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

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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.

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O's game blog: Bruce Zimmermann faces the Tigers

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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.

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Stallings' strong year continued with combined no-hitter

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Mancini on potential arrival soon of Rutschman and other notes

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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.”

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

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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.

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Recent pitching run continues as Kyle Bradish delivers big

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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.

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O's game blog: The road trip begins

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win against K.C.

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The Orioles and Royals wrap up this rain-delayed two-day, three-game series this afternoon in Baltimore after splitting a twin bill on Sunday. Kansas City took the opener, 6-4, while Baltimore won the nightcap, 4-2.

The Orioles have lost just one of their past four series, going 2-1-1 against the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox and Twins. They are 3-4-1 in series play on the season ahead of the rubber match of this series today. They are 2-1-1 in home series.

The Orioles (11-17) have won three of their last four games and five of the past eight. They are 8-9 in the last 17 games.

Right-hander Tyler Wells (0-2, 4.50 ERA), who has an ERA of 2.70 over his past two starts, will make his sixth outing of the season today and his sixth career start. Wells has thrown 18 innings, allowing 18 hits and nine runs with four walks to 14 strikeouts. He has a 1.222 WHIP with a 2.0 walk rate and a 7.0 strikeout rate.

While the Orioles are 0-5 in his starts, those last two versus the Yankees and Twins were pretty good ones. Over a combined 10 innings, Wells gave up seven hits and three runs with no walks and eight strikeouts. Opponent batters hit .194/.194/.306 with .500 OPS against him in those games.

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For starters, Lyles and Zimmermann came up big Sunday

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Looking at playing three games in about a 24-hour span as Sunday’s doubleheader began at Camden Yards, O’s manager Brandon Hyde was hopeful his starting pitchers could get deep in both games. They did that and more as the O’s split a doubleheader with Kansas City.

Had the defense not let down in Game 1, the Orioles may have swept the Royals. But they settled for a split, winning the second game behind lefty Bruce Zimmermann.

After right-hander Jordan Lyles gave up two earned runs in 7 1/3 in Game 1 in the longest outing by a Baltimore starter on the season, Zimmermann had another strong outing in the second game.

Zimmermann allowed five hits and two runs over six innings, tossing 85 pitches in the 4-2 victory. He is now 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA for the year and the Orioles are 4-2 in his 2022 starts. In four home starts, Zimmermann is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. He allowed two earned runs or less for the fifth time and delivered his second quality start.

The two starters ate innings, gave their team big outings and preserved the bullpen for the upcoming road trip.

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O's game blog: Jordan Lyles pitches Game 1 for Orioles

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When we last saw them on the field, the Orioles were beating the first-place Minnesota Twins on Wednesday and Thursday nights. They pounded out 12 hits and scored nine runs over the third and fourth innings Wednesday in a 9-4 win. They hit five solo homers in Thursday’s 5-3 victory to split a four-game series.

But the Orioles (10-16) and Kansas City Royals (8-15) have been rained out Friday and Saturday nights. So now this is a two-day, three-game series with a doubleheader this afternoon and a single game to wrap up the series tomorrow at 12:05 p.m.

The Orioles have won four of six games and are 4-3 on this homestand and 7-6 in home games in 2022. They are 14-5 in their past 19 home games against Kansas City since the 2015 season.

K.C. began the year 5-5, but is 3-10 since and most recently has lost five of its past six games. The Royals have been shut out three times in the past five games and four times on the year. They are 2-6 in road games. Manager Mike Matheny is sitting on 699 career wins.

When Baltimore bashed five homers Thursday, it marked the club's first time hitting at least five in a game since June 19, 2021 versus Toronto, when they hit six longballs. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this was the 11th time in team history that the O’s have hit five solo home runs in a game, with the last time also coming on June 19, 2021, when five of their six homers were solo shots. The Orioles have hit at least five in a game 67 times in team history, going 59-8 in such games.

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Baseball's small world: Allen reunited with youth coach/mentor with O's

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For left-hander Logan Allen, 24, joining the Orioles gives him another chance to establish himself as a pitcher in the major leagues. And it might be his best chance yet, not because of the opportunity he could get as much as who is here to greet him.

As he joined the Orioles officially this week – picked up via waivers from Cleveland on Thursday and added to the roster the next day – he is reunited with someone he has known since his childhood days in Orioles assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes.

Saying he is “really, really excited (to be here). Great opportunity, great organization,” this morning in the clubhouse, Allen noted his connection with Holmes.

“He was, like, my first coach ever. Taught me how to pitch,” he said.

Allen will be used out of the bullpen initially with the Orioles but could find his way into the rotation at some point, and manager Brandon Hyde noted they have that option with a pitcher who has made 15 career big league appearances as a starter and 15 in relief.

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With the O's wins, sometimes comes emotion

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It was the bottom of the eighth inning on Thursday night at Camden Yards. There was one out and the Orioles and the first-place Twins were tied 3-3. If the Orioles could pull off a win, they would split a four-game series with a good club. If they were to lose, they would have lost three of four in the series.

Hard-throwing right-hander Jhoan Durán fired a splitter toward the outer half on his 1-1 pitch. Austin Hays drilled the ball deep toward the new left field wall. You better hit it good to clear that thing, and Hays did – just barely, but it got over – for a go-ahead homer.

It was a big hit, against a good club, late in the game that put his team ahead. If there was a time to show some emotion, this was it. Hays did just that. He came speeding around first base as the ball cleared the wall. Hays looked back toward his dugout and shouted something to his teammates. The emotion of hitting a big homer was washing over him.

Ryan Mountcastle followed with another homer and there was more emotion. A small crowd at Camden Yards sounded much larger.

We’ve seen some emotion from O’s players this year during some big moments that have led to wins. It’s not unlike things we’ve seen from opposing players when they are beating the Orioles. Such passion can get a team and a crowd fired up. Nothing wrong with letting out a scream or pumping a fist when you just delivered a key hit, homer, or strikeout.

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O's postponed tonight against Kansas City

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For the second day in a row, the Orioles scheduled home game with the Royals has been postponed due to inclement weather. The clubs hoped to play the opener of what is now a two-day, three-game series tonight, but the game was postponed just after 4:30 p.m. ET.

A straight single-admission doubleheader is still scheduled for Sunday with the first game beginning at 1:35 p.m. And now the teams will conclude this series with a single game on Monday afternoon at 12:05 p.m.

The Orioles revised pitching order for this series now shows right-hander Jordan Lyles (2-2, 4.50 ERA) pitching the opener on Sunday against right-hander Zack Greinke (0-2, 2.57 ERA). Then lefty Bruce Zimmermann (1-1, 2.59 ERA) goes for Baltimore in Game 2 versus righty Daniel Lynch (2-1, 3.86 ERA). Right-hander Tyler Wells (0-2, 4.50 ERA) will start Monday's game for the Orioles opposite righty Carlos Hernandez (0-1, 6.00 ERA).

Tickets for tonight’s postponed game will be valid for the May 9 game, no exchange necessary. If you are unable to attend the makeup date no action is required. We will reach out via email to all ticket holders unable to attend the May 9 makeup date with an offer for complimentary tickets in a similar seating area for a wide variety of game options later this season. For more information, please visit Orioles.com/Weather.

The game will be broadcast on MASN and on the Orioles Radio Network, including the flagship station of Hearst Baltimore’s 98 Rock FM and WBAL NewsRadio AM/FM. Complimentary tickets are non-exchangeable and must be used for Monday’s makeup date.

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Will O's momentum on offense carry into the weekend?

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When the Orioles scored a season-high nine runs last Sunday at home versus Boston, they followed up that game by scoring one and two in the next two games against Minnesota. But when they tied that season high by scoring nine runs on Wednesday night, they came back the next night and hit five solo homers in Thursday’s 5-3 win.

The Orioles scored 14 runs the last two games against Minnesota's good pitching staff, one that was having a heckuva year until the last two nights. The Twins, as a result of those games, dropped to fourth in team ERA in the American League at 3.36.

But Kansas City, which faces the Orioles for three games over the next two days in Baltimore, ranks last in the AL in team ERA at 4.57 and last in WHIP at 1.36. The Royals' rotation ERA ranks 13th at 4.32.

Kansas City, since going 5-5 to begin the season, has lost 10 of 13 games and is 1-5 over its last six games. Can the O’s now take advantage of another team considered more on their level that is now struggling? We begin to find out tonight.

There are signs the O’s offense is continuing to trend up, as we’ve written about over the last week or so.

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