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Steve Johnson signs with Texas, thanks Orioles fans


Steve Johnson signs with Texas, thanks Orioles fans

Twice in two days, now former Orioles named Steve took to Twitter to say good-bye and thank you.

On Thursday night, it was Steve Pearce, who signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, and 24 hours later, Steve Johnson tweeted his message of gratitude after signing a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers.

Johnson’s signing, which was first reported by MASNsports.com, includes an invitation to spring training.

“Thank you Baltimore! I want to thank the Orioles organization for the last 7 years. I had the opportunity to play for awesome coaches, teammates and eventually my hometown fans. Being part of the team to bring playoff baseball back to Baltimore in my debut year is something that will always be special to me. I’ll never forget it! Baltimore will always be home but I’m excited for a fresh start with the Texas Rangers,” he wrote.

Within two months, two native Baltimoreans, Johnson and yet another Steve, Clevenger, leave their hometown teams. Clevenger was sent to Seattle for Mark Trumbo and C.J. Riefenhauser.

Like Clevenger, Johnson was not originally drafted by the Orioles. The son of the popular former Orioles pitcher and now broadcaster, Dave Johnson came home in July 2009 when he arrived from Los Angeles in the George Sherrill trade.

Johnson was part of the magical 2012 run, going 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 games. He started four games and won three of them.

Hampered by injuries and ineffectiveness, Johnson hasn’t had success in the big leagues since. He was 1-1 with a 7.47 ERA in nine games in 2013 and last year had a 10.13 ERA in six games.

Johnson’s time in the Orioles organization nearly ended shortly after it began. He was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, and in Dec. 2009, the Giants selected him, but he didn’t make what turned out to be a World Series winning team, and was returned to Baltimore in March 2010.

It’s best for Steve that he gets an opportunity to pitch somewhere else, and here’s a hope that he’ll prosper with Texas.

RELATED: Here are five important spring dates for Orioles

Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo, who pitched for the Rangers last year, remains unsigned. It’s becoming increasingly clear that if the Orioles want Gallardo badly enough, they can sign him.

He’s one of three remaining free agents whose signing would require the Orioles to forfeit their first round draft pick: Ian Desmond and Dexter Fowler are the others.

On Friday, Howie Kendrick re-signed with the Dodgers for two years.

Doug Fister, who the Orioles had shown interest in, signed a one-year, $7 million contract, with the Houston Astros on Thursday.

The Astros had shown interest in Gallardo, too. So had Colorado, but those reports were considered overblown.

Losing the 14th pick, which could turn out to be the 13th if Desmond signs with Tampa Bay, is quite a deterrent.

The last time the Orioles lost their first round pick was in 2014 when they signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. That meant their first pick can in the third round, and the pick, Brian Gonzalez had an awful year in Delmarva in 2015, going 4-9 with a 5.17 ERA.

Gonzalez, who was invited to minicamp in 2015, didn’t get another invitation for this year’s.

The Orioles’ fourth round pick, Pat Connaughton is seating on the bench for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers.

So far, only two players from that draft have distinguished themselves, David Hess and Tanner Scott, who were selected in the rounds following Connaughton.

The Orioles need another starter, but they also need badly to replace some of the prospects who were sent away last year when they tried to fill another hole, right field.

A fifth starter is important, but if Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman don’t all pitch well, that fifth starter won’t matter very much.

It’s obvious that in the coming Collective Bargain Agreement talks that the qualifying offer rules will be a contentious topic. This year, a record 20 players received qualifying offers, and for the first time, three players took them including Matt Wieters.

So far, eight of the 17 who signed have returned to their previous team, and it wouldn’t be crazy to see Fowler (Cubs) and Gallardo (Rangers) re-sign. Desmond is not coming back to the Nationals.

MORE ORIOLES: New Ray Pearce thanks Orioles fans

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Orioles bats stay silent against Cleveland

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Orioles bats stay silent against Cleveland

BALTIMORE -- Mike Clevenger pitched a two-hitter in his first career complete game, and the Cleveland Indians hit three solo homers off Chris Tillman in a 4-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Jose Ramirez went 3 for 4 with his team-leading fifth home run. Yan Gomes and Yonder Alonso also went deep for Cleveland, which came into the game ranked second-to-last in the AL in runs and last in batting average.

Clevenger (2-0) hardly needed the offensive support. Pitching on seven days' rest, the right-hander struck out three, walked two and allowed only one runner past first base.

The only two hits he allowed were singles by Manny Machado in the fourth inning and Chance Sisco in the fifth.

It was Clevenger's 35th career start. His previous longest outing was 7 1/3 innings, earlier this month against Kansas City.

While Clevenger is unbeaten in 11 starts since July 31, Tillman has experienced an opposite fate. This was his 22nd straight start without a victory, dating back to his first outing last season.

Tillman (0-4) gave up four runs, eight hits and a walk in six innings. The three home runs were one more than he yielded in his first three starts this season.

Michael Brantley hit a run-scoring groundout in the first inning and Gomes connected in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.

The Orioles put runners on the corners with one out in the fourth, their lone threat against Clevenger, who responded by retiring Tim Beckham on a short fly to left and getting Anthony Santander to ground out.

Ramirez led off the sixth with a drive to left, and Alonso hit a two-out shot that landed on Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard.

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Orioles pitching falls apart as Tigers complete sweep in Detroit

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Orioles pitching falls apart as Tigers complete sweep in Detroit

DETROIT - Leonys Martin hit his first big league grand slam, Jeimer Candelario had four hits and three RBIs, and the Detroit Tigers beat Baltimore 13-8 Thursday to extend the Orioles' losing streak to six.

Jordan Zimmermann (1-0) gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, allowing two home runs to Manny Machado and one to Chris Davis. Zimmermann was pitching for the first time since being hit in the jaw by a line drove off the bat of Cleveland's Jason Kipnis on April 11.

Alex Cobb (0-2) made his second start after signing a $57 million, four-year contract in spring training and his ERA rose to 15.43. He allowed seven runs - five earned - and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Machado had four RBIs for the Orioles, who were outhit 18-14 in the game and outscored 23-15 in the three-game sweep.

Victor Martinez hit an RBI single in the first, but Davis put Baltimore ahead with a two-run homer in the second, his sixth hit and fourth homer in 10 career at-bats against Zimmermann.

Detroit went ahead for good with four runs in the bottom half after third baseman Tim Beckham's throwing error allowed James McCann to reach base leading off. Jose Iglesias hit a two-run triple, Miguel Cabrera had an RBI single and Nick Castellanos a run-scoring groundout.

Machado's homer in the third cut Baltimore's deficit to 5-2, but Candelario's two-run homer extended the lead to 7-2 in the bottom half. Martin homered off Mike Wright Jr. in a five-run fifth.