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 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

Orioles add utility infielder in last minute deal with Rays

Just when you think the trade deadline drama is over, the Orioles struck at the last-minute to make a deal with the Rays. The O's will receive infielder Tim Beckham from Tampa Bay in exchange for RHP Tobias Myers.

Beckham has been a part of the Rays since 2013 and holds a career .247 batting average in 236 games. With J.J. Hardy on the disabled list and Ryan Flaherty still working his way back from an injury, the Orioles can benefit from having Beckham as their everyday shortstop in the second half of the season. The 27-year-old infielder has also played games at second and third base.

With Beckham under team control until 2020, the Orioles may have just quietly added a solid utility player for the next few years. On the other side of the deal, it is hard to say how valuable Myers is. The 18-year-old went 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in seven starts this season with Aberdeen.

Image Credit: MLB.com

Series Recap: Orioles fail to capitalize on slumping Rays

If the Orioles wanted to turn their season around and compete for a wildcard spot it had to start this week with their series against Tampa Bay. The Rays are one of a handful of teams that sit between the O’s and the elusive second wildcard spot, making this series even more important.

When you look at their track record, the Rays may have more upside to their season than the Orioles but they entered this week’s series on a four game losing streak. The O’s were able to take advantage of that in the first game but they could not keep the Rays down for long. Tampa Bay picked up two wins on Tuesday and Wednesday to take the series, pushing the Orioles back down once again.

The first six innings of game one featured a pitchers duel between Kevin Gausman and Blake Snell. In the end Snell was able to go one more inning than Gausman but he was also responsible for three runs. Gausman struck out eight in his six innings of work, giving up just five hits. The win marked Gausman’s second straight and seventh overall this season.

The O’s finished the night with five runs but for a majority of the game they only lead 1-0 thanks to a solo homer by Adam Jones in the third inning. It took the offense until the eighth inning to add their next three runs and finally get some breathing room for the pitching staff. Manny Machado had a two RBI single and Jonathan Schoop added another with a sacrifice fly.

The Rays offense came back to life in game two, scoring five runs in the second inning. This would end up being the only offense necessary as Tampa Bay went on to win 5-4. Jacob Faria continued to find success in his third career start against the O’s. The rookie pitcher threw 7.1 innings while giving up three runs and striking out five.

Down by two runs with five outs left the Orioles finally got into the Rays bullpen. Former Oriole Tommy Hunter completed the eighth inning but not before giving up two runs on an RBI single by Welington Castillo. The first of these two runs would end up being credited to Faria.

Castillo’s big hit cut the deficit to just one run but the Orioles offense was shut down by Alex Colome in the ninth. Colome’s 29th save of the season secured a 5-4 win and snapped the Rays five game losing streak.

The series finale was played on Wednesday afternoon and once again the Rays walked away with a win thanks to some timely offense. After Jonathan Schoop hit a solo home run in the fourth, the O’s offense was shutdown and failed to score again while the Rays put up five runs in the late innings.

Ubaldo Jimenez turned in a rare quality start, making the offenses performance even more disappointing. Jimenez pitched six innings while giving up just two runs. It was one of those games where Jimenez appeared to be in complete control. His nine strike outs mark a season high for the veteran pitcher.

Darren O’Day and Zach Britton pitched in relief but gave up three more runs. Outside of his save this past weekend, Britton has not been his usual self since returning from the disabled list. O’Day continues to have an up-and-down season as well, boosting his ERA to 4.79 after Wednesday’s game.

The Orioles will stay on the road this weekend as they prepare to take on the Rangers for the second time this month. When these teams met a few weeks ago, the O’s walked away with their first four game sweep since 2016. The series win was impressive enough to instill hope in some fans but that has since faded. With that being said ,the O’s could certainly use another sweep if they really plan on being contenders.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun

Series Preview: Orioles prepare to play first series against divisional opponent since early July

The Orioles have been riding a roller coaster of emotions since the All-Star break. They came out of the gate getting swept by the Cubs, but somehow rebounded and swept the Rangers in four games. Then everything came crashing back down when the O's were faced with a World Series-contending Astros team.

The ups and downs of the last 10 games even caused management to seemingly go from buyers to sellers, and then back to buyers once again. Sitting at 47-51, the Orioles look to shoot for a wildcard spot. The next few weeks feature a handful of matchups against teams also competing for a wildcard, but there's still debate whether or not the O's should even consider themselves contenders.

The Rays find themselves in a much better situation. In a year where many counted out Tampa Bay, the Rays put themselves in a position to make the postseason. They currently sit 3.5 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox with a 51-48 record. Compared to Boston and New York, the Rays remain a heavy underdog, but they remain in the race for a division title or wildcard spot.

Last Meeting: These teams met in the beginning of July. Since then the Orioles have not played anyone in the AL East. The Rays started that series with an extra inning comeback win and followed it up with a blowout. The O's salvaged a win in the last game but dropped the series in disappointing fashion. With ten games left between the two teams, the O's lead the season series 5-4.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Monday, July 24, 7:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (6-7, 6.11 ERA) vs Blake Snell (0-5, 4.98 ERA)

Game 2: Tuesday, July 25, 7:10 pm – Wade Miley (4-8, 5.58 ERA) vs Jacob Faria (4-1, 2.52 ERA)

Game 3: Wednesday, July 26, 12:10 pm – Ubaldo Jimenez (4-6, 7.19 ERA) vs Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.57 ERA)

Notes on the Rays:

  • Corey Dickerson has been a threat all season for the Rays, making him a player to look out for in this series. The left fielder is hitting .290 against the O's this year with two home runs.
  • Rookie pitcher Jacob Faria has produced great starts for the Rays after Matt Andriese hit the disabled list. In eight starts, Faria holds a 4-1 record and a 2.52 ERA. Both of his starts against the O's have resulted in a no decision.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Second baseman Jonathan Schoop has not lost any steam since becoming the Orioles only 2017 All-Star. Schoop is batting .368 with three home runs and 15 RBI's since the mid-season break.
  • Zach Britton picked up his first save since April in Sunday's game against the Astros. It also marked his 55th consecutive save which is the second longest streak in MLB history. Eric Gagne comfortably holds the longest streak after collecting 84 saves in just under two seasons with the Dodgers.
  • Just last week we talked about the Orioles officially becoming sellers as the trade deadline approaches. Many sources had reported that the O's were looking to deal their late inning relievers and a few other position players. However, Dan Duquette stated this weekend that he would like to buy more pitchers at the deadline to compete for a wildcard spot. The conflicting information leaves many fans confused, but we will have our answers by the end of the week.

Up Next: After sweeping the Rangers in four games last week, the Orioles stay on the road this weekend for another series against Texas. I'm intrigued to see if the offense continues their hot streak against the Texas pitching staff.

Image Credit: Camden Chat