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Pitchers rocked, bats silenced as Orioles drubbed by Mariners

Pitchers rocked, bats silenced as Orioles drubbed by Mariners

BALTIMORE — Ubaldo Jimenez struck out the first batter he faced plus the final two in the first inning. It’s what he did in between that helped lead to his third loss in five starts.

Everything that followed ensured the Baltimore Orioles would start a new streak, the losing kind.

While Jimenez and reliever Brian Matusz labored recording outs, Mariners starter Wade Miley dominated the Orioles' bats and Nelson Cruz blasted his former team with a home run and five RBIs as Seattle won 10-0 in the opener of a three-game series.

The standings indicated a matchup of American League division leaders. In terms of the performance, that equaled false advertising from the Orioles side. 

Coming off Sunday’s 6-5 loss against Detroit, the Orioles (23-14) fell behind 2-0 in the first inning and fell apart in the fifth as the AL West-leading Mariners (22-16) scored five runs. Baltimore had not lost two straight games since the last day of April and first day of May against the Chicago White Sox. Seattle entered on a three-game losing streak.

Jimenez (2-4) allowed six runs – including two just four batters into the game — on five hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings. Matusz stood out by making Jimenez look effective. The lefty gave up four runs on five hits including home runs to Kyle Seager and Cruz, who had three hits against his former team. 

"Just command," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the root cause behind his starter's woes before expanding that notion to others. "Command was a challenge for us tonight."

Miley (4-2) cruised throughout his six innings of work. He didn't’t allow a hit until Matt Wieters’ leadoff single in the fifth and just two overall. Two relievers followed, including ex-Oriole Steve Johnson, as Balitmore wasA shutout for the third time this season.

Entering the day, Baltimore stood in a virtual tie with Boston for first place in the A.L. East. The Orioles have spent all but four days in first place this season. The Red Sox played at Kansas City Tuesday. 

Jimenez’s ragged opening frame included two walks, his own throwing error, a wild pitch, a double, and Cruz’s two-run single before most of the sparse crowd settled in following day-long rain showers. The right-hander found a groove over the next three innings and then promptly lost it in the fifth after recording one out.

"A lot of times he gives up some damage early, but falls in place and gives us a chance," Showalter said of Jimenez. "I thought that was going to happen tonight. There in the fifth, it just left him again."

After a base hit and walk, RBI singles by Robinson Cano and Cruz chased Jimenez, who has pitched fewer than six innings in three of his last four starts. His ERA is now an unsightly 6.00 over eight starts. Frequent early struggles haven't helped.

"It was tough," Jimenez said of the 34-pitch first inning. "They didn’t make it easy for me. They had a good approach. They were hitting the ball to the opposite way instead of trying to hit home runs."

The Mariners saved that approach for Matusz, who entered and immediately gave up a three-run blast to Seager. Cruz mashed a two-run home run in the sixth.

The left-hander has allowed at least one run in three of his last four appearances and now sports a 12.00 ERA.

"It’s been frustrating for him and us because we know what he’s been capable of in the past," Showalter said. "Brian just hasn’t found his step yet. It’s a job we’re going to need him to do what he’s capable of doing."

Chris Davis had Baltimore's only other hit off Miley, a sixth-inning double one out after Manny Machado walked, but both were stranded. Adam Jones went 0-for-3, snapping his eight-game hitting streak.

"I just think he had his stuff working early. He didn’t really miss too much," outfielder Joey Rickard said of Miley after going hitless in three at-bats with a walk. "He’s a competitor. It was tough for us to kind of get into a rhythm."

That hasn't been an issue much of this season. Baltimore's longest losing streak is a mere three games. Losing Wednesday's contest would match that mark.

"I just think it’s the vibes in this clubhouse," the rookie Rickard said of why the Orioles have avoided lengthy slides this season. "The veteran guys have been around. As soon as the game is over, you don’t dwell on it too much and get ready for the next one."

Game two of the series pits Baltimore Chris Tillman (5-1, 2.58 ERA) against Seattle's Taijuan Walker (2-2, 2.63) Wednesday night.

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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."