Orioles beat team with a similarly losing record for the win

The Baltimore Orioles (9-27) beat the Kansas City Royals (12-24) last night. The final score was 3 – 5. What last night’s game shows is that if the Orioles focus on playing teams who’ve lost at least 20 games so far this season, they have a real fighting chance.

Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis.

Chris Davis even hit a three-run homer last night. Hitting home runs is really the only thing Davis offers offensively, that and striking out. The problem is, Davis isn’t really hitting a lot of home runs this season. Davis is batting .172 this season with three home runs, 13 walks, and 43 strikeouts. In other words, he’s earning every penny of the $23 million he’s making this season. If you have a problem with a player such as Davis with his limited offense making that much money, you’d better get used to it: the O’s are paying Davis $23 million a year till 2022. 

Orioles’ second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

Jonathan Schoop returned to the lineup last night. That’s a good thing considering he was the O’s best overall player last year. A right oblique strain earned Schoop a visit to the 10-day disabled list last month.

The Orioles have generally sucked since I moved here to Maryland in 1994, but they were the only local team on TV at the time. This was before the Expos moved to Washington DC and became the Washington Nationals. This was also before you could pay around $100 a year for MLB.TV and watch any team you wanted to, live or not live, except when the extensive black restrictions applied.

MLB.TV has more blackout rules than a Norwegian death metal band.

I don’t mind watching a local team that sucks, as long as they have the potential to become good later down the line. My problem with the 2018 Orioles is they have players like Chris Davis and the un-American Manny Machado on the team. They’re stuck with Davis and his $23 long-term salary. Why Machado is still on the team at this point is a mystery. He’s having a career year playing his natural shortstop position this season. The time to trade him was yesterday. This is his final season under contract with the Orioles. What are they waiting for?

Kevin Gausman throws first ‘Immaculate Inning’ of 2018

Kevin Gausman of the Baltimore Orioles threw an immaculate 7th inning in a loss to the Cleveland Indians Monday night. An immaculate inning is where a pitcher faces three hitters and strikes them out on three pitches each.

kevin-gausman-immaculate-inning-bent-corner
Kevin “Gausy” Gausman

If an immaculate inning sounds silly, that’s because it is. It’s not even all that impressive when you think about it. He had to throw a total of nine quality pitches to get the three outs. A much more impressive feat would have been if he got the three outs on three pitches. Baseball is a team sport and Gausman had eight other players helping him get outs. If Gausman somehow got each batter to pop up or ground out on the first pitch they faced, then I’d be impressed.

Three outs on three pitches. That would be immaculate, mother of Jesus type of stuff.

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Jesus, son of Mary. Hates the New York Yankees.

The Orioles lost the game. Something they’re probably going to do a lot this season. This year’s squad has all the markings of a losing Orioles team. God knows I’ve seen enough of them since moving to Maryland in 1994.

San Francisco Giants Brandon Belt has a 21-pitch at bat

San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt made Jaime Barria of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange Country throw 21 pitches in the first inning of Sunday’s game. Belt eventually lined out to right field, but it doesn’t really matter.

The at-bat lasted 12 minutes and 45 seconds. When you make a starting pitcher throw that many pitches, it is a quality at-bat.

San Francisco Giants Brandon Belt has a 21-pitch at bat - Bent Corner
2017 Topps Heritage Brandon Belt card.

Belt broke the MLB record set in 1998 with 20 pitches between hitter Ricky Gutierrez and pitcher Bartolo Colon.

Jaime Barria escaped the first inning with no hits but threw a total of 49 pitches. Ouch.

San Francisco Giants Brandon Belt has a 21-pitch at bat - Bent Corner
The team formally known as the California Angeles.

A Giants-Angels game is one of those weird events where I truly hate both teams. I normally want both teams to lose whoever either team is playing, but when they play each other, that cannot happen. I don’t even know which team I hate the most. If I had to pick one, I’d probably pick the Angels. I don’t like how they’re constantly changing their name or how they now pretend to play in Los Angeles. There’s only one team that plays in Los Angeles and it ain’t the Angels.

Orioles sign pitcher Alex Cobb to four-year, $60 million deal

The Baltimore Orioles got out their giant orange checkbook and signed Tampa Bay Rays right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb to a four-year deal worth a reported $60 million. The deal supposedly includes deferred money, money the team will not be paying Cobb until after his career with the Orioles is over. If memory serves, Chris Davis received a similar deal when he was resigned with the Orioles.

Alex Cobb is 30 years old and played his entire career with the Rays, so he’s familiar with pitching in the American League East.  He has a career 48-35 record and an ERA of 3.50 in 115 major league starts.

Alex Cobb had Tommy John elbow reconstruction in 2015. The 2017 season was his first full season back since the surgery and he pitched 177 innings with an ERA of 3.66. His career ground-ball rate is a whopping 54 percent. The fact that he can get hitters out with ground balls should make him quite effective in Camden Yards.

Something else that will help Alex Cobb pitch in Baltimore from his years pitching in Tampa: he’s no stranger to pitching in front of so many empty seats.

Orioles sign pitcher Alex Cobb to four-year, $60 million deal - Bent Corner
Alex Cobb pitching last season in front of the Orioles faithful.

This looks like it has all the makings of a fantastic free agent signing by the Baltimore Orioles, something they haven’t always been accused of doing. They needed a starting pitcher and it looks like they went out and got the best starting pitcher they could get.

There’s a reason people hate the New York Yankees

From The Baltimore Sun:

Manny Machado won’t be a free agent until next offseason, but Aaron Judge is already making his pitch to the All-Star shortstop on why he should join the Yankees.
 
“Adding him to our lineup that we’ve already got would be something special. I told him he’d look good in pinstripes,” Judge said.
 
Judge said he made his pitch to Machado before Wednesday’s spring training game.
 
“He just kind of laughed it off and didn’t really say much,” Judge said.

You know who else looks good in pinstripes? Satan.

Personally, I’m looking forward to when Manny Machado is no longer in an Orioles’ uniform, but the reasoning is purely personal. I think he’s a tad bit overrated as a player, but more importantly for me personally, I don’t like Manny Machado as a person. I don’t like how he turned his back on his country, the United States, and played for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

Manny Machado played for the USA on the 18U National Team.
Manny Machado cosplaying as a citizen of the Dominican Republic.

Manny Machado is not a citizen of the Dominican Republic. Manny Machado is a citizen of the United States. As great as a player he might be, I’d rather not have him on a team I watch and root for. What he did was worse, far worse, then what some NFL players did by kneeling for the National Anthem.

With all that said, Aaron Judge engaged in tampering. That’s cheating. That’s what the Yankees do, they cheat. Worse, they tend to always get away with it.

My hope is the Orioles will be able to trade Manny Machado for pitching prospects, preferably those with high ground-ball rate (GB%). What is GB%?

From MLB.com:

Ground-ball rate represents the percentage of balls hit into the field of play that are characterized as ground balls. Each ball that is hit into the field of play is characterized as a line drive, a fly ball, a ground ball or a pop-up.
 
Ground-ball rate can be used as a metric to evaluate both hitters and pitchers, although it’s more frequently used to evaluate pitchers.
 
With pitchers, ground-ball rate can be very telling. For one thing, it lets us know what type of pitcher we have. Pitchers with high ground-ball rates have a tendency to allow fewer home runs (which result from fly balls and line drives). Obviously, preventing home runs is one of the most important aspects of pitching — as no outcome is more damaging.
 
Pitchers who possess high ground-ball rates have a tendency to induce a high number of double plays as well, and are generally more successful than pitchers who try to get by with high fly-ball rates.

For a pitcher to be successful in Camden Yards, I believe they have to have the ability to make batters hit ground balls.

Andrew Cashner pitches four scoreless innings

A ground ball pitcher is a pitcher who can induce opposing batters into hitting ground balls. An average ground ball pitcher has a ground ball rate (GB%) of around 50%. A really good groundball pitcher has a GB% approaching 55%.

Baltimore Orioles free agent signee Andrew Cashner has a career GB% of 49%.

From The Baltimore Sun:

Cashner’s reputation of being a ground-ball artist — he has a career 49 percent ground-ball rate — played to form.

He induced six groundouts, forcing weak contact by working both sides of the plate with his sinker and slider, but also missed bats when he needed to by adding two swinging strikeouts.

I wouldn’t say Cashner is a ground ball artist. He ranked 24th last year in ground ball outs (204). I think he definitely has what it takes to pitch successfully at Camden Yards, a fly ball hitter’s park.