Tag Archive | "MLB"

Tillman quietly pitching like ace all summer for first-place Orioles

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Tillman quietly pitching like ace all summer for first-place Orioles

Posted on 26 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Five home runs and a sparkling defensive play by Adam Jones understandably drew the attention in the Orioles’ 9-1 win over Tampa Bay to snap a three-game losing streak Monday, but it’s been one of those seasons for starting pitcher Chris Tillman.

Improving his record to 11-5 and improving his streak of consecutive starts allowing three or fewer earned runs to 15, Tillman hasn’t received the same accolades he did a year ago when he was named to his first All-Star team. The 26-year-old doesn’t light up a box score with gaudy strikeout numbers, but his results have been consistent throughout the summer for the first-place Orioles.

“It comes back to being confident in my delivery,” said Tillman, who allowed one unearned run and three hits in seven innings against the Rays. “When you trust your delivery, you are not afraid to throw any pitch in any count.”

It was less than three months ago when Tillman’s mechanics were failing him as his early-inning woes knocked him out of games, making many wonder whether his impressive 16-win season from a year ago was more aberration than breakthrough. Following a disastrous one-inning start against Texas on June 5 — the second time in four outings in which he’d been chased before recording an out in the second inning — Tillman’s ERA had ballooned to 5.20, a mark higher than even that of the maligned Ubaldo Jimenez.

Whether it was finally getting over a nagging groin issue or simply working on repeating his delivery with pitching coach Dave Wallace, Tillman has been a different pitcher ever since while posting a 2.15 ERA in his last 100 2/3 innings spanning 15 starts. Only twice over the last 15 starts has Tillman failed to complete at least six innings, and the Orioles have gone 10-5 when Tillman has taken the hill over that stretch.

On Monday, Tillman lowered his season ERA to 3.41 and improved to 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three starts spanning 21 innings against the Rays in 2014.

“One of the keys is you see him carry a crisp fastball early in the game,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s had that for a while now — knock on wood. That’s usually an indicator. And the curveball is of use to him. He can get it in there.”

After so much discussion about Oakland acquiring Jon Lester and Detroit trading for David Price while the Orioles did not add a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, Tillman’s 2.15 ERA over his last 15 starts — close to a half season — stacks up favorably to Price (2.08 in 117 innings) and Lester (1.89 in 104 2/3 innings) over their last 15 outings split between their former and current clubs.

Tillman’s inconsistent start to the season forced him to play catchup for much of the summer, but there should be no debating who would take the ball for Showalter in Game 1 of a playoff series. That wasn’t the case three months ago when some clamored for Tillman to be placed on the disabled list or even to be sent to the bullpen to straighten out his woes.

Of course, the tall right-hander hasn’t been alone as the Baltimore pitching staff has sometimes carried an uneven offense that entered Monday ranking last in the American League in batting average (.231) and on-base percentage (.284) since the All-Star break while still leading the majors in home runs. But Tillman has been at the head of the class in a rotation that may not scare you in the same way that Oakland’s or Detroit’s does, but it’s a group that continues to produce results just like Tillman did Monday night.

“Every fifth day, all our pitchers have been good,” shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “But every fifth day when he takes the mound, we feel like we have a great chance to win.”

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Struggling Jimenez finally heading to Orioles bullpen

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Struggling Jimenez finally heading to Orioles bullpen

Posted on 19 August 2014 by Luke Jones

Exactly six months after signing a four-year, $50 million contract to sure up the Orioles’ starting rotation in 2014, Ubaldo Jimenez is going to the bullpen.

Manager Buck Showalter announced Tuesday in Chicago that the struggling right-hander will now pitch in relief, paving the way for right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez to retake his spot in the starting rotation for the first-place Orioles. Jimenez returned from the disabled list on Aug. 9 after being sidelined with an ankle injury for more than a month, but the 30-year-old allowed nine earned runs in 10 1/3 innings spanning two starts, continuing what’s been a disappointing first season in Baltimore.

The Orioles had hoped the injury layoff would afford Jimenez the opportunity to straighten out his mechanics as he leads the American League with 66 walks and is 4-9 with a 4.83 ERA in 20 starts. Instead, it became apparent that the veteran would not stick in a rotation that’s helped lift the Orioles to a 71-52 record and a 7 1/2 game lead in the AL East entering Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 9 despite going 6-6 with a 3.80 ERA in 19 starts and 20 appearances overall in 2014. The emergence of 23-year-old right-hander Kevin Gausman in June was making in increasingly difficult for Showalter to try to manage six starting pitchers, a problem that was temporarily quelled when Jimenez went to the DL just before the All-Star break.

It’s unclear whether the Orioles will go with an extra arm in the bullpen or decide to option another reliever such as left-hander T.J. McFarland. Of course, rosters will expand on Sept. 1, which will make it easier to carry Jimenez on the roster as the Orioles seek their second postseason appearance in the last three years.

In spring training, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette envisioned Jimenez giving the Orioles a high-ceiling pitcher who wouldn’t be viewed as an ace but could pitch like a No. 1 starter for stretches of time like he had at other points in his career. Instead, Jimenez quickly settled in as the weak link in the rotation after signing the richest free-agent contract ever awarded to a pitcher in franchise history.

Of his 232 career appearances over nine seasons, the Dominican hurler has only pitched in relief once, his major league debut on Sept. 26, 2006.

Jimenez is under contract through the 2017 season.

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Orioles exhale even as Machado goes to 15-day disabled list

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Orioles exhale even as Machado goes to 15-day disabled list

Posted on 13 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Even as Manny Machado officially went to the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, the Orioles could breathe a sigh of relief as it relates to the 22-year-old’s future and their World Series chances in 2014.

A season-ending injury to the slick-fielding third baseman wouldn’t have ended the Orioles’ hopes for the postseason — especially with a 6 1/2 game lead entering Wednesday night — or a deep run in October, but it would have been an enormous obstacle to overcome given Machado’s elite defensive ability and improved offense over the last two months. Baltimore apparently won’t have to worry about that possibility after Machado underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam and was diagnosed with a minor right knee ligament sprain despite a scary scene on Monday night that conjured memories of last September’s left knee injury at Tropicana Field that eventually required offseason surgery.

Manager Buck Showalter expressed optimism that Machado could be ready to return when eligible on Aug. 27, but even if that goal sounds ambitious, the Orioles expect to have the talented infielder back in time for the final push for their second postseason appearance in the last three years.

“Talking to all of the doctors including Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache who did the [left knee surgery], we’ve got a pretty good feel we have our arms around where we are with it,” Showalter said. “Hopefully, it will manage itself during that [15-day] period, and he’ll be back there or close to it. It’s not if now, it’s when, we think.”

Since returning from his infamous five-game suspension on July 5, Machado is hitting .351 with five homers and 15 RBIs while posting a .929 on-base plus slugging percentage in 122 plate appearances. And, of course, the 2013 Gold Glove winner has produced a slew of highlight defensive plays to help one of the best defensive clubs in baseball.

The Orioles initially went with Chris Davis at third base in the series finale against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, but the anticipated weekend return of shortstop J.J. Hardy from a sprained left thumb will likely lead to Ryan Flaherty shifting to third base. Norfolk infielder Cord Phelps was promoted to Baltimore to take Machado’s place and will be another option at third base in the meantime.

Asked about his manager’s hope that he might be able to return in two weeks, Machado initially reacted with surprise before taking a more conservative stance of wanting to be 100 percent when he returns to help the Orioles try to win their first American League East title since 1997.

“Whenever I feel good. Whenever I’m able to go out there and be Manny Machado,” the 2013 All-Star selection said. “I don’t know when that’s going to be. It could be tomorrow, it could be in a month, it could be three weeks. It’s something that is a feel thing. Like [the doctor] said yesterday, it’s more of how you feel once you get out there and once I do what I need to do.”

Long-term concerns will persist about Machado’s health as he’s now experienced substantial injuries to both knees despite being only 22, but the Orioles and Machado began feeling optimistic quickly Monday night when he was able to walk in the clubhouse without the aid of crutches and the initial shock and pain subsided.

Only time will tell whether Machado returns as quickly as the Orioles anticipate and produces at the same high level with October rapidly approaching, but Wednesday’s outcome was worlds better than the sickening feeling all involved parties experienced when he collapsed in the batter’s box in the third inning on Monday night.

“Obviously, it’s a great relief,” Machado said. “It’s one of those things that when it happens, things cross your mind and you assume, already, the worst. You really can’t assume anything until you actually see the results and it’s front of your face and you have a doctor next to you and helping you make the decision.

“I’m just glad it’s not as bad as we thought and not as bad as it is. So, get it stronger, get back, and keep running forward.”

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Orioles place Machado on 15-day DL, call up infielder Phelps

Posted on 13 August 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Wednesday that they have selected the contract of INF CORD PHELPS from Triple-A Norfolk and placed INF MANNY MACHADO on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to August 12, with a right knee sprain. To make room for Phelps on the 40-man roster, CA MATT WIETERS has been transferred to the 60-day DL.

Phelps, 27, has batted .258/.358/.380 with 23 extra-base hits and 49 RBI in 97 games for the Tides. Originally a 3rd round pick by Cleveland in 2008 out of Stanford University, Phelps is a lifetime .280/.368/.431 hitter in seven minor league seasons. He has played in 53 major league games since making his debut for Cleveland in 2011. Phelps will wear #38.

Machado, 22, has batted .278/.324/.431 with 12 home runs and 32 RBI in 82 games for the Orioles this season.

Wieters, 28, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 11 with a right elbow strain and had “Tommy John” surgery on June 17.

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: By “heaviest sanctions possible” I meant “all good brah”

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: By “heaviest sanctions possible” I meant “all good brah”

Posted on 13 August 2014 by Glenn Clark

Drew’s Morning Dish is brought to you by Koons Baltimore Ford. Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish is brought to by Koons Baltimore Ford as well. In fact, I’d like to think I speak for Dennis Koulatsos when I say I believe Koons prefers Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish.

What’s that. No? Sorry. Sorry.

I’m back in for Drew for the next three days on the D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction alongside Luke Jones. If you’re looking for Drew, check the back nine.

The whole “quarterly owners meetings in Baltimore” thing is certainly an odd look for Major League Baseball. There’s nothing to really read into it-the owners get together SOMEWHERE four times a year. It’s odd because it comes with the backdrop of the ongoing MASN/Baltimore Orioles/Washington Nationals debate.

The owners (including Orioles owner Peter Angelos) are listening to pitchers from prospective commissioner candidates just days after Angelos went to court in New York seeking an injunction to sorta say to MLB “get bent”.

If you’ll remember, still commissioner (and are we COMPLETELY certain he won’t stay on?) Bud Selig wasn’t too pleased with the idea of the O’s (or the Nats) going to court. I remember some sort of letter he sent…

I will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions available to me under the Major League Constitution.

But yeah, as we kinda knew then-he was completely full of Selig. (See what I did there?)

The commissioner held a press conference (oddly I didn’t get the invite) Tuesday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and was asked to describe his relationship with Angelos.

My relationship with Mr. Angelos is good. He’s on the executive council, and I have no problem with him at all. In fact, (he’s) one of the reasons we’re here.

Of course. So maybe Selig’s threat was just…I dunno…hogwash? Bluster to try to get the teams to come together and solve the problem he created when he decided he needed to move the Montreal Expos to DC?

One of the great problems in baseball for many decades, before I took over, there was a lot of infighting. … I think it’s one of the things that held the sport back, so I preached peace and calm and quiet and labor peace and everything else. So, yes, I like to avoid this situation, but we’ll just keep on working.

Well tell us more, Bud. Because there’s a fairly large difference between “strongest sanctions possible” and “oh wait, you actually did it? Eh. No biggie.”

I don’t want to discuss my correspondence with the clubs. They know what the rules are, and I know what the rules are. We’re having actual constructive dialogue with both clubs.

So yeah. Bud Selig promised to bring Mumford & Sons to your Labor Day party and ended up showing up with Sugar Ray. Perhaps sanctions could still be coming, but the Birds have already defied the direct order the commish gave both teams. If the order is “don’t go to court” and the team goes to court, what more could they possibly do at that point? Go to The Peoples’ Court as well? Perhaps they could merge MASN with Court TV-putting Tom Davis in a robe to read supermarket circulars while simultaneously banging a gavel uncontrollably? It would be about as watchable as anything they currently have on the network (besides the baseball games-at least the ones where Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer are working).

So there you have it. Nothing matters at this point. We still don’t know how the MASN dispute will play out but we know Selig won’t be living up to his threats. It’s just another piece of a fairly remarkable (not THAT kind of remarkable) legacy for the outgoing (again, I THINK) commissioner.

The “strongest sanctions possible” were actually “we’d hate to see you have to waste some airline miles next week-let’s just come to you.”

Why didn’t my college RA do the same thing with me when I got a noise violation freshman year? “I know I said you were going to have to be responsible for cleaning all of the common areas, but how about instead I buy you guys beer for the rest of the semester?”

Okay, that’s it for me today. I don’t want to miss Mark McGrath’s solo in “Every Morning”. Thanks, Bud.

-G

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Orioles announce Machado dealing with “right knee ligament sprain”

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Orioles announce Machado dealing with “right knee ligament sprain”

Posted on 12 August 2014 by Luke Jones

A day after Manny Machado injured his right knee while taking a swing in the third inning of Monday’s win over the New York Yankees, the Orioles announced the third baseman was diagnosed with a right knee ligament sprain.

The official update didn’t offer much clarity on his status moving forward since the Orioles announced during Monday’s game that Machado had exited with a sprained right knee. More information will be revealed Wednesday, but executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told local reporters that Machado being placed on the disabled list is under consideration.

He underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Tuesday.

“I haven’t heard anything negative,” said manager Buck Showalter after Tuesday’s game against the Yankees was postponed due to rain. “Manny seems to be in good spirits. That’s good. So, we’ll see what the day brings. I’ve heard early stuff and whatever, but [I'll wait] until everyone weighs in. I feel more positive than negative, especially after talking to Manny.”

Machado fell to the ground after his knee bent awkwardly upon hitting a grounder to shortstop in the bottom of the third inning. He was helped off the field by head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and Showalter but was walking around in the clubhouse and spoke to reporters following the game.

In addition to playing exceptional defense at third base, Machado is hitting .278 with 12 home runs and 32 runs batted in over 327 at-bats this season. Since serving a five-game suspension stemming from a bat-throwing incident in early June, Machado is hitting .351 with five homers and 15 RBIs while posting a .929 on-base plus slugging percentage in 122 plate appearances.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy also underwent an MRI on his sprained left thumb on Tuesday, and the results indicated there are no long-term concerns regarding his status. The Orioles hope he will be available to play over the weekend when they begin a road trip in Cleveland.

Even if Machado is able to avoid going on the DL, the Orioles are considering calling up an infielder from Triple-A Norfolk with Steve Lombardozzi and Jimmy Paredes among the candidates to be promoted.

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Orioles, Yankees to play day-night doubleheader on Sept. 12

Posted on 12 August 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

Tuesday’s postponed game between the Orioles and New York Yankees will be made up as part of a split-admission doubleheader on Friday, September 12 at 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. Separate admission is required for each game. Tickets for today’s game marked August 12 will be honored for the 1:05 p.m. game on September 12. Gates for the 1:05 p.m. game will open at 11:00 a.m. and gates for the 7:05 p.m. game will be announced at the conclusion of the 1:05 p.m. game.

Fans unable to attend the makeup game can exchange their tickets for any remaining home game this season on a “dollar-for-dollar” basis. All exchanges are subject to availability and must be completed by September 5. Complimentary tickets are non-exchangeable. StubHub tickets are also non-exchangeable, but may be resold on StubHub up until 1:00 p.m. on September 12.

Stadium parking lots open at 10:00 a.m. and prepaid parking permits dated for August 12 are valid only for the 1:05 makeup game on September 12.

Ticket exchanges can be performed at the Box Office or submitted in writing along with the original tickets and mailed via certified mail by September 5, 2014 to:

Baltimore Orioles

Attention: August 12 Rainout

333 West Camden Street

Baltimore, MD 21201

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Hardy scratched from Sunday’s lineup with sprained left thumb

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Hardy scratched from Sunday’s lineup with sprained left thumb

Posted on 10 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Originally slated to start as the Orioles tried to complete a three-game sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals, shortstop J.J. Hardy was scratched from Sunday’s lineup due to a sprained left thumb.

The announcement came minutes before first pitch as Ryan Flaherty slid over to the shortstop position after originally being tabbed to play second base. Rookie Jonathan Schoop was inserted in the order at second base before the Orioles fell 8-3 to the Cardinals.

“Probably could have [played],” Showalter said. “[He] swung the bat. He was going to make a little adjustment in his grip. Obviously, his left hand doesn’t bother him defensively. But, the wrong jam shot [could have aggravated it].”

The news came with Hardy swinging a hot bat as he was 4-for-7 with two homers and five runs batted in over the first two games of the series in which the Orioles outscored St. Louis by a 22-5 margin. It’s been a difficult year at the plate for the veteran shortstop, who will be 32 later this month and has hit only six homers in 438 plate appearances after clubbing 77 in his first three seasons in Baltimore.

Hardy expressed disappointment following the game and acknowledged he may have to play through some soreness in the immediate future. He injured the thumb while sliding into home plate during Saturday’s win but remained in the game.

The infielder told reporters he had issues gripping the bat as well as opening and closing his glove during Sunday’s pre-game activities, which led to Showalter pulling him from the lineup.

“We’ll see how it is tomorrow. I have a feeling that I’ll probably play through some pain,” Hardy said. “If I can, I will. It’s frustrating anytime you’re dealing with your hands. Hopefully, today’s the only day and I’ll come in tomorrow and be able to get through it.”

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Orioles make room for Miller by sending Webb to Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 01 August 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Friday that left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller has reported to the club and right-handed pitcher Ryan Webb has been designated off of the 25-man roster.

Miller, 29, was acquired from Boston yesterday. He has posted a 2.34 ERA (42.1IP, 11ER) with 13 walks and 69 strikeouts in 50 appearances for Boston this season. He has held left-handed hitters to a .150/.203/.217 line in 65 plate appearances, while keeping righties to a .180/.279/.258 line in 105 plate appearances.

Since becoming a full-time reliever in 2012, Miller has pitched to a 2.78 ERA (113.1IP, 35ER) in 140 games, striking out 13.3 per 9.0 innings. He will wear jersey #48.

Webb, 28, is 3-2 with a 3.80 ERA (42.2IP, 18ER) in 42 appearances for the Orioles this season.

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With Saunders inked, would Orioles consider minor-league deal for Jim Johnson?

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With Saunders inked, would Orioles consider minor-league deal for Jim Johnson?

Posted on 01 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles added to their organizational pitching depth Friday by signing left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders to a minor-league deal, leading many to wonder whether former All-Star closer Jim Johnson could be the next former Baltimore pitcher to return to the organization.

After beginning the season in the Rangers’ starting rotation, Saunders was released twice in the month of July and went 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA in eight starts for Texas this season. After being released by the Rangers on July 4, Saunders signed a minor-league deal with the Royals and was let go earlier this week after posting a 6.75 ERA in four starts for Triple-A Omaha.

Of course, Saunders was acquired by the Orioles late in the 2012 season and went 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings and was the winning pitcher in the inaugural American League Wild Card Game to send the Orioles to their first American League Division Series appearance since 1997. The 33-year-old went 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 32 starts for Seattle last season.

Realistically speaking, Saunders provides little more than some injury insurance as well as an option to pitch in long relief if he can work out the issues that have plagued him all season and prompted two other organizations to give up on him in the last month alone.

The more interesting question presented Friday came after the Oakland Athletics officially released Johnson, who pitched to a disastrous 7.14 ERA in 38 appearances and lost his closer job with his new — and now former — club at the beginning of the season. After Johnson collected a combined 101 saves for the Orioles in 2012 and 2013, executive vice president of baseball operations dealt him to Oakland for infielder Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas last winter.

Needless to say, the deal was an utter failure for Oakland while the Orioles haven’t really benefited with their return beyond saving the $10 million the 2012 All-Star selection was set to earn through arbitration in 2014. It’s clear that Johnson needed a change of scenery and a mental break at the very least, but would the Orioles consider bringing back the 31-year-old on a minor-league deal?

Manager Buck Showalter tried to dodge the question on Friday, but it’s no secret that Johnson was one of his favorites in Baltimore.

“We like Jimmy. He pitched real well for us here.” Showalter said. “He’s on his way to Sarasota. I know [pitching rehabilitation coordinator] Scotty McGregor is real close to him. If he becomes completely available, I’m sure a lot of people would have interest in him — including us.”

Showalter mentioning Johnson going to Sarasota was interesting considering it’s the club’s spring training home and the pitcher lives there, making it a compelling landing spot for him to clear his head and figure out his woes to get his career back on track.

Of course, the Orioles just acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Miller to sure up the back end of the bullpen and don’t have a pressing need, but Johnson’s track record wouldn’t make it a terrible idea to see if the organization can fix his problems — he averaged 5.1 walks per nine innings and posted a 2.06 WHIP in Oakland — and make him a middle relief option later this year or even next. Prior to this season, Johnson had pitched to an ERA under 3.00 in three consecutive seasons and was an above-average reliever in the AL for a number of years.

Just like the Saunders signing, a potential move to ink Johnson to a minor-league deal should be viewed with very little consequence and no serious expectations, but the familiar surroundings of the Orioles organization would seem to be a good fit if the reliever is to get his career back on track. Johnson was quite fond of his time in Baltimore and was quite emotional upon learning he had been traded last December.

Above all, it’s the kind of reclamation project that has Duquette and the Orioles written all over it, which would make his return not the least bit surprising.

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