O's game blog: Game 2 against the Yankees

The Orioles have not scored more than three runs since beating St. Louis 5-3 a week ago today in that series-opening game. Since then they have lost five of six games, scoring nine runs and the search for offense continues tonight in Baltimore.

The Orioles (14-22) host the New York Yankees (26-9) in the second game of a four-game series and seven-game homestand.

Over a longer stretch, the Orioles are still playing at or around .500 ball and in fact are 8-8 over the last 16 games. They are 11-14 their past 25 games. They are 9-8 at home and 4-3 in home games versus AL East opponents.

They produced two solo homers – both by Anthony Santander last night – when they were held to three hits in the series opener at Oriole Park. Santander homered from both sides of the plate, becoming the first Oriole to do that since he did it on Aug. 31, 2019 at Kansas City. Santander leads the Orioles with six home runs. Cedric Mullins has five and Ryan Mountcastle has four homers.

The Birds were held to three hits last night, their fewest of the year and they had four each in the previous two games. They do have outfielder Austin Hays returning to the lineup tonight.

Continue reading

Lefty Nick Vespi gets the big league call

GettyImages-138626690_20220517-212220_1

A long road finally ended for left-handed reliever Nick Vespi today. Now that he got on the road, he will try to stay on it.

But it’s a great day in the life of this eighth-year Oriole.

The Orioles selected Vespi in the 18th round of the 2015 draft and he saw all the stops on the O’s farm along the way over 149 games. Two years in short-season ball and three years at low Single-A Delmarva. Just when he was ready to make a move up, the season was cancelled in 2020. But after pitching to an ERA of 4.19 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021, Vespi really elevated his game this year with an ERA of 0.00 for Norfolk over 12 games.

Now he is finally in the major leagues.

The club selected his contract today from the Tides and he will wear No. 79. In a corresponding move, lefty Logan Allen was designated for assignment.

Continue reading

O's offense still struggling and Chirinos is looking to break out

GettyImages-1391500021

The Orioles recently went through a six-game stretch in which they scored 33 runs. That run ended in the first game of their series at St. Louis, which they won 5-3. Since that game last Tuesday, they have scored one, three, two, zero, one and two runs. That is nine runs in six games. They are 1-5 in that stretch.

The O’s lost the opener of this week-long homestand 6-2 to the New York Yankees last night as New York took the opener in the four-game series.

While the Yankees improved to 26-9 and are 19-3 their last 22 games, the Orioles fell to 14-22 and have scored five runs during a four-game losing streak.

At 14-18, before this losing streak, the Orioles were on a 71-win pace. Now they are playing .389 ball. That's a 63-win pace.

There are still things to like about this season – the improved bullpen, Bruce Zimmermann’s start, the arrival of Kyle Bradish and the team’s winning record at home to name a few – but the last few days have produced dismal results.

Continue reading

O's game blog: The homestand begins against the Yankees

bradish pitch white

Following a 2-4 road trip during which they won two of three in St. Louis and were swept at Detroit, the Orioles are back at Oriole Park tonight to start a week-long homestand. They host the New York Yankees for four games and then the Tampa Bay Rays will be in town for three over the weekend.

This starts a difficult stretch of two weeks of games within the American League East, with seven this week versus the Yankees and Rays and eight next week at New York and Boston.

The Orioles have played two home AL East series and won them both, over the Yankees and Red Sox. In fact, they are the only team to take a series from New York this year. The O’s have gone 4-8 within the division – they are 4-2 at home and 0-6 on the road.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-1, 4.24 ERA) will make his fourth big league start tonight in the series opener. He is coming off a strong outing at St. Louis on Tuesday. He gave up four hits and two runs over seven innings, with no walks and 11 strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches and got nine swings and misses on 20 swings against his slider.

Bradish has thrown his fastball 51 percent thus far, at an average velocity of 94.7 mph, and uses his slider 31 percent, curveball 10 percent and changeup eight percent. He is getting a 43.2 groundball rate.

Continue reading

Chirinos on Bradish: "I think he has a bright future here"

chirinos pink gear dugout white

With a lineup tonight that is still without Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle and will also be without shortstop Jorge Mateo, at least at the start, the O’s could use another solid game on the mound. They will send out rookie right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-1, 4.24) for his fourth career start.

And he is facing the first-place New York Yankees (25-9), who have the best record in the majors and have won six of seven and 18 of their last 21 games.

This is sure a challenge for a young pitcher facing a team that is tied for the American League lead in homers and OPS and is second in runs scored. A team on a 119-win pace.

For the fourth time in four starts, Robinson Chirinos is catching the youngster. Chirinos has been impressed by Bradish's start, particularly last week in St. Louis, when he allowed two runs over seven innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts.

I asked Chirinos what impressed him the most about Bradish in that outing.

Continue reading

After tough weekend, O's gear up for challenging few weeks

GettyImages-1396326159-1

Captain Obvious has been busy this season, giving me a steady stream of calls and notes. The latest was to remind me that the Orioles may be an improved team but are not yet at the point they can be missing several key players and still consistently win.

The Captain is right again.

The Orioles were without Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays in Detroit and Jorge Mateo left yesterday’s game in the fourth inning. They lost 5-1 and scored just three runs over the weekend. They scored in just two of 27 innings. That will not cut it.

The offense with Hays and Mountcastle was trending up, scoring 33 runs over a six-game stretch. But they have followed that by scoring seven runs over the past five games.

The Captain said that means the offense has been inconsistent.

Continue reading

O's game blog: The road trip finale in Detroit

Tyler Wells clapping gray

On Saturday afternoon, the Orioles got another quality start from a starting pitcher and they also got another scoreless outing from their bullpen. But their offense produced just four hits and was held scoreless for the second time this season in a 3-0 loss to the Tigers.

The Tigers have won the first two games of this series with the Orioles offense producing just two runs and 12 hits with a couple of solo homers in losing the first two games at Comerica Park.

The Orioles have been swept in three straight games twice this season – both on the road at American League East rivals. In the opening series, they were swept in St. Petersburg, Fla., by the Rays and outscored 15-4. In late April, they lost three in a row at Yankee Stadium by a combined 27-15 score.

When this series began, the Orioles were coming off a series win at St. Louis and had won four of five, six of eight and eight of the previous 12 games. Detroit was 9-23 and had lost three in a row and nine of its previous 10 games. But the fortunes turned for both this weekend and Detroit, which had lost 16 of 19 as play began Friday night, now looks for a third consecutive victory today.

Orioles right-hander Tyler Wells (1-2, 3.75 ERA), coming off back-to-back strong outings, will try to keep that roll going today in the series finale. It’s his seventh start. For the season, he’s yielded 23 hits in 24 innings with four walks to 17 strikeouts. He has a WHIP of 1.125 with a 1.5 walk rate and 6.4 strikeout rate.

Continue reading

A look at Gunnar Henderson's stellar start to the 2022 season

Gunnar-Henderson-smiling-_20220515-161021_1

Talk about achieving desired results. Let’s talk about still 20-year-old infielder Gunnar Henderson, a player that is at least three years younger than the average age in the Double-A Eastern League for the Bowie Baysox.

He told me in a preseason interview how he used foam baseballs to improve his plate discipline stats and cut down on his swings and misses. The early returns for him have been remarkable. He is striking out a lot less and walking a lot more. His OPS is well over .900.

He is looking every bit the top 100 prospect that he is.

Before the opening game this year he explained some improvements he was looking to make and how a foam baseball would help him do that.

“Some stuff I said to them (the coaches) that I wanted to work on is flattening out (my swing) just a touch to eliminate some of the miss and fouls balls in a sense that I know I should be hitting,” Henderson said then at Bowie’s Prince George’s Stadium. “One big thing for me was hitting foam balls off the machine that had good ride to them. Felt that was a really good help. It overexaggerates, but it helps. The second thing was just being a little more adjustable and not so stiff, letting my body do the work, so I kind of loosened up. Just relax everything, not trying to be a robot in a sense.

Continue reading

O's game blog: Bruce Zimmermann faces the Tigers

Bruce Zimmermann Black

The Orioles have recently won two series where they lost the first game and then won the last two. They did that on the recent homestand against both Boston and Kansas City. Now they try to add Detroit to that list after Friday’s 4-2 loss at Comerica Park.

It was a frustrating night for the Baltimore offense as it stranded four runners over the first two innings and nine over the last three. Yep, they left the bases loaded in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. They went 1-for-12 on the night with runners in scoring position, stranding 14 runners.

In the past three games, the O’s scored six runs total on 21 hits and went 2-for-19 with RISP.

At 14-19, the Orioles are 5-12 on the road and 9-7 at home. They are on pace to win 69 games.

The Orioles went 4-1-1 the past six series with wins over the Angels, Red Sox, Royals and Cardinals.

Continue reading

Stallings' strong year continued with combined no-hitter

Bowie-Baysox-stadium-4-copy

His name may not dot many of those top prospects lists just yet, but as of last Sunday right-hander Garrett Stallings has his name in the record book for the Double-A Bowie Baysox.

In Game 1 of a doubleheader versus Harrisburg at Prince George’s Stadium, Stallings threw the first six innings of a seven-inning combined no-hitter. Right-hander Morgan McSweeney got the last three outs as Bowie blanked Harrisburg 4-0. Over the six frames, Stallings walked two, fanned five and threw 75 pitches. He didn’t get to finish it out but he did get to be a part of Baysox history.

“It was very, very special,” Stallings told me this week on my WBAL Radio Orioles postgame show. “It doesn’t happen every day and definitely had the right mix going and handed the ball off to Morgan, who finished it out. Very cool being part of the 11th no-hitter in Baysox history.”

With that win, Stallings, who pitches again tonight for Bowie, improved to 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA over five games. He has walked eight and fanned 23 in 24 innings with a WHIP of 0.75, allowing an opponent batting average of .125 and OPS of .508.

A strong start to his season and a great outing for the fifth round pick out of the University of Tennessee by the Los Angeles Angels in 2019.

Continue reading

O's game blog: The road trip moves on to Detroit

lyles pitch mothers day cap white

The Orioles produced two outstanding pitching performances to lead the way in wins over the St. Louis Cardinals by 5-3 Tuesday and 3-2 yesterday as they won another series and improved to 14-18. Now their six-game, two-city road trip has moved on to Detroit for tonight’s series opener.

The Orioles and Tigers play the next three days. The Birds have won four of their past five games and six of their last eight, and they are 8-4 over the last 12 games. Since April 20 they are 11-10.

The Orioles are 4-1-1 the last six series.

* Went 2-1 at Los Angeles Angels.
* Went 0-3 at New York Yankees.
* Went 2-1 vs. Boston.
* Went 2-2 vs. Minnesota.
* Went 2-1 vs. Kansas City.
* Went 2-1 at St. Louis.

The Orioles are also now playing better in close games. They are 5-2 in their past seven games that were decided by one or two runs. For the year, they are 5-5 each in both one- and two-run games.

Continue reading

Late bloomer on mound for O's at end of the games in St. Louis

bautista-pitching-white

Can we call a pitcher who was released by one organization and spent all of his first six seasons - when he wasn’t hurt - in short-season ball but is now in the majors a late bloomer? Can we call that a run-on sentence?

Probably, but it’s hard to be concise at times about the story of right-hander Félix Bautista, a hard-throwing pitcher from the Dominican Republic who made the Orioles roster for the first time at age 26. The same pitcher was touching 102 mph and getting his first two major league saves during the St. Louis series. The same pitcher who was pitching for high Single-A Aberdeen at this time last year.

An overnight sensation at age 26?

Hardly. It took Bautista a lot of time and hard work to get to the point he could get a four-out save in front of 35,000 on the road against a playoff contender.

He needed to throw 24 pitches Thursday afternoon to close out the game with the help of a sensational catch and inning-ending double play from shortstop Jorge Mateo. But Bautista got it done, throwing nine pitches at 100 mph or more, per Statcast, and throwing 14 at 98 mph or more. His average velocity this year heading into that outing was a robust 97.7 mph. His average velocity in the game Thursday was 100.3.

Continue reading

O's game blog: The series finale, plus minor league honors

mateo slides home gray

After a 5-3 win behind Kyle Bradish’s seven-inning, 11-strikeout performance followed by a 10-1 loss last night, the Orioles wrap up their series in St. Louis this afternoon. Right-hander Bryan Baker will start and pitch as an opener in the series finale.

The Orioles are 3-1 in rubber match games, losing against Milwaukee but posting wins against the Yankees, Red Sox and Royals.

Baltimore is 13-18 through 31 games, and has won five of seven and seven of the last 11 games. The Orioles are 10-10 over the past 20 and 6-4 in May. They are 2-3 versus National League teams, going 1-2 against Milwaukee and 1-1 versus St. Louis. The Orioles are 4-11 in road games and 1-3 in road series, winning one in Anaheim versus the Los Angeles Angels.

Baker (1-1, 5.40 ERA) will start today’s game for Baltimore, making his 12th appearance of the season but first as a starter. He has thrown 10 innings, allowing 11 hits and six runs, and recording two walks and 11 strikeouts. He has a 1.300 WHIP with a 1.8 walk rate and 9.9 strikeout rate. He has thrown seven scoreless outings, but his longest outing is 1 2/3 innings and his highest pitch count in any game is 24.

Over his past four games, he has allowed three hits and one run in 2 2/3 innings. Lefty batters hit .231 with an OPS of .692 against him, and right-handed batters are hitting .308/.665.

Continue reading

Mancini on potential arrival soon of Rutschman and other notes

rutschman-profile

Trey Mancini seemed to be choosing his words a bit carefully. He didn’t want any misunderstanding. But when I asked him recently about the possible arrival soon of top prospect Adley Rutschman, he let it be known the clubhouse will embrace him with open arms.

He also wanted us to know the team is getting better before our eyes this season and working very hard on what they need to do each day with the current roster. They seem focused on the day-to-day business of baseball and are not looking too far down the road. They can leave that to media and fans to ponder and speculate about when we will see Rutschman in Baltimore.

“It’s cool (he could arrive soon), but at the same time, I want to word this correctly, like we’re worried about here and now,” said Mancini, during the last homestand. “We know guys are coming and it’s exciting. But at the same time, I think we are more paying attention to who is here now. And what is going on around here.

“Whenever they come up it’s going to be awesome and we’re going to show them the ropes. But, you know, it’s major league baseball at the same time, too. When the whole crew of guys comes up, I think they’re going to be really good and be here for a long time. There will be some great teams.

"But it’s a tough division, too. There definitely is a bit of a learning curve at times. I think we have enough guys here and the culture has been really good that we can show them the ropes. I think it’s going to be really good. We’re really excited for him to come up, and a lot of other guys. But at the same time, we are more focused on the day-to-day and trying to win ballgames right now.”

Continue reading

O's game blog: Looking to keep it rolling in St. Louis

watkins-pitching-orange

Behind a better-than-expected rotation, a bullpen that ranks seventh in the league in ERA, a defense that leads the American League in double plays and a rejuvenated offense, the Orioles have gotten on a roll. They will look to keep it going tonight and win a series if they get a victory at St. Louis.

With Tuesday’s series-opening 5-3 win over the Cardinals, the Orioles have won three in a row, five of six and seven of their past 10 games. They are 10-9 over the last 19 games and ended a four-game road losing streak last night.

It was another good night for the starting pitching as rookie Kyle Bradish allowed just two runs over seven innings with 11 strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches and had a 45 percent whiff rate on his slider. After Harrison Bader hit a two-run inside-the-park homer in the sixth, Bradish proceeded to strikeout the side and then fanned two more batters in the seventh inning.

The O’s have gotten four consecutive quality starts and now have seven for the season. In the four games, O’s starters have an ERA of 2.39 allowing seven earned runs over 26 1/3 with just one walk to 24 strikeouts.

O’s starting pitchers rank seventh in the AL with an ERA of 3.75. Those starters have allowed two earned runs or less in 23 of Baltimore’s 30 games. The team ERA is 2.50 during the O’s 5-1 run.

Continue reading

Recent pitching run continues as Kyle Bradish delivers big

Kyle Bradish throws gray

On Monday morning, less than two hours before that 12:05 p.m game in Baltimore when I had an interview with Kyle Bradish in the Orioles clubhouse, the right-hander was looking ahead to his next start. It would come the next day at St. Louis.

We didn’t know then how good it would go, but Bradish said simply he learned a lot in his second start against the Twins and was looking forward to outing No. 3.

“Just need to keep challenging hitters and not try and get too fine," he said. "It’s the big leagues and keep doing what I am here for. I had some good innings in both those first two starts and definitely gives me some reassurance that I am supposed to be here."

Further reassurance was delivered against the Cardinals last night. A seven-inning outing with no walks and 11 strikeouts. A 90-pitch gem against a playoff-caliber opponent playing in front of over 33,000 home fans. He showed tremendous poise after a two-run inside-the-park homer threatened to unravel five excellent innings on just 58 pitches.

But Bradish didn’t let that happen. This game would not get away from him or the Orioles.

Continue reading

O's game blog: The road trip begins

santander-hays-celebrate-gray

After a very successful homestand – one where they went 6-4 – the Orioles begin a two-city road trip tonight in St. Louis. The Birds lost the first game of each series of the homestand, but won the first and third series of three games each, taking the last two against the Red Sox and Royals. In between those, they lost the first two games versus the Twins, but won the last two to split that four-game series.

So the Orioles are now 4-4-1 in series for the season, going 3-1-1 at home and 1-3 on the road. While they are 9-7 overall at home this year, the Orioles have lost 10 of 13 road games. They went 0-3 against Tampa Bay, 1-3 at Oakland, 2-1 versus the Los Angeles Angels and 0-3 at New York against the Yankees.

Tonight the Orioles (12-17) play the Cardinals (16-12) to start a three-game series and six-game trip that will also take them to Detroit. Baltimore plays at new Busch Stadium for the first time tonight, with the last trip to St. Louis coming in 2003. The Orioles are the only major league club yet to play at this ballpark.

The Orioles and Cardinals last met June 16-18, 2017 at Oriole Park, with the O’s taking two of three. The series featured 22 combined home runs with Baltimore hitting nine in the final two games. Trey Mancini had a monster series in ‘17, batting .462/.462/1.154 (6-for-13) with one double, one triple, two home runs, four RBIs and five runs scored in the three games.

Outfielder Austin Hays, after going 12-for-21 during a six-game hitting streak, now ranks among major league leaders since April 15 in hits (tied for first, 32), batting average (second, .386), OPS (fourth, 1.037), total bases (tied for fourth, 49), on-base percentage (tied for fourth, .447), doubles (tied for fifth, eight) and slugging percentage (seventh, .590). Hays reached base safely in nine consecutive appearances from his single in the sixth inning on May 5 through his double in the third inning of Game 2 on Sunday. He recorded seven hits and two walks during that stretch, which covered parts of three games. Hays became the first Oriole to reach in at least nine straight plate appearances since Cedric Mullins reached in 11 straight from June 4-6, 2021.

Continue reading

Mancini on Hays: "An All-Star caliber player"

Austin Hays Ryan Mountcastle fives white

In the 2016 First-Year Player Draft, the Orioles selected outfielder Austin Hays out of Jacksonville University in the third round. The next year, after his first full professional year, Hays had a season among the best in all of the minor leagues. He was finalist for Baseball America’s Player of the Year.

After a season where Hays hit 32 homers and drove in 95 runs in high Single-A and Double-A, he was keeping company with some of the game’s brightest young stars. Ronald Acuña Jr. won Baseball America's Player of the Year award then, but Hays was a finalist with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette of Toronto. That winter, Baseball America ranked Hays No. 21 on its top 100 list.

While some injuries slowed Hays over the ensuing seasons, he finally stayed on the field a lot last season and posted a better-than-league-average .769 OPS for the Orioles, showing glimpses of his talent.

This year, that talent has been on full display. Hays has gone 12-for-21 his past six games and is batting .463 (19-for-41) his last 11 games. Since April 15, his average is among the best in the major leagues at .386. He has reached base 12 times his last 14 plate appearances after going 2-for-3 in Monday’s win over Kansas City.

Teammate Trey Mancini said he knew Hays could do this.

Continue reading

O's back Tyler Wells with big-inning in series-clinching win (updated)

Tyler wells pitching white

The Orioles offense took a while to get going today. But right-hander Tyler Wells was pretty good almost from the first pitch.

Wells held Kansas City's offense in check before his hitters could provide a big inning for Baltimore in the series finale.

The Orioles beat the Royals, 6-1, to win their fourth series of the year and to complete a 6-4 homestand. They are 12-17 for the year and have won four of five, six of nine and are 9-9 over their last 18 games.

The Orioles, who begin a road trip in St. Louis tomorrow, closed out this quick rain-delayed two-day, three-game set with a win and are 3-1-1 in their past five series.

Wells allowed a first-inning run when leadoff batter Bobby Witt Jr. singled, stole second and scored on Ryan O’Hearn’s two-out single to right-center. Then he shut down the Royals over the next five innings, needing just 49 pitches from the second inning on.

Continue reading

O's pregame notes on Mountcastle, Wells, Mullins and more

GettyImages-1344168494

The Orioles' Ryan Mountcastle is mostly fine today after rolling his ankle during a stolen base of second in the first inning of Game 2 last night. Mountcastle stayed in the game then and is back in the lineup today, batting fifth as the DH in the series finale with Kansas City.

“Yeah, watching that, that didn’t looked good. But we dodged a bullet there and he feels good today. Think a little bit sore, but not too bad,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Mountcastle, who is 9-for-17 over his past four games.

The Orioles will start right-handers Kyle Bradish and Spenser Watkins in the first two games of their series at St. Louis, which begins tomorrow night. But Thursday is TBA and they seem unlikely to bring Jordan Lyles or Bruce Zimmermann back on short rest. After rainouts over the weekend and a doubleheader Sunday, Thursday likely will not feature someone currently in the rotation. 

“I think we’re seeing how the next couple of days go and then we’ll figure it out. Right now, we have no idea at this point. We’ll weigh some options here the next couple of days,” Hyde said this morning.

Hyde needed his bullpen for only 4 2/3 innings in Sunday’s doubleheader and the ‘pen is in good shape today. He said all pitchers used Sunday are available today.

Continue reading