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Wednesday’s O’s Links: O’s, Woes, & Natty Bo…More Woes

Orioles pitcher Alec Asher puts his head down and hands on his knees as a White Sox player rounds first.

It just keeps getting worse. It was one thing to lose to the red-hot, AL East-leading Yankees, who are running roughshod over everybody. But getting smacked around – badly – by the Chicago White Sox?

The Orioles are embarrassing right now. They’re really, really bad.

How bad?

Well, let’s get to the links…

What if the Orioles are Actually Terrible?

An uplifting little number from Patrick Dougherty of Camden Depot. Graphs, charts, and discussion of run differential that way be.

The Orioles Have Lost their Winning Way. Can they Find it Again?

A *decent* rotation. A great bullpen, front-to-back. Avoiding “bad” players. DEFENSE. These things made the 2014 Orioles great. These things are all missing in 2017.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 205: Taking a Quantum Leap

Jake & Scott sat down two losses ago to try to make sense of things. They peer into a grim future and try to predict this year’s August lineup, should a fire sale occur.

Chris Tillman’s Slow Sink Drowns O’s

The Orioles could always count on the stability of Chris Tillman. He wasn’t the “ace” some tried to make him, but he was OUR ace, damn it, and he’d throw up quality start after quality start. Now, he just throws up. All over the mound. Andrew Stetka has more.

Are Josh Hader & Parker Bridwell the Next Jake Arrieta and Ariel Miranda?

I mean, I don’t think so. But as long as we’re getting dark around here, let’s dive even further into the abyss, huh?

 

See you guys on Friday. Hopefully the Orioles have won another game by then.

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O’s Draft Two Southpaws & a Shortstop on Day 1

D.L. Hall pitches in an Orioles uniform.

If you happened to be following the draft last night, you probably went through a whole wave of emotions.

After several top college prospects fell out of the top 15, you were probably just as ecstatic as I was. Then star Kentucky first baseman Evan White went 17th to the Mariners, Florida ace Alex Faedo went 18th to the Tigers, and then standout Oregon lefty David Peterson went to the Mets at 20th overall, right before the Orioles went on the clock.

And then to the surprise of just about everyone, the Orioles passed on star UNC shortstop Logan Warmoth and star Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall to take D.L. Hall, a left-handed pitcher out of Valdosta High School (GA).

Warmoth went 22nd overall to the Toronto Blue Jays (sigh), and the Dodgers pounced on Kendall with the 23rd overall pick.

But wait! As disheartening as it may have been to some (or most) Orioles fans that the team took a high school arm with their first-round pick, they may have found a special one in the 18-year-old lefty from Warner Robbins, Georgia.

The Orioles would follow up by selecting shortstop Adam Hall out of London, Ontario with the 60th overall pick and then LHP Zac Lowther out of Xavier University with the 74th overall pick.

Let’s look at the Orioles day one draftees:

LHP D.L. Hall: Valdosta HS (GA)

D.L. Hall in an Orioles cap.

The Orioles may have landed a gem in the 18-year-old Hall. He was rated as the 16th best prospect on the board by Baseball America, the 14th overall prospect by MLB.com, and the 8th-best prospect in this year’s draft by ESPN’s Keith Law. John Sickels of Minor League Ball compared him to Mackenzie Gore, who went third overall to the Padres last night.

After posting a 6-1 record and a 1.81 ERA to go along with 89 Ks in 58 innings for Houston County HS (GA) en route to winning the 5-A state title in 2016, Hall transferred back to Valdosta High School in 2017 and posted a stellar 1.36 ERA over 51 1/3 innings while racking up 105 strikeouts.

The biggest question mark is this: Hall, who is committed to FSU, has already stated that it will be a tough decision on whether to sign or to play college ball. Here’s hoping that the Orioles can persuade him to sign without a hitch.

 

SS Adam Hall: A.B Lucas Secondary School (Ontario, Canada)

Adam Hall fields a ground ball.

The Orioles seem to be in love Hall’s skills at the plate and believe he has the potential to be a five-tool type of player in the future. While scouts also believe he will stick at shortstop, many believe that he has the versatility to play second or even third as well.

While he will probably have a long way to go until reaching the majors, the 18-year-old Hall is a member of the Canadian Junior National Team and has been regarded as one of Canada’s top prospects for quite some time now.

Hall, who is committed to play at Texas A&M, will now have to make the decision to sign or stay pledged to his commitment.

LHP Zac Lowther: Xavier University

Zac Louther pitches.

While the 21-year-old southpaw wasn’t on the top 100 prospects list going into the draft, Lowther may be a guy that exceeds expectations going forward.

After bursting onto the scene with a 2.52 ERA and 54:4 K/BB ratio with the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League in 2016, Lowther carried that momentum into the 2017 season with the Xavier Musketeers and finished the campaign with a 5-5 record and a stellar 2.92 ERA over 15 starts while racking up 123 K’s in just 83 1/3 innings.

As a result, the Orioles made the kid out of Brooklyn Heights, Ohio the highest-drafted Musketeer in school history. A true swing-and-miss type pitcher, Lowther has an impressive four-pitch repertoire and excellent command. He could be on the fast track to the majors if his skill set can translate to professional baseball.

 

So Birdland, how are you feeling about the Orioles draft last night? Let us know!

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Lost & Clueless in Birdland

cartoon of sad orioles bird face

Baseball is weird and the Orioles are weird and I don’t understand any of it.

Had you asked me a month ago what I thought of the 2017 Orioles, I would have told you that I expected the team to win about 95 games. Somehow, they had managed a 22-10 record despite an injured “ace” in Chris Tillman, an injured All-Star closer in Zach Britton (and Brad Brach struggling as the replacement), two starters (Ubaldo Jimenez and Kevin Gausman) with earned run averages over 6.00, a normally consistent Darren O’Day with an ERA over 5.00, the entire heart of the order (Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo) posting on base + slugging percentages (OPS) well under .800, and cumulative team defense far below the standard we have seen set in recent years.

I don’t think it would have been too far out of the realm of possibility to expect that once a few of those players returned to their regular form, a team underperforming but still winning would transform from lucky to legit…or something like that. Sure, Dylan Bundy and Wade Miley were both unexpectedly dominant. New acquisitions Seth Smith and Welington Castillo provided bright spots on offense while Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini both showed continued signs of promise. Aside from those six guys, the only things to really get excited about were some solid long relief appearances from Alec Asher, Gabriel Ynoa, and Logan Verrett, if you can really consider that “excitement.”

All things considered, the O’s seemed to be in a pretty good spot. With Tillman due back and Gausman sure to figure something out eventually, the rotation seemed poised to potentially return to as good a form as it had been in since 2014. O’Day and Brach surely would return to their old selves and Britton would be back soon. The middle of the order would start hitting, right?

 

Instead…

Instead, Tillman looks hurt and Gausman has no idea where the ball is going when he releases it. Miley seems to have remembered that he isn’t very good. Britton returned to action and was promptly sent right back to the disabled list. Machado is batting .218 and Davis strikes out more than my friends and me at the bar. Castillo has been out with an unfortunate testicular injury a la 2016 Caleb Joseph and Smith’s on base percentage has dropped 60 points in the past three weeks.

In addition, not that All-Star fan voting matters a whole lot, but the Orioles have just three guys in the top five at their respective positions. To put it simply, the pitching has been abysmal and the offense has been uncharacteristically poor.

Put it all together and you have a team that sits at an even .500 with a run differential of negative 43, somehow just one game out of a Wild Card spot.

To make matters worse, the Yankees roster looks like it has reincarnated versions of Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, and DiMaggio.

 

Stupid Projections!

One of the best running jokes of the past five seasons has been the preseason projections that consistently put the Orioles in last place. Numbers hate the Orioles. They are impossible to predict. It’s an anomaly for which I’ve sought answers but have yet to come up with anything plausible that makes the slightest bit of sense. Is it Buck? Maybe.

But right now it looks like those projections may be onto something.

A three-game series at Yankee Stadium in which the Orioles were outscored 38-8 sent O’s fans parachuting into despair this weekend. Starting pitchers surrendered 19 runs in 10.2 innings in the series and that includes Bundy’s quality start on Friday night. Mike Wright was bad. Stefan Crichton was worse. Edwin Jackson was so bad he got cut. Jimmy Yacabonis did not fare well in his debut.

Last night was not much better, as the O’s surrendered another ten runs, this time to the last place Chicago White Sox.

OH, and now Chris Davis is hurt! He’ll probably end up missing several weeks, if not months, with an oblique injury that forced him from last night’s game.

At least he probably won’t break the strikeout record now!

I haven’t seen the Birds in this much of a wreck since I watched one slam into my apartment window and drop 20 feet to its death. That makes for an interesting and graphic metaphor considering the team flew to a 22-10 start and has now lost 21 of its last 30 games.

 

No Answers

The point of this article, I guess, is that baseball is incredibly dumb and my favorite team makes me sad. I’m not here to provide any answers or to suggest firing our GM or our manager. I haven’t been able to logically convince myself to start trading guys away. As much as I would love to pretend I know the first thing about running a competitive baseball team, there’s a reason other people are in charge while I’m sitting in a hotel room in Kansas City, still in my bath towel at almost 1:00 in the afternoon.

Sooner or later, the O’s will go on one of those week-long tears where they win six of seven and give us hope for the remainder of the season, only to crush that hope again the following week.

That’s how this goes, right? Tell me I’m wrong. Please. I’m begging you. I cannot take much more of this.

I just want to start winning again.

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Series Preview: Orioles (31-30) @ White Sox (26-35)

Side by side of Dylan Bundy and Miguel Gonzalez.

After getting demolished in the Bronx over the weekend, the Orioles will now try to recover from such a heavy blow over a four-game set in the Windy City.

The Orioles (31-30) have slipped to fourth in the division and now face a 6.5-game deficit to overcome in order to match the pace of the first-place Yankees. More concerning to the Orioles, however, is that the fifth-place Toronto Blue Jays are just a game and a half away from sending the Orioles to the foot of the table.

The Orioles’ poor form away from Camden Yards has proven costly this season. Not only will they be looking to snap a horrid nine-game road losing streak in tonight’s contest, they’ll be looking for just their second win on the road since taking the final game of a four-game set at Fenway on May 4th. They’ve gone 1-13 on the road since.

The White Sox (26-35) find themselves in the cellar and 7.5-games off the pace of the Twins in the AL Central. A dreadful 5-13 stretch over their last 18 games hasn’t done them any favors. The month of June (2-7) hasn’t, either.

The last time these two clubs met in May, the Orioles swept them over a three-game set at Camden Yards.

Will the Orioles end their recent woes against the last place ChiSox, or will the hosts get their revenge?

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

 

Game One

Wade Miley (2-3, 3.27 ERA) will get the nod in the series opener versus Mike Pelfrey (2-5, 3.80 ERA) on Monday.

After allowing four earned runs on eight hits over just 2 2/3 innings in his last start versus Pittsburgh, Miley now owns a 5.52 ERA over his last three outings. The Orioles Southpaw is 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA over six starts away from Camden Yards.

Pelfrey has come alive as of late for the hosts in a big way. Over his last four starts, the veteran owns a stellar 1.68 ERA after allowing just four runs over 21 1/3 innings. In four starts at home, Pelfrey is 1-2 despite owning an impressive 2.84 ERA.

 

Game Two

Alec Asher (2-4, 4.35 ERA) will take the hill against southpaw Derek Holland (4-6, 3.99 ERA) on Tuesday.

After getting tagged for five runs on seven hits over just four innings in his last outing in D.C., Asher has now gone 1-2 with a woeful 9.49 ERA over his three starts since being named a permanent member of the rotation. He’s 0-4 with a 6.20 ERA on the road this year.

Holland may own a sparkling 2.74 ERA over four starts at home this season, but the former Ranger has been horrid as of late. He’s lost both of his first two starts this month while recording an 18.00 ERA and has gone 0-3 with a 10.38 ERA over his last three outings.

 

Game Three

Dylan Bundy (6-5, 3.05 ERA) will take the mound versus former Orioles fan-favorite Miguel Gonzalez (4-7, 4.89 ERA) on Wednesday.

Bundy has been the lone shining star in the Orioles rotation this season, and will be looking for his eleventh quality start of the year in just his thirteenth attempt. Bundy has been handed a 1-4 record over his last five outings despite notching a rock-solid 3.24 ERA.

Gonzalez will be looking to get his season back on track at home where he is 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA over four starts. He’s gone 1-2 with a dismal 6.38 ERA over his last three outings.

 

Game Four

Chris Tillman (1-4, 8.01 ERA) will be matched up against David Holmberg (1-0, 2.74 ERA) in the series finale on Thursday.

Tillman will be looking to erase the memory of allowing a career-high nine runs on seven hits over just 1 1/3 innings in his last outing in the Bronx. Tillman has now gone 0-3 with a 15.30 ERA over his last three starts, and has gone 0-4 with a 9.59 ERA over his last six.

Holmberg recorded his first win in nearly two years after holding the Indians to just two runs on three hits over five solid innings. The former Red was drafted by the White Sox in 2009 and returned home in 2017.

 

Notes

– The Orioles have a few guys with big numbers versus Pelfrey. Seth Smith (9-for-20, 1 HR, 3 RBI), Adam Jones (6-for-15) and Mark Trumbo (5-for-12, 1 HR, 1 RBI) have all crushed the former New York Met, while Chris Davis and Manny Machado are both 3-for-9.

– Despite hitting .325 against him over five outings, the Orioles have never beaten Pelfrey. He’s 2-0 with a 4.23 ERA versus Baltimore.

– Trumbo has also tagged former AL West rival Holland to the tune of a .319 batting average with five homers and 12 RBI. Holland is 5-2 with a solid 3.21 ERA over eight career starts versus the Orioles.

– Trumbo (4-for-13, 2 HR, 2 RBI) has also hit Gonzalez well, as has Smith (4-for-14, 1 HR, 2 RBI), Davis (2-for-5), Jones (3-for-6), Machado (3-for-6) and Jonathan Schoop (2-for-6).

– Over two career starts versus his former club, Gonzalez is 0-2 despite posting a rock-solid 3.55 ERA.

 

Here’s to hoping the Orioles can blow back on the winning path in the Windy City…

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Monday’s O’s Links: Let’s Never Speak of that Again

Buck Showalter holds a bat in Spring Training.

You probably don’t want to read about the Orioles today. I can’t say that I blame ya. I’m gonna give you some options anyway though, darn it.

Old Mill’s Hader Makes MLB Debut for Brewers

Hader was traded to Houston for Bud Norris back in 2013.

As Free Fall Continues, Blame Game is Underway

Rosenthal stirs the pot again. Gasp. Camden Chat’s Mark Brown has some thoughts on blaming Dan Duquette for a season flying off the rails.

I feel like I should mention this as well:

O’s Will Continue to Emphasize College Pitchers

Even if you put any stock in the above rumor, Duq will at least be around through the draft, which starts today. Jon Meoli has plenty of quotes from DD on what O’s fans should expect.

Hoping for Lightning

The O’s hoped to catch lightning in a bottle with Edwin Jackson. They got a turd in a jar.

Thoughts on the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline

Baltimore Sports and Life’s Chris Stoner gives about as clear-eyed an assessment on where the O’s are now as you’re likely to find anywhere.

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Who Might the Orioles Draft in Round 1?

men sitting at draft tables in large open room decorated with sports stuff

The MLB Draft starts today. You may not have realized that of course, as the MLB Draft has much less of a following than its football, basketball and hockey counterparts (probably because it’s a staggering fifty-round draft).

However, there is still a decent buzz surrounding the first round of the draft as fans await to see who could become a part of the next generation of baseball’s superstars.

In particular, the buzz around the Orioles’ first-round pick used to be much louder when the Orioles were still in the dark ages and a lock to be picking in the top five. Under the steady leadership of Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, the Orioles are now going into their seventh consecutive draft picking outside of the top twenty.

The question now is this: will the Orioles be able to land a potential All-Star with the 21st overall pick?

Scouts don’t seem to be in love with the 2017 draft class as a whole, but the first few rounds are loaded with talent. Having four picks in the top 100 of this year’s draft should serve the Orioles’ seemingly static farm system well going forward.

The Orioles have been linked to several college bats and a few college arms at pick twenty-one, so the chances of taking a high school prospect here at pretty much nil.

That said, let’s look at a few of the O’s rumored targets that are lighting it up on the college circuit this season.

Jake Burger follows through on his swing.

 

3B Jake Burger: Missouri State

One of the hottest prospects on the scene this year is 21-year-old slugger Jake Burger. After a stellar 2017 season in which he’s posted a .332 average to go along with 22 home runs, 65 RBI and a .445 OBP for the Missouri State Bears, he’s now shooting up big boards as we approach draft day. Not too long ago, he would have been a lock to still be on the board when the Orioles hit the clock. That’s no longer the case. He’s rated as the 16th best prospect in the draft by MLB and the 20th best by Baseball America.

In three seasons with Missouri State, Burger owns a .341 average, with 48 doubles, 47 homers and 179 RBI. He’s been named All-Missouri Valley Conference in all three seasons, won conference defensive player of the year in 2016 and has been named a Golden Spikes Award semi-finalist for the second straight season.

Look for Burger to be on the fast track to the majors wherever he ends up.

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LHP David Peterson: Oregon

Peterson, 21, will be a lock to go in the first round after a career year during his Junior 2017 season for the Oregon Ducks. In seventeen starts on the year, the Denver native owns a superb 11-4 record, 2.51 ERA and an incredible 12.56 K/9.

As a result of his efforts, Peterson was named to the All-Pac 12 team for the first time this season while also being named a Golden Spikes Award Semi-finalist. If signed, Peterson will end his impressive tenure in Eugene with a 19-15 record and a 3.43 ERA over 42 career starts. He’s rated as the 19th best prospect in the draft by MLB, and the 17th best by Baseball America.

UCLA pitcher Griffin Canning pitches.

 

RHP Griffin Canning: UCLA

The 21-year-old Canning has been remarkable all season long for the Bruins during his Junior campaign, going 7-4 with a stellar 2.34 ERA over seventeen starts. He’s also recorded four complete games, three shutouts, and a 10.59 K/9 while hitters are batting just .213 against him.

Canning’s efforts have not gone unseen. He’s now been named to the All-Pac 12 team for the second year in a row and has also been named a Golden Spikes Award Semi-finalist. If drafted, he’ll depart Los Angeles with a 19-13 record and a sensational 2.99 ERA over 43 career starts. The Mission Viejo, California native is rated as the 17th best prospect in the draft by MLB and the 26th best prospect by Baseball America.

Logan Warmouth starts to run after swinging his baseball bat.

 

SS Logan Warmoth: North Carolina

We’re saving the best for last. A true natural and a defensive wizard at shortstop, the 21-year-old Orlando native would be the perfect heir to J.J. Hardy at Camden Yards.

After a breakout 2016 campaign, Warmoth followed up by posting a sensational .336 batting average along with nineteen doubles, five triples, ten home runs, 49 RBI and eighteen stolen bases for the Tar Heels during his Junior 2017 season.

Because of his second straight impressive season, Warmoth was named 1st-team All-ACC while also garnering an All-American nomination by Baseball America. If he decides to leave Chapel Hill, he’ll end his three-year career with a .310 average, 37 doubles, 37 stolen bases, 15 home runs and 133 RBI. He’s rated as the 27th best prospect by MLB, and the 19th best by Baseball America.

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Week in Review: Feel Good Walk-Offs a Distant Memory

Baltimore Orioles J.J. Hardy and Trey Mancini fall down trying to make a catch.

Hey everyone! Do you remember the time when the Orioles pulled off those two incredible come from behind, walk-off wins versus the Pirates?

Yeah, those were good times. Believe it or not, those good times were happening just earlier this week.

What has transpired since has been nothing short of a nightmare.

Not only did the Orioles go up to the Bronx and get swept aside like yesterday’s newspaper, they got creamed for twenty-seven grueling innings straight. The final score over the three-game set was 38-8 Yankees, and that’s all I really have to say about that.

Not only have the Orioles crashed down to fourth place on the table, they are now a season-high 6.5-games back from the first place Bombers, and the last place Blue Jays are only a game and a half away from putting the Orioles in the cellar of the division.

‘I see a bad moon rising,

I see trouble on the way,

I see earthquakes and lightning,

I see bad times today’

Let’s take a look at what went wrong in the Bronx. The short answer would be everything, but we here at ESR like to twist the knife a little bit, just for fun. Or something like that.

– The offense wasn’t able to muster anything all weekend long, and ended the three-game clash in the Bronx with a lowly .189 average as a team while scoring just eight runs on three homers.

– The starting pitching imploded and ended the series having allowed nineteen earned runs over just 10 2/3 innings. That my friends, is good for a horrifying 16.04 ERA.

– The bullpen also crashed and burned in the bright lights of New York City. Orioles relievers ended the series having allowed fifteen earned runs over 13 1/3 innings. The end result of such rubbish is a horrid 10.12 ERA.

 

Pretty bad, right? It gets worse.

– After their implosion versus the Yankees, the Orioles starting rotation has now posted a woeful 7.10 ERA over their last 13 contests. They’ve combined for just 63 1/3 innings pitched during that span.

– The bullpen has also been trending downwards as of late. They now own a dreadful 6.20 ERA as a unit over the last ten games after getting burned in the Bronx.

– While they made it count when it mattered versus Pittsburgh, Orioles sluggers are hitting just .209 as a unit over the past six ballgames.

Lastly, the Orioles road struggles have been costly and glaring as of late. If they can’t find a way to start winning games away from Camden Yards once again, they more than likely won’t have a place at the table come October. Let’s look at the Orioles worrying struggles while on tour:

– The Orioles haven’t won a game on the road since May 16th in Detroit. They’ve lost nine in a row on the road since and have been outscored 70-24 during that span.

– Since winning the final game of a four-game set in Boston on May 4th, the Orioles have gone a horrid 1-13 away from Camden Yards since. They’ve been demolished 104-56 during that 14-game stretch.

– As a result, the Orioles road record stands at a dismal 10-20. That’s not going to get you into the playoffs.

Sorry everyone. For the second time now this season, there won’t be any weekly awards given out.

You know….due to our current predicament.

Get it together in Chicago lads!

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#Staturday: Extra-Inning Wins, Homers, and BOOM BOOM

Trey Mancini in his O's batting helmet.

It was an up and down week for the Orioles but a couple of walk-offs spiced things up. Let’s get to the stats!

This week the Orioles extended a pretty insane streak:

The Orioles have won twelve consecutive extra-inning games at Camden Yards – a streak that started in September, 2015.

On Wednesday, Trey Mancini put on an incredible performance and made some history:

Trey Mancini is the youngest Oriole and 7th-youngest player in MLB history to hit two homers after entering the game as a pinch hitter.

Trey Mancini joined Jim Gentile, Mike Young, and Terry Crowley as the only Orioles to hit two home runs after entering the game as a pinch hitter.

As always, the Orioles are really good at hitting the long ball:

In 2017, the Orioles are tied with the Houston Astros and New York Yankees for recording the most four-home run games with six.

For more stats like these, follow @BirdlandStats on Twitter.

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Series Preview: Orioles (31-27) at Yankees (34-23)

picture of a baseball field in New York

After ending their one-night stand in our nation’s capital, the Orioles will now enter phase two of their eight-game road trip by taking on the Yankees in the Bronx over the weekend.

While the Orioles couldn’t pull off another victory in the delayed final game of the MASN Cup last night, they should be feeling pretty good going forward after posting a 6-3 mark over their latest nine-game home stand.

The Orioles (31-27) are just 3.5-games off the pace of the division-leading Yankees, and a series win in the Bronx to reduce the deficit would be just what the doctor ordered.

The one thing that is concerning, however, is the Orioles’ poor form away from Camden Yards as of late. The Orioles are now on a six-game road losing streak after last night’s 6-1 loss to the Nationals and haven’t won a game on tour since May 16th.

Since the turn of May, the Orioles have gone a woeful 3-12 on the road and as a result, their away record stands at a dismal 10-17.

The good news is that the Orioles love to turn it up a notch when facing their division rivals. They own a stellar 21-13 record versus the AL East to date in 2017.

The first-place Yankees (34-23) have been coasting along with the second-best record in the American League and the second-best run differential (+85) in the majors as they prepare to host the Orioles this weekend. Like the Orioles, the Yankees have been very good at defending their home park this season and own a stellar 19-9 record at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees’ success this season has been well-balanced. Their offense is currently second-best in the AL (5.5 runs per game), while they also rank second in batting average (.268), third in home runs (90) and fourth in stolen bases (36).

They’ve been just as impressive on the mound. The Yankees pitching staff ranks second in the American League in ERA (3.65), WHIP (1.20) and home runs allowed (66) while owning the AL’s lowest BAA (.230).

Can the Orioles bring their road struggles to a halt in the bright lights of NYC? only time will tell. Let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Dylan Bundy (6-4, 2.93 ERA) will take on southpaw Jordan Montgomery (3-4, 3.67 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

While he didn’t have his best stuff during his last start versus Boston, Bundy still owns a sparkling 2.84 ERA over his last three starts and has recorded a quality start in ten of his twelve starts this season. The O’s ace will be making his fourth career start versus the Bronx Bombers on Friday. He’s 2-1 against them with a 4.43 ERA over five games (three starts).

Montgomery has gotten off to a promising start to his rookie campaign, and has been getting stronger as the year grows on. Over his last three outings, the South Carolina alum has gone 1-1 with a stellar 1.06 ERA. He’s coming off a stellar start in which he allowed just three hits over six shutout innings in a winning effort against the Blue Jays.

 

Game Two

Chris Tillman (1-3, 5.59 ERA) will get the nod against Luis Severino (4-2, 2.90 ERA) on Saturday.

Tillman has struggled since his return off the DL, and hasn’t won a game since his season debut on May 7th versus the White Sox. He’s gone 0-3 with a dreadful 7.90 ERA over his last three starts. Over twenty career starts versus New York, Tillman has gone 8-7 with a 4.93 ERA.

Severino has bounced back to his 2015 form this season, and has only gotten better as the season rolls along. Severino has recorded a perfect 2-0 record and a superb 1.27 ERA over his last three outings. After allowing just two runs on six hits over seven stellar innings against Toronto his last time out, the Yankees rising ace has now allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.

 

Game Three

Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.86 ERA) will take the hill in the series finale versus Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.55 ERA) on Sunday.

Gausman has finally started to turn the corner this season after going 2-1 with a respectable 4.01 ERA over his last four outings. To make the news even better, Gausman owns a stellar 7-3 record and 2.63 ERA over twenty career games (fourteen starts) versus the Yankees. Look for him to have a strong start in the Bronx.

Tanaka has gone through a real-life nightmare this season, and his 6.55 ERA is nearly doubles his career ERA (3.55). While Tanaka has been the Yankees’ ace for the past three seasons, one must wonder if he’s trying to pitch through an injury. He’s 0-5 with a laughable 10.27 ERA over his last five starts.

 

Notes

– Friday will mark the third time that the Orioles have faced Montgomery this season. Joey Rickard (2-for-5), Mark Trumbo (2-for-5, 1 RBI) and Jonathan Schoop (1-for-4, 2 RBI) have had the most success, while the temporarily-injured Manny Machado (0-for-4) and Chris Davis (0-for-3) are still hitless against him.

– Severino will be facing the Orioles again after just recently holding them to one run over 6 1/3 innings in a winning effort on May 30th. Davis (2-for-13), Adam Jones (1-for-8) and J.J. Hardy (1-for-8) have struggled against the Yankees promising young hurler, while Trey Mancini (3-for-3), Trumbo (4-for-10, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and Machado (4-for-14, 3 HR, 5 RBI) have tagged him hard.

– Tanaka may be in the worst form of his life, but he’s held the O’s in check during his career with a 3.72 ERA over seven starts. Davis (4-for-18), Machado (4-for-20), Schoop (4-for-20), and Trumbo (1-for-8) have been silenced by the Yankees All-Star, and only Jones (6-for-18, 1 HR, 4 RBI), Seth Smith (5-for-14) and Hardy (4-for-14, 1 HR, 1 RBI) have had any major success against him.

– Since the start of the 2014 season, the Orioles are 38-28 against the long-loathed Yankees.

– Yankees superstar Aaron Judge (.330, 18 HR, 41 RBI) leads the league in homers, but he’s not the only one lighting it up for the Bronx Bombers. He’s joined by in-form sluggers Brett Gardner (.266, 13 HR, 29 RBI), Starlin Castro (.319, 9 HR, 33 RBI) and Gary Sanchez (.256, 8 HR, 21 RBI).  The Orioles pitching staff will have to bring their “A-Game” to silence these guys.

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Friday’s O’s Links: Wade Miley? More Like Weird Miley!

Wade Miley of the Orioles pitches from the mound.

Yesterday’s make-up game with the Gnats saw their JV beat our JV in a boring lopsided affair. Alec Asher threw 41 pitches in the damn first inning as Washington took a 4-0 lead, and the Birds bats’ made Joe Ross look like Max Scherzer.

The O’s now head off on a seven-game road trip to the Bronx and the south side of Chicago. They’re gonna need to start winning some games away from the Yard at some point (they were 3-12 on the road in May) if they want to stay in this thing. Now would be a good time to start.

To the links.

Wade Miley’s Weird Year

Camden Depot’s Joe Wantz tries to make sense of Weird Wade. The other night’s disaster aside, he’s been pretty reliable on one hand, but maddening to watch with all the walks on the other.

Orioles Have Played Most Difficult Schedule So Far

It’s not just your imagination.

Venue Matters as Yankees Host Orioles

A series preview over on Fox. The home team is 55-30 in this series since 2013.

Ryan Mountcastle Impressing at Frederick

Baltimore Sports and Life’s Zach Spedden with a very positive update on one of the top Baby Birds in Frederick. Could Mountcastle be ticketed for Bowie soon?

Adding Tejada Creates Questions in Orioles Infield

Andrew Stetka touched on this a bit in his Thursday Thoughts column here. In his weekly MASN guest column, Dillon Atkinson dives a little deeper into what Tejada means for the infielders around him.

 

Here’s to a great (or at least, not terrible) weekend in the Bronx, Birdland!

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Coming Up Clutch: A Look at the O’s Extra-Inning Success

Mark Trumbo crosses home plate as his teammates douse him in water to celebrate.

If you’re still pumped up about the Orioles pulling off a second walk-off win in as many days last night, you have every right to be.

On the grander scale, the Orioles will now begin their eight-game road trip with some much-needed swagger after notching an impressive 6-3 record over their latest home stand.

But a lot of the discussion as of late is this: how are the Orioles dominating in extra-innings like they have been this season?

In short, the Orioles’ sparkling 9-1 record in extra-inning games has nothing to do with luck. It’s a skill that they’ve crafted over the years as a club. Since the start of the 2012 season, the Orioles have posted an amazing 59-23 record in extra innings. They went 16-2 in extra frames in 2012 and 14-6 in 2014. Coincidentally, the Orioles were playing in October in both seasons. They haven’t had a losing record in extra innings once in the Buck Showalter era.

But what’s making this team so successful when the game goes into “free baseball?”

 

Clutch Pitching

The Orioles bullpen has been steady at times, but not up to their usual standards for stretches this season.

In extra innings however, they’ve been superb.

Brad Brach has allowed just a single hit over four scoreless innings, while Mychal Givens has allowed the same over two shutout innings. Alec Asher (2.2 IP/ 1 ER), Richard Bleier (1.2 IP, 0 ER) and Logan Verrett (5.0 IP/ 0 ER) have also shined in extra innings this season, allowing just seven hits and one run combined over 9 1/3 innings of extra-inning relief work.

While the Orioles pitching staff has obviously held their own with a 3.44 ERA allowed over 18 1/3 innings of overtime, the Orioles bats seem even more fond of the overtime spotlight.

 

Clutch Hitting

As a unit, the Orioles are hitting an incredible .375 (30-for-80) in extra-innings this season. They’ve also outscored their opponents 19-7 and out-homered them 5-to-1 during that span.

Mark Trumbo has led the way when the game goes into extras, going a stellar 7-for-11 with five runs, one homer, four RBI and four game-winning hits. Adam Jones has also come up big by going 4-for-9 with an RBI and two game-winning runs. Chris Davis (3-for-9, 2 HR, 3 RBI) single-handedly won a May game in Detroit for the Orioles by cranking two extra-inning homers, as did Welington Castillo (4-for-6, 1 HR, 3 RBI) in mid-May versus Toronto.

Now you can add Trey Mancini (3-for-7, 1 HR, 3 RBI) to this season’s list of Orioles clutch overtime performers after the star rookie hit a game-tying homer in the ninth before walking it off with a three-run shot in the 11th last night.

 

Timely Trumbo

Before we end this thing, let’s go back to Trumbo for a second and marvel at his excellence during the extra frames this season. Starting with his opening day walk-off homer versus Toronto, he’s also:

– Scored the game-winning run in the tenth inning on a J.J. Hardy RBI single versus the Reds on April 20th.

– Had an eventual game-winning RBI single in the 11th inning versus New York on April 30th. Castillo would add two more later in the inning to make it a 7-4 Orioles victory.

– Notched a 12th-inning walk-off single to score Adam Jones in the Orioles 5-4 win over the Nationals on May 9th.

– Scored Adam Jones (again) with a 10th inning walk-off single to beat the Pirates 6-5 on Tuesday.

Now THAT is clutch.

Maybe this will be the year that the ”Orioles magic” carries us into late October. Crazier things have (and will) happen.

Just don’t call the Birds’ late-inning success “luck.”

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Manny Machado Injured by Andrew McCutchen’s Slide

Andrew McCutchen slides into Manny Machado's wrist.

While last night’s O’s-Pirates short two-game series finale was awesome in the end, there were plenty of bumps along the way. In addition to Wade Miley being ineffectively wild and getting beat around when he did manage to find the strike zone, and new bullpen addition Edwin Jackson being less-than-inspiring, there was an apparent injury to Manny Machado.

During Miley’s second-inning implosion, the Pirates pulled off a double steal, with Andrew McCutchen taking third base and Elias Diaz swiping second.

McCutchen, though, should have been out. Caleb Joseph threw from his knees, and delivered a strike to Machado low and right in front of the swashbuckler’s slide. McCutchen was dead-to-rights. Walking the plank.

However, his spike hit Machado in the wrist, and appeared to get tangled in Manny’s wrist wrap. McCutchen’s leg twisted awkwardly, Manny fell backwards equally awkwardly, and in the process dropped the ball.

Safe.

McCutchen grimaced for a moment, but got up without the Pirates trainer needing to come out. Machado, though, sat on his rear end in the grass, examining his forearm and waiting for Richie Bancells to make his way out. Bancells appeared to pour some sort of liquid on Manny, probably a disinfectant, and Machado stayed in the game.

In the bottom of the third though, when Machado was due up, Ruben Tejada came out onto the on-deck circle instead. Manny was out.

After the game, Buck Showalter said that X-Rays on Manny were negative, and that the team was trying to set up an MRI for sometime today, just to “be on the safe side, see what we’re dealing with.”

It was an unfortunate play, but nothing that can be blamed on any sort of malicious intent, which Buck made sure to point out as well. Dan Duqutte happened to be in the MASN booth with Gary & Mike at the time the incident occurred, and mentioned that the slide might have been a bit high, but we’ll forgive him for being a bit upset in the moment, watching his star player in pain.

It’s also notable that the Orioles made zero effort to “retaliate” by throwing baseballs at McCutchen or any other Pirate, OR that the O’s beat writers didn’t go on Twitter and encourage such ridiculous behavior.

As for Manny, obviously the hope is that his wrist was just sore and that, at most, he’ll miss a day or two. Any time that Machado spends on the DL could be detrimental to the Birds, as he’s obviously their most talented player despite his up-and-down (mostly down) 2017 campaign to date.

On the other hand, let’s look at the bright side: maybe a few days (no more!) off will be good for him. We saw what happened when Adam Jones was forced to sit for a couple games due to minor injury just two weeks ago – he came back mashing.

Here’s to Manny doing just that, no later than say…Saturday?

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Thursday Thoughts: Can Magic Provide O’s with Some Momentum?

Orioles players pour gatorade on Trey Mancini.

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. It’s been quite a few nights for the Orioles, winning back-to-back games in extra innings after tying each in the bottom of the 9th with a two-run homer. The script couldn’t have been written in a more dramatic way for the Birds. I also couldn’t have been more satisfied to see one of my fantasy closers (Tony Watson) crash and burn in the way he did.

I am certainly not one to make a big deal out of two emotional victories, but the Orioles definitely have the potential to gain something from them. That something is momentum.

The old cliché that “you’re only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher” is a bit tired in my eyes. This team doesn’t have much by way of starting pitching, but they can still find ways to win ballgames. It’s mostly going to be by the home run and mostly going to come from a strong bullpen performance, but it can happen just as it has in years past.

2. There certainly was bad news stemming from last night’s game, and it involves the injury to Manny Machado. Perhaps it’s mostly nothing, but Machado left the game after being injured by a slide from Andrew McCutchen. Buck Showalter made it a point to say the slide was not malicious and that there would be no need for retaliation, which is how things are supposed to be handled (looking at you, Boston).

The slide was “unfortunate” though, as Showalter put it. It’s left the Orioles with an injury to their most talented player. No one really knows if this means the disabled list is in the future for Machado, but it’s obviously not ideal to have this hit to the depth. I’ve been very vocal about Machado’s struggles this year. He simply hasn’t been the player he’s capable of being, and I’d guess he’d be the first to admit to that.

If Machado has to miss even just a few games, the O’s are going to be tested in replacing their #3 hitter.

3. This week’s acquisition and subsequent call-up of Ruben Tejada told me a few things about where the Orioles stand in the infield. By no means do I think Tejada is going to step in and play as well as a certain other infielder by the same last name did for the Orioles more than a decade ago. But I do think Tejada now plays a crucial role.

First it tells me that Ryan Flaherty is going to be out for some more time. It doesn’t seem like there’s a quick fix in place for the utility infielder, so Tejada can be that in the interim.

Looking ahead a bit further, I feel like the Orioles could be viewing Tejada as a possible stopgap at shortstop. If J.J. Hardy fails to reach the 600-plate appearance mark this season, it’s very unlikely that he’ll be back in Baltimore next year. Tejada could be a player the O’s view as a plug for that spot. He could also very well be a player that helps to prevent Hardy from getting to that benchmark needed to vest his $14-million option for next season.

I don’t think anyone believes the Tejada acquisition was a major one, but it could end up starting a ripple effect in the O’s infield.

4. The other roster shakeup the Orioles made this week was calling up Edwin Jackson ahead of his opt-out from the team. Jackson is going to work out of the bullpen after replacing Donnie Hart on the 25-man roster. What’s confusing to me is that I really have no idea how the O’s plan to use Jackson, a veteran and former starter.

Is he now the team’s long-man out of the bullpen? Where does that leave Ubaldo Jimenez? How is Jimenez still actually on the roster? Will Jackson simply be a three-out type of pitcher?

The 33-year-old made a less-than-promising debut last night by allowing two runs in 2.2 innings of relief.

It was interesting that the O’s didn’t make a move to keep Michael Bourn around ahead of his opt-out last week. Bourn went on to sign a minor-league deal with the Angels. Instead, they’ve made room for Jackson, who appears to be “just another guy” in a bullpen that certainly needs all the help it can get.

5. The 2017 MLB Draft gets underway on Monday, and the Orioles will have the 21st overall selection. Dan Duquette has indicated the Orioles will be looking for pitching that can impact the team sooner rather than later, but isn’t that always the case? Last year the Birds selected Cody Sedlock out of the University of Illinois.

Baseball’s draft is an incredible crapshoot, but you may be surprised to realize that in the last decade, five of the O’s top picks have actually turned into contributing players on the big league roster. That’s not a bad percentage. Obviously it’s tough to even take players like Sedlock or 2015 picks D.J. Stewart and Ryan Mountcastle into consideration at this point. It’s simply too early. But the O’s had Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman all turn into big league players from that crop.

Where the Orioles must improve is in the deeper parts of the draft, and in development. With such a depleted farm system, the Orioles can’t just make great picks. They also have to mold those picks into talents that can contribute.

Otherwise, the whole operation simply gets thrown out of whack.

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Series Preview: Orioles (29-26) vs. Pirates (26-31)

Kevin Gausman vs. Ivan Nova.

After breaking even against the Red Sox over the weekend, the Orioles will now host the Pittsburgh Pirates for a quick two-game set to conclude their nine-game stand at Camden Yards.

While some may not consider this to be as bad-blooded as the other historic Baltimore vs Pittsburgh rivalry, Birdland veterans will beg to differ. This is still the same club that snatched two titles away from the Orioles back in the golden era of the 1970’s.

The Orioles have only played the Pirates sixteen times since 2005, but when I talk to my parents, relatives or fans that still remember the Pirates winning game seven at Memorial Stadium in the 1971 World Series or coming back from 3-1 down (and again winning game seven at Memorial Stadium) to snatch the 1979 World Series title away from the Birds, there’s a lot of resentment that still lingers.

I think it’s safe to say that the Orioles don’t consider the Pirates as “Family.”

The Orioles (29-26) find themselves in the middle of a five-horse race for the division title and trail the first-place Yankees by 3.5-games. The second place Red Sox are just 1.5-games out of reach, but the fourth-place Rays are just two games behind the Orioles and the cellar-dwelling Blue Jays are only 2.5-games back. It’s going to be an intense summer.

They’ll be looking to build upon their sparkling 19-10 record at Camden Yards before hitting the road for an eight-game stretch.

The Pirates (26-31) find themselves in the cellar of the clustered NL Central division, and only trail the first place Cubs (29-27) by 3.5-games as they roll into town. The Pirates have notched a dismal 12-18 record away from PNC Park on the year.

However, things have started to look up for the visitors as of late. They’ve gone a respectable 5-5 over their last ten games, including taking two of three from the Mets in New York over the weekend.

For the Orioles’ sake, hopefully the Pirates cool down a bit after their red-hot weekend in NYC. They notched twelve runs in Friday’s 12-7 win and then followed up by posting eleven runs in Sunday’s 11-1 dismantling of the Mets at Citi Field.

Let’s take a look at the starters that will be faced with said task:

 

Game One

Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.92 ERA) will take on former longtime Yankee Ivan Nova (5-4, 2.92 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

After going through a nightmare month of April, Gausman has steadily turned his season around and has posted an impressive 2-1 record and 3.50 ERA over his last three starts. In six starts at Camden Yards this season, Gausman is 2-1 with a 4.54 ERA.

Nova hit the ground running this season with a 3-2 record and a stellar 1.50 ERA over five starts in April, but has come down a bit since, going 2-2 with a decent 4.17 ERA over six starts in May. Still, Nova has posted quality starts in nine of his eleven outings on the year. He’s 2-2 with an impressive 3.09 ERA in six starts on the road in 2017.

 

Game Two

Wade Miley (2-3, 2.82 ERA) will take the mound against Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.02 ERA) in the series finale on Wednesday.

Miley has been superb for the Orioles as of late, and after holding the Red Sox to just a single run over seven stellar innings in his last start, he now owns a sparkling 2.37 ERA over his last three starts. The Orioles southpaw has also been incredible at Camden Yards this season and owns a 1.01 ERA over five starts in front of the OPACY faithful.

After breaking into the Pirates rotation last season, Kuhl has hit the sophomore slump in his second season in the bigs. However, the Delaware alum has posted a decent 4.40 ERA over his last three outings and owns a solid 3.80 ERA over four starts away from PNC Park on the year.

 

Notes

– Since 2011, the Orioles have gone 7-3 versus Pittsburgh. They’ve also gone 5-0 versus the Pirates at Camden Yards during that span as well.

– The Pirates five-time All-Star and 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen (.232, 9 HR, 28 RBI) will be at Camden Yards this week. While he might be having a down year by his standards, he’s still a joy to watch play baseball and has a good shot at ending up in Cooperstown when it’s all said and done.

– In eleven career inter-league starts, Gausman has posted a 3-6 record and a 5.31 ERA. He’ll be making his first career start versus Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

– Look for Wade Miley to continue his red-hot run of form on Wednesday. He’s gone 2-2 with an impressive 3.11 ERA over six career starts versus the Pirates.

– In sixteen career starts versus the Orioles, Ivan Nova has notched a 8-4 record despite owning a 5.01 ERA. He owns a 3-1 record and a 5.44 ERA through eight career starts at Camden Yards.

Adam Jones (9-for-46) and Manny Machado (5-for-25) have struggled against Nova in the past, but J.J. Hardy (11-for-39), and Jonathan Schoop (4-for-10) have done well versus the former Yankee while Chris Davis (.281, 3 HR, 10 RBI) and Mark Trumbo (.476, 3 HR, 5 RBI) have done some major damage.

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The Rundown: Can Gausman Slow Down Pirates’ Pillaging Offense?

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop gets ready to defend.

After taking the first two games against the Boston Red Sox, the Orioles dropped the final two even though both were winnable games. The O’s begin a two-game series against the last place Pittsburgh Pirates which should be good news, but due to their struggles outside the American League East, maybe it isn’t.

The Pirates have scored at least 11 runs in two of their last three games so Kevin Gausman will get the first crack at slowing down a red-hot offense. Even though it hasn’t looked pretty, the right-hander hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in each of his last three starts and four of his last five.

The next step for Gausman is to begin striking hitters out again as he is currently striking out 6.4 hitters per nine innings which is a career low. To put it in perspective, Gausman struck out 8.7 hitters per nine innings last year. He would also do well to stop putting so many guys on base – his WHIP is an unseemly 1.84, highest among qualified MLB starters and well above his 1.37 career average.

 

Schoop Continues to Hit

After two more doubles on Sunday, the second baseman has 17 for the season which ranks third in baseball at his position. Jonathan Schoop will never be confused with a patient hitter, but he at least is on pace to set a career high in walks and on-base percentage. The 25-year-old is also on pace for a career high in slugging percentage.

The key for Schoop is avoiding a second half slump like last season. If we look at the first half of last year, Schoop was actually better than he is now and a lot of that has to do with a monster June so we will see what happens over the next month. Schoop finished the first half of 2016 with a .304 batting average to go along with 14 home runs, 52 RBIs and 23 doubles. He also had a .338 on base percentage.

Like the rest of the offense, Schoop slumped in the second half as he only hit .225. I still think Buck Showalter needs to rest his starters more often to avoid the struggles in the second half that we have seen over the last few seasons so that is something worth monitoring.

If Schoop can put together a full season and stay consistent, there’s no telling how much better he can get over the next couple of years.

 

A Look at Some Former Orioles

I watched a lot of baseball over the weekend (too much to admit) and saw plenty of former Orioles in action. Zach Davies of the Milwaukee Brewers had a strong start on Sunday as he pitched six shutout innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers while striking out six. For the season, the right-hander has a 4.69 ERA, so he’s not exactly pitching lights-out.

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GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

The one pitcher who continues to get better is Seattle Mariners starter Ariel Miranda as he pitched a complete game on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The left-hander struck out nine and now has a 3.74 ERA for the year.

The biggest shock came on Saturday when I saw a lanky left-hander enter the game for the Arizona Diamondbacks. T.J. McFarland pitched 1 2/3 innings and struck out two in his appearance. For the season, the lefty has appeared in 11 games and has a 0.55 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and has picked up three wins as a reliever. McFarland has also struck out 11 in 16 1/3 innings.

The fact McFarland is actually pitching well blows my mind. I’m not sure what to make of any of this, but thought it was worth sharing.

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Tuesday’s O’s Links: Darren O’Day Using His Slider Differently

Darren O'Day pitches.

It was a bit of a frustrating weekend, as the Birds lost the final two games of their four-game set with Boston after taking the first two. Still, we’d have all gladly accepted 4-3 against New York and the Red Sox after losing seven straight, right? Now, the O’s really need to start winning games against non-AL East opponents, especially sub-.500 teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are in for two starting tonight.

To the links.

Machado Presents Greatest Conundrum in Years for O’s

Our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN guest column, talks about Manny Machado and the dilemma he presents to the organization. They probably aren’t going to sign him long-term, but they also aren’t going to get full value for him if they trade him. Perhaps the best thing for us fans to do is not worry about it, but to instead just enjoy him while he’s here.

Darren O’Day’s Small Change in Slider Use

Camden Depot’s Nate Delong noticed that Darren O’Day has been using his slider differently against left-handed batters so far in 2017. He’s been better against lefties overall than we’re used to seeing, so perhaps the two are related.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 204: Bye Bye, Big Boy

Scott is back in studio this week, and he and Jake talk about the Birds pulling out of their recent tailspin. They also bid adieu adieu to Fred Manfra.

It’s Time for the Orioles to Move on From Ubaldo Jimenez

Ah, the ol’ evergreen article. Finally, here in 2017, it makes at least a bit of financial sense for the team to part ways with their big 2014 free agent pitching acquisition. After he blew up out of the bullpen on Saturday night, Camden Chat’s Mark Brown has finally seen enough Ubie.

Orioles Fact/Opinion

Rob Shields’ latest fact/opinion column on the Birds over at Baltimore Sports and Life is a few days old, but I missed it in last week’s links and I always enjoy it, so consider this my mea culpa, Rob.

 

Let’s keep that Jolly Roger in storage over the next two nights!

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Week in Review: Bouncing Back in Birdland

Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop tags a Yankee runner as he goes by.

Say it with me.

Anything is better than a seven-game losing streak.

Despite allowing the Red Sox to slip away from Camden Yards with a pair of wins over the weekend, the Orioles showed true grit by taking two of three from the first-place Yankees and two of four from the second-place Red Sox right after their week from hell ended in Houston.

This team still has a pulse, and they’ve shown that they won’t go out in the race for the division title without a fight. First place is still just 3.5-games out of reach, and there’s still 107 games left on the schedule. Get your popcorn ready.

While it would have been groovy to take the series from the ‘Sox after winning the first two games of the four-game set, all I’m asking is can we really complain?

The answer is no. Not after how fast the Orioles pulled themselves out of a slumber and turned it around. Things could have gotten a lot worse against the division’s top two teams if the O’s had any type of hangover from their losing skid, but instead, they played great baseball (for the most part) and now that ugly two-week stretch in Mid-May seems like ancient history.

Don’t worry, be happy Birdland. This team’s pulse isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and they’re in the fight for the long haul.

Buckle up.

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

– Dominating the back yard: After going 4-3 this week at Camden Yards, the Orioles’ 19-10 record at home is good for fourth-best in the majors.

– The noisy neighbors: The Orioles have now gone an impressive 21-13 versus the AL East this season, including a 12-10 combined record versus the Yankees and Red Sox and a 14-7 mark against in-division rivals at OPACY.

– A resurgence? After hitting an off-key run of form in late May, the Orioles offense is starting to rev up again as we enter the summer months. Over the last five ballgames, the Orioles are hitting .286 as a unit while scoring 25 runs (5.0 per game) to go along with nine homers. They’ve also gone 11-for-39 (.282) with runners in scoring position during that span.

– What gives? Despite owning a stellar 2.85 ERA as a unit over the previous 14 games going into the Boston series, the Orioles bullpen was tagged to the tune of a 6.94 ERA over 11 2/3 innings against the Red Sox. Here’s hoping this was just a minor blip on an otherwise smooth sea.

– A turnaround? Orioles starters haven’t been able to find long-term consistency this season, but after notching a horrid 6.85 ERA in the previous nine games before the clash with the Red Sox, they recorded a stellar 2.96 ERA versus Boston, allowing just eight earned runs in 24 1/3 innings. Wade Miley and Alec Asher turned in sparkling gems as well, so hopefully they can help Dylan Bundy carry the torch down the stretch.

– Good times on the horizon? The Orioles seem to always kick it into high gear in the month of June. They went 19-9 last June, 18-10 in June 2015, and 16-12 in June 2014. Let’s hope for more of the same this year.

– Hanging the socks:  Whether it’s due to the drama that transpired earlier this season or not, Manny Machado loves to stick it to Boston. He finished the series against the Red Sox having gone 6-for-15 (.400) at the dish with five runs, two homers and two RBI. Considering that Machado snapped into form right after going 0-for-14 against the Yankees makes his performance versus Boston even more impressive.

After not giving out any awards last week due to the nightmare on Eutaw Street, we’re getting back to it after a pretty promising week in Birdland!

Let’s announce the stars of the week already…

Third Star

Trey Mancini. The Orioles star rookie doesn’t seem to be cooling down. After going 4-for-11 with an RBI versus the Yankees, Mancini followed up by going 4-for-12 with two doubles and another RBI versus Boston. In total, he finished the week hitting a stellar 8-for-23 (.348). Over his last 24 games, Mancini is has gone a sensational 28-for-83 (.337) at the plate with two homers and 13 RBI.

 

Second Star

Jonathan Schoop. While his six-game hitting streak came to a halt on Saturday, Schoop followed up a solid performance against the Yankees by going 6-for-15 (.400) with two doubles, one homer and four RBI versus Boston. The Orioles second baseman is now hitting .355 (11-for-31) with four doubles, three homers and nine RBI over his last eight games. Over his last 13 contests, Schoop has gone a sparkling 16-for-48 (.333) at the plate with three homers and ten RBI.

 

First Star

Chris Davis. After coming to life versus the Yankees (3-for-12, 1 HR, 3 RBI), Davis stayed dialed in and finished the series versus Boston having gone 4-for-15 with a homer and three RBI. It seems as if “Crush” is starting to awaken, and that’s always a good thing for the Orioles. And a very, very bad thing for the rest of the American League. Over the course of his current-six game hitting streak, Davis is hitting .304 (7-for-23) with two home runs and six RBI.

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So Long, Fred Manfra

Fred Manfra in the Orioles broadcast booth.

Fred Manfra stepped away from the Orioles broadcast booth for a final time yesterday and I hope you’ll join me in a toast for the man behind the mic.

Say what you want about digital media, but you’ll never have a relationship with a tweet like you’ll have with that guy or gal on the radio. I have been fortunate in my life to work with several people who have been called the “Voice Of” the team that they have called games for. These folks (and the ones on TV) become your friends and in a lot of cases their call is the soundtrack to many visual highlights.

Manfra is the anti-John Sterling and I have greatly appreciated it.  Sure there have been Trum-bombs, but not every home run call was scripted. There were often unpredictable surprises. Adjustments on the fly were required.

Manfra has been a stable voice and one that did exactly what you’re supposed to do…give the score as often as you can and tell people what is happening on the field in front of you. Seems simple, but also seems lost on many folks I hear in the broadcast booth these days. How many times have you sat in your car and listened for what seemed like an hour before finally hearing what the score was?

Baltimore is not an easy town in which to do radio play-by-play. Like no shortstop will be Cal Ripken, no broadcaster will ever be Chuck Thompson – or Jon Miller for that matter. Every Oriole victory gets a tweet from this very website that quotes the aforementioned Thompson. He was a guy that made us want to go to war with Miss Agnes in the worst of times and drink the coldest of beers during the good ones.

Miller was the voice of my formative years and an incredible broadcaster before becoming a bit of a caricature of himself while at ESPN. Either way, both were great and an unfair measuring stick for those who have followed.

Manfra will live on differently in our minds than Chuck and Jon, but because of his longevity, his voice is one that has become synonymous with Orioles baseball for many.

Fred, we could tell that you were right there with us rooting for The Birds, but you did it without being a homer and without crazy crutch catch phrases.

Your voice will be missed, but not forgotten.

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#Staturday: Congrats to Adam Jones!

Adam Jones sunglasses.

We’re back in the win column and dang does it feel great. Along with a few wins, come a few stats. Let’s get to ‘em!

Earlier this week, Adam Jones made Orioles’ history:

On Wednesday night, Adam Jones hit an infield single in the 8th inning, notching his 1,500th hit as an Oriole.

Although they haven’t quite been the sluggers of the past, the Orioles are still pretty good at hitting home runs:

On Thursday, the Orioles blasted four home runs against the Red Sox. This marks their fifth four-homer game, tied for the MLB lead in 2017.

The Orioles’ submarine reliever has started showing signs of life of his old, lights-out self:

Darren O’Day over his last twelve appearances:

12.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 20 Ks

Wade Miley racked up another impressive start Thursday night, moving himself to the top of the Birds’ list:

Oriole performances of 7+ IP with 0 or 1 ER in 2017:

Wade Miley – 3
Dylan Bundy – 2
Ubaldo Jimenez – 1

For more stats like these, follow @BirdlandStats on Twitter.

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Friday’s O’s Links: Pedro Alvarez Hanging Around…For Now

Pedro Alvarez of the Orioles prepares to hit.

Things may be looking up a bit, Birdland. The sun finally cracked through the clouds for more than a few hours, and the O’s have won three of their past four. For the second straight night, they built a 7-1 lead over a team currently ahead of them in the AL East standings. It won’t be easy this weekend, but this is a different team against divisional foes.

To the links.

Two Little Birds

The Ringer’s Michael Baumann penned the article that would have made O’s fans swoon back in 2011 or so. He details the rise of both Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy, and man is it a fun read. Not as fun as watching Manny play every night for the last five years or Bundy pitch every fifth day this season has been, but close.

Does Manny Machado Have a Contact Problem?

Matt Kremnitzer of Camden Depot is the latest to try to figure out what the heck is wrong with Manny. Matt noticed that his lack of contact across the board could be part of the problem.

Machado’s Weird Contact

Expanding on the above point is Andrew Perpetua of FanGraphs, who says that when Manny DOES make contact, odd things are happening. Take heart, however, as he thinks we are just saying some extreme random variation, as opposed to anything that throws up red flags.

O’s & Pedro Alvarez Reach “Temporary Resolution”

El Toro had an opt out in his contract yesterday, but reached an agreement with the club to stay on for a bit. How long “a bit” is, nobody really knows, reports Dan Connolly of Baltimore Baseball.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 203: Things Look Pretty Bleach

Jake and Scott….er, Jake and Charlie Hoppes of Orioles Spastics fame recorded a bit late this week. If you stopped checking for a new BEV episode on Wednesday, get on over and listen to the new one now!

Have a great weekend, Birdland. Hopefully we’re talking about another series win on Monday.

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