Orioles look to continue surge vs. Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Some major league teams import players at the trade deadline. Others export. The Baltimore Orioles looked a team that got their invoices mixed up.
The Orioles were expected to trade left-hander reliever Zach Britton around the deadline, what with relievers being the primary need for teams expecting to play baseball in October.
Baltimore wasn't being mentioned as part of the traffic jam of teams around .500 vying for a chance to play one postseason game. The Orioles were seven games under .500 as recently as July 16, but they get a chance to go over the .500 mark for the first time in nearly two months when they continue a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
Baltimore last held a winning record on June 11 when it was 31-30 following a 14-3 loss to the New York Yankees. The Orioles hovered around .500 for the next four weeks before a 2-8 skid dropped their record to 42-49 after an 8-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
The skid fueled speculation Baltimore would deal Britton and others.
The Orioles did otherwise.
They kept Britton, in part because teams were lowballing their offers. They traded for Philadelphia Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson and Tampa Bay Rays infielder Tim Beckham.
The Orioles (56-56) explained the trades simply:
--First, they believed they could get a wild-card spot.
With their 6-2 win over the Angels on Monday, the Orioles are 14-7 in their past 21 and are now just 1 1/2 games back on the race for the second wild card.
--Second, their starting pitching has been abysmal in 2017.
They set a dubious record early, allowing five runs or more in 20 consecutive games, breaking a mark set in 1924. Dylan Bundy has been the only starter inspiring confidence, and he struck out 10 in seven innings of five-hit ball Monday. Still, Baltimore ranks last in the American League with a 4.91 ERA.
Hellickson, who starts Tuesday against the Angels, would make them better.
--Third, the moves made financial sense.
Hellickson (7-5, 4.45 ERA) cost them little. The Phillies agreed to pay much of the remaining balance of his $17.2 million, one-year contract. He will be a free agent in 2018. He is better than anyone else in the rotation than Bundy.
Beckham is a former first-round pick who was rarely an everyday player for the Rays, but he is versatile and is very cost-effective.
Hellickson was awesome in his first start -- seven scoreless innings against Kansas City. Beckham is batting .536 since joining the Orioles, collecting at least one hit in every game has played for his new team.
"(Jeremy is) an outstanding competitor, and he's a durable dependable pitcher, which is something that we've been looking to solidify this year," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said after the trade.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said, "He's looking for a home as his career goes forward, and hopefully he can find one here because we're in need of what he has the potential to bring."
Hellickson's mound opponent Tuesday will be the Angels' Parker Bridwell, a former Oriole who is 5-1 with a 3.20 ERA. Los Angeles is 9-1 in the games the rookie has pitched this season.
"We didn't know much about him," manager Mike Scioscia said after Bridwell's last win. "He's been very efficient for us. He can throw multiple pitches for strikes."
The Angels acquired Bridwell from Baltimore for a pittance in April -- a player to be named or cash. The Orioles gave up on him in 2016 by dropping him a level in the minors and making him a reliever.
Baltimore always thought he should emphasize his fastball. The Angels thought he had multiple good pitches, and just wasn't using them.
Bridwell is taking the opponent in stride ahead of his first meeting with his former team.
"It's another game against a team I used to play for at one time," he said. "The Orioles treated me well. I just needed a fresh start somewhere else."
The Angels hope Bridwell can continue his success. Los Angeles has lost three straight and is three games back of the second wild card after wasting two hits Monday by Mike Trout, who homered and recorded his 1,000th hit on his 26th birthday.
Updated August 8, 2017