Orioles pick up pair of comeback wins over visiting Yankees

Game 1 (5-4 BAL): The Orioles kicked off their four-game series against the Yankees with a doubleheader. To the surprise of many, the O’s got the best of their American League East rival and snapped six-game losing streak with a 5-4 win.

Jimmy Yacabonis was called upon to make his second start of the year after turning in a decent outing in his first career start a few weeks ago. The Yankees jumped on the rookie pitcher early and picked up three runs in the first three innings. Yacabonis settled in after this and worked his way through five innings.

Mark Trumbo helped inch the Birds back into the game with a two-run blast in the fourth. It marked Trumbo’s 12th homer of the year and fourth this month. The Yankees got a run back in the sixth but the Orioles offense was not done yet. Trumbo led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Jonathan Schoop followed with a double, bringing Danny Valencia to the plate. CC Sabathia was approaching 100 pitches on the hill but remained in the game to face Valencia. This ended up being a somewhat questionable call as the right fielder sent a three-run shot to deep center, giving the O’s a 5-4 lead.

Mike Wright, Mychal Givens and Zach Britton closed out the last three innings with ease to secure the win. The victory marked the Orioles’ first in game one of a series since June 22 when they defeated the Braves in extra innings.

Game 2 (10-2 NYY): The Orioles could not keep their good fortunes going when game two rolled around. Yefry Ramirez got the start but failed to work at the fast pace he had displayed in his last two outings. Didi Gregorius put the Yankees on the board in the first inning with an RBI double. The lineup continued to threaten later in the inning by loading the bases but Ramirez escaped with a timely strikeout.

A two-run homer by Brett Gardner extended New York’s lead in the fourth. Ramirez’s pitch count was inflated but the rookie pitcher managed to finish off the inning. However, the Yankees finally forced Ramirez out of the game in the next inning after Greg Bird picked up an RBI single.

The score remained 4-0 in New York’s favor for the next three innings as Ryan Meisinger entered the game for the Orioles out of the pen. The 24-year-old made his MLB debut late last month and has seen a decent amount of appearances since then. Monday night’s outing stands as his best so far. Meisinger struck out three while tossing three perfect innings.

After Meisinger’s exit the bullpen completely fell apart. Brad Brach came in for the eighth and picked up two quick outs but failed to close the door. Four Yankees batters picked up two-out hits, including a home run by Austin Romine and an RBI double by Gardner. By the time Brach was yanked, the Yankees had picked up an insurmountable 7-0 lead.

Tanner Scott came in next but couldn’t get the third out fast enough. The Yankees loaded the bases and picked up an eighth run via a throwing error by Schoop. The Orioles finally got on the board in the bottom half of the inning when Tim Beckham hit his first home run since returning from the disabled list in late June. New York would go on to get those two runs back in the ninth as they wrapped up a dominant 10-2 win in game two of Monday’s double header.

Game 3 (6-5 BAL): On Tuesday afternoon it was reported that the New York Yankees had entered the trade conversations for Manny Machado. In a year filled with misery for O’s fans this felt like just another jab to the gut. However, those same fans were able to sleep well on Tuesday night knowing that Machado still remained on the O’s long enough to help lift his team to their fifth win over the Yankees this season.

The All-Star shortstop went 3-for-4 at the plate with two game-tying home runs. The first came off of Masahiro Tanaka on the very first pitch of the fifth inning. The New York starter had just come off the disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game but it was not a smooth transition back to the rotation for him. Tanaka only lasted 4.1 innings with Machado’s leadoff homer, marking the third and final run surrendered for the Yankees starter.

Machado’s second homer came in the seventh off of Chad Green. Adam Jones helped set the table by getting on base with a single and Machado followed with a deep shot to right field. Aaron Judge gave chase all the way back to the wall but the ball landed just out of reach for the 6’7″ right fielder as he leaped up in an attempt to rob Machado. The umpires needed to review the play despite the ball landing on the grounds crew roof but the correct call was ultimately made after a brief delay.

The game would remain tied going into the ninth inning. The Orioles bullpen had tossed 2.2 clean innings of relief and the offense responded with one more rally. With Dellin Betances on the mound it seemed almost certain that the game would be going into extra innings but the Orioles caught a break when Caleb Joseph got hit by a pitch in the first at-bat of the inning. Jones kept the momentum going with a double down the right-field line that somehow managed to stay fair. The big hit allowed Joseph to go to third for a sac fly opportunity.

Trumbo came to the plate and turned in a terrible four-pitch at-bat that ended in a strikeout. Trumbo appeared to be thrown off right from start and couldn’t find a pitch to drive to the outfield. After this, the weight of the game fell onto Schoop’s shoulders and the second baseman did not disappoint. After watching the first two pitches, Schoop found one he liked down and away in the zone. Schoop extended his arms down and poked the ball past the reach of Greg Bird at first base for the game-winning RBI.

Game 4 (9-0 NYY): After an exciting walk-off win on Tuesday the Orioles had stumbled into the opportunity for their second series win over the Yankees this year. However, New York’s offense jumped all over the Orioles pitching staff and forced a split with their second blowout victory of the series.

Dylan Bundy was on the mound for the O’s and struggled again in his second start since returning from a brief stint on the disabled list. Bundy had a clean start in the first two innings but quickly unraveled in the third. After putting runners on the corners with two outs, Bundy surrendered an RBI single to Giancarlo Stanton. The damage didn’t stop there. The Yankees loaded the bases and Bird came up big with a grand slam down the right-field line. The ball was hooking to the right but bounced off the foul pole before drifting too far.

Bundy worked one more inning before being replaced by the bullpen. Wright, Jhan Marinez and Donnie Hart all entered the game for the O’s but none of them could keep the Yankees off the board. New York picked up four more runs over the course of the rest of the game to eventually rack up a 9-0 lead.

Tyler Wade put the fifth run on the board in the sixth with his first career home run. Romine launched a solo home run as well and Stanton rounded out the scoring with another RBI single. The Yankees have outscored the Orioles 60-42 this year but the season series is tied up 5-5.

Up next: The Orioles were originally scheduled to have Thursday off but will now be playing a make-up game against Philadelphia. The Orioles and Phillies were meant to play a brief two-game series back in May but the first game had to be postponed due to rain. The O’s will finish off the week by hosting the Texas Rangers before getting a four-day break next week for the All-Star game.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

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Orioles return to Camden Yards for eight game home stand before All-Star break

BALTIMORE — The All-Star break is almost upon us. The teams have been announced and as many expected, Manny Machado is the lone Orioles player to be selected. While there is still a week of baseball to play before we reach the mid summer classic, fans are already looking forward to the break away from Orioles baseball and the potential trades that could possibly follow.

How can you blame them? The O’s have lost 13 of their last 14 and have dropped to 41 games below .500 but this past series against the Twins produced even more depressing stats. Chris Davis finally broke the Orioles all time strikeout record in under eight seasons and the offense failed to score more than one run for the 24th time this season. There is plenty more to dig into when it comes to the Orioles abysmal season but you’ve probably already heard most of it because nothing has changed with this team since April.

So what is there to look forward to on the field? I could give you the easy answer and say, “nothing,” but that’s not entirely true. The New York Yankees are in town and that carries more weight than the average matchup. I understand Camden Yards will be full of pinstripes this week and the cheers of Yankees fans will drown out any noise made by the Orioles faithful, but a division matchup is always worth watching in my opinion.

After all, one of the few bright spots in this season came back in April when the O’s took three of four against the Yankees in New York. The series included a couple extra inning games and more than enough excitement for the first month of a 162 game season. However, when the season series came to Baltimore in June, the Yankees got the best of the Birds by taking two in a rain shortened series.

Last meeting: The Yankees visited Camden Yards at the beginning of June but only two of the four scheduled games could be completed due to bad weather throughout the weekend. New York managed to win the two games that were played but make up dates had to be scheduled for the other two. The first will take place on Monday as the O’s and Yankees prepare to play a double header, but the second will have to wait until the Yankees return to Baltimore in late August

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Monday, July 9, 4:05 pm – Jimmy Yacabonis (0-0, 8.53 ERA) vs CC Sabathia (6-3, 3.02 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Monday, July 9, 7:05 pm – Yefry Ramirez (0-2, 2.51 ERA) vs Luis Cessa (0-1, 5.00 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Tuesday, July 10, 7:05 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.39 ERA) vs Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.58 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Wednesday, July 11, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (6-8, 4.08 ERA) vs Sonny Gray (5-7, 5.85 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Yankees:

  • It’s no secret that the Yankees have one of the most high profile bullpens in the league. Dellin Betances is just one piece of that puzzle for New York and the 30-year-old reliever has been locked in since the end of May. Betances has not surrendered a run since May 23 and has now tossed 17.2 clean innings in a row with 30 strikeouts.
  • New York’s offense has been coming up big the past few weeks, scoring six runs or more in seven of their last thirteen games.
  • Aaron Judge isn’t making as many headlines in 2018 as he was in his rookie season but the New York slugger is still making opposing pitchers pay every chance he gets. Judge is hitting .300 with five home runs and six RBI’s in his last ten games. He has also drawn eight walks to help give himself a .416 on base percentage in that same span.

Notes on Orioles:

  • Dylan Bundy returned to the rotation last week after a brief stint on the disabled list but failed to pick up where he left off. Bundy was tagged for five earned runs in 3.1 innings of work on Friday. The rough outing was particularly disappointing since Bundy was so effective in June prior to his injury. While it is just one start, there may be room for concern with Bundy moving forward. Since becoming a starter for the O’s in 2016, Bundy has struggled in the month of July with a 2-5 record and a 6.98 ERA in eight starts.
  • Rookie pitcher Yefry Ramirez will get another opportunity to start this weekend after impressing in his last two outings. His numbers have looked pretty good on paper but he really deserves more credit for the efficiency he has displayed on the mound. It can be difficult for younger pitchers to get ahead in the count and maintain a low pitch count but Ramirez averaged just a little over 11 pitches per inning in his last two appearances.

Image credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

Orioles extend losing streak to seven after getting swept by Red Sox

Game 1 (2-0 BOS): After dropping a pair of extra inning games this past weekend in Toronto, the Orioles returned home on Monday and found themselves in yet another close battle that needed more than nine innings to resolve itself. Of course the O’s ended up on the losing end thanks to the offense taking the night off.

It’s no secret that the Orioles have been struggling to score runs recently. At their best they may put up three runs and we saw even less run production when the O’s played the Mets last week without a designated hitter. That felt like the lowest the offense could get but we now know that is wrong. On Monday the Orioles played without their best player as Manny Machado was left out of the lineup with an illness. Many fans expected the O’s to struggle without Machado, but getting shutout through twelve innings was still a new low for this offense.

The good news is the Orioles pitching staff showed up to play and did their best to extend the game as long as possible. Dylan Bundy got the start and allowed just three hits while striking out seven in eight innings of work. This deep outing would end up being even more appreciated as the game remained scoreless through regulation.

Richard Bleier kept the momentum going following Bundy’s exit and struck out two while retiring the side in the ninth on just eight pitches. Brad Brach was also fairly effective in 1.2 innings of work. The inconsistent reliever has cost the O’s a handful of games this season, but he provided a decent outing on Monday.

Brach made his way through the tenth inning without much trouble and then proceeded to get the first two outs of the eleventh pretty quickly. However, Brach put the next two batters on base and was forced out of the game before he could complete the inning.

Mychal Givens came in looking to shut the door and keep the Red Sox scoreless but proceeded to walk another batter and load the bases. To make things even more intense, Givens quickly fell behind Mitch Moreland in the next at bat and was now facing a 3-0 count. With his back against the wall, Givens reared back and delivered three straight fastballs to strikeout Moreland and escape the high tension moment.

You would hope an escape like that would kick the offense into high gear going into the bottom half of the inning, but the O’s remained uninspired at the plate. Chris Davis, Chance Sisco and Jace Peterson were due up but all three batters struck out and the game continued.

Givens made his way out of the eleventh by the skin of his teeth but the twelfth was not as kind. Givens allowed the first three batters to get on base before recording a single out. At this point it seemed inevitable that the Red Sox would break the scoreless monotony and that came true very quickly as Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. picked up RBI’s with a pair of sacrifice outs.

Game 2 (6-4 BOS): The Orioles got Manny Machado back on Tuesday but it was far from enough to propel them to victory. David Hess made his second start against the Red Sox and failed to make it out of the fourth inning. Hess has been a reliable piece of the rotations since making his major league debut in mid May, but Boston has given him a lot of trouble. In six starts Hess has given up fifteen earned runs and ten of them have come from the Red Sox lineup.

Miguel Castro entered the game after Hess and surrendered one more run to make it a 6-2 Boston lead by the end of the fifth.  The score would remain the same until the ninth inning when the O’s got two more runs. Mark Trumbo came through with a two RBI double, but the Orioles still found themselves down by two with just one out left.

Game 3 (4-0 BOS): In the series finale the Orioles turned to a new face to make a spot start. Andrew Cashner was originally scheduled to start but hit the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with a lower back strain. This opened the door for Yefry Ramirez to make his MLB debut. The 24-year-old joined the Orioles organization in 2017 after being traded by the New York Yankees for international signing bonus slots.

Facing the Boston Red Sox in your first career start is far from ideal, but Ramirez seemed up to the task early on. The O’s starter took care of business in the first two innings but fell victim to Mookie Betts in the third when the Boston right fielder sent a solo home run to center field.

Ramirez was able to settle in and make it through the fourth but was removed after one out in the fifth after he started to run into a jam. It is likely that Buck Showalter kept Ramirez on a short leash in his first start, but the young pitcher had already thrown 97 pitches by the time he was pulled.

Mike Wright entered the game and proceeded to allow three runs before finishing the inning. The first two were credited to Ramirez since he put them on base before exiting the game.

Down 4-0 the Orioles were already at a disadvantage but the lead seemed even more insurmountable with Chris Sale on the mound for Boston. The Red Sox ace has dominated the Orioles for most of his career with a 5-2 record and a 2.79 ERA against the Birds. On Wednesday Sale gave up just two hits and struck out nine in six innings of work. He exited the game in the seventh after putting two runners on and when one came around to score later in the inning, Sale was credited with a run.

That would end up being the only run of the afternoon for the Orioles as the Boston bullpen came in and shutdown the last three innings. The O’s had a chance to push a few more runs across in the ninth by getting two runners in scoring position with two outs. Joey Rickard came to the plate for the at bat but grounded out to third base to end the game.

Up next: The Orioles will finish this home stand with a weekend series against the Miami Marlins. This will be the only meeting between these two teams in 2018.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP