Each Monday, in this spot, I’ll try to give you fan’s look at what transpired with our Birds the past week and what lies ahead for the club. My only promise is that the piece will be totally biased and from a real fan, so here it goes.
1. It Was A Pretty Good Week, All Things Considered…
After dropping the last two at home versus the Twins, things certainly didn’t get an easier for the Birds. The defending World Series Champion Astros made short work of the Birds outscoring the club 19-9 in the process. The Birds endured facing two of baseball’s best pitchers in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, neither of whom was on their top game, but the Birds just appeared outclassed. Heading into New York for four games, many fans had already shifted focus to who the Ravens might draft in late April.
Suddenly, a glimmer of hope came through when Andrew Cashner showed that an Orioles starting pitcher NOT named Dylan Bundy could provide a quality start and keep his team in the game. Cashner threw six innings yielding only one earned run, striking out five and the Birds got a nice, tidy 5-2 win.
Then next night and early Saturday morning, an unlikely hero, Pedro Alvarez, struck a blow that seemed to make the team believe in themselves, hitting a 14th inning grand slam, after Miguel Castro blew a 3-2 lead six innings earlier. The team seemed energized after that blow.
After losing game three on Saturday, the Birds came back from a first inning 5-0 deficit to win an exciting 12 inning game 7-6 on Sunday.
All of the sudden, a three win, four loss road trip sounded pretty darned good.
2. The Bullpen Is A Little Hamstrung This Year
Since Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter have run this club, the bullpen has been a strength of this team. That strength was measured mostly in depth and the ability to interchange players from the minor leagues when the bullpen arms got tired.
This year, the bullpen features two arms that come via the Rule 5 draft in Nestor Cortes and Pedro Araujo, both of whom cannot ride the “Bowie/Norfolk to Baltimore Shuttle” when the bullpen arms are overworked. That being said, Araujo logged 3.1 innings in the Bronx this weekend allowing just one hit, striking out six while walking only one, and getting the win on Friday night. Cortes logged just 2.1 innings, allowing four hits, one earned run, striking out one, and walking one.
The two Rule 5 guys are going to make it tough for Buck to use the Disabled List minor league shuttle system he’s employed the last few years. With the starters still struggling to establish themselves and three extra inning games already in the books this year, something will have to give.
3. Orioles Thankful For A Rough Weekend For Giancarlo And Judge
The two young stars combined for just seven hits in 36 ABs for a .194 average, one home run, five RBI, 13 strikeouts, and 20 runners left on base.
Judge came to the plate with the Yankees down 8-7 in the 12th with bases loaded and none out. The youngster promptly hit into a very unconventional 1-2-5 double play essentially taking the air out of the Yankees.
Stanton’s Sunday was even worse with the former Marlin bouncing into a double play and striking out five times, including the last AB and the final out in Sunday’s game.
If four strikeouts is called the “Golden Sombrero” what is five strikeouts and a double play ball? Yikes!
4. The Orioles Showed A Lot Of “Want To” On Sunday
Down five runs in the first inning on a travel day on yet another cold, blustery day in New York, the Orioles could have easily packed it in and looked forward to a nice meal on the train ride home to Baltimore. Instead, the club battled all day in a game that Gary Thorne said reminded him of a playoff game. Again, 3-4 on this road trip doesn’t seem too bad.
5. Gentry Providing A spark
I always try to root for the 25th man on the roster, although in years past, Ryan Flaherty‘s long, loopy, slow swing drove me nuts. This year that guy is Craig Gentry. The dude only has 12 ABs this year, but seems to be involved in a lot of big plays, from his opening day home run robbing catch, to his “circus-like” grab in the 10th inning on Sunday, and, of course, the go-ahead RBI single in the 12th of yesterday’s 8-7 win. Gentry seems to be a spark plug for the team. He can steal a base and always seems to be hustling and a guy I can root for.
This Week’s Interesting Stat: The Orioles bullpen has yielded at least one run in all 10 games this season.
The Week Ahead: The Birds head home for a brief three game home stand versus the 6-4 Toronto Blue Jays, followed by their first day off Thursday, and then a four game set in Boston — who, by-the-way, finally play a team outside of Florida (all 10 of their games this year have been against the Rays or Marlins).
Every weekday morning at 8 AM, we publish our “Daily Feature” — it’s our favorite piece of the day, the one we don’t want you to miss. You can read our “Daily Feature” here on BSR or have it emailed to you by adding your address to the sign up box in the sidebar (or below if you’re browsing BSR on a mobile device).