Can the rotation lead an O’s turnaround? (Plus farm notes)

If there was ever a good time for a rainout, maybe last night was it for the Orioles. They were scheduled to begin a three-game series with Tampa Bay but got washed out at Camden Yards.

The Orioles are trying to reverse a 6-17 start that has seen them lose nine of 10 and 11 of their past 13 games. They are just 3-7 at home, where they’ve scored only 19 runs in 10 games. Maybe a day away will be beneficial.

With a 2-1 loss to Cleveland Monday night, the Orioles ended a stretch in which they played all five 2017 American League playoff teams in the first 23 games. They went 1-2 versus the Twins, 0-3 against the Astros, 0-3 against the Red Sox, 3-1 against the Yankees and 1-3 versus Cleveland. That adds up to a 5-12 record. Ironically, that is better than their 1-5 record versus non-playoff teams as they went 1-2 against Toronto and 0-3 versus Detroit.

Starting tonight, the Orioles next seven series will be against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season. They’ll face the Rays, followed by the Tigers, Angels, Athletics, Royals, the Rays again and the Phillies. That streak ends when they play at Boston on May 17.

As right-hander Alex Cobb faces his former Rays team tonight, it appears the Orioles rotation is much improved this year. If Cobb gets going, the Orioles may be able to, on at least four out of five nights, put a starter out there who can produce consistent quality starts.

Is the chance for the rotation to get on a solid roll the O’s best chance to get their record back toward something respectable?

Plenty of farm notes: Single-A Delmarva lost 3-2 to Kannapolis last night to fall out of first place for the first time in 2018. The game was shortened to seven innings by rain. Both teams took the field at 12-6, and Kannapolis moved a game ahead with the win.

The Shorebirds have lost five of the last six games to fall to 12-7. Delmarva began the year at 7-0, but is 5-7 since then. The Shorebirds’ offense has struggled a bit, scoring 13 runs the last six games.

Delmarva center fielder T.J. Nichting went 0-for-2 and saw his 10-game batting streak end. During the streak, he hit .375 (15-for-40) with four doubles, a triple and six RBIs. The Orioles’ ninth-round pick last June out of UNC-Charlotte, Nichting is batting .313 for the season.

Triple-A Norfolk was rained out last night against Lehigh Valley. The game will be made up during a doubleheader that starts today at 12:05 p.m. The Tides are 9-6 and have won five of their last six games. Tides starting pitchers are 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA over the last four games.

Norfolk catcher Andrew Susac has begun his season with a 10-game hitting streak. Susac is batting .351 (13-for-37) with four doubles, a homer and nine RBIs. He has struck out 16 times already, but also has an OPS of 1.019.

Joey-Rickard-swing-spring-sidebar.jpgOutfielder Joey Rickard is swinging a hot bat the last few days after going a career-best 5-for-5 last Friday. Over his last four games, Rickard is 9-for-17 with two doubles and three RBIs. For the year, he is batting .356 over 13 games.

Outfielder DJ Stewart has hit safely in seven of his last nine games, over which he’s hit .353 (12-for-34) with a double, five RBIs and eight runs. For the season, Stewart is batting .292/.382/.375

Lefty reliever Josh Edgin has gotten off to a great start, going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA through 8 2/3 innings for Norfolk. Edgin has struck out 11 and walked three, holding opponents to a .219 average.

Double-A Bowie was rained out Tuesday night versus Richmond, with no makeup date announced yet. The Baysox are 10-7 overall, 8-3 at home, and have won four of their past five games.

Baysox outfielder Ademar Rifaela, out of CuraƧao, has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, batting .417 (15-for-36) with seven runs and four RBIs. He has five multi-hit games during this stretch and ranks fourth in the Eastern League, batting .358. Rifaela won the Carolina League MVP award last year.

Outfielder Cedric Mullins has hit safely in 13 of his first 15 starts to begin the season. For the year, he is batting .261/.292/.493 with five doubles, a triple, three homers and 12 RBIs. He leads the team with 11 runs scored. Mullins is 7-for-21 his last four games.

Lefty reliever Paul Fry has not allowed an earned run in his first 10 1/3 innings over seven games. Fry has not given up a run in 12 of his 14 games with the Baysox, dating to last season. This season, lefty batters are 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts against him.

Lefty reliever Luis Gonzalez has not allowed an earned run and has fanned 14 with just two walks over his first 8 1/3 innings. He recorded his team-leading third save of the season on Monday.

Single-A Frederick got rained out Tuesday at Salem. The Keys (7-11) will play a doubleheader there today at 5:35 p.m.

Left-hander Alexander Wells, the 2017 Orioles minor league Pitcher of the Year, is off to an 0-1 start with a 2.40 ERA through three Keys starts. Over 15 innings, Wells has allowed 14 hits with four walks and 13 strikeouts.

Keys reliever Branden Kline is off to a strong start. He has thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings on just five hits with no walks and eight strikeouts over five games. Opponents’ batters are hitting just .179 off the Frederick native.

Keys center fielder Ryan McKenna is hitting .371 to rank second in the Carolina League with two homers and six RBIs, and has been a sparkplug at the top of the order, scoring 15 runs and adding three steals. He leads the league with 26 hits. The Orioles’ fourth-round pick in 2015, McKenna is batting .452 (14-for-31) during his current eight-game hitting streak.

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