Game 1: 9-4 win on Friday night (May 11)
Game 2: 6-3 win on Saturday (May 12)
Game 3: 10-3 loss on Saturday evening (May 12)
Game 4: 17-1 win on Sunday afternoon (May 13)
1. The O’s now have won consecutive series for the first time this season and five of six games overall. The schedule has softened, some key bats have returned and thus some winning has taken place. But at 13-28, a hurtful reality remains: the Orioles’ season is still done barring a miracle run. The O’s would need to go 72-49 – 23 games above .500 – the rest of the season in order to get to 85 wins and thus at least be in the mix for a wild-card spot.
2. You can take your pick with what has been the Orioles’ biggest problem this season, but near the top of the list has been the offense. Well, that hopefully now is getting on track. The O’s have totaled 58 runs over the last seven games. The team finally is hitting home runs, having totaled 12 homers over the four games in this series. When the O’s homer, they win.
3. The recent returns of Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo have certainly helped. Schoop smashed two first-pitch solo homers off Chris Archer in the 6-3 win over the Rays on Saturday. Trumbo went 5-for-16 with a homer and a double in the series.
4. But nobody has been better than Manny Machado, who went 6-for-17 with three homers and two doubles in the series. He in the 9-4 win over the Rays on Friday night had a first-pitch two-run homer in the bottom of the first and a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the seventh. He in the 6-3 win over the Rays on Saturday had a first-pitch homer off Chris Archer to lead off the bottom of the third. And Machado in the 17-1 win on Sunday afternoon had two RBI doubles and a single. Machado is third in the majors with a 1.100 OPS. He has been outstanding offensively, which is as painful as it is delightful given that he is as good as gone via free agency after this season.
5. As is usually the case, success comes with good starting pitching, and the Orioles got at least decent starts in all three wins in this series.
Dylan Bundy tossed a much-needed gem in the 17-1 rout of the Rays on Sunday afternoon. Off having allowed 19 earned runs in nine innings over his previous three starts, he tossed seven scoreless innings on seven strikeouts versus two doubles and four walks. This was the King Kong Bundy that we saw over his first five starts, during which he had an ERA of 1.42.
Kevin Gausman in the 9-4 win over the Rays on Friday night was terrific for a third time in four starts, allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. He gave up 11 hits, but nine of them were singles, and he had no walks versus six strikeouts. Gausman now has a 135 ERA+ over eight starts this season.
David Hess made his major-league debut in the 6-3 win over the Rays on Saturday and, after a rough start, was terrific. He allowed a one-out first-pitch three-run homer to Matt Duffy in the top of the first but then tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Hess is a 2014 fifth-round pick who was decent at Double-A Bowie last season and had been really good for Triple-A Norfolk this season.
The lone truly bad start for the O’s in this series came from Alex Cobb in the 10-3 loss to the Rays on Saturday evening. He struggled for a fourth time in six starts as an Oriole, giving up four runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings.
6. The O’s on Friday placed Chris Tillman on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain in what is about as transparently phony as maybe any injury ever. Tillman as we’ve talked about a ton has been horrendous since the start of last season, and yet the O’s can’t quit him. So rather than DFA him and be on the hook for the $3 million the team foolishly signed him for last offseason (and I say “foolishly” because the reporting is that no other team offered him a major-league contract and yet the O’s for some reason did), the O’s are putting Tillman in a timeout and almost certainly will go back to him at some point this season. The guy has a 10.46 ERA over seven starts this season. He had a 7.84 ERA over 24 games, including 19 starts, last season. It’s not just that he has been horrendous; it’s that he has been allowed to make 26 starts since the start of last season. What sense does that make? How do you keep going to a guy who is this bad? And I don’t care how good he was in previous years (and by the way, and this gets forgotten, but Tillman also was really bad in 2015).
7. The Orioles’ bullpen continued to struggle, allowing nine runs in 10 innings in the series. Orioles relievers are no. 10 out of 15 American League teams with a 4.57 ERA.
Richard Bleier, who had been phenomenal this season, was charged with two runs and recorded just one out in the 9-4 win over the Rays on Friday night, as he gave up a triple, two singles and a walk. Brad Brach did then toss 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Jimmy Yacabonis, Pedro Araujo and Mike Wright Jr. combined to allow six runs in 3 1/3 innings in the 10-3 loss to the Rays on Saturday evening.
Tanner Scott and Mychal Givens did combine for three scoreless innings in the 6-3 win over the Rays on Saturday.