Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

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Britton’s elbow “really good” after undergoing MRI exam

Posted on 22 April 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Buck Showalter offered a favorable report on closer Zach Britton after Friday night’s 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.

The two-time All-Star reliever underwent an MRI on his left forearm and elbow on Friday that brought no serious concerns, according to the manager.

“Looked good. They did everything. The elbow looked really good,” Showalter said. “That bodes well, obviously, down the road. They found what they thought they would find. We’re moving forward with nothing to hold back his continued progress.”

Placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left forearm strain last Sunday, Britton hasn’t pitched since feeling forearm discomfort while throwing his slider on April 14. The 29-year-old told reporters earlier in the week that the strain was closer to his wrist than his elbow.

It remains unclear when Britton will begin throwing again, but it may not be too long based on the apparent MRI results and the left-hander’s comments to his manager in Cincinnati on Thursday.

“He feels good. He was ready to pitch,” Showalter said before Friday’s game. “Yesterday in the dugout, he said, ‘I’m ready to throw. I’ll get this MRI just to [make sure].’ He was chomping at the bit yesterday. He said, ‘I feel good. I’m ready to go.’”

In Britton’s absence, 2016 All-Star setup man Brad Brach has converted all three of his save opportunities, temporarily easing the concern of not having the man who’s converted 54 save chances in a row.

It’s been a difficult start to 2017 for Britton, who missed a portion of spring training with a strained oblique. Asked whether the disruption created by that ailment may have contributed to Britton’s forearm injury, Showalter didn’t dismiss the possible cause-and-effect relationship.

“It’d be easy for me to say absolutely not,” Showalter said. “Everything’s related to everything, but it has nothing to do with his velocity or his movement. It may have had something to do with his command a little bit. It’s like the whole question about the [World Baseball Classic and this or that. Yeah, everything has a point, counterpoint. But Zach’s not talking about [the spring] too much.”

Britton has converted all five of his save opportunities and has pitched to a 1.29 ERA so far this season, but he has allowed 10 hits and issued three walks in only seven innings. In 2016, he posted an unbelievable 0.54 ERA and went 47-for-47 in save chances to win the American League reliever of the year award.

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wallace

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Ravens to play three prime-time games as part of 2017 schedule

Posted on 20 April 2017 by Luke Jones

A 2017 schedule that includes the Ravens’ first ever trip to London will feature three prime-time games in the regular season.

After playing 11 of their last 12 Monday night contests on the road, the Ravens will finally welcome ESPN’s national telecast back to M&T Bank Stadium for a meeting with the Houston Texans on Nov. 27. This marks the first time since the 2012 opener that the Ravens have had a Monday home game, and it’s only the second one of the John Harbaugh era.

The Ravens will host Miami for a Thursday night game on Oct. 26 and will travel to Heinz Field to take on Pittsburgh for their only scheduled appearance on NBC’s Sunday Night Football on Dec. 10. Baltimore will also welcome Indianapolis to town in a nationally-televised Saturday afternoon contest on Dec. 23.

Beginning their 22nd campaign in Baltimore and 20th season at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens will open their season in Cincinnati on Sept. 10 and host Cleveland for the home opener on Sept. 17.

It was known months ago that the Ravens would play Jacksonville in London on Sept. 24, and the NFL has granted their wish not to have their bye immediately after that with the Steelers coming to Baltimore on Oct 1. The Ravens will then travel across the country to face Oakland on Oct. 8 to conclude arguably their most challenging stretch of the season.

Their bye will fall in Week 10.

The schedule concludes with two straight home games for the first time in franchise history, which should help Baltimore’s bid to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Ravens will host the Bengals in Week 17, marking the seventh time in eight years that these AFC North rivals have faced off in the regular-season finale.

The Ravens will play seven games against playoff teams from last season: Pittsburgh (twice), Houston, Miami, Oakland, Green Bay, and Detroit. They have six games against opponents who finished below .500 in 2016: Cincinnati (twice), Cleveland (twice), Jacksonville, and Chicago.

Baltimore’s 2017 opponents had a combined .461 winning percentage last season, which would give them the ninth-easiest schedule in the NFL entering the year. Of course, playing the 1-15 Browns twice skews that percentage a good bit.

For now, 10 of the Ravens’ 16 regular-season games are scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday starts, but many of those games are subject to flexible scheduling (see below).

2017 SCHEDULE

Sunday, Sept. 10 at Cincinnati — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: You mean the Ravens aren’t required by law to conclude every season at Paul Brown Stadium? This marks only the second time in the last seven years that they won’t be in Cincinnati for Week 17. 

Sunday, Sept. 17 vs. Cleveland Browns — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Browns have dramatically improved their offensive line, but that only matters so much until Hue Jackson finds the right quarterback to lead his football team. 

Sunday, Sept. 24 at Jacksonville Jaguars (London) — 9:30 a.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Playing the first game in franchise history outside the United States, the Ravens need to be ready to start fast with a breakfast kickoff time back home.

Sunday, Oct. 1 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Steelers will once again be the favorite to win the AFC North, but they’ve lost four straight at M&T Bank Stadium with Charlie Batch being the last Pittsburgh quarterback to earn a win in Baltimore.

Sunday, Oct. 8 at Oakland Raiders — 4:05 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Playing a road game against the young and talented Raiders appears daunting, but it will be interesting to see how Oakland fans respond to a team officially set to move to Las Vegas.

Sunday, Oct. 15 vs. Chicago Bears — 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Skinny: Pernell McPhee received a huge contract when he left the Ravens, but Chicago pushed him too hard in 2015 and his well-documented knee issues limited him to just nine games last year.

Sunday, Oct. 22 at Minnesota Vikings — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Brett Favre was the Vikings quarterback when the Ravens last visited Minnesota, but this one will be played at the extravagant U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened last season.

Thursday, Oct. 26 vs. Miami Dolphins — 8:25 p.m. (CBS/NFL Network)
Skinny: The Ravens demolished Miami by 32 points last December, but the Dolphins earned the last laugh by nabbing the final wild card in the AFC and are moving in the right direction.

Sunday, Nov. 5 at Tennessee Titans — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: It’s been a long time since the Titans were relevant, but young quarterback Marcus Mariota looked more and more like the real deal last year while nearly getting his team to the playoffs.

Sunday, Nov. 12 BYE

Sunday, Nov. 19 at Green Bay Packers — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Ravens have never won a game at Lambeau Field, and you have to wonder what the weather will be like come the second half of November.

Monday, Nov. 27 vs. Houston Texans — 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: Bill O’Brien’s team is still a good quarterback away from being a serious contender in the AFC, but his defense was very good even without All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt last season.

Sunday, Dec. 3 vs. Detroit Lions — 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Skinny: Former right tackle Rick Wagner and five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will return to Baltimore for their first regular-season game against the Ravens.

Sunday, Dec. 10 at Pittsburgh Steelers — 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: These bitter rivals will square off in a nationally-televised contest for the 11th straight year and on Sunday Night Football for the sixth time in the last nine years.

Sunday, Dec. 17 at Cleveland Browns — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Make fun of the hapless Browns all you’d like, but the Ravens haven’t won a game in Cleveland by more than one possession since 2012.

Saturday, Dec. 23 vs. Indianapolis Colts — 4:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Skinny: Former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano was the last man standing in the strained relationship with Ryan Grigson, but it’s tough imagining him surviving another non-playoff season.

Sunday, Dec. 31 vs. Cincinnati Bengals — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Ravens ended their five-game slide against Cincinnati last year, and the Bengals’ streak of five straight trips to the playoffs was also snapped, making you wonder if their window has closed.

Notes: In a move that was initiated three years ago, flexible scheduling can now be applied in Weeks 5 through 9. During that period, flexible scheduling can be used in no more than two weeks by moving a Sunday afternoon game into prime time and moving the Sunday night game to the afternoon.

Another recently-implemented wrinkle will be a select number of games being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring certain games to wider audiences.

Flexible scheduling will still be used in Weeks 10 through 17 as it has been in past years. In Weeks 10-16, the master schedule lists games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the originally-scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon time.

Flexible scheduling may not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday nights.

A scheduling change would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game is announced no later than six days prior to Jan. 1.

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redsorioles

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 2-0 win over Cincinnati

Posted on 20 April 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles pitching their first shutout of the 2017 season in a 2-0 win over Cincinnati, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The good Ubaldo Jimenez showed up at a perfect time after Kevin Gausman taxed the bullpen by completing only 2 2/3 innings on Tuesday. The maligned veteran turned in the longest outing of the year by an Orioles starter, allowing only two hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings.

2. You typically know it’s going to be a good night for Jimenez when he’s inducing more ground balls early. Six of the first eight outs he recorded came on the ground, which kept the defense engaged early.

3. Jimenez did a superb job locating his two-seam fastball down in the zone and later found the feel for his secondary pitches. He only recorded three strikeouts and nine swinging strikes, but the Reds produced little hard contact until late in his outing.

4. The starting pitcher added to the fun by collecting his first hit since 2015. Having spent the first six years of his major league career in the National League, Jimenez is now 34-for-289, but he has never had an extra-base hit.

5. Jimenez collected the victory, but Reds starter Amir Garrett was very impressive, striking out 12 and walking one over his seven innings. His fastball velocity sits in the low 90s, but a 6-foot-5 frame with long arms and legs will make his pitches appear faster.

6. The Orioles struck out 16 times in Wednesday’s win, but they entered the day with the third-fewest strikeouts in the American League. It can be maddening to watch, but remember virtually everyone strikes out in today’s game.

7. Brad Brach looked comfortable in his first save opportunity filling in for the injured Zach Britton as he recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning on nine pitches. As long as the starting pitching isn’t horrendous, the Orioles should be able to endure a short-term absence from their All-Star closer.

8. We’re only 13 games into a long season, but who would have guessed that Adam Jones would be second on the club in walks with six already? He’s had some really good at-bats so far in 2017.

9. I’m not sure when we’ll see it again, but you could have won some money two months ago if you’d predicted that Trey Mancini would lead off and play left field in the season’s 13th game. His nine-pitch at-bat in the fifth that resulted in a single was impressive.

10. Even with the encouraging updates about his health over the last few days, it’s a no-brainer for Britton to undergo a precautionary MRI on Friday to make sure his forearm strain isn’t something more serious.

11. Jayson Aquino was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to serve as a fresh long man out of the bullpen, but the Orioles fortunately didn’t need to use the left-hander. This increases the likelihood of Alec Asher or Aquino starting against Boston this weekend.

12. With Wednesday’s victory, the Orioles clinched a winning record for their first road trip of 2017. For a club that was a combined 19 games below .500 in away games the previous two years, that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

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flacco

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Flacco unfazed by lack of offseason additions to Ravens offense so far

Posted on 19 April 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s no secret that the Ravens have invested heavily in revamping their defense this offseason while an offense that was below average in 2016 has been forced to wait.

With 32-year-old running back Danny Woodhead being the only free-agent addition and right tackle Rick Wagner, wide receivers Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and center Jeremy Zuttah no longer on the roster, you could understand if Joe Flacco felt anxious, especially when a theme from the Ravens brass’ season-ending press conference was a desire to see better play from the veteran quarterback. But Flacco expressed little concern when asked about the holes that remain on his side of the ball with the NFL draft only a week away.

“It’s the NFL. We have a lot of good guys around here that we are focused on getting better and going out and winning football games with,” Flacco said. “I never really expect too much to happen in the offseason, and whatever does happen, happens. I have been around long enough to know that guys change teams and you get new guys and that can happen all the way up to the time the season starts. You never know.”

Flacco expressing confidence in the players currently on the roster is hardly surprising — it’s the appropriate public stance to take — but two openings on the offensive line and the lack of an intermediate receiver don’t exactly inspire confidence for a team trying to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

So, if the 32-year-old signal-caller isn’t concerned, has he at least approached general manager Ozzie Newsome with suggestions regarding a particular free agent or a positional need?

“If they ask my opinion, then I will give it to them,” said Flacco, who acknowledged hope that the Ravens would bring back former teammate Torrey Smith before he signed with Philadelphia last month. “But I don’t necessarily go up there and push one way or another. Obviously, there are certain things that I can feel strongly about.”

Asked about the possibility of the Ravens bringing back veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin, Flacco chose his words carefully while acknowledging that he had a great on-field relationship with the 36-year-old and that he could still help any team.

Reiterating his confidence in his current teammates, Flacco even went as far as saying he doesn’t think that the Ravens need another wide receiver.

“I think we have a lot of young, talented guys that are ready to make a name for themselves and are going to work really hard this offseason to get that done,” Flacco said. “Whenever you have guys that are working really hard and you have that camaraderie out here and everyone is looking to get better, you are just developing relationships. I think that is all going to help when we get to the field.”

It would be tough to fathom the Ravens not adding another wideout between now and the start of the season, but the organization is clearly counting on 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman and 2016 fourth-round pick Chris Moore to take steps forward this season. Veteran receiver Mike Wallace went out of his way to express his belief that Moore will surprise observers this season despite catching only seven passes as a rookie.

As for the draft, Flacco hasn’t watched any tape of the top prospects, but he did receive some unique perspective on Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis, who was a teammate of Flacco’s brother Tom. Considered one of the top three receiver prospects in the draft along with Clemson’s Mike Williams and Washington’s John Ross, Davis visited with the Ravens earlier this week and would bring the intermediate skill set that they currently lack at the position.

The 6-foot-3, 212-pound receiver caught 97 passes for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior and finished his collegiate career with over 5,000 receiving yards and 52 touchdown receptions.

“My brother said, ‘Listen, this is all I know, but he was at another level,’” Flacco said. “He was a really good player. He thought he had really good hands. He thought he was really strong; he could run really well. That is all he knows, but he could definitely tell the difference between him and the guys he was seeing week to week.”

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 9-3 loss to Cincinnati

Posted on 18 April 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles falling 9-3 to Cincinnati on Tuesday to begin the final series of a three-city road trip, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Kevin Gausman turned in one of the worst starts of his career, matching a career high with eight runs allowed and lasting only 2 2/3 innings. Giving up a grand slam to Adam Duvall on an 0-2 pitch in the second inning summed up his night.

2. After seemingly straightening himself out in his last start, Gausman once again battled command problems with his fastball while walking three and throwing 79 pitches. He has now issued 12 walks in 18 2/3 innings this season after entering 2017 with a career walk rate of 2.5 per nine innings.

3. Gausman’s split-changeup continued to largely be a non-factor despite facing a Reds lineup featuring five lefty-swinging hitters. He’s throwing it less frequently in 2017, and the pitch hasn’t been very good when he has used it. That needs to change.

4. I had to chuckle at the suggestion that Bronson Arroyo’s home run rate would make him a favorable matchup for the Orioles. Arroyo was far from great over his five innings, but this lineup rarely has success against soft-tossing finesse pitchers.

5. The Orioles trailed 9-1 after three innings, but you wouldn’t know it from the play of Adam Jones. He made a superb running catch in shallow left-center in the fourth and then hit a two-run shot in the fifth inning.

6. The Reds didn’t really need it, but you can see how disruptive Billy Hamilton can be on the bases with his elite speed. His problem has been getting on base consistently in his career.

7. Seth Smith leaving the game with a right hamstring strain added injury to the insult of a blowout loss. Buck Showalter told reporters it could result in a trip to the disabled list, but the veteran outfielder expressed optimism that it wasn’t serious.

8. It was encouraging seeing Mychal Givens sit in the mid-90s with his fastball after his velocity was down in his last outing in Boston six days ago. Showalter said after the game that the hard-throwing reliever had been dealing with a back issue.

9. Credit Vidal Nuno and Tyler Wilson for eating 4 1/3 innings in a lopsided loss, but you would think that the Orioles will need to make a roster move for a fresh long man to back up Ubaldo Jimenez on Wednesday.

10. Facing the red-hot Yankees, ex-Oriole Miguel Gonzalez partied in the Bronx like it was 2012 by taking a shutout into the ninth. He has a 3.62 ERA in 154 innings with the Chicago White Sox since being dumped by Baltimore last spring in favor of Mike Wright and Wilson.

11. Perhaps his status will change with Smith’s injury, but Joey Rickard is expected to go on a rehab assignment in the near future. With Trey Mancini hitting the way he is, there isn’t room on the current roster for both Rickard and Craig Gentry.

12. Consider this my annual complaint about how dull it is to watch the pitcher hit in National League-style baseball. Talk all you want about Madison Bumgarner and the five other NL pitchers who can actually swing the bat a little bit; I’ll enjoy the designated hitter.

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Ravens open 2017 voluntary offseason workout program

Posted on 18 April 2017 by Luke Jones

(Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)

Ravens players officially began preparations for the 2017 season on Tuesday, reporting to Owings Mills for the start of the voluntary offseason workout program.

Of course, most players have been working out on their own for weeks, but this is the first time in which team activities were allowed to be conducted at the practice facility. The first phase of the nine-week program lasts two weeks and involves strength and conditioning work as well as physical rehabilitation. The coaching staff is not allowed to lead players in on-field workouts during this opening part of the offseason program.

This part of the offseason program is officially voluntary, but most players — especially younger ones — are expected to attend regularly.

The Ravens will provide media access on Wednesday with quarterback Joe Flacco, cornerback Jimmy Smith, safety Eric Weddle, and wide receiver Mike Wallace scheduled to talk, but photos and video released by the team on Tuesday showed a great number of players in attendance for the first day. That list included Flacco, Smith, Weddle, Wallace, Brandon Carr, Tony Jefferson, Danny Woodhead, C.J. Mosley, Matt Judon, Za’Darius Smith, Tavon Young, Michael Pierce, Carl Davis, Breshad Perriman, Alex Lewis, Ronnie Stanley, James Hurst, Albert McClellan, Kamalei Correa, Anthony Levine, Brent Urban, Sam Koch, Michael Campanaro, Crockett Gillmore, Benjamin Watson, Nick Boyle, and Ryan Jensen.

The second phase of the program lasts three weeks and consists of on-field workouts that may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice. However, no live contact is permitted, and the offense and defense may not work against each other.

The final phase of the program permits teams to conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity (OTAs), which are voluntary. No live contact is allowed, but teams may conduct 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills. Teams may also hold one mandatory minicamp for all veteran players during that final phase of the offseason program.

The Ravens will also hold a rookie minicamp beginning May 5, the weekend after the 2017 NFL draft.

Below is the Ravens’ 2017 offseason training program schedule:

First Day: April 18
OTA offseason workouts: May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 5-6, June 8-9
Mandatory minicamp: June 13-15

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Tillman pitches 2 2/3 innings in first rehab start

Posted on 17 April 2017 by Luke Jones

Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman took his biggest step yet in his return from a right shoulder injury on Monday night.

Making his first minor-league rehab start at Double-A Bowie, the veteran allowed one run and two hits over 2 2/3 innings against Richmond. Tillman gave up a solo home run in the first inning, struck out three, and walked one in the process of throwing 42 pitches.

Multiple reports from Bowie indicated that Tillman threw his full assortment of pitches with his fastball sitting in the high 80s and topping out at around 90 or 91 miles per hour. That velocity is below his career average, but he told reporters that he felt good on the mound after initially having difficulty getting loose. Manager Buck Showalter indicated earlier this month that Tillman was still in the process of rebuilding strength in his shoulder, making the diminished velocity less surprising.

“I don’t know if they’re ever going to really feel like there’s a point where Chris is completely [where they say], ‘OK, he’s done that, so everything’s fine,’” Showalter said on April 8. “Each time he takes a workday and each time he throws, you’re anxious to see how he feels the next day.”

Should Tillman respond favorably to his first rehab start over the next day or two, he is expected to next pitch for Single-A Frederick. The Orioles hope that the 29-year-old will be ready to return to the major league rotation by early May if he does not suffer any setbacks.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 11-4 win over Toronto

Posted on 16 April 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles winning an 11-4 blowout over Toronto on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. What else can be said about Trey Mancini as he homered twice and tied a major league record for home runs in his first 12 games with seven? Buck Showalter has a good problem with Mancini, Seth Smith, and Hyun Soo Kim available for only two lineup spots.

2. Dylan Bundy continues to be superb so far in 2017 as he pitched six shutout innings to earn the win and lower his season ERA to 1.86. He’s allowed one earned run in 13 innings against the Blue Jays this month.

3. I still hold my breath seeing Bundy throw so many sliders given his history with the pitch, but there’s no disputing that being a game-changing pitch for his repertoire. It was a big reason why he struck out six and recorded 15 swinging strikes.

4. Bundy set the tone for the outing in the first inning after allowing a leadoff double and a bunt single. Instead of conceding early damage, the right-hander struck out Jose Bautista with a slider and got Kendrys Morales to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.

5. Craig Gentry went 3-for-5 and hit his first major league homer since 2013, quieting legitimate concerns about his ability at the plate. He shouldn’t be in the leadoff spot, but that was a strong performance from the veteran outfielder.

6. His homer wasn’t exactly a bomb, but Manny Machado needed that after seeing his average drop to .154 before his opposite-field homer off the foul pole in the eighth. I can’t imagine too many are concerned about the All-Star third baseman though.

7. Perhaps it’s only a coincidence that Gentry and Machado homered using one of Mancini’s bats, but that’s still a heck of a post-game story. Whatever works, right?

8. After collecting only two hits and struggling to make solid contact over his first 19 at-bats of 2017, J.J. Hardy is 7-for-16 over his last four games and doubled twice on Sunday. He isn’t the power hitter he used to be, but throwing dirt on him was premature.

9. Seeing Adam Jones crash into the center-field wall in the eighth inning of an 11-1 game was the last thing Showalter and the Orioles wanted to see. Fortunately, he appeared to be OK and has the off-day to rest up.

10. As if things weren’t going poorly enough for Toronto, J.A. Happ left the game with left elbow soreness in the fifth inning after fellow starter Aaron Sanchez was placed on the 10-day disabled list hours earlier. The Blue Jays have to be begging for a mulligan.

11. Zach Britton told reporters in Toronto that his left forearm strain is closer to his wrist than his elbow, but anyone invested in the Orioles will be holding their breath until the All-Star closer is back on the mound and looking like himself.

12. Yes, the Blue Jays have the worst record in the majors at 2-10, but the Orioles should be feeling good about themselves after continuing their division rival’s misery and taking three of four games at Rogers Centre, a place where they’ve struggled historically.

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britton

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Britton placed on DL with left forearm strain

Posted on 16 April 2017 by Luke Jones

The Orioles revealed concerning news Sunday morning as closer Zach Britton was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left forearm strain.

Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Toronto that Britton felt discomfort in his left forearm while throwing his slider in Friday’s 6-4 win over the Blue Jays. He did not pitch in Saturday’s 2-1 loss as Brad Brach would have served as the closer if a save situation had materialized.

Right-handed pitcher Stefan Crichton was recalled to take the open spot on the 25-man roster. Britton is eligible to return from the DL as early as April 26. The Orioles could not backdate Britton’s DL stint since Crichton had been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday and did not spend the minimum 10 days in the minors.

It remains to be seen how long Britton will be sidelined despite Showalter expressing optimism that it would not be a long-term issue. The two-time All-Star closer has converted all five of his save attempts this season, but he has labored more than usual, allowing 10 hits and walking three in seven innings of work. On Friday, he allowed an earned run for the first time since Aug. 24, 2015.

The Orioles would presumably go with All-Star setup man Brad Brach as their primary closer in Britton’s absence, but Showalter did not commit to formally naming a replacement. Darren O’Day and Mychal Givens could also be used in save situations in the meantime.

Britton has converted 54 consecutive save chances, a streak tied for second longest in major league history. His 2016 season was regarded by many as the best ever by a reliever as he posted a 0.54 ERA and converted all 47 of his save opportunities.

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asher

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 2-1 loss to Toronto

Posted on 15 April 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles falling 2-1 on a walk-off home run from Kendrys Morales on Saturday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. You won’t find a worse breaking ball than the one Tyler Wilson threw to Morales. Since Brad Brach warmed up in the top half of the inning, I was surprised to see Wilson still out there, but Brach was only available to close, according to Buck Showalter.

2. Marco Estrada labored early for the Blue Jays, but the starter gave the Orioles lineup fits with his changeup over seven shutout innings. Baltimore consistently has problems against pitchers who are more about finesse and changing speeds than velocity.

3. You never want to lose, but the performance of Alec Asher in his Orioles debut was an encouraging development for the big picture. Showalter couldn’t have asked for more from the former Philadelphia hurler, who was only acquired late in spring training.

4. Asher threw an impressive breaking ball to get some big outs when he needed them. He’s not going to overpower you with the two-seam fastball, so he needs his secondary stuff in order to compete.

5. The right-hander left a few too many fastballs up in the zone early as he benefited from some good defense behind him. The transition from the four-seam fastball to the two-seamer last year has paid dividends, but Asher clearly wants to live lower in the zone moving forward.

6. Asher certainly earned another opportunity as the fifth starter, but it’s fair to wonder how much of his success was the result of a Toronto offense that’s been woeful so far in 2017.

7. The Orioles certainly wasted early chances against Estrada, leaving five runners on over the first three innings. They went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday.

8. Jonathan Schoop missed a golden opportunity to double off Jose Bautista with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. I’m still not sure what happened there as Darwin Barney then picked up the go-ahead RBI single off Donnie Hart two pitches later.

9. Adam Jones made a strong throw to the plate on Barney’s run-scoring hit to almost nail Bautista, but the one-bounce throw skipped away from Welington Castillo. The Orioles likely would have gotten a cleaner hop if that game were being played on grass instead of turf.

10. Craig Gentry showed in the ninth why the Orioles like him, stealing second and tagging up on a fly ball to go to third before scoring on Schoop’s game-tying sacrifice fly. His speed is an asset if he can hit a little bit, but that’s a big question right now.

11. You could tell by Mark Trumbo’s reaction that he missed a very hittable pitch from Estrada as he flied out to end the top of the third with two runners on. He was 0-for-4 and doesn’t have an extra-base hit since his walk-off homer and double on Opening Day.

12. Seeing all uniformed personnel wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day has become one of my favorite traditions in recent years. The importance of this man to both baseball and America needs to be celebrated and remembered.

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