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Orioles Split A Doubleheader With The White Sox On Thursday
by Al Galdi
May 29, 2015 -- 12:43pm

Game 1: 3-2 loss

Game 2: 6-3 win


What I liked:


1. Tyler Wilson’s start in Game 1 – Wilson was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk just for this game, after which he was sent back down.  But Wilson delivered: two runs in six innings on five hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch in his first major-league start.  An 11th-round pick of the O's in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Virginia, he has a 3.29 ERA over eight starts with Norfolk this season.

2. The bullpen – Orioles relievers combined to allow one run in seven innings over the two games, continuing a nice run off a rough start to the season.  What stands out are some of the names: Chaz Roe tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 1.  Oliver Drake, a 2008 43rd-round pick of the O's out of Navy, tossed a scoreless sixth despite issuing three walks in Game 2.  Drake in fact was used in the top of the eighth of Monday afternoon's 4-3 win over Houston, recording two strikeouts in a perfect inning in what was just his second major-league appearance.  

3. The offense in Game 2 – The O’s had 13 hits and four walks and went 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

4. Chris Davis – Davis had a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth of Game 1 and an RBI double and two walks in Game 2.   


What I didn’t like:

1. The offense in Game 1
– The O’s totaled six hits and no walks and struck out 16 times, including 12 against Chris Sale.

2. Mike Wright’s start in Game 2 – Wright allowed three runs in five innings, giving up a solo homer to Adam Eaton to begin the game and a two-run bomb to Adam LaRoche.  But it’s still hard to be displeased with Wright, who allowed no runs in 14 1/3 innings over his first two major-league starts.


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Nationals Win Two Of Three At The Cubs
by Al Galdi
May 28, 2015 -- 1:36pm
ESPN 980

Game 1: 2-1 win on Monday afternoon (May 25)

Game 2: 3-2 loss on Tuesday night (May 26)

Game 3: 3-0 win on Wednesday night (May 27)


What I liked:

1. Good times
- The Nats won their ninth straight series and now are 21-6 since their 7-13 start.

2. Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Ian Desmond – They combined for 13 of the Nats’ 20 hits in the series.

Harper blasted two more homers, finishing 3-for-10 with three walks.  His solo homer that led off the top of the seventh of Game 2 was a classic Wrigley Field homer, as the ball carried big time and Harper in fact initially slammed his bat in frustration, thinking he was flying out.  Harper then had an opposite-field bomb in the top of the sixth of Game 3, making seven of his 18 homers this season opposite-field shots.

Span went 5-for-12, blasting solo homers in Games 1 and 2.

Desmond had another costly defensive mistake in Game 2 (see below) but went 5-for-13, totaling three doubles over the final two games.

3. Tanner Roark’s start in Game 1 – Roark, making his first start of the season due to Doug Fister being on the 15-day disabled list with a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm, allowed one run in five innings on just three hits and a walk.  As I’ve said before, Roark did nothing last season to warrant being a reliever this year.  His only crime was his experience as a reliever, making him the easy choice to move to the bullpen when Scherzer was signed.  But Roark had a better ERA+ than Scherzer did in 2014 (130 vs. 125).  The point isn’t that Roark is better; it’s that he was a terrific starting pitcher, and the Nats are lucky to have him as their “sixth man.”

4. Jordan Zimmermann’s start in Game 2 – On a night in which Zimmermann pretty clearly didn’t have his best stuff, he allowed one run in seven innings.  He gave up six hits (including a homer to Dexter Fowler to lead off the bottom of the first) and three walks on 113 pitches.  But the run prevention ultimately was there.  This was a prime example of Zimmermann living up to his “bulldog” reputation.  He now has a 1.91 ERA over five starts this month.

5. Max Scherzer’s start in Game 3 – Mad Max was excellent again, recording 13 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings.  That’s now a 1.51 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over 10 starts for a pitcher who you could argue is actually exceeding his reported $210 million contract.

6. The bullpen – Nats relievers combined to allow two runs (one earned) in 7 2/3 innings, allowing no walks.  Particularly impressive was Casey Janssen’s work in the eighth inning of Game 3.  Coming into the game with runners on first and second and no outs and facing the Cubs 3-5 hitters, he got Kris Bryant to popup, made a very nice play on a Dexter Fowler bunt and got Starlin Castro to ground out to short.


What I didn’t like:

1. Horrific mistakes in the ninth inning of Game 2
– First came one of the worst base-running blunders you’ll ever see.  Yunel Escobar, who had stolen second earlier in the inning, inexplicably took off from second base with two outs and a full count on Wilson Ramos in a two-all game.  Cubs closer Hector Rondon, who had not yet started his delivery to the plate, stepped off the rubber and threw to third, nailing Escobar by a mile for the final out of the top of the ninth.  It’s also worth mentioning that Escobar got picked off at first base in the top of the first.

Next came another costly error by Ian Desmond in the bottom of the ninth.  He threw wildly to first for a 4-6-3 double play that had little if any chance, putting pinch hitter Jonathan Herrera on second base as opposed to first.  The next batter, Addison Russell, blasted a walk-off double to deep right-center beyond the grasp of Span, who was playing shallower than normal because Herrera was on second as opposed to first.

2. The overall offense – The Nats batted .211 (20-for-95), including going just 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position.


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Orioles Win Two Of Three Over Houston
by Al Galdi
May 28, 2015 -- 1:32pm
ESPN 980

Game 1: 4-3 win on Monday afternoon (May 25)

Game 2: 4-1 loss on Tuesday night (May 26)

Game 3: 5-4 win on Wednesday (May 27)


What I liked:

1. Jimmy Paredes
– Paredes continued his stunningly productive season, going 0-for-3 in Game 1 but then 5-for-8 with two stolen bases over Games 2 and 3.  The stolen base in Game 3 was a steal of home on a double steal that ignited a four-run fourth, which included back-to-back homers from Chris Davis (who belted a two-run shot) and Steve Pearce.  Davis also had a solo homer later in that game and Pearce had a two-run homer in Game 1.

2. Chris Tillman’s start in Game 2 – Tillman allowed two runs in seven innings for just his third quality start over nine starts this season.

3. The bullpen – Orioles relievers combined to allow two runs in eight innings on just four hits and three walks.  Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz teamed to allow the two runs in the top of the eighth of Game 2.


What I didn’t like:

1. Wei-Yin Chen’s start in Game 1
– Chen allowed three runs in five innings, giving up 11 hits on 91 pitches.  He is overall having a good season but now has given up seven runs on 19 hits in 12 innings over his last two starts.

2. Ubaldo Jimenez’s start in Game 3 – Ubaldo allowed four runs in seven innings, giving up 10 hits and a walk.  Like Chen, Ubaldo is overall having a good season.  But like Chen, Ubaldo now has struggled over his last two starts: seven runs in 11 innings on 17 hits.

3. The fall of Alejandro De Aza – The O’s designated De Aza for assignment on Wednesday as the corresponding roster move to activating Ryan Flaherty from the 15-day disabled list.

The O’s acquired De Aza from the White Sox via trade last August.  He was very good over 20 games with the O’s during the 2014 regular season (143 OPS+) and was very good during the postseason (7-for-21 with a walk; three of the seven hits were doubles).  But De Aza has an on-base percentage of just .277 over 30 games this season.  Being DFA’ed means that the O’s have 10 days to make one of the following moves: return De Aza to the 40-man roster, trade him, release him or outright him to the minors.  There is a lot more to the designation, but these are the basics.  

The bottom line is that a guy who was expected to be close to an every-day player for the O’s in 2015 has been DFA’ed less than two months into the season.  De Aza was the only Orioles player who went to an arbitration hearing over the winter.  He lost his case, reportedly settled for $5 million and was owed $3.55 million for the rest of the season.

Flaherty was serving his second stint on the D.L. this season due to a right groin strain.

4. The overall offense – The O’s totaled just 10 runs over three game and batted just .236 (21-for-89).


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Nationals Win Two Of Three Over Philadelphia
by Al Galdi
May 26, 2015 -- 1:19pm

Game 1: 2-1 win on Friday night (May 22)

Game 2: 8-1 loss on Saturday (May 23)

Game 3: 4-1 win on Sunday afternoon (May 24)


What I liked:

1. Bryce Harper
- Harper had a solo homer and a walk in Game 1 and an RBI single, another single, an RBI groundout, a walk and an outfield assist in Game 3.  He did also have one of the Nats' four errors in Game 2.  

2. Max Scherzer's start in Game 1 - Scherzer allowed one run in eight innings, giving up just four hits and a walk.

3. Gio Gonzalez's start in Game 3 - Gio allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings, recording seven strikeouts.

4. The bullpen - Nats relievers combined to allow one run in nine innings, recording 13 strikeouts.

5. Casey Janssen finally being available - The Nats on Friday reinstated Janssen from the 15-day disabled list and placed Sammy Solis on it with left shoulder inflammation, retroactive to May 18.  

The Nats signed Janssen to a reported one-year deal in February.  He’s in his age-33 season but is coming off a down season in which he dealt with food poisoning and his strikeouts-per-nine-innings plummeted.  But Janssen was very good over the previous three seasons Toronto.


What I didn't like:

1. Stephen Strasburg's start in Game 2
- Strasburg got rocked again, giving up six runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings on seven hits and a walk.  He gave up a two-run homer to Maikel Franco on an 0-2 pitch during the Phillies' four-run third.  Maybe just as disturbing was Strasburg not backing up home plate on hits with men in scoring position during the Phillies' two-run fourth.  He now has allowed four earned runs or more in four of his nine starts this season, during which he has a 6.50 ERA and 1.69 WHIP.  Strasburg also now has a 10.20 ERA over four starts in May.  He has allowed five or more earned runs in fewer than four innings pitched in two of his last three starts (he had done so twice in his career entering this season).

2. The defense in Game 2 - The Nats' defense, which has been much better lately, was credited with four errors, including three during the Phillies' two-run fourth.

3. The offense - A rare down series these for the Nats' bats, which batted totaled just six runs, batted just .231 (21-for-91) and worked just five walks. 


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Orioles Lose Two Of Three At Miami
by Al Galdi
May 26, 2015 -- 1:15pm

Game 1: 8-5 win on Friday night (May 22)

Game 2: 1-0 13-inning loss on Saturday night (May 23)

Game 3: 5-2 loss on Sunday afternoon (May 24)


What I liked:

1. Mike Wright's start in Game 2
- Wright tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch.  
2. The bullpen - Orioles relievers combined to allow three runs in 14 2/3 innings.

3. Manny Machado - Machado blasted a double in each game of the series, which he finished 5-for-15 with a walk.


What I didn't like:

1. Ubaldo Jimenez's start in Game 1
- Ubaldo lasted just four innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, a walk and a wild pitch on 87 pitches.

2. Miguel Gonzalez's start in Game 3 - Gonzalez allowed five runs in four innings, giving up 10 hits and three walks.

3. The offense after Game 1 - The O's scored just two runs in 22 innings over the final two games, during which the O's batted just .197 (15-for-76).

4. Brian Matusz's ejection in Game 2 and eventual suspension - Matusz was ejected in the bottom of the 12th of Game 2 for having a foreign substance on his right arm.  He received an eight-game suspension from MLB but is appealing.  Matusz's suspension is the same that was given to Milwaukee's Will Smith, who had illegal substance on his non-throwing arm on May 21.  Each player is believed to have had the same "substance:" a combination of rosin and sunscreen.

This all falls under the weird unwritten rules of baseball.  It is accepted that pitchers use foreign substances, which are illegal, because they help for a better grip on the ball.  Most batters would prefer a pitcher use a foreign substance and have better control than not use the substance and potentially unintentionally hit that batter on the helmet or wrist with a pitch.  But this understanding makes for an impossible-to-define gray area.  How much foreign substance is too much?  If the substance is obviously visible, as was the case with Smith and especially the Yankees' Michael Pineda in April 2014, should that warrant an ejection?  MLB needs to define once and for all what is and isn't permissible and stop with "wink-wink" rules.  Things like pitchers using foreign substances, phantom tags and fielders not actually stepping on second base for force outs should either be officiated accoring to the rules or those rules should change.


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Orioles Win Two Of Three Over Seattle
by Al Galdi
May 21, 2015 -- 7:24pm
ESPN 980

Game 1: 9-4 win on Tuesday night (May 19)

Game 2: 4-2 loss on Wednesday night (May 20)

Game 3: 5-4 win on Thursday afternoon (May 21)


What I liked:

1. Winning homestand
– This series concluded a 5-4 homestand for the O’s, who now are 18-20 in what has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde, start-and-stop-type season so far.

2. Hitting in the clutch – The O’s went 10-for-24 with runners in scoring position in the series.

3. Steve Pearce – Pearce had two singles, including an RBI single, in Game 1 and a grand slam and a walk in Game 3.  Pearce was arguably the Orioles’ MVP last season but has struggled so far this year.  Perhaps this series gets him going.

4. Jimmy Paredes – Paredes has been this season’s version of Pearce: a diamond-in-the-rough of a find who has had multiple stints with the O’s and is delivering far past any reasonable expectations.  Paredes went 4-for-12 with a walk and five RBI in the series, providing a two-run homer and two-run single in Game 1.  

5. The bullpen – Orioles relievers combined to allow three runs in 10 innings, recording 13 strikeouts but also giving up 14 hits and six walks.  Game 3’s two-plus-hour rain delay meant that Chris Tillman lasted just three innings, requiring six relievers to complete the game.  The results were mixed, as the relievers combined to allow three runs in six innings on nine hits and four walks.  But there was a lot more good than bad from the bullpen in this series.

6. Miguel Gonzalez’s Game 1 start – Gonzalez gave up two early homers: Seth Smith’s which led off the game and former Oriole Nelson Cruz’s three-run bomb in the top of the third.  But Gonzalez then tossed four straight scoreless innings.  The final line was four runs in seven innings on just five hits and two walks.


What I didn’t like:

1. Wei-Yin Chen’s Game 2 start
– Like Gonzalez, Chen also allowed four runs in seven innings.  But his included giving up a two-run homer, an RBI triple and three doubles.

2. Bud Norris going on the 15-day disabled list – The O’s officially placed Norris on the D.L. with bronchitis on Monday, retroactive to May 11.  He can return on May 26, two days before the O’s will need an extra starting pitcher for their makeup doubleheader with the White Sox.


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