Archive for the ‘Orioles’ Category

Knock-Knock. Who's there? Not Orioles fans.

August 12, 2012

The following is a guest post from Mike Randall at The Boh Pen, who was kind enough to let us re-post this very timely piece he wrote over the weekend. 

If there is one thing fans of anything Baltimore hate, it’s when Pittsburgh does something better than us.

It’s worth pointing out that attendance from Friday night’s 7-1 Orioles win was 17,277. It was the Orioles’ 6th win in the last 7 games, improving their record to 61-52. It also featured Manny Machado, the club’s top hitting prospect, going deep not once, but twice, in just his second major league game.

At the same time, the Pittsburgh Pirates played in front of a SELL OUT crowd of 38,702 at PNC Park. They would lose to the lowly San Diego Padres, dropping their record to 63-49. If the playoffs had started Saturday, both the Orioles and Pirates would be in for the first time in well over a decade, closer to two for Pittsburgh.

Just in case some Orioles fans aren’t getting the point, The PITTSBURGH Pirates fans, with a similar history of futility, are doing better at supporting their team.

That’s a fact. It’s been a hot topic the last couple nights on the talk radio shows. All I hear is excuses from Baltimore fans about why they don’t want to, or can’t go to an Orioles game.

I watch the game from home because it’s more enjoyable on TV.
First of all, no it’s not. Second, you’re making up an excuse to cover up another excuse. You can’t smell Boog’s BBQ, or catch a foul ball from your recliner. “Where were you when Manny Machado hit two home runs in only his second game?” “Sitting in my living room, alone. Cause it’s so much fun being alone.”

People are probably just on vacation.
Sure. I guess people in Pittsburgh don’t go on vacation. I seem to remember Labor Day weekend being the big vacation weekend. Not August 10-12. I’ve met quite a few people at the bar this week who we’re in town to watch the Orioles on their vacations. Coming in from Harrisburg, State College, even Blacksburg, Virginia. We’ll see how many people are on vacation when 70,000 Ravens fans show up to Friday’s preseason game that means nothing.

I can’t afford to take my family to a game.
I know there are people out there who are going through some tough times. You absolutely should be keeping a roof over your head, and keeping your kids fed and clothed before taking in a baseball game. But do people realize you can bring food and drinks into the game? They don’t force you to buy a $5 hot dog, or $6 soda, or $8 beer. You can get some cheap $9 tickets, and not spend a single dime once inside. You can’t go out to dinner for that cheap, you can’t go to the movies for that cheap. Name somewhere else a family of four can go have three hours of fun for $40. Then again, 70,000 people don’t seem to mind dropping $100+ to see the Ravens play.

I don’t like our owner so I’m not going to a game to support him.
I didn’t know Peter Angelos plays third base. Listen, if you have a cable bill, your are supporting Peter Angelos. When you go to a game and cheer for the Orioles, you’re not cheering for Peter Angelos. You’re cheering for Nick Markakis, who has been here through the worst of times and finally is playing meaningful baseball games in August. You’re cheering for Adam Jones who decided he loves Baltimore so much that he wants to play here at least through 2018. You cheer for Manny Machado, a rare 20-year old who gets a shot to play in a major league ballpark. That’s who you are showing your support for when you go out to a game.

If they actually make it into the playoffs I’ll go to a playoff game.
Please don’t. Save those tickets for the die hard fans who really do care. It will mean more to us than someone like you could even fathom. Greedy ****.

It’s going to take more than a few months of winning to make up for 14 years of losing.
This isn’t “Let’s Make A Deal.” So, we’ll see you in 2026? Is that what you’re telling us? They are winning! Enjoy the moment. It’s so tough to win in baseball in the division we’re in and with the payroll we have. Take advantage of this.

No one wants to go see the Seattle Mariners or Kansas City Royals.
Correct me if i’m wrong, don’t we go to see, I don’t know, THE HOME TEAM? Isn’t that why we should be going? Most Orioles fans are deterred from going when the Yankees are in town anyway. By the way, the Pirates hosted the 50-64 San Diego Padres. The worst team in baseball, the Houston Astros, also drew more fans than the Orioles did when they hosted the 51-60 Milwaukee Brewers.

The weather didn’t look so promising.
Yes, someone actually said this last night, referring to the 30% chance of rain. Even though when you took a look at the radar, there was nothing coming. So now people are afraid to get a little wet. Or a little hot.

I guess after all of that, the point is that if you really want to go to games, you’ll find a way to go. If you don’t want to, then you won’t. Unfortunately, more people probably have already made up their minds that they just don’t want to go, and that’s a shame for the 25 guys in the dugout every night who are busting their asses to bring Baltimore back out of the basement it’s been locked in for over a decade.

The Orioles ARE a winning team in the most beautiful ballpark in baseball, and they can’t find a way to fill it. We can’t consider ourselves some of the greatest fans if this is the case. It would be nice if more than 17,000 people would go and show some love for Eddie Murray on the day he gets honored with his statue in the left field court. If the game doesn’t sell out for Cal Ripken’s statue unveiling, I will be furious.

I’m not here to beg people to go, I’m not here to sell tickets. I’m just saying that Pittsburgh is supporting their team, and Baltimore is not. Take that and do what you like with it.

Video: Machado blasts first career dinger

August 10, 2012

After recording a triple for his first MLB hit, Manny Machado wasted no time in getting on the board with his first home runs, taking Luke Hochevar deep not once but TWICE on Friday night.

To see video of home run #2 – a 3-run jack that put the O’s up 7-1 – click here.

Here’s a GIF of the action, c/o Baltimore Sports Report.

 

Welcome to the Show Mr Machado

August 10, 2012

The moment we have all been waiting for since Manny Machado was drafted finally happened last night.

Let me start out by saying that it felt both amazing and surreal as I stood and cheered for Manny Machado as he was introduced to the crowd at Camden Yards – amazing because of how excited everyone was for Manny to get his shot with the big club and surreal because I’m 20 years old myself and to see someone my age achieve something so great was an awesome experience.

The 20 year-old shortstop, ranked as the number 11 prospect in all of MLB, made his debut at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, going 2-4 with a triple and a run scored.

It felt right cheering for this guy as he was announced over the PA system to a crowd of twenty-some thousand last night. If Machado had any  butterflies about making his first start in the show, let alone at a position he had played only twice in his minor league career, you wouldn’t have known it as he displayed the type of calmness and composure that you see in a seasoned veteran.

This type of debut is slowly getting more common as we have seen Mike Trout getting a late call up for the Angels at age 20 and Bryce Harper this season getting the call at the age of 19. Both have found success in the majors and Machado appears as if he’s going to have no problem settling into his new home in Baltimore.

Not to put pressure on the twenty year-old who has been regarded as the “savior” of this franchise since he was 18 but it is fair to say that if the Orioles plan to make any type of playoff push and possibly even a playoff run they are going to need Machado to produce. Even more important than his bat will be how he handles the move to third base. All season long we have seen error after error after error from the variety of third baseman that Buck has trotted out in hopes of finally finding the one guy who can solidify the hot corner. If Machado can field his position, which i believe he can, he will help this team significantly just by fielding alone.

Knocking the occasional triple wont hurt either.

Chen's poor first inning spoils Machado's debut

August 10, 2012

AP Photo

Last night, in front of an announced crowd of 21,226 at Camden Yards, the Orioles’ top position prospect Manny Machado made his big league debut.

Unfortunately, before many of those 21+ thousand fans had even had a chance to find their seats, the Birds were in a 4-0 hole.

Starter Wei-Yin Chen, who has been the team’s most reliable starter all season, was touched up for four runs before he recorded even a single out. Chen allowed a solo home run to Eric Alex Gordon on the second pitch he threw, then gave up consecutive singles and another home run, this time to Billy Butler.

It certainly wasn’t the way Chen wanted to present himself on such a big day in Birdland. On top of being “Manny Machado Day,” it was also Chen’s own day in a way, as fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards were treated to free Wei-Yin Chen t-shirts. The shirts say “Orioles” and “Chen” in Chen’s native Mandarin Chinese symbols.

Photo: @DashingDave314

The O’s starter settled down just a bit for a few innings after the first, but in the end was still charged with 7 runs on 9 hits in 4 2/3 innings. In the end, the O’s would manage only two runs in an 8-2 defeat.

Now for the good news:

How did the O’s finally get on the board? Well, thanks in large part to Mr. Machado.

In his second big league at bat, after falling behind 0-2 in the count, Machado laced a line drive into the right center field gap that would ultimately roll all the way to the wall. After it looked like he would cruise into second base with an easy double, Machado instead turned on another gear and sprinted for third base, making it without even drawing a throw.

Machado’s first career hit – just like the Birds’ last highly-hyped positional prospect Matt Wieters – was a triple.

He would cross the plate on Nick Markakis’s sacrifice fly, scoring his first career run.

Machado added an infield single later, finishing his night 2-for-4.

The young man acquitted himself well in his first MLB action. Now it’s on to the next one as the Birds try to get back to their winning ways tonight against Kansas City.

Miguel Gonzalez (3-2, 3.80) takes the hill for the O’s against KC’s Luke Hochevar (7-9, 5.04).

 

Manny Machado to make MLB debut Thursday, Bundy to Bowie

August 8, 2012

With O’s fans still riding high just hours after the team completed a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners – a game that included the feel-good story of pitcher Steve Johnson recording his first major league win 23 years to the day after his father did the same with the Birds – the organization shocked everybody with the following announcement:

ORIOLES PLAN TO SELECT CONTRACT OF INF MANNY MACHADO FOR TOMORROW NIGHT’S GAME

The Orioles announced after tonight’s game that they plan to select the contract of INF MANNY MACHADO from Double-A Bowie before tomorrow night’s game against Kansas City. He will be making his major league debut.

Machado, 20, has batted .266/.352/.438 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI in 109 games with the Baysox this season, including a .275/.365/.505 line in 91 at-bats since the All-Star break.

The Orioles’ first round selection (#3 overall) in the 2010 First Year Player Draft out of Brito Private School in Miami, FL, Machado came into 2012 rated as the #2 prospect in the Orioles organization and the #11 prospect overall by Baseball America. He played in the MLB Futures Game in Kansas City in July, going 1-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored.

Machado was a 2011 South Atlantic League All-Star. Machado entered play on Wednesday a career .263/.343/.428 hitter in 218 minor league games over three seasons (2010-2012).

Honestly, nobody saw this one coming. The team has won five games in a row and the offense seems to be largely coming alive (finally). J.J. Hardy obviously isn’t going anywhere. While Machado could be used to give Hardy a day off here and there down the stretch, it seems more likely that he will see the majority of his playing time at third base.

While Wilson Betemit has had a strong left-handed bat all season for the Birds, his defense at the hot corner has left quite a bit to be desired. Robert Andino can play a much better third base than Betemit can, but his offensive skills aren’t up to par with what a contending team needs from a corner infielder.

So what is Buck’s plan for Machado? Play him at 3B against only left-handed pitching? Play him every day and force Betemit to DH? In the latter case, that would force Chris Davis out to left field, after he’s been settling fairly nicely into the DH role here the past couple weeks.

If Davis moves out to left field with Machado at 3B, it would seem that the O’s will only upgrade their infield defense at the expense of their outfield defense, now that Nate McLouth can play LF.

And why would the organization bring up their second-highest ranked prospect only to sit the bench or play in a platoon role? Wouldn’t he be much better served to continue to rack up at bats in the minors?

I don’t have answers to these questions. Like I said, everybody was caught off guard by this, me included. Let’s just sit back and watch what unfolds.

In other news, the team also announced that their top-ranked prospect, pitcher Dylan Bundy, will make the move to AA Bowie. Bundy is scheduled to pitch the first game of a double-header next Tuesday at Prince George’s Stadium. First pitch is at 6:05.

GIF: Mark Reynolds and the most ridiculous swing EVER (now with more views!)

August 8, 2012

Lost in the hoopla of yesterday’s huge extra-inning comeback win by the Birds was this little bit of insanity.

Game situation: Bottom of the 11th inning, game tied 7-7. Mark Reynolds leads off for the Orioles, facing Oliver Perez of Seattle. Two ball, two strike count.

And away we go:

h/t Orioles Nation

h/t Lookout Landing

I was chatting on GMail with a buddy at the time. Here are our reactions to the above:

Chop: bahahahahahaha
 me: hahahahaha
 Chop: omg
  wtf
 me: that’s gonna be a great gif

And thank you, internet. It is now a great gif.

I don’t want to bag on the sheriff too much – his defense late in Monday’s game is a big reason why the O’s have a chance for the 3-game sweep tonight.

But man…that swing.

As @biggsnake on twitter said (and this is where we ask our younger readers to avert their eyes):

“He looked like he was trying to kill a fly with a dildo.”

Pretty much.

Mark Reynolds – most gif-able Oriole.

Another day, another ridiculous extra-inning comeback win

August 8, 2012

The Orioles continue to show a level of fight that we’re not used to seeing from our Baltimore baseball club (in recent years, anyway; this year’s squad has done this kind of thing time and time again).

Trailing 5-0 going into the bottom of the second inning, and 7-2 going into the bottom of the sixth, the Birds rallied thanks in part to home runs from Matt Wieters (a pair of solo shots) and J.J. Hardy (a clutch 3-run bomb) to tie the Seattle Mariners at seven runs apiece after seven innings.

The comeback erased what had started out as another awful outing from Zach Britton (who was demoted to AAA Norfolk following the game), in which the young lefty once again put his team in a big hole early and was removed in the fifth inning.

Following Britton’s departure, the bullpen – as it has been all year – was absolutely stellar, as Kevin Gregg, Troy Patton, Luis Ayala, Matt Lindstrom, Pedro Strop, and Darren O’Day combined for NINE scoreless innings.

Two defensive miscues in the first by the Birds – one by Britton and one by frying-pan-mitt Wilson Betemit – led directly to a 3-run homer by the Mariners’ Kyle Seager. Another home run in the second, this time by Miguel Olivo, followed by three consecutive Seattle singles staked the M’s to that early 5-0 lead.

Undeterred, the O’s battled back once again, scoring two in the second, one in the sixth, and four in the seventh.

If one were to nit-pick the win, a complaint could be made about the fact that, after tying up the game in the seventh, the Birds went quietly in the eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth innings before finally taking advantage of the opportunity for the walk-off victory.

As a result of that, Buck Showalter was running extremely low on options out of his bullpen, saying after the game that it was “getting close to Chris Davis time.” Other roster moves will likely be made today to bolster a pen that is running very near empty.

Still, it’s much better to have this problem after a win than it would be if the O’s had lost in 14 innings. The extra-inning win was the Orioles’ ridiculous 12th consecutive such win in 2012, just two behind the all-time single season record.

The victory was also B’More’s 59th of the year, and at 59-51 they are now just 3.5 games behind the Yankees in the A.L. East, and are in a three-way tie for the second wild card spot.

Incredible.

Both teams having very depleted bullpens, they now look for strong outings from their starters tonight as Steve Johnson makes his first MLB start, opposing former Oriole Kevin Millwood (4-9, 4.01).

Hopefully tomorrow morning we’ll be breaking out our ridiculous “sweeping O’s fan man” graphic here at the Nest.

Who gets the nod in a one-game Playoff?

August 7, 2012

(Editor’s note: Matt might be getting a little ahead of himself here. Still, I for one am just thrilled to be having these types of discussions in August, so I have no reservations about posting this.) 

After Monday night’s games, the Orioles are just 0.5 games out of the second wild card spot, and one full game out of the first. Following a strong road trip and opening what appears on paper to be a fairly easy home stand in which they will face off against the Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals and the basement-dwelling Boston Red Sox with a win, the O’s are in a great spot. They have a golden opportunity to gain ground on the Yankees and either keep pace with or pass some other teams currently in the mix for a wild card berth.

If everything goes well for the Orioles and maybe some things go not so well for a few other teams such as the Angels, Athletics, and Tigers the Orioles could see themselves holding onto one of the two wildcard spots and possibly draw withing striking distance of New York for the division crown.

I know there is still pleanty of baseball to played but lets assume all things go in favor of the birds and they find themselves in possession of a wild card come the end of the season. Who would you like to see start that crucial one game playoff to earn a spot in the divisional round?

Just like any other starter for the Orioles this year it seems like you could plug in anyone and get a fantastic start or a not so great start as starting pitching has been fairly inconsistent to say the least this season.

Do you send the Orioles newfound ace in Jason Hammel? Assuming he is healthy come September and gets a few starts under his belt he may be the popular choice. But coming off an injury in which he misses almost 2 months could have a disastrous result if any part of that injury is still lingering.

How about Tommy Hunter? Hunter has the most playoff experience of any Orioles starting pitcher and that is deffiently a bonus. The only question is will we get the good, strike-throwing inning-eating Tommy Hunter or will we get the Tommy Hunter who gives up 3 or 4 homers and knocks himself out of the game in the 5th inning?

My vote goes for the southpaw rookie out of Chinese Taipei, Wei-Yin Chen. Chen has been fantastic all year and although hes not an “ace” he has been our most consistant starter and proved to be the stopper in the lineup. No matter what kind of “slump” the Os seem to be in when Chen gets the nod to take the mound it seems that the Orioles forget their struggles and rally behind Chen as he has shut down potent offense after potent offense.  Why Chen has had so much success in his first season is anyone’s guess, especially a rookie season pitching in the AL East. Maybe its because he’s a lefty, maybe its because hes a rookie and not many teams have seen him before, maybe its because he has ice in his veins and never loses his composure, or maybe its a combination of all this and some Oriole Magic mixed in.

(Editor’s note: Or maybe there are some numbers that justify it.)

Chen has gone through the gauntlet and proved he’s got the stuff to battle with the best of them.  Chens has earned wins against the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, Braves, A’s and the Texas Rangers; all of which (aside from Boston) sit either in a playoff spot or are knocking on the door for one.

If the Orioles are able to earn themselves a game 163 I think Buck would be hard pressed to find a pitcher more deserving than Wei-Yin Chen to take the mound.

After a great road trip, O's need to win some games at home

August 6, 2012

After losing two of three to the Oakland Athletics at home last weekend, and facing what looked to be a bear of a road trip, things were looking a bit grim for our O’s.

Instead though, the Birds managed to continue the road successes that have marked this surprising 2012 season by taking two of three from both the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.

After the 4-2 road trip, the O’s now stand at 57-51, still six games over .500, and just 0.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot (and one full game out of the first) in the American League.

The Orioles now have a record of 32-25 (a .561 winning percentage) away from OPACY in 2012, which is good for the best road record in the American League. Only the Washington Nationals (33-20) and Cincinnati Reds (30-22; .576) have better road records in MLB.

To really remain contenders here over the season’s final two months though, Buck’s club needs to start figuring out how to win games in front of the home crowd. They are a very mediocre 25-26 in B’More, which is pulling down the old winning percentage.

Fortunately, they are about to embark on a 10-game homestand against American League cellar-dwellers. First up is Seattle – the M’s are in last place in the AL West at 51-59; however, they’ve (of course) won eight of their last 10 coming into Baltimore. The good news is that the O’s will miss Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez, who pitched on Saturday.

Following the Mariners, the AL Central’s punching bags, the Kansas City Royals, come to town. KC’s 45-62 record is the worst in the American League. The O’s really need to win at least three of those four games.

The home stand wraps up with three games against the Boston Red Sox, who are currently in fourth place in the AL East, just a half-game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Sox looked to be getting a little hot last week, only to go into Minnesota crap the bed at home over the weekend and lose three of four to the lowly Twins.

The table is set very nicely for the O’s to turn around their home fortunes over the next week-and-a-half. That 25-26 home mark should absolutely be something like 32-29 after these next 10 games; if it’s not then the only conclusion to make is that the Birds let a golden opportunity slip away. While it won’t be detrimental to their postseason hopes as long as they can continue their stellar play on the road, anything less than a 6-4 homestand against this group of teams has to be considered a huge disappointment.

Things aren’t exactly easy tonight, as Jason Vargas takes the hill for Seattle. Vargas is 12-7 with a 3.71 ERA, and has won his last five starts dating back to July 7.

But hey, the O’s won on Sunday in Tampa in a game started by David Price, so they shouldn’t be intimidated.

Chris Tillman (4-1, 2.70) takes the hill for the O’s, and he’s won his last three starts. As long as he can get through the first inning – which has been his bugaboo – he should definitely give the Birds a chance to win.

Get out to the Yard and support your O’s, Baltimore. It’s time for some good ol’ home cookin’.

Baltimore, Are You Not Entertained?

July 25, 2012

Quick question to start things off. Will everyone who predicted that this coming series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland Athletics this week would have serious playoff implications please raise their hands?

Now put your hand down because no one would ever predict something that crazy.

Predictions aside the O’s and the A’s are right in the thick of things as the A’s currently hold the final wildcard spot while the Orioles sit only 2.5 games back (as does seemingly every other team in the American League). These clubs have been two of the best stories in baseball this season. Both teams have seen highs and lows over the course of the season and while the Oakland Athletics are white hot the Orioles seem to be warming up at the perfect time.

This is going to be a very telling series for both clubs as the winner will have a much better chance of earning that final wildcard spot.

Now a wildcard spot would be awesome for the O’s and I’m sure Baltimore would go into a frenzy just to see a game 163 but lets not forget what our expectations were at the beginning of the year. Many of us had our beloved birds pegged for 90+ losses and you would be hard pressed to find any fan in Baltimore that would declare an 82-80  season as a disappointment. After 14 consecutive losing seasons fans want to see a winner. It doesn’t matter if they finish 1 game over .500 or 20; the point is this city is desperate for a winning season.

So I ask you Baltimore, are you not entertained? Your Orioles have bit, scratched and clawed their way to a 51-47 record in hopes of finally delivering this City a much needed winning season. I want to see a playoff game as much as anyone else; especially as a 20 year old who cant remember the last time this town saw winning baseball.

The Orioles are capable of earning that playoff spot they so badly want, I think they can do it, but if they don’t it wont be the end of the world. As fans who have stuck by this team through so much this past decade and half we should have nothing but positives to say about this team as the players, manager, GM, and even the owner have shown progress and promise that this whole “winning” thing is not just a fluke but a mindset that will continue to grow in our ball club and our city.

So enjoy the final stretch and maybe we will see a little more Oriole magic; who knows what happens when you get into game 163 but wouldn’t it make for a great story if they did something magical?


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