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Why Bastardo could be key pickup for Orioles

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Why Bastardo could be key pickup for Orioles

Earlier this morning, ESPN.com reported that the Orioles had made contact with left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo.

That may have struck some as odd because the bullpen seems to be an Orioles strength.

It’s not as odd as it may seem, and it actually makes perfect sense.

No, it’s not a case of keeping up with the Yankees. Last week, New York added Aroldis Chapman to an already strong bullpen. Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller make for an excellent trio, though the new acquisition may have to serve a suspension due to a charge of domestic abuse.

It’s an admission by the Orioles that while they may not have the strongest starting staff they could have a bullpen to help them compete.

With Wei-Yin Chen, Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy the only name starters still available, the Orioles may well be locked out of that market. If they go the one-year contract route with someone like Mat Latos, they’re going to need many strong arms in the bullpen.

Bastardo is one of the more underpublicized free agents around, but a close look at his stats shows you why the Orioles, along with the Mets, are eager to have at him.

MORE ORIOLES: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ORIOLES MINICAMP

Last year, when he turned 30, Bastardo turned in a superlative year with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA with a WHIP of 1.134. He allowed barely six hits per nine innings and only four home runs in 57 1/3 innings.

Bastardo does walk hitters. He gives up more than four walks per nine innings, but strikes out 11 per nine. That’s a ratio better than Brad Brach’s, and Brach is considered one of the Orioles’ strengths.

Last year, Bastardo held right-handed hitters to a .210 average, and left-handers hit just .138 against him.

The Orioles have two left-handers in the bullpen, Zach Britton and Brian Matusz. Last year, right-handed hitters had a .243 average against Britton while lefties hit .145. Right-handers hit .244 against Matusz, and left-handers .186.

A bullpen of Bastardo, Brach, Britton, Matusz, Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day would be one of the best in baseball and could help make up for shorter starts.

Last year, Orioles starters completed seven or more innings just 47 times, and Chen, who is unlikely to return, had the most, 12.

They certainly hope to make up some of those starts from Kevin Gausman (five starts of seven innings or more), Miguel Gonzalez (seven) and Chris Tillman (eight).

But, if the starts are short again, and Bastardo joins the bullpen, it may make for a much more competitive pitching staff.

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Orioles tie franchise record for losses with 107th loss of 2018

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USA TODAY Sports

Orioles tie franchise record for losses with 107th loss of 2018

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles lost their 107th game, tied for most in a season since their arrival in 1954, falling to the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0 Monday night.

Rookie Ryan Borucki pitched eight innings of three-hit ball for the Blue Jays, who have won 13 of 17 games between the two bottom teams in the AL East.

Toronto stands 25 games better than the Orioles, whose 43-107 record is worst in the majors. The only other Orioles team with 107 defeats was the 1988 club, which started 0-21 on its way to a 54-107 finish.

This Baltimore team has been blanked 15 times and owns a major league-worst 26-49 record at home. Only 8,198 fans showed up at soggy Camden Yards to watch yet another defeat.

The franchise record for losses is 111, by the 1939 St. Louis Browns. After going 54-100 in 1953, the Browns moved to Baltimore. The major league record is 120 losses, set by the expansion New York Mets in 1962.

Borucki (4-4) struck out seven and walked one in his 15th career start. The left-hander allowed two runners to reach third base, one of whom got there during a near triple play.

With runners on first and second and no outs in the Baltimore third, Austin Wynns hit a low liner to shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who gloved the ball and then let it drop to the ground. The ploy caught the Orioles flat-footed, and Toronto turned a 6-4-3 double play before Baltimore's Renato Nunez barely beat the relay to third base.

The Blue Jays got all the offense they needed in the third inning against Evan Phillips, who was obtained from Atlanta in the July 31 trade that sent Kevin Gausman and Darren O'Day to the Braves.

Making his first major league start, Phillips (0-1) retired the first five batters he faced before Kevin Pillar doubled, Rowdy Tellez hit an RBI single and Danny Jansen homered to left.

Pillar homered in the seventh, and Aledmys Diaz went deep in the ninth.

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Jorge Lopez shuts down Orioles as Royals roll, 9-1

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Jorge Lopez shuts down Orioles as Royals roll, 9-1

Jorge Lopez showed some of the potential the Royals saw when they traded for him in late July, scattering five hits over a career-best seven innings and helping Kansas City rout the Baltimore Orioles 9-1 on Sunday.

The Royals completed a three-game sweep of the only team in the majors with a worse record than theirs.

The only run Lopez (1-4) allowed came in the first, when Jonathan Villar sent a mistake over the left-field wall. Lopez bounced back to strike out a career-high eight without a walk to earn his second win and first since Sept. 29, 2015, when he was still with the Brewers.

Lopez was part of the deal for third baseman Mike Moustakas at the non-waiver trade deadline.

Meibrys Viloria had his first career hit a day after arriving from Class-A Wilmington, a two-run double in the eighth. Alcides Escobar also had three hits and an RBI as Kansas City piled up 14 hits, its sixth straight game with at least 10 and the longest such streak since June 24-29, 2016.

Most of the damage came against David Hess (3-9), who allowed five runs on nine hits and a trio of Baltimore errors -- all of which came after his own mistakes during a dreadful third inning.

The first error came with nobody out, when Hess threw the ball away trying to pick Merrifield off first base. Then, with two down, Hess tried to chase Jorge Bonifacio back to second and the ball squirreled away again. Bonifacio headed for third and second baseman Breyvic Valera tried to throw him out there, but the ball bounced away for yet another error that allowed Bonifacio to score.

The Royals added a run in the fourth and three in the eighth as they wrapped up their second straight sweep. They've won three consecutive series and seven of their last eight games.

FIRST PITCH

Royals vice president Mike Swanson threw out the ceremonial first pitch to honor his 40 years in baseball. Swanson's mother, Betty, spent nearly four decades working for the Royals and Chiefs, while her son has worked for the Rockies, Padres and Diamondbacks along with his time in Kansas City.

CLOSER CONCERNS

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he will try several options in the closer role after Mychael Givens blew another save Saturday night. "You've got to get people out, and pitch when you're asked and take advantage of the opportunity," Showalter said, "including Mike and some other guys."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Pedro Araujo (right elbow strain) will not pitch again this season. He's been on the DL since June 11. "He's going to be fine, I think, for next year," Showalter said, "but I don't think he'll pitch in September. I don't see any of the feedback that fits that scenario."

Royals: OF Jorge Soler (fractured left toe) experienced a setback in his rehab and will likely shut down for the remainder of the season, manager Ned Yost said. Soler went on the DL on June 16, when he was hitting .265 with nine homers and 28 RBIs.

UP NEXT

The Orioles head to Seattle for three games beginning Monday night, when LHP Josh Rogers (1-0, 5.40 ERA) is on the mound. The Royals begin a trip to Cleveland and Minnesota with RHP Jakob Junis (7-12, 4.53 ERA) taking the hill against the Indians on Monday night.