Baltimore Orioles fall, worry about Manny Machado’s contract

The biggest question around town this week wasn’t whether or not the Baltimore Orioles would make the post season (that ship has probably already sailed), but what would happen with Manny Machado. We all know the situation; next year Machado will enter the last year of his contract. The Orioles have said publicly that he’s not on the trade block, however reportedly owner Peter Angelos hasn’t decided whether or not to offer Machado a mega-deal either. So what gives?

I’m the first one to tell you that if they decide that they won’t be able to sign him, they need to trade him. Whether that happens at the winter meetings or just prior to spring training is irrelevant. But my personal opinion is that the best way forward for the O’s is by signing Machado long-term, and keeping him. Easier said than done, for sure.

This hung over the Orioles as they prepared to play Tampa last night, and as Orioles fans watched Ubaldo Jimenez struggle perhaps for the final time at Camden Yards. Jimenez’s line: 3.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 3 K. One thing we’ve seen a lot of this year from starters across the board is that in many cases they’re fairly solid first time through the order. However whatever they’re doing is quickly being snuffed out by opponents and they’re pouncing on the Birds the second and third times through.

Tampa’s Ramos smacked a grand slam in the second, followed by a Longoria homer in the third. However in between the Birds put up two runs also. Hays added a sac fly-RBI, and Mancini scored on a wild pitch. Chris Davis would lead the fourth inning off with a solo homer to run the score to 6-3, but that’s as close as the Orioles got. Tampa’s Dickerson smacked an RBI-double in the fifth, as did Duda in the ninth. The Orioles hit several batsmen in this game, many of which came into score. Again folks, mind you that Tampa’s a small ball team. If you find a way to get on base, they’ll find a way to get you home.

Going back to Manny Machado, a team official was quoted this week as saying that it would take 35 years to find another player the quality of he (Machado). That’s why I say that the best way forward is to keep him. However there are also reports out there that while the Orioles almost signed him a few years ago, they insulted him with a low ball offer. And I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how true that could possibly be…

…we didn’t start getting into the big contract numbers ($300-$400 million) until this year. At the time, the Orioles were reportedly $8-$9 million away from what Manny wanted. It seems to me that at some point they could meet in the middle. However that aside, my prediction is that the Orioles do in fact make Machado a legitimate offer sometime between the end of this season and next year’s all-star break. Whether he takes that offer is up to him, but that’s just my prediction.

The Tampa series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Jeremy Hellickson (himself a former Tampa Ray) gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Jake Odorizzi. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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Baltimore Orioles found something in Gabriel Ynoa?

Odds are that the Baltimore Orioles have already turned their attention to next season in terms of pitching among other things. That might be why we’ve seen guys like Gabriel Ynoa get an extended look this September. That continued last night, and Ynoa dazzled against Tampa. Ynoa’s line: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

The Orioles were able to break their 26 inning scoring drought, and they did so early on. In fact, it appeared for awhile that they were going to take all of their scoring issues out on Tampa. Again, they did break the drought – but barely.

Machado smacked a two-run homer in the first inning to give the O’s a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning Mancini’s RBI-double ran the score to 3-0. Again, it looked like the Orioles’ offense was about to break out. But that’s where the scoring stopped. The question was would that be enough.

Tampa would net a run in the third when Miller scored on an error by Hays in right field. However that’s as close as Tampa got, When you get starting pitching like the Orioles got last night from Ynoa, you don’t have to worry about keeping the opposition down.

Keep in mind that the Orioles acquired Ynoa in what was a low-level move at the time towards the tail end of spring training from Philadelphia for cash considerations. He had a cup of coffee in the bigs early in the season, but spent most of the year in the minors. But could he be a factor next year?

And the answer to that is yes – he could be a factor. It’s tough to say in general right now obviously. Regardless of how effective any of the pitchers are, Miley, Jimenez, and Tillman are free agents after the season. (Miley has a club option, however I suspect the Birds won’t pick that up). My personal opinion is that Tillman will be back, probably on a one-year deal. So that leaves two slots that in theory right now would remain open.

That means that the Orioles are going to have to fill those slots – either internally, or via free agency. I can’t see them finding a top line starter this off season, although there are guys out there who would in theory be upgrades. However Ynoa could very well be an inhouse fix. I’ll be interested to see how he does in spring training next year.

The Tampa series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Ubaldo Jimenez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Alex Cobb. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Don’t question the effort

Wade Miley was decent for the Baltimore Orioles last night – the first time through the order. After that Boston seemed to know exactly what was coming, and when. And that trend continued after Miley left the game. Miley’s line: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 4 K.

There’s barely anyone on the Orioles’ roster (of the players who have been here all year at least) that’s not dealing with some sort of injury or ailment. And that’s been true for awhile. There are both a lot of tired bats, aas well as tired legs. Not to mention arms, fingers, groins, etc. The only downside to being a veteran team is that injuries can catch up to you. And for sure they have this year for the O’s.

That’s why I feel that people aren’t in a spot to question the team’s effort in games. Because this year it’s seemed that each time another veteran was going on the DL for the Birds, another youngster for another team was breaking out. But it’s tough to simply look at results on the field and come to the conclusion that the team just isn’t trying.

As an example, Hardy was thrown out at first base on a swinging bunt last night that would have been an infield hit for most players. It wasn’t that Hardy was’t running hard, because he was. Age and injury just prevented him from going full throttle. In other words, he ran as hard as he could. Am I saying that the Orioles should mirror what New York did this year and go full youth in 2018? No, because youth comes with it’s own set of problems of which you can generally steer clear with veterans. But it is what it is for 2017.

Boston seemed to put up runs in two’s in this game, with Betts giving his team a 2-0 lead in the fourth with a two-run homer. Later in the inning Marrero added an additional two-run homer, and suddenly it was 4-0. One inning later Ramirez’s two-RBI double ran it to six, and another by Pedroia in the eighth ran it to eight.

Ramirez would add an RBI-single in the ninth to run the final to 9-0. Again, I think it’s incredibly easy to say that the team just isn;t trying anymore. If there were lower-character guys on the field, I might not necessarily disagree. But these players have proven who they were in terms of being quality players and characters – many of them since 2012. One injury-plaqued season shouldn’t change that.

Furthermore it would be unfair and wrong to suggest that the O’s simply got lucky from 2012 to this point. I mean, does that really make sense – if you think about it? So for five seasons we in essence saw a fluke, and now we’re seeing the real team? Somehow that doesn’t add up.

The O’s will now begin the final home series of the year as Tampa comes into town. Gabriel Ynoa gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Matt Andriese. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: To the victor goes the breaks

Kevin Gausman did all that he could to get the Baltimore Orioles a win last night. The only thing further he could have done was pick up a bat and try to plate runners himself. Gausman retired the first 14 Boston hitters in the game, flirting with perfection. Gausman’s line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K.

Unfortunately for Gausman the Birds just couldn’t muster any runs offensively. While many folks want to point to the offense being in a funk, keep in mind that on Monday they put up eight runs. This game was just a classic pitcher’s duel in a sense. And to be honest, that’s a good thing to see every now and again in MLB.

The O’s had what they thought was a run in the last of the third. With Machado on second Schoop singled to left field. Machado was waved home, and was thrown out at the plate. Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t have sent the runner. One could already see that runs were going to be at a premium, and the last thing you want to do is take a risk. But it took a perfect play to nail Machado at home plate, and sure enough Boston executed that.

One inning later Davis led off with what looked to be a solo homer which would have given the Orioles a 1-0 lead. However Boston centerfielder Bradley lept at the wall and brought the ball back into the ballpark. Even with all of the pitching falling into place, Boston was determined that it just wasn’t going to be the Orioles’ night.

As the game went to extra innings, Boston got an infield hit and two walks to load the bases in the 11th. However Oriole reliever Brad Brach uncorked a wild pitch, allowing the lone run of the night to score. And the Orioles fell 1-0.

Regarding those two walks, many of the pitches in that sequence were very borderline and thus very close. All of them went Boston’s way. That’s not a crutch by which the Orioles can stand on. However Boston didn’t really earn this win – the Orioles gave it to them with the wild pitch. And when you do that, the breaks often don’t go your way. But also keep in mind that when you get people on base, anything’s liable to happen. All it takes is one mistake – and it was the Orioles who made that one mistake last night.

The Birds will try to salvage one game in this series tonight at Camden Yards. Wade Miley gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Chris Sale. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall to Boston in extra innings

At first it appeared that the Baltimore Orioles might cruise to victory over Boston last night. Dylan Bundy was seemingly pitching well, and the Birds were scoring runs. However the second and third time through the order, Boston apparently started figuring Bundy out. Bundy’s line: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Boston starter Fister never really got going, allowing the O’s to build a lead. He set the tone for his outing when he walked Tim Beckham to lead off the game. Beckham would later score on a fielder’s choice, giving the Birds a 1-0 lead. One inning later they loaded the bases, and Austin Hays dazzled the home fans with his first two-RBI double in the major leagues. Machado would add a sac fly-RBI, as would Castillo one inning later, and the O’s led 5-0.

Boston however began to slowly chip away in the fourth. Betts smacked an RBI-single, cutting the lead to 5-1. Adam Jones however would give the Birds their five-run lead back with an RBI-single in the last of the fourth. The key moment of the game however was back in the third when the O’s loaded the bases again. All they were able to muster was one run on Castillo’s sac fly-RBI. When you load the bases you need to get more than one run. The Orioles didn’t in that instance.

However Boston did when they loaded the bases in the fifth. When the smoke cleared in that fifth inning, Boston led the Orioles 7-6. As I said, they started to figure Bundy out. They also got a lot more patient, and all but forced Bundy to throw the ball over the plate. And when I say over the plate, I mean directly over the plate. No late movement, no strategically placed curve balls, only fastballs or change ups that came squarely over home plate. And it cost the Orioles dearly.

But the Orioles only trailed for a short period. Pedro Alvarez smacked a solo homer in the last of the fifth, tying the game back up at seven. Tim Beckham later added an RBI-double, and the O’s had the lead back at 8-7. And that lead held up for two innings. Bogaerts’ solo homer in the seventh tied the game back up at eight. And to extra innings we went.

Unfortunately for the Orioles however, they couldn’t record outs in the 11th inning. They issued two walks (one of which was intentional) and loaded the bases. Benintendi’s two-RBI single gave Boston a 10-8 lead, which turned into a 10-8 victory.

None of that happens if not for that fifth inning. While the Orioles built their lead over a few innings, Boston got it all back and then some seemingly in one fatal swoop. They always say to stay out of the big inning, and that was something that the Orioles were unable to do.

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Kevin Gausman gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Drew Pomeranz. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez at his best in September

Odds are that yesterday’s win was too little too late for the Baltimore Orioles to end up in the post season. However as much as Ubaldo Jimenez has been maligned over his four years with the O’s, he was always at his best in September. Yesterday was no exception. Jimenez’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 10 K.

Jimenez of course started (and got the win) in the 2014 AL East-clinching game. He was also the Orioles’ best pitcher for the last five weeks of the season last year, which in essence put the Orioles in the playoffs. So yes while there were times when he looked lost out on the mound (which unfortunately is what most fans are going to remember about him), he generally rose to the occasion late in the season when the pressure was on.

Austin Hays continued his baptism into the major leagues with an RBI-single in the second inning, giving the Birds a 1-0 lead. However it wasn’t long before NY tied it – in the bottom of that second inning on a solo homer by Gregorius. But going back to Hays for a moment, it’ll be interesting to see how things play out with him next year. He seems to be following the path the Orioles took last year with Mancini in that he was a September call-up, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets a long look in spring training next year. Does he make the team? Time will tell, but the early returns are positive.

The O’s got the lead back in the fourth inning on Tim Beckham‘s three-run homer. And speaking of the future, the Orioles may have very quietly found their new shortstop in Beckham. It’s a shame that it comes at the expense of a guy like Hardy, however he’d be the first one to tell you that his body is starting to wear down. Needless to say, it’ll be an interesting off season for him (Hardy).

The Orioles would tack on one more, but New York would also threaten before the game was over. Holliday’s RBI-double in the sixth cut the lead to 6-3, and the semblance of a New York-comeback was in the air. But for the most part the Birds shut them down. Castro would add a sac fly-RBI, however New York never got closer than 6-4. And the O’s went home salvaging one game of four in this series.

It goes without saying that Ubaldo Jimenez is probably in the waning days of his tenure with the Orioles. However if that’s true at the very least he’s finishing strong. I always remind people that when the Orioles signed him, all of the experts both locally and nationally thought it was a great move and a great deal with the O’s. Certainly it didn’t work out the way anyone thought it would. But needless to say, when the Orioles needed a clutch win late in the year, Jimenez generally came through.

The Birds will open the final home stand of the season tonight at Camden Yards when Boston comes to town. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Doug Fister. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Can teams get stale?

The lone bright spot for the Baltimore Orioles yesterday in the Bronx was the fact that Austin Hays launched his first big league homer. There isn’t much else to say. Jeremy Hellickson was ineffective at best, setting the tone for another blowout New York win. Hellickson’s line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

Hellickson in essence made it through the order once unscathed, but after that he wasn’t fooling anyone. With two outs in the third, he walked two batters, bringing Gregorius to the plate. And he launched a three-run homer. New York never looked back for the most part.

The good news for the Orioles (if there is any) is that they made the New York bullpen work in the ninth inning. Often times that bodes well moving into the next day’s game, especially when it’s an early afternoon game like today. However in September that isn’t as much of a truth, as teams’ rosters have expanded to 40 men.

Hays’ homer came following a Hardy walk, and it cut the New York lead to 9-2. Beckham would later score on a balk with the bases loaded, running the final to 9-3. This was the Birds’ third straight loss in the Bronx.

At the beginning of the season I was telling people that the Orioles were a veteran team, and that they would get it together. This as opposed to New York, who was a young team. My point was that a team who’s been there before in terms of a pennant chase is generally going to not be blinded by the bright lights in a sense. I still believe that, for the record – in general.

Obviously what we’ve seen is the exact opposite happening. The Orioles seemed to wear down as time went on, and teams such as New York got stronger. My personal opinion is that I’d take a veteran team over a group of young guys any day. I like players who are battle-tested and who have been there before. But is that not fashionable any longer?

I’m not suggesting that the Orioles aren’t trying to win games, and I’m not suggesting that they were the ones blinded by the bright lights of a pennant race. But sometimes teams wear down. And the fact that Trey Mancini‘s had such a good season AND the fact that younger players such as Austin Hays performed well in last night’s game (at the end) is probably evidence of that. Mancini’s the one Orioles regular who doesn’t seem to have worn down.

Meanwhile, you have a group of young upstarts in places such as New York who have been together all year. And they’re galvanized at this point in the season. It happens.

The O’s will try to salvage one game in this series this afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Ubaldo Jimenez gets the start, and he’ll be opposed by Sonny Gray. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.