Three takeaways from Orioles series win over Rays

BALTIMORE — This weekend the Orioles picked up their first series win since the All-Star break by taking three of four from Tampa Bay. After dropping Thursday’s series opener 4-3, the offense exploded and scored 37 runs over the course of the next three games.

We all know wins have been hard to come by all year, so it’s not surprising to hear that this is just the second time that the O’s have won three games in a row this season. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but the Birds longest winning streak is four games and they will have a chance to match that as they head to New York on Tuesday. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the wins while they last. Here are some highlights from the Orioles big weekend.

1. Four quality starts:

The lineup stole the spotlight this weekend with a barrage of home runs and RBI’s but the starting rotation was locked in as well. Four of the five O’s starters got the chance to pitch in this series and each one turned in a quality outing. Alex Cobb got it started on Thursday with six innings of work. The veteran starter surrendered three earned runs and was served his 14th loss of the year but the performance was still a step in the right direction. Cobb finished June with a 6.75 ERA and has been able to slowly lower it down to 6.08 over the course of July. His 2-14 record on the year remains ugly but some of the recent losses can certainly be chalked up to a lack of run support.

Andrew Cashner kept the ball rolling in his start on Friday by going six innings and giving up just a pair of runs. Cashner continues to be one of the more consistent members of the rotation and has given up three runs or less in seven of his last eight starts.

The run support kept coming on Saturday but Kevin Gausman didn’t even need it as he turned in a great bounce-back performance to help the Orioles win 11-2. Gausman tossed seven innings and gave up just two runs which was a much-needed rebound from his previous three starts in which he struggled to go five innings and gave up over four runs per outing.

Dylan Bundy rounded out the weekend by picking up his seventh win of the season. After suffering an injury against Atlanta, Bundy hit the disabled list and lost the momentum he had built in the month of June. His return from the disabled list was very lackluster and consisted of three short outings where he gave up five runs each time. July has not been kind to Bundy throughout his three major league seasons but hopefully Sunday’s rebound start is a sign of a strong finish that is to come.

2. Curtain call for Jones:

The drama of the trade deadline has already hit the Orioles hard this year as Manny Machado was dealt to the Dodgers and then Zach Britton was shipped off to New York. Both trades saw good returns but the departure of those two players was hard to swallow for O’s fans.

As the deadline approaches on Tuesday, Adam Jones is the next name in the trade block. The 13-year veteran is in the final year of his contract which holds a no-trade clause that he must waive if the Orioles are going to deal him. Essentially Jones is in full control of his immediate future. The center-fielder has not been shy about giving his thoughts on the trade speculation and even presented a scenario earlier this month in which the Orioles trade him to a contender but he re-signs with Baltimore in the offseason.

This past weekend Jones reportedly met with the front office to discuss these potential trades. The Phillies, Giants and Indians have all reached out to the O’s and made offers but according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko, Jones has not shown any interest in waiving the no-trade clause and leaving the Orioles.

Things could change before Tuesday’s deadline, but for now it sounds like Jones will still be an Oriole on Wednesday. If things do in fact change, Sunday could mark Jones’ final home game as an Oriole. If that does end up being the case, the longtime Oriole will have left on a high note. Jones went 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI to help lift the O’s to an 11-5 win over the Rays.

3. Schoop’s streak:

Jonathan Schoop has been on fire all month. Coming into July he was batting just .197 and could not find his groove for any extended period of time. This led Buck Showalter to sit Schoop on the bench for a couple of games in an attempt to clear the second baseman’s head.

As the end of July approaches, Schoop has successfully raised his average to .244 by picking up a hit in 22 of his last 23 starts. The O’s second baseman came into Sunday afternoon with an 11-game hit streak but found himself in danger of losing it after going 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts early in the game. Schoop saw his final at-bat of the afternoon in the seventh inning and he made it count. After taking the first pitch for a ball, Schoop got ahold of a slider and sent it over the center-field wall into the Orioles bullpen to give the O’s a 9-3 lead and extend his hit streak to 12 games.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

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Offense stays hot as Orioles pick up 11-2 win over Rays

BALTIMORE — On Saturday night the Orioles offense picked up where they left off the night before and continued to dominate the Rays pitching staff with a continuous onslaught of runs. The score was close through the first three innings but the O’s offense would end up pulling away in route to an 11-2 win.

Joey Rickard led the way for the Baltimore offense, going 3-for-4 at the plate with five RBI. The right-fielder hit a solo home run in the second inning and added a pair of doubles in the fourth and sixth. Rickard may not play everyday but he sure has seen a great deal of success against the Rays so far this season. The last time Rickard picked up three hits in a game was on May 13 when the O’s defeated the Rays 17-1. Coincidentally he had five RBI in that game too.

Trey Mancini also turned in a great evening at the plate by recording the first four-hit game of his career. It all started in the second inning when Mancini launched a two-run homer into the left field seats to put the O’s up 2-1. His next three hits were all singles but he would come around to score on two of them. This outstanding performance was fitting as 25,000 fans in attendance received a Mancini bobble head prior to the game.

Lost in this surplus of runs was a great bounce-back performance by Kevin Gausman. The O’s starter went seven strong innings and gave up just two runs while striking out five. In his last three starts prior to Saturday Gausman surrendered a total of 13 runs and never made it past the fifth inning.

Mike Wright and David Hess combined to close out the final two innings. Wright took care of business very quickly by picking up three outs on just nine pitches. Hess was making just his second appearance of the month after losing his spot in the starting rotation at the end of June. The rookie pitcher got off to a rough start when he hit Daniel Robertson with a pitch, but he managed to settle down and pick up a pair of strikeouts while finishing off the inning.

The Orioles tied up their season series against the Rays with the 11-2 win on Saturday. Despite going 6-for-6 against Tampa Bay so far in 2018, the O’s offense has consistently attacked the Rays pitchers. Saturday marks the fourth game this year in which the O’s scored nine runs or more against Tampa Bay.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

Series Recap: Poor starting pitching dooms Orioles as Rays take weekend series in Tampa

ST. PETERSBURG — Despite receiving 6.2 shutout innings from David Hess on Friday night in a 2-0 shutout win, Andrew Cashner and Kevin Gausman combined for 12 earned runs between 7.2 combined innings in 5-1 and 8-3 losses as the Orioles dropped this weekend’s series at Tropicana Field 2-1.

Game 1 (2-0 BAL): My full recap of Friday night’s game can be found here.

Game 2 (5-1 TB): The Rays limited the Orioles to three hits with Baltimore’s lone run coming in the seventh inning off a single by Chris Davis. The Orioles offense never posed a real threat and failed to record a hit until the fifth inning when Danny Valencia tripled, but the next three batters were retired.

Cashner came into Saturday with a much better ERA on the road (3.74) than at home (5.35), but against Tampa he gave up five runs in five innings on 11 hits, four walks, and four strikeouts. He came out to begin the sixth inning, but loaded the bases on a double and two walks before being pulled for Tanner Scott, who struck out the side to prevent additional damage.

The Rays scored all five of their runs over the first two innings off Cashner. C.J. Cron singled with one out in the first inning and scored on a triple by Joey Wendle. Wilson Ramos then doubled to bring home Wendle, but Ramos was tagged out at third base trying to stretch his double into a triple. In the second inning, Mallex Smith and Daniel Robertson singled to put runners on first and third with no outs. Following a fly-out by Carlos Gomez, Smith scored on a single by Rob Refsnyder that landed Robertson at second base. Then, Cron would double to score both Robertson and Refsnyder to make it 5-0.

After Scott escaped trouble in the sixth inning, Miguel Castro worked the final two innings, walking two with a strikeout. For the Rays, “starter” Ryne Stanek struck out three Orioles in the first 1.2 innings, and then Anthony Banda worked the next 6.1 innings with seven K’s. The effort was good for Banda’s first win of the season. Cashner receives the loss and is now 2-6 on the season.

Game 3 (8-3 TB): The Orioles chased Sergio Romo out of the game after only recording one out. Former Oriole Vidal Nuño came on in relief. With the bases loaded, Davis popped out to left field to score Pedro Álvarez. Nuño intentionally walked Valencia, Chance Sisco drew a walk to score Manny Machado, and Craig Gentry singled to score Jonathan Schoop. All three runs were charged to Romo.

Before Gausman even took the mound his offense gave him a 3-0 lead, but it would not last. Brad Miller, the first hitter Gausman faced, hit a solo home run to make it 3-1. The Rays totaled six runs in the third inning on a double by Miller, RBI singles from Wendle and Christian Arroyo, and finally a groundout by Smith that scored a run. Buck Showalter pulled Gausman after 2.2 innings after the 27-year-old right-hander allowed seven runs on six hits, two walks, a strikeout, and two hit batters.

After Gausman’s exit, Mike Wright Jr. threw 2.2 scoreless innings with five strikeouts on two hits and two walks. Gomez added Tampa’s eighth run on a solo home run in the seventh inning off Pedro Araujo.

Up next: The Orioles fly home to Baltimore for a two series, seven-game home-stand at Camden Yards featuring the Washington Nationals (May 28-30) and the New York Yankees (May 31-Jun. 3).

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun