Orioles Make Trade to Add Depth at Catcher

By Andrew R. Koch

The Baltimore Orioles have traded one of their top relief pitchers in a move to add depth at catcher with one of their All Stars on the disabled list for the foreseeable future.

The Orioles traded left-hander Troy Patton to the San Diego Padres for catcher Nick Hundley on May 24. Hundley is expected to be added to the 25-man roster in time for Sunday’s series finale against the Cleveland Indians. Caleb Joseph, who’d been called up from Triple-A Norfolk to serve as the backup catcher, appears likely to be heading back to Norfolk. Prior to trading Patton for Hundley, the Orioles had called up infielder Steve Lombardozzi from Norfolk.

Since coming off the restricted list on May 1 after serving a 25-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, Patton was 0-1 with an 8.10 earned-run average in nine games. His playing time was limited because the Orioles have three other lefties in their bullpen. In 40 games over the last five seasons with Baltimore, Patton was 5-2 with a 3.26 ERA.

In 33 games with San Diego this season, Hundley has hit .271 with a home run and driven in three runs. Hundley is in the final year of his contract. He’s scheduled to make $4 million this year, and he has a club option for $5 million with no buyout clause for next season.

In another roster move, right-hander Preston Guilmet is expected to be recalled from Norfolk with first baseman Chris Davis going on the paternity list. Davis will be by his wife Jill’s side as they welcome their first child into the world. In addition to the series finale against Cleveland, Davis might also miss the start of the Orioles’ three-game series in Milwaukee, which will begin on Memorial Day.

Terrapins Baseball in NCAA Tournament; Women’s Lacrosse Wins National Championship

By Andrew R. Koch

Baseball hasn’t been one of the strongest, most tradition-rich sports at the University of Maryland. However, the Terrapins are bucking history in their final year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Despite coming up short in the ACC Championship Game, falling to Georgia Tech 9-4 over Memorial Day weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Terrapins’ holiday weekend finished on a high note as the team received an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. This will be Maryland’s fourth appearance in the tournament, but the first since 1971, when the team received the ACC’s automatic bid for winning the regular season conference championship. Maryland is the number-two seed in the Columbia Regional, which will be played at the University of South Carolina from May 30 through June 2. The Terrapins will play third-seeded Old Dominion University from Norfolk, Virginia on May 30 at 1 p.m. The winner of that game will play the winner of host and top-seed South Carolina (the number 12 team in the National College Baseball Writers Association poll) and fourth-seed Campbell University on Saturday night. The losers will play that afternoon.

Maryland goes into the tournament with plenty of momentum on its side. The Terrapins became one of the hottest teams in the country by going 11-2 in May and reaching the ACC Tournament Championship for the first time since 1976. Maryland has a .500 record in 18 games against the Monarchs in program history, and has won five of the last six. The teams haven’t played since 2010, when Maryland won both games that year.

Maryland Women Win 12th National Championship in Lacrosse

The Maryland women’s lacrosse team continues to prove that it’s one of the strongest teams in the country.

The Lady Terrapins clinched their 12th national championship, and first since 2010, by holding off ACC rival Syracuse for a 15-12 win before a record crowd on 10,311 at Johnny Unitas Stadium on the Towson campus on May 25. Maryland got off to a fast start as Kristen Lamon scored just 43 seconds in on her way to a hat trick. The Terps scored five goals in the first four and a half minutes of the game. Taylor Cummings and Brooke Griffin also notched hat tricks, and Beth Glaros, Maryland’s only senior starter, led the offense with five goals, one assist and six shots. Goalie Abbie Clipp got the win and finished the season with a perfect 21-0 record.

The Terrapins controlled the first six draws of the game, but only held a three-goal lead at halftime. After Alyssa Murray scored just over two minutes into the second half to pull the Lady Orange to within two at 9-7, Maryland ran off four straight goals. Griffin started the outburst just 17 seconds after Murray scored, and then proceeded to score each of the next two goals over a six-minute stretch for a natural hat trick. Lamon finished the run by scoring on a free position shot with just under 20 minutes left. After Glaros finished her hat trick on another free position shot with 11 minutes left, the Orange would score four straight goals to cut the deficit to 15-12. However, Syracuse wasn’t able to hit the back of the net again over the final four and a half minutes of regulation.

Cummings was named the Women’s Lacrosse Tournament Most Valuable Player, and joined Glaros, Kelly McPartland and Megan Douty on the All-Tournament Team. Maryland finished the season with a 23-1 record, and tied a team record for wins set by the undefeated 2001 national championship team. Eleven starters from this year’s team will be returning for next season.

Orioles Place Closer Hunter on DL

By Andrew R. Koch

The Orioles gained a split of their series in Pittsburgh earlier this week, but that split came at a price that will create additional flux in Baltimore’s bullpen.

Prior to the start of their four-game holiday weekend series at home against the Cleveland Indians, the Orioles have placed closer Tommy Hunter on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin. The move was made retroactive to May 21. Hunter last pitched on May 20 in the first game of the short series in Pittsburgh, allowing two hits and striking out one in one inning. It was only his second appearance after blowing back-to-back saves at home against Houston and Detroit earlier this month. Hunter is 1-1 with a 9.39 earned-run average and 11 saves in 14 opportunities this season.

Hunter will be eligible to come off the DL on June 5. Baltimore has recalled right-handed pitcher Preston Guilmet from the Triple-A Norfolk Tides to take Hunter’s spot on the 25-man roster until then.

Terrapins Baseball Off to Strong Start in College World Series Regional

By Andrew R. Koch

The Maryland Terrapins baseball team isn’t ready to let their best season in more than 40 years end just yet.

Down 3-0 to Old Dominion after seven innings in their May 31 opener of the Columbia Regional at the University of South Carolina, Maryland started down the comeback trail. LaMonte Wade, Brandon Lowe and Jose Cuas all singled to load the bases with none out in the eighth inning. Wade scored on a double play grounder off the bat of Blake Schmit to cut the Monarchs’ lead to 3-1. After a leadoff single in the top of the ninth, Terrapins catcher Kevin Martir picked off the pinch runner at first. Reliever Tayler Stiles then struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Kyle Convissar came in as a pinch-hitter and led off with a double to left-center field. With one out, Martir reached on an error, and Convissar advanced to third. Center fielder Charlie White singled to drive in Convissar. Wade walked to load the bases, and then Lowe and Cuas were each hit by consecutive pitches to force in the tying and winning runs, giving Maryland a walk-off 4-3 win. It was the Terrapins’ first win in an NCAA baseball tournament game since 1970.

The following night, Maryland jumped out to a 4-0 lead over host South Carolina in the first two innings. White doubled to start the bottom of the first for the Terrapins, and scored on a one-out single by Lowe. In the second inning, Martir singled with two outs and advanced to second on an error. He went to third on an infield single by White, and then scored on a double by Wade. Wade and White then scored on a fielding error.

The Gamecocks got back into the game with a run in the fourth and two more runs in the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Terps starter Mike Shawaryn hit South Carolina’s Tanner English with a pitch. English then stole second, and Shawaryn then walked Gamecocks shortstop Marcus Mooney. Bobby Ruse came on for Maryland in relief of Shawaryn, and got a fly-out and a ground-out to end the inning. In the eighth, South Carolina got runners on the corners with two outs, but Maryland reliever Kevin Mooney struck out Gene Cone to snuff out the rally. In the ninth, English and Max Schrock each singled to put runners on the corners with one out, but Kevin Mooney got Joey Pankake to ground into a double play to end the game, securing his 12th save of the season. With the win, Shawaryn improved to 11-3 on the season. The win snapped South Carolina’s 28-game home winning streak in the NCAA tournament, dating back to 2002.

Maryland will play the winner of the South Carolina-Campbell loser’s bracket game at 7 p.m. on June 1.

Orioles Sign Reliever Bell, Designate Meek For Assignment

By Andrew R. Koch

After consecutive blown saves by Tommy Hunter against the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has decided to shake things up a little in the Orioles bullpen.

The Orioles announced on May 16 that they’d agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran right-handed reliever Heath Bell. Pending a physical, Bell will report to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. He began the season with division-rival Tampa Bay, where he was 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in 13 games. Bell was designated for assignment by the Rays earlier this month, and was then released. Now in his 11th season, Bell has a career record of 38-32 with a 3.49 ERA and 168 career saves. The Orioles will have to pick up little, if any of Bell’s salary because he’s still being paid not just by the Rays, but also by the Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks, whom he played for in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

In other roster moves, the Orioles designated right-handed reliever Evan Meek, and recalled another right-hander, Brad Brach, from Norfolk to take Meek’s spot on the 25-man roster. In 12 games this season, Meek was 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA.

This is Brach’s second stint with Baltimore this season. In his first stint, he appeared in two games, and allowed three earned runs in an inning and two-thirds. He went 3-1 with a 3.26 ERA and one save for the Tides. Showalter says the addition of Brach will provide the Orioles with another reliever who can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen.

Orioles Notes

Bench coach John Russell managed the Orioles during the third game of their series in Kansas City. Manager Buck Showalter was on leave so he and his wife could attend their daughter’s graduation from law school in Dallas.

Right-hander and top Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy continues to progress in his rehab from Tommy John surgery last year. Bundy is scheduled to pitch an inning in an extended spring training game in Sarasota, Florida on May 20.

Orioles Notebook: O’s Above .500 Despite Struggling Starting Pitching

By Andrew R. Koch

A full month of Major League Baseball is in the books, and the Baltimore Orioles are in the thick of a wide-open American League East race. While the Orioles are one percentage point ahead of the rival Yankees in the division, starting pitching is proving to be an Achilles’ heel, much like it has been for the last couple of seasons.

The Orioles went 12-12 in April, playing without Manny Machado and losing first baseman Chris Davis due to a strained oblique. Heading into the start of their second series with the Tampa Bay Rays, Orioles starting pitchers have gone less than five and a third innings in four of the last five games. The lone exception was Ubaldo Jimenez, who struck out 10 in 7 and a third shutout innings in the May 2 series opener at Minnesota. It was his first win of the season after signing a four-year, $50 million contract. Chris Tillman (3-1) and Wei-Yin Chen (3-2) are the only starters who are above .500. Baltimore has among the fewest starts of at least seven innings of any team in Major League Baseball. Six relievers have already appeared in 12 or more games, and the bullpen has already thrown a total of 93 innings. Following the Orioles’ 5-2 loss on May 4 in the rubber game of the series in Minnesota, in which Miguel Gonzalez fell apart and failed to get out of the fifth inning, manager Buck Showalter said in his post-game press conference of the starting rotation, “We’ve just got to be better.” Showalter went on to say that he’ll do what he can to avoid overusing the relievers, saying he wasn’t “going to put those guys in harm’s way.”

The Orioles’ regular sluggers haven’t been producing the power numbers fans are used to seeing. Davis only had six extra-base hits (four doubles, two home runs) before going on the DL. Center fielder Adam Jones has 10 extra-base hits (six doubles, one triple, three home runs, including two on May 7 at Tampa Bay), and J.J. Hardy–while he’s hitting more line drives and is bringing his batting average up–has just four doubles and is still looking for his first long ball of the season. Meanwhile, Matt Wieters and outfielder Nelson Cruz are picking up the slack in the power department. Wieters is leading the team in batting average, hitting .341 to go with five homers and 18 RBI. He’s hitting .370 left-handed as he looks to bounce back from a poor 2013 season. Cruz is leading the team in slugging with nine homers, six doubles, 29 RBI and a .568 slugging percentage.

Roster Moves

Manny Machado returned to the roster on May 1 for the second game of the Orioles’ doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was scheduled to be activated from the disabled list for the start of the series on April 29, but the games both that day and the following day were rained out. Reliever Troy Patton was also activated from the restricted list after serving a 25-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. To make room for Machado and Patton, the Orioles sent infielder Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A Norfolk along with relievers Evan Meek and Josh Stinson, who was outrighted. Baltimore recalled reliever Brad Brach from Norfolk. Another roster move may be necessary when Davis comes off the 15-day DL, which is scheduled to be May 11.

Wieters traveled to Pensacola, Florida on May 7 to meet with renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews (of Tommy John surgery fame.) Wieters has been dealing with soreness in his right elbow since the Orioles’ series in Boston in April. He says he first felt what was initially diagnosed as a sore forearm when he made a throw to second base on a cold night in Boston. He underwent an MRI exam on May 5, and surgery has been ruled out following his visit with Dr. Andrews. Caleb Joseph has been recalled from Norfolk to share the catching duties with Steve Clevenger.

UPDATED MAY 12: Davis was activated from the 15-day DL after appearing in a game with the Double-A Bowie Baysox on a rehab assignment. He played for the Orioles in the series finale at home against Houston. Wieters was placed on the DL to rest his sore elbow. The Orioles also optioned T.J. McFarland to Norfolk following the game. McFarland struck out four and allowed two runs on seven hits in three innings, including a two-run home run to the Astros’ Marc Krauss that gave Houston some insurance to salvage the series finale.