Baltimore Orioles: Tim Beckham was the right guy at the right time

Some Baltimore Orioles fans complained when the Birds acquired Tim Beckham. Admittedly I wondered what the strategy was, although the fact is that he came cheaply. But he’s done nothing but get on base and hit historic home runs since being with the Orioles. He went 4-for-5 again last night against Oakland, in a game that got out of control quickly.

Dylan Bundy pitched the Orioles to a quality start, but he also had a massive lead well before he even took the field. Bundy’s line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 10 K. Bundy was the benefactor of a seven-run first inning. Yes you read that correctly – the O’s put up seven runs in the first inning last night.

And it started with Beckham getting on base and setting the table in a sense. The O’s then used RBI-doubles by Machado and Jones to take a 2-0 lead. Mancini and Davis would add RBI-singles to run the score to 4-0, and Castillo would play a run on a ground out. The Birds sent 11 men to the plate in that first inning, capped off by Tim Beckham’s RBI-double in his second at-bat of the inning (and the game).

But the O’s were only getting warmed up. Bundy would surrender a two-run homer in the last of the first and a solo shot in the second, so for awhile it looked like multiple innings like that might be necessary. Jones added a two-RBI single in the fourth, but Oakland would also tack on two more runs an inning later. As if 9-5 wasn’t enough, the end of the game still loomed.

The Orioles put three runs across in the top of the ninth – you know, just in case Oakland had any ideas about coming back. They got RBI-singles from Davis and Beckham, and an RBI-double from Machado. And as I stated above, the final score was thus 12-5.

It can’t be stressed enough however the effect that Tim Beckham is having on the Orioles. He wasn’t just 4-for-5 last night – he’s having that type of game everyday for the most part. This also means that when Hardy returns at some point this month Buck Showalter‘s going to have a decision to make. He’s said that shortstop was Hardy’s job – but…is it really at this point?

One way or the other, Beckham’s been a shot in the arm for a team that direly needed it. Many of Dan Duquette’s moves have been scrutinized time and time again ad hoc by fans. Whatever you may think about his other moves, this seems to be one he’s gotten right. Beckham’s a guy that the Orioles will need to focus on keeping long term, as he could be the shortstop and lead off man of the future.

The Orioles will attempt to take the series with Oakland in this afternoon’s series finale. Jeremy Hellickson will be on the mound for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Kendall Graveman. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

Baltimore Orioles blow late lead in Oakland

Ubaldo Jimenez has been steadily better of late than he was in the first half of the season. Last night he came within two outs of a quality start, but still looked decent in doing so. Jimenez’s line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 11 K. Yes you read that correctly; 11 strikeouts.

However the Orioles’ bullpen couldn’t hold onto a late lead, with Brad Brach allowing Oakland to come back in the eighth inning on his watch. The Birds took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Adam Jones smacked his second homer in as many games. This one obviously was of the solo variety, but it put the Orioles on the right track. Two innings later Jones would ground into a double-play, which also yielded a run and gave the O’s a 2-0 lead.

But in the bottom of that inning Oakland fought back. Davis’ RBI-double cut the lead to 2-1. Later in the inning Olson’s two-run home run gave Oakland the lead at 3-2. But the Birds weren’t out of it – yet. Schoop’s two-RBI double in the fifth gave them the lead back at 4-3.

Oakland may be in full rebuild mode, but they’re scrappy none the less. An RBI-double in the last of the eighth tied the score back up at four, and Oakland would later take a 5-4 lead (which turned into a 5-4 win) on a sac fly-RBI. All of this off of the aforementioned Brach, who took the loss and the blown save.

These types of games will happen, but they really hit home when you’re a team like the Orioles who are trying to get back into the race. The Birds now sit two games out of the final wild card spot. However there are several teams ahead of them as well, which makes it tougher. Buck Showalter admitted afterwards that while it wasn’t Brach’s night, all games are the sum of the parts (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

There’s a lot more to the game than that, but I know everyone’s focus is there. Brad has been great for us, but tonight just wasn’t his night. A couple balls elevated and command was a little off, but so was Mychal (Givens) a little bit.

The O’s will try to get back on track in the series this evening. Dylan Bundy will head to the mound for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Sean Manaea. Game time is set for just after 9 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones captains a power surge

Adam Jones was only the first member of the Baltimore Orioles to go yard last night in Oakland. It turned out there were others. In fact, it turned out that the Birds smacked two sets of back-to-back homers in one of the most cavernous ballparks in the league. And that was the key to winning last night’s series opener in Oakland.

The Orioles also get an effort above-and-beyond what Wade Miley is normally capable of turning in. Miley’s line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 earned), 3 BB, 7 K. Miley recorded outs, and stayed out of full and deeper counts. Normally he gets a boatload of those and turns in five innings – win or lose. Last night he obviously was able to go deeper.

The O’s took an early lead in the first inning on a Machado RBI-groundout, however Lowrie’s sac fly-RBI in the last of the first tied the game at one. But that’s as close as Oakland would ever be. In the fourth Jones smacked a solo homer, and suddenly the O’s led once again.

But the Orioles weren’t done there. Trey Mancini came up to bat behind Jones, and promptly smacked a second homer – in back-to-back fashion. Suddenly the O’s had a two-run lead in Oakland, which again is one of the biggest ballparks in baseball.

And the Orioles decided to pull the back-to-back homers deal once again in the sixth inning. Mancini was involved in it once again, however this time he started it. Immediately following Mancini’s second solo homer of the game, Mark Trumbo hit one of his own. And the O’s led, 5-1.

But while the homer parade was over at that point, Jones himself wasn’t quite done. He would add an RBI-double in the seventh to run the score to 6-1. Lowrie’s RBI-double one inning later would bring Oakland to within 6-2, however they weren’t getting any closer than that.

The Orioles felt like they let an opportunity go by the wayside to win a series in Anaheim, so this was a good way to get that taste out of their mouths. It also successfully opened a series in a ballpark that hasn’t always been kind to the O’s. Yet they not only managed to win, but they did it playing their power game.

The series continues this evening at the Oakland Coliseum. Ubaldo Jimenez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Paul Blackburn. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Bats can’t get on track

Keep in mind that when the Baltimore Orioles left home they were putting up ten runs or so in games. So how do they go from that to only netting one or two? Well as I’ve said before, good pitching will often shut down good hitting. The Birds ran into some decent pitching in Anaheim, however there can be little doubt that they lost yesterday’s game and the series due to the bats going to sleep early.

Kevin Gausman didn’t turn in a quality start, however he did pitch well enough to put the O’s in a spot to win the game. Gausman’s line:5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K. He also had a couple of runs score as a result of plays that were makeable by the Orioles’ defense. But that’s another story.

The Orioles held a lead in the game in the third inning. Welington Castillo smacked a solo homer, which was ultimately held up by instant replay. Anaheim challenged the call claiming that a fan had reached over the railing to catch the ball. The umpires reviewed the play, and the replay was inconclusive, giving the O’s a 1-0 lead.

Anaheim would tie the game in the last of that third inning on a sac fly-RBI by Simmons. Now here’s where Gausman might have not so much deserved the fate he suffered in this game. Simmons was on base to begin with as a result of a softly-hit bloop to shallow center. Jonathan Schoop didn’t get a good read on the ball, because he probably should have had a play on it. But them’s the breaks.

Anaheim took the lead an inning later on a seeing eye RBI-single by Puello. And tha’s the type of luck the Orioles have had this year. A seeing eye single by a guy making his second major league start puts them behind. Cron would add a two-run homer in the sixth, and Cowart would walk with the bases loaded in the last of the eighth to run it to the eventual final of 5-1.

Perhaps the biggest concern coming out of the game was for outfielder Joey Rickard, who was hit in the helmet with a pitch and had to leave the game. That’s a sobering thing to see regardless of who it is, but especially when it’s your player. Rickard will be evaluated today, but luckily for everyone involved it doesn’t appear to be serious.

The Orioles now head to Oakland for a four-game set. Wade Miley will get the start for the Birds, and as of this morning Oakland hasn’t named a starter. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall despite Caleb Joseph’s efforts

The Baltimore Orioles’ offensive output in last night’s game in Anaehim came from Caleb Joseph. And when I say it came from Caleb Joseph, I mean exclusively from Caleb Joseph. Oriole bats were silent, but in essence so were the bats of Anaheim. It was a pitcher’s duel, and the O’s were outlasted.

Jeremy Hellickson turned in a quality start for the Orioles, albeit in a losing effort. Hellickson’s line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 9 K. It’s tough to be critical when your starter turns in numbers and an effort like that. However that’s where your bats need to step up for you, and the Orioles were unable to do that last night.

Anaheim’s Cron smakced an RBI-single in the second inning, giving them a 1-0 lead. Caleb Joseph would do the same on the Orioles’ behalf in the fifth, which tied the game. He plated Beckham – who yes was on base yet again. Beckham’s a guy that a lot of people questioned when the Orioles traded for him. But he’s left little doubt that he’s been the right man for the organization.

Valbuena would give Anaheim the lead back in the last of the seventh with an RBI-double, and Cron would add an additional RBI-single. Jospeh would homer in the ninth to bring the Orioles to within 3-2, however they were unable to tie the game up past that. At the end of the day, you’re only as good as the sum of all your parts in any given day. On this night the pitching was definitely there, but the bats were not.

Buck Showalter was very complimentary of Hellickson after the game in his postgame comments, highlighting how difficult it can be to pitch on the road against a good team (quote coutesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

Good. He was outstanding. Pitching on the road, tough lineup, team that’s playing real well. I can’t find anything to fault him with. Even that last inning, some well-placed balls that are usually outs. Simmons hit a ball hard, that’s about it. Darren did a great job to get out of that inning.

The Orioles will attempt to take the series in this afternoon’s series finale in Anaheim. Kevin Gausman heads to the mound for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Anaheim’s Troy Scribner. Game time is set for just after 3:30 PM this afternoon.

Baltimore Orioles lifted by Manny Machado’s grand slam

On one hand Manny Machado and the Baltimore Orioles are lucky in the sense that they get all of their west coast games out of the way in one fatal swoop. However make no mistake about the fact that this west coast swing is a tough road trip which might make or break the season. Paramount in difficulty is the fact that there are no off days literally until the Birds head home. So what’s the best way to deal with that issue? Win games.

The Birds got a stellar effort out of starter Dylan Bundy, who set the tone for the O’s in the series opener in Anaheim. Bundy’s line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 10 K. Those last two stats in the line are telling in terms of how Bundy was dealing last night. Not walking anyone and striking out ten batters is a pretty special game.

Anaheim did strike first, as they took a 1-0 lead in the last of the fourth on a sac fly-RBI. However the Orioles took care of that one inning later when Joey Rickard singled Beckham (who was on base yet again) home to tie the game. Adam Jones would add a sac fly-RBI later in the inning, and the Orioles held a 2-1 lead.

Anaheim battled back ever so briefly, as they tied the game in the sixth on a solo homer by Trout. But this was an Orioles team bent on victory on this night. Manny Machado came to the plate in the seventh with the bases loaded, and promptly smacked a grand slam which gave the Birds a 6-2 lead. And that held up as a 6-2 victory.

The win put the Orioles back at the .500 mark for the season. They’ve been below .500 since the end of June, which capped of a really poor stretch for the Orioles. But since then they’ve righted the ship. And we saw that again last night – is this a game that they would have won in May or June? Probably not.

To his credit, Machado was simply trying to have a productive at-bat with the bases loaded. And he indicated as much in his comments after the game (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

I was just trying to get something over the plate. He was running the ball in and using that slider the whole game. He was pitching a hell of a game. Just had a couple mistakes and we were able to take advantage of it. Played overall a great game. That was a great inning, started off with Castillo getting a base hit and getting guys over. It was a team win today.

The series continues this evening in Anaheim. Jeremy Hellickson makes the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by former Orioles’ farmhand Parker Birdwell. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: A bludgeoning win before hitting the coast

Detroit didn’t really stand much of a chance against a Baltimore Orioles team bent on victory yesterday afternoon. When you hit back-to-back-to-back homers in the first inning and Ubaldo Jimenez is already dealing strong, you immediately put the opponent on notice that it’s not their day. Jimenez’s line: 5.2 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 K.

Jonathan Schoop smacked a two-run homer in the first, followed in sequence by solo shots off the bats of Chris Davis and Trey Mancini. Before the crowd had even settled, the Birds led 4-0. One inning later they got an RBI-double by Manny Machado, followed by a solo homer by Rickard two innings later. And the rout was on.

Machado would add a two-run homer in that fourth inning – and again, the rout was on. The Birds would add numerous other runs until they hit twelve. That included a Beckham RBI-single, which means that he stayed hot since becoming an Oriole. Detroit would put two meaningless runs across in the top of the ninth, but the colors of this day were most certainly orange and black.

The Orioles finished the home stand with a 5-2 record, which is about all you can ask of any team. The issue of course is that they now head out on a ten-game road trip. Not only is it the longest road swing of the season, but it’s to the west coast. The Orioles will be on the road out on the coast for basically a week-and-a-half. And they won’t have a day off until they return home.

Manager Buck Showalter is well aware of how important this road trip coming up is, which he indicated in his comments after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

So, is the season over if we don’t do well on the West Coast? No. Our guys know what’s at the stake the rest of the season and that road trip includes that.

In a sense, the O’s actually lucked out this year. In 2016 they were out on the west coast on three different occasions due to playing the NL West in interleague play. However there’s little doubt that the distance, time change, etc. make this the toughest road trip of the season. The other issue is that the O’s will be light years away from their minor league system. If a roster move ends up having to be made, it might take awhile for a guy to join the team.

The road trip opens tonight in Anaehim. Dylan Bundy will be on the mound for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Anaheim’s JC Ramirez. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.