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Orioles had their best week in city's worst week

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Orioles had their best week in city's worst week

In one of the more difficult weeks they’ll ever have to endure, the Baltimore Orioles thrived.

If you look back nine days, the Orioles won five of six games, and many of the problems that seemed to envelop the team have vanished.

On Apr. 25, the Orioles were 7-10. They hadn’t been four games under .500 since the end of the 2011 season.

Since then, their lives were uprooted by the riots.

Nine days ago, thousands of fans were prevented from entering the ballpark because of nearby unrest.

Wei-Yin Chen started a streak of six straight quality starts and the team recorded an improbable 5-4 10-inning win. They trailed 4-3 in the 10th, but Adam Jones’ triple, Chris Davis’ sacrifice fly and David Lough’s home run gave them the win.

Sunday was a quiet and beautiful day. A large crowd watched Bud Norris pitch his best game of the season and the Orioles score 18 runs, their most in more than nine years.

Monday was an awful and frightening day. With baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on hand, the game was postponed about 45 minutes before its scheduled start.

Only several hundred fans were in the park. Two entrances were open while the rest were secured, and the teams quickly left.

Tuesday’s game was postponed that morning, and later that day the announcement that Wednesday’s game would be played without a crowd and the weekend series move to Tampa Bay.

With the city much quieter, the ballpark had an eerie feel as the Orioles rushed through their fastest game in nearly five years, an 8-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Chris Davis threw balls into the empty stands and Caleb Joseph pantomimed signing an autograph for a nonexistent fan.

“Saturday Night Live” even jumped in with a skit based on the empty ballpark.

Zach Britton, one of the most thoughtful of all the Orioles, wondered why the Rays couldn’t have switched a series in July for the one the Orioles played there.

There were other considerations, too. The Orioles could have played in Washington or Philadelphia, but those weren’t seriously considered, and Ed Smith Stadium, their spring training site which barely holds 8,000 was considered, too.

Fans from Baltimore might have had a hard time traveling to Nationals Park because of the curfew, which was rescinded on Sunday. Washington would have been too close psychologically, too.

It was best the series was relocated. Fears that tiny crowds would be the story were quickly shot down. Nearly forty thousand, each crowd larger than the last, paid to sit in Tropicana Field’s lower deck.

Crowds on Saturday and Sunday were larger than for many Rays home games even though the series was hastily arranged.

It turns out that Ed Smith Stadium would have been too small for the crowds, and the Rays were reluctant to move their July 24-26 series to Baltimore. They had scheduled popular country singer Kacey Musgraves for that weekend and had a large advance sale.

I guess it would be like switching “Floppy Hat Night” or “Buck Showalter Garden Gnome Night.”

The best part of the weekend was that the Orioles won two of three, and pitched brilliantly even in Friday’s loss. Chris Tillman allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings.

Miguel Gonzalez was brilliant working into the eighth inning, and Chen’s two runs in six innings kept the team afloat until they could rally for three runs in the seventh.

Concerns about the bullpen have abated because the starters are able to work deeper in the games.

J.J. Hardy could play this weekend for the first time this season. He’s been given the go-ahead to play at least three rehab games at Bowie this week. Ryan Flaherty will join him.

If the Orioles choose to activate both this weekend, Rey Navarro will simply be optioned back to Norfolk, and then a tough decision could be forthcoming.

Everth Cabrera has an option remaining, and is hitting just .221. He has just two extra-base hits, both doubles. He’s struck out 18 times and walked just twice.

If Steve Pearce plays acceptably at second base, Cabrera could be sent down.

Lough is another possibility, but he has no options remaining and could be claimed on waivers.

He missed the first four games with a hamstring injury, and in the three weeks since his activation has started just three games.

Lough is helpful as a backup outfielder, has some speed, but with the current alignment has little hope of playing more. Cabrera played in the outfield during spring training, and Flaherty has played there in the past.

This week’s highlights are the Orioles first road trip against both the Mets and Yankees. Surprisingly, the Yankees lead the AL East by three games over the Orioles.

RELATED: [Jones' four hits help Orioles take two of three]

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2019 MLB Draft: When is the first round? How to watch, date, time, live stream, TV channel

2019 MLB Draft: When is the first round? How to watch, date, time, live stream, TV channel

The Orioles and Royals battled back and forth most of 2018 for the title of the worst team in baseball, and ultimately, Baltimore pulled "ahead" to earn the top pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Any number one pick is important, but this one feels especially crucial, as Peter Angelos and his sons elected not to renew the contracts of GM Dan Duquette or manager Buck Showalter.

With a new regime in place, the player selected by the Orioles to kick off this year's draft will not only have the usual high expectations placed on their shoulders, but will also serve as the face of Mike Elias' rebuild of the organization.

Thankfully for the Orioles, this year's draft class, while not particularly deep with talent, appears to be historically strong at the top. Adley Rutschman, the projected top choice by many, will be a top 10 prospect in all of baseball the day he signs, according to some evaluators. The top three to four players as a group rival that of any in the last several classes.

Whoever they end up choosing to wear the black and orange going forward, the Orioles will be adding a talented, respected prospect to a farm system that desperately needs more future stars. It's especially exciting to the front office brass in Baltimore that each of the potential top picks in the class is not only talented, but also has a great head on his shoulders. Across the board among the top four guys, scouts rave about their work ethics and makeups.

It's been a tough season to watch in Baltimore, Miami, and Kansas City, but draft night will be an exciting moment in history for each of those franchises.

The Orioles will make the first selection in this year's draft at 7 p.m. on June 3.

2019 MLB Draft How to Watch:

What: 2019 MLB Draft Day One: Rounds 1-2
Date: Monday, June 3, 2019
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: MLB Network studios, Secaucus, NJ
TV Channel: MLB Network
Live Stream: MLB.com

How many rounds are there in the 2019 MLB Draft?

There are 40 rounds in the 2019 MLB Draft. Rounds 1-2 will air on MLB Network at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 3. Rounds 3-10 will stream on MLB.com, beginning at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4. Rounds 11-40 will also stream on MLB.com, beginning at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5.

2019 MLB Draft prospects to know: 

Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State

Rutschman is the complete package both at the plate and behind it, and is considered by many evaluators to be the best incoming MLB prospect in several seasons. It's possible the Orioles look elsewhere with their first selection, but it would qualify as a major surprise if they don't take the future star catcher.

Bobby Witt Jr., SS, High School (Texas)

The top prep player in the class, Witt projects to be a future five-tool shortstop, making him an incredibly valuable commodity. The son of a former pitcher, Witt has the defensive skillset to stick at shortstop, plus power at the plate, and a terrific makeup.

Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California

Vaughn is having the best collegiate offensive career since Kris Bryant, which is a ton of praise. The first baseman lives up to that praise at the plate, winning the Golden Spikes Award as a sophomore in 2018 and taking his bat to another level this season. The defensive profile is the only thing keeping him from going higher.

CJ Abrams, SS, High School (Georgia)

Abrams is supremely athletic, blessed with elite speed and a quick bat. His natural talent should keep him at shortstop, with Gold Glove-caliber play in center field the likely defensive floor. If he can tap into his power while mainting great contact skills, his upside rivals anyone's in the class, Rutschman and Witt included.

Recent No. 1 picks in the MLB Draft:

2018: SP Casey Mize (Detroit Tigers)
2017: SS Royce Lewis (Minnesota Twins)
2016: OF Mickey Moniak (Philadelphia Phillies)
2015: SS Dansby Swanson (Arizona Diamondbacks)
2014: SP Brady Aiken (Houston Astros)
2013: SP Mark Appel (Houston Astros)
2012: SS Carlos Correa (Houston Astros)
2011: SP Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh Pirates)
2010: C/OF Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals)
2009: SP Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals)

What is the 2019 MLB Draft order?

1. Orioles
2. Royals 
3. White Sox 
4. Marlins 
5. Tigers 
6. Padres 
7. Reds 
8. Rangers
9. Braves (compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder Carter Stewart)
10. Giants
11. Blue Jays
12. Mets 
13. Twins 
14. Phillies 
15. Angels 
16. D-backs
17. Nationals 
18. Pirates 
19. Cardinals
20. Mariners 
21. Braves
22. Rays
23. Rockies
24. Indians
25. Dodgers 
26. Diamondbacks (compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder Matt McLain)
27. Cubs
28. Brewers
29. Athletics
30. Yankees
31. Dodgers (compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder J.T. Ginn)
32. Astros
33. Red Sox

How was the 2019 MLB Draft order was determined?

The Baltimore Orioles hoped to compete in the 2018 season, but down seasons from multiple core players and injuries combined to take them out of contention early enough to sell off most of their assets at the 2018 Trade Deadline. After the firesale, it was all but certain they would lose 100+ games, but few expected a 47-115 final record, the worst in baseball.

The Royals were also historically bad, finishing with a 58-104 record to earn the second pick in the draft. In the same division, the White Sox went 62-100 to earn the draft's third selection. Baltimore, Kansas City and Chicago were the only three teams to lose at least 100 games, as the Marlins had baseball's fourth-worst record at 63-98.

The Tigers round out the top five in this year's draft after a 64-98 season, giving the AL Central three of the five worst records in all of baseball.

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Orioles Roundup: Hess continues to struggle, Yankees make history

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Orioles Roundup: Hess continues to struggle, Yankees make history

The Orioles got obliterated by the Yankees Tuesday night, losing the matchup 11-4.

Here is your latest news on Baltimore and New York:

Player Notes:

ORIOLES:

David Hess struggles against Yankees. The righty allowed eight hits – including a trio of home runs – while also walking four batters.

Stevie WIlkerson scored a three-run home run Tuesday in the Orioles' loss to the Yankees.

YANKEES:

Gary Sanchez joined his teammate Gleyber Torres in terrorizing Orioles pitchers this season, scoring his eighth home run of the year against the O’s alone.  

Domingo German allowed three runs -- two earned -- over five frames versus the Orioles on Tuesday to pick up his ninth win of the season.

Injuries: 

SP Alex Cobb: Back, 10-Day IL

SP Nate Karns: Arm, 10-Day IL

DH Mark Trumbo: Knee, 60-Day IL

Coming Up:

Wednesday 5/22: Orioles @ Yankees, 7:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium  
Tuesday 5/21: Orioles @ Yankees, 7:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium 
Wednesday 5/22: Orioles @ Yankees, 7:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium