Orioles win 9-6 to avoid sweep in Arlington

ARLINGTON- The Baltimore Orioles were able to salvage the final game of a four-game set with the Texas Rangers on Sunday, scoring a 9-6 win in order to avoid being swept for the 15th time this season.

Mark Trumbo had a huge day at the plate and got started early with a RBI single off Rangers starter Drew Hutchison in the top of the first scoring Jace Peterson who singled on the first pitch of the game.  After Yefry Ramirez relinquished the lead in the bottom of the first, catcher Austin Wynns clubbed his third homer of the season, a three-run-shot, to put the O’s back in front 4-2.

It was a rough day for Ramirez though who failed to get out of the second inning.  After issuing a lead-off walk to Willie Calhoun to start the second, Drew Robinson doubled to deep right to put runners on second and third with nobody out. A Shin-Soo Choo sac fly cut the lead to 4-3.

Unfortunately for Ramirez, he was unable to weather the storm and would surrender two more hits,two more walks, and two more runs in the inning and left the game with two outs in the frame. Tanner Scott relieved Ramirez and worked out of the situation by striking out Ronald Guzman which kept the deficit at 5-4.

After Jonathan Villar led off the third with a walk, Trumbo delivered the first of his two homers on the day to give the Orioles a 6-5 lead. Scott worked a scoreless third and fourth for the Birds before yielding to Donnie Hart for the bottom of the fifth.

Hart took over protecting a 7-5 lead in the fifth after Villar added a solo shot to his day to extend the Orioles lead. Hart went 1.2 scoreless innings striking out three before Miguel Castro came in to finish the sixth inning.  The Orioles extended their lead to 9-5 in the top of the seventh inning when Trumbo added his second homer of the game, a two-run shot.

Trumbo finished the day 3-4 with 2HRS and 5RBI and Villar reached base in all four of his at bats going 3-3 with three runs scored and a walk. Villar is 8-17 since joining the Orioles via the Jonathan Schoop trade.

Castro pitched a scoreless seventh before turning the ball over to Paul Fry who struggled with his control in the bottom of the eighth inning. After Calhoun flied out, Fry walked Robinson and Choo before throwing a wild pitch to advance the runners. Rougned Odor grounded out to cut the lead to 9-6 and that would close the book on Fry as Mychal Givens got the final out in the eighth.

Givens pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his second save of the season. Scott took the win for the Orioles to get to 2-2 on the year out of the bullpen. The loss went to Hutchison for the Rangers who fell to 1-2 on the year.

The Orioles (34-78) are off Monday before opening a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays (56-56) on Tuesday in St. Petersburg.

Image Credit: AP

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Orioles go into All-Star break on high note with series win over Rangers

BALTIMORE — Despite losing eight of 10 games going into Friday, the Orioles took two of three from the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards to go into the All-Star break on a high note. Following this weekend’s action, the Orioles (28-69) sit 39.5 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox (68-30) in the American League East. The Rangers (41-56) also head into the All-Star break in last place, 22 games behind the Astros (64-35) in the AL West.

The All-Star Game takes place on Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30 pm from Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The lone Orioles representative is Manny Machado, who will start at shortstop for the AL. Trade rumors surrounding Machado get more intense by the day. Twitter exploded during Sunday’s game when Machado got pulled from the game in the fifth inning, which led many fans to believe that the 26-year-old superstar had been traded. As it turned out, the Orioles pulled Machado from the game due to sloppy field conditions following a 26-minute rain delay.

It’s been reported that the Orioles have received several offers from up to eight teams for Machado’s services. In a tweet sent out on Sunday morning, MLB insider Jon Heyman said that the Brewers, Phillies, and Dodgers have the best offers on the table and lead the Machado sweepstakes. With talks heating up by the day, Machado’s All-Star appearance could mark the last time we see him in an Orioles uniform.

Game 1 (5-4 TEX): Despite picking up a rare series win, the Friday opener did not provide a great start. Starters Alex Cobb and Cole Hamels cruised through four scoreless innings each before both teams scored one run each in the fifth inning. For the Rangers, Joey Gallo belted his 22nd home run of the season. Gallo is tied with Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion for fifth place in the AL for home runs.

In Baltimore’s half of the fifth, Adam Jones led off with a double and advanced to third on a ground-out by Mark Trumbo. Jones would score on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia to tie the game at 1.

Both offenses saw big innings of the seventh, but the Rangers out-scored the Orioles 4-3 in the frame which ended up being the difference. Cobb retired Ronald Guzman via ground-out to open up the Orioles’ seventh, but Robinson Chirinos singled in the ensuing at-bat, ending Cobb’s night. Tanner Scott was called upon, but struggled mightily in his appearance. Scott walked the first batter he saw, Gallo, before Ryan Rua hit his fifth home run of the season to give the Rangers a 4-1 edge. Scott struck out Shin-Soo Choo, but then walked Elvis Andrus, who crossed home on a double by Nomar Mazara, his 16th of the season.

In the bottom half of the seventh, the Orioles forced Hamels out of the game after the 34-year-old veteran allowed the Orioles to load the bases on singles by Trumbo and Valencia, as well as a walk by Chris Davis. Jose Leclerc relieved Hamels and got the second out of the inning, striking out Trey Mancini. However, Caleb Joseph followed that up with a line-drive to center-field that turned into a base-clearing double.

Despite the valiant effort, the Orioles could not find the fifth run. The Orioles got three runners on over the final two innings, but the Texas bullpen held their ground with Keone Kela picking up his 23rd save of the season. Hamels won his fifth game of 2018, now holding a record of 5-8. Cobb falls to 2-12. Both he and Andrew Cashner have just two wins to show for their 2018 efforts so far.

Game 2 (1-0 BAL): Wearing their special Maryland flag jerseys at a part of “Celebrate Maryland Night,” the Orioles registered their fifth shutout win of the season behind the bat of Jonathan Schoop, who plated Joseph in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly to center-field. Joseph had walked from the lead-off spot and advanced to third when Tim Beckham hit an infield single due to a throwing error by third basemen Adrian Beltre.

Schoop’s RBI led to Martin Pérez‘s fourth loss of the season. The 27-year-old left-hander went seven innings, allowing five hits and two walks with four strikeouts. In his fifth start of his rookie year, Yefry Ramirez went five innings, allowing two hits and three walks with a season-high seven strikeouts. Because the game was tied when Ramirez left the game, the win went to Brad Brach, who tossed the sixth inning and struck out two. Zach Britton, who’s name is also included in trade rumors, racked top his third save with two strikeouts.

During the game, the Orioles announced that Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson will now serve as a special advisor for the Orioles. The announcement was made at the conclusion of the fifth inning when Robinson received a huge ovation as he was shown on the video board in front of over 38,000 fans. Robinson, 81, has had health scares recently but is feeling better as of late. He’s more than excited to re-join the club he played 23 seasons for.

“I’ll be trying to get out in the community and doing some things to try and promote this club and get people to the stadium,” Robinson said. “It’s good. It’s fun. I look forward to getting out in the community and doing some things…I won’t be here every night, but if they need me, they’ll call me and I’ll try and help them.”

Game 3 (6-5 BAL): The Orioles planned on calling up Jimmy Yacabonis from Triple-A Norfolk to start Sunday’s game, but Yacabonis caught strep throat right before the weekend and was too sick to make the start. Chris Tillman‘s name was thrown around as a potential replacement, but Buck Showalter elected to go with Miguel Castro out of the bullpen. Tillman pitched for Norfolk on Sunday and actually performed well. He threw 5.1 innings (100 pitches), allowing two runs on eight hits, one walk, and three strikeouts in a 9-2 loss.

Castro’s day did not go as well as Tillman’s. Castro opened up his first start of 2018 by walking the bases loaded. He struck out Rougned Odor for the first out, but then Guzman plated four runs with a grand slam to right field, scoring Choo, Andrus, and Jurickson Profar. Castro settled down after that and ended up going 2.2 innings on 60 pitches (36 strikes) with two strikeouts. His final line looked a little odd with more runs (4) allowed than both hits (1) and walks (2). Castro’s first start of the season could have gone a lot better, but with such short notice, the plan was never to stretch him out more than necessary.

Before being pulled from the game in the fifth, Machado saw two at-bats and scored both times. He got the O’s on the board with two outs in the first inning with his 24th home run of the season. The Birds put up five runs in the third inning, two coming on a double by Jones that brought both Joseph and Schoop home. Joseph also drove in two via double, and Jones scored when Valencia reached first base due to a throwing error by Profar, playing third.

Choo hit his 18th home run of the season in the seventh inning off Mike Wright Jr., but the bullpen held on as the Orioles won their eighth one-run game of the season. They’re now 8-17 in one-run contests. Britton converted save #4 of his young season, but it did not come without some dramatics. With two outs, Britton walked Choo, who was taken out for pinch-runner Carlos Tocci, representing the tying run. The next hitter, Andrus, doubled to the right-field corner, forcing Trumbo to make a quick turn and hard throw to Schoop. Schoop fired the ball to Joseph, who had Tocci well-beaten at the plate for the final out of the game.

Scott won his first game of the season, pitching parts of the third and fourth innings with two strikeouts. Texas starter Mike Minor took the loss, evening his season record to 6-6. The five-run third inning doomed him, as the left-hander, like Castro, exited after 2.2 innings.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun

Orioles host Rangers in final series before All-Star break

BALTIMORE — For the Orioles and their fans, next week’s All-Star Break will give everyone a recess from what’s been an abysmal 2018 season. Although the Orioles picked up two wins earlier this week against the surging Yankees, they’ve lost eight of their last 10 games, including a gut-wrenching 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Thursday night.

Before players either head home or to Washington, D.C. for All-Star festivities, the Orioles have one more series to play this weekend against another struggling team, the Texas Rangers. Coming into Friday, the Orioles (26-68) still own the worst record in the majors, 39.5 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox (66-29) in the American League East.

The Rangers come into Baltimore with a 40-54 record, good for last place in the AL West. Baltimore marks the final stop of a 10-game road trip for Texas. They began the current trip in Detroit, where they split a four-game series with the Tigers. Monday through Wednesday, the Red Sox swept the Rangers at Fenway Park.

Manny watch: As expected, a number of teams have been in contact with the Orioles inquiring about Manny Machado, who is expected to be traded in a matter of days. A recent article by Jon Heyman of FanCred Sports, seven teams have live offers for Machado sitting on the table, with up to nine teams in the race.

According to Heyman, the Dodgers, Yankees, Brewers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Indians, Cubs, and possibly the Cardinals are looking to work a deal for Machado’s services.

The Yankees’ farm system ranks among the top in baseball, and they could easily put a package together that the Orioles would have to take. However, Peter Angelos has avoided trading with division rivals in the past, and I doubt the front office wants to see Machado in pinstripes 19 times a year. Not to mention that Machado would play third base if moved to the Yankees, a move that the 26-year-old has said he does not want to make.

The Dodgers, Brewers, and Phillies could all use a shortstop, but when J.P. Crawford returns in four-to-six weeks (hand), that problem will be solved. Crawford has been out since June 19 after being hit by a pitch. Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has been subject to trade talks all season, and the club likely won’t make a move for MAchado unless they decide to part ways with Russell. The Indians definitely do not have an opening at shortstop with Francisco Lindor in the midst of an All-Star season.

Last meeting: The Orioles went 6-1 (.857) against the Rangers in 2017, their best winning percentage against any team they faced last season. That 6-1 mark included a four-game sweep over Texas at Camden Yards from July 17-20. In that series, the Birds outscored the Rangers 34-11, including 12-1 and 10-2 wins in games 3 and 4.

In that series, Jonathan Schoop went 7-for-16 with nine RBI on a home run, two separate two-run doubles, a two-run single, a one-run single, and a sacrifice fly. Chris Davis finished with six RBI in the second game on a grand slam and a two-run home run. In games 1-3, the Orioles received three quality starts from Chris Tillman, Dylan Bundy, and Kevin Gausman. Each starter went six innings, allowing one earned run.

Game times and pitching matchups: 

Game 1Friday, July 13, 7:05 pm – Cole Hamels (4-8, 4.28 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (2-11, 6.67 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, July 14, 7:15 pm – TBD vs. Yefry Ramirez (0-3, 3.93 ERA) FOX, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, July 15, 1:05 pm – TBD vs. Jimmy Yacabonis (0-0, 7.15 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Rangers:

  • Against Baltimore, 39-year-old third basemen Adrian Beltre owns a .294 average with 127 hits, 27 home runs, and 68 RBI in 432 at-bats. Those stats date back to 1998, it’s amazing that Beltre continues to produce at such an advanced age. This season, he’s hitting .288 with 64 hits, four home runs, and 64 RBI in 222 at-bats.
  • Another ageless veteran, Shin-Soo Choo, is a lifetime .350 hitter at Camden Yards. In 103 at-bats, Choo has tallied 36 hits, seven home runs, and 16 RBI. Against the Orioles in general, Choo is 56-of-202 with 12 homers and 32 RBI.
  • Out of all ballparks Hamels has pitched in, his 8.83 ERA at Camden Yards is higher than his ERA in any other MLB ballpark. In three starts at Camden Yards, Hamels has allowed 17 earned runs on 22 hits (five home runs), nine walks, and 13 strikeouts.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Andrew Cashner (neck) has been placed on the 10-day disabled list for the second time this season after receiving an injection in his neck. Cashner is the fourth pitcher on the opening day roster that’s currently on the DL, joining Pedro Araujo, Darren O’Day, and Richard Bleier. Cobb is also nursing a blister on one of the fingers on his throwing hand, but he will start tonight. Cashner underwent a similar injection during the All-Star break last year, but did not miss significant time. Yacabonis’s Sunday start originally belonged to Cashner.
  • According to reports, the Orioles are also considering calling up Chris Tillman, who pitched for Frederick on Tuesday, tossing 6.1 innings. He allowed six earned runs with three walks and four strikeouts (102 pitches). If he is not called up on Sunday, he will start at Triple-A Norfolk against Gwinnett.
  • Zach Britton‘s name has floated around the rumor mill over the last few days, with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies all in the mix. It will be interesting to see if multiple upcoming free agents end up with AL East foes.

Image Credit: Boston Herald 

Series Recap: Orioles pick up first road series win since June

ARLINGTON — With the trade deadline finally here, Orioles fans finally know what the Orioles will do for the next few months. For the past few weeks, everyone waited to see if the Orioles would accept their shortcomings and sell, or try to make the playoffs.

This weekend the Orioles officially became buyers and put the mystery to rest.

On Friday, the Orioles got stomped by the Rangers 8-2. The biggest news of the night became the acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson, and the departure of Hyun Soo Kim. The move looks highly questionable and most fans are still not convinced that the Orioles will get better in the coming months. However, all we can do at this point and cheer for the best.

The supposed playoff push didn't get off to the best start on Friday. The Orioles pitching staff gave up eight runs in the first five innings. Tillman got credited with all eight runs, but only gave up six before exiting the game with one out in the fifth. Richard Bleier entered the game and relief. Bleier surrendered a two-RBI single before completing the inning.

The Orioles offense was only able to score two runs in the remaining innings thanks to a Jonathan Schoop home run and Chris Davis RBI single. The loss marked the Orioles' third straight and fifth loss in the past ten games.

Saturday night saw a complete turn-around for the Orioles. The offense jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Kevin Gausman came very close to a complete-game shutout. Trey Mancini and Caleb Joseph launched two solo home runs in the second inning to start the scoring effort. In the third, Mancini added another run on a fielder's choice. Seth Smith capped off the inning with an RBI single.

This would end up being the only offense produced by either team in the game. Kevin Gausman looked the best he has all season. He tossed 8.2 innings while giving up just seven hits and three walks. The 26-year-old racked up eight strikeouts for the third straight game, while recording another win and moving to 8-7 on the season.

In the past month, Gausman appears to be turning his season around. With the starting rotation being consistently mediocre, it's easy to overlook the occasional quality outings, but Gausman has collected a majority of them recently. Gausman earned a win in his last five decisions. He lowered his ERA to 5.37, which is the lowest its been since April 13.

When Gausman came back out to pitch the ninth inning, tension ensued. Adrian Beltre had picked up his 2,999th career hit earlier in the game and was looking for number 3,000 in his final at-bat of the night. Gausman walked the batter before Beltre, but he got the veteran to ground into a double play, pushing the historic moment back.

Buck Showalter gave Gausman a long leash to complete the game, but ultimately had to bring Zach Britton in after the Rangers picked up a few more base runners. The O's closer made quick work of the final batter and set up a rubber match for Sunday afternoon.

The biggest storyline of the series finale was Beltre's 3,000th hit, but the Orioles still walked away with a 10-6 victory and their first road series win since the end of June. Beltre struck out in his first at-bat, but came through in the fourth inning with a double down the left field line. After an extended celebration of the historic moment, the third baseman came around to score one of the Rangers' first two runs of the game.

The Orioles offense stayed hot at the plate, scoring 10 runs in the series finale. It all started in the fourth with three RBI singles in a row by Mancini, Davis, and Castillo. Ruben Tejada added the fourth run of the inning on a fielder's choice.

In the fifth inning, Jonathan Schoop hit a two-run homer and Welington Castillo followed with a three-run homer to make it a 9-2 game. Schoop's excellent afternoon continued in the sixth with an RBI single that put the Orioles' run total in double digits. The second baseman went 4/11 with four RBI's and two home runs in the weekend series against Texas.

Wade Miley took the mound in the finale and made it through five innings, giving up two runs. It was a typical outing for Miley that featured a bloated pitch count. Despite falling behind a lot of batters, Miley only surrendered one walk.

The Orioles bullpen had some trouble closing out the final four innings and gave up a combined four runs. Six relievers entered the game after Miley. In the end, it all worked out. Britton picked up his eighth save of the year.

Miley's performance earned him his fifth win of the season. This is just the second time in the month of July that Miley has given up less than five runs. The Orioles will gladly take this exceptional outing as they continue to battle for a wildcard spot.

The Birds return to Camden Yards on Monday to face Kansas City. The Royals currently sit in the second American league wildcard spot, making this upcoming series crucial for the O's. They still remain 5.5 games back. A series win will improve that.

Image Credit: USA Today Sports

 

Series Preview: Orioles set to battle Rangers again

ARLINGTON — Just last week, the Orioles swept the Rangers over four games. It marked the first time since June 2016 that the O’s recorded a four-game sweep, but since then the club endured a 2-4 stretch, allowing five or more runs five times. Obviously, if the O’s want to sweep Texas again, they need better pitching.

Since their visit to Camden Yards, the Rangers played three games in Tampa, and three games at Globe Life Park against the Miami Marlins. The Rangers swept the Rays and went 1-2 against Miami, including an ugly 22-10 loss on Wednesday night. Starter Yu Darvish, who’s name currently links to trade rumors, lasted just 3.2 innings. He allowed 10 runs on nine hits, two walks, and five strikeouts.

Both teams received an off-day yesterday. The Orioles will not get another day off until August 17 following their west coast road trip. The Rangers will partake in two off days before the 17th.

Standings Update: Coming into the weekend, the Orioles (48-53) stand in fourth place in the American League East, seven games behind the Red Sox (56-47). The Rangers (49-52) own the third-place spot in the AL West, 18 games behind the team who holds the best record in the AL, the Houston Astros (67-34).

Texas sits 4.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race. Baltimore is 5.5 games back.

Game times and pitching matchups: 

Game 1Friday, July 28, 8:05 pm – Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.01 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (5-8, 3.64 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2Saturday, July 29, 8:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (7-7, 5.79 ERA) vs. Austin Bibens-Dirkx (3-0, 4.53 ERA) – MASN 2, WJZ, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, July 30, 3:05 pm – Wade Miley (4-9, 5.69 ERA) vs. Martin Perez (5-8, 4.67 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Every Orioles starter possesses an ERA above 5 at Globe Life Park – 5.08 (Tillman), 6.17 (Gausman), and 5.60 (Miley).
  • As of Thursday, Jonathan Schoop’s RBI mark of 72 ties for 10th in MLB with Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals.
  • Even though he missed time with an oblique injury, Chris Davis has 112 strikeouts to his name this season. That’s an 11th-placed number (in MLB) as of Thursday night.
  • Since the All-Star Break, Trey Mancini has quieted down at the plate, going 11-for-46 with two home runs and nine RBI.

Notes on the Rangers: 

  • Fun fact: I watched Bibens-Dirkx (32) pitch many times during my volunteer experience with the Lancaster Barnstormers in 2016. Bibens-Dirkx spent the beginning of the ’16 season with the ‘Stormers before signing a minor-league deal with Texas. He pitched in Triple-A Round Rock for the rest of the ’16 season. This year, he began the season in Triple-A before getting called up for his Major League debut on May 17. The rest is history.
  •  38-year-old Adrian Beltre sports a lifetime .294 batting average against the Orioles, with 123 hits and 234 home runs in 429 at-bats.

Up next: Before their annual trip to the west coast, the Birds will play seven games at home against two American League Central opponents. The Kansas City Royals, who swept Baltimore in May, come to town first for three games. Following the Royals are the Detroit Tigers, slotted for four games at Camden Yards.

Image Credit: Associated Press 

 

Series Recap: Orioles sweep Rangers thanks to explosive offense

BALTIMORE — Getting swept by the Cubs last week felt like a nail in the 2017 Orioles’ coffin, even though the second half had just started. Talk about selling emerged, and it almost appears the Orioles took offense to that as they put together one of their best series performances of the season against Texas.

The Orioles offense outscored the Rangers 34-11 while sweeping the Rangers, but the starting pitching was just as impressive. Chris Tillman, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman turned in three identical quality starts to help the Orioles win the series. Considering the starting rotation struggled to make it past the fourth inning last week, this was a present surprise.

Game one marked the Orioles first win and quality pitching performance since the All-Star break. Tillman was the starter to break the slump by turning in his best performance of the year. The veteran pitcher gave up just one run on two hits in six innings of work.

The Orioles still found themselves scoreless when Tillman exited the game, so his exceptional outing did not earn him a win. However, the Orioles offense assembled some runs late in the game to win 3-1.

Tillman still searches for his first win since May 7 against the Chicago White Sox.

After Jonathan Schoop tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, Seth Smith hit his tenth homer of the season to take the lead. Ruben Tejada added another run in the same inning to make it a 3-1 game. The slim lead was nerve-racking for fans, but the O’s bullpen was able to close out the final three innings, giving up just one hit.

The quality pitching continued into Tuesday night’s game as Bundy put together a bounce-back performance on the mound. Bundy picked up his team-leading ninth win of the season by giving up one run and striking out four through six innings.

In his effort, Bundy lowered his ERA for the first time since May 29.

The offense was on fire in the second game, recording 12 runs with ease for a blowout win. A two-RBI double from Schoop, followed by a pair of two-run homers by Chris Davis and Trey Mancini, gave the O’s an early 6-0 lead in the first inning.

In the fourth inning, Davis put the game out of reach with a huge grand slam that landed in the center field bleachers. Davis’ second home run of the game gave the O’s a very comfortable 10-1 lead that they had no problems holding onto. An infield single from Manny Machado, coupled with a solo shot from Smith helped cap off the 12-1 win.

Gausman got the start in game three and ended up turning in a performance identical to Tillman and Bundy. Just like his fellow starters, Gausman gave up one run in six innings of work against the Rangers. The performance moved Gausman to 6-7 on the year.

For a majority of the game, the Orioles held a slim 3-1 lead. Like we saw in game two, the Orioles offense could not be contained for long. The O’s scored seven runs in the seventh inning thanks to a handful of RBI singles and a base-clearing triple by Mancini.

Thursday’s series finale featured less effective pitching from the O’s, but the offense remained potent. Wade Miley got tagged for five runs in just five innings of work. When he exited the game, the Orioles found themselves down by four runs. That didn’t last long. In the fifth inning, home runs from Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo helped the O’s move back to within one run.

Joey Rickard tied it up in the sixth with an RBI single. Jones followed with a double to take the lead. A two-RBI single by Schoop capped off the comeback inning. Just like that, the Orioles sat on top for the first time in the game.

The bullpen looked unstoppable after Miley exited the game. They allowed no hits over the next three innings. Zach Britton entered the game in the ninth, looking to close things out. He ran into some trouble. After surrendering a two-RBI single, the Rangers were only down by two runs. Britton settled down and finished the game.

The win completed the Orioles first four-game sweep since June 26 of last year.

Jones and Schoop led the Orioles offense in this series. Jones went 7-for-17 at the plate with five RBI’s and eight runs, while Schoop added nine RBI’s of his own.

With the trade deadline looming, there remains a lot of talk about what the Orioles are going to do. Multiple reports show the O’s being sellers recently, but you have to wonder what affect this series will have on management’s approach to trading. It would be foolish to dial back your willingness to sell just because you swept an average team like the Rangers at home.

The Orioles finish their home stand this weekend with the American League-leading Astros coming to town. The Orioles hit a rare streak this week with both the offense and pitching producing at a high level. It will be interesting to see if they can carry that momentum into a series against one of the best teams in baseball.

Image Credit: The Herald Mail

Series Preview: Orioles prepare to face Rangers for first time this season

BALTIMORE — In the weeks leading up to the All-Star break, the Orioles looked like a team that could benefit the most from an extended break. The starting pitching slumped for well over a month and the bullpen got overused as a result.

However, after watching the series against the Cubs over the weekend, it appears that a weeks worth of rest is still not enough to stabilize the starting rotation. Kevin Gausman, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez turned in three terrible performances against Chicago. All 27 runs surrendered to Chicago helped give the O’s a combined ERA of 5.16, which currently stands as the worst in Major League Baseball.

The Texas Rangers currently sit at 45-46, but find themselves pretty much out of division contention as they trail the Houston Astros by over 16 games. Despite this, the Rangers are still very much in contention for a wild card spot and have the pieces necessary to compete.

Last Meeting: This will mark the first time these two teams meet in the 2017 season. Their last series came at the beginning of this past August. Both teams led their divisions and were trying to maintain their spot as the final stretch of the season approached. The O’s ended up taking two of three from the Rangers to hold a slim lead over Boston and Toronto in the AL East.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Monday, July 17, 7:05 pm – Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.90 ERA) vs Andrew Cashner (4-7, 3.54 ERA)

Game 2: Tuesday, July 18, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (8-8, 4.33 ERA) vs Tyson Ross (2-1, 5.33 ERA)

Game 3: Wednesday, July 19, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (5-7, 6.39 ERA) vs Martin Perez (5-6, 4.55 ERA)

Game 4: Thursday, July 20, 7:05 pm – Wade Miley (4-8, 5.40 ERA) vs Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.05 ERA)

Notes on the Rangers:

  • The Texas offense is led by veteran short stop Elvis Andrus. The 28-year-old did not make the All-Star roster this past week but he is on his way to having a career year at the plate. Andrus’ .295 batting average is accompanied by 11 home runs, 50 RBI’s and 20 stolen bases.
  • Much like the Orioles, the Rangers have experienced their share of inconsistent pitching this season. Looking at their 4.24 team ERA, its easy to see why the Rangers float around the .500 mark. Besides Cole Hamels, the starting rotation has been a roller coaster all season.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • If the Orioles are going to turn things around in the second half it has to start with the pitching. A few of the current starters have been known to post better numbers in the second half. In Kevin Gausman’s five major league seasons, he holds a 4.94 first half ERA and a 3.86 second half ERA.
  • How many times have you heard that Manny Machado is heating up this season? Probably a lot, but if you go back to before the All-Star break, Machado is hitting .333 in his last 10 games with six RBI’s. Maybe this will finally be the month that Manny returns to his usual self.
  • This weekend Ken Rosenthal reported that the Orioles are preparing to become sellers in the coming weeks. Relievers Zach Britton, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach have had their names thrown around the market. Rosenthal also stated that the team is refusing to hear offers for Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Mychal Givens.

What’s next: After this four game series against the Rangers, the Orioles close out the home stand with a weekend series against the American League-leading Astros.

Image Credit: Associated Press