Category: Uncategorized

Baltimore Orioles: All it took was a serving of Beef Welington

One of the now many injuries suffered by the Baltimore Orioles are various points thus far in 2017 has been that of Welington Castillo. When he has been in the lineup however, he’s made an impact. And that was never more true than last night when his grand slam seemingly lifted the Orioles to snapping a six-game losing streak.

Dylan Bundy‘s numbers indicate that he wasn’t very effective last night. However those numbers are a bit deceiving in my view. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 earned), 3 BB, 4 K. Make no mistake about the fact that Bundy (who earned the first Oriole victory for a starter since June 2nd) put the Birds in a position to win the game – which they did, in a game that was delayed approximately an hour and a half by rain.

At first it did look to be more of the same, however. Anderson’s two-RBI single in the first inning gave Chicago a 2-0 lead. However the Birds immediately cut into that lead in the second with an RBI-single by Jonathan Schoop, cutting it to 2-1. So needless to say, it appeared that the Birds would compete in this game.

Now having said that, things took a turn for the worst in the botton of that second inning. Davidson smacked a solo homer off of Bundy, and Cabrera ended up at third base and a run scored on a bizarre play. The relay throw came into Schoop at second, and quite frankly he had no prayer of throwing the runner out at third base. Yet he uncorked a throw anyways, and…promptly threw the ball literally into the stands. The run scored, as did Cabrera eventually on a sac fly to the outfield.

The run that scored on the throwing error obviously was unearned. However I would submit that the run scored by Cabrera later in the inning should go as unearned as well. He would have never been on third base if not for that throwing error. That’s why I say that Bundy pitched better than his numbers indicate. Furthermore, that’s the type of play that happens when you’re a team like the Orioles who’s struggling at everything.

Some might have thought that was kind of the back-breaker for the Birds in this game. But there was still a lot of game left to play. They cut it to 5-2 in the fourth when Castillo reached on a fielder’s choice which scored a run. Kim’s two-RBI-single later in the inning brought the O’s to within 5-4.

But this night belonged to Welington Castillo. Actually…strike that. It belonged to the Orioles overall as a team. But the win was spearheaded by Castillo, who’s grand slam in the fifth inning put the Birds ahead 8-5. That’s the big blow for which the Orioles had been looking for some time, as well as in this series and this game. As I’ve been saying, this team is too good to not eventually come around.

Jones and Mancini would add RBI-singles in the eighth inning to give the Orioles some insurance. Chicago would get one back in the last of the ninth on a Hanson solo home run, however the O’s finished things out and got the win – snapping that six-game losing streak. The win in my view relieves a lot of pressure on the Orioles, and for their sake hopefully they can get back to the business of baseball as opposed to worrying about snapping a losing streak.

For his money, Castillo said after the game that he didn’t feel there was pressure on the team. But they all knew what was going on and knew that they had to step it up in some manner (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

I won’t say pressure. We have a great ballclub and we just need to keep doing what we’re doing today. Keep swinging the bats and hopefully the pitching stops the other offense. That is going to come. We are not too worried about it. It’s a long season and we have a great team. At some point we are going to do what we know to do.

If the O’s can win today, while it won’t salvage the road trip it would give them some momentum coming out of it. Obviously being a getaway day afternoon game it’s going to be a quick turnaround. Especially with last night’s game itself being later than expected after the rain delay.

That above-mentioned series finale is this afternoon on the south side of Chicago. Chris Tilman gets the nod for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s David Holmberg. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.

Baltimore Orioles cutting it close with 11th hour heroics

The Baltimore Orioles certainly waited until the 11th hour last night to make their move. We had seen this movie before; the Birds give up a couple of ticky-tack runs, and the opponent even tacks on an insurance run late to ensure their victory. The O’s even attempted a comeback earlier in the game but were unable to come all the way back – until late.

Kevin Gausman wasn’t perfect, but he put the O’s in a position to win the game. Gausman’s line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Gausman was getting ahead of batters in the count, however often when he had them right where he wanted them he was letting them off the hook in a sense.

The O’s took an early 1-0 lead when Smith led the first inning off with a solo homer. However Pittsburgh established quickly thereafter that they were going to be a force to deal with. McCutchen’s RBI-single in the second tied the score, and Jaso’s RBI-double later in the inning gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead. That was extended to 3-1 on Mercer’s RBI-groundout.

Pittsburgh’s repetoire on the night even included a solo homer, off the bat of Freese in the sixth. They were pitching well and keeping the Orioles at bay, and they led 4-1 going into the later innings. But the Birds were only getting warmed up.

The O’s cut the lead to 4-3 and re-energized Camden Yars in the last of the seventh on back-to-back home runs by Chris Davis and Jonathan Schoop. They still trailed by one, however they had suddenly swung momentum. But Pittsburgh didn’t go quietly. In the top of the ninth they got an RBI-triple from Harrison, which gave them an insurance run to extend their lead to 5-3. That probably should have been the back-breaker from the Orioles’ standpoint.

But as we all know, the home team hits last. Schoop’s turn came up in the order in the last of the ninth, with a runner on base. And Schoop saved the day with a two-run homer that tied the game back up at five. Again, talk about your 11th hour heroics – you really can’t cut it closer than that!

Jones got aboard in the last of the tenth, and Machado almost ended the game a moment later with a deep shot to left. Had it fallen, Jones would have scored. And obviously had it gone out the game would have been over – but it was caught right up against the wall. However Jones very astutely tagged up and went to second base.

That brought Mark Trumbo to the plate, needing a base hit to end the game. And Trumbo didn’t disappoint, smacked an RBI-single to center which scored Jones. So from the depths of defeat, the O’s came back for a hard-fought 6-5 victory.

The O’s have had a few improbable losses this year, and this was one that they “got back” in a sense. And you’re going to have your share of games like this over the course of 162 games each year. Kevin Gausman obviously had a bit of a rough second inning, which is why the O’s trailed to begin with. But manager Buck Showalter as always sees things through a different lense. Gausman was making quality pitches, they just weren’t working out in the manner they were designed (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASN sports):

You know, I’d say rough, statistically. I’ll say this: He gets a chopper anywhere else and it sneaks through the infield, then he gets a broken-bat flare the other way off the end of the bat, then McCutchen fights a ball off and may have broken his bat in right. I think he gave up one hard-hit ball that inning. So, I kind of take that with a grain of salt. But it’s what happened after that. He kept us engaged in the game.

The big story of course was Schoop and Trumbo’s late-inning heroics. There’s really not much left to say other than the fact that power wins games. Being able to tack runs together here and there is fine, but if your team can hit-for-power you’ll never be out of a game. And we saw that with the Orioles last night.

This quick two-game set concludes this evening with Pittsburgh at Camden Yards. Wade Miley gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Chad Kuhl. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Disjointed three games in interleague play

Kevin Gausman heads to the mound tonight for the Baltimore Orioles as they open a two-game set with Pittsburgh. I’m not a fan of these two-game series’, be they interleague play or not. In my view they just don’t make much sense. I suppose that we condition ourselves to believe that series’ are supposed to be three games, and in some instances four. But…two?!

However in terms of balancing an otherwise unbalanced schedule, this is what the Orioles have to do. For what it’s worth, they’ll make a two-game swing through Pittsburgh to complete a home-and-home this year during the final week of the season. Perfect time for interleague play, right?

Speaking of which, the Birds were supposed to have two days off this week, however that’s been trimmed to one (that being yesterday). On Thursday they’ll head back down the pike to take on the Washington Nationals in a makeup game rescheduled from last month. The red-hot Washington Nationals, I might add.

Pittsburgh’s struggled this year, and Washington has thrived – all of that is unimportant for the most part. You still have to play the games in a sense. However the difficult part for the Orioles is having to condition themselves to play one floating game this week under National League rules. It appears that Bundy will get the start on Thursday, and he’ll be hitting in the order as well.

At least if you’re looking at an entire series or even a stretch of games where you’re playing under National League rules, you can perhaps better condition your lineup to deal with the loss of a Mancini, Trumbo, etc. for a game. But one game makes it tough to do – you almost have to just sweat through it and hope for the best.

Of course tonight and tomorrow night’s games against Pittsburgh will be played under American League rules since the games will be at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. So no problem there. It’s just that one floating NL game on Thursday night which will pose an issue. But the Orioles will deal with it – they always do.

Of course there is one way around this type of thing in the future. The American League could outlaw the DH and go back to pitchers having to hit in the order just like everyone else. Yes folks, I recognize that there’s next to no chance of that happening, and that at some point the NL will probably adopt the DH instead. But I’ve always preferred the National League game because I believe that pitchers should in fact take a turn at the plate while they’re in the game. It also provides for more strategy late in games. But that’s another story for another day.

The aforementioned Kevin Gausman starts tonight for the O’s in game one of two against Pittsburgh at Camden Yards. He’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall on two-run error

Chris Tillman had his faults in yesterday’s game, however in my personal view he pitched better than the numbers indicate. Tillman’s line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R (3 earned), 4 BB, 3 K. Tillman had a bit of a rough first inning, but then settled in. Again in my view, he put the Orioles in a spot to win the game.

Tillman did give up two early runs which in a way set the tone for the game. Bradley’s two-RBI single in the first inning gave Boston a 2-0 lead. The Orioles were able to garner an out on the play however, as Moreland was tagged out at third base trying to advance – ending the inning.

But it also appeared that Boston’s Sale was going to struggle on this day as well. Before anyone knew it, the game was tied following Chris Davis‘ two-RBI single in the last of the first. Later in the inning Jonathan Schoop would double Davis home, and the O’s held a 3-2 lead.

And it appeared that Tillman was settling in on this Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately he gave up a solo homer to Benintendi in the third, which tied the game. However he did continue to record outs, and looked good in doing so. For the most part, base runners which he did allow were erased – until the sixth.

On one hand, it’s nary impossible to blame a pitcher when runs score due to an error…especially when said error comes as a result of a ball that wasn’t even in play. However it could also be said that had runners not been on base, nothing would have happened. You just never know what can happen, so when guys get on base they could end up getting home in any fashion.

Sure enough in the sixth, Boston had two runners in scoring position. Catcher Fransisco Pena had a shot at picking off Sandoval at third. In fact, he probably had him picked off…if not for the fact that the throw was errant and ended up in left field. Two runs scored on that E2, and Boston had a 5-3 lead. Benintendi would homer in the seventh, and smack an RBI-single in the ninth and Boston took the game 7-3.

So as seems to be the case in many four-game series’, the Orioles split this one with Boston two games a piece. Again, anything can happen when guys get on base. While those two runs are unearned, they are charged to Tillman. Yet they didn’t score as a result of anything that he did. That’s baseball sometimes.

Yesterday’s game was also the last one in the career of Orioles’ radio voice Fred Manfra, who is retiring and moving to Tampa, FL. It’s the end of a 50-year career in broadcasting for Manfra, which took him to NBA Finals, NHL Stanley Cup Finals, Triple Crown Races, and to the Orioles broadcast booth. He began with the Orioles in 1993, and has been a fixture in the radio booth ever since, being paired with the likes of John Miller, Jim Hunter, and of course Joe Angel.

Manfra will be missed, both by fans and by his co-workers. Angel said it’s been like calling games with his best friend for all the time they’ve worked together. Manfra’s a Baltimore native, and attended Patterson High School. And as I said, he will be missed.

Baltimore Orioles: Don’t blame Ubaldo Jimenez for loss to Boston

Ubaldo Jimenez saw action in last nights game for the Baltimore Orioles; for the first time since Sunday. Jimenez surrendered two runs, immediately drawing the ire of an Orioles’ fanbase that ran out of patience with him long ago. All in all for that reason, he seemed to be the perfect scapegoat for the Birds’ 5-2 loss. But is that really fair?

Dylan Bundy was fairly effective last night, however he exited after only five innings due to a triple-digit pitch count. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K. The two runs that he gave up came on a fourth inning home run by Ramirez, which gave Boston a 2-0 lead.

Boston hitters fouled off a lot of pitches in this game, which drove Bundy’s pitch count up. There were several hitters who had seven or eight-pitch at-bats. This has been a problem for Oriole pitchers all year, and it’s tough to put a finger on why that is. Certainly in some manner you have to tip your cap to opposing hitters because they’re zeroed in at the plate trying to get a base hit. But…why does it keep happening?

My personal theory is that a lot of teams are trying to take what the defense is giving the in a sense, as opposed to always trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark. While they haven’t hit-for-power too much this year, Boston’s a power-slugging team just like the Orioles. So whereas if a pitch is slightly off, the Orioles are more likely to let it go by – because it’s not a home run pitch. However other teams are trying to foul that pitch off and protect the plate (with two strikes of course) because they’re just trying to get on base.

Either way, Oriole pitchers end up getting their pitch counts elevated, and the bullpen has to enter much earlier than otherwise. In this case however the O’s were able to cut the lead in half in the seventh, with a home run off the bat of Manny Machado. Then Jimenez came in to pitch the bottom of the inning…

…and Boston tacked on two additional runs. Bogaerts scored a run reaching on a fielder’s choice, and Ramirez smacked an RBI-double to left. Boston would tack on an additional run in the ninth (against Hart) on a Betts RBI-single. Mancini would drive a run in on an RBI-double in the ninth, however that’s as close as the Orioles could get and they fell by the aforementioned score of 5-2.

My aim here isn’t to defend Jimenez until the cows come home. He’s obviously responsible for those two runs, and they didn’t help matters. My point has always been that when the calls for DFA him now start coming up I think a lot of people don’t realize what that means. The Orioles would be paying Jimenez essentially NOT to play for them. Any other team could then pick him up, again on the Orioles’ dime.

There’s one proviso to that in a sense; if nobody claims him after ten days, he could opt to stay in the Orioles’ system and go to the minors. But someone would pick him up. And the next response is well I’d love to see Ubaldo pitch against the Orioles. Please folks, do you not know what the law of averages says about how that story ends?

Mind you that Jimenez was coming off of a pretty decent outing on Sunday in Houston. It’s easy to suggest that if not for Jimenez the game would have been tied with the run in the ninth inning. But Boston scored a fifth run off of Hart in the ninth as well. So are we saying all things being equal except the additional run that was scored while Ubaldo was on the bench, and the game would have been tied?

My point is that this game was lost because Boston’s Price was in the zone all night, and Oriole bats couldn’t figure him out. NOT because Jimenez gave up two runs in the seventh inning. If the O’s had the lead or the game had been tied, that might be a different story.

One positive spin was that the O’s forced Boston’s hand in bringing their closer, Kimbrell, in during the eighth inning. All in all after a laborious ninth inning, he threw north of thirty pitches – a lot for a closer. So would Kimbrell in theory not be available today if needed? Interesting question. However while I suspect they’d use him if they were in a save situation (because they’re off on Monday), the question is how effective would he be?  Either way, the Orioles may have helped themselves out for today’s game by making him work.

The series concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards. Chris Tillman will be on the mound for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Chris Sale. Game time is set for just after 1:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles win behind a strong Alec Asher effort

The Baltimore Orioles got a strong outing out of starter Alec Asher last night, inspiring them onto victory against Boston. Asher’s line: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K. This was obviously a massive improvement over his last outing in Houston, when he seemingly walked everyone who didn’t get a hit.

Oriole bats obviously helped and played a role in the game also, because you can be as shutdown on the mound as possible but if your offense can’t score you can’t win. The Birds took an early lead right off the bat when Seth Smith led the game off with a solo homer. Mark that into the category of great job, don’t ever do it again! You want your lead off guy to get on base. If he homers, great. But you’d rather he get on base and be driven in.

Next up after Smith was Manny Machado, and wouldn’t you know it…he smacked a solo shot as well. This was a shot-and-a-half in a sense however, because the ball hit off of the facade of the club level in left field. Very few Camden Yards home runs make it that far.

Boston would cut that tally in half in the third when Sandoval smacked a solo home run of his own, which incidentally was Boston’s first hit of the game. But they say that solo home runs won’t kill you, and the Orioles made sure that didn’t happen. Kim’s RBI-double in the bottom of that fourth inning extended their lead to 3-1. Boston would get to within 3-2 on an RBI-single by Bradley in the seventh, the the Orioles’ bullpen shut the door after that.

So news of the Orioles’ demise has been a bit overstated of late. A lot of people had tweeted me over the course of the dry spell saying that the real Orioles were showing up, and that this team was destined for last place. They still might be for all I know – I can’t predict the future. However what I can say is that you’re never as good as you think when things are rolling (Houston, for example), and never as bad as you feel when things are going south.

Teams go through phases over the course of the season – both good and bad. The O’s seem to be out of that poor phase for now. And while you hope not to go through a spell like that at any point, over 162 games it’s probably difficult to avoid.

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s David Price. Game time is set for 7:15 PM.

Baltimore Orioles hold on to beat Boston

The Baltimore Orioles had a good night last night, although it got a bit more interesting than it should have. First off, they got a solid outing by starter Wade Miley, who put the Bird in a position to win. Miley’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K. You’re going to be tough to beat when you get an effort like that out of your starter; personally I thought it was Miley’s best outing as an Oriole.

Oriole bats remained just as alive as they were the previous night against New York, giving the O’s a big lead. Mark Trumbo got things going in the last of the first with a two-run homer, giving the Birds a 2-0 lead. For a split second however, it appeared that Boston was going to make a game of it early on, as Vazquez’s RBI-single cut the lead in half at 2-1.

However Chris Davis would smack a solo shot in the fourth, and Adam Jones added another in the last of the sixth. Boston asked for a replay review on that homer thinking that there was fan interference, however the call was upheld. It was a weak argument to begin with in my personal view, because there didn’t appear to be any fan interference.

Jonathan Schoop‘s three-run homer broke the game wide open later in that sixth inning, and the O’s held a 7-1 lead. The issue of course was that they still had to record 27 outs in total to win the game. And Boston wasn’t going quietly.

Vazquez added a second RBI-single in the top of the ninth, cutting the lead to 7-2. However there were two outs, so that didn’t seem like a huge issue. Boston would proceed to put runners at the corners, bringing Bradley to the plate. Sure enough, he smacked a three-run homer – all of this against Mike Wright.

The O’s brought in Donnie Hart after that to record the final out, which he did. The final score of 7-5 was obviously not indicative of the ebb and flow of the game per se, as the O’s took it to Boston all game long. However the fact is that ebb and flow mean little while the game’s still going on. It’s not over until you record that 27th out.

Ultimately, the O’s took game one of a very important four-game set. So that’s a good thing. They just didn’t want to make it as interesting as it ended up being in the end.

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