Series Recap: Orioles season gets swept away

Is there anything left to say about this Orioles team that hasn’t already been repeated a hundred times? This weekend marked the end of the O’s 2017 season and it seems like no one could wait for it to be over.

However, the way the Orioles played this weekend shows that they were just as ready to hit the offseason as the fans were. The offense just looked tired at many points and the pitching was as inconsistent as ever. All of this lead to the Orioles being outscored 17-3 in the three game sweep.

The series started with a Rays shutout victory. Tampa Bay jumped on Wade Miley early and scored four runs before forcing him out of the game. Chris Tillman relieved Miley out of the pen but didn’t fare any better. The former O’s starter gave up three runs of his own to round out the 7-0 win.

Miley has finished his 2017 season with some of his worst starts of the year. The 30-year-old pitcher has been served a loss in all five of his starts this month while picking up a 9.74 ERA. This finish is going to weigh even heavier on Miley as he prepares to enter free agency this offseason.

On Saturday the Orioles gave reliever, Miguel Castro the opportunity to start. Some have called for Castro to be stretched out into a starting role but his effectiveness as a reliever has taken a dive recently. Working with a short leash, Castro looked solid early on but ultimately failed to make it out of the fourth inning.

Castro allowed a pair of  base runners at the beginning of the fourth that would end up biting him when Brad Miller brought them home on a three run homer. Tampa Bay’s lead increased to 4-0 in the seventh thanks to a Wilson Ramos sacrifice fly. This insurance run would end up being very important as the Orioles mounted a comeback in the final two innings.

Pedro Alvarez came through in the eighth and cut the Rays lead in half with a two RBI single. With a chance to keep the rally going, Chris Davis grounded into an inning ending double play. Despite this, the O’s were able to rebound and start the ninth inning off by putting runners on the corners.

Seth Smith came in to pinch hit but ended up striking out while Anthony Santander traded the second out of the inning for a run with a sacrifice fly. The comeback effort would end here as Jonathan Schoop lined out in the next at bat.

Sunday’s series finale featured two very solid starts. Kevin Gausman and Blake Snell both pitched seven innings and combined to strikeout 28. Snell was able to edge out Gausman for the better start since he didn’t give up any runs and racked up 13 strikeouts. However, Gausman was very solid in his own regard, giving up just one run and striking out nine.

This all changed when the starters exited the game. The Orioles remained scoreless but the Rays were able to pounce on Brad Brach and run away with the game. Brach only managed to record one out in the bottom of the eighth before giving up five runs. Mike Wright came in to stop the bleeding but the damage had already been done and the O’s ended up losing 6-0.

It’s almost crazy to see how poorly the O’s finished their season. At the beginning of the month, they found themselves at the forefront of a heavily contested wildcard race but it was a steep drop off from there. After losing 16 of their last 20, Baltimore has finished the season as the worst team in the AL East and one of the bottom four in the American League.

Image Credit: Brian Blanco – Getty Images

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Series Preview: Orioles end 2017 season in Tampa against Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — For the first time since 2011, the Baltimore Orioles will end a season with a losing record. Improvement is needed on both offense and defense in order for the O’s to compete in 2018. Before the front office begins the offseason process, the club travels to St. Petersburg for a three-game weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Both teams will end the season with losing records, making this series worthless. This provides Buck Showalter and the front office a chance to look at some players who could help the team in the future. However, both Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette have one more year left on their contracts, leaving the future of the Orioles uncertain.

As far as the media knows, no significant contract discussions between the Orioles and Showalter/Duquette have taken place. With time winding down on Duquette and Showalter’s deals, the Orioles’ ownership needs to make a decision soon about what direction they want to go in. With Showalter’s age and Duquette’s questionable decisions in recent memory, fans anxiously wait on what then organization’s decision will entail.

Coming into this series, the Orioles suffered a two-game sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tuesday through Thursday, the Rays dropped two of three to the Yankees in the bronx. Baltimore received their second off-day of the week of Thursday, Tampa had Monday off.

Last Meeting: Last weekend at Camden Yards, the Orioles and Rays split a four-game series in what marked the last series at home for the 2017 Orioles.

In the first game, Gabriel Ynoa pitched eight innings, allowing one run, five hits, and two walks with three strikeouts. Ynoa’s effort led to Baltimore’s 3-1 win.

After dropping the next two games, the O’s rebounded in the Sunday series finale with a 9-4 win. Four Orioles picked up two RBI on the day – Adam Jones (2-run double), Chris Davis (RBI single, RBI groundout), J.J. Hardy (2-run home run), and Chance Sisco (2-run homer). Pedro Alvarez brought in the last one on an RBI single.

During the game, Hardy received a standing ovation from the crowd, as Sunday could have been the final home game in Baltimore for the 35-year-old shortstop. Hardy’s contract expires after the season, and earlier this season the Birds traded for Tim Beckham, who is expected to take over at shortstop next season.

Season Series: The season series between Baltimore and Tampa Bay is tied, 8-8. At Tropicana field, the O’s possess a 3-3 record.

MLB Playoff Picture (As of Sept .29)

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Image Credit: MLB

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Friday, Sept. 29, 7:10 pm – Wade Miley (8-14, 5.52 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (10-8, 4.26 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, Sept. 30, 6:10 pm – Miguel Castro (3-2, 3.29 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (9-12, 4.18 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, Oct. 1, 3:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (11-11, 4.81 ERA) vs. Blake Snell (4-7, 4.27 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Saturday will be Castro’s first MLB start.
  • In 66 at-bats against the Rays this season, Jones sports a .318 average with 21 hits, five doubles, three home runs, and seven RBI. Jones sat out both games against the Pirates to nurse some nagging injuries, and it remains to be seen if he plays this weekend. Austin Hays has been filling out in centerfield for Jones.
  • In six appearances against Tampa this season, Brad Brach has allowed one run on six hits, four walks, and seven strikeouts, with a 1.13 ERA.
  • The Orioles’ record in September is 7-18 (.280), by far their worst month of the 2017 season.

Notes on the Rays:

  • Against Baltimore this season, Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison both own four home runs. Longoria has 39 career home runs against the O’s, which is more than any other team Longoria has faced. The Yankees (35) are next.
  • Steven Souza Jr.’s 177 strikeouts ranks seventh in the MLB, with Davis (188) coming in fourth. Aaron Judge (204) leads the majors.
  • Archer’s 243 strikeouts ranks fourth in MLB. Only Chris Sale (Red Sox, 308), Max Scherzer (Nationals, 263), and Corey Kluber (Indians, 262) lead him.

Featured Image Credit: The Baltimore Wire

Series Recap: Orioles continue to struggle in road series against Pirates

 

PITTSBURGH — There is nothing left to play for and the Orioles are showing it. After dropping two in Pittsburgh, they are now 3-7 in their last 10 games and still haven’t won a series in this final month of the season.

Andrew McCutchen had one of the best games of his career on Tuesday night. The veteran center fielder went 4-for-4 at the plate and drove in a career high eight RBI’s. What made the game even more special was the fact that he picked up half of those runs with his first career grand slam in the fourth inning.

A solo home run by Chris Davis was the only bright spot for the O’s in the 10-1 loss. Kevin Gausman gave up six runs in just four innings of work before being replaced by Jimmy Yacabonis, who gave up the other four runs over two innings. Those two innings were a disappointing step back for Yacabonis, who proved to be consistent since giving up four runs in his June 11 debut.

In the second game, the Orioles grabbed an early lead with three runs in the second inning. Doubles by Chance Sisco and Anthony Santander scored a run each and J.J Hardy added a third with a fielder’s choice.

However, the Pirates came right back in the bottom half of the second with a solo home run by Gregory Polanco. They were able to take a 4-3 lead in the next inning when Josh Bell hit a two-run homer and that would end up being enough for a win.

The homer drove Orioles starter Gabriel Ynoa out of the game and forced the O’s to go to their bullpen early once again. Mike Wright pitched three clean innings of relief and kept the O’s within striking distance, but the offense was unable to score for the remainder of the game.

Pittsburgh picked up an insurance run in the seventh and went on to win 5-3. After losing seven games in a row a few weeks ago, the Pirates have now won five of their last six.

Trey Mancini extended his hitting streak to 16 games on Wednesday. After tying a couple of Oriole legends in yesterdays game, Mancini now holds the longest hitting streak by a rookie in team history.

The Orioles season will come to a close this weekend when they play a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The teams met last weekend and ended up splitting the series 2-2. Neither team will be playing for anything this weekend but the season series between them is still tied. If anything, you should probably tune in to at least one of these games before we lose Orioles baseball for the next six months.

Image Credit: Orioles’ Twitter

Series Preview: Orioles begin last road trip of season in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH —  For both the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates, this marks the last week of the regular season. Both teams will finish the 2017 campaign with a losing record, the first time that has occurred for the Orioles since 2011. Neither squad will get an opportunity to qualify for the postseason, making this week a great opportunity to check out some of the up-and-coming players that spent most of the 2017 season in the minor leagues.

The Orioles already have a couple of young studs on the 40-man roster, including Chance Sisco, Austin Hays, Jimmy Yacabonis, and Tanner Scott. Sisco hit a home run on Sunday, Hays has 36 at-bats in the big leagues with a home run, and Scott & Yacabonis are helping out the bullpen.

Over the weekend, Baltimore split a four-game series with the Rays. Pittsburgh (71-85) won their three-game series against the Cardinals, 2-1.

Last Meeting: On June 6-7, the Orioles swept a two-game series against the Pirates at Camden Yards. Both games went into extra innings, with the O’s winning in walk-off fashion over 10 and 11 innings, respectively. Game 1 went to extras tied at 5. The Orioles trailed 5-3 in the ninth inning, but Jonathan Schoop‘s two-run home run sent the game into extras. In the 10th frame, Mark Trumbo hit an RBI single that scored Adam Jones.

In the second game, the Orioles overcame a 6-1 deficit to beat Pittsburgh 9-6. Wade Miley went just 2.2 innings in his start, allowing four earned runs on eight hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. Edwin Jackson let up a two-run home run in the sixth inning, giving the Orioles just 12 outs to mount a big comeback.

The Birds did just that. Jones got things started in the eighth inning with a solo home run. In the ninth, the O’s scored four runs playing small ball. Joey Rickard hit a sacrifice fly to score Trumbo, J.J. Hardy hit a double to score Schoop, and Trey Mancini hit his eighth home run of the season to tie the game up.

In the 11th inning, Mancini homered again, this time a three-run shot that scored Rickard & Caleb Joseph to walk it off for Baltimore. Following this game, the Orioles sported a 31-26 record and stood in third place in the American League East, 2.5 games behind the Yankees, who occupied first place at the time.

 MLB Playoff Picture as of Sept. 26:

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Image Credit: MLB.com

AL East Standings as of Sept. 26:

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Game Times and Pitching Matchups: 

Game 1Tuesday, Sept. 26, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (11-10, 4.61 ERA) vs. Trevor Williams (6-9, 4.18 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan 

Game 2Wednesday, Sept. 27, 7:05 pm – Gabriel Ynoa (2-2, 3.41 ERA) vs. Chad Kuhl (7-11, 4.31 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Orioles: 

  • The Orioles have the second-highest starting pitching ERA (5.64) in the MLB, only behind the Cincinnati Reds (5.66). That, of course, puts Baltimore as the worst in the AL.
  • In 4.2 innings against the Pirates in his career, Miguel Castro has yet to allow a run. Castro previously spent some time in the National League as a member of the Rockies.
  • For the first time since 2012, the MLB home run leader will not be on the Orioles.
    (Trumbo, 2016, Chris Davis 2015, 2013, Nelson Cruz 2014).

Notes on the Pirates:

  • Gerrit Cole‘s 197.2 innings this season puts him at ninth place in MLB, tied with Rick Procello of the Red Sox.
  • Infielder Jordy Mercer is dealing with tendinitis in his left knee. He sat out on Sunday against St. Louis.
  • In 46 career at-bats against Baltimore, Andrew McCutchen is a lifetime .457 hitter with 21 hits and five RBI.

Up Next: Following another off-day on Thursday, the Orioles wrap up the 2017 season at the Trop for a three-game weekend series with the Rays. Friday and Saturday’s games are evening games, and Sunday’s game begins at 3:10 pm.

Featured Image Credit: Baltimore Sun 

Series Recap: Orioles split series with Rays, will finish 2017 with losing record

BALTIMORE — It’s been rough to watch the Orioles play these past few weeks. They have seen their season fade away after sitting just one game out of the wildcard. As the final week of the season approaches, the Orioles have slipped so far downhill that they will be finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2011.

This weekend’s long series started on Thursday with arguably the Orioles’ best overall performance in weeks. Gabriel Ynoa got the start but there was a sense of uncertainty since he had failed to get to the fifth inning in his previous starts this month.

This was not the case on Thursday. Ynoa looked like a staple of the rotation as he managed to go eight innings, leading the O’s to a 3-1 win. You would definitely like to see Ynoa go deeper in those previous starts, but since joining the rotation he holds a 1-2 record and a 3.18 ERA.

All three of Baltimore’s runs on Thursday came in the first inning. Manny Machado hit his team-leading 33rd homer of the year to score the first two, and Trey Mancini followed with a an RBI single that scored Adam Jones.

On Friday, the O’s fell behind early and never got a chance to get back into it. Ubaldo Jimenez surrendered a grand slam to Wilson Ramos that put the Rays up 4-0 in the second frame. Tampa Bay would add to that lead in the next inning with an Evan Longoria home run and a RBI single by Adeiny Hechavarria. Jimenez would be chased out of the game after these runs, pushing his ERA to 6.81 on the year.

Tampa Bay went on to add two more runs in the fifth and ninth inning to cap off an 8-3 win.

Looking for a rebound on Saturday the Orioles struck first with a run in the first inning, but proceeded to give up nine unanswered runs between the third and ninth inning. Jeremy Hellickson turned in a decent outing, giving up three runs through six innings. After his exit, the Orioles bullpen imploded.

Richard Bleier gave up two unearned runs in the seventh and Mike Wright later gave up four more in the ninth. Down 9-1 with just three outs left, the O’s found a spark of offense but it was too little to late. Welington Castillo and Austin Hays started the five-run inning by scoring three with a pair of RBI doubles. Machado and Chris Davis both contributed an RBI single, but the O’s ultimately lost 9-6.

Dylan Bundy was slated to get the start in Sunday’s series finale but he was scratched and replaced by Chris Tillman a few hours before first pitch. It was later reported that Bundy suffered a left hamstring strain. There have been rumors of the Orioles shutting Bundy down for the remainder of the year and this might be the final push they need to do so.

Sunday also marked the final home game of the year for the O’s, and it was an emotional one. J.J Hardy was given the start at shortstop and received a standing ovation from the crowd. There are no concrete plans for Hardy’s future, but this was very likely his final game as on Oriole at Camden Yards.

Hardy kept the crowd on their feet when he hit a two-run homer in the fourth. When the veteran shortstop stepped into the box the O’s and Rays were tied at four, but Hardy was able to give his team a lead they would hold for the remainder of the game.

A home run by Chance Sisco added two more in the sixth and Davis capped off the 9-4 win with a RBI fielder’s choice in the seventh. The Orioles saved themselves from losing the series, but they still haven’t won one since the end of August.

The Orioles will hit the road on Tuesday to close out their 2017 season. The first stop will be Pittsburgh for a quick two-game series. After that the O’s will face Tampa Bay one last time next weekend.

Image Credit: @Orioles on Twitter

Series Preview: Orioles set to host final home series of 2017

There isn’t much to be excited about in this weekends series. The Orioles look completely lost and haven’t won a series all month. The visiting Rays find themselves in a slightly better condition but still on their last legs.

Similar to the series the O’s played in New York last week, this four game set is the last chance for Tampa Bay. The Rays are four games out of the second wild card spot and have just a 1.4% chance of making the postseason according to ESPN.

Th Orioles are just trying to get back to .500 in these final nine games. Baltimore currently holds a record of 73-80 so they are going to need a near perfect finish to avoid their first losing season since 2011.

Last Meeting: The Orioles and Rays last faced off in Tampa Bay at the end of July. The O’s picked up a shutout win in the opener but dropped the next two games to lose the series. The season series between them is currently split at 6-6 but they will be seeing a lot of each other before the season ends. The Orioles have nine games left and seven of them will be played against the Rays.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Thursday, September 21, 7:05 pm – Gabriel Ynoa (1-2, 4.18 ERA) vs Matt Andriese (5-3, 4.44 ERA)

Game 2: Friday, September 22, 7:05 pm – Jeremy Hellickson (8-10, 5.47 ERA) vs Alex Cobb (11-10, 3.63 ERA)

Game 3: Saturday, September 23, 7:05 pm – Ubaldo Jimenez (6-10, 6.57 ERA) vs Jake Odorizzi (9-8, 4.46 ERA)

Game 4: Sunday, September 24, 1:35 pm – Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.24 ERA) vs Chris Archer (9-11, 4.02 ERA)

Notes on the Rays:

  • Despite being a staple of the Rays rotation these past five years, Chris Archer has some pretty lackluster numbers against the O’s. The 28-year-old pitcher holds a 4-7 record and a 4.78 ERA in 14 starts against Baltimore. If you narrow that down to games played at Camden Yards, it gets even worse. Archer is 1-4 with a 6.06 ERA when pitching in Baltimore.
  • Trevor Plouffe joined the Rays in the middle of their 2017 season but has been far from a major force in their lineup. However, the former Twin has always played well against the Orioles. In 36 starts against the O’s Plouffe is batting .301 with 19 RBI’s.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Zach Britton is more than likely done for the season. The Orioles closer will be receiving a stem cell injection in his knee that will hopefully help with an injury he says has been lingering since 2014. Everyone is hoping the issue will not require surgery but if it does, it would be best to get that done as soon as possible so he is 100% going into 2018.
  • Miguel Castro was arguably one of the most reliable arms on the O’s staff this season but has now seen a major slump in the past two weeks. With an 8.53 ERA in his last 6.1 innings, one has to question if he is fatigued. Castro has thrown over 60 innings this year, which is significantly more than his previous career high of 17.2 in 2015.

Up Next: The Orioles will play a quick two game series against the Pirates early next week before traveling down to Tampa Bay for the final series of the season. The O’s haven’t played an interleague series since the all-star break when they hosted the Cubs. However, the last time the Orioles played an interleague game on the road was all the way back in May.

Image Credit: USA Today Sports

Series Recap: Orioles drop fifth straight series with two extra inning losses to Red Sox

The first two games of this series could not have looked any more different on paper yet they both ended in similar fashion. Monday night’s series opener was a slug fest where both the Red Sox and Orioles flexed their offensive muscles and combined to score 18 runs.

The Orioles were able to find success against Doug Fister and take an early 5-0 lead after the third inning. Usually when the O’s put up this many runs it’s because of the long ball, but this time they scored almost all of their runs on quality at bats alone. Everyone in the lineup did a good job of just getting on base allowing three of the five runs to be scored on either a sacrifice fly or a fielder’s choice.

The Red Sox made their comeback and eventually toke the lead in the fifth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt got it started by picking up a pair of RBI singles that knocked Dylan Bundy out of the game and brought the Red Sox back to within just two runs of the O’s.

Mookie Betts was the biggest difference maker of the inning though. The 24-year-old outfielder doubled to deep left field and brought all three base runners home, putting Boston up 7-6. Betts now has ten games in his four-year career where he has collected at least four RBI’s. Three of those ten have been against the Orioles.

The Orioles got the lead right back in the bottom half of the fifth when Pedro Alvarez launched a solo homer and Tim Beckham followed with a RBI double. However, with an 8-7 lead the Orioles still couldn’t hold on and Donnie Hart ended up surrendering a game tying homer to Xander Bogaerts.

The game would remain tied until the 11th inning. Facing Miguel Castro, the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs, bringing Andrew Benintendi to the plate. Benintendi was able to sneak a grounder just past the reach of a diving Jonathan Schoop to score the eventual game winning runs.

After the disappointing loss on Monday the Orioles were just looking to improve their pitching and try to force a rubber match. Even though the pitching definitely improved, the result was still a loss as the O’s came up just short.

Kevin Gausman was excellent in his eight innings of work, allowing just three hits and striking out seven. Drew Pomeranz got the start for Boston and gave up five hits through 6.1 innings. The Red Sox may have needed to tap into their bullpen earlier than the O’s but their relievers were even more effective. Five relief pitchers entered the game for Boston and none of them allowed a hit or walk.

Once again the Red Sox spoiled the Orioles evening by picking up a go ahead run in the top of the eleventh. Brad Brach was entering his second inning of relief and just like Monday’s game, the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs. Instead of a clutch base hit, the Red Sox were gifted a run when Brach threw a wild pitch.

The O’s certainly had their chances to score on Tuesday. In the third inning Manny Machado picked up a two out double but was cut down at the plate while trying to score. Chris Davis also came close to breaking the shutout in the fifth inning. Davis sent a ball to deep center field that was definitely on its way out but Jackie Bradley Jr. made an amazing leaping grab to prevent another potential O’s run.

After dropping their fifth straight series the Orioles couldn’t get anything going in Wednesdays series finale. The Red Sox struck first in the fourth inning with a pair of two-run homers by Deven Marrero and the Oriole Killer, Mookie Betts.

Hanley Ramirez added two more runs in the fifth with a double to give Boston a 6-0 lead. This hit also drove Wade Miley out of the game after just 4.1 innings of work. Miley now holds a 10.06 ERA in four starts this month.

The O’s offense was nowhere to be found through the first six innings. It looked like they were finally going to get something going in the seventh when Trey Mancini led off with a double but Chris Sale was able to strike out the side and escape the slight jam.

The Red Sox picked up two more runs in the eighth off of Tanner Scott, who was making his MLB debut. Despite clocking in at 100 mph on a few pitches, Scott couldn’t put the Boston batters away. The 23-year-old allowed four base runners and two runs before escaping the inning.

Chris Sale remained in the game for the eighth and proceeded to pick up his 13th strikeout of the game and 300th of the season. Sale becomes the second Red Sox pitcher to accomplish this milestone after Pedro Martinez racked up 313 in 1999.

This was just one of many highlights for the Red Sox as they picked up a 9-0 win and a sweep over their division rivals. The heated matchups between these teams feel like a distant memory at this point as the Orioles failed to play with any ambition and let another team walk over them on their way to the postseason.

The Orioles will play four games against the Rays this weekend for their last home series of the season. As the final week of their 2017 campaign nears, the O’s are also staring at their first losing season since 2011. Baltimore is seven games under .500 with just nine left to play.

Image Credit: Associated Press