Orioles return home to host AL East leading Red Sox

BALTIMORE — The post Manny Machado era is officially here and for a split second the Orioles managed to fool us into thinking they could compete without their best player. Anyone that watched this weekend’s series against Toronto knows that trickery was short lived though.

On Friday the Birds resumed their 2018 campaign by taking on the Blue Jays and even staged a late game comeback to force extra innings. However, the Orioles would end up losing after Tim Beckham misplayed a ground ball in the bottom of the tenth. Say what you will about Machado playing shortstop this season but if was on the field Friday night, that game doesn’t end in the tenth.

After dropping Saturday’s game 4-1, the Orioles found themselves in a position to win late in Sunday’s finale. An RBI double by Renato Nunez and a defensive error by Toronto allowed the O’s to score two in the top of the eighth and extend their lead to 4-1. Brad Brach entered the game out of the pen in the bottom half of the inning and proceeded to surrender a two RBI homer, cutting the lead to just one run. Tanner Scott followed Brach in an attempt to close out the inning but gave up a two run shot of his own, leading Toronto to their ninth victory over the Orioles this season.

To make things worse, the road ahead does not look encouraging for Buck Showalter’s team. The Orioles will play three more AL East opponents before the end of July rolls around, starting with this home stand against Boston.

Last meeting: The Orioles hosted Boston back in mid June and the visiting Red Sox came out on top with a three game sweep by outscoring the O’s 13-5. Looking back the sweep comes as no surprise as the Orioles were in the middle of a season high nine game losing streak.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Monday, July 23, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (4-7, 4.33 ERA) vs Rick Porcello (11-4, 4.13 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Tuesday, July 24, 7:05 pm – Yefry Ramirez (0-3, 3.09 ERA) vs Drew Pomeranz (1-3, 6.81 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Wednesday, July 25, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (6-9, 4.57 ERA) vs David Price (11-6, 4.17 ERA) – MASN, ESPN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Red Sox:

  • Mookie Betts is always a player to fear if you’re an Orioles fan. The Red Sox right fielder holds a batting average of .286 with 42 RBI’s in 71 career games against the O’s and so far in 2018 Betts has shown no signs of slowing down against Baltimore pitching. In the eight games between Boston and Baltimore so far this season, Betts has gone 11-31 at the plate with three home runs and six RBI’s.
  • Drew Pomeranz will be making his first start since May 31 on Tuesday. The Boston starter landed on the disabled list earlier this season with biceps tendentious, halting his season before he could get some momentum going. In the eight starts prior to the injury Pomeranz accumulated an ERA of 6.83 and only made it past the fifth inning on two occasions. Pomeranz holds a 2-4 record with a 4.01 ERA in nine career appearances against the Orioles.

Notes on Orioles:

  • Mychal Givens has had a roller coaster season in the Orioles bullpen. The inconsistencies have resulted in a 4.56 ERA but if there is a team that you can trust Givens to perform well against, it’s the Red Sox. Givens holds a 1.71 ERA against Boston, which is the lowest ERA against any team he has thrown at least 20 innings against.
  • With Manny Machado out of the lineup, the Orioles are in desperate need of a consistent leader at the plate. Jonathan Schoop may be having a down year but so far in July, the second baseman has been producing in his at bats. The O’s second baseman has recorded a hit in 16 of his last 17 games to help give himself a .352 batting average in the month of July.

Image credit: Patrick McDermott / USA Today Sports

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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

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