Kevin Gausman’s first run with the Orioles in the 2014 season ended just over 24 hours after it began.
The 23-year-old right-hander was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for right-handed reliever Evan Meek as Baltimore was preparing to begin a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
Pitching on three days’ rest and less than two weeks removed from being diagnosed with a bout of pneumonia, Gausman struggled in his 2014 debut against the Detroit Tigers, surrendering five earned runs in four innings of work as the Orioles were swept in a 7-5 final on Wednesday afternoon. Though the 2012 first-round pick had posted a 2.08 earned run average in his six starts for the Tides, the decision to recall him after such a tumultuous two weeks was questionable at best as he hadn’t gotten back in the normal routine of a starting pitcher.
Manager Buck Showalter shared the desire to give left-hander Wei-Yin Chen an extra day of rest — and hinted that he didn’t want the lefty pitching against a Detroit lineup that’s mostly right-handed — and didn’t want to start Miguel Gonzalez on three days’ rest, prompting his temporary move to the bullpen for this turn through the rotation. It’s assumed that Gonzalez will now return to his spot in the rotation temporarily seized by Gausman.
Meek made the Orioles’ Opening Day club after being invited to spring training as a non-roster player and got off to a strong start before running into struggles in late April. The former 2010 All-Star selection had a 6.94 ERA in 11 2/3 inning for the Orioles and will likely find himself in more low-pressure situations than he did earlier in the season.
The 31-year-old allowed four earned runs over 6 1/3 innings spanning five appearances for the Tides.
On the cusp of being “good,” the Kansas City faithful has hung onto the idea that likes of Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer would lead a generally irrelevant franchise back to a level of respectability it enjoyed during the 1980s and the days of George Brett.
Tonight, a (10-11) Kansas City team rolls into Baltimore looking for some upward momentum after losing four of its last five.
What you need to know about The Royals:
2014 Record: 10-11, last place in AL Central, two games back of first.
2013 Record: 86-76, Third place in AL Central.
Managed by: Ned Yost.
Streak: After winning six straight, the Royals have dropped four of five.
Turning Point: Royals’ DH Billy Butler has struggled mightily through 21 games, batting below the Mendoza Line (sub-.200). If he can find a way to get his bat going, along with the rest of the solid KC lineup, it could spell trouble for an O’s rotation that has struggled to minimize pitch-counts and efficiency.
Pitching Matchup of the Series: Ubaldo Jimenez takes the bump for the fifth time as an Orioles’ starter. He’ll be paired with Royals’ flame-throwing sensation Yordano Ventura. Jimenez (0-3) is still looking for his first win this season, while Ventura, after earning his first Big League win two starts ago, is looking to rebound from a rocky outing last weekend. This matchup will set the tone for the series, and if Ventura has his command working, Jimenez could find himself in another spot where he needs to work into the late innings and be much better than he’s been thus far.
Prediction: The O’s bats came alive in Toronto, and with a healthy lineup for this weekend series at Camden Yards, there’s no reason to think the Birds can’t take two-of-three.
If I understand the way the math works, the Baltimore Orioles’ magic number to clinch an American League Wild Card spot currently sits at 48.
I really felt the need to tell you that because for some goofy reason I sat and worked on it Sunday while I was supposed to be watching the Baltimore Ravens practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Congratulations Birds, you’ve successfully gotten me to take attention away from the Ravens and place it on the orange and black. The moment has actually occurred. I’m blown away.
The magic number is 48.
That means that if the total combination of O’s wins combined with losses (individually) from any other team in the Wild Card race reaches 48 before the end of the season the now 15 year playoff draught will officially be over.
It means the Birds will be playing on Friday, October 5 as part of Major League Baseball’s first ever Wild Card play-in games.
I honest to God can’t believe I’ve just typed all of this.
It’s time to cue the music.
I feel like it’s safe to say that I’ve been as reluctant (if not more reluctant) than anyone in town to accept this as an actual, realistic possibility. And if truth me told I would still say “no” if an assailant questioned my belief that the Orioles make the playoffs with a gun pointed to my temple.
It might seem like a four game split with the Kansas City Royals at home would be an odd time for me to suddenly stand and pledge allegiance to the “Why Not?” bandwagon, but…you know…Machado and all.
My original idea for my weekly “Reality Check” column was to write about the realities of 3B Manny Machado’s hot start (6-16, 3HR, 7RBI in four games). I had planned to say “I hate to be the bad guy, but let’s remember that the most likely scenario is that Machado won’t be able to continue this success for the rest of the season or likely even for the rest of August.”
I had intended to say something along the lines of “American League pitchers will likely end up catching up with Machado, who also won’t have the benefit of facing Kansas City Royals pitching every time out.” I was going to add thoughts along the lines of “let’s not forget that even OF Xavier Avery collected 10 hits in his first eight games after getting called up to Baltimore earlier in the season.”
I probably would have mentioned that in the coming week Machado would have to go up against veteran pitchers like Red Sox starters Josh Beckett (albeit a Beckett that has struggled mightily in 2012) and Clay Buchholz as well as reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. It’s a bit more legitimate than a group of KC starters that included Will Smith, Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen.
I also think I would have mentioned that Machado had not hit .300 in a single month while playing in the Eastern League this season, making a market correction from a very hot start to August seem likely at some point.
That’s what I WAS going to do. But for some reason, it just didn’t stick.
As we’ve repeated ad nauseum during the 2012 Orioles campaign, there is no statistical explanation for why the Birds have won 62 of their first 115 games. Those of us who have been watching understand that the team has benefitted from an incredible bullpen, a number of home runs, great success in close games and expert guidance from AL Manager of the Year candidate Buck Showalter.
That’s why I couldn’t write the Machado column. I didn’t have it in me.
Maybe there IS a chance Machado can continue to make significant contributions as a 20 year old in a lineup that has been seeking an additional spark. The Birds don’t have a full season .300 hitter in their lineup, but they’ve managed to get continued contributions from unexpected places.
Career journeyman INF Omar Quintanilla is batting .328 in just 20 games sense being acquired in a deal with the New York Mets. Veteran (and by “veteran” I mean “washed up”) OF Nate McClouth has eight hits in his first 24 AB’s since being called up from the Norfolk Tides. Even the miserable bat of Mark Reynolds (.211 and just nine home runs in 289 AB’s) provided what proved to be the game winning RBI in Sunday’s win over KC.
I don’t think it can be sustained. I didn’t think it could be sustained two months ago. I was wrong then. Maybe I’m wrong now. I don’t think I’m ever going to understand exactly how all of this has happened this way this season.
So can Manny Machado keep contributing to an Orioles team pushing towards an appearance in the postseason?
The Orioles today announced that they have recalled pitcher Stu Pomeranz and catcher Ronny Paulino from Triple-A Norfolk, optioned catcher Luis Exposito to the Tides and designated infielder Bill Hall for assignment.
Pomeranz has not allowed an earned run in 10 appearances this season with Triple-A Norfolk (five games, 10.0IP) and Double-A Bowie (five games, 13.1IP). He pitched more than one inning in nine of 10 appearances, striking out 35 and walking three. Pomeranz made two scoreless appearances (4.0IP, 4H, BB, 3K) for the Orioles earlier this season after having his contract selected on May 7.
Paulino batted .300 (9-30) with three RBI in nine games for the Orioles earlier this season. He hit .283/.313/.391 in 12 games for Norfolk after being optioned on May 7.
Exposito hit .059 (1-17) in eight games with the Orioles after being recalled from the Tides on May 4.
Hall batted .286 (2-7) with a solo home run, becoming the 22nd Oriole in franchise history to hit a home run in his first game with Baltimore. He had his contract selected on May 12.
(Saturday 6:45 p.m. update — The Orioles have completed the deal and will announce it on Sunday, according to MASNSports.com. Jones’ agent Nez Balelo remained in Baltimore over the weekend to finalize details with executive vice president of baseball operations.)
In what would be a benchmark moment for the future of the organization, the Orioles are reportedly close to a club record long-term extension with star center fielder Adam Jones.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported Baltimore was closing in on a six-year agreement for money in the neighborhood of $85 million as of Friday morning. That contract would trump the franchise record $72 million contract the Orioles offered to Miguel Tejada prior to the start of the 2004 season. A new agreement would buy out Jones’ final year of arbitration before he was scheduled to become a free agent following the 2013 season.
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has remained mum on the topic of a Jones extension, dodging questions about it in several local interviews, but it appears the Orioles will make a long-term commitment to the 26-year-old outfielder.
Jones is hitting .311 with 14 home runs (tied for second in the American League) and 29 runs batted in this season in what’s easily been his most productive start to a season in his seven-year career in the big leagues.
Reports indicate Jones has already taken a physical as the two sides iron out final details for the deal on Friday morning.
The center fielder is making $6.15 million this season and would likely become the highest paid player on the team with a deal certain to surpass the six-year, $66.1 million extension signed by right fielder Nick Markakis prior to the start of the 2009 season.
With the Orioles set to welcome the Kansas City Royals to town to begin a three-game set, Friday could prove to be a memorable night in the history of the organization.