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Monday’s O’s Links: Get Those Coffeemakers Ready

Manny Machado and Mike Trout sie-by-side.

After Friday night, it looked like the Orioles were really going to make last week a complete mirror image of the 2014 postseason – instead of sweeping Detroit in three then getting swept in four by Kansas City, they were going to sweep KC for three, then get swept by the Tigers over four straight. Fortunately, they righted the ship and managed a split with Detroit to put the finishing touches on a very nice 5-2 homestand.

Now comes the dreaded West Coast trip. Get the coffeemakers ready, Birdland. We’ve got a whole lotta late nights coming up.

Outside of Machado, O’s Have Another Looming Free Agency Issue

Manny isn’t the only important Oriole whose contract is up after next season. Our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN guest column brings up another guy who the O’s should be approaching about signing a new deal sooner rather than later.

The Future of Zach Britton

Zach looks to be back, or at least more “back” than he was fresh off the DL. Joe Wantz of Camden Depot tries to peer into the future to try to figure out what the Birds’ options are for number 53.

Chris Tillman Vows to use Time in ‘Pen to “Get Better”

Well, he certainly can’t get worse, amirite? Seriously though, would you feel comfortable seeing Tilly come in for anything other than mop-up duty? It’s a sad state of affairs in Tillmanville, for sure.

Struggling Veterans Present O’s with Tough Choices

Speaking of Tilly, he is one of two very high-profile expensive veterans who are struggling and/or hurt, which will lead to some tough decisions here very soon. What will the future hold for Tillman and J.J. Hardy? Camden Chat’s Mark Brown lays it out.

Caleb Joseph’s Bounce-back Year Looks More Like a Breakout Year

This story is a couple weeks old, but I missed it when it was first posted by Jacob Meyer over on BSL, so you’ll have to forgive me. Caleb has just kept on hittin’ in the meantime, so everything Jacob wrote still holds up. Not just hitting, of course – stealing strikes, of which Orioles pitchers could always use more.

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#Staturday: Tim Beckham Makes a Great First Impression

Tim Beckham and Jonathan Schoop high five.

Happy Staturday Birdland! After a not-so-wild trade deadline, the Orioles started winning again. It was fun and it produced some stats. Let’s get to em!

Before the deadline, the Orioles traded with the Tampa Bay Rays for Tim Beckham and he’s had a flaming hot start:

Tim Beckham recorded 10 hits in his first 15 at-bats.

After going 4-4 on Friday, Tim Beckham has 7 straight hits in as many at-bats.

Beckham has started his Orioles’ career with four straight multi-hit games, the most of any Oriole in 2017.

As the Orioles continue hitting the long ball, they approach an historic franchise mark:

On Friday, Manny hit the 9,997th home run in Orioles’ team history. They’re three away from 10,000.

If you were watching Thursday night’s game, you may have noticed a pretty epic play that started at the hot corner:

The Manny-Schoop-Davis triple play on Thursday was the second Orioles’ triple play in Camden Yards history.

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

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Friday’s O’s Links: Congrats to Nick Markakis!

player after just hitting pitch during baseball game

So far, this week is turning out like a mirror image of the 2014 postseason. Hopefully the Birds can turn the tide and pick up at least two (preferably three) games against Detroit this weekend, to cap off what would have been quite a successful homestand before heading off on the dreaded west coast trip.

Let’s see what everybody is saying about our O’s.

Orioles Take the Road to 2018

The Orioles, in doing what they did at the trade deadline, laid bare not only their intentions to keep trying to contend in 2017, but to try again in 2018 as well. Camden Depot’s head honcho Jon Shephard goes through the positions in a sort of state-of-the-Birds post.

Thoughts on the Trade Deadline and the Future

Want more on both the deadline and what comes next? BSL’s Rob Shields has you covered.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 211: Deadline Drama

On Monday, Jake was kind enough to let me sit in for Scott (who was with his wife as she gave birth to their third child – congrats, Magnesses!). We talked about the moves the O’s did – and didn’t make – played some fantasy boss, and of course blew the save. Give a listen, would ya?

Joey Rickard a Surprise Inclusion Among Game’s Top Outfielders

Joey’s defense has been much improved this season, and the Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli has the advanced stats to back it up.

Nick Markakis Hits 2000th Career Hit

Congrats to Nick the Stick!

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Series Preview: Orioles (53-54) vs. Tigers (49-57)

Kevin Gausman & Justin Verlander side-by-side pitching photos.

After making their intentions known with an amazing three-game sweep of the red-hot Royals, the Orioles will look to keep the good times rolling over a four-game set against the Detroit Tigers before hitting the West Coast.

Just like that, folks. These Orioles are making a lot of noise outside, and thanks to a five-game winning tear, they’re about to start banging on the door. If they can stay in top form, they’ll be more like unwelcome guests that arrived just in time to crash the party.

No team in the AL likes to play these guys when they’ve hit “Bull in a China Shop” mode.

Due to their current hot streak, the Orioles (53-54) are just two games behind the Rays for third place in the division and have cut the deficit in the wild card hunt from 5.5-games to just 2.5-games. On top of their current winning tear, they’ve now posted a 7-3 mark over their last ten games and an impressive 11-5 record over their last sixteen. In case you needed a reminder, the Orioles are very much alive and well as we prepare to hit the home stretch. 55 games remain on the schedule, and the Orioles train is just now beginning to pick up steam. We should be in for quite a ride.

The Tigers (49-57) trail the first-place Cleveland Indians by 8.5-games in the AL Central, but they’ve also been playing solid baseball lately. The current visitors have won four of their last five games which includes a series win versus the Yankees in the Bronx. They’ve now gone an impressive 7-4 over their last eleven games on the road and have posted a 10-9 mark in the second half of the season so far.

The Orioles dropped two of three in the first meeting of the season versus the Tigers in Detroit back in May, so they’ll be looking to avoid the same type of slip-up in front of their own fans at Camden Yards over the latter part of the week. Since the start of the 2015 season, the Orioles have gone 10-7 versus their current visitors.

Will the Orioles keep the good vibes flowing through the weekend, or will they begin their ten-game stay on the West Coast feeling blue?

Surely, this is a match-up that is tilted in the Orioles favor…But nothing is for certain.

 

Game One

Chris Tillman (1-6, 7.65 ERA) will take the mound versus Matthew Boyd (5-5, 5.30 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Tillman was rocked by the Rangers during his last time out and allowed eight runs on nine hits over just 4 1/3 innings, so he’ll be looking to erase that painful memory going into this one. His latest implosion came as a bit of a surprise as he had posted a rock-solid 3.31 ERA over his previous three starts. Tillman will also be looking to continue his dominance over the Tigers, as he owns a perfect 6-0 record along with an amazing 2.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and .186 BAA over nine career starts versus Detroit.

Boyd turned in a positive outing versus Houston and allowed just three runs on eight hits over 7 1/3 innings. He’s now won three straight starts while recording a 4.19 ERA in the process. He’ll be making his second career start versus the Orioles in this match-up.

 

Game Two

Kevin Gausman (8-7, 5.37 ERA) will take on Justin Verlander (6-7, 4.29 ERA) in Friday night’s contest.

Gausman put in a dazzling effort during his last start versus Texas and allowed just seven hits over 8 2/3 shutout innings. As a result, the white-hot Gausman continued his sensational run of form that includes a 3-0 record and a miniscule 0.44 ERA over his last three outings and an immaculate 5-0 record to go along with an impressive 3.15 ERA over his past seven contests. Over five career starts versus Detroit, Gausman has gone 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA.

Verlander turned in a vintage performance during his last start versus Boston and allowing just five hits over six shutout innings. He’s also been back to his best as of late with a stellar 2.25 ERA over his last three outings. Over eighteen career contests versus the Orioles, the future Hall-of-Famer has posted a 9-5 record and a 3.77 ERA.

 

Game Three

Wade Miley (5-9, 5.60 ERA) will get the nod against Michael Fulmer (10-9, 3.59 ERA) on Saturday night.

At last, Miley finally turned in a solid performance during his last outing in Texas and held the Rangers to just two runs on six hits over five innings in a winning effort. He had recorded a 9.77 ERA over his previous three contests and finished the month of July with an 8.68 ERA over six starts, so maybe it’s a sign that he’s turning the corner? We can only hope.

Fulmer was tagged to the tune of allowing six runs on seven hits over six innings during his last contest versus the Yankees. Also, the Tigers young ace has seen his form fall off of a cliff during his last three starts as he owns an 0-3 record and a 7.56 ERA during that span. Over three career starts versus Baltimore, Fulmer has gone 1-0 with a 4.42 ERA.

 

Game Four

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-7, 6.56 ERA) will take the hill against Anibal Sanchez (3-1, 5.83 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Jimenez was magnificent during his last start versus the Royals and finished his gem having allowed just a single run on five hits over seven stellar innings. Don’t look now, but Jimenez has recorded a remarkable 2.08 ERA over his last two starts and thirteen innings of work. Over twenty-two career starts versus Detroit, Jimenez owns a 6-12 record and a 5.63 ERA.

Sanchez has gone through a nightmare of an injury-hit campaign, but managed to hold the Yankees to just two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings during his last start and has won two of his last three contests. Over five career starts versus Baltimore, Sanchez has notched a 2-2 record and a 5.28 ERA.

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Thursday Thoughts: Strong Starts for New Orioles

Tim Beckham and Jonathan Schoop of the Orioles high five each other.

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. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the Orioles right now. They’ve won five straight by getting good pitching and strong offense. The O’s just shut down one of the hottest teams in baseball.

And yet, I still don’t really buy it all. Call me crazy, I know, but the past week has been a whirlwind and I’m not ready to say these Birds are ready for a run. Maybe I’m just not prepared to be sucked back in and hurt again.

It’s not that I’m rooting against the Orioles. I love what they are doing right now. Winning should always be the goal.

The Orioles still have a long road ahead if they want to sniff the postseason. They are still in the muddled mess that is the AL Wild Card chase, which includes the Royals team they just swept out of Camden Yards.

But hey, while we’re at it, why not just step back and realize that it’s early August and the O’s are only 5.5 games out of the division lead?

Embed from Getty Images

2. My jaw hit the floor last week when the Orioles made a strange trade for Jeremy Hellickson. It was also on the ground last night when the veteran tossed seven scoreless innings in his O’s debut, helping them sweep the Royals.

Like the Orioles’ winning ways, I also don’t really expect this to continue. But it’s still nice to see Hellickson make a strong debut.

Right now my mind is so clouded by winning, all I can picture is Dan Duquette coming out of the warehouse wearing a red trucker hat that doesn’t say “Make The Orioles Great Again,” but instead, “I Told You So.”

Settle down, Dan. It’s only been one start for Hellickson.

What baffles me is that Hellickson is just the type of pitcher the Orioles would sign this offseason to re-stock their rotation.

Don’t be surprised if this happens and don’t be surprised if he costs something right around what Ubaldo Jimenez cost four years ago. That’s the type of market the O’s dance in when it comes to starting pitching.

3. The Orioles made another strange move this week, but looking back, it wasn’t nearly as strange as it seemed at first.

Acquiring Tim Beckham from the Rays actually makes a lot of sense when looking at the long-term, as well as the short-term.

In my eyes, Beckham is J.J. Hardy’s replacement next season. At least he’s getting the next two months to audition for the role. Hardy is still expected to return at some point this year, but I think Beckham will get the chance to prove he can be the guy, or at least one of the guys, going forward.

Everyone knows Hardy’s contract situation makes it virtually certain that this is his last season in Baltimore. There’s a reason Beckham was the top overall pick in 2008. He’s obviously got some talent. It hasn’t quite panned out the way he maybe wishes, but at 27, there’s certainly still tread on the tires.

Obviously it’s going to take more than a few days or weeks to evaluate the trades for both Beckham and Hellickson, but they are at least off to nice starts. I’m on board to enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.

4. The underlying issue that wasn’t discussed as much as it maybe should’ve been over the last week or two leading up to the trade deadline is the future of Dan Duquette. Absolutely no one, including Duquette himself, really knows what the future holds for him in his current role.

I can’t imagine it’s easy to allow him to make trades and continue to build this team for a future that there’s no guarantee he’ll be a part of.

To me, players and construction of the roster aren’t the only big question mark entering the offseason. The future of Duquette is supremely important entering 2018, along with that of manager Buck Showalter.

Aside from recent winning ways, the Orioles still appear to be a rudderless ship without a true direction. That has to change as soon as possible.

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The Rundown: O’s Were Wise to Not Settle for Sub-Par Britton Return

Buck Showalter stands with his hands on his hips.

The Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone and the Orioles did what most fans feared: they didn’t sell off their top trade chips. It remains to be seen if this line of thinking will backfire for years to come.

O’s Were “Buyers” at the Deadline

It’s hard for me to call the O’s buyers at the deadline when they acquired players like Jeremy Hellickson and Tim Beckham, but since they added and didn’t trade away any top talent, we must classify them as such.

There have already been reports that ownership nixed a couple of trades due to medical reasons and not everyone is on the same page. This shouldn’t be surprising and it’s just par for the course when dealing with this organization. Dan Duquette has made his share of mistakes, but he’s still working with one hand tied behind his back due to the way Peter Angelos and company operate. We have debated their philosophy when it comes to international spending at length, but that’s an ownership decision so Duquette is trying to make the best of a terrible and very short-sighted situation.

The real question is, what type of talent were the Orioles actually getting back in return for Zach Britton? We may never know, but as I have written before, their asking price should have been close to the level the Yankees received for Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller last year. If they weren’t able to get that kind of return, it’s wise to try again in the off-season or this point next year if the team is once again in this position.

Jon Paul Morosi was on MLB Network and said the Orioles were asking for one of the Houston Astros’ top outfield prospects in Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher. Good, they should have. The Astros didn’t want to do that so the Orioles said no. That’s exactly what should have happened. The O’s didn’t need to settle and unless we find out otherwise later on, it appears they did not settle.

 

Final Two Months

The Orioles concluded the month of July with a 12-14 record, their third straight month finishing under .500. If we want to look at the positive, they have won nine of their last 14 games. It’s going to be an uphill battle to get back into the mix of playoffs, but it’s encouraging to see Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop continue to hit and Manny Machado and Kevin Gausman turn their seasons around.

The team’s handling of Dylan Bundy over the next couple of months will be interesting and probably one of the bigger reasons for the acquisition of Hellickson. Duquette has proven willing and able to make moves in the month of August so if things go sour quick, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Seth Smith and Welington Castillo moved. It was apparent that teams were looking for pitching at the deadline so position players weren’t exactly in demand across the league. All it takes is one injury for that to change and with Smith and Castillo not part of the long-term plans, I’m sure the O’s would like to get something for those two.

In the end, we have seen this core group play at an extremely high level.

After yesterday, the message is pretty clear: the players are the ones who have to turn this around.

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Orioles Acquire Tim Beckham from Rays

Tim Beckham of the Rays gives a high five.

The 4:00 PM deadline came and went, and O’s fans accepted the fact that Zach Britton, as well as lesser pieces like Welington Castillo, Seth Smith, and Brad Brach, were all staying put, and no haul of prospects would be coming to Baltimore.

We were ready to move on, though most found themselves cursing Dan Duquette’s (or Peter Angelos’, depending on where you prefer to place your blame) name.

But then, at about 4:09, something hit our Twitter timelines. The Orioles had, in fact, made a move!

Who was on the way out? Which contender finally gave in and offered up something that the O’s could use to help rebuild a decimated farm system? What elite prospects could we get finally get excited about?

Wait, what?

Beckham? As in, Tim Beckham?

Former number one overall (2008) draft pick Tim Beckham?

Why? How? Say huh?

So uh…what did we give up?

Cool, I suppose?

Let’s talk about Beckham first.

He’s 27 years old, and the owner of a career .247/.299/.421 slash line. In 87 games this year, he’s at .259/.314/.407, with five home runs (two of which he hit in the same game off of Dylan Bundy earlier this season).

The upshot is that he’s under team control through 2020. With J.J. Hardy very likely being gone after this year, this saves the team from having to find their shortstop of the future.

Beckham doesn’t look like the kind of guy who will ever live up to his draft status, but he could help solidify the Birds’ infield for a few years, while contributing here and there with the bat.

Or maybe he’s more of a Ryan Flaherty/utility-type replacement and they have other plans for shortstop. Who knows?

Oh, and of COURSE he strikes out a lot (32% of the time this year), so he’ll fit right in in that regard.

Not a bad acquisition, but it seems odd that THIS was the team’s priority today.

As for Tobias Myers, he was the O’s 6th round pick in 2016. He’s 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in 29.2 IP for Aberdeen this year. You can probably bank on the Rays turning him into a productive Major League pitcher, because that’s what they do. He doesn’t turn 19 until later this week though, so that headache is at least a handful of years away.

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Series Preview: Orioles (50-54) vs. Royals (55-48)

Dylan Bundy finishes his pitching motion.

After rallying last weekend in Arlington to keep their playoff aspirations alive, the Orioles will now look to keep the positive energy flowing during their upcoming three-game set versus the holders of the second wild card spot in the AL, the Kansas City Royals. For a team that is trying to claw their way back into a playoff spot, they can’t afford to go backwards against the club that they are currently trying to track down.

The Orioles’ upcoming seven-game home stand will be their biggest home stand of the season to date, as they simply can’t afford to tread water any longer. If they want to really make a challenge in the wild card hunt, they’ll need to lay it all on the line and start stringing results together. There’s still plenty of time to launch themselves up the wild card standings, but the clock is indeed ticking.

Simply put, it’s time to put up or shut up. And the only way to do that is to go on a winning streak.

The Orioles (50-54) still find themselves in fourth place in the division and 6.5-games off the pace of the division-leading Yankees, but are just three games behind the third-place Rays and a very attainable 5.5-games behind the Royals for the second and final wild card slot. The O’s have recorded an impressive 30-21 mark in the friendly confines of Camden Yards on the year and have turned things around as of late with an 8-5 record over their last thirteen contests. However, their recent feel-good vibes will be put to the test against another Midwest foe-and the Orioles have gone just 8-16 versus the AL Central this season.

The Royals (55-48) have been on a red-hot tear recently, and after going 10-1 over their last eleven games, Kansas City is now just two games behind the first-place Indians in the AL Central. They’ve also upped their lead over the Tampa Bay Rays to 2.5-games for the final wild card spot. After reeling off a sensational nine-game win streak which just came to a halt last Saturday versus the Red Sox, the O’s will need to bring their “A game” to slow these guys down.

Easier said than done. The Royals swept the Orioles (Not for the first time) over a three-game set in KC back in May and as a result, the Royals now own a 21-13 advantage over the Orioles since the start of the 2013 season.

Will the Orioles stay alive before the Detroit rolls into town, or will the red-hot Royals land a critical blow to the Orioles playoff hopes?

Let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-7, 6.93 ERA) will take the mound versus Danny Duffy (7-6, 3.56 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Jimenez turned in an excellent performance during his last start in Tampa and finished his start having allowed just two runs on three hits over six innings. Alas, his lack of run support and a lethal two-run bomb by Evan Longoria put him in the loss column. Over his last five outings, Jimenez has recorded a 1-4 record and an 8.28 ERA. He’s also gone just 1-2 with an 8.42 ERA over seven starts at Camden Yards this season.

Duffy stayed in top form during his last start versus Detroit and allowed just a single run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. The Royals southpaw has gone 2-1 with an excellent 2.75 ERA over his last three outings and 18 2/3 combined innings. Over eight career contests (six starts) versus the Orioles, Duffy has been lights out. He owns a 2-2 record to go along with a stellar 2.41 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .207 BAA lifetime versus Baltimore.

 

Game Two

Dylan Bundy (9-8, 4.53 ERA) will get the nod versus Ian Kennedy (4-6, 4.43 ERA) in Tuesday night’s contest.

Bundy was tagged to the tune of seven runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings versus Houston the last time he took the mound, and his recent struggles have been a major cause for concern. Over his last six starts, Bundy owns a 2-3 record and a 7.96 ERA. Over his last nine outings, he’s gone 3-5 with a 6.99 ERA. He’ll be looking to turn it around during his upcoming second career start versus the Royals.

Kennedy was dominant during his last time out versus the Tigers and allowed just a single run on three hits over six innings. Kennedy has bounced back into form this month and owns a clean 2-0 record and a rock-solid 3.68 ERA over five starts in July. He’s also been impressive away from Kauffman Stadium this season with a 4-2 record and a 3.97 ERA over ten starts on the road.

 

Game Three

The Orioles list the starter as TBD for the series finale versus Jason Vargas (13-4, 3.00 ERA) on Sunday.

The speculation surrounding this is that the newly acquired Jeremy Hellickson could make his Orioles debut during this match-up, but stay tuned.

Vargas finally snapped back into top form during his last start versus Boston and allowed just one run on five hits over six innings. However, after rolling through the first three months of the season with a remarkable 12-3 record and a superb 2.22 ERA over sixteen starts, Vargas has struggled this month and owns a 7.23 ERA through four starts in July. Rest assured, Vargas still owns the Orioles. Over eight career starts versus Baltimore, Vargas has gone 2-3 despite boasting a sensational 1.94 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and .224 BAA against them.

That’s it for now, Birdland!

Enjoy the series!

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Monday’s O’s Links: As the Rumor Mill Turns

Zach Britton throws from the mound.

The O’s took two of three in Texas over the weekend, finishing the season at 6-1 against the Rangers. Can’t we play them more often?

In other news, the rumor mill continues to turn, but so far the only trade the O’s have pulled off is Hyun-soo Kim for Jeremy Hellickson. Some fans aren’t too happy about that one.

What else is up?

Despite Hellickson Move, Orioles Aren’t Buyers

Our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN guest column, says that the other night’s trade shows that the Orioles are, as many of us feared, neither buying nor selling, but are instead stuck in neutral.

The One Move the Orioles Should Really Make Today

Camden Depot’s Nate DeLong says that the Orioles should really, really, move Zach Britton today. Assuming the deal is right, of course. Here’s hopin’.

Grading Each of Duqeutte’s 14 Summer Trades

Paul Folkemer of Baltimore Baseball runs down all the summer trades Duquette has made as EVP of the Orioles. A fun trip down memory lane, though it would be more fun if it weren’t in damn slideshow form.

10 Rookies Who Deserve Their Due

Some more shine for Trey Mancini.

Lee May Dead at 74

And finally, some sad news over the weekend.

 

3.5 hours until the deadline. Let’s see what happens…

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Week in Review: Fighting to the Trade Deadline

Baltimore Orioles CF Adam Jones flies high over the wall to rob a home run.

Another week has come and gone here in Birdland, and guess what? The Birds are still alive. If you don’t believe it, all you have to do is look at the standings.

Crazy, right? After losing a monumental series down in Tampa before getting drubbed 8-2 in the series opener over in Arlington, the Orioles very well could have been down for the count. The hope was dwindling, and a massive road trip was turning into a disaster in a hurry.

Not so fast.

Instead, these Orioles had another idea in mind and flipped the script on us again. First was the Kevin Gausman-led victory on Saturday, and then it was the bats coming up big to take the series versus the Rangers on Sunday.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but this Orioles squad just never quits, and they never, ever say die. They’ll go out with guns blazing or fall on their own sword before waving the white flag- and I love it. I’d rather see these guys go down swinging than throw in the towel.

After all, there is still more than enough time to chop away in the hopes of reaching the postseason-two full months to be exact. The division is 6.5-games out of reach, and while a Yankees/Red Sox collapse seems unlikely, the wild card is even closer at 5.5-games away. It’s not like we’re talking about erasing a ten-game gap, for crying out loud. If this squad can go on a tear like Kansas City or Cleveland just did, we’re going to be banging on the door before you know it.

I’m not saying that this team will rally and go all the way- I’m just simply stating that they have the talent and the heart to make it interesting down the stretch. And I’m sure it would mean a whole lot to this club if you got behind them a little-momentum is an enchanting mistress after all.

So for all of you that are still with us to this point- buckle up. We’ve still got 58 games to grind it out. This roller coaster ride of a season is far from coming to an end.

Just don’t count them out before the final bell rings, eh?

Now, before we get too carried away, let’s take a peek at the past week of Orioles baseball:

– Believe it or not, the starters carried their weight (for the most part) this week, and they finished the road trip with a decent 4.25 ERA over 36 innings of work. Gausman is in sparkling form at the moment, and if we can get one or two guys to follow his lead, the Orioles will definitely stay in the fight for the home stretch.

– While they didn’t exactly shut it down during the six-game road trip, the Orioles bullpen did decent enough to carry the positive vibes with them going forward. The O’s relievers have now recorded a stellar 2.88 ERA over 81 innings during the past 23 contests and an impressive 3.19 ERA over 113 innings during the last 32 games.

– Just as they seemed to be falling into their cliché “All or nothing” approach during the latest road trip, the Orioles offense exploded to the tune of ten runs on thirteen hits and two homers in the series finale on Sunday.

– Over the last thirteen games, the O’s have recorded a sparkling .290 batting average as a team while scoring 80 total runs (6.2 per game) to go along with 22 homers and a sensational .324 average with runners in scoring position.

– Over the past twenty contests, the Orioles have hit .280 collectively while scoring 117 runs (5.8 per game) on 33 home runs, while also hitting .299 with runners in scoring position. Simply put, the bats are heating up at exactly the right time (for the most part).

Finally, it’s time for our three stars of the week!

 

Third Star

Welington Castillo. After going 3-for-8 with two runs and a pair of RBI versus Tampa Bay, Castillo stayed hot by going 4-for-8 with a home run and four RBI in Arlington. Over his last ten ballgames, Castillo has been on absolute fire, going an incredible 14-for-38 (.368) at the plate with two home runs and seven RBI.

 

Second Star

Jonathan Schoop. After clubbing his 22nd home run of the season in the series finale in Tampa, Schoop stayed red-hot in Arlington and finished the series having gone 4-for-11 at the dish with another two homers and four RBI. He now leads the team in batting average (.305), home runs (24) and RBI (76).

Schoop has been totally ridiculous over the past twelve games, going a superb 19-for-49 (.388) at the plate with six homers and an astonishing 21 RBI. Over his last 27 ballgames, Schoop is hitting a stellar .314 to go along with nine home runs and 27 RBI.

 

First Star

Kevin Gausman. Gausman is smashing the league at the moment. Not only did he cruise over six shutout innings at The Trop earlier this week, he then followed up by dominating the Rangers in Arlington over 8 2/3 shutout innings on Saturday. If you’re keeping track, that’s 14 2/3 innings of shutout baseball in ONE WEEK.

Over his last three starts, the Orioles uber-hot flamethrower has gone 3-0 with a microscopic 0.44 ERA over 20 2/3 innings while racking up 24 strikeouts in the process. Over his last seven outings, Gausman has notched an immaculate 5-0 record to go along with an impressive 3.15 ERA. He’s also held an opponent to one or zero runs in five of seven starts during that span.

Ladies and gentleman, the Gas Man is back!

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Boiling Point: Last Night’s Swap of Hellickson and Kim is Final Straw

Hyun-soo Kim of the Orioles runs the bases.

Last night, the Orioles traded OF Hyun-Soo Kim, minor league LHP Garrett Cleavinger, and international bonus pool money for RHP Jeremy Hellickson and cash considerations in a deadline deal that makes me feel a lot of angry emotions.

I’m not mad that we traded Kim away. I get it; he wasn’t being put to use in Baltimore. I’m also not mad that we acquired a little starting pitching help in order to take some innings away from Dylan Bundy. I get that, too. What frustrates me is the continued incompetence of this organization. I don’t even know where to begin.

The problem with Hellickson is that he is not good. He strikes out 5.21 batters per nine innings, the second worst rate among all pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings. His 35.1% ground ball rate is the seventh worst in baseball. His 5.50 FIP is fifth worst in baseball and his 5.39 xFIP is the second worst mark in the game. He also surrenders the tenth most home runs per nine innings, which will not translate well to hitter-friendly Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

His only redeeming quality, if you can even call it that, is his “ability” to eat innings better than anybody else on the staff and subsequently give Bundy’s arm a break. Hellickson averages 5.2 innings per start, in comparison to Ubaldo’s 5.1 and Wade Miley’s 5.0, but whatever. He’s still technically the best innings-eater in the rotation. My point is that he’s not worth anything, let alone a serviceable outfielder and a 23-year-old left-handed pitcher. Plus, we only have him for two months, as he is a free agent after this season. If we really wanted an extra arm to alleviate Bundy, we have these guys at Norfolk named Tyler Wilson, Gabriel Ynoa, Alec Asher, Jayson Aquino, Logan Verrett…all more than capable of filling that void for a couple months. And you don’t have to give up a damn thing for any of them.

On Cleavinger: sure, maybe he isn’t much of a prospect. After all, his statistics in the minors are not exactly trending in the right direction. That said, he’s still just 23 years old, he was a third-round pick just two seasons ago, and the Orioles have very few quality young arms. I’m not going to pretend I had faith that he would turn things around and become anything decent in our system, but you just never know. It’s dumb to give up on guys like that when you are supposed to be rebuilding your farm system.

GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld

Switching gears to Kim, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, he was not getting much playing time here. As much as that upsets me, it makes sense. Nobody saw Trey Mancini hitting as well as he has this season. The addition of Seth Smith, in addition to Mancini’s great season, essentially kicked Kim to the curb. Smith is a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder who gets on base at a pretty high clip, plays sub-par defense, and generally has trouble against left-handed pitching. Kim is a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder who gets on base at a pretty high…well, you get it. They’re basically the same player.

Oh, we also traded away some international bonus money. We should all be used to that by now, but that makes it no less infuriating. Angelos’s/Duquette’s refusal to sign international players makes no sense at all. It’s not like Jonathan Schoop, our only All-Star from this season, was an international signing. Bite me, whoever is making this decision.

Not to mention, this trade happened on a night in which former Orioles farmhand Ariel Miranda set his career high with ten strikeouts while hurling his eighth quality start of the season, and another one that got away, Parker Bridwell, allowed three hits and one run over 7.1 innings, improving his record with the Angels to 5-1 and lowering his ERA to 2.83.

I guess when it’s all said and done, this particular trade is not the root of my frustration. After all, it’s a very meh-for-meh swap. Instead, it pushed me over the edge. It reminded me how awful our general manager is at dumpster-diving for rotation “help.” It reminded me how annoying it is that our organization refuses to spend money internationally. It reminded me how horribly we treated last season’s OBP leader. It reminded me how much our organization sucks at developing promising young pitchers. I guess I could say it reminded me that sports are dumb and baseball is dumb and none of it really matters.

Duquette has to go. He’s received largely unwarranted credit for a team built mostly by Andy MacPhail. Our best hope for the future of this organization is to replace Duquette this offseason, if for no reason other than to bring in somebody who will be invested in the long-term (Duquette’s contract expires after next season) success of this franchise and figure out what the hell to do with Manny Machado. Trade him or sign him. It’s simple. Duquette is going to let him walk and the O’s will get nothing in return.

Sorry, I’m just really frustrated.

As we wait and see how the rest of this trade deadline goes (God help us) and mentally prepare ourselves for “Garrett Cleavinger, 2021 National League Cy Young Award Winner” headlines, please enjoy this thread put together by a friend of mine.

Best of luck in Philly, Hyun-Soo.

 

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#Staturday: Na Na NaNaNa, Good Bye Kim!

Happy Staturday Birdland! It was a so-so week of baseball and it ended Friday night on a sour note. This week’s stats are a tribute to Hyun-Soo Kim.

As you may remember, Kim started 2016 in a fury:

Hyun Soo Kim recorded 42 hits in his first 38 games, the 5th most in Orioles’ history.

Kim also recorded 14 multi-hit games in his first 43 games, tied for 4th most in Orioles’ history.

Hyun Soo Kim ended up having a hell of 2016, outperforming all expectations:

Kim finished 2016 with a .302 batting average and a .382 on-base percentage, both a team high for batters in 50+ games.

Kim is only the 4th rookie in Orioles’ history to finish with a .300+ batting average (min 90 games played).

While we were never in awe of Kim’s fielding ability, he held his own:

Hyun Soo Kim has yet to commit an error in his 133 games in the outfield.

Assuming Kim doesn’t return to Baltimore, here’s how he stacks up on the Orioles’ hit leaderboard:

Kim will finish with 121 hits as an Oriole, the 162nd most in Os history.

It’s been a good run Kim, best of luck in Philadelphia. For more stats like these, follow @BirdlandStats on Twitter.

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Orioles Trade Hyun-soo Kim for Jeremy Hellickson

The Orioles made a very puzzling move late tonight. While they were getting pummeled by the Texas Rangers 8-2, Dan Duquette was shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, trading OF Hyun-soo Kim to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jeremy Hellickson.

First and foremost, I’m happy for Kim, as I’m sure most O’s fans are. While I love Buck Showalter, his usage (or lack thereof) of Kim over the last 1.5 years was always a sore spot. Kim proved that he could hit at the MLB level when given the chance, he provided something this lineup sorely needed in a solid OBP guy, and he was genuinely likeable.

So is Ubaldo Jimenez, right? Sure, but Kim was also productive. I hope he grabs a starting spot in Philadelphia, plays well, and earns himself a lucrative free agent deal with a team that will appreciate him.

As for Hellickson…why? He’s 6-5 with a 4.73 ERA in 20 starts, his FIP is an awful 5.50 in the pathetic NL East, and he’s a free agent after the season. So he’s a rental, showing that Duquette is once again doing his half-assed “buying” thing of acquiring a pitcher that’s no better than what the O’s already have.

AA pitcher Garrett Cleavinger was also included in the deal. He’s not much of a prospect at this point, having put up a 6.27 ERA in Bowie so far this year. Baltimore Sports and Life ranked him as the #16 O’s prospect just the other day.

Oh, and that’s not all. Because this is the Orioles, they also had to take the opportunity to give away some more of those damned international bonus slots.

That’s right – Roch Kubatko reports that international signing bonus slotS (plural!) are also going to Philadelphia. This is the third time this month the O’s have parted ways with international slot money. So, it’s not like they were gonna use it anyway?

There are still two days until the non-waiver trade deadline. Duquette has some time to save face here, which he could do, in the minds of many O’s fans, by acquiring some prospects for Brad Brach and/or Zach Britton.

This deal though? It hardly moves the needle, and smacks of a team desperate to do SOMETHING, anything. Not a great look.

Be free, Mr. Kim. All the best, from your friends in Birdland.

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Series Preview: Orioles (48-53) @ Rangers (49-52)

Chris Tillman of the Baltimore Orioles pitches.

After taking just one of three in Tampa, the Orioles will be looking to end their road trip on a high note during a three-night stay in Arlington before returning home to kick off a seven-game home stand versus Kansas City and Detroit.

With the Orioles still on the outside looking in, every single series remaining on the schedule holds a crucial meaning. They can’t afford to drop games and series like they did earlier this week, and with the majority of the teams in playoff contention gaining momentum as we approach the end of July, the margin for error grows smaller and smaller by the day.

Long story short, the window for a playoff push is slamming shut, and the Orioles need to go on a winning tear to force it to stay open. It’s either win or get left out in the cold.

The Orioles (48-53) still find themselves in fourth place in the division and seven games behind the Red Sox at the top of the table, but their slip-up in Tampa has cost them ground in the wild card chase and they now trail the Royals by 5.5-games for the second wild card spot in the AL. The Orioles struggles on the road have proven to be their Achilles heel this season, as evidenced by their 18-32 record away from Camden Yards. They’ve gone a dismal 11-26 while on tour since the start of May. Also, after not getting the results they needed at Tropicana Field, the Orioles have notched just a 9-13 record during the month of July and a 6-7 mark after the All-Star Break.

The Rangers (49-52) have been blown out of the water by the first-place Astros in the AL West, and after taking just one of three at home versus Miami, they’ve also lost ground to KC in the wild card chase and find themselves 4.5-games outside of the playoff picture. The Rangers now own a 26-22 record at home and have posted just a 9-12 record in front of their hometown fans since the start of June. They’ve also gone just 10-16 versus the AL East during the current campaign.

After sweeping the Rangers over a four-game set at Camden Yards just over a week ago, the Orioles will be looking to do a little more of the same this time around while Texas will be looking for a little bit of revenge. As a result of their latest meeting, the Orioles now boast a 19-13 advantage over their current hosts since the start of the 2013 campaign.

Will the Orioles fly home with a few more much-needed W’s under their wings, or will the Rangers execute their vendetta against the Birds?

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

 

Game One

Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.01 ERA) will take on Andrew Cashner (5-8, 3.64 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Tillman put in a solid effort during his last start versus Houston by allowing three runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings, but is still looking for his first notch in the win column since his first start of the season on May 7th. Nonetheless, Tillman seems to be returning close to his top form as he’s posted a rock-solid 3.31 ERA over his last three starts and 16 1/3 innings of work. The Orioles are 5-8 when their veteran leader takes the mound this season. Over eight career starts versus Texas, Tillman owns a 3-2 record and a 4.89 ERA.

Cashner also put in a solid shift during his last start against Tampa Bay by allowing three runs on four hits over six innings, and has really stepped his game up as of late. The former Padre has posted a 2-1 record and a stellar 2.75 ERA over three starts and 19 2/3 innings this month. Cashner has also been superb over six starts at home this season, going 2-2 with an excellent 2.50 ERA.

 

Game Two

Kevin Gausman (7-7, 5.79 ERA) will take the mound against Austin Bibens-Dirx (3-0, 4.53 ERA) on Saturday.

After silencing the Rays to the sound of allowing just five hits over six scoreless innings in his last start, the red-hot Gausman looks to be locked in and ready to go for the home stretch. He’s now recorded a microscopic 0.75 ERA over his last two starts after allowing just a single run over twelve innings of work to go along with sixteen strikeouts. Over his last six outings, the LSU alum has gone a perfect 4-0 while recording a solid 4.02 ERA. He’s also allowed one or zero runs in four of his past six contests. In six career games (five starts) versus Texas, Gausman has gone 2-2 with a 3.58 ERA.

Bibens-Dirx will be making his first start since allowing four runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings versus the White Sox on June 30th, but he’s also had a decent bit of success in recent memory. The 32-year-old rookie has notched a 2-0 record and an impressive 3.65 ERA over his last four starts. He’s also gone seven innings while allowing just a single run in two of his last four starts. He’ll be making his first career start versus the Birds in this match-up.

 

Game Three

Wade Miley (4-9, 5.69 ERA) will get the nod against Martin Perez (5-8, 4.67 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Miley was undone by a second-inning nightmare during his last start in Tampa and finished the game having allowed five runs on five hits over six innings. The Orioles southpaw has recorded a 2-6 record and a 9.69 ERA over his last ten outings. He’s also struggled mightily over eleven starts away from Camden Yards this season, going 2-5 with a 6.26 ERA. Over eight career starts against the Rangers, Miley has gone just 1-5 with a 6.11 ERA.

Perez was good enough to win during his last start versus Miami as he allowed three runs on seven hits over seven innings, but ended up in the loss column. The Rangers southpaw has gone 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA over his last three outings. Perez has also been inconsistent over twelve starts in Arlington and owns a 4-5 record and a 4.70 ERA in front of the home crowd this season. Over five career starts versus the Birds, the native Venezuelan owns a 2-2 record and a 4.70 ERA.

 

That’s it for now, Birdland!

Enjoy the weekend, and here’s to coming home on a high note!

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Friday’s O’s Links: Market Weak for Zach Britton

Zach Britton looks into home plate.

The O’s get back at it tonight in Texas, where the Rangers will be looking for some revenge. I regret to inform you that we still have no trades to report, so let’s see what else is up…

Trade Retrospective: Wade Miley vs. Ariel Miranda

With no 2017 trades to talk about yet, let’s talk about a 2016 one that’s going, uh…

Is it that bad though? Joe Wantz of Camden Depot investigates.

Ranking the Orioles’ Top 40 Prospects Right Now

Top 40! FORTY! Greg Goldstein digs deeeeeeep for Baltimore Sports & Life. D.J. Stewart at 27 is a damn bummer.

Mountcastle’s Move to 3B Met with Positive Mindset at Bowie

The number one guy on that aforementioned top 40 list, Ryan Mountcastle, was recently promoted to Bowie, where he was also moved from shortstop to third base. He hasn’t started hitting yet in Bowie, but everybody is confident that he will, and soon.

O’s Reportedly Having Trouble Drumming Up Interest in Zach Britton

The Birds are finally ready to move a guy a year too early, rather than too late, and of course things still aren’t falling into place. Say it with me: #ThatsSoOs.

How Orioles Could Trade Zach Britton Despite Injury History

Joel Sherman of the NY Post outlines a way for the O’s to move Britton that involves two different lists of “Players to be Named Later.” I’d certainly never heard of this.

 

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Thursday Thoughts: O’s Deadline Plans Still a Mystery

baltimore maryland orioles player with arms up

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 days leading up to Monday’s trade deadline are going to be interesting, but I also expect them to be fairly quiet for the Orioles.

Based on all of the back and forth we’ve heard out of the front office over the last few weeks, I’d think the O’s are pretty comfortable standing pat at this point. That’s not to say they won’t make a trade before the deadline.

I still think there’s a very good chance they trade Zach Britton. What complicates matters is the way the closer has been pitching of late. He appears to be healthy, but something seems off.

The Orioles are walking the very thin line that is “buyer” and “seller” at the same time. They think they are still in it this season (they aren’t) while they also know they have multiple pieces of value that they could trade away (they do).

It’s a very unique trade deadline for this organization, and as I’ve written many times over the last few weeks, they need to be careful with it. Making the wrong move, or failing to make the right move, could set the franchise back multiple years.

2. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding this year’s trade deadline isn’t the future of certain players on the roster. In my mind, it’s the future of those off the field, mainly Dan Duquette.

Over the last few weeks, I thought we may get some answers about what the future holds for Duquette. Instead, I feel more confused than ever. Beyond next season, no one really knows what is in store for either Duquette or manager Buck Showalter. That’s something that is disconcerting to those who want something to believe in for the future of this team.

If Duquette had actually been given authority to be a “seller” this trade deadline and completed that task (and yes, I suppose there is still time), it would say a lot about the trust ownership places in him to build for the future.

There will also be an opportunity for Duquette to make those types of moves this winter, but there doesn’t appear to be a ton of talk about his future beyond 2018.

All of that should concern you, Birdland.

3. There is much happier news that isn’t trade related when it comes to the Orioles.

The All-Star Game hasn’t slowed down Jonathan Schoop one bit. The O’s second baseman was scorching hot in the first half, and has maybe even turned it up a notch thus far in the second half. After hitting his 22nd home run of the season yesterday, Schoop is just three shy of his career high set last year. He’s also now hitting .303/.349/.550 on the season, putting together one of the better offensive years for an Orioles second baseman ever.

Schoop is at least locked up for two more seasons after this, and there’s every reason to believe the Orioles should be attempting to sign to a long-term deal. If they aren’t going to get a deal done for Schoop’s good friend Manny Machado, they should be working on the other side of the infield.

Schoop is going to cost a lot more than he would’ve if the O’s had approached him at the start of the season, but it’s still going to be very doable for the Birds.

4. As you sit back this weekend and watch Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and former Oriole Tim Raines get inducted into the Hall of Fame, remember that there should be another Bird in Cooperstown already. How Mike Mussina has yet to get the call is beyond me. “Moose” received nearly 52% of the vote in his 4th year of eligibility, and needs to bump that number to 75% in order to be enshrined. Mussina’s time will come, but I’m just puzzled as to why it hasn’t already.

There is more youth among the voters nowadays, and more who are inclined to look beyond the raw numbers. Mussina doesn’t have 300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts. He got a bit unlucky when he left the O’s to join the Yankees, spending his entire tenure in New York in between World Series championship teams.

Mussina will go into the Hall one day soon, and unlike many Orioles fans, I hope he goes in with a Baltimore cap.

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Wednesday’s O’s Links: O’s Delusional?

Wade Miley was decent last night, except for that one inning in which he wasn’t. Those five runs Tampa put up in the second inning were enough for them to pull off the 5-4 victory and even the series. The O’s try to take it today at Noon, but Ubaldo is on the bump, so we’re not getting our hopes up.

Still no trades to report, so let’s see what else is up in the Blog O’sphere.

Should the Orioles Buy, Sell, or Stay at the MLB Trade Deadline?

SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee is one of my favorite baseball writers, and it’s a rare treat that he puts out a piece about the Birds, so of course I’m going to link it here. He gives an outsiders perspective on our O’s trade deadline plans.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 210: Time to Change

Jake & Scott took a well-deserved week off after this year’s BEVy awards, but they’re back in studio this week, talking Jonathan Schoop, O’s promotions, and how the Orioles can pull off the type of change that the owner & GM are comfortable with but that will also appease fans.

Roller Coaster Season Making Some Fans Sick

So many ups, so many downs – that’s been the 2017 O’s. At no time was this more on display than immediately after the All-Star break, as the team got swept by the Cubs only to turn around and pull off a four-game sweep of the Rangers. It’s a lot to deal with. Our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN column, tries to help us get through it.

Checking in with Trey Mancini

Over at Camden Depot, Patrick Dougherty looks at how Trey Mancini’s rookie season has progressed. Earlier this year, he was lighting the world afire, but many pointed to his HR/FB ratio as unsustainable. They said this was a reason to not get too excited. Fortunately, Pat says Trey has given us plenty of other reasons for optimism as the season has gone on.

Rangers, Orioles Delusions will Decide MLB Trade Market

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman says the O’s & Rangers are delusional about their playoff chances, which will hinder the abilities of true contenders to pry useful pieces from them. I’m still holding out hope that Brad Brach gets traded, but I’m not very optimistic about Zach Britton anymore.

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Series Preview: Orioles (47-51) @ Rays (51-48)

Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.

After keeping their playoff hopes alive over a ten-game home stand to kick off the second half of their campaign, the Orioles will now look to keep the good vibes flowing over a six-game, two-legged road trip.

The upcoming road trip will undoubtedly represent the most important six-game stretch away from home of the season for the Orioles. Not only will they start out with a three-game set versus the current co-holders of the second wild card spot in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays, they’ll then travel to Arlington to take on the team that’s right in front of them in the chase for October, the Rangers, over the weekend.

To say that this is a crucial week for the Orioles would be the definition of an understatement. If they can slug their way to a handful of wins, they’re right back on the doorstep of the playoff picture. If things go south this week, well things won’t nearly be as rosy, and our upbeat song will turn into a somber, bluesy ballad in a hurry.

To note that the deadline is exactly a week away gives the upcoming Orioles-Rays match-up more of a “Do-or-Die'” type of feeling. But hey, no pressure.

The fourth-place Orioles (47-51) remain seven games off the pace of the first place Red Sox, but are just 3.5-games out of the wild card picture as we approach the century mark of the season. A 5-5 start to the second half could have been better, but it could have easily been worse as well. The Orioles are in the middle of their third straight sub-.500 month with an 8-11 record thus far in July, but most of their struggles have happened while on tour as evidenced by a dismal 17-30 record away from Camden Yards. They’ll need to find a way to win ballgames on the road in the second half to have a legitimate chance of reaching the postseason, and they’ll be looking to reach that goal during their biggest week thus far.

The Tampa Bay Rays (51-48) are still holding down the third spot in the division and find themselves just 3.5-games behind the division-leading Red Sox, but a current four-game losing skid has resulted in the Royals tying them for the AL’s second and final wild card spot as we enter the final week of July. The Rays boast an impressive 27-22 record at Tropicana Field and have gone 9-8 thus far in July.

On the bright side, the Orioles own a 5-4 lead over the Rays in the 2017 season series, which has upped the O’s record versus the Rays to an impressive 40-26 since the start of the 2014 campaign. Baltimore has taken four of the past five season series versus their Floridian foes, and will be looking to inch closer to making it 5-of-6 this week.

Will the Orioles continue to gain ground in the wild card hunt, or will the Rays squash their visitors’ feel-good vibes before they jet out to Arlington? We’re about to find out. Let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Kevin Gausman (6-7, 6.11 ERA) will take on Blake Snell (0-5, 4.98 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Gausman was electric during his last start in which he held the Rangers to just a single run on four hits over six innings in a winning effort. The Orioles will need more of the same, and some consistency, from Gausman going forward. He had allowed thirteen runs on sixteen hits over just seven innings in his previous two starts combined before shutting it down versus Texas. Nonetheless, Gausman has gone 3-0 with a 4.97 ERA over his last five outings. However, his road struggles remain glaring as he’s gone 2-4 with a 7.98 ERA away from OPACY this season. Over twelve career games (ten starts) versus Tampa Bay, Gausman owns a 4-4 record and a 4.21 ERA.

Snell has gone through a nightmare campaign this season, and it didn’t get any brighter after allowing three runs on three hits over just four innings during his last start versus Oakland. He’s now gone 0-3 with a dismal 6.93 ERA over his last five outings, and he remains winless at The Trop this season with an 0-2 record and a 5.40 ERA.

 

Game Two

Wade Miley (4-8, 5.58 ERA) will take the hill versus Jacob Faria (4-1, 2.52 ERA) on Tuesday.

Miley will be aiming to erase the memory of his last start in which he allowed five runs on seven hits over five innings versus Texas. He’s in quite a rut at the moment as he’s recorded an 11.18 ERA over his last two starts. Over his last nine outings, the Orioles southpaw has notched a 2-5 record and a 10.04 ERA. The silver lining here is that over ten career starts versus Tampa Bay, Miley has gone 4-3 with a stellar 2.60 ERA.

Faria is coming off of the worst start of his young career during which he allowed four runs on six hits over five innings versus the Athletics, but has been pure money for the Rays since being called up in June. The rookie stud has gone six-plus innings while allowing two runs or fewer in six of his eight career starts and has allowed one or no runs in five of eight. Faria remains perfect at Tropicana Field with a 2-0 record and a superb 2.45 ERA.

 

Game Three

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-6, 7.19 ERA) will get the nod against Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.57 ERA) in the series finale on Wednesday.

After getting tuned up to the sound of allowing six runs on ten hits over 5 1/3 innings versus the Astros, Jimenez has now gone 0-2 while allowing twelve runs on twenty-one hits over just nine innings of work over his last two outings. He’s gone 1-3 with a 9.95 ERA over his last four starts. He’s also gone 3-4 on the road this season despite owning a 6.39 ERA. Over ten career starts versus the Rays, Jimenez boasts a 5-3 record along with a 4.70 ERA.

Cobb continued his sensational run of form by holding the Rangers to just three runs on five hits over eight innings during his last start, and now boasts a 2-0 record and a stellar 1.54 ERA over his last three outings and 23 1/3 innings of work. He’s gone seven-plus innings while allowing one or no runs in three of his last five starts. Cobb has also been remarkable at home this season and owns a 4-3 record and a 2.75 ERA at The Trop on the year. To make matters worse for the Orioles, Cobb has gone 4-2 with an outstanding 2.69 ERA against them over ten career starts.

That’s it for now, Orioles fans! Can I get a Let’s go O’s?!?!?

Here’s to heading to Arlington on a high note!

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Monday’s O’s Links: Britton Sets AL Record, but Teams Still Scared?

Zach Britton throws in spring training.

The O’s narrowly avoided the sweep on Sunday, which may be a bit of a double-edged sword. With the nonsense Dan Duquette was spewing at the season-ticket holder event on Saturday afternoon, maybe the Birds NEEDED to be swept. There’s still no selling going on. With every day that remains the case, the chances that the O’s do something really silly just increases.

To the links, where we may have some answers….

How Has Dan Duquette Fared in “Sell” Deals?

Dan Connolly chronicles Dan Duquette’s history of trading away veteran players for prospects. DD has been…surprisingly good!

Zach Britton May Not Be Worth as Much as the Orioles Want

First I hit you with the good news. Here’s the bad.

Britton Sets AL Record with 55th Consecutive Save

THIS guy isn’t worth as much as the O’s want? Seriously? Screw off, other GMs.

Mark Trumbo Made Just the Saddest Baseball Play You Will See Today

Orioles outfielders, everybody!

The End of Round 1 at the Appellate Court

Camden Depot’s Matt Perez, as always, has more details than you could ever want to read about the latest update in the MASN case.

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Week in Review: Heart’s Still Beating

Chris Davis rounds the bases with Rougned Odor in the background.

After getting crushed by the Cubs to start the second half, it would have been easy for the Orioles to throw in the towel on the 2017 season and give in to the pressure of a looming rebuild…

Not just yet. The Orioles had other plans in mind, as evidenced by their impressive four-game sweep of the Rangers. They also held their own against the AL-leading Astros as well, starting with a furious comeback that fell just short on Friday and a hard-fought 9-7 victory on Sunday to avoid the sweep and keep that second wild card spot well within reach.

We should know better than to assume that these Orioles are just going to roll over and give up. They’ve got the heart of a lion, and they never say die.

While a 5-5 home stand could have been a lot sweeter, it’s not all bad considering that it started out on an 0-3 note. And although the division-leading Red Sox are a distant seven games out of sight as we approach the final week of July, the O’s are just 3.5-games out of the wild card picture.

What follows will hold a much heavier meaning. They’ve got a massive three-game set down in Tampa against the squad that’s locked into a tie with the Royals for that second and final wild card slot. The Orioles could be banging on the door by the time we reach the weekend if everything goes to plan.

Or we could be diving deeper into the “Buy/Sell/Stand Pat” debate. Only time will tell. But there’s only one thing that’s on this squad’s mind at the moment, and that’s winning ballgames.

As we mentioned earlier this week, get your popcorn ready. The final plot of the Orioles 2017 season still remains unscripted, and we’re not even close to the climax of the action just yet.

Buckle up. We’ve still got 64 games left to grind it out.

Before we get carried away, let’s take a look back at the highlights from the past week of Orioles baseball.

– While Orioles starters shined en route to sweeping the Rangers by posting a rock-solid 3.13 ERA over 23 innings, they fell back into their old ways against the Astros and finished the series with a 9.00 ERA over 16 innings. They’ve now recorded an 8.04 ERA over the first ten games of the second half and an 8.34 ERA over their last seventeen contests.

– After staying in top form with a 2.08 ERA over thirteen innings versus the Rangers, the Orioles bullpen wasn’t iron-clad by any means versus Houston any finished the series with a 4.91 ERA over eleven innings. Nonetheless, the Orioles bullpen has been stellar for quite some time now as evidenced by their sensational 2.59 ERA over the last seventeen contests and their impressive 3.03 ERA over a current 26-game span.

– Ladies and Gentleman, Birdland Power Company is back in business. After hitting a remarkable .353 as a unit versus the Rangers while pushing across 34 runs (8.5 per game) on ten home runs, they followed up by hitting .294 as a team versus the Astros while scoring 20 runs (6.6 per game) on five homers.

– Over that seven-game span, the Orioles are hitting .328 while putting up 7.7 runs per game (54 total) on 14 homers. They’ve also gone a superb 24-for-63 (.381) with runners in scoring position during that span.

– Over the past 14 ballgames, the Orioles are collectively hitting .295 as a unit and have scored 91 runs (6.5 per game) on 25 home runs. They’re also hitting .318 with runners in scoring position during that stretch.

Now, let’s go to the three stars of the week!

 

Third Star

Trey Mancini. After going 5-for-15 with a homer and five RBI versus the Rangers, the Orioles star rookie followed up by going 3-for-11 with a pair of RBI versus Houston. Mancini is now hitting a stellar .308 with eight runs, one home run and nine RBI over his last 17 contests.

 

Second Star

Adam Jones. After destroying the Rangers by going 7-for-17 with eight runs, two homers and five RBI, the captain followed up his phenomenal effort by going 6-for-14 with another homer and another five RBI versus the Astros. Over his current six-game hitting streak, Jones has gone a ridiculous 13-for-28 (.464) with ten runs, three homers and ten RBI. Over his last fourteen contests, AJ is hitting a stellar .328 with five home runs and 15 RBI.

 

First Star

Jonathan Schoop. Simply put, he is lighting the world on fire at the moment. After crushing the Rangers by going 7-for-16 with one homer and nine RBI, Schoop followed up by tagging Houston to the tune of 6-for-14 with two home runs and seven RBI. Over his current six-game hitting streak, Jonny has gone an amazing 13-for-27 (.481) with three homers and a whopping 15 RBI. Over his last 20 ballgames, Schoop is hitting a superb .325 with 15 runs, six homers and 21 RBI.

 

Now that we’re feeling pretty good, let’s keep the good times rolling, eh?

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