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Orioles are projected to be one of the worst teams in baseball in 2017

Orioles are projected to be one of the worst teams in baseball in 2017

The Baltimore Orioles made the playoffs last season on the strength of one of the top offenses in baseball and a dominant bullpen, but they lost in heart-breaking fashion in the Wild Card game to the division-rival Toronto Blue Jays.

The Orioles largely have the same roster as they did last year, but according to Baseball Prospectus, Baltimore is projected to finish in last place in the American League East, and have one of the worst records in baseball at 73-89. Only the Royals (91 losses) and the Padres (93 losses) are expected to have more losses than the O's. Additionally, Baseball Prospectus is giving the Orioles a 3.1 percent chance to win the division, and a 7.8 percent chance to make it to the Wild Card game. The 73 wins that are projected for the O's would be the fewest the team has had since 2011 when manager Buck Showalter took over in his first full season as the skipper. The Red Sox are projected to win 90 games and win the AL East in 2017. 

With designated hitter Mark Trumbo back with a new contract, the Orioles offense should still be a juggernaut, but the pitching staff is what is expected to let them down in 2017. Baltimore is projected to allow 816 runs this season, which is the highest projection in all of baseball. The Reds are expected to give up the second most at 803. 

That high projection for the Orioles seems to be a result of a well-below average starting pitching staff which, according to USA Today Sports, ranks as the 24th-best rotation in baseball

Although expectations aren't high for Baltimore in 2017, they shouldn't be counted out entirely. The team is still led by an MVP level player in third baseman Manny Machado, still has the best closer in baseball in Zach Britton and has steady veteran leadership in centerfielder Adam Jones, shortstop JJ Hardy and first baseman Chris Davis. 

If the Orioles are to compete for a playoff spot it will most likely come down to the starting rotation playing above expectations. If Kevin Gausman can continue the roll he was on in the second half of last season, and if Dylan Bundy can blossom into the stud he was drafted to be, the O's could end up pushing the Red Sox and Blue Jays at the top of the division. 

Related: Camden yards named best sports stadium in North America

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Orioles nearing MLB record as pitching continues to give up runs

Orioles nearing MLB record as pitching continues to give up runs

BALTIMORE -- The Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles can smash the ball. Both teams play sound defense, and each has a veteran manager in the dugout.

So, when it comes down to explaining why the Indians lead the AL Central and the Orioles are sinking toward the bottom of the AL East, only one word is necessary: pitching.

Carlos Carrasco struck out 10 , Francisco Lindor homered and the Indians defeated the skidding Orioles 5-1 Wednesday night for their seventh win in eight games.

Carrasco (8-3) allowed seven hits and walked none over six-plus innings to win his third straight start. The right-hander struck out every Baltimore starter except Trey Mancini to reach double figures for the 11th time in his career.

Cleveland held a 3-0 lead when Carrasco yielded three straight singles to open the seventh. Andrew Miller entered and got a force at the plate before striking out Caleb Joseph and Ruben Tejada.

"That's the ballgame," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's pretty impressive. For them to get nothing? That certainly carried the heavy lifting."

Miller said his goal was simply to "just limit the damage."

If only it was that easy for Baltimore. Not only did the Orioles lose for the 10th time in 14 games, but they have allowed at least five runs in 18 consecutive games -- two short of the major league record set by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.

Once the Indians took control with a three-run fifth, Baltimore was all but finished.

"There wasn't much margin for error with Carrasco. He's having another good year," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think that's what a lot of people miss about them is, as good of an offensive club and a defensive club as they are, their pitching was good last year and will be again this year."

Dan Otero gave up an RBI double to Jonathan Schoop in the ninth, ending Cleveland's bid for its major league-leading ninth shutout. After Baltimore put runners on the corners with two outs, Bryan Shaw retired Tejada for his second save .

Kevin Gausman (3-7) gave up three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts for the Orioles.

Gausman was cruising until the fifth, when the Indians peeled off four straight hits to go up 3-0. After Roberto Perez doubled in a run, Lindor followed with a two-run homer.

"It's kind of the way things have gone, really, throughout the whole season so far for me," Gausman said. "Pitching well and it kind of gets away from me."

Cleveland added two runs in the ninth against Miguel Castro.

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Manny Machado hits 2 bombs in Orioles 6-5 win over Indians

Manny Machado hits 2 bombs in Orioles 6-5 win over Indians

Another poor outing by their starting pitcher left the Baltimore Orioles facing an early three-run deficit and the prospect of another lopsided loss.

Then Manny Machado took over.

Machado went 4 for 4, homered twice and drove in four runs to help the Orioles beat Cleveland 6-5 on Tuesday night and end the Indians' six-game winning streak.

After absorbing a 12-0 defeat one night earlier, Baltimore fell behind 5-2 before rallying to win for only the fourth time in 13 games.

"Coming back from the game we had (Monday) night -- they really took it to us -- it was good to come out ahead against a real good team," manager Buck Showalter said.

Machado hit a solo homer in the first inning and tied it with a three-run drive in the fifth. Then, in the seventh, Machado doubled off Bryan Shaw (1-2) and scored on a double by Adam Jones.

Machado's first four-hit game since last August lifted his batting average 13 points to .227.

"Just happy I was able to do something for us today," Machado said. "We played great baseball. That's what we've got to keep doing, picking each other up."

Miguel Castro (1-0) worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to earn his first big league victory.

Brad Brach pitched the ninth for his 13th save, retiring Yan Gomes on a deep fly ball with runners on the corners and two outs.

Orioles starter Chris Tillman allowed five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings, but Baltimore's comeback enabled him to avoid losing a sixth straight start.

Asked to sum up his outing, Tillman uttered three words: "Not very good."

The Orioles allowed at least five runs in a 17th consecutive game. That's the longest run in AL history and just three short of the dubious major league record of 20 set by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.

Juan Encarnacion homered for the Indians, whose season-high winning streak thrust the team into first place in the AL Central.

"Nobody wants to lose, but I don't think this loss will affect tomorrow," manager Terry Francona said.

Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin yielded a season-high three homers in 4 2/3 innings. The one pitch he lamented most was the cutter he threw to Machado with two on in the fifth.

"I didn't execute a pitch and it changed the game," he said.

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