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Wednesday’s O’s Links: Austin Hays Called Up

Bowie Baysox OF Austin Hays swings.

Quite a game last night, huh? After a two-hour rain delay, the O’s took a 1-0 lead early, only to watch as their third consecutive starter failed to get through even five innings. In this case, Jeremy Hellickson was yanked in the third after completely losing the strike zone. New York was up 6-1, and most of Birdland went to bed early.

Those who didn’t, of course, were rewarded greatly at around 1:05 AM Eastern.

Let’s get the series today. To the links.

Austin Hays Called Up

The Birds shockingly called up Bowie OF Austin Hays yesterday, which could be viewed as quite an indictment on Joey Rickard more than anything else. While Hays would have probably been up soon anyway, Bowie just made the playoffs, and they’d probably liked to have kept him around for a few more days. The Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli has more.

Mark Trumbo and the Career Year

If 2016 Mark Trumbo had been bellyaching about pies, we probably would have forgiven him. However, the 2017 version of Trumbo needs to shut his…wait for it…pie hole. Joe Wantz of Camden Depot tries to figure out what happened to the guy who was mashing in Baltimore last year.

The Orioles are Really Bad at Baserunning

Camden Chat’s Tyler Young goes into the gory details of Orioles baserunning statistics. A brave young man he is. Along with the obvious (they’re bad!), he uncovers a not-so-obvious fact (one that had Tyler as surprised as it did me, apparently).

BEV Episode 216: Mas Pies

Jake & Scott discuss PieGate 2.0, the impending return (?) of J.J. Hardy, and plenty more O’s topics in another fun-filled episode of Bird’s Eye View. Listen!

Hunter Harvey Ends Rehab with Strong Start

A double-dip from Meoli today (he’s good). Here, he details Hunter Harvey’s final rehab start – and game action – of 2017. Includes are quotes from the young pitcher himself, who will, hopefully, make an appearance in Baltimore around this time next season.

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Series Preview: Orioles (70-67) vs. Yankees (73-63)

fans standing in stands with yankees player standing in front

After splitting a wild series versus Toronto over the weekend to stay hot on Minnesota’s heels for the final playoff spot in the American League, the Orioles will look to make a great home stand even better against the New York Yankees in the final three-game set at home before embarking on a ten-game road trip.

From double-sweeping the Red Sox and the Mariners to walking it off twice against the Blue Jays, this red-hot Orioles squad is simply buzzing at the moment and they now face a prime chance to make some noise in the wild card race against the Yankees.

The third-place Orioles (70-67) have won ten of their last thirteen contests, and thanks to their recent winning surge, they now trail the Twins by just a game and a half for the final wildcard spot in the American League. The Orioles have been propelled by a stellar 43-28 record at home this season, and an 18-9 mark over their last 27 games at home has served as a launching point for their challenge on the wild card holders.

It just so has it that the Orioles seemed to snap into form after getting embarrassed by the Chicago Cubs at home in the first series of the second half. Since that ill-fated three-game series, the Orioles have notched an excellent 28-18 record.

Wake-up calls are always fun – but the heart of this team has been on full display in the second half. Give credit to them for grinding it out and getting to the spot that they’re in now. From here on out, it’s game on.

The second-place Yankees (73-63) are fresh off winning three of four versus the Red Sox in the Bronx over the weekend, and now trail the division leaders by just 3.5-games. Currently the AL’s “home” wild card, they also own a 1.5-game lead over the Twins for the first wild card spot and a 3.5-game lead over their closest contending challengers (Orioles & Angels). Barring a collapse over their last 26 games, the Yankees should be bound for October baseball.

The Yankees also own a 7-5 advantage over the Orioles in the season series to date, and as a result, these two rivals have now gone an even 25-25 against each other since the start of the 2015 season.

Who will re-gain the upper hand? We’re about to find out.

All I know is that it’s going to be an intense three-game clash. September baseball at its finest.

Let’s go to the starters.

 

Game One

Dylan Bundy (13-8, 3.94 ERA) will take on Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.15 ERA) in today’s series opener.

Bundy threw a one-hit gem over nine innings during his first career complete-game shutout against the Mariners during his last start, and is lighting the world on fire as of late. Over his last five starts, Bundy has gone a clean 4-0 with an amazing 2.00 ERA and has racked up 45 strikeouts over 36 innings during that span. He’s also still undefeated during the second half of the season with a perfect 5-0 record and a 3.04 ERA over seven starts.

Montgomery allowed four runs on six hits over just four innings during his last start versus the Indians, and may be hitting the “rookie wall” for the Bombers as we enter the month of September. After going 6-4 with a rock-solid 3.65 ERA over sixteen starts in the first half, the southpaw has gone just 1-3 with a 5.35 ERA over eight starts in the second half. He hasn’t won a game since July 25th versus Cincinnati.

 

Game Two

Jeremy Hellickson (8-8, 5.15 ERA) will take the mound against CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.71 ERA) in Tuesday’s contest.

Hellickson was tagged to the tune of allowing seven runs on seven hits over just 4 2/3 innings during his last start against Toronto, and will be looking to bounce back against a familiar foe. Over seven career starts versus New York, Hellickson has gone 4-2 with a 3.21 ERA. In six starts since joining the Orioles, Hellickson owns a 2-3 record and a 6.55 ERA.

yankees player yelling in dugout

Sabathia turned in a great outing after holding the Red Sox to just a single run on four hits over six innings en route to his eleventh win of the season his last time out, and has been pretty solid for the Yankees as of late. Over eight starts in the second half of the season, the former Cy Young award winner has gone 4-2 with a 3.53 ERA. Sabathia will also be looking for win number twenty against the Orioles on Tuesday, as he owns a 19-10 record and a 3.47 ERA over forty career starts against the Orioles.

 

Game Three

Kevin Gausman (10-9, 4.79 ERA) will go head-to-head against Sonny Gray (8-9, 3.36 ERA) in the series finale on Wednesday.

Gausman allowed just four hits over six shutout innings during his last start versus Toronto, and has been simply outstanding for the Orioles for quite some time now. Over his last nine contests, Gausman has gone 5-2 with a sparkling 2.03 ERA. Over his last thirteen outings, Gausman boasts an impressive 7-2 record and a 3.04 ERA.  To make it even better, the Orioles fireballer has routinely silenced the Yankees in the past and owns a 7-4 record and a 3.18 ERA against them over fifteen career starts.

Gray pitched well again during his last start against Boston and allowed four runs on five hits over seven innings, but ended up in the loss column. Gray has been excellent for the Yankees since being acquired at the deadline and boasts a 3.16 ERA over six starts in pinstripes despite going just 2-4. He’s allowed two earned runs or less in five of six starts since the move to the Bronx. However, Gray is just 1-3 with a 5.57 ERA over four career starts against the Orioles.

 

That’s it for now, Orioles fans!

Here’s to more notches in the win column!

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Week in Review: Game On!

Mark Trumbo and his Orioles teammates celebrate a walk-off.

Well folks, this roller coaster of a season has served up a few more loops and twists over the past week, and I really hope you all are buckled up for the home stretch.

And if recent times have revealed anything, it’s that we’re in for a wild ride to the finish line, and the Orioles are going to be in the thick of this scrap until the very end.

After sweeping the Mariners mid-week to extend their winning streak to a season-high seven games, the Orioles then followed up by splitting an insane four-game set versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

While a sweep would have been ideal, there’s nothing like two amplifying walk-off wins in the span of three days to get the club buzzing in the right direction.

Now, the Orioles will focus their sights on ending an outstanding home stand on a high note versus the current wildcard-holding Yankees to kick of the new week before jetting over to Cleveland over the weekend.

With the Twins and the second and final wildcard spot just 1.5-games out of reach, if the in-form Orioles continue to rack up notches in the win column through the final 25 games of the season, it could very well just be enough to crash the party.

Let’s take a look at the highlights from the past week of Orioles baseball.

– Orioles starters in between Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, and as of late Wade Miley can’t seem to find consistency and as a result, the rotation has posted an ERA of 5.40 over the last eighteen games.

– The bullpen had an uncharacteristic weekend versus the Blue Jays, but has been superb as of late. Despite the rough weekend, they’ve posted a stellar 2.47 ERA over the past sixteen ballgames.

– The Orioles offense was hit-and-miss over the weekend after a big showing versus the Mariners, but rest assured – these guys are hellbent on firing the Orioles to a playoff spot.

– Over the last thirteen games, the Orioles are hitting .304 while scoring six runs per game (79 total) on 28 homers.

– Over the last thirty games, the Orioles are hitting .298 while scoring 5.6 runs per game (169 total) on sixty home runs.

Let’s go to the three stars of the week!

 

Third Star

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Jonathan Schoop. After going 4-for-12 with two homers and four RBI in the series versus Seattle which included his 30th homer of the season in the finale, Schoop then followed up by going 8-for-21 versus the Blue Jays over the weekend in a series in which he recorded his 100th and 101st RBI on Thursday and Friday.

Schoop has been not only the Orioles MVP this season, but a major catalyst in the club’s resurgence during the second half. Over the last twenty games, the O’s star second baseman is hitting a sparkling .345 with five homers and sixteen RBI.

 

Second Star

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Welington Castillo. Another huge part of the Orioles recent surge has been Castillo. After torching the Mariners by way of going 8-for-11 with two homers and six RBI, he then went 3-for-5 with two solo homers, one of which forced extra innings in the ninth in the Orioles 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday.

Castillo has been quietly lighting it up for quite some time now. Over his last 37 contests, the Orioles red-hot backstop is hitting a phenomenal .321 with ten homers and 23 RBI.

 

First Star

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Dylan Bundy. Is this even a debate? Not only did he throw his first career complete-game shutout versus the Mariners on Tuesday, he did so by allowing just one bunt single in the fourth inning and struck out twelve Mariners over a highlight reel-esque nine-inning gem.

Bundy has been on top of the world as of late with a perfect 4-0 record and a sparkling 2.00 ERA over his last five outings. He’s also struck out 45 batters over 36 innings of work during that span.

Add it all up, and Dealin’ Bundy is your first star of the week.

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#Staturday: Dingers, Dongs, & Long Balls

Manny Machado watches a home run fly.

Happy Staturday Birdland! What an amazing week of baseball. We’re three games above .500 and things are starting to look good. Let’s check out some stats.

This August has been full of home runs. Let’s get some historical perspective:

The Orioles hit 57 home runs this August. That’s the most by any team in any August in MLB history and the third most in any month in MLB history.

The homer-licious August also put the Orioles on a list they already occupy:

Most home runs in a month in MLB history:

Orioles – 58, May of 1987
Mariners – 58, May of 1999
Orioles – 57, August of 2017
Orioles – 56, June of 2016

Tim Beckham’s hot start has not cooled off and it made for an historic month:

Tim Beckham became the second Oriole to record 50 hits in one month. He joins Cal Ripken.

Jonathan Schoop is having a beast season. He joins some impressive company:

Jonathan Schoop is 9th player in Orioles’ history to record 30+ HR, 100+ RBI, with a .300+ batting average. He joins Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson, Aubrey Huff, Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro, Cal Ripken, Boog Powell, and Jim Gentile.

Here’s to another awesome week of baseball! Check out more stats like these at @BirdlandStats on Twitter!

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The Orioles Swapped One Useful #50 Miguel for Another

Orioles fans are – understandably – a bit annoyed at the news that the team was trying to make a trade at the waiver deadline (last night) for Chicago White Sox pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. Gonzalez, of course, pitched for the Birds for four seasons, and while he was never consistently dominant, he was reliable with a flash of brilliance every now and again.

To wit:

MiGo’s best season in orange and black by ERA was 2014, when he posted a 3.23. By FIP, it was his first year, 2012, at 4.38. By fWAR, it was 2013, when he threw 171.1 innings at a 3.78 ERA/4.45 FIP, good for an fWAR of 1.6.

You’ll notice that none of those bests were during his final year in Baltimore, 2015. That season, Gonzalez put up a 4.91 ERA, along with career highs in BB/9 (3.17), HR/9 (1.49), BABIP (.295), and HR/FB rate (15%). Combine that with a career low LOB% (to that point) of 73.1, and you had a recipe for the down year he experienced. However, you also had indicators that he just went through some bad luck, and may have been due for a rebound.

Unfortunately for Gonzalez, in the spring of 2016, he tanked, putting up a 22.24 ERA in his first three Spring Training starts. He rebounded in the second half of March, but it wasn’t enough. Though he had an option remaining, Duquette decided to simply part ways with him instead of paying him the $5.1M he was owed.

Chicago picked him up and fixed…something. Whatever it was that was ailing him, I suppose. In his first season in the Windy City, Gonzalez racked up 2.6 fWAR (a full win above his previous career high) in just 135.0 innings at the MLB level. He wasn’t quite as good here in 2017, with 1.6 fWAR in 133.2 IP and a 4.56 FIP that’s much more in line with his career average (4.63) than was last year’s 3.71.

Chicago was able to flip their reclamation project for Texas’ 2014 second-round draft pick. Good for them!

If the Orioles had indeed been able to win the bidding war for Gonzalez this week, it would have been eerily similar to the Steve Pearce situation of a year ago – Duquette letting a useful player go for nothing, only to then turn around and need to use an asset to reacquire that player not long after.

But hey, that’s the bad/annoying news. Let’s talk about the good news.

 

New Miguel, Different from the Old Miguel

The good news is also named Miguel.

On April 7, Duquette traded cash or a player to be named later (who has not, to my knowledge, yet been named) to Colorado for Miguel Castro. Castro, 22, was a 2012 International signee by the Toronto Blue Jays. He made his MLB debut in 2015, at 20 years and 103 days, the youngest Blue Jay to ever appear in a game at the time (since beaten by Roberto Osuna). Later that summer, Castro was part of the deal that sent Jose Reyes to the Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki.

Castro pitched 13.2 relief innings for Colorado’s AAA affiliate in 2015, with a 1.32 ERA and 3.89 FIP. His 2016, however, was a disaster – a 10.34 ERA in 15.2 IP at AAA, and a 6.14 in 14.2 IP for the Rockies. It’s not hard to see why Colorado saw him as expendable, I suppose, though at 22-years-old, you’d think they wouldn’t be so quick to write him off.

In swooped Duquette, though, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive for Castro so far in Baltimore.

Looking at a stat called Win Probability Added (click here for a lesson), we can get an idea of just how valuable Castro has been.

Last year, Zach Britton led all O’s pitchers in WPA at 6.39. Here is this season’s leaderboard:

If Castro finishes at the top of the list, he’d be the first Oriole other than Britton to lead the team in WPA since 2013, when Tommy Hunter claimed the honor.

Castro has thrown at least 2.0 innings in 12 of his 31 appearances, including four of at least 3.0 innings, and one 6.0-inning appearance back on August 3rd (in which he allowed no runs). These outings of long relief – plus a Baltimore rotation that is ALWAYS, let’s say…lacking – have many wondering if the team could give him a chance to start next season.

Camden Depot’s Matt Kremnitzer explored this possibility last week.

At the very least, it seems like stretching Castro out to become a starter wouldn’t be a difficult transition. […]

Still, his lack of strikeouts with his current pitch arsenal causes hesitation. In 2017, the average major league starter has a K/9 of 7.9. Only one qualified starter this season has a lower K/9 than Castro’s 4.89. That would be Ty Blach of the Giants at 4.38. Blach is a former fifth-round pick who’s doing an even better job of avoiding walks and home runs. Maybe Castro could do something similar, but it’s tough to find success and maintain it year after year when you’re not missing bats. Major league hitters are too good at finding ways to maximize damage when they make contact.

Castro may not project as a solid starting option or even as any kind of long-term, shutdown reliever, but he is helping right now and does possess a couple of pitches that flash his potential. The Orioles don’t need him to be amazing; they just need him to do a decent Miguel Gonzalez impression. Is that too much to ask for?

Hey, another MiGo reference! Fancy that.

Castro’s 4.89 K/9 are certainly a concern. However, we need look no further than our own Dylan Bundy to see just how quickly pitchers – especially young ones – can figure out how to get whiffs.

Looking at a similar graph for Castro, we see that, once upon a time (last year), he had no problem striking guys out:

As Matt also points out, batters are swinging more against Castro and making more contact:

Another strange thing for Castro is that he’s getting batters to chase more, but they’re making more contact. His O-Swing% went from about 25-26% in 2015/2016 to almost 37% this season. But after posting O-Contact% numbers of 48% and then 55% in 2015/2016, that number has jumped to almost 66%. Overall, batters are swinging more against him, and they’re making more contact.

So guys are swinging MORE against Castro than they did back when he was a high K/9 pitcher, yet his K/9 have fallen off a cliff. This is certainly odd, and perhaps he’s due for a bit of a regression to the mean in this regard. In fact, you can see a recent uptick in his K/9 on the chart above.

He’s slightly above his season average lately, which we can see if we zoom in on 2017 (the dotted line is his season average):

Perhaps it’s as simple as saying, “Hey Miguel! Strike more guys out!” (it’s not). Maybe it’s just a matter of waiting for his contact numbers to regress (it might be). And maybe Castro just isn’t really a high-strikeout guy (though perchance, like Bundy, he could suddenly become one).

For now, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on, as Castro continues to work out of the bullpen. Hopefully his WPA will continue to rise, as he keeps on bailing out O’s starters from the miserable showings that you just know are bound to pop up.

Longer term though, given the Birds’ many questions at starting pitcher entering the 2018 campaign, it would seem logical that the organization give Castro every opportunity to show that he can make the transition to starter. If he flames out, you can always move him back to the bullpen. If he succeeds – the bar for which is depressingly low in Birdland – then you’ve truly swapped one useful Miguel for another, nearly one-to-one.

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Friday’s O’s Links: Schoop & Bundy Leading O’s Resurgence

Dylan Bundy winds up in a spring training game.

Well, the winning streak is over, thanks to Jeremy Hellickson and Kendrys Morales. Despite putting up eight more runs, it wasn’t enough for victory number eight in a row, as Morales smacked three home runs and drove in seven on his own.

The Birds were bound to lose again eventually. It’s fine – as long as they don’t follow up their seven straight wins with a few consecutive losses. With Marcus Stroman scheduled to pitch for Toronto Saturday, and Chris Tillman going for the O’s Sunday, tonight’s game suddenly looks pretty darn important.

Let’s look at our final links before Labor Day.

How the Orioles Have Performed Against Top Pitching

A few years ago, the meme in Birdland, fair or not (probably not) was that the O’s mashed good pitchers, but routinely got shut down by nobodies. Matt Perez looks at how the team has done against good, mediocre, and bad pitchers this year. He concludes that any postseason appearance may be short, because they are below average against good pitching. My question would be this: isn’t everybody? Otherwise they wouldn’t be, ya know…good pitchers.

September Call-Ups Will Include Chance Sisco

The O’s are set for some September call-ups, and those will include, among potential others (especially, hopefully, pitchers), Joey Rickard, Pedro Alvarez, and catcher Chance Sisco. Sisco, a top O’s prospect, will have trouble finding playing time behind Welington Castillo and Caleb Joseph, but he’ll at least get a taste of the bigs.

Jonathan Schoop has Been One of the Best Second Basemen

Some love for Johnny Beisbol from one of my favorite writers, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs. Sullivan details the many ways in which Schoopy has become a more disciplined hitter here in 2017, by swinging both less overall and especially less against balls. The data points to a true improvement. Dope!

Dylan Bundy is Looking the Part

TWO Sullivan articles about the O’s in one day – and both…positive?! Be still, my orange heart. In this one, Jeff goes into Dealin’ Bundy’s second-half dominance. That ol’ pitch that he wasn’t allowed to throw for so long – the slider, we’ll call it, instead of the “c” word – has been a big factor.

Orioles Fall Short in Pursuit of Miguel Gonzalez

It should would be nice to have a reliable starter like, say, I dunno…Miguel Gonzalez to throw out there instead of Tillman, wouldn’t it? Apparently Dan Duquette agreed, as the O’s were trying to trade to bring MiGo back to Baltimore, only to see Chicago send him to Texas instead. Kinda infuriating that the Orioles let him go for nothing back in Spring. Damn it Dan! (Tim Beckham, Tim Beckham, Tim Beckham…)

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Series Preview: Orioles (68-65) vs. Blue Jays (62-71)

The Orioles Jeremy Hellickson and the Blue Jays Marco Estrada pitch side by side.

After opening up their ten-game home stand with a statement-making sweep over the visiting Mariners, the red-hot Orioles will carry an amazing seven-game win streak into their four-game clash versus Toronto.

The Orioles (68-65) have used their stellar run of form to launch themselves onto the Minnesota Twins’ doorstep for the final wild card slot in the AL and now trail by just 1.5-games. They’ve also pulled themselves to just 2.5-games behind the Yankees for second place in the division and the first wild card spot in the American League. Make no mistake about it: a 17-11 month of August and an impressive 26-16 mark over their last forty-two ballgames has turned these Orioles from hopeful challengers into prime contenders.

The buzzing O’s will look to keep the ball rolling through the weekend. With a sparkling 41-26 record at home on the year and a 9-3 record versus the Blue Jays this season, the Orioles have a prime shot at taking down the Twins and ending the week with a playoff spot in their back pocket.

The Blue Jays (62-71) have been stuck in the cellar of the AL East pretty much all season long, but they weren’t technically out of the playoff picture (as crazy as that sounds) until a current 2-10 skid sent them to eleven games below .500. In fact, Toronto started the month of August on fire with a 10-5 record until crashing and burning over the latter half of the month. The Jays have also won just twice over their last nine games on the road. Lastly, they’ll be looking to snap a current four-game losing skid versus the Birds in tonight’s series opener.

Will the Orioles continue to hammer down versus their division rivals, or will the Blue Jays stun the uber-hot Orioles and come away from Birdland with a shocker?

We’re about to find out. Let’s go to the starters.

 

Game One

Jeremy Hellickson (8-7, 4.88 ERA) will take on Marco Estrada (6-8, 5.04 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Hellickson was magnificent during his last start versus the Red Sox and allowed just two earned runs on four hits over seven stellar innings en route to his eighth win of the season and his second since joining the Orioles. Over five starts since being acquired in July, Hellickson is 2-2 with a 5.46 ERA. The former Ray will provide a nice boost in September by way of having a ton of experience pitching in the AL East. Case in point: over a whopping sixteen career starts versus the Blue Jays, Hellickson owns a 5-5 record and a solid 3.61 ERA.

Estrada turned in a solid performance during his last start versus Minnesota and allowed three runs on five hits over six innings. It’s been a strange season for the Jays veteran, as he carried the torch in the early goings of the season before bottoming out with a 7.86 ERA over the months of June and July. He’s responded by posting a solid 2-1 record and 4.45 ERA over five starts in August. Over eleven career starts versus Baltimore, Estrada has dazzled to the tune of a 5-1 record and a 2.26 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and .184 BAA.

 

Game Two

Kevin Gausman (10-9, 4.98 ERA) will take the mound versus Joe Biagini (3-9, 5.40 ERA) in Friday’s contest.

Gausman turned in a gem of an outing during his last start in Boston and allowed just four hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. The Orioles red-hot fireballer has now gone 5-2 with an incredible 2.26 ERA over his last eight starts. Over his last twelve outings, Gausman boasts a sparkling 7-2 record and a rock-solid 3.30 ERA. Over eleven career starts versus Toronto, Gausman has notched a 4-3 record and a 3.59 ERA. Look for the gas man to stay lit in this one. He’s dealing.

Biagini was roughed up by the Twins during his last outing and allowed five runs on nine hits over 3 2/3 innings. The Jays young hurler has not been at his best as of late, and after posting a 7.50 ERA over twelve contests in July, he’s posted an 11.25 ERA over two games in August since re-joining the team. Over thirteen career appearances versus the Orioles, Biagini has recorded a 3.31 ERA over 16 1/3 innings of work.

 

Game Three

Wade Miley (8-10, 4.99 ERA) is set to get the nod against Marcus Stroman (11-6, 3.11 ERA) on Saturday.

Miley turned in a bulldog-esque performance during his last start in Boston and allowed just a single run on seven hits over five innings en route to his eighth win of the season. Miley has been phenomenal as of late with a sparkling 4-1 record and 2.76 ERA over his last six contests, and will look to carry that momentum through September. Over nine career starts versus Toronto, Miley is 2-6 with a 4.65 ERA.

Simply put, the Jays would be in an even worse way if not for the stellar Stroman. While he didn’t get the win despite holding the Sox to just one run on seven hits over six innings during his last start, Toronto is 16-11 with him on the mound this season. Stroman carried the torch through the entire first half of the season with an impressive 9-5 record and a 3.28 ERA over eighteen starts, and he’s been even more impressive during the second half of the season with an awesome 2.78 ERA and a 2-1 record over nine contests.

 

Game Four

Chris Tillman (1-7, 7.91 ERA) will go toe-to-toe with Brett Anderson (2-3, 6.83 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Tillman wasn’t at his best during his last start versus Seattle and allowed six runs on three hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings. The O’s veteran owns an 8.44 ERA over 10 2/3 innings of work in his two starts since re-joining the rotation and is winless over his last sixteen starts. Over twenty-five career starts versus the Jays, Tillman has gone 5-10 with a 5.40 ERA.

Anderson turned in an impressive Blue Jays debut versus the Red Sox in his last start and allowed just a single run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, but took a tough-luck loss in the end. The veteran southpaw was released by the Cubs at the end of July, and lasted a little over two weeks on the market before the injury-riddled Blue Jays snapped him up. He’s always been solid when healthy. The former Athletic and Dodger will be making his second career start versus the Orioles in this match-up and his first since April 2010 while he was still in Oakland.

That’s it for now, Orioles fans!

Here’s to keeping the hammer down, and keeping the streak alive!

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Thursday Thoughts: We’re Streaking!

This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl WeaverBrooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. The Orioles, like Will Ferrell in “Old School,” are going streaking. After seven straight wins, the Birds are right back in the thick of things in the AL Wild Card race, and I’m as surprised as you are.

No more than ten days ago, no one would’ve predicted they’d be in this spot. In fact, after Zach Britton blew a save last week to end his AL-record at 60, things looked pretty bleak. Britton was removed from a tied game and Miguel Castro came in and somehow kept things that way. The O’s would go on to win that game in the 12th and as it stands, they haven’t lost since.

This streak is their longest of the season and they are now three games above .500 for the first time since early June. It’s just the kind of run they need to get them back into the mix, but it still doesn’t make them a leading contender to grab one of the two Wild Card spots.

There is still a lot of work to be done in order to make that happen.

2. Dylan Bundy turned in one of the great performances in Orioles history on Tuesday night. A complete game shutout with a bunt single and two walks allowed, paired with 12 strikeouts.

While watching, I was also completing a fantasy football draft. To say I was distracted from my draft is an understatement. Watching Bundy pitch was like watching an artist paint. It was so crafty and designed. He used a great mix of his overpowering fastball and dazzling breaking pitches to keep the Mariners off-balance throughout the game.

To say the start of Bundy’s career has been tumultuous would be putting it gently, but this season he really has shown signs that he can live up to the hype of a first-round pick. I still have massive reservations about the way the Orioles have used him this year, but now that the team is in contention entering September, there’s no real holding back. It just makes me nervous going forward about how Bundy’s arm will hold up into 2018.

That there wasn’t any real plan for his innings entering this season is the larger issue. Bundy’s first half was spectacular, then his ERA ballooned up over 4.00. Now it’s back down under that mark and hopefully will continue to dip as the season rolls to a close.

3. Speaking of the season coming to a close, September really is upon us. It seems to have crept up, but call-ups are on the way and the stretch run is here. If you’d asked me a month ago, I would’ve expected the Orioles to be calling up a bunch of prospects and young kids to give a shot this month.

That’s no longer the case. It’ll be “all hands on deck” for sure, but I don’t expect players to just come up and sit on the bench. Buck Showalter has never shown a propensity for clogging up his clubhouse with players who don’t need to be there. There will be plenty of arms coming up to help out, and that’s important because every game in September must be treated like a playoff game.

Showalter can’t continue to allow starters to go deep in games while allowing big innings. He’ll have the depth in arms throughout the month to get by with short starts.

I’d expect some creativity in hiding struggling pitchers.

4. Just more than a week ago I wrote over at MASNSports.com that Trey Mancini’s season has been outstanding, but won’t get him in the winner’s circle for the Rookie of the Year honors. That may have been premature. Mancini still likely won’t garner the votes that Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is set to receive, but it should be closer than you think.

Judge’s gaudy home run totals are what will win him the race, along with his absurd number of walks and high on-base percentage. But he has also struck out at an obscene rate, and as an overall hitter, Mancini has proven more consistent. This is also not a two-man race. There are other players who deserve consideration, including the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel and Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox.

But Mancini is showing up in a big way and is a large reason as to why the O’s are still in contention. It’s important to remember that the Rookie of the Year award, like all of them, is voted on by writers.

Most writers are going to have heard more about Aaron Judge than they have about Trey Mancini. That’s just the facts.

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Wednesday’s O’s Links: Dylan Bundy’s Near No-No

Adam Jones gives Dylan Bundy a pie.

Dealin’. Bundy.

What a performance, huh? Bundy’s third 10+ strikeout game THIS MONTH was also a complete game, one-hit shutout that gave the Birds their sixth straight win. The Mariners’ only hit was a bunt single, but it was early enough that there’s no unwritten rules silliness to go along with it. A no-hitter would have obviously been better, but we’re not complaining.

Let’s see what everybody is saying about Bundy & everything else today.

Castillo a Constant in Bundy’s Second-Half Success

Beef gets a lot of flak on O’s Twitter & message boards for his poor defense. Everybody knows that most of the O’s staff fare better with Caleb Joseph behind the plate. However, as The Sun’s Eddie Encina points out, that’s not the case for Bundy, who has fared much better throwing to Castillo of late.

From Suspect to Prospect: 10 Players Who Made the Leap in 2017

The bad news is that you need to subscribe to Baseball America to read this entire article. The good news is that you don’t need to read it all, as the important piece to O’s fans comes on page 1, where Austin Hays tops this list. “With legitimate defensive skills and a center fielder’s range as well as a right fielder’s arm, Hays looks like a future cornerstone in the Orioles outfield.” A prospect! Get excited, Birdland!

O’s Offensive Resurgence Has Been a Group Effort

The Birds still have baseball’s best offense since the All-Star break with a 121 wRC+. How have they been doing it? In short, EVERYONE has hit better. In long…well, click on over to Camden Depot for that.

Surging Offense Near Levels of Record-Setting June 2016

The last time the O’s hit like this was in the halycon days of June 2016, when it seemed like they were poised to mash their way to a World Series. Instead, they fell apart after June, a downturn that culminated in a wholly disappointing offensive showing in the Wild Card game in Toronto. The Sun’s Jon Meoli talked to some Birds about how this month compares to that one.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 215: Like Sands in the Hourglass

Jake & Scott discuss the Orioles’ little remaining time to make a run, with Jake taking the stand that it’s actually a GOOD thing that there isn’t much time left in the season. Ya know what? I like it.

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Series Preview: Orioles (65-65) vs. Mariners (66-65)

Ariel Miranda of the Mariners pitches.

After flying out of Boston with a three-game sweep over their bitter rivals in their back pocket, the Orioles will now look to keep the good vibes flowing versus a scrappy Seattle Mariners squad over a three-game set at Camden Yards.

The upcoming clash against the Mariners will kick off a three-legged, ten-game home stand for the Orioles. To say that this is the biggest home stand of the year would be an understatement. They’ll take on fellow wild card contender Seattle to begin the week, then host two AL East rivals in the form of the Blue Jays and the currently playoff-bound Yankees before departing for Cleveland.

It’s time to dig the cleats in, protect the house and reel off a bunch of notches in the win column.

The Orioles (65-65) are currently riding a four-game winning streak as they prepare to host the Mariners, and as a result of their recent surge, the Minnesota Twins and the second wild card slot are just two games out of reach. The Orioles should be buzzing at the thought of their upcoming home stand, as they boast an already impressive 38-26 record at home this season. They should also be buzzing after notching a drastically improved 23-16 mark over their last 39 games. Lastly, with a current 14-11 record in the month of August, the Orioles are having their first .500+ month since April.

Simply put, these resilient Birds have turned some heads as of late, and they seem to be hitting their stride at the right time.

The Mariners (66-65) roll into Birdland tied with the Angels for second place in the AL West and just 1.5-games behind the Twins for the final playoff spot in the AL. The Mariners have battled admirably all season long, and remain in the thick of the fight for the playoffs even after their starting rotation was ravaged by injuries. The Mariners have posted an impressive 23-17 mark since the conclusion of the All-Star Break and will be looking to state their case versus a fellow playoff contender as well.

This should be a great series to watch. However, the Orioles will be out for some revenge against the Mariners as they’ve gone just 2-8 against them since the beginning of last season.

Will the O’s continue their stellar run of form, or will the Mariners send their hosts crashing back down to earth?

Only time will tell. Let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Chris Tillman (1-7, 7.75 ERA) will take the hill against Marco Gonzales (0-1, 7.40 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Tillman will be aiming to notch another win versus his former club and snap his fifteen-start winless streak tonight. Over ten career starts versus Seattle, Tillman has had to have stirred up second thoughts in the Mariners hierarchy as he owns a sparkling 7-1 record and 3.30 ERA (That Adam Jones guy has been pretty good, too.). Tillman will be looking to repay Buck Showalter‘s faith after the skipper re-installed Tillman into the starting rotation after an exile to the bullpen, and will be giving him the nod once again despite Tillman having allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings during his last start versus the Angels.

Gonzalez, a once-promising top prospect in the Cardinals farm system, has went through a recovery campaign after missing all of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. He turned in a decent outing during his last start versus Atlanta and allowed two runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings. Acquired by Seattle in July, Gonzales is now 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA over his first four starts with the Mariners.

 

Game Two

Dylan Bundy (12-8, 4.18 ERA) will take on Erasmo Ramirez (5-4, 4.52 ERA) in Tuesday night’s contest.

Bundy turned in yet another impressive performance during his last start against Oakland and allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings. The Orioles in-form hurler is still undefeated since the start of the second half and owns a 4-0 record over six starts during that span. Over his last four starts, Bundy boasts a clean 3-0 record and a glittering 2.66 ERA. He’s also racked up 33 strikeouts over 27 innings of work during that span as well. Simply put, Bundy’s been dealin’.

Ramirez allowed just three runs despite ten hits over 5 1/3 innings during his last start versus Oakland, and will be looking to continue his good run of form versus the Orioles. Over his last eight outings (five starts) since the All-Star Break, Ramirez has gone 1-1 with an impressive 3.18 ERA. In sixteen career appearances (six starts) versus Baltimore, the former Tampa Bay Ray owns a 2-3 record and a sparkling 2.98 ERA.

 

Game Three

Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 6.57 ERA) will get the nod against former Oriole Ariel Miranda (8-6, 4.62 ERA) in the series finale on Wednesday.

Jimenez was tagged to the tune of five runs (three homers) on nine hits over five innings during his last outing versus Oakland, and has now lost back-to-back starts while posting a 10.61 ERA over that span. Over his last six starts, Jimenez has gone 1-3 with a 4.86 ERA. Over eight career starts versus Seattle, Jimenez has posted a 2-4 record and a 6.50 ERA.

Miranda battled through 4 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball during his last start against the Yankees, but the second half of the campaign hasn’t been kind to the former Orioles prospect. After lighting it up in the first half of the season with a 7-4 record and a 4.15 ERA over eighteen starts, Miranda has posted a 1-2 record and a 5.79 ERA over eight starts since the conclusion of the All-Star Break. He’s gone 1-2 with a 6.12 ERA over five starts during the month of August as he heads into his first career start against his former club.

That’s it for now, Orioles fans!

Can I get a let’s go O’s?!?!

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Monday’s O’s Links: Back at It, O’s Back in It

Hunter Harvey throws as Darren O'Day watches.

Greetings again, Birdland. After taking my birthday week “off,” O’s Links are back in effect. What’d we miss?

Oh, just a 5-1 week including a three-game sweep in Fenway to crawl back to within two games of the wild card?

Not bad!

Let’s see what else is up…

Red Sox Can’t Buy Key Hit as Orioles Complete Sweep

Oh yeah, drink it in.

After Weekend Sweep, O’s Back to Sniffing Postseason Spot

Writing in his weekly MASN guest column, our own Andrew Stetka marvels at the fact that the Birds have been able to maintain their relevance in the AL postseason chase. It’s had a lot to do with the overall mediocrity surrounding them, but let’s not look past how good they’ve been in August.

What’s Next for Miguel Castro?

Camden Depot’s Matt Kremnitzer takes some of the “Can Miguel Castro be a starter?” talk and dives into the numbers. Castro’s K rate is definitely cause for concern, but he looks to have some very solid potential. If nothing else, he’s a very intriguing option for 2018, and should *hopefully* be a useful piece in Baltimore for several years to come.

Tim Beckham, Free of High Expectations, Finally Hitting Like a Star

If even Dan Duquette told you he saw THIS coming from Beckham, you can rest assured that he’s lying to you. Timmy’s incredible start in Baltimore has gone a long way to making the aforementioned awesome August possible. And check this out!

Prospect Notes: Hunter Harvey

Remember him? He’s finally pitching again, and the results have been very promising.

 

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Week in Review: O’s Heat Up as Summer Cools Down

Well well well, what do we have here?

The clock may be ticking, but the Orioles have been doing a ton of knocking lately…

And it looks like this Orioles squad that just about everyone deemed dead in the water without even a fighter’s chance of making the postseason is out to shock the world once again.

And after an incredible sweep over the red-hot Bo’Sox at Fenway over the weekend, there is no doubt the Orioles are revving up the engine at the perfect moment in time.

The starters were almost flawless, the line-up did major damage and the bullpen was perfect. You couldn’t have asked for a better team performance than the one that we enjoyed over the weekend.

The current four-game winning streak has pulled the Orioles to an even .500 at 65-65, and as a result of their strongest showing on the road of the season, the AL’s second and final wild card spot is now just two games out of reach.

To add the cherry on top, this surging Orioles squad will now dig in their cleats and set their sights on taking down the Twins in the wild card standings over a lengthy ten-game stand at OPACY. If there was ever a time to pull off a major string of W’s, the time is now.

In the meantime, here’s to staying focused and hammering down versus fellow wild card contenders Seattle tomorrow.

That hammer’s getting pretty hot, by the way. Watch out, American League.

Let’s take a look at a few quick highlights from the past week of Orioles baseball.

– As we mentioned earlier, the Orioles starters were simply superb in Boston over the weekend and finished the three-game set with a sparkling 1.37 ERA over 19 2/3 innings. More of the same, please! Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Wade Miley have been doing a great job of carrying the load lately and have all been major catalysts in the Orioles resurgence.

– Once again, the Orioles bullpen was immaculate over 7 1/3 innings over the weekend, and as a result, relievers have posted a stellar 2.56 ERA over the last nineteen games and a 2.83 ERA over the last 29 contests.

– While it’s hard to top a twenty-hit, sixteen-run explosion like the Orioles pulled off on Friday, I like our chances of carrying the swagger over down the stretch. Mainly due to their fireworks display at Fenway, the Orioles are hitting .293 while scoring over seven runs a game (7.3 per game) on top of thirteen homers and an amazing .407 average with runners in scoring position over their last six ballgames.

– Over the last sixteen games, the Orioles are hitting a stellar .300 with 102 runs (6.4 per game) on 31 homers.

– Over the last 29 games, they’re hitting .289 with 166 runs (5.7 per game) on 51 homers as a unit.

Let’s go to the three stars of the week!

 

Third Star

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Trey Mancini. Talk about perfect timing. Right off the heels of a long-term slump, O’s star rookie Mancini broke on through to the other side by going 4-for-10 with a homer and three RBI versus Oakland. He then followed up by tagging the Sox over the weekend by going 7-for-13 with five RBI. His excellent showing in Boston included a four-RBI night on Friday and the game-winning RBI double on Sunday.

”Boom Boom” is on fire at the moment.

 

Second Star

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Wade Miley (Yes, THAT Wade Miley) gets the nod here over a red-hot Adam Jones and Tim Beckham. Miley pitched a great game versus the A’s during the former part of the week and allowed just two runs over six innings in the Orioles 7-3 win, and then battled relentlessly over five innings of one-run ball at Fenway over the weekend en route to a 2-1 sweep-clinching victory.

Miley has been in excellent form as of late, and as a result of his two well-earned wins this week, he’s now sparkled to the tune of a 4-1 record and a 2.76 ERA over his last six outings.

 

First Star

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Jonathan Schoop. The Orioles star second baseman has caught fire again lately, too. After posting his 27th home run of the season and five RBI versus Oakland, Schoop followed up by being a major catalyst in the dismantling of the Sox over the weekend by going 6-for-13 at the plate with four runs, one homer and two RBI.  His stellar display in Boston included a 4-for-5 night with three runs and an RBI on Friday and his 28th homer of the season on Saturday to tie Manny Machado for the club lead.

Over his last thirteen ballgames, Schoop is hitting an amazing .333 with three homers and ten RBI. In his last 38 games, Schoop is hammering down to the tune of a .331 batting average with ten homers and forty RBI.

Without a doubt, Schoop has been the O’s team MVP this season, and should garner some AL MVP votes.

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Get Your Players’ Weekend O’s T-Shirt Here

players-weekend-t-shirt

So Players’ Weekend was a blast! Not only did MLB teams showcase their players’ personalities with customized jerseys, cleats, and more, but most importantly, the Birds pulled off a huge sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

To commemorate the weekend, we’ve partnered with our friends at Breaking T to bring you this exclusive t-shirt!

players-weekend-t-shirt

Get yours here!

We chose five of the best nicknames on the Birds for the shirt – Adam “Pappo” Jones, Tim “Swaggy T” Beckham, Chris “Crush” Davis, Jonathan “Mamba” Schoop, and of course, Mr. Miami himself, Manny Machado.

We’ve partnered with Breaking T several times in the past, and they’ve put together some awesome shirts. Their products are super comfortable, soft, and look great. If you’re deciding between two sizes, we’d recommend the larger of the two. These shirts are fully approved by the MLB Players’ Association, so don’t worry about anybody knocking down your door with lawsuits or the shirts suddenly disappearing from the market!

So please get your Breaking T O’s players’ weekend shirt here, and commemorate this fun-filled, action-packed, and most importantly – SWEEEEEEP-tastic weekend!

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Series Preview: Orioles (62-65) @ Red Sox (73-53)

A shot from inside Fenway Park during a game.

After taking two of three against the A’s and finishing a six-game home stand at an even 3-3, The Orioles will now make a mini-road trip up to Fenway for the last time this season before returning home for a crucial ten-game home stand.

The Orioles (62-65) are pretty much light years behind the Red Sox for the division title at this point in the season, but they remain just three games behind the Twins for the final wild card slot in the American League. After earning two big notches in the win column versus a scrappy Oakland squad, the Orioles will enter the final week of August with an even 11-11 record this month. However, their struggles while on tour this season has proven to be the team’s Achilles heel. The O’s are 6-9 over their last fifteen contests away from Camden Yards and have gone 24-39 on the road in 2017.

The Red Sox (73-53) are set to host the Birds in sparkling form and will be looking to boost their already incredible 15-4 record since the turn of August. As a result of their stellar play, the ‘Sox now stand at a season-high twenty games above .500 and boast the AL’s second-best record. They have also stretched their lead to 4.5 games over the Yankees for the division title and trail the Astros by just four games for the AL’s top ranking.

The Orioles will be looking to stay alive and make up some valuable ground over their third and final trip to Fenway this season. The O’s own a slight 7-6 advantage over the ‘Sox this year, but the teams stand split at 3-3 over six games in Boston.

Will the hosts move closer to wrapping up the division title as we draw closer to September, or will the Orioles provide a massive spark to their wild card ambitions over the weekend?

We’re about to find out. Let’s go to the starters.

 

Game One

Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 5.00 ERA) will take the mound versus Rick Porcello (8-14, 4.48 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Hellickson was roughed up during his last outing versus the Angels and allowed seven runs on eight hits over just 4 2/3 innings. Over his first four starts as an Oriole, Hellickson has posted a 1-2 record and a 6.35 ERA. The former Tampa Bay Ray will be looking to bounce back against a familiar foe, as he’s gone 4-4 with a 4.78 ERA over fifteen career starts versus Boston.

Porcello turned in yet another good start by allowing just a single run on three hits over six innings versus the Yankees en route to his eighth win of the season last weekend. The former Cy Young award winner has hit top form as of late with a 3-0 record and a 2.84 ERA over his last three outings. He’s also posted a solid 4-3 record and a 3.77 ERA over seven starts since the All-Star Break.

 

Game Two

Kevin Gausman (9-9, 5.25 ERA) is set to take on Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.01 ERA) in Saturday’s contest.

Gausman wasn’t at his best during his last start versus Anaheim and allowed five runs on six hits over five innings, but he’s been really on his game for a while now. Over his last eleven starts, Gausman has posted an impressive 6-2 record along with a sturdy 3.69 ERA. Over his last seven outings, He’s notched a 4-2 record and a stellar 2.66 ERA.

Rodriguez turned in a decent outing during his last start versus Cleveland and allowed three runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. While he’s posted just four wins in seventeen starts this season, he’s been hit with a bout of bad luck as well. Over four starts this month, his record still stands at 0-0 despite the southpaw notching a stout 3.52 ERA. Rodriguez is also still undefeated at Fenway on the year with a 1-0 record and a solid 3.79 ERA over seven starts.

 

Game Three

All signs point to Chris Tillman (1-7, 7.75 ERA) getting the nod against Doug Fister (3-6, 4.78 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday, yet nothing is official at the moment.

Tillman returned to the rotation after a seventeen-day exile to the bullpen last Sunday versus the Halos and allowed four runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings. The O’s veteran is currently on a fifteen-start winless streak, and hasn’t been in the win column since his season debut versus the White Sox on May 7th.

Fister turned in a gem of a performance en route to holding the Indians to just a single run on one hit over a dominant complete-game victory. Fister now owns a 2-1 record and a solid 4.12 ERA over his last three outings. Over eight career starts versus the Orioles, the veteran owns a 4-2 record along with a 4.47 ERA.

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The Rundown: The Remarkably Consistent Adam Jones

Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles prepares to swing.

The Orioles won their fifth straight series opener on Monday night against the Oakland A’s, but they have failed to win the series on each of the previous four occasions. This will come as no surprise, but that formula needs to change now if the O’s really want to get back in the playoff race.

It will begin tonight with Ubaldo Jimenez taking the mound and trying to bounce back from his Ubaldo-like performance against the Mariners in which he allowed six earned runs. Jimenez finished with 11 strikeouts and only allowed three earned runs the last time he faced the A’s and the team needs him to perform like that again.

 

Mr. Consistency

It is often said that you can just look at the back of a player’s baseball card to figure out how he will finish the season. It’s amazing how true that is for Adam Jones. Despite a little dip in average the last two years, we pretty much know Jones will finish with a batting average of .280 and home runs in the upper 20’s. After a four-hit performance on Monday, Jones is now batting over .280 and has a strong chance to finish the season with at least 30 dingers.

Jones continues to stay in the lineup even if he is clearly playing banged up and maintains the same approach whether he is batting first, second or fourth. I still marvel at Jones’ ability to hit for a strong average despite never walking 40 times in a season. Like Manny Machado’s three home run performance against the Angels, games like last night from Jones will need to be duplicated by the other hitters over the final six weeks in order for this team to be serious playoff contenders.

Baltimore Orioles shortstop <a rel=

GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld

 

The Ultimate Teammate

I’m probably looking too much into it, but it speaks to the atmosphere of the Orioles clubhouse that Buck Showalter has instilled and the person J.J. Hardy is when I see him helping Tim Beckham improve defensively before games. Beckham has clearly taken Hardy’s job, but the veteran has put his ego aside to pass on his knowledge in order for the team to win now.

Outside of a few games that he will play when he returns, Hardy’s very successful Orioles career has come to an end. It will be interesting to see if he latches on with another team next year, but I’m sure he will end up in some coaching capacity down the road.

Hardy will always be remembered for helping turn this franchise around and it’s just another reminder that the core that brought this team back to relevance is slowly breaking up. We have seen Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters leave in recent seasons and following this year, Hardy and Chris Tillman will more than likely follow with next year being another season in which many of the players we have watched the last few seasons departing.

The O’s may not win a World Series, but they did make baseball fun again in Baltimore.

Hardy was a huge reason for that.

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Series Preview: Orioles (60-64) vs. A’s (54-70)

Wade Miley of the Orioles pitches.

After failing to capitalize on a prime opportunity versus the Angels over the weekend, the Orioles will now look to recover in a hurry and try to build some momentum versus the lowly Oakland A’s over the next three nights.

For the Orioles, time is running out for them to state their case for a playoff spot in October. A favorable three-game set versus the second-worst team in the AL must translate to at least two wins in the back pocket, if not all three. It doesn’t help that Boston will be awaiting the Birds at Fenway for their clash in the latter part of the week.

The Orioles (60-64) Are just four games out of a wildcard berth, but they’re also currently enduring a fourth consecutive sub-.500 month (9-10 in August) after dropping another series versus Anaheim. The O’s have clawed their way back into playoff contention by notching an improved 18-15 record over their last thirty-three, but have stumbled a bit as of late with a 5-8 record over their last thirteen. To make matters worse, they’ve gone just 6-13 versus AL West opponents that are not named the Texas Rangers.

The Athletics (54-70) have gone through another rebuilding/learning season in 2017, and they’ll roll into Baltimore ranked as the second-worst club in the AL through the three-quarter mark of the campaign. The young A’s squad has played solid baseball at home this season, but they’ve let themselves down with a 20-39 mark on the road. The A’s are also in the middle of a rough 7-11 month of August.

The A’s were able to nab two wins and split the series with the Birds in the middle part of the Orioles recent West Coast swing. Will they be able to land another blow to the O’s playoff hopes this time around?

Only time and fate will decide.

Let’s go to the starters.

 

Game One

Wade Miley (6-10, 5.21 ERA) will take the mound versus Chris Smith (0-2, 5.26 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Miley will be looking to bounce back from his last outing in which he allowed three runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings versus Seattle. However, Miley has been in excellent form as of late with a 2-1 record and a stellar 2.91 ERA over his last four contests. He’s also dominated Oakland in the past and boasts a 3-1 record and a sparkling 1.33 ERA over four career starts versus the A’s.

Smith will be making another start after allowing three runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings versus Kansas City. Smith was pretty solid in July with a 4.13 ERA over four starts, but has posted a 7.04 ERA over three outings so far in August. He’ll be making his second career start versus the Birds and owns a lifetime 6.30 ERA against them over three games (one start).

 

Game Two

Ubaldo Jimenez (5-8, 6.47 ERA) will square up against Paul Blackburn (3-1, 3.46 ERA) in the middle game on Tuesday.

Jimenez was back to his old ways during his last outing versus the Mariners as he allowed six runs on eight hits over just 4 1/3 innings. His latest outing came as a bit of a surprise as Jimenez had been in excellent form prior to his latest start. Jimenez is 1-2 with a solid 4.13 ERA over his last five contests.

Blackburn was tagged by the Royals during his last start and allowed four runs on eight hits over just four innings. He’ll also be facing the Orioles again after allowing four runs on ten hits over 5 2/3 innings against them on August 11th. After posting an impressive 2-1 record and 3.05 ERA over six starts in July, the promising rookie’s last two rough outings has seen his ERA rise to 4.41 over three starts in August.

 

Game Three

Dylan Bundy (12-8, 4.17 ERA) will take the hill versus Sean Manaea (8-8, 4.58 ERA) in the series finale on Wednesday.

Bundy was pretty impressive during his last contest versus the A’s as he allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings while striking out ten in the process. As a result of his latest stellar start, Bundy has now gone 3-0 with an amazing 2.14 ERA over his last three outings and has posted a superb 4-1 record and 3.62 ERA over five starts since the All-Star Break.

Manaea turned in a solid outing during his latest start versus Houston and allowed three runs on six hits over six innings, but sadly took the loss. It was a nice recovery from the A’s young hurler after he had given up six runs in just a third of an inning versus the Birds on August 12th. After posting a very solid 7-5 record and 3.76 ERA over sixteen starts during the first half of the campaign, Manaea will be looking to snap back into form and improve upon a 1-3 record and 6.96 ERA through his first seven starts in the second half of the season.

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Week in Review: Opportunities Squandered

Kevin Gausman walks off the mound as an Angels player rounds the bases after a HR.

Right off of the heels of a disheartening tenure on the West Coast, the Orioles had a prime chance to make up for it in a massive way but failed to seize the opportunity this weekend versus the Angels.

A series win would have been not only massive for the team morale coming into a lengthy stand at home, but a chance to cut into a 2.5-game deficit for the final playoff spot in the AL has come and gone. Instead, the Orioles now stand at four games out of the playoff picture and the sand in the hourglass is running out in a hurry.

Granted, 38 games is a long way to go in the course of a major league season. We’ve seen some crazy stuff go down during September in recent memory around the league, and it’s truly not over until the proverbial fat lady sings.

However, the sense of urgency must be doubled in Birdland. Not that these guys aren’t scrapping as it is, but the time to win and climb up the standings must be now if they want a chance to play in October. They still have a ton of games to play at home over the next few weeks, and they’ve got to take advantage of it.

The season may be 162 games long, but the Orioles time is now. As far as truly being in this for the home stretch, it’s now or never.

Let’s take a look at the highlights (and the lowlights) of the past week of Orioles baseball:

– After reeling off quite a surprising and excellent run of form lately, Orioles starters crashed back down to earth hard this week. A 6.18 ERA in the road trip finale, followed by a 10.28 ERA over fourteen innings of work versus Anaheim sums up just about all you need to know. As a whole, the O’s starting rotation ended the week with an 8.10 ERA over thirty innings of work. Giving up eleven homers to the Angels didn’t help matters much.

– Despite faltering (barely) on Sunday, the Orioles bullpen was otherwise magnificent versus Anaheim and finished the series having allowed just a single run over thirteen innings. They also allowed just two over nine innings versus the Mariners, and as a result own a sparkling 1.23 ERA over their last six contests.

– The bullpen has been sensational for a while now and boasts a stellar 2.52 ERA over their last eleven games and a 2.88 ERA over the last 23. On a larger scale, they own a 2.96 ERA over the last 36 games, and a superb 2.73 ERA over the past 43.

– Despite being silenced for a few nights this week, the Orioles sluggers put on a few impressive shows nonetheless. As a result, the O’s have now hit .304 while scoring 5.8 runs per game over their last ten contests. You’d think we’d be better than 4-6 with numbers like that, but I digress…

– The Orioles offense has been pretty impressive during the latter part of the summer. Over the past 23 games, the Orioles have hit .288 as a unit while scoring 5.3 runs per game during that span as well. Over the last forty ballgames, the Orioles are mashing .288 at the plate while driving in 5.6 runs a clip. Not to mention that they’ve hit 66 long balls over that span, too.

Let’s go to the three stars of the week!

 

Third Star

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Jonathan Schoop. While Schoop isn’t single-handedly carrying the line-up anymore, the O’s star second baseman is starting to rev back up again. Schoop finished the series in the Emerald City by going 4-for-13 at the plate with a homer and an RBI. He then followed up by having a huge game in a losing effort on Sunday and finished the series versus the Angels having gone 4-for-12 at the dish with a pair of RBI.

Over his last 32 games, Schoop is hitting a sensational .328 to go along with eight homers and 33 RBI.

 

Second Star

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Tim Beckham. Beckham was at it again in Seattle and went 6-for-13 with two home runs and three RBI to add to the folklore. He then played a huge part in the Orioles comeback win over Anaheim on Friday, and picked up three more hits and scored four runs over the weekend.

Through his first nineteen games in Baltimore, Beckham is clubbing an incredible .437 with 21 runs, eight doubles, five homers and twelve RBI. He’s been on an All-World level since joining the team.

 

First Star

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Manny Machado. Was there ever even any doubt? Machado crushed the Mariners with a grand slam in the series opener in Seattle, then torched the Angels upon returning home with another grand salami, this time of the walk-off variety, and the Orioles star third baseman has now been arguably the hottest player in baseball this month.

Over his last 33 ballgames, Machado is hitting an amazing .350 with eight homers and 33 RBI. Over his last eight, he’s gone 15-for-36 (.416) at the plate with five home runs and fifteen RBI.

Simply stated, he’s lighting the world on fire at the moment.

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#Staturday: Ain’t Manny Grand?

Manny Machado watches a home run fly.

Happy Staturday Birdland! So last night was pretty amazing. Due to Manny Machado’s awesomeness, I have a jumbo-sized Staturday filled with Manny stats. Enjoy!

Manny’s grand slam last night was glorious but he’s not the only grand Oriole:

Manny Machado and Chris Davis lead the majors in grand slams since 2013 with seven apiece.

The Orioles also lead the majors with 28 grand slams since 2013.

Recently, Manny Machado has been on an absolute grand slam roll:

Since April 28th, 2016, the Orioles have recorded 12 grand slams, 6 of which were hit by Manny.

In the last 11 days, Manny Machado has crushed three grand slams. The rest of the American League? Also three grand slams.

In his three-homer, grand slam game, Manny also made some history:

Manny Machado is the first Oriole to record multiple seasons with 3+ grand slams.

Manny is the third player in MLB recorded history (since 1913 via Baseball Reference) to have consecutive seasons with 3+ grand slams.

Manny Machado & A-Rod are the only two players in MLB history to have multiple seasons with 3+ grand slams prior to their age-26 season.

One last fact for this week’s Staturday:

Manny is good at baseball. Keep watching him.

Check out more stats like these at @BirdlandStats on Twitter!

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Series Preview: Orioles (59-62) vs. Angels (62-59)

Manny Machado and Mike Trout sie-by-side.

After capping off a topsy-turvy trip on the West Coast by dropping two out of three in Seattle, the Orioles will be looking to recover and bounce back from a bruising blow in the form of a 4-6 road trip over the weekend against the Los Angeles Angels.

On the sunny side of things, the Orioles will now dig in and try to rack up a haul of crucial wins at home. They’ll be playing in the friendly confines of Camden Yards for sixteen of the next nineteen contests. Winning at home hasn’t been a problem for the Birds this season, as evidenced by an impressive 35-23 mark at OPACY during the 2017 season.

In the meantime, the Orioles (59-62) remain just three games behind their current visitors for the second wild card slot in the AL. Despite a disheartening finale in the tour through the West Coast, the Orioles still own an 8-8 record thus far in August and a solid 17-13 mark over the past thirty contests.

On the other hand, The Angels (62-59) have burst into form as of late and thanks to a sparkling 11-4 record through the first fifteen games of August, they own a half a game lead over Kansas City for the second wild card spot in the AL. The Halos have posted an impressive 17-12 record since the turn of the season and to make matters worse for the O’s, they’ve gone 7-2 over their last nine games on the road. That includes a four-game sweep over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

The Orioles will be looking to level the score versus the Angels after winning just one of three in Anaheim two weeks ago. Since the start of the 2014 season, the O’s own a slight 11-10 advantage over the Halos.

Will the Orioles do some damage against the current wild card holders, or will the Angels continue their excellent form and distance themselves from the pack of challengers?

We’re about to find out. Let’s take a look at the starters.

Note: Due to Dylan Bundy‘s extended rest plan, the following is based off of projection. The plan itself seems to be working- Bundy’s gone 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA over his last three starts.

 

Game One

Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 4.70 ERA) will take the mound in the series opener versus Andrew Heaney (0-0, 0.00 ERA).

Hellickson was tagged by the A’s during his last outing and exited after allowing six runs on five hits over five innings in a losing effort. The veteran now carries a 1-2 record and a 4.50 ERA through his first three starts as an Oriole. On the bright side, Hellickson owns a rock-solid 3-4 record and 3.02 ERA over seven career starts versus Anaheim.

Heaney will be making his comeback start after missing thirteen and a half months following Tommy John surgery. The 26-year-old southpaw flashed big time potential during his rookie season in 2015 and finished the season with a 6-4 record and a 3.49 ERA. A 3.18 ERA during his three-start rehab stint is a promising sign for Heaney and the Angels. He could provide a massive spark to a team trying to hang onto a playoff spot.

 

Game Two

Kevin Gausman (9-8, 5.08 ERA) is projected to take on J.C Ramirez (10-10, 4.26 ERA) on Saturday.

Gausman spun another gem during his last start by holding the Mariners to just two runs on six hits over seven stellar innings. As a result, Gausman has notched a superb 6-1 record and an impressive 3.18 ERA over his last ten starts. He also boasts an outstanding 4-1 record and a sensational 1.80 ERA over his past six outings.

Ramirez is coming off of back-to-back rough outings versus the O’s and the Mariners and has allowed nine runs over twelve innings during that span (6,75 ERA). Nonetheless, Ramirez has had a great season for the Halos and he still owns a solid 3.72 ERA over his last six starts. He’s also been a road warrior for the visitors this season, as he owns an excellent 7-4 record and 3.65 ERA over eleven starts away from home.

 

Game Three

Wade Miley (6-10, 5.21 ERA) is projected to get the nod versus former Orioles prospect Parker Bridwell (7-1, 2.88 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Miley wasn’t up to par versus the Mariners and finished his last start having allowed three runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings in a losing effort. However, Miley has been very good as of late and boasts a stellar 2-1 record and 2.91 ERA over his last four outings. He has also notched a perfect 2-0 record over three career starts versus the Angels while posting an outstanding 2.01 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and .147 BAA.

Bridwell dazzled yet again for the Angels during his last start by holding the Mariners to a single run on four hits over six innings en route to his seventh win on the year. Bridwell, 26, has been amazing for the Halos as of late and owns a clean 5-0 record along with a sensational 2.22 ERA over his last seven contests. He hasn’t lost a game since June 30th, and the Angels are 10-1 when Bridwell takes the mound. To make matters worse for the Orioles, Bridwell has notched an impressive 4-0 record and a phenomenal 1.74 ERA over five starts on the road this season.

 

That’s all for now, Orioles fans!

Enjoy the weekend!

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Friday’s O’s Links: Where Does Santander Fit?

Orioles' Anthony Santander prepares to hit.

The road trip came to a very disappointing 4-6 end the other day, and now the Birds have once again put themselves in a position of needing an outstanding homestand to keep pace. Despite winning the first game of the series in both Anaheim & Seattle, they ended up dropping two of three in both, as well as splitting four with the lowly A’s.

Brutal.

Hopefully home can cure what ails ’em, but the clock is ticking.

Let’s hit the links on a dreary day in Baltimore.

Chris Davis has Taken 8 Third Strikes Down the Middle

I usually very much enjoy when Jeff Sullivan writes about the Orioles. In this case though, he’s writing about the bane of O’s fans’ existence this year – Whiff Davis staring at strike three. Davis missed a bunch of time, and STILL leads the majors in backwards K’s. Sullivan found eight instances where Davis not only went down looking, but went down looking on a pitch that can be classified as middle-middle. Including, of course, the final out on Wednesday, with the bases loaded and his team down by a single run.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 217: Songs After Dark

Are the O’s still in this thing or what? Is there enough season left? Jake & Scott talk themselves into the Birds as contenders, out of it, then back into it again. They also get into some musical selections in an “Orioles Jukebox,” which I quite enjoyed.

Crowded House: How Santander’s Arrival Will Impact Lineup Decisions

Santander is here. How will that affect the lineup? Matt Cassidy of Camden Depot has some thoughts. In conclusion though, he thinks Buck will need a drink.

Ben McDonald Reminisces About 1992 Orioles

The REAL Big Ben joined Terry Ford on 105.7 to discuss the ’92 Birds, who will be celebrated on Saturday at OPACY. There will also be a home run derby featuring Chris Hoiles, Sam Horn, & others, so be sure to show up early.

Interview with Yefry Ramirez

Eric Himmelheber, who used to write for us (hey, Eric!) scored an exclusive interview with O’s prospect Yefry Ramirez, who the O’s acquired from New York in July for – of course – international bonus slot money. Hopefully the Birds can get some production out of the youngster. He certainly seems to be level-headed and have the right mindset.

 

 

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