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Unique circumstances, but hopeful signs for Orioles

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Unique circumstances, but hopeful signs for Orioles

The uniqueness of Wednesday overshadowed what happened on the field. The Orioles won their third straight game for the first time this season.

With 20 games completed, and no return dates yet for J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters, the Orioles are at .500 and just two games behind the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East.

Due to the reconstituted schedule, 29 of the team’s first 32 games come against the AL East, and the good news is that the Orioles are showing some positive signs.

In the last four games, starting pitchers completed six innings in each game. In the Orioles’ first 16, it happened just four times.

While Miguel Gonzalez’s four runs in six innings on Friday night wasn’t a gem, the game was tied in the eighth inning, and a walk given up by Brian Matusz, an error by Manny Machado and a three-run homer allowed by Darren O’Day cost the Orioles a possible four-game winning streak.

Wei-Yin Chen’s best performance of the season (two runs on four hits in eight innings) was forgotten because of the unlikely way the Orioles won. Trailing 4-3 in the 10th, they scored two runs on Adam Jones’ triple, Chris Davis’ sacrifice fly and David Lough’s game-ending home run.

Lough, with just 10 career homers has as many game-winning homers for the Orioles as Davis does.

Bud Norris, who pitched horribly in the first three games of the season as well as during spring training, pitched six scoreless innings on Sunday before tiring and allowing a three-run home run to Pablo Sandoval.

Manager Buck Showalter noted that Norris tired in the seventh. During spring training, Norris’ appearances were shorter than planned because he exhausted his pitch count early in games. And, in two of his first three starts, Norris didn’t make it past the third inning. (He pitched five innings in the other.)

Through the first 20 games, Ubaldo Jimenez has been the Orioles’ best starter. Yes, the same Jimenez who early in spring training, fans feared would clog up a rotation spot.

Each starter has pitched four times, and Jimenez has both struck out the most batters (22) and walked the fewest (8). He’s also given up just 10 hits and allowed only four earned runs.

Chris Tillman, who starts Friday against Tampa Bay, has walked just as many (13) as he’s struck out.

Tillman looked terrific in spring training, and if the Orioles are to contend, he’s going to have to pitch much better.

On Thursday, Kevin Gausman and Zach Britton threw scoreless innings. Because of the two postponements and Thursday’s off day, relievers have pitched fewer innings this week, and Showalter is obviously wary of their rustiness.

Britton was dynamic in the spring, and while he hasn’t been as sharp during the season, he’s had just five save opportunities. Machado’s ninth-inning on Saturday cost him a save.

After some early difficulties, in his last three outings, Tommy Hunter has given up just one hit in 4 2/3 innings.

O’Day’s case is the most interesting one. His ERA is just 1.08, but two of the four hits he’s allowed were home runs, including the Sandoval blast, which was unearned.

After giving up just three home runs in the first five months of the season, O’Day allowed three more in September and two in the postseason. In his first 396 games—including the postseason, O’Day gave up 31 home runs, and in his last 23, he’s given up seven.

Machado was hitless in his first 15 at-bats, but has brought his average to .254. He’s made his expected spectacular plays, but has made as many errors (five) in 20 games as he did in the 52 games he played in 2012. Those five errors have come in the last eight games.

The Orioles lead the American League with 29 home runs, and have greatly upped their on-base percentage. They’re fourth in baseball with a .345 OBP.

Jones has a .400 average and .440 OBP. He’s walked five times in 20 games, which may not be impressive, but translates to a 40-walk season. He’s never done that.

Another hopeful sign has been Davis’ performance. In his first 15 games, he struck out 26 times and hit just two home runs. Davis homered in three of the four games played at home, while striking out three times.

It will be a strange weekend for the Orioles, wearing white and batting last. Instead of drawing a possible 100,000 fans, they’ll be fortunate to play in front of a tenth that many.

On Wednesday, the entire sports world was watching. It was a weekday afternoon.

This weekend, they’ll be competing for attention against the NBA and NHL playoffs, NFL draft, Kentucky Derby and the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. I don’t think they’ll care.

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Baltimore Orioles Roundup: Alex Cobb won't be ready for Opening Day, Mark Trumbo lands on 60-day DL

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Baltimore Orioles Roundup: Alex Cobb won't be ready for Opening Day, Mark Trumbo lands on 60-day DL

This is not a drill. We are just about 48 hours away from Opening Day.

Here's the latest Orioles news and notes. 

Player Notes: 

Dwight Smith Jr. went three-for-three with a pair of solo home runs against the New York Mets Monday. Since being picked up from the Blue Jays March 8, Smith Jr. is 12-for 28 with five homers. 

Against the Mets Monday, pitcher Dylan Bundy gave up four runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings lowering his spring ERA from 7.94 to 7.89.

Alex Cobb will not be ready for Opening Day. The Orioles have placed what would have been their Opening Day starter on the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain. The injury is considered minor. 

The Orioles purchased the contract of catcher Jesus Sucre from Triple-A Norfolk. 

Injuries: 

DH Mark Trumbo: Knee, 60-day DL

SP Alex Cobb: Groin, 10-day DL

RP Richard Bleier: Shoulder, sidelined 

C Austin Wynns: Oblique, 10-day DL

Coming Up:

Thursday 3/28: Orioles vs. Yankees, 1:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium

Saturday 3/30: Orioles vs. Yankees, 1:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium

Sunday 3/31: Orioles vs. Yankees, 1:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium

Source: Rotoworld

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Baltimore Orioles Roundup: David Hess has 'good chance' of making Opening Day roster

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Baltimore Orioles Roundup: David Hess has 'good chance' of making Opening Day roster

With Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles just six days away, here are the latest updates from Spring Training. 

Player Updates:

Despite not having a great spring, pitcher David Hess has a "good chance" of making Baltimore's Opening Day roster, manager Brandon Hyde told reporters Thursday. Hess is likely to slot in as one of the Orioles' five starting pitchers. In six Grapefruit League appearances (four starts), he has an 0-2 record and 7.50 ERA. 

The Orioles made another round of cuts Thursday, reassigning utility man Jake Reinheimer and RHP Josh Lucas to minor league camp. Reinheimer put up an impressive 407/.429/.593 in 20 games this spring, but was never really in consideration for an Opening Day roster spot. 

Pitcher Josh Rogers tweaked his back after catching his spike in the mound during the Orioles' 7-5 Grapefruit League loss to the Pirates Thursday and was removed as a precaution. With Opening Day less than a week away, Rogers probably won't make another Spring Training appearance. Meanwhile, Miguel Castro continued his strong spring, tossing a scoreless inning against Pittsburgh. In Grapefruit League play, Castro has an 11/2 K/BB ratio. 

Right fielder Joey Rickard had a stellar day at the place against the Pirates, doubling twice to raise his Grapefruit League batting average to .395. On the flip side, first baseman Chris Davis struck out three times against Pittsburgh, and is now batting just .148 this spring.

Injuries: 

C Austin Wynns: Oblique, day-to-day 

DH Mark Trumbo: Knee, day-to-day

RP Richard Bleier: Shoulder, should be ready for Opening Day

3B Renato Nunez: Biceps, day-to-day

Coming Up:

Friday 3/22: Orioles @ Blue Jays, 6:07 p.m., Dunedin Stadium

Saturday 3/23: Orioles vs. Twins, 6:05 p.m., Ed Smith Stadium 

Sunday 3/24: Orioles @ Phillies, 1:05 p.m., Spectrum Field

Source: Rotoworld

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