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

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

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