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Orioles' five biggest underachievers of the first half


Orioles' five biggest underachievers of the first half

The Orioles’ first half was marked with significant disappointments. There were injuries galore, though with Wesley Wright’s removal from the 60-day disabled list and designation for assignment, only Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia remains on the DL.

Who were the most significant disappointments of the first half?

1) Bud Norris

Perhaps Norris wasn’t expected to duplicate his 15 wins from last season, but his 2-9 and 6.86 ERA in the first half was an abomination.

Norris will be a free agent this fall, and if he could have come close to replicating 2014’s stats, he could have gotten a three-year contract worth perhaps $40 million.

Now, he’ll be fortunate to get a one-year major league contract at half his current $8.8 million.

Things began going south after his first spring training start, which didn’t go well, and manager Buck Showalter suggested he needed some prodding.

Later in spring, he nearly was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. His awful spring didn’t get any better once the regular season started and he became infected with bronchitis.

Norris’ rehab assignment went longer than expected, and eventually lost his place in the starting rotation.

He was responsible for one of the better Orioles quotes of the season. After a rehab outing at Norfolk, Norris was asked about his next move. “You tell me and I’ll let you know. This Showalter guy, he keeps all of his chess pieces close, so I have no idea,” he said.

2) Steve Pearce

One of last year’s biggest surprises is one of 2015’s biggest disappointments. Pearce hit 21 home runs last year and batted .293.

This year, he’s hitting just .228 with seven homers.

Pearce is another one of the Orioles’ seven possible free agents, and like Norris, he may be costing himself a multi-year contract.

Unlike Norris, he’s been healthy all season. His attitude and work ethic are outstanding, and he’s well-liked by his teammates. He just hasn’t produced the way the Orioles were hoping. For $3.7 million, the Orioles were expecting more.

3) Chris Tillman

The Orioles were expecting Tillman to continue as their clear No. 1 starter, but he had an awful first two months of the season.

He hasn’t lost since May, and while he’s won his last four decisions, Tillman is still 6-7 with a 5.40 ERA.

The best news for Tillman is that Matt Wieters is back, and no one knows Tillman like Wieters. In the six Tillman starts that Wieters has caught, he’s struck out 22 and walked seven, and hasn’t lost any.

Ryan Lavarnway caught him three times, and Tillman walked 11 and struck out six.

Talk of an extension has ceased, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tillman continued trending up in the second half.

4) Alejandro De Aza

There was some chatter last fall that the Orioles weren’t going to tender De Aza a contract. In the end, they did, and they regret it.

De Aza became just the second Oriole to take the team to arbitration in Dan Duquette’s four years, and he lost, but ended up with $5 million.

He batted just .214 in 30 games before he was designated for assignment and eventually traded to Boston for minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel.

The Red Sox are paying $1 million of the $3 million owed, leaving the Orioles to pay $2 million.

While De Aza is hitting .323 in 31 games for the Red Sox, there didn’t seem to be any room for him with the Orioles.

5) Everth Cabrera

When Cabrera was signed in February, the move was heralded as insurance in case of injuries. In fact, three infielders, Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop, all spent time on the disabled list, and Cabrera was gone before all were back.

There was no demand for Cabrera, who had criminal charges in California pending yet the Orioles signed him for $2.4 million.

Cabrera made three errors in 27 games at shortstop when Hardy was hurt. He wasn’t awful in the field, but his bat was nonexistent, hitting just .208 with two extra-base hits in 29 games.

He didn’t get much of a chance to show off his speed and had just two stolen bases.

Two years ago, Cabrera was somehow a National League All-Star. A day after the All-Star Game and more than a month after his release, he’s still looking for work.


Lough is one of the fastest baserunners on the team, but has managed to be thrown out in four of his five stolen base attempts. He hit a dramatic homer against Boston in April, but little else.

McFarland has a 2.70 ERA yet has averaged more than two baserunners an inning. The Orioles still have high hopes for him.

MORE ORIOLES: Orioles designate lefty for assignment upon return from DL

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5


Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

For well over six seasons, Manny Machado's value to the Baltimore Orioles has been solely his ability to hit and play the field.

All that has changed, now that the Orioles are looking to receive a huge return for their All-Star shortstop in a blockbuster trade.

Machado homered before being removed on a wet day, Adam Jones hit a three-run double and Baltimore rallied past the Texas Rangers 6-5 Sunday.

Machado was taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Buck Showalter after a 26-minute rain delay. The move was designed to get their star player off a sloppy field, because the last-place Orioles are entertaining offers for Machado before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"Obviously there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that," Showalter said. "That had a lot to do with it."

Plain and simple, the Orioles can't afford to have Machado get hurt. Now, more than ever.

"A month ago he wouldn't have come out of the game," Showalter acknowledged. "We know that. You know it."

After being replaced by Jace Peterson, Machado sat in the dugout, wearing a sweatshirt and joking with his teammates.

"I don't know why (Showalter) did it or not," Machado said. "He just told me, `I'm going to take you out. You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.'"

Machado is Baltimore's lone representative for Tuesday's showcase. He has spent his entire career in Baltimore, but his contract expires after this season and the Orioles don't appear interested in locking him up with a long-term deal.

"I'm going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It's just always a blessing," Machado said. "I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization. I mean it's just been very incredible."

In a matchup between two teams staggering into the break, Texas got a first-inning grand slam from rookie Ronald Guzman but quickly gave the lead away in losing for the seventh time in nine games.

Machado ignited the comeback with his 24th homer, and Jones' bases-clearing double in the third off Mike Minor (6-6) put Baltimore ahead to stay.

"I'll be fine," said Minor, who yielded five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I'll reflect a little bit and then get back to it."

The game ended when Texas pinch-runner Carlos Tocci was thrown out at the plate on a double by Elvis Andrus. Running from first base, Tocci was tagged out by catcher Caleb Joseph following throws by right fielder Mark Trumbo and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

"Textbook," Showalter said.

Texas manager Jeff Bannister called it a "situation where they had to throw it on line to throw Tocci out. They executed well."

Tanner Scott (1-1), the first of four Baltimore relievers, earned his first big league win.

Zach Britton, another Oriole supposedly on the trading block, worked the ninth for his fourth save, the second in two days.

Texas broke on top when Miguel Castro issued three straight walks and Guzman sent a one-out drive over the right-field wall for his first career grand slam.

It was 4-1 in the third when Joseph hit an RBI double and Jones doubled down the left-field line following a walk to Machado.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the seventh to get the Rangers to 6-5.


Choo opened the game with a walk, extending to 51 his single-season club record streak of games reaching base via a hit, walk or HBP. ... Texas' Delino DeShields went 0 for 3, stretching his hitless drought to 28 at-bats. ... Jones snapped a 1-for-16 skid with his third-inning double.


Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara was given the day off after hurting his hand Saturday night in the outfield.

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (back) was set to make his final rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (oblique) and OF Craig Gentry (rib fracture) likely won't come off the DL before August, Showalter said. ... RHP Andrew Cashner (neck strain) will be activated from the DL on Saturday or Sunday to face Toronto, Showalter said.


Rangers: The rotation after the All-Star break, beginning Friday against visiting Cleveland: Martin Perez, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo and Minor.

Orioles: After the All-Star break, Dylan Bundy will start at Toronto on Friday night.

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Orioles unable to punch in final run late against Rangers


Orioles unable to punch in final run late against Rangers

BALTIMORE -- Ryan Rua had a tiebreaking, pinch-hit three-run homer in the seventh inning and the Texas Rangers held on to beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 Friday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Cole Hamels (5-8) won for the first time in almost a month, allowing four runs and five hits with three strikeouts and one walk over 6 1/3 innings in a matchup of last-place teams.

Rua broke a 1-1 deadlock with the first pinch-hit of his career, off rookie Tanner Scott. Nomar Mazara added an RBI double later that inning, which made it 5-1 and boosted Scott's ERA from 5.88 to 6.84 over 26 appearances.

Baltimore pulled within a run on Caleb Joseph's three-run double against reliever Jose Leclerc in the bottom half of the inning. The Orioles loaded the bases in the eighth but Jake Diekman got out of the jam by getting Chris Davis on a short pop out.

Keone Kela got the last three outs for his 23rd save.

The Orioles have lost 17 of 20 and fell to 14-33 at Camden Yards, the second-worst home mark in the majors behind Kansas City.

Joey Gallo gave the Rangers the lead when he led off the fifth with a home run off Alex Cobb (2-12). The Orioles answered in the bottom half when Adam Jones hit a double just inside the left-field foul line and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia.

Cobb left his previous start against the Twins in the sixth inning with a blister on his right index finger. He did not appear hampered by the injury and allowed two runs and six hits with three strikeouts and no walks over 6 1/3 innings.