Twins easily handle Orioles as Birds suffer through third winless road trip

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins outscored the Orioles 26-9 over four games in this weekend’s series at Target Field, including a 10-1 decision on Sunday. Minnesota, now 39-48, came into the series having lost eight of 10, but the Orioles made the Twins look like a team competing for a pennant.

The Orioles leave Minnesota at 24-65, 41 games below .500 and 36.5 games back in the American League East. They still hold the worst record in baseball and are on pace for their worst season ever. However, they have yet to make a single trade or firing.

The stalling needs to end right now. It’s already been long enough, but ownership needs to let the front office free to start building for the future. With Peter Angelos sitting in the top chair of the organization, your guess as to what the Orioles will do is as good as mine.

Game 1 (5-2 MIN): Making just his second appearance for the Twins this season, Aaron Slegers gave manager Paul Molitor a reason to consider giving the fifth spot in Minnesota’s rotation to him. The 25-year-old right-hander limited the Orioles to one run over six innings of work on three hits, one walk, and two strikeouts. The O’s finished the game with five hits, with both of their two runs scored on solo home runs by Jonathan Schoop, his ninth and 10th homers of the season.

The Twins got on the board in the third inning when Jake Cave scored after a fielding error by Baltimore starter Andrew Cashner. Bobby Wilson hit a ground ball to Chris Davis, who was about halfway up the first base line. Cashner ran over to first base to record the out, but Davis’s throw hit his glove and rolled close to the first base dugout. Wilson advanced to second on the play and scored on a single by Eddie Rosario.

The Twins took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning on Logan Morrison‘s 10th home run of the season. It was the final run scored off Cashner, who went six innings after giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits, two walks, and three strikeouts.

With Brad Brach pitching in the eighth inning, the Twins plated their final two runs. Morrison singled with one out and advanced to second on a 2-3 (Chance Sisco-Davis) groundout. He then scored on a single by Max Kepler. Kepler scored from first on a double to center-field by Cave. 41-year-old closer Fernando Rodney racked up his 18th save of the season, striking out two.

Game 2 (6-2 MIN): Check out Ian Schultz‘s full recap of Friday’s 6-2 loss.

Game 3 (5-4 MIN): The Orioles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, the only lead they held the entire weekend behind the bats of Manny Machado and Davis. Tim Beckham smacked a leadoff double two right field, then moved to third on an Adam Jones ground-out. Then, Machado grounded out to shortstop Jorge Polanco, allowing Beckham to cross home plate. After Mark Trumbo walked, Davis hit his eighth home run of the season to center-field.

Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson, even with the three-run first inning. earned his third win of the season after going seven innings, striking out nine and allowing nine hits and four walks.

Kevin Gausman retired the side in the first three innings, but started to dwindle afterwards. Minnesota tied the game in the fifth inning with a combination of power and small ball. With one out, Kepler launched his 10th home run of the season to cut Baltimore’s lead to 3-1. Robbie Grossman then hit a double to Jace Peterson in left field, and moved to third on a single by Cave. Following a mound visit, Wilson singled to Danny Valencia in right, scoring Grossman and advancing Cave to third. Gausman then ran into some command issues, walking Joe Mauer and allowing Cave to score on a wild pitch.

After Cave scored, Gausman struck out Rosario and Brian Dozier to end the inning, but the damage had been done and a win would not be possible for Gausman. Miguel Castro came on in relief in the sixth and ran into some trouble right away. Eduardo Escobar led off with his 35th double of the season, and then Castro walked both Polanco and Kepler. The Orioles’ defense forced two outs on ground balls, but Wilson’s ensuing double plated both Kepler and Grossman to lift Minnesota up 5-3.

Despite Peterson plating Schoop on a ninth-inning double, Rodney picked up his 19th save with a strikeout.

Game 4: (10-1 MIN): The Twins scored eight runs in the sixth inning with Dozier leading the way. Dozier doubled to lead off the inning and later hit a three-run home run that gave Minnesota a 10-0 lead. Escobar also hit a two-run bomb in the inning. Mitch Garver opened up the scoring in the fifth inning with a two-run home run that scored Kepler.

Alex Cobb‘s horrible season continued, as the 30-year-old failed to record an out in the sixth inning after giving up Escobar’s home run and a single by Morrison. Cobb left the game due to a blister on his throwing hand, but Buck Showalter said after the game that it should not stop Cobb from making his next start.

The Twins scored four more sixth inning runs after Cobb’s exit, but it did not matter. The only Baltimore run came in the ninth inning on another garbage-time solo home run by Davis, his ninth of the season.

Up Next: The Orioles return to Camden Yards for an eight-game home-stand, the final stretch before the All-Star break. The first four games of that span take place over three days against the Yankees. A single-admission doubleheader will take place on Monday beginning at 4:05 pm, resulting from a rain-out on May 31. Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games begin at 7:05 pm.

Image Credit: Hannah Foslien, 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 continue road trip with four game series against Twins

MINNESOTA — The Orioles wrap up their current six-game road trip with a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins this weekend. After breaking a seven-game losing streak with a win against Los Angeles on Sunday, the O’s continued to disappoint in interleague play by dropping two games against Philadelphia

It was more of the same for the O’s as the offense disappeared and left the pitching staff out to dry. With a little over a week left until the All Star break there isn’t an expectation for this to change, but at this point the team’s performance on the field isn’t the main concern for fans. The trade deadline is on the horizon and fans are thirsty for some hot stove rumors but so far all we have is a bunch of hearsay.

Last meeting: As far as the action on the field is concerned, the Orioles and Twins will square off for the second time this season. The two American league teams met on opening weekend with Minnesota coming out on top in games two and three. The O’s picked up an extra inning win on opening day thanks to a walk-off homer by Adam Jones but the rest of the series was not as closely contested.

You may also remember the infamous bunt by Chance Sisco in game three. The Twins held a comfortable 7-0 lead in the ninth but found an issue with Sisco laying down a bunt to beat the shift. The incident sparked a bunch of reactions from fans and players around the league but disappeared quickly after everyone realized how stupid of an argument it was. I would assume that this will not carry over into this weekend’s series, but maybe some tension would make watching the O’s more fun.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Thursday, July 5, 8:10 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.48 ERA) vs Aaron Slegers (0-0, 3.38 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Friday, July 6, 8:10 pm – Dylan Bundy (6-7, 3.75 ERA) vs Lance Lynn (5-7, 5.49 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Saturday, July 7, 2:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (4-6, 4.05 ERA) vs Kyle Gibson (2-6, 3.58 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Sunday, July 8, 2:10 pm – Alex Cobb (2-10, 6.53 ERA) vs Jake Odorizzi (3-6, 4.57 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Twins:

  • Veteran first baseman Joe Mauer is currently in the middle of his 15th major league season. Mauer has accomplished a lot in his career but his numbers against the Orioles are still quite impressive on their own. He holds a .342 batting average against the O’s, which is his second highest career total against American league opponents.
  • Slegers will make his first start of the 2018 season on Thursday. The 25-year-old’s only appearance of the year came on May 30 when Slegers tossed 5.1 innings of relief and surrendered two runs in the process. Since debuting in 2017 Slegers is 0-1 with a 5.70 ERA in three career starts.

Notes on Orioles:

  • The Orioles will get their best starter back in the rotation during this four game series. Bundy hit the 10-day disabled list after suffering an ankle sprain against the Braves. The injury prematurely ended a great month for the young pitcher. Bundy had picked up three wins with a 1.98 ERA in four starts last month.
  • Tim Beckham got off to a slow start in 2018 and things only got worse when he suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for two months. Since returning, Beckham has been raising his batting average at a consistent pace by picking up at least one hit in his last seven games. The O’s third baseman is batting .322 since returning to the lineup on June 25.

You can listen to this week’s episode of the Charm City Bird Watch podcast here:

Image credit: Greg Fiume / Getty Images

Series Recap: Both bats and arms disappoint in Orioles’ opening series against Twins

BALTIMORE — The Minnesota Twins held the Baltimore Orioles to 11 hits over their three-game opening series at Camden Yards. The Orioles won the first game, 3-2 in 11 innings, but the Twins came back on Saturday and Sunday with 6-2 and 7-0 wins.

Game 1 (3-2/11 BAL): For the second year in a row, the Orioles won on Opening Day at home 3-2 in 11 innings off a walk-off home run. Both teams started slow offensively, with the Orioles striking first in the seventh inning. Trey Mancini reached first after striking out due to a wild pitch. Danny Valencia was intentionally walked, and both runners scored on a triple by Caleb Joseph.

Dylan Bundy dazzled on the mound, throwing seven shutout innings. He allowed just five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in 88 pitches. Darren O’Day tossed the eighth inning, recording a strikeout. Things got shaky in the ninth inning during Brad Brach‘s first save attempt of the season. Brach got Miguel Sano to strike out, then Eddie Rosario singled and made it to second on a passed ball. Brach then walked two of the next three batters – Logan Morrison (Ryan LaMarre pinch-runner) and Max Kepler – along with striking out Eduardo Escobar. With the bases loaded, Robbie Grossman singled to score Rosario and LaMarre, and Buck Showalter had seen enough. Mychal Givens had to come in for the final out, and the teams went into extras tied at two.

Givens pitched the 10’th inning, while Richard Bleier worked the 11’th. In the latter half of the inning, Adam Jones, playing in his 11’th straight Opening Day with the Orioles, slammed his first home run of 2018 to left field for the walk-off win.

For Minnesota, starter Jake Odorizzi pitched six shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. Bleier picked up the win, while Minnesota closer Fernando Rodney collected the loss.

Game 2 (6-2 MIN): Andrew Cashner‘s Orioles debut did not go as well as the 31-year-old veteran would have liked. After recording the first two outs in the first inning, Sano homered to left field. Jason Castro (third inning) and Kepler (fourth inning) also homered off Cashner. with the final earned runs tallied to Cashner came on groundouts. He lasted five innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits, two walks, and five strikeouts in 79 pitches.

Nestor Cortes Jr. made his Orioles debut on Saturday, pitching two innings. In the seventh inning, Joe Mauer singled to right field to score Brian Dozier, giving Minnesota a 6-0 lead. The Orioles cut into that lead in the ninth inning when Valencia doubled and Tim Beckham homered to left-center, but after that Chance Sisco struck out and Chris Davis flew out to end the ballgame.

The Orioles were limited to three hits on Saturday, with two of them coming in the bottom of the ninth. Cashner received the loss, while Kyle Gibson earned the win for the Twins. He tossed six innings, walking five and striking out six in 102 pitches.

Game 3 (7-0 MIN): After being limited to three hits on Saturday, the Orioles did it again on Easter Sunday. Kevin Gausman gave up four runs in the first inning and all the O’s could do was look up as Dozier, Sano, and Escobar homered off the 27-year-old right-hander. After Dozier homered on the first pitch of the contest, Mauer walked and made it to second base on a bunt ground ball hit by Rosario. With two outs, Escobar doubled to score Mauer, and then Gausman threw a wild pitch that left plenty of time for Rosario to reach home. The last run of the inning came on a single by Byron Buxton, scoring Escobar.

Gausman woulds settle down for a 1-2-3 second inning, but Sano and Escobar homered in the third inning. Gausman only lasted four innings, giving up six runs on seven hits, two walks and five strikeouts in 73 pitches. The Twins added their last run in the sixth inning when Dozier hit his second home run of the game off Orioles’ Rule 5 selection Pedro Araujo.

Sisco put up two of the three Orioles hits, and Manny Machado earned the third. Minnesota starter José Berríos pitched a complete game, walking one and striking out six. All three Minnesota starters that pitched in this series left Camden Yards with 0.00 ERA’s.

Up next: The Orioles embark on a seven-game road trip against two powerhouses in the American League. The Birds leave Baltimore on Sunday and travel to Houston for a three-game set with the defending world champion-Houston Astros, who will be celebrating their 2017 Championship during their Opening Day ceremonies on Monday. The O’s will then head to the Bronx for a four-game weekend series against the Yankees, although weather could have other plans. As of this writing, snow and rain are expected in New York on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Image Credit: Star Tribune

Series Preview: Orioles begin 2018 campaign at Camden Yards versus Twins

BALTIMORE, MD — Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is earlier on the calendar than ever before. On Thursday, Mar. 29, the Baltimore Orioles return to Camden Yards to begin the 2018 regular season with a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.

The first few months of Baltimore’s offseason did not feature many headlines, but following some splashes in free agency made during Spring Training, along with announcing a “Kids Cheer Free” initiative, there’s some excitement suddenly surrounding the Orioles.

Key Additions: As mentioned, the Orioles made some splashes in free agency, mainly after Spring Training began. When the Orioles first reported to Sarasota at the end of February, two starting pitchers made up their rotation. Since then, general manager Dan Duquette inked pitchers Andrew Cashner (two years, $16 million), Chris Tillman (one year, $3 million) and Alex Cobb (four years, $57 million), turning a significantly weak rotation into one that has the ability to compete with American League East foes.

Along with the rotation, veterans Colby Rasmus (outfield) and Danny Valencia (infield) will make the Opening Day roster and will contribute early in the season. Rasmus provides solid depth while top prospect Austin Hays recovers from an injury and continues to develop in the minors. Valencia owns a career .313 average against left-handed pitching.

Another veteran who could make an early impact is Pedro Alvarez, who will make the team as Mark Trumbo recovers from a Grade 2 quad strain suffered during Spring Training.

Rule 5 extravaganza: It’s no secret that Duquette loves his Rule 5 picks, and it appears that three Rule 5 players will make the Orioles’ opening day roster. This spring, outfielder Anthony Santander batted .292 with 19 hits, four doubles, four home runs, and 18 RBI in 65 at-bats. Santander played in 26 games with the Orioles last season. Pitcher Nestor Cortes, originally a 2013 draft pick by the Yankees, pitched to a 4.67 ERA in 17.1 innings. Finally, pitcher Pedro Araujo tossed 9.2 innings and tallied a 3.72 ERA.

Uncertainty looms: Although the optimism for the 2018 Orioles stands much higher than it did at the start of spring training, there are some important decisions to make in the warehouse this season. Both Duquette and manager Buck Showalter’s contracts expire at the end of the season, along with the contracts of superstar Manny Machado and team leader Adam Jones. Former All-Star pitchers Zach Britton and Brad Brach are set to become free agents as well.

If the Orioles end up contending, the chances of them dealing a big name like Machado go down. However, there have been no extension talks between the team and Machado, and almost no one believes that the Orioles will spend what Machado will ask for after the season.

Decisions like whether to deal Machado or not will become increasingly crucial as the season goes on. If the Orioles don’t start off well, the pressure to deal Machado will go up. Contending with the Yankees the Red Sox could be a large challenge this season. If the Orioles find themselves contending for a Wild Card spot, for instance, they still run the risk of not making the playoffs and getting nothing back for Machado. This is just an example, but all eyes should be on everything going on off the field this season, in addition to what’s occurring on the field.

Daunting April slate: Five of the Orioles’ first seven series this season are against 2017 AL playoff teams.

  • MIN (Mar. 29-Apr. 1)
  • @HOU (Apr. 2-4)
  • @NYY (Apr. 5-8)
  • @BOS (Apr. 13-15)
  • CLE (Apr. 20-23)

Flashback: Last season, the Orioles went 2-5 against the Twins. From May 22-24, Minnesota swept Baltimore at Camden Yards in what would turn into a seven-game losing streak for the O’s.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Thursday, Mar. 29, 3:05 pm – Jake Odorizzi (2017 w/TB: 10-8, 4.14 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (2017: 13-9, 4.24 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, Mar. 31, 7:05 pm – Kyle Gibson (2017: 12-10, 5.07 ERA) vs. Cashner (2017 w/TEX: 11-11, 3.40 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, Apr. 1, 1:05 pm – Josè Berrios (2017: 14-8, 3.89 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (2017: 11-12, 4.68 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Twins:

  • After breaking out in 2017, centerfielder Byron Buxton looks to dominate the Orioles like he did last season. In 22 plate appearances versus Baltimore in 2017, Buxton hit .364 with eight hits, two RBI, and two walks.
  • The Twins got a bit of good news last week when the team learned that third baseman Miguel Sano will not be suspended for assault due to insufficient evidence. Sano posted career highs in hits (112), home runs (28) and RBI (77) last season.
  • Like the Orioles, the Twins spent some money on their rotation this offseason. Along with Odorizzi (1 year, $6 million), Minnesota added veteran Lance Lynn (1 year, $12 million). Sure, this is nothing compared to what the O’s spent, but Baltimore has their acquisitions beyond 2018.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Although Cobb missed virtually all of Spring Training, the Orioles are hopeful that he can make his Orioles debut as early as April 9. Baltimore does have a day off on Mar. 30, but if they need an extra fifth starter until Cobb can contribute, Mike Wright seems to be the favorite.
  • Cashner comes into 2018 with a 2.57 ERA at Camden Yards. However, he has only pitched there twice. Against the Twins, Cashner is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA.
  • Chris Davis dealt with some elbow soreness in Spring Training. In four games since his return, Showalter penciled Davis in the leadoff spot to get him as many at-bats as possible. Davis is not a prototypical leadoff hitter, but Showalter has been unorthodox with lineups in the past. It’s hard to read into this, but seeing Davis in the leadoff spot could happen early in the season.

Up Next: The Orioles embark on a seven-game road trip. The first three games of the expedition take place at Minute Maid Park, home of the defending World Series Champion-Houston Astros. Houston starts their season on the road in a four-game series against the nearby Texas Rangers. The Orioles went 1-5 versus the Astros in 2017, including going 0-3 at Minute Maid Park. The O’s have not won a game in Houston since Jun. 4, 2015.

Image Credit: Flickr

 

Series Recap: Orioles break 5 game losing streak, split series with Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — After suffering a sweep against Milwaukee earlier this week, it looked like the Orioles were going to completely collapse and enter the all star break with a hefty losing streak. That looked even more likely after the O’s dropped the first two games of their series against the Twins. Somehow they turned it around and split the series 2-2, ending a five-game losing streak.

The Orioles struck first in Thursday’s opener with a two-run homer by Mark Trumbo. The lead did not last long as the Twins scored six runs in the third. This would be the only offense necessary for Minnesota as they went on to win 6-4.

The O’s were able to chip away at the Twins’ lead in the fourth and sixth innings but ultimately fell short. Dylan Bundy was on the mound and surrendered all six runs. Despite the terrible third inning, Bundy was able to pitch through five frames and turn it over to the bullpen. Four relievers combined to close out the final four innings and gave up just three hits.

Friday’s game played out very similar to the first game, but was far more disappointing.  Once again the Orioles were able to take an early lead on a surplus of offense. Seth Smith and Manny Machado started the fireworks with back-to-back home runs in the first inning. In the third inning, Machado launched his second homer of the game and Trey Mancini registered an RBI single to make it a 6-0 game.

Through the first three innings, the O’s looked unstoppable. Kevin Gausman cruised through his first few innings with ease but ran into a jam in the fourth. After loading the bases, Gausman gave up a pair of runs but settled down and got out of the inning with a comfortable lead still intact.

The fifth inning was even worse for Gausman as he gave up two more runs without getting a single out. Brian Dozier led the inning off with a triple, while Robbie Grossman and Max Kepler followed with a double and single to make it a two-run game.

Buck Showalter gave Gausman the hook and opted to bring Miguel Castro in to try to stop the bleeding. The 22-year-old reliever has been thrown into the fire a handful of times this season and managed to escape them with great poise. On Friday he was not so successful as he immediately gave up a game-tying double and the go-ahead run soon after.

Just like the first game, one big inning was all the Twins needed as they closees out a 9-6 comeback win.

The Orioles finally found some success in game three. They didn’t take an early lead but they held the Twins’ offense to just one run. Wade Miley turned in a solid outing as he tossed 5.2 innings while giving up the lone run on eight hits.

Jonathan Schoop and Trumbo both homered, while Machado added a RBI double to help give the O’s five runs on the afternoon.

In the series finale, the Orioles offense continued to do what they have done in the previous three games and took an early lead. A three-run homer by Adam Jones jumpstarted the scoring and the O’s found themselves up 5-0 in the second inning.

It’s not hard to guess what happened next though. That’s right, the Orioles gave almost all of those five runs back in the bottom of the second. Having Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound certainly didn’t help as the inconsistent pitcher gave up four runs while watching his pitch count skyrocket.

If there was anything for Jimenez and the Orioles to hang their hat on, it was the fact that they still held a slim lead. A few innings passed without much noise from either offense until the Orioles appeared to have had enough of the nonsense in this series. Adam Jones served as the catalyst once again when he hit a solo home run in the fifth inning. Caleb Joseph followed that up with a two-RBI single and then scored from first off of a double by Ruben Tejada.

This second burst of offense erased the Twins’ second inning comeback efforts and gave the Orioles a 9-4 lead.  It was now up to the bullpen to maintain this sizable lead. Richard Bleier threw 2.2 innings of relief while giving up just one run before being replaced by Castro and Zach Britton. The 2016 All-Star, after coming off the disabled list earlier this week, closed out the final inning on 12 pitches.

Jones’ three-run homer on Sunday capped off a great series for the Gold-Glove centerfielder. Jones went 5-for-14 at the plate in with five RBI’s in Minneapolis.

This brings an end to a wild first half of the 2017 season. The inconsistent pitching became too much to overcome and the Orioles fell from the top of the division into the basement. Management has shown no signs of the O’s being sellers in the coming months despite removing themselves from serious contention in the past few weeks.

The Orioles will start the second half of the season next Friday with a lengthy home stand that features matchups against the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, and Houston Astros.

Image Credit: ESPN

Series Preview: Orioles battle Twins in last series before All-Star Break

MINNEAPOLIS — The road trips continue to haunt the Baltimore Orioles, and this weekend will not be any easier, as the Birds head to Target Field for a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins. This marks the last series for both teams before the All-Star Break, which takes place July 10-13 with the All-Star Game on the 11th from Marlins Park.

Along with the road woes, the O’s starting pitching reamins hard to watch. Two bad starts from Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez, along with the team scoring just three runs in three games, led to Baltimore getting swept by the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this week. The Twins, meanwhile, just hosted the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game series, taking two of three.

Standings Update: The free-falling Orioles (40-44) come into Minneapolis fourth-place in the American League East, 8.5 games behind the Red Sox (49-36). The Twins, after hanging around first place in the AL Central early on, stand in third and are 1.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians (44-39), with the Kansas City Royals (44-40) just a half game behind The Tribe.

Last Meeting: In late May, the Twins swept the Orioles in a three-game series at Camden Yards. The sweep was part of a seven-game losing streak for the Birds, and at the time was very uncharacteristic as Baltimore entered that series with a 15-4 home record.

In that series, Dylan Bundy delivered a solid seven-inning, two-run performance, but Jimenez (4.0 IP/6 ER) and Chris Tillman (5.0 IP/4 ER) struggled in their starts. As usual, the O’s relied on the long ball offensively, with six of their 10 runs scored in the series coming on home runs.

Game Times and Pitching Match-Ups: 

Game 1Thursday, July 6, 8:10 pm – Bundy (8-7, 4.02 ERA) vs. Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.44 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2Friday, July 7, 8:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (5-7, 5.61 ERA) vs. TBD – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3Saturday, July 8, 2:10 pm – TBD vs. TBD – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4Sunday, July 9, 2:10 pm – Ubaldo Jimenez (3-4, 6.64 ERA) vs. TBD – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Orioles:

  • So far in this road trip, the O’s are hitting .220 as a team and pitching to a 6.38 ERA
  • In his last four starts, Bundy has allowed 18 earned runs on 24 hits (seven home runs), and 10 walks
  • Manny Machado owns a lifetime .308 average against the Twins. Mark Trumbo is close behind, with a career .304 average against Minnesota
  • Jimenez has pitched well in his career against the Twins (3.13 ERA), but in a May start against Minnesota he lasted just four innings and gave up six runs

Notes on the Twins: 

  • Ervin Santana already recorded four complete games this season, first in the MLB. He also ranks first in shutouts with three
  • Joe Mauer, a career .341 hitter against the Orioles, has seven home runs in 71 games. In 10 games against Baltimore, Robbie Grossman is .382 with a .462 on-base percentage
  • Miguel Sano, currently on a seven-game hitting streak, has gone 10-for-29 in that span with two home runs and seven RBI

All-Star Update: Jonathan Schoop is currently the only Oriole that will be making the trip down to Miami. Elected as an AL alternate, Schoop will be making his first All-Star Game appearance.

After the Break: The Orioles return to Camden Yards for a weekend showdown with the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. The three-game set kicks off on Friday, July 14.

Image Credit: San Diego Union Tribune