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Why Bastardo could be key pickup for Orioles

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Why Bastardo could be key pickup for Orioles

Earlier this morning, ESPN.com reported that the Orioles had made contact with left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo.

That may have struck some as odd because the bullpen seems to be an Orioles strength.

It’s not as odd as it may seem, and it actually makes perfect sense.

No, it’s not a case of keeping up with the Yankees. Last week, New York added Aroldis Chapman to an already strong bullpen. Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller make for an excellent trio, though the new acquisition may have to serve a suspension due to a charge of domestic abuse.

It’s an admission by the Orioles that while they may not have the strongest starting staff they could have a bullpen to help them compete.

With Wei-Yin Chen, Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy the only name starters still available, the Orioles may well be locked out of that market. If they go the one-year contract route with someone like Mat Latos, they’re going to need many strong arms in the bullpen.

Bastardo is one of the more underpublicized free agents around, but a close look at his stats shows you why the Orioles, along with the Mets, are eager to have at him.

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Last year, when he turned 30, Bastardo turned in a superlative year with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA with a WHIP of 1.134. He allowed barely six hits per nine innings and only four home runs in 57 1/3 innings.

Bastardo does walk hitters. He gives up more than four walks per nine innings, but strikes out 11 per nine. That’s a ratio better than Brad Brach’s, and Brach is considered one of the Orioles’ strengths.

Last year, Bastardo held right-handed hitters to a .210 average, and left-handers hit just .138 against him.

The Orioles have two left-handers in the bullpen, Zach Britton and Brian Matusz. Last year, right-handed hitters had a .243 average against Britton while lefties hit .145. Right-handers hit .244 against Matusz, and left-handers .186.

A bullpen of Bastardo, Brach, Britton, Matusz, Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day would be one of the best in baseball and could help make up for shorter starts.

Last year, Orioles starters completed seven or more innings just 47 times, and Chen, who is unlikely to return, had the most, 12.

They certainly hope to make up some of those starts from Kevin Gausman (five starts of seven innings or more), Miguel Gonzalez (seven) and Chris Tillman (eight).

But, if the starts are short again, and Bastardo joins the bullpen, it may make for a much more competitive pitching staff.

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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.

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Orioles fall in Detroit after wild 8th and 9th innings

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Orioles fall in Detroit after wild 8th and 9th innings

DETROIT -- Dixon Machado came to the plate with only one big league homer to his name, but the way this game was going, anything seemed possible.

"Walking to the plate I was thinking, `What if I hit a homer right here?'" the Detroit infielder said. "He threw me a fastball away but when he came in with a pitch I was ready for it and I just hit it hard."

Machado led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run , capping a wild final two innings and lifting the Tigers over the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 on Wednesday. Detroit led 2-1 before each team scored three runs in the eighth and one in the ninth.

Baltimore's Luis Sardinas tied it with a solo shot off Shane Greene (1-0) in the top of the ninth, but then the 26-year-old Machado hit a line drive off Pedro Araujo (1-2) that cleared the fence in left field. It was his second homer in 299 big league at-bats.

The game was moved from 6:40 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. in anticipation of bad weather. Although it was a sparse crowd, to say the least , the sun did come out, and those fans in attendance were treated to quite a few homers.

Miguel Cabrera went deep on his 35th birthday, and Jeimer Candelario and John Hicks also homered for Detroit. Hicks hit a three-run shot in the eighth that put the Tigers up 5-4.

Danny Valencia hit a solo homer for the Orioles, who have lost five straight.

Detroit's Matthew Boyd allowed a run, two hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out six. Baltimore's Kevin Gausman allowed two runs and nine hits in six-plus innings.

Cabrera's solo homer put the Tigers up 2-1 in the sixth, but Manny Machado and Chris Davis hit RBI singles as part of a three-run rally by Baltimore in the eighth. The drive by Davis was nearly a home run, but it hit the wall and stayed in play.

"There were obviously a couple bad breaks -- our ball hits the top of the fence and comes back and their ball goes over -- but there were four or five breaks we got during the game on bounces or pitch calls," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "If you lose focus and start feeling sorry for yourselves, every team you play is going to take advantage and step on your throat."