Tag Archive | "MLB"

Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

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Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Sitting in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1997 didn’t exactly earn the Orioles any favors as they started the second half of the season in Oakland on Friday night.

A 10-game West Coast trip against the two teams with the best records in the majors and the second wild card leader in the American League probably gave manager Buck Showalter a restless night or two over this week’s respite. Knowing the Orioles play their next 23 games against clubs with winning records — not to mention the six following that against teams with .500 marks at the break — likely made him lose even more sleep.

Of course, Showalter and the Orioles have every right to feel good about themselves after winning 25 of their last 40 to move to 10 games above .500 and turn a 4 1/2-game deficit into a four-game lead over that stretch. They’ve built themselves a small cushion in a division in which no one is without sizable warts and imperfections with Toronto and New York seemingly moving in the wrong direction and Boston and Tampa Bay being mostly bad all season.

No, the trip to the West Coast will neither break nor make the Orioles’ chances of winning their first American League East title since 1997, but those 10 games allow them an opportunity to flex their muscles as a man amongst boys in an underwhelming division. Holding their own in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle — even going 5-5 — would not only keep the Orioles in first place but allow them to return home in late July in prime position to continue their quest to a second postseason appearance in the last three years.

A strong showing against the imposing AL West over the next couple weeks could be the difference between a relatively comfortable journey to October and needing to scratch and claw over the final two months of the regular season. In the same way that the Orioles took advantage of the recent struggles of the Blue Jays, the rest of the AL East will be rooting for Baltimore to wilt before finally returning to Camden Yards on July 29.

A starting rotation that’s pitched to a 3.18 ERA over its last 33 games will now face the two highest-scoring offenses in baseball over the next six contests. It was a 1-6 run against the Athletics and the Angels earlier this month that saw the Blue Jays’ one-game lead in the division turn into a 2 1/2-game deficit by the time they left the West Coast.

Even with the daunting stretch staring them in the face, the Orioles couldn’t ask for better timing as they’ll feel more rested now than they will at any point over the rest of the season. Aside from the current ankle injury to starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez — which many critics would deem a blessing anyway — the Orioles are as healthy as they’ve been at any point during the first half of the season.

Showalter has set up his rotation to include the 23-year-old Kevin Gausman — who could finally be with the Orioles for good — and will be looking for his starting pitchers to pick up where they left off to close the first half. And he’ll hope the inconsistent offense — currently ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored — will finally hit its stride and struggling first baseman Chris Davis starts looking more like the force he was a year ago and less like the .199 hitter who was lost at the plate for the first 3 1/2 months of the season.

By no means was it a perfect first half for the first-place Orioles as they lost catcher Matt Wieters for the season and saw their $50 million investment in Jimenez lead the majors in walks, but Baltimore was the least flawed of anyone in the division and still appears that way beginning the most difficult road trip of the season.

The Orioles can use these next 10 games to flex their muscles as the clear favorite in the division and solidify their first-place standing or could see themselves fall back with the rest of the imperfect pack in the AL East.

They’ve grown accustomed to being the hunter over the last three seasons; it will be interesting to see how they start the second half as the hunted after four days off to think about it.

By no means is it do or die, but the West Coast trip will be an opportunity for the Orioles to stake their claim as the overwhelming favorite in the division while sampling what they could see again in October.

 

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Orioles celebrating 60th anniversary on Aug. 8

Posted on 18 July 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced plans on Thursday to celebrate their 60th Anniversary season in Baltimore with a series of events before, during and after their August 8 game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Orioles are welcoming back 23 Orioles Hall of Famers, who will take part in a spectacular post-game celebration. Expected to attend are Orioles Legends EDDIE MURRAY, CAL RIPKEN, JR., BROOKS ROBINSON, and FRANK ROBINSON, as well as the following Orioles Hall of Famers: BRADY ANDERSON, MIKE BORDICK, DON BUFORD, AL BUMBRY, DOUG DeCINCES, RICK DEMPSEY, DICK HALL, CHRIS HOILES, BILL HUNTER, DENNIS MARTINEZ, TIPPY MARTINEZ, SCOTT McGREGOR, RAY MILLER, GREGG OLSON, MILT PAPPAS, BOOG POWELL, KEN SINGLETON, B.J. SURHOFF, and EDDIE WATT.

During special pre-game ceremonies, the Orioles will honor long-time season plan holders who have been with the club since the inaugural season in 1954. The Orioles will also recognize the Oriole Advocates organization for hosting the sold-out 60th Anniversary luncheon, which will honor members of the Orioles Hall of Fame earlier in the day.

During the game, the Orioles will wear 1954 replica throwback uniforms that will later be autographed and auctioned off at www.orioles.com/auction to raise funds for the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation.

Following the game, the Orioles Hall of Famers will be introduced on the field during a laser light and fireworks display, which will feature highlights from the Orioles’ 60 years in Baltimore that will be displayed on the Oriole Park video boards and the side of the B&O Warehouse.

Tickets for the August 8 game vs. the St. Louis Cardinals are available at www.orioles.com/tickets or by calling 1-888-848-BIRD.

The Orioles have been celebrating the 60th Anniversary all year long, including several promotions and giveaways. Upcoming events, in addition to August 8, include a 60th Anniversary ¾ sleeve t-shirt giveaway (first 20,000 fans 15 & over) on August 1 vs. Seattle and a Wild Bill Cowboy Hat giveaway (first 20,000 fans 15 & over) on August 9 vs. St. Louis.

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MLB Needs To End This All-Star Game Charade

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MLB Needs To End This All-Star Game Charade

Posted on 16 July 2014 by Peter Dilutis

Fast forward three months. Our Baltimore Orioles have made it to the World Series for the first time since 1983, matching up against the Atlanta Braves. It’s the situation that we all dream about when we’re kids playing catch in the backyard or taking batting practice on the neighborhood fields.

Game 7 of the World Series. Bottom of the 9th inning. Tied game. Bases loaded. Two outs. Full count. The fans are going absolutely bonkers. Baltimore is a ball four, walk, hit or error away from walking off with their first World Series win in 21 years.

And why is it they are in position to walk off with the win?

Because just three months earlier, Pat Neshek entered the All-Star Game, played at Target Field, home of the 44-50 Minnesota Twins, and gave up three runs to the American League, including a sacrifice fly from Jose Altuve, member of the 40-56 Houston Astros.

Wait…what?

It has absolutely nothing to do with what team had the better regular season record. Where the seventh game of the World Series is played has nothing to do with either of the teams participating in the series, unless of course members of those respective teams made an impact, positively or negatively, in the All-Star game.

Rather, representatives from all 30 teams, 20 of which will not make the postseason and 22 of which will not make it past the play-in games, determine where that legacy-defining Game 7 is played.

In what alternate universe does that make sense? You’re telling me that a bunch of millionaires in $25,000 suits got together, deliberated in a boardroom and came out with this solution?

Imagine if Luis Gonzalez’ hit over Derek Jeter’s glove in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series would have simply put the Diamondbacks up 3-2 rather than ending the game? What if history was re-written and that Game 7 had actually been played in New York? In 2001, the American League won the All-Star game. Under our current All-Star game rules, that legacy-defining game would have in fact been played at Yankee Stadium. How might that have changed the legacy of Derek Jeter? He could have six rings instead of five. Joe Torre would have another World Series under his belt. Even Mike Mussina could have a ring to display on his mantle had the location of the seventh game been switched to the Big Apple. Crazy stuff.

We’re talking about a game in which AL manager John Farrell admitted that his main objective was not to win, but to get as many players in the game as possible. And let’s be honest – why does John Farrell care who wins the game? His Boston Red Sox are 43-52, 9.5 games behind the Orioles and they’re more concerned with what kind of young haul they can get for Jon Lester at the deadline than what stadium they’re going to be playing in come October. We’re talking about a game in which Adam Wainwright admitted to grooving pitches right down 5th Avenue to leadoff man Derek Jeter in his final “farewell” All-Star Game sendoff. Jeter doubled in his first at bat and later scored. The American League went on to score three runs in the first inning.

Ultimately, they won the game by two runs, 5-3.

Had Adam Wainwright actually tried to pitch to Derek Jeter, the National League very well may have won the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, awarding them home field advantage in the 2014 World Series. Meaning, of course, that in my above scenario, a run would not walk the game off for the Orioles. Instead, the Atlanta Braves, or whoever their opponent would be in our dream scenario, would get one more at bat in the bottom of the inning with a chance to tie or win the game.

Hundreds of years from now, when all of us are dead and gone, the 2014 World Series winner will live in infamy in countless record books and libraries throughout the sports world. Legacies will be defined. Future contracts will be signed. Statues may very well be erected. Hall of Fame candidacy will be voted upon.

And all of that history could be changed in a flash – because of an All-Star Game played in July amongst members of all 30 MLB teams that served more as a spectacle and farewell tour to Derek Jeter than it did as a real game.

The NBA All-Star game is nothing more than a glorified dunk contest. Roger Goodell has threatened to put an end to the NFL Pro Bowl because the players just won’t take it seriously. And as we saw from Adam Wainwright on Tuesday night, major league baseball players don’t REALLY care about winning. Derek Jeter’s 4th inning moment yesterday was always going to more important than the end result of the game. Undoubtedly, more people know about that moment than know the end result of the game. The same thing happened last year at Citi Field when Mariano Rivera was paraded out in the 8th inning as Enter Sandman blasted over the speakers.

The All-Star Game is an entertainment spectacle. It is NOT a competitive game. Not even close.

By placing such a high importance on the result of a glorified exhibition game, Bud Selig and the powers that be within Major League Baseball are putting the integrity of this great game on the line. It may not seem like such a big deal right now. It’s hard to really understand the significance of something, whether we’re talking sports or life in general, until your life and/or interests are directly impacted.

But when you’re favorite baseball team is on the mound in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the World Series, watching the opposing team walking off the field with a one run win in front of the home fans, perhaps you too will question the logic and integrity of the current All-Star Game format.

In the meantime, I guess all of us Orioles fans should be thankful that the American League won, right?

 

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Aiming high only way to go if Orioles want to add starting pitching

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Aiming high only way to go if Orioles want to add starting pitching

Posted on 16 July 2014 by Luke Jones

You can never have too much starting pitching, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has repeated that sentiment despite the Orioles enjoying a four-game lead in the American League East at the All-Star break.

The Orioles rank fifth in the American League in pitching and 11th in starting pitching, but unlike the last couple seasons in which they were often desperately looking for just a warm body or two to add to the mix, the starting rotation appears to be moving in the right direction. Even with the season-long struggles of the injured Ubaldo Jimenez, the starting pitching has posted a 3.18 ERA over the last 33 games spanning 198 innings, lowering the starting pitching ERA from 4.61 to 4.09 since June 9.

No one will mistake this rotation for the 1971 Orioles, but Duquette should be picky in any quest to add starting pitching between now and the trade deadline at the end of the month. Wondering whether the club has the quality to compete with the front end of other playoff rotations in October is fair, but the upside of Kevin Gausman and even the second-half track record of Jimenez — who has been dominant for stretches of his career when his mechanics are in order — will be worth monitoring down the stretch with an eye toward the postseason.

Even if the Orioles still lack top-half quality, they have more stability in their rotation than they’ve enjoyed in a long time.

Manager Buck Showalter has used just seven starting pitchers all year with one of them — lefty reliever T.J. McFarland — receiving only one start. In 2013, 14 different pitchers made starts and 10 made at least four starts. The year before that, 12 different hurlers made starts with 10 making at least four starts.

Stability — with relatively decent health — has afforded Duquette the luxury of not needing to look for the likes of Scott Feldman, Joe Saunders, Jair Jurrjens, and Freddy Garcia on this year’s market. That’s what made the recent news of the Orioles scouting Colorado lefty Jorge De La Rosa that much more perplexing as he doesn’t represent an apparent upgrade over anyone — including Jimenez — in the current rotation with his 4.56 ERA in 2014 and 4.69 career mark.

The Orioles have also been linked to San Diego’s Ian Kennedy, who has posted a 3.47 ERA in 20 starts, but he’s a career 3.94 ERA pitcher who’s spent most of his career in the National League. The Padres will likely be asking for a lot for the right-hander, and Duquette shouldn’t part ways with the precious few top prospects he has unless he’s positive he’s gaining a substantial upgrade. Kennedy may provide that, but his talent level should only be the baseline at which the Orioles are looking at this point.

More so than even in 2013 or 2012, the Orioles have plenty of quality when it comes to filling out the back of the rotation. They have an abundance of No. 4 and No. 5 starters.

An injury or two could obviously change that tune quickly, but Duquette must aim high if the Orioles are to add starting pitching between now and the end of the July. Jeff Samardzija has already been dealt to Oakland and David Price may not be traded at all — and they probably don’t have the freight to acquire the AL East pitcher, anyway — but those are the types of arms to be examining.

Anything less is just a waste of time and resources.

Standing pat at catcher

Many have asked about the possibility of the Orioles adding another catcher to the mix as Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley have handled the workload since Matt Wieters underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery, but Duquette has said on several occasions that they’re unlikely to make another move in that department.

Boston officially released A.J. Pierzynski on Wednesday, but the Orioles don’t view him as a significant upgrade offensively — the 37-year-old posted just a .633 on-base plus slugging percentage with the Red Sox — to compromise the rapport Joseph and Hundley have built with the pitching staff and the defensive work they’ve displayed over the better part of two months. And that’s not even mentioning Pierzynski’s outspoken personality that could potentially compromise a strong clubhouse.

Hundley has come on lately with the bat, raising his average to a respectable .250, while Joseph has posted a .690 OPS since the beginning of June and had a solid offensive track record in the minor leagues despite his current .187 average. Neither will fool you as quality offensive catchers, but trying to add an impact backstop while bringing him up to speed with the pitching staff will be extremely difficult.

If the Orioles are looking for an offensive boost, they could take another extended look at Steve Clevenger, but Showalter is going to value defensive work behind the plate and the current duo — particularly Joseph — has done an admirable job in that department.

Left-handed bat still needed

The emergence of Steve Pearce has been one of the great stories of the 2014 season, but the Orioles shouldn’t assume the 31-year-old will continue to perform at a rate that warrants everyday playing time with no questions asked.

His .316 average, 11 home runs, and 31 runs batted in are a major reason why Baltimore currently sits in first place, but it’s still a stretch to expect his current .300 average and .846 OPS against right-handed pitching to continue. For his career, Pearce is hitting just .237 with a .667 OPS against right-handers and that’s including his amazing numbers this season.

In other words, a left-handed hitting outfielder that feasts against right-handed pitching should be a priority to add for the stretch as the only left-handed bats to make real contributions this season are Nick Markakis and the struggling Chris Davis. The speedy Lough has been a major disappointment at the plate, and the Orioles must anticipate the possibility of needing to platoon Pearce if he reverts to his career form.

Even if Pearce continues to thrive as an everyday player, the Orioles would benefit from a left-handed version of Delmon Young to come off the bench in the late innings as Lough and utility player Ryan Flaherty just don’t provide formidable options at the plate. The Orioles had looked into the services of Padres outfielder Seth Smith, who feasts against right-handed pitching, before he signed a two-year extension with San Diego earlier this month.

A player of that ilk would make perfect sense for the roster.

Pondering futures of Cruz and Davis

It’s incredible to think how much can change in a year as Orioles fans were clamoring for the organization to sign Davis to a long-term contract as he entered the All-Star break with 37 home runs last year and would go on to hit a franchise record 53 in 2013. Meanwhile, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz was a couple weeks away from beginning a 50-game suspension stemming from his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

A year later, Davis sits with a lowly .199 average at the break while Cruz has parlayed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Orioles into what looks like a pending lucrative payday as he’s second in the majors with 28 home runs and has often carried the Baltimore offense this year while Davis and others have struggled.

It’s interesting to see so many fans crushing Davis for his poor first half — that’s not to say criticism hasn’t been warranted — while screaming for the Orioles to sign the 34-year-old Cruz to a long-term contract when many of those same fans wanted to give Davis the keys to the city last offseason.

The Orioles will certainly make Cruz a qualifying offer after the season to at least recover a draft pick and should see if he’s willing to sign a short-term extension at a higher annual cost per year, but giving him more than two or three years at the most would be a mistake for an aging player coming off what looks to be his career year.

Davis’ future will be more interesting to figure out as he tries to rebound from a miserable first half and remains under team control through next season.

 

 

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Bovada improves Orioles’ World Series odds to 14/1

Posted on 16 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

Odds to win the 2014 World Series (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same) 

Odds on 6/2/14             Current Odds   

Oakland Athletics                      9/1                                5/1

Detroit Tigers                            6/1                                6/1

Los Angeles Dodgers                8/1                                6/1

Los Angeles Angels                  16/1                              9/1

St. Louis Cardinals                    9/1                                10/1

Washington Nationals                14/1                              10/1

San Francisco Giants                7/1                                12/1

Atlanta Braves                           12/1                              14/1

Baltimore Orioles                       25/1                              14/1

Milwaukee Brewers                    16/1                              16/1

Toronto Blue Jays                     10/1                              18/1

New York Yankees                    16/1                              22/1

Seattle Mariners                        50/1                              25/1

Cincinnati Reds                         40/1                              28/1

Pittsburgh Pirates                      75/1                              33/1

Kansas City Royals                   50/1                              40/1

Boston Red Sox                       16/1                              50/1

Cleveland Indians                      66/1                              66/1

Tampa Bay Rays                       50/1                              66/1

New York Mets                          100/1                            200/1

Miami Marlins                            75/1                              250/1

Chicago White Sox                    66/1                              300/1

Minnesota Twins                        200/1                            300/1

Philadelphia Phillies                   150/1                            300/1

Chicago Cubs                           250/1                            500/1

Colorado Rockies                     50/1                              750/1

Texas Rangers                          28/1                              750/1

Arizona Diamondbacks              500/1                            1000/1

Houston Astros                         500/1                            1000/1

San Diego Padres                     200/1                            1000/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 AL Pennant            

Oakland Athletics                                  13/5

Detroit Tigers                                        3/1

Los Angeles Angels                              9/2

Baltimore Orioles                                   7/1

Toronto Blue Jays                                 9/1

New York Yankees                                11/1

Seattle Mariners                                    12/1

Kansas City Royals                               18/1

Boston Red Sox                                   25/1

Cleveland Indians                                  33/1

Tampa Bay Rays                                   33/1

Chicago White Sox                                150/1

Minnesota Twins                                    150/1

Texas Rangers                                      400/1

Houston Astros                                     500/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 NL Pennant            

Los Angeles Dodgers                            13/5

St. Louis Cardinals                                4/1

Washington Nationals                            4/1

San Francisco Giants                            11/2

Atlanta Braves                                       7/1

Milwaukee Brewers                                7/1

Cincinnati Reds                                     14/1

Pittsburgh Pirates                                  16/1

Miami Marlins                                        100/1

New York Mets                                      100/1

Philadelphia Phillies                               150/1

Chicago Cubs                                       250/1

Colorado Rockies                                 400/1

San Diego Padres                                 400/1

Arizona Diamondbacks                          500/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 AL EAST   

Baltimore Orioles                                   6/5

Toronto Blue Jays                                 9/4

New York Yankees                                11/4

Boston Red Sox                                   14/1

Tampa Bay Rays                                   14/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 AL CENTRAL           

Detroit Tigers                                        1/7

Kansas City Royals                               5/1

Cleveland Indians                                  10/1

Chicago White Sox                                50/1

Minnesota Twins                                    50/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 AL WEST  

Oakland Athletics                                  5/11

Los Angeles Angels                              9/5

Seattle Mariners                                    12/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 NL EAST   

Washington Nationals                            1/2

Atlanta Braves                                       3/2

New York Mets                                      25/1

Miami Marlins                                        33/1

Philadelphia Phillies                               50/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 NL CENTRAL           

St. Louis Cardinals                                6/5

Milwaukee Brewers                                9/4

Cincinnati Reds                                     3/1

Pittsburgh Pirates                                  6/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 NL WEST  

Los Angeles Dodgers                            2/5

San Francisco Giants                            7/4

Arizona Diamondbacks                          250/1

San Diego Padres                                 250/1

Colorado Rockies                                 250/1

 

Awards and Stats Props

Odds to Win the 2014 AL Cy Young          

Felix Hernandez (SEA)                           3/2

Chris Sale (CWS)                                   5/1

Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)                         15/2

Scott Kazmir (OAK)                               15/2

Yu Darvish (TEX)                                   15/2

Sonny Gray (OAK)                                 12/1

Max Scherzer (DET)                               12/1

David Price (TB)                                    14/1

Garrett Richards (LAA)                           14/1

Mark Buehrle (TOR)                               33/1

Jon Lester (BOS)                                   33/1

Corey Kluber (CLE)                                33/1

Rick Porcello (DET)                               33/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 NL Cy Young          

Clayton Kershaw (LAD)                          5/7

Adam Wainwright (STL)                          8/5

Johnny Cueto (CIN)                               10/1

Zack Greinke (LAD)                               12/1

Stephen Strasburg (WAS)                      25/1

Madison Bumgarner (SF)                       25/1

Alfredo Simon (CIN)                              33/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 AL MVP   

Mike Trout (LAA)                                   2/3

Miguel Cabrera (DET)                            9/2

Josh Donaldson (OAK)                          9/1

Robinson Cano (SEA)                           12/1

Nelson Cruz (BAL)                                 12/1

Victor Martinez (DET)                             12/1

Jose Bautista (TOR)                              15/1

Jose Abreu (CHW)                                 20/1

Jose Altuve (HOU)                                 20/1

Michael Brantley (CLE)                           20/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 NL MVP  

Andrew McCutchen (PIT)                        2/1

Troy Tulowitzki (COL)                             9/4

Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)                         4/1

Yasiel Puig (LAD)                                  6/1

Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)                         15/2

Carlos Gomez (MIL)                               14/1

Clayton Kershaw (LAD)                          15/1

Adam Wainwright (STL)                          40/1

 

Who will hit the most HR’s in the 2014 Regular Season? 

Jose Abreu (CHW)                                 4/5

Nelson Cruz (BAL)                                 3/2

Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)                      7/1

Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)                         12/1

Mike Trout (LAA)                                   25/1

Troy Tulowitzki (COL)                             33/1

Chris Carter (HOU)                                 33/1

Victor Martinez (DET)                             40/1

Brandon Moss (OAK)                            40/1

David Ortiz (BOS)                                  50/1

Albert Pujols (LAA)                                50/1

Josh Donaldson (OAK)                          50/1

Anthony Rizzo (CHC)                             50/1

Todd Frazier (CIN)                                 50/1

Jose Bautista (TOR)                              50/1

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 highs, lows of Orioles’ first half

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 highs, lows of Orioles’ first half

Posted on 15 July 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles entered the All-Star break in first place for the first time since the 1997, creating plenty of excitement as they try to advance to the postseason for the second time in the last three years.

In honor of this, The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 examined what things went right and what went wrong in the first half of the 2014 season. Luke Jones handled the positives while Drew Forrester took a look at the negatives as the Orioles own a four-game lead over second-place Toronto and are 52-42 on the season.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 Things That Went Right …

7. Kevin Gausman
KG

Even with the Orioles bouncing him back and forth between the majors and Triple-A Norfolk, the 23-year-old pitched to a 3.29 ERA in seven starts and will finally have a chance to remain in the rotation for good in the second half.

6. A 9-3 record in extra-inning games
NH

An incredible 16-2 record in extra innings was a trademark of the magical and surprising 2012 Orioles, but this year’s club has done almost as well in extra frames with one of the best bullpens in the American League.

5. The consistency of Adam Jones
Jones

For all the handwringing over his plate discipline and inability to draw walks, Jones overcame a rough April to post a .301 average with 16 home runs and 54 runs batted in while teammates such as Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy struggled in the first half.

4. Steve Pearce
Pearce

Most wouldn’t have expected the 31-year-old journeyman to have even made the team in spring training, but Pearce has become an everyday player with a .316 average, 11 homers, 31 RBIs, and a .383 on-base percentage in 209 plate appearances.

3. Zach Britton
Britton

The lefty entered the spring with no minor-league options remaining and no clear role, but he not only became a critical piece in the bullpen but eventually replaced closer Tommy Hunter to collect 15 saves and post a tiny 1.30 ERA.

2. Nelson Cruz
Cruz

A one-year, $8 million contract was all it took as Cruz is second in the majors with 28 homers and carried an up-and-down offense for large stretches of the first half while others battled injuries and inconsistency.

1. A 26-18 record in an underwhelming American League East
redsox

The Orioles deserve full credit for taking advantage, but the weakest AL East we’ve seen in years has Baltimore poised to win its first division crown in 17 years with just one other team above the .500 mark at the break.

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Jones bows out in second round of 2014 Home Run Derby

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Jones bows out in second round of 2014 Home Run Derby

Posted on 14 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Taking part in the first Home Run Derby of his career, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones advanced to the second round before bowing out in the 2014 competition at Target Field in Minnesota on Monday night.

The four-time All-Star selection hit four homers in the first round to advance in the new tournament format before falling short against Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who hit nine homers to advance to take on Toronto’s Jose Bautista in the third round. Jones hit three in the second round after Cespedes put up the impressive number, but two laser shots hooked foul, which didn’t help the Baltimore outfielder’s effort.

Cespedes would go on to win the competition for the second year in a row, besting Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier in the finals.

“The #HRDerby is legit,” Jones wrote on his official Twitter account after being eliminated. “Great experience and had a blast. All in the fun of the game.”

Teammate and injured catcher Matt Wieters brought a sports drink to Jones at one point during his second round at the plate, but the energy boost wasn’t enough to get him to the semifinals.

Orioles bullpen catcher Jett Ruiz pitched to Jones in the competition as the 28-year-old was trying to join Cal Ripken in 1991 and Miguel Tejada in 2004 as the only Baltimore players to win the Home Run Derby.

Jones is hitting .301 with 16 home runs and 54 runs batted in this season and will bat seventh behind Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz in the American League starting lineup for Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

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Showalter reveals post-break rotation for start of challenging West Coast trip

Posted on 14 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Entering the All-Star break in first place for the first time since 1997, the Orioles won’t receive any breaks to start the second half with a 10-game West Coast trip and three clubs with winning records staring them in the face.

Manager Buck Showalter revealed his starting rotation to begin the second half with Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, and Kevin Gausman pitching in the three-game series against the Oakland Athletics next weekend. After that, Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez are expected to be recalled from the minors to make starts against the Los Angeles Angels on July 21 and July 22 before Tillman starts the finale in Anaheim.

Injured starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez will not be activated during the road trip as he continues to work his way back from an injured ankle suffered last week. Showalter said the plan is for the struggling right-hander to make a minor-league rehab start on July 23, which would put him in line to be ready to be activated when the Orioles finally return home on July 29.

Jimenez was still favoring his ankle when he tried to work on Sunday.

“He was trying to protect it and we kind of shortened it up a little bit because it wasn’t getting any better and we didn’t want him to have a setback,” Showalter said. “They have X-rayed I’m pretty sure. He’s had a history and anybody who’s had that ankle, it gets a little weaker each time you do it or it’s more susceptible to it. Obviously, he’s got some [discomfort] in there that we’re going to have to clear up before we can pitch him.”

Catcher Steve Clevenger and relief pitcher Preston Guilmet are expected to accompany the Orioles to the West Coast and remain with the club until Norris and Gonzalez are recalled.

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Gonzalez joins Norris in being optioned to minors over All-Star break

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Gonzalez joins Norris in being optioned to minors over All-Star break

Posted on 12 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After matching his season high with eight strong innings in his start against the New York Yankees Friday, Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk a day later.

Joining fellow starter Bud Norris in being sent to the minors for a start during the All-Star break, Gonzalez will be eligible to return for his next major league start against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim on July 22. He is slated to pitch for the Tides on Thursday before rejoining the Orioles on the West Coast.

Gonzalez is 4-5 with a 4.04 ERA in 89 innings this season and has completed eight innings in each of his last two starts after failing to do that in any of his first 13 starts.

The club recalled catcher Steve Clevenger from the Tides to take Gonzalez’s spot on the roster. He will provide another left-handed bat off the bench for the time being and was hitting .328 for Norfolk after hitting .243 with the Orioles earlier this season.

Norris was optioned to Double-A Bowie on Thursday to shake off some of the rust he showed in Wednesday’s start against Washington upon being activated from the 15-day disabled list. Manager Buck Showalter plans to send Norris to the hill against the Angels on July 21.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and Showalter have enjoyed the benefit of having four starting pitchers with minor-league options to add an extra bullpen arm and a third catcher for a few games while preventing Norris and Gonzalez from having extended layoffs.

Though no official order has been set, the Orioles are all but guaranteed to give starts to Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, and Kevin Gausman against the Oakland Athletics when they begin a three-game set there next Friday to begin the second half of the season. Struggling starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez will officially be placed on the DL to make room for the returning Gausman to pitch against the Yankees on Sunday night.

The only possible drawback would be a short-term injury or illness to any of the scheduled starters in the Oakland series with Norris unable to come back until July 20 and Gonzalez ineligible until July 22 without someone else being placed on the DL. Of course, the Orioles could likely use lefty reliever T.J. McFarland as an emergency starter in a pinch.

 

 

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Jimenez going to disabled list with freak ankle injury

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Jimenez going to disabled list with freak ankle injury

Posted on 11 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — A freak ankle injury has brought the first half of Ubaldo Jimenez’s first season in Baltimore to an end with the Orioles placing the starting pitcher on the 15-day disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter announced Friday that the 30-year-old rolled his right ankle stepping in a hole in a parking lot two days ago, forcing the Orioles to send Jimenez to the DL and recall right-hander Kevin Gausman to start against the New York Yankees on either Saturday or Sunday. Chris Tillman is likely to pitch on Saturday after initially being scheduled to start on Sunday night with Gausman taking the hill for the final game prior to the All-Star break.

“It’s pretty puffy [and] taped up,” Showalter said. “He tried to take a workday [on Thursday]. We were hoping it would resolve somewhat today. It did not. It’s real sore today”

Jimenez injured the same ankle while pitching in 2012 and is eligible to return on the sixth day after the All-Star break, according to Showalter. Because the Orioles will be recalling Gausman to take Jimenez’s place, the Orioles can only backdate Jimenez’s time on the DL to the day after Gausman was optioned on Monday, meaning he is eligible to return on July 23.

The news ends a difficult first half of the 2014 season for the right-hander as he has a 3-8 record with a 4.52 ERA and leads the majors with 60 walks in his 99 2/3 innings over 18 starts. Jimenez signed a four-year, $50 million contract in the offseason, but the veteran hasn’t lived up to the high expectations that accompanied the long-term investment.

“It is what it is. I understand how things work with people that make a living making light of things like this,” said Showalter about the nature of the ankle injury. “He’s pretty frustrated by it, but we’d rather have him healthy and pitching. If it wasn’t for the All-Star break, we might wait a couple days [to see if he'd heal quickly].”

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