Category: Uncategorized

Baltimore Orioles: Only as good as your next day’s starter

The Baltimore Orioles and every other MLB team is only as good as their next day’s starter. In last night’s case, that was Wade Miley. And last night Miley wasn’t very good – in one inning. And that’s all it took. Miley’s line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

Out of six innings pitched, Miley struggled in the second. But he struggle just enough to where Tampa pounced. And that’s all it took. Tampa used three singles in the second inning to load the bases with one out. They then got on the board with an RBI-single by Smith, and a sac fly-RBI by Sucre.

The death blow however was a three-run homer by Beckham, which busted the game wide open at 5-0. However Miley settled down after that. But the damage was done. Although, the Orioles were able to make a game of it.

They got on the board in the fifth on a sac fly-RBI by Machado. One inning later Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer, and suddenly the Birds were within three at 5-2. In the eighth Welington Castillo‘s two-RBI single brought the Orioles to within one at 5-4.

The O’s had the tying run at third in the ninth inning, but were unable to capitalize. And while it begins and ends with starting pitching, the Orioles also left nine on base – many of which were in scoring position. You have to capitalize when you get guys on base.

And that’s really how Tampa won this game. They got a boat load of guys on base in that second inning, and they were able to bring them home. Now in fairness the Orioles did capitalize on soe guys on base later in the game. They just didn’t do it enough times to win.

Save for that one inning, the Birds seemed to hold Tampa in Check fairly well. But that also shows you that all it really takes is a couple of misplaced pitches or even bad bounces to lose games. With the exception of that second inning, Miley probably pitched well enough for the Orioles to win the game.

But that’s a tough sell because you can’t just remove the second inning from the conversation. That’s not really how it works. All you can really do is move forward into this afternoon’s series finale and try to take two-of-three.

The aforementioned series finale is early this afternoon at Tropicana Field. Ubaldo Jimenez will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Alex Cobb. Game time is set for just after 12 PM.

Baltimore Orioles almost able to come back

Ubaldo Jimenez was unable to keep the Baltimore Orioles in last night’s game early on. However I will say that he probably pitched better than his stat line indicates. He threw strike one to 12 of the first 15 hitters. But the fact is that he wasn’t as crisp as he needed to be. Jimenez’s line: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Jimenez surrendered a run almost right off the bat on Beltran’s RBI-single. However just a moment later Gurriel’s two-run homer made the score 3-0. And part of why I say that Jimenez wasn’t as bad as advertised was that one of the base hits that led to that homer was a softly hit single. When you’re barely putting the bat on the ball and still succeeding, that’s called getting lucky.

Houston would add an RBI-triple in the second, and Altuve would ground out into another run. And thus while the crowd still was filing in, the O’s trailed 2-0. But they did get a run back an inning later on a Schoop RBI-single, although Houston immediately got that run back on a McCann solo homer. Before all was said and done, Houston led 8-1.

But the Orioles made an incredibly valiant, albeit very late comeback attempt. Trumbo’s RBI-single in the eighth cut the lead to 8-2. Jones would follow with a two-RBI double, and Schoop a three-run homer. Before we knew it, the Birds only trailed 8-7.

But that’s as close as they got. And once again, it highlights the need for starting pitching. Granted Jimenez didn’t give up eight runs. However he set the tone. And that’s what starting pitching is all about.

And keep in mind that this game ended up a one-run game. In one of the RBI plays Houston turned in above, Rickard dove for a ball in the outfield. The ball got by him (under his glove), and went all the way to the wall. It was a valiant effort by Rickard, however an extra run scored.

All things being equal, the game would have been tied. And it’s little things like that which are valued immensely by a team like Houston. The Orioles don’t look at one run as being any sort of a big deal, because of their power – which we saw at the end of the game last night. But Houston treats every single run as a precious commodity.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Chris Tillman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Collin McHugh. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Someone finally paid

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter has at times (over the years) used the term someone’s eventually going to pay when describing struggling teams. Mind you, this could mean the Orioles or any other team that’s struggling. Basically he’s saying that the team’s too good for them to eventually not break out.

Last night, it was Texas who “paid” for the Orioles’ struggles of late.The Birds seemed intent on making mincemeat out of Texas, and the final score of 12-1 reflects that. The O’s got a second consecutive quality start, this time out of Dylan Bundy. And ironically, Bundy gave up a solo homer to Texas’ Choo on the second pitch of the game. But that was Texas’ lone high point last night. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

While trailing ever so briefly, the O’s got right at it in the last of the first. All that jazz before about the O’s not holding their opponents accountable? They sure did last night – again, because Texas paid the piper for the Orioles’ struggles. Schoop’s two-RBI double gave the Orioles the lead. And they never looked back.

Following Schoop with the Birds leading 2-1, Chris Davis got out of his funk and smacked a two-run homer to give the O’s a 4-1 lead. Later in the inning Mancini got into the act with a two-run shot of his own, running it to 6-1. One had the feel that the competitive portion of the game was over at that point, although the Birds were just getting warmed up.

Come the fourth inning, the Orioles loaded the bases with Davis coming back up. And he got into one again, hitting a grand slam that gave the O’s a 10-1 lead. Machado would add an RBI-single in the sixth, and Smith a solo homer in the eighth.

This is not to say that all of the ills facing the O’s right now have been cured. You still have to take one game at a time, and you still have to continue this moving forward. This game was big mainly for the power that the Orioles flexed, however it’s also noteworthy because it was the second consecutive game that they got solid starting pitching. You’re only as good as your next day’s starter.

Many people however will point to this game as another problem given that it plays into the narrative that the Orioles rely too much on the home run ball. Maybe they do, although a few of those runs were scored off of non-homers. But ultimately you win games however you can, and as I said and as Buck’s said…eventually someone was going to pay.

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

Baltimore Orioles: Should the O’s become a bullpen team?

Ubaldo Jimenez and the Baltimore Orioles were fine in the first inning yesterday. Jimenez allowed one base runner but faced the minimum of three hitters due to a double-play. However that was the pinacle of the day for both him and the Birds, as Chicago quickly took the upper hand. Jimenez’s line; 3.2 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

Jimenez wasn’t fooling anyone for nary any of his start. However on the flip side, the Orioles couldn’t muster much of anything. When a Jones double is pretty much the lone offensive highlight for the day, you know you’re in trouble. It doesn’t matter if your starter gives up six runs, 100, or even just one – you still aren’t going to win.

Chicago put forth three doubles in the top of the second, the third of which was Happ’s two-RBI double. That gave them a 2-0 lead. Before the end of the inning Heyward and Zobrist would add RBI-singles, and the O’s trailed 4-0. Two innings later Bryant’s two-run homer did Jimenez in for the day, and broke the game wide open at 6-0.

Now if there’s a silver lining on this game, it’s that the Orioles’ bullpen really stepped up. Unfortunately that can’t and won’t always be the case, because if your starters are only lasting 3.2 innings or so, someone’s arm in the ‘pen might fall off. But Hart, Givens, and Britton were all incredibly solid yesterday afternoon. O’Day came in for the ninth and gave up a two-run homer to Rizzo, but other than that the bullpen was very good.

MASN’s Gary Thorne has mentioned this on the air a few times, however should the Orioles consider becoming a bullpen-oriented team? That’s not something we’ve seen for the most part at the big league level almost ever, however there are many in baseball who think that’s where the industry’s going.

The bullpen guys are recording outs, and that’s a fact. Look at this weekend for instance; Oriole starters weren’t fooling anyone at all. However once Showalter would go to the bullpen, the bleeding would stop. The damage was already done of course, but the bleeding would seemingly stop.

Relievers of course aren’t designed to pitch long games (although it’s certainly possible that some of these guys could be “stretched out” next spring). So the idea of course would be that you actually start someone like Givens, Castro, or Hart, and after threee innings or so bring in the likes of Jimenez, Tillman, or someone else. Needless to say, it’s an interesting idea. But do the Orioles not have nothing to lose by considering and trying it?

The O’s will now open a four-game series at home with Texas starting tonight. Chris Tillman will be on the mound for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Texas’ Andrew Cashner. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Problems on the two’s

Starter Wade Miley pitched 4.1 halfway decent innings for the Baltimore Orioles last night. Not stellar or superior, but halfway decent in that he put his team in a spot to win after giving up two solo homers and an RBI-single. Miley’s final line: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R,  4 BB, 4 K.

However it was with two outs in the inning that Miley fell apart. After an IBB to intentionally load the bases, Miley gave up a bases-clearing triple to Heyward, who later scored on an RBI-single after Miley had departed. All of that with two outs.

Nine of Chicago’s ten runs came with two outs last night. Think about that for a moment; you get to two outs and you’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the inning. In the back of your mind you’re thinking, okay I recorded two outs, just one more and I can get back in the dugout. However that light at the end of the tunnel often ends up being an oncoming train for Orioles’ pitchers.

And it’s not just with two outs. Opposing hitters are thriving with two strikes, also. How many hitters do we see with 0-2 or 1-2 counts who find themselves able to battle back and draw the count full? And how many of those hitters end up walking? It seems like it happens quite often.

The question at hand is whether or not the tale of the tape is telling opponents that the Orioles handle themselves differently with two outs. And I’m not talking anything major; perhaps pitch selection at various points in the count, or maybe even the way that they position their defense. But one way or the other, the Birds struggle the most once they’ve induced two outs in an inning.

The overly-simplistic explanation is that the pitching staff is struggling across the board. Again, note my usage of the term overly-simplistic explanation. The starting staff is having it’s struggles, however often the first two outs of these innings are flying by. Pitchers will record two outs in very few pitches. So there has to be something that’s different with two outs – it just stands to reason.

And in fairness, Oriole bats didn’t really help matters last night. Caleb Joseph smacked a solo homer in the last of the fifth, followed two innings later by a Tejada RBI-single. Joseph would add on an RBI-single in the ninth – but that was the only scoring the Orioles could muster. You have to put up more than three runs in games against the defending world series champions.

The Orioles were in essence dominated by Jake Arrieta, who they brought through their farm system and then traded to Chicago in 2013. Many fans point to that as being such a horrible move, and of course they’ll use last night to back up that view. However Arrieta was your classic change of air guy in that he immediately thrived in Chicago. He had also run his course and gone as far as he was going to go in Baltimore.

The O’s will try to muster one game of three in this afternoon’s series finale at Camden Yards. Ubaldo Jimenez gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s Jose Quintana – for whom they just traded with their cross-town rival. Game time is set for just after 1:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles almost able to come all the way back

The Baltimore Orioles have seen Kevin Gausman be good before. Unfortunately last night wasn’t one of those games. After a nearly 50-minute rain delay before the game started, the Orioles came out flat. Gausman’s line: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Chicago set the tone in the game early, gettin a couple of runners on base in the first inning, all of whom came home on Contreras’ three-run homer. One pitch later it was 4-0 after a solo shot by Schwarber. Zobrist followed suit an inning later with a two-run shot, and Heyward’s two-run homer in the third ran the score to 8-0. That appeared to be the death blow for Gausman.

But it wasn’t the death blow per se for the Orioles. With bats as potent as they have, they’re never really out of a game. And the good news was that after Gausman departed the pitching became much more stable.

The O’s got on the board in the last of the third on a Castillo solo home run. And they chipped away from there. There’s a part of me that says piecemealing runs together when you start eight in the hole isn’t very efficient. But if you do it enough, it does make a difference.

Chris Davis, who came off the DL yesterday, smacked an RBI-double in the fourth which cut the Chicago lead to 8-2. One inning later it was Mark Trumbo‘s RBI-single that brought the Birds to within 8-3, and an RBI-single by Mancini which cut it in half at 8-4. But the Orioles weren’t done – in the game or in the inning. Joey Rickard‘s two-RBI single cut the lead to 8-6. And suddenly we had a ballgame.

Mark Trumbo struck again in the eighth with a two-run home run which tied the game up at eight. It seemed that an Oriole comeback was destined to happen, however Chicago decided to wake up just enough and just in the nick of time. With Brach in to pitch the ninth, Russell smacked a solo homer to put his team ahead 9-8.

That was a valiant comeback attempt on the part of the Orioles, however the fact is that it begins and ends with starting pitching. Kevin Gausman struggled last night, and not to find the plate. If anything he was getting too much of the plate. And in fact it’s a tough line to toe; you don’t want to nibble, but you don’t want to get too much of the plate to where the ball’s in a sweet spot for hitters.

There was also a situation in the third inning which at the time didn’t mean much, but that really haunted the Orioles. Manny Machado smacked a ball down the line which deflected off the base of the left field fence and jilted up into the air. A fan appeared to then reach over the wall with his glove and grab the ball out of the air. Replays were inconclusive, but it appeared that the ball would have come down in play.

And if it had, Adam Jones would have undoubtedly scored – leaving Machado at third base. However after a length discussion the umpires left it as a ground rule double. At the time you almost chuckle to yourself about that costing the Orioles a run, as they were getting blown out. However all things being equal (and yes, that’s always a hard argument to make), the Birds ended up losing by one run.

Buck Showalter felt that the runner should have been given home plate, and he addressed that after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

We felt pretty strongly that it would not have gone in the stands. That’s the discussion. We’ve never seen a ball hit down there and not stay in the ballpark. Looking at the replays, there was nothing definitive enough angle-wise to think that they would overturn it, especially that early in the game. There’s a lot of plays up here where the replays just can’t give you enough definitive for them to be able to rule it on the field. If they had called that the other way, I don’t think Joe (Maddon) would have had any reports either to change it. So, it’s one those you have to wear.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards, with a familiar face on the mound for the opponent. Wade Miley gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by former Oriole Jake Arrieta, Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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.