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Five things Orioles need to do to play longer in 2015


Five things Orioles need to do to play longer in 2015

The Orioles open the season’s second half in Detroit on Friday night. To paraphrase Buck Showalter, if they want to play more, they’ll have to play better.

What are five things they’ll need to do to play in the postseason?

1) Hit with runners in scoring position

According to Elias, the Orioles are last in the major leagues this month with runners in scoring position. They’re just 5-for-70 (.071). The next worst team, San Diego is batting .145.

Until this month, the Orioles were doing quite well at it. Part of the problem is that some of their key hitters just aren’t hitting let alone with runners on base.

So far, J.J. Hardy is batting just .125, Chris Davis .211, Adam Jones .222 and Manny Machado .231.

All of them are better hitters than that, and they’re likely to hit more robustly in the second half.

2) Get deeper starts

No Oriole has thrown a complete game, and no starter has even appeared in the ninth inning.

With Zach Britton pitching so brilliantly, there’s no need to risk a starter for the sake of a complete game, but more starts that last at least seven innings would be a help.

Only Wei-Yin Chen has consistently pitched well into games. Nine of Chen’s 17 starts have lasted seven or more, and he has four eight-inning starts. In one of them, on July 1 against Texas, he could have easily pitched the ninth because he had thrown 87 pitches, but Showalter decided to conserve him.

Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman have also started 17 times. Jimenez has seven seven-inning starts (one of them lasted eight), but Tillman has only gone seven three times.

Five of Miguel Gonzalez’s first 10 starts went seven innings, but none of his last six have. Four have been five innings or less.

Mike Wright has two, and Bud Norris one, giving the Orioles 27 seven-inning starts in 88 games. That must improve.

[MORE ORIOLES Orioles' five biggest underachievers of the first half] 

3) Get consistent production from corner outfielders

Steve Pearce and Travis Snider have both been disappointing though Snider’s 325 on-base percentage is fourth on the club behind only Manny Machado, Jimmy Paredes and Adam Jones.

Snider essentially replaced Nick Markakis in right field, and believe it or not has more home runs (3 to 0) and a higher WAR (1.4 to 1.1) than Markakis.

Realistically, Snider’s production has been wanting. He went 41 games without a home run and 20 without an RBI.

The recent move of Davis from first to right has beefed up production there, but has cost the team offensively at first as Chris Parmelee has cooled off from his hot start.

4) Hope that Zach Britton and Darren O’Day stay strong

Britton and O’Day were justly rewarded with All-Star Game invitations.

In May 2014, Britton was moved into the closer’s role and converted 33 of 37 opportunities.
This year, he’s been even better with 23 saves in 24 chances, and his only blown save ended in a win.

At 32, O’Day is having a marvelous season. He’s 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA and has allowed barely five hits per nine innings, and for a pitcher who’s not considered a strikeout guy, has fanned 12 per nine innings. His strikeout/walk ratio is a phenomenal 5.63.

It would be hard to believe that both could replicate the first 88 games in the final 76, but the Orioles need them to.

5) Concentrate on 2015, but don’t forget about 2016

That doesn’t mean trading away top-level prospects for a player who might help. It means riding with the seven free agents unless the team heads south the next two weeks.
Chen, Davis, Norris, O’Day, Pearce, Tommy Hunter and Matt Wieters are all free agents, and there’s a chance none will return in 2016.

Try and get the most out of them and hope they can help the team play beyond Oct. 4. After that, Chen, Davis and Wieters will probably get qualifying offers, reject them and once they sign elsewhere, the Orioles will get three good draft choices.

If the Orioles are still around .500 in two weeks, that doesn’t eliminate them. They’re not likely to get a great package for two months of Chen, Davis and Wieters.

Pearce hasn’t had a good season, and it’s possible he won’t a situation more attractive.

O’Day has done the most to improve his market value this season, and at first looked to be the one most likely to stay. But, would the Orioles offer him a three-year deal? He’s likely to get one elsewhere, even at 33.

He has a 22-6 record with a 1.91 ERA in four seasons with the Orioles. O’Day fits in brilliantly with this team, and the moment the 2015 season ends, they must make sure he’s back for 2016 and beyond.

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

Cal Ripken Jr.'s 25-acre, 8,545 square-foot home went up for auction this past Saturday and the highest bidder was......Adam Jones? 

The center fielder is purchasing the Orioles legend's former Reisterstown, Md. estate, according to The Athletic

Placed on the market in 2016 for $12.5 million, Ripken reduced the price to $9.7 million last year but was still unable to find a willing buyer. The estate was eventually put up for auction and sold to Jones for an undisclosed amount. 

The six bedroom home has 10 full bathrooms, a movie theater, a gym that overlooks an indoor basketball court, a pool and a baseball field with batting cages, a locker room and soaking tubs. One of the tubs was taken from Memorial Stadium and used by Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, but Ripken is keeping that one. 

What makes this purchase even more interesting is that Jones will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but that does not mean he plans on re-signing with the team. The 32-year old, who is in his last year of a six-year $85.5 million contract, is known to dip his toes in real estate investments and his wife, Audie Fugett, is a Baltimore native. 

The deal is scheduled to close on June 11. 


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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense


David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

BOSTON -- One strike away from a four-hit shutout, David Price happily settled for a complete game and his strongest outing of the season.

Price struck out eight and held Baltimore to five hits, including two in the ninth when the Orioles broke up the shutout before the Boston left-hander finished them off in a 6-2 victory for the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"He was amazing," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was outstanding. You saw it. Bad swings, up, down, in and out, changeup, cutter, sinkers ... that was fun to watch."

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, and Xander Bogaerts homered with two on during a four-run fifth, giving Price more than enough cushion against the struggling Orioles.

Price (4-4) struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He cruised through the first eight innings before Andrew Susac led off the ninth with a double, the first Baltimore player to reach second base in the game.

Manny Machado spoiled the shutout bid with a two-out homer, but Price finished off Baltimore on Jonathan Schoop's pop-up to center as the Red Sox improved to 4-0 against Baltimore by taking the makeup game that was rained out on Patriots' Day.

"They're a free-swinging team," said Price, who threw just 95 pitches. "You can go out there and do that or you can go out there for three innings and give up a bunch of runs."

Danny Valencia had a pair of hits for the punchless Orioles, who have lost three of four and have the second-fewest wins in the American League. Valencia nearly had a double in the fifth, but got thrown out at second by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, one of several strong defensive plays that helped Price go the distance.

Hanley Ramirez also caught a foul pop on the top step of Boston's dugout in the second and Mookie Betts ran down a fly ball that was headed to the wall in right.

"The defensive plays that I had today, it makes everything a lot easier," Price said.

Kevin Gausman (3-3) went 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing six runs and eight hits while striking out six and walking two. He was pulled after Bogaerts drove a high fastball out to left with two men on during Boston's four-run fifth.

"We just got into some sticky situations where we just had to dig ourselves out of a hole and we just couldn't," Susac said.

The Orioles also weren't happy with the strike zone, which Susac said forced Gausman to throw some pitches the Red Sox pounced upon.

Manager Buck Showalter agreed with his catcher.

"I'm very biased, but I didn't think he got a fair shake tonight," Showalter said. "There were a lot of pitches that could have and should have gone his way."