Orioles are now willing to give up their pick to sign a pitcher

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The Orioles have arguably had the worst off-season of any Major League team. They had the much-publicized contract snafus with closer Grant Balfour and outfielder Tyler Colvin, backing out of contracts with both at the last minute. They traded closer Jim Johnson and, as some have stated, whiffed on the return.

Most importantly, though, the Orioles have needed to bolster their starting rotation and they have not done that. They recently signed Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, but it remains to be seen how he will contribute. They were interested in Bronson Arroyo, but he signed with the Diamondbacks, citing the Balfour and Colvin issues as a deterrent from playing in Baltimore. They were interested in A.J. Burnett, who wanted to play near his home in Maryland, but lost that battle to the Phillies.

Now, with few options and the regular season drawing ever closer, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Orioles are willing to give up their first round pick, 17th overall, to sign an impact starting pitcher like Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. As Rosenthal notes, the Orioles are built to compete within the window of the 2014-15 seasons. They would be foolish to enter the regular season without having addressed their most glaring need. Rosenthal adds that if the Orioles decide to stay in-house, they could turn to 2012 first rounder Kevin Gausman to round out the rotation. Still, their depth behind Gausman is lacking and would find themselves  scrambling in the event of an injury.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.