Hess’s strong start lifts Orioles over Rays 2-0

ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles may have found a solution for finding a fifth starter in the rotation, and his name is David Hess.

Making his third major league start on Friday night, Hess led the Orioles to a 2-0 final over the Tampa Bay Rays for Baltimore’s second shutout win of the 2018 season. Hess threw 91 pitches (61 strikes) over 6.2 innings, giving up just four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Hess leaves Friday with a 2-1 record and the positive of bouncing back from a rough 4.2 outing in Boston that saw him give up five runs.

After the game, Hess fell victim to a pie to the face from, you guessed it, Adam Jones.

The win lifts Baltimore, now on a two-game winning streak, to 17-34. The Rays fall to 23-26 and, with Toronto’s 6-5 win over Philadelphia tonight, the Blue Jays jump ahead of Tampa for third place in the American League East.

The Rays, experimenting with a new pitching method, threw out reliever Sergio Romo to start the game. Romo is also slated to start Sunday’s series finale. Right away in the top of the first inning, the Orioles scored their first run on a double by Danny Valencia that scored Jones, who reached base with one out via single. Jones finished the game with three hits for the second straight day.

Following Valencia’s RBI double, Rays manager Kevin Cash trotted out to the mound and took out Romo, replacing him with Ryan Yarbrough. Yarbrough would record the next 21 outs with eight strikeouts.

In the sixth inning off Yarbrough, the Orioles added their second run on a solo home run by Jonathan Schoop, his fifth of the season. The ball went 442 feet at 107.9 MPH.

After Hess came out of the game in the seventh inning, Mychal Givens recorded the final out. Richard Bleier and Brad Brach handled getting the final six outs, with Bleier picking up a strikeout and Brach notching his eighth save.

Trumo likely headed to DL: Mark Trumbo missed all of April due to a quad strain, and he’s likely headed back to the disabled list after just over three weeks of action. During Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the White Sox, Trumbo aggravated a knee injury while sliding into second base. An MRI revealed some arthritis and some chrondromalacia (cartilage damage under the kneecap) that Trumbo will need to deal with for the rest of his career, but all of the ligaments are intact and there is no structural damage. Trumbo received a cortisone injection and had the knee drained on Friday, so he will likely head to the 10-day disabled list.

The Orioles plan to announce Trumbo’s status and a potential roster move ahead of Saturday’s 4:10 pm start at Tropicana Field. The pitching matchup sees Andrew Cashner (2-5, 4.72 ERA) taking on Ryne Stanek (0-0, 5.40 ERA).

Image Credit: BTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game times and pitching matchups:

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

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

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

Notes on the Orioles:

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

Notes on the Rays:

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

Image Credit: Birds Watcher 

Orioles offense dominates in series win over Rays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

Series Preview: Orioles to play four games in three days against Rays

BALTIMORE — For just the second time this season (first time since Apr. 5-6 at NYY), the Baltimore Orioles won two consecutive games in their 2-1 series win over the Kansas City Royals. Despite terrible outings by Dylan Bundy and Chris Tillman, the Orioles’ offense finally came alive, scoring at least five runs in each game versus Kansas City.

Thursday’s 11-6 win over the Royals was especially encouraging. The O’s fought back from 4-0 and 6-3 deficits behind the bats of Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Manny Machado, and Chance Sisco. For the second time in as many starts, Tillman failed to make it out of the second inning. However, the Orioles’ bullpen, highlighted by Miguel Castro‘s 4.2 innings of shutout baseball (4 H, 2 BB, 1K) did not allow Kansas City to plate another run over the final 7.2 innings. Although Tillman’s future remains a large concern, Thursday night was a good sign for this struggling Orioles team.

Leaving Thursday night with a 10-27 overall record, the Chicago White Sox (9-25) are now the only team in the Major Leagues without double-digit victories.

Now that the Royals have left Baltimore, the Orioles turn their attention to the Tampa Bay Rays, who are already making their second trip to Camden Yards this season. Following a rainout on Apr. 24, the Rays swept the O’s 8-4 and 9-5 on Apr. 25-26. This weekend’s series was originally supposed to be three games, but the Apr. 24 rainout created a Saturday doubleheader. For those who plan on attending, the 3:05 pm doubleheader is single-admission.

The Rays (15-19) had an off-day on Thursday after getting swept by the Braves 1-0 and 5-2 at Tropicana Field. Tampa sits in fourth place in the American League East Division, with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees tied for first place at 26-11.

Bundy breakdown? Through his first five starts this season (5 ER, 40 strikeouts), Bundy looked like the ace that the Orioles have not had in their rotation for over a decade. In his last three starts, Bundy has not gone longer than 4.2 innings, allowing a combined 19 earned runs (23 H, 5 BB, 8 K). As a pitcher who’s gone underwent Tommy John surgery, it’s only natural to wonder if his arm is hurting. Buck Showalter and Bundy have not revealed anything, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Pedro update: Designated hitter/infielder Pedro Alvarezleft Thursday night’s game with a spasm/cramp in his hamstring. No update has been provided, but it does not appear to be a serious injury.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1Friday, May 11, 7:05 pm – Jake Faria (3-1, 4.15 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (2-2, 3.30 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2Saturday, May 12, 3:05 pm – Chris Archer (2-2, 5.32 ERA) vs. TBD – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3Saturday, May 12, following game 1: TBD vs. Alex Cobb (0-4, 7.61 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4Sunday, May 13, 1:05 pm – Blake Snell (4-2, 2.40 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (1-5, 5.31 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Image Credit: Boston Herald 

Orioles drop abbreviated series to visiting Rays

The Orioles first series against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 was cut short to just two games after a rainout on Tuesday. This is the second time in April that the O’s have had one of their games postponed but that might be a good thing. At this point, the Orioles can probably use every extra off day they can get. April has been relentless in terms of competition and only allowed for one scheduled off day.

These teams will meet again next month. A doubleheader is now scheduled for Saturday May 12 to make up for Tuesday’s rain out.

Game 1 (8-4 TB): On Wednesday Alex Cobb got the chance to face off against his former team for the first time as a member of the Orioles. Cobb’s time in Baltimore has been rather lackluster so far due to an abbreviated spring training, but what better way to right the ship than against your former team.

Through the first four innings it looked like Cobb had finally figured it out. He surrendered a run in the first on a fielder’s choice but entered the fifth with just five hits allowed on 56 pitches.

Cobb’s strong start quickly faded and turned into another mediocre outing. The 30-year-old starter gave up four runs in the fifth and only managed to record two outs before being yanked by Buck Showalter. Sadly, five runs on ten hits through 4.2 innings of work easily qualifies as Cobb’s best start of the year. It’s a harsh reality that Orioles fans are coming to terms with, but Cobb is averaging less than four innings per start with a 13.11 ERA to go along with it.

To make things even worse, the offense was actually getting work done early in the game to give Cobb a lead. Following the Rays run in the top of the first, the Orioles responded with a run of their own and then added two more in the second inning. Adam Jones and newly acquired utility man, Jace Peterson picked up RBI doubles to bring home the three runs.

After Cobb’s exit, Miguel Castro and Tanner Scott combined to give up another three runs in the next two innings. The Orioles mustered a fourth run in the fifth on a Chance Sisco solo homer but only reached base once after that.

Game 2 (9-5 TB): Dylan Bundy kicked off his season with five good starts. In a year where nothing seems to be going the Orioles way, Bundy has been one of the few bright spots. His 1.42 ERA is a testament to that, but Bundy has been overdue for an off night and Thursday certainly qualified as one.

The O’s young ace surrendered seven earned runs in just 4.2 innings of work. It started with a pair of two run homers in the first and second inning but Bundy never managed to settle down. The Rays notched five hits and pushed two more runs across in the third inning, giving themselves a comfortable 6-0 lead that they would hold for the rest of the game.

Just like game one, the Orioles offense attempted to stage a comeback but could not overcome the defect created by the pitching staff. Trey Mancini started the effort with an RBI double and Manny Machado later brought him home with an RBI single.

Adam Jones put two more on the board in the fifth inning with a homer run to center field and Danny Valencia rounded out the scoring for the O’s with a solo shot.

Up next: The Orioles will wrap up this home stand over the weekend when the Detroit Tigers come to town. These teams just met last week with Detroit picking up a three game sweep.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

Series Preview: Orioles offense looks for signs of life with Rays coming to town

BALTIMORE — Going into the 2018 season, a lot of people (myself included) pointed to the Orioles’ starting rotation as the team’s biggest concern. 23 games into the 2018 campaign, the rotation is actually the most consistent unit of this Orioles ball club. Instead, Baltimore’s offense has put up numbers that, even with solid starting pitching, are nearly impossible to compete with.

The Orioles are averaging 3.17 runs-per-game, worst in the major leagues. Unlike in previous seasons, the offense has been particularly bad at home. Over their first 10 games played at Camden Yards this season, the Birds have scored two runs or fewer six times. Even with Andrew Cashner (Sun: 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 7K) and Kevin Gausman (Mon: 8.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7K) turning in solid outings against the Indians, the offense produced four runs between two games, both losses.

In the midst of their longest home stand of the 2018 season, a 10-game stretch (three series), the Orioles now welcome American League East-rival Tampa Bay to town for three games. This is the first of five series between the two teams on the 2018 schedule. The Rays (8-13) and the Orioles (6-17) sit in the cellar of the division, with Boston (17-4), Toronto (13-8), and the Yankees (12-9) all above .500.

Tampa and Baltimore are similar teams in terms of statistics. The Rays rank 22nd in both team ERA (4.71) and runs scored (88), while Baltimore ranks 23rd in team ERA (4.83) and 24th in runs scored (73). The Rays, winners of five of their last six contests, are on a four-game win streak that included a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins at Tropicana Field over the weekend.

Flashback: The Orioles went 8-11 against the Rays in 2017. The two teams played 10 of those games at Camden Yards, splitting 5-5. As a team, the Orioles pitched to a 4.93 ERA against Tampa, and hit .240. The Rays owned a 3.87 ERA against Baltimore last season with a .263 batting average.

Injury updates: Last night against Cleveland, infielder Tim Beckham left in the eighth inning with a groin injury that he apparently re-aggravated from spring training. After the game, manager Buck Showalter said that Beckham has also been dealing with a sore Achilles tendon. According to a tweet from Roch Kubatko of MASN, Beckham could be heading to the disabled list.

Mark Trumbo began a rehab assignment on Monday at Double-A Bowie, playing first base. At the plate, he went 1-for-3 with a walk. Trumbo suffered a grade 2 quad strain during spring training. The plan is for Trumbo to stay in Bowie and then head to Charlotte with the Norfolk Tides this weekend. He could return to the O’s next week if all goes according to plan.

After suffering a laceration on his knee while crashing into the left field wall during Friday’s game against Cleveland, Trey Mancini came off the bench to pinch-hit in last night’s 2-1 loss. Mancini suffered no structural damage to his knee, but required stitches. He’s questionable to play in tonight’s series opener.

Although there is no timetable for his return from an oblique injury suffered on Apr. 14, Jonathan Schoop resumed baseball activities yesterday and ran before the series finale.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Tuesday, Apr. 24, 7:05 pm – Jake Faria (1-1, 5.82 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (0-2, 15.43 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Wednesday, Apr. 25, 7:05 pm – Chris Archer (1-1, 6.59 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (1-2, 1.42 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Thursday, Apr. 26, 7:05 pm – TBD vs. Chris Tillman (0-4, 9.87 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Rays:

  • Outfielder Mallex Smith ranks eighth in batting average in the majors, hitting .344 with 21 hits in 61 at-bats.
  • Lifetime at Camden Yards, Archer is 1-5 with a 6.69 ERA in six starts, seven appearances.
  • While the Orioles’ offense slumps, the Rays’ bats have been on fire lately. In their weekend sweep of the Twins, Tampa scored 26 runs over three games, with at least eight runs scored in each of those games.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Tuesday marks Cobb’s first start against the club that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2006 MLB June Amateur Draft. This is also Cobb’s first Oriole start at Camden Yards. Although Cobb has been awful in his first two starts in an Orioles uniform, remember that he’s still in spring training mode. After all, Baltimore signed Cobb just nine days before the regular season began. Be patient, Birdland.
  • Three Orioles – Beckham, Chris Davis, and Adam Jones – have struck out 24 times or more this season. The Orioles lead the major leagues with 10.30 strikeouts-per-game.

Image Credit: Getty Images 

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