while driving home, leading the team to request an MRI. The tests revealed a more serious injury that will likely force Trumbo to miss the beginning of the season.

With opening day just two weeks away, the Orioles will be without one of their best power hitters as they prepare to compete in the tough American League East. Trumbo has hit 70 home runs while batting .246 in two seasons with Baltimore.

Image credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images