Orioles reportedly agree to trade Zach Britton to Yankees for three pitchers

BALTIMORE — During the rain delay in Tuesday night’s game against Boston it was reported that the Orioles and Yankees had agreed to a deal that will send Zach Britton to the New York Yankees in exchange for three pitching prospects.

The three minor league pitchers received being sent to Baltimore are Dillon TateCody Carroll and Josh Rogers. Tate and Carroll are ranked No. 9 and No. 15 respectively in the Yankees farm system by MLB.com.

After Manny Machado was sent to Los Angeles last week, trade talks started to heat up for Britton. The Astros and Dodgers joined the Yankees as the teams seriously involved in the talks. It was almost this time last year when the Orioles and Astros appeared to be close on a deal with Britton. However, the reports would end up being squashed at the deadline and it was later reported that Baltimore’s front office did not find the return that appealing.

Things have certainly changed since then and it hasn’t been to the O’s benefit. Britton was once the most coveted reliever in the league with as much trade value as a position player, but after suffering an achilles injury this offseason that value has dropped. Many thought that the O’s would have no chance of dealing their star reliever after the injury but when Britton returned in June there was some room for cautious optimism.

Since that return Britton has been shaky at times but has also looked like his old self on other occasions. The good news for Baltimore is trade deals for relievers are almost always based on what has been done within the past few months and while Britton isn’t pitching like he did in 2016, he has been solid in July. The O’s closer has tossed seven innings so far this month and given up just three hits while earning himself three saves and a win.

Just like with Machado, the Orioles fanbase will be sad to see Britton leave. The fact that the O’s will likely have to face him later this season makes things worse, but at the end of the day these deals had to be made. Britton initially came up through the Orioles farm system as a starter but was later converted to a reliever after finding a lot of success with his sinker. That pitch quickly became his go-to weapon while racking up 135 saves between 2014 and 2017. Everyone will remember Britton’s stellar 2016 campaign where he earned himself some Cy Young and MVP votes with a career high 47 saves and a 0.54 ERA.

Image credit: Greg Fiume / Getty Images

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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

Orioles return to Camden Yards for eight game home stand before All-Star break

BALTIMORE — The All-Star break is almost upon us. The teams have been announced and as many expected, Manny Machado is the lone Orioles player to be selected. While there is still a week of baseball to play before we reach the mid summer classic, fans are already looking forward to the break away from Orioles baseball and the potential trades that could possibly follow.

How can you blame them? The O’s have lost 13 of their last 14 and have dropped to 41 games below .500 but this past series against the Twins produced even more depressing stats. Chris Davis finally broke the Orioles all time strikeout record in under eight seasons and the offense failed to score more than one run for the 24th time this season. There is plenty more to dig into when it comes to the Orioles abysmal season but you’ve probably already heard most of it because nothing has changed with this team since April.

So what is there to look forward to on the field? I could give you the easy answer and say, “nothing,” but that’s not entirely true. The New York Yankees are in town and that carries more weight than the average matchup. I understand Camden Yards will be full of pinstripes this week and the cheers of Yankees fans will drown out any noise made by the Orioles faithful, but a division matchup is always worth watching in my opinion.

After all, one of the few bright spots in this season came back in April when the O’s took three of four against the Yankees in New York. The series included a couple extra inning games and more than enough excitement for the first month of a 162 game season. However, when the season series came to Baltimore in June, the Yankees got the best of the Birds by taking two in a rain shortened series.

Last meeting: The Yankees visited Camden Yards at the beginning of June but only two of the four scheduled games could be completed due to bad weather throughout the weekend. New York managed to win the two games that were played but make up dates had to be scheduled for the other two. The first will take place on Monday as the O’s and Yankees prepare to play a double header, but the second will have to wait until the Yankees return to Baltimore in late August

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Monday, July 9, 4:05 pm – Jimmy Yacabonis (0-0, 8.53 ERA) vs CC Sabathia (6-3, 3.02 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Monday, July 9, 7:05 pm – Yefry Ramirez (0-2, 2.51 ERA) vs Luis Cessa (0-1, 5.00 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Tuesday, July 10, 7:05 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.39 ERA) vs Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.58 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Wednesday, July 11, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (6-8, 4.08 ERA) vs Sonny Gray (5-7, 5.85 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Yankees:

  • It’s no secret that the Yankees have one of the most high profile bullpens in the league. Dellin Betances is just one piece of that puzzle for New York and the 30-year-old reliever has been locked in since the end of May. Betances has not surrendered a run since May 23 and has now tossed 17.2 clean innings in a row with 30 strikeouts.
  • New York’s offense has been coming up big the past few weeks, scoring six runs or more in seven of their last thirteen games.
  • Aaron Judge isn’t making as many headlines in 2018 as he was in his rookie season but the New York slugger is still making opposing pitchers pay every chance he gets. Judge is hitting .300 with five home runs and six RBI’s in his last ten games. He has also drawn eight walks to help give himself a .416 on base percentage in that same span.

Notes on Orioles:

  • Dylan Bundy returned to the rotation last week after a brief stint on the disabled list but failed to pick up where he left off. Bundy was tagged for five earned runs in 3.1 innings of work on Friday. The rough outing was particularly disappointing since Bundy was so effective in June prior to his injury. While it is just one start, there may be room for concern with Bundy moving forward. Since becoming a starter for the O’s in 2016, Bundy has struggled in the month of July with a 2-5 record and a 6.98 ERA in eight starts.
  • Rookie pitcher Yefry Ramirez will get another opportunity to start this weekend after impressing in his last two outings. His numbers have looked pretty good on paper but he really deserves more credit for the efficiency he has displayed on the mound. It can be difficult for younger pitchers to get ahead in the count and maintain a low pitch count but Ramirez averaged just a little over 11 pitches per inning in his last two appearances.

Image credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

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 drop two games in shortened series against visiting Yankees

Game 1 (PPD): Thursday’s series opener was delayed almost two hours before finally being called off. The makeup game will take place on Monday, Jul. 9 as part of a single-admission double header.

Game 2 (4-1 NYY): After an unexpected but much appreciated night off, the Orioles and Yankees got their second series of the season underway on Friday.

Manny Machado appeared to jump start the lineup with a solo home run off of Sonny Gray in the first inning but that would end up being the O’s only run. Gray and the New York bullpen shutdown the Orioles lineup after the solo shot and allowed just four more hits.

Andrew Cashner took the mound for the Orioles and turned in another start that was rough around the edges but still quality. Cashner has been inconsistent and far from flashy since joining the O’s rotation, but usually puts his team in a position to win more often than not. Friday was no different but once again the offense was not able to score runs to support their starter or pick up a win. It marked the seventh straight game where the O’s have scored three runs or less.

Gleyber Torres and Greg Bird knocked in the Yankees first two runs with an RBI single and triple respectively. Aaron Judge capped off New York’s scoring with a solo home run in the seventh. The blast marked Judge’s fourth homer and eighth RBI at Camden Yards since debuting last season.

Game 3 (8-5 NYY): After another lengthy rain delay, the Orioles offense finally broke out on Saturday for a quality afternoon at the plate. The bad news is Kevin Gausman and the bullpen were awful and the O’s five-run outing went to waste.

Just like Friday’s game, the O’s got things started with a solo homer in the first inning. This time it was Adam Jones sending one to center field for his tenth home run of the season. Joey Rickard and Machado would follow with solo shots of their own off of Masahiro Tanaka in the third and sixth innings.

Tanaka was chased from the game after one out in the sixth, but Danny Valencia’s RBI double off of Jonathan Holder later on in the inning was credited to the Yankees’ starter.

Unfortunately, by the time the O’s pushed their fourth run across they were still down by two runs. Gausman worked his way through 5.1 innings but ran into even more trouble than Tanaka and gave up six runs, five of which were earned.

The Yankees scored two more runs in the eighth to make it an 8-4 game and the Orioles offense is just not built to make that kind of comeback. Jones picked up an RBI single in the ninth but that would be it for the O’s in this abbreviated series.

After surprising everyone with a 3-1 series win over the Yankees back in early April, the Orioles have regressed to one of the worst teams in baseball. These two wins not only even the season series but also help the Yankees maintain a slim lead over Boston at the top of the division going into Sunday.

Game 4 (PPD): After a weekend of on and off rain storms, Sunday afternoon’s finale was called off a few hours before the scheduled start. The two AL East rivals will now play another double header on Saturday, August 25. The Orioles announced that this will be a split double header (separate admission) with one game taking place at 1:05 pm and the other at 7:05 pm.

Up next: The O’s will have Monday off before heading out on a six-game road trip. It starts with a two-game set against the Mets, which marks the first road interleague series of the year for the Orioles. Runs have been hard enough to come by recently so who knows how bad it will get with the O’s pitchers taking at bats instead of a designated hitter.

After the short series in New York, the Orioles head to Toronto for four games from Thursday to Sunday.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

Orioles look to snap losing streak as Yankees come to town

BALTIMORE — The Orioles return to Camden Yards earlier this week did not have the soothing effect one might hope. After dropping the last two games of their series against Tampa Bay, the O’s came home and got swept by the Washington Nationals.

Tis weekend the New York Yankees will visit Camden Yards for the first time this season for a four game set against the basement dwelling O’s. Unlike the O’s, New York continues to find themselves in a constant battle with Boston for the AL East crown. While it is still very early, the Yankees can’t afford to lose matchups like this weekend’s series if they want to keep pace with Boston. With that being said, the O’s have already showed they can give the Yankees trouble despite being one of the worst teams in the league.

Last meeting: The Orioles and Yankees squared off back in early in April with a four game weekend series at Yankee Stadium. The Orioles ended up surprising everyone and took the series 3-1 thanks to a pair of extra inning wins. Manny Machado led the way for the Baltimore offense with seven hits and four RBI’s in the series. Things were not going as well at the time for Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees newly acquired slugger struck out eight times in the series, five of which came in Sunday’s 12 inning finale.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Thursday, May 31, 7:05 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-6, 5.07 ERA) vs Sonny Gray (3-4, 5.98 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Friday, June 1, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (3-4, 4.31 ERA) vs Masahiro Tanaka (6-2, 4.62 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Saturday, June 2, 4:05 pm – Alex Cobb (1-7, 6.80 ERA) vs Domingo German (0-3, 5.45 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Sunday, June 4, 1:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (3-7, 4.46 ERA) vs CC Sabathia (2-1, 3.73 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • The Oriole’s lineup is full of inconsistent hitters but there are some slumps that start to become very concerning the longer they go on. Trey Mancini is in the midst of one right now and while the cause has not been directly attributed to anything, many fear that a lingering injury could be to blame. Mancini got off to a solid start in 2018 and hit .284 through most of April. However, on April 20 Mancini injured his knee while sliding into the wall in left field. It forced him to leave the game but he returned to field a few days later. Since experiencing that scare, Mancini is batting .198 and has picked up just one hit in his last six games.
  • The Orioles have played quite a few series against division opponents so far in 2018 but have only managed to win a pair of them. Coming into their second meeting with the Yankees, the O’s hold a record of 9-14 against fellow AL East teams.

Notes on Yankees:

  • Yankees veteran starter, CC Sabathia will be making his 43rd career start against the O’s this weekend. The only team he has faced more in his 18 years in the majors is the Tampa Bay Rays (45). Twenty five of those starts have taken place at Camden yards where Sabathia holds an 11-7 record with a 3.58 ERA.
  • When these teams last met in early April, Didi Gregorius was off to a scorching hot start. The Yankees shortstop was batting .375 and had accumulated ten RBI’s through the first ten games of the season. Since then Gregorius has cooled down significantly and is batting .146 in the month of May with just four RBI’s.

Image credit: Andy Marlin / USA Today Sports

Orioles get back on track with three wins against Yankees in New York

Coming into this weekends series against their division rival, the Orioles had lost five games in a row and were desperate for a win. The O’s would break their streak with a win on Friday before picking up a pair of extra inning wins to take the series 3-1.

Game 1 (5-2 BAL): The Orioles started this weekend’s marathon series with their best overall performance of the season. More importantly, they picked up a win to end a five game losing streak. Andrew Cashner got the start for the O’s and turned in a great performance to get his season back on track. The newly acquired starter struggled in his Orioles debut last week but found a great deal of success against the Yankees, giving up just two hits and one run in six innings of work.

Despite having such an exceptional night on the mound, Cashner was close to earning a no decision as the O’s offense had failed to score through the first six innings. Luckily for Cashner, the Birds bats came to life in the top of the seventh to make him the pitcher of record.

Yankees starter, Masahiro Tanaka had handled the Orioles very well but started to fall apart when the Baltimore lineup came around for their third round of at bats. Johnathan Schoop got the inning started with a single in an eight pitch at bat. After losing that battle to Schoop, Tanaka quickly gave up a two run homer to Adam Jones. Just like that, the Orioles had taken the lead but they were not done yet.

Another single by Tim Beckham chased Tanaka out of the game but Chad Green did not fare any better in relief. An RBI double by Anthony Santander and two RBI single by Trey Mancini capped off the five run inning for the O’s.

Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach closed out the game, allowing just five base runners and one run in their combined three innings of work. After blowing an opportunity on opening day, Brach earned his first save of the season.

Game 2 (7-3 BAL): After getting things back on track in Thursday’s series opener, the Orioles needed to build on it and keep the momentum going. It wouldn’t be easy and it certainly wouldn’t be quick but after 14 innings of high intensity baseball, the Orioles picked up a win in an instant classic.

Both starters were not spectacular but handled their business in their time on the mound. Kevin Gausman followed in Cashner’s footsteps to give himself a rebound outing while CC Sabathia’s night was cut short due to a hip injury. The Yankees veteran pitcher had given up three runs through his first four innings but had only thrown 58 pitches. It’s safe to say that the Yankees would have liked to get a few more innings out of their starter considering the length of the game.

Both bullpens, on the other hand, were exceptional. The five relievers that pitched for the O’s combined to give up just one run on two hits. That lone run came via a solo homer by Didi Gregorius in the eighth inning. Pitching wasn’t the only thing the O’s relievers did to save the game though. Mychal Givens came through with a huge defensive play to keep the game alive in the bottom of the eleventh.

With two outs and runners on second and third, Givens lost control of a pitch and sent one bouncing toward the backstop. With Gregorius barreling toward home plate for the winning run, Caleb Joseph was able to gather the ball quickly and flip it to Givens who ran off the mound to cover the plate. Givens extended his leg as if he was stealing a base, blocking Gregorius’ path in the process. Everything about the play was perfect, except for the wild pitch that caused it, and took place in a matter of seconds.

The Yankees would come back with a potential game saving play of their own in the thirteenth inning. In another two out situation, Caleb Joseph was at the plate for the O’s and he would end up getting a great pitch to hit when Jonathan Holder let a fastball sail high in the zone. Joseph sent the ball deep to right field but Aaron Judge was able to get a good read and follow it all the way to the wall before making a swift leap to rob the O’s of a go-ahead homer.

With the game already lasting well over five hours, the Orioles finally had enough in the fourteenth inning. After getting bailed out by Judge, Holder returned to the mound looking to keep the game tied. This time he would not be as lucky. The Orioles quickly loaded the bases with a Trey Mancini walk, a Manny Machado single and a perfect bunt by Jonathan Schoop. Adam Jones came to the plate next and battled with Holder for a six pitch at bat. Holder would end up retiring Jones on a controversial strikeout call that left the O’s captain furious.

Pedro Alvarez was up to bat next and before Jones could even calm himself in the dugout, the Orioles designated hitter sent a rocket to right field on the very first pitch he saw. The grand slam gave the O’s a huge 7-3 lead which they would hold through the bottom half of the inning for a thrilling game two win.

Lost in the madness of extra innings was a spectacular night for Manny Machado. The Orioles shortstop saw seven at bats on Friday and reached base in six of them with two home runs.

Game 3 (8-3 NYY): Friday nights game didn’t end until well past midnight which isn’t the biggest deal in the world, especially since the Orioles took home a win, but both teams were asked to make a quick turnaround as game three was slated for an early afternoon start.

It was a close game through the first five innings. Chris Tillman was once again far from dominate but put the Orioles in a position to win. With the game tied at three, the Yankees were able to take a lead by jumping on Tillman as he came back out for the sixth inning. Gregorius got the rally started with a four pitch walk and it was all down hill from there for Tillman as he faced four more batters and only retired one.

The Yankees kept that momentum going in the seventh inning, scoring three more runs off of Jimmy Yacabonis who had been called up earlier in the day. On the other hand, the New York bullpen was stellar after getting taxed heavily the night before. Adam Warren, David Robertson, and Luis Cessa combined to give up just two hits while closing out the final three innings.

Game 4 (8-7 BAL) : After three tough games it was only fitting that Sunday’s series finale followed suit. The O’s started the game by digging themselves into a hole when Mike Wright gave up five runs and recorded just two outs before being yanked from the game by Buck Showalter. It’s difficult to pull a starter extremely early, especially when you have had to use your bullpen a lot in recent games.

That decision by Showalter would pay off though. The Orioles went on to slowly chip away at the Yankees five run lead over the next four innings. RBI singles by Beckham and Santander got the O’s back on track before Danny Valencia made it a one run game with a two run homer in the fifth inning.

The orioles bullpen did a great job at coming in and keeping the Yankees under control while the offense made their comeback effort. Pedro Araujo finished off the first inning and worked through the third before turning it over to Miguel Castro and Tanner Scott who both gave up a run a piece.

After getting a run back in the sixth the O’s took their first lead of the game in the seventh. Danny Valencia got on base with a walk and Anthony Santander followed with a two run shot to give the Birds a 7-6 lead. Domingo German fell behind 3-0, giving Santander the green light for the first home run of his career.

That lead would not last too long though. In the bottom half of the seventh the Yankees were able to tie the game up at seven with an RBI single by Austin Romine. The game would remain tied through regulation, sending the two AL east rivals to extra innings for the second time this weekend.

In the twelfth inning the Orioles dug in against Adam Warren. A walk by Pedro Alvarez and a single by Anthony Santander put two on for Craig Gentry with two outs. The utility outfielder battled Warren for an intense, ll pitch at bat that ended in an RBI single for Gentry.

Brad Brach came on to pitch the bottom half of the inning and quickly walked the first two batters. The Orioles closer followed that with an error while trying to field a bunt by Brett Gardner. The huge mistake loaded the bases with no outs and brought Aaron Judge to the plate.

The game looked all but over but Brach was able to get an unconventional double play by throwing out the lead runners at home and third on a short grounder by Judge. With one more out needed Brach settled in and got Giancarlo Stanton to strike out for the fifth time in the game, capping off another thrilling extra inning win.

Up next: The Orioles will return home early this week for a three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. These early season AL East matchups are tough but could prove to be big as the season progresses.

Image credit: Julie Jacobson / AP