Hall on Rutschman: "He's a difference maker"

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BOWIE, Md. – Two of the Orioles' very best prospects looked every bit of that yesterday as they played for Double-A Bowie against Harrisburg. After both catcher Adley Rutschman and pitcher DL Hall had another good day they did a round of interviews. And not long after that came the news that the stay in Bowie would last three days.

They were promoted to Triple-A Norfolk to join the Tides in Nashville tonight. For Rutschman it’s a return to the team he ended last year with. Hall will make his Triple-A debut in his first Norfolk game.

Their inevitable march to Baltimore takes another important step. The Orioles continue to get on with it with some of their prospects. They are now on the cusp of the majors.

Hall pitched 3 2/3 innings versus Harrisburg Thursday afternoon, allowing three hits and two runs that scored after he left the game. He was dominant at times, touching 99 and 100 mph, and got swings and misses with four pitches.

But the best stat for Hall, according to the pitcher himself, was his strike percentage. It was 80 percent, with 47 of his 59 pitches strikes. He got strikes on 19 of 21 pitches the first two innings and fanned six batters the first time through the order. For a pitcher with a career 5.0 walk rate, it seems he is making big progress with control and command. This was the definition of pounding the zone. After his elbow stress fracture short-circuited his 2021 season last June, Hall had some thinking to do about needing to throw more strikes moving forward.

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O's game blog: Looking for two in a row against the Twins

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After Wednesday’s 9-4 win over Minnesota – where the Orioles scored all nine runs over the third and fourth innings – the Orioles need a win tonight to split this four-game series with the first-place Twins.

Baltimore (9-16) tied its season-high for runs, producing nine for the second time in four games. The Orioles had 12 hits in the win. Through their first 18 games this year, they didn’t have a game with 10 hits or more. Now they’ve done that three times the last seven games.

The Orioles had three players with multi-hit games and three with multi-RBI games. They also hit two homers in a home game for the first time in 2022. Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle combined to go 7-for-12 with a homer, four runs and three RBIs. Mullins hit a two-run homer and now has 10 RBIs, all coming at Oriole Park. His 10 RBIs are tied for eighth in the American League.

The Orioles scored 24 runs in the season’s first 12 games. Now they have scored 59 over the past 13, averaging 4.54 runs per game in that span.

Orioles starting pitchers have pitched to a 2.41 ERA in 12 home games this season, the third-best mark in the AL and fourth-best in the majors. Last night, Carlos Correa’s home run was only the second homer allowed by a Baltimore starter this season at home, fewest in the majors.

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DL Hall dazzles early on in solid outing at Bowie (updated)

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BOWIE, Md. – For the second week in a row on the farm today, Birdland was treated to a battery that we could see in the big leagues as soon as later this year. Catcher Adley Rutschman, the top overall pick in the 2019 draft, caught lefty DL Hall, the Birds' top pick from 2017 as Double-A Bowie hosted Harrisburg.

And Hall was dominant at times, although his final line will show two runs that scored after he left the game.

He had several pitches touch 99 mph and a few reach triple digits. It was a treat for fans at Prince George’s Stadium, including a large group of school kids, that were on hand for the 11:05 a.m. start. They got to see two top 100 prospects at pitcher and catcher for the home team and the Orioles' No. 1 and No. 3 prospects per Baseball America.

After the game, the Orioles confirmed Rutschman and Hall will move up to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, joining the Tides in Nashville. Rutschman will be in the lineup tomorrow.

Hall, 23, threw 3 2/3 innings allowing three hits and the two runs with one walk and six strikeouts. He truly dazzled early on, fanning six batters the first time through the Harrisburg lineup as he faced a 13-10 team that is third in the Eastern League in runs scored.

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Looking back on a night where the runs came for the Orioles

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Having fun with averages shows the Orioles have scored 21 runs the last four games. That’s a respectable 5.25 runs per game. But they got there by scoring nine, one, two and nine runs.

So yeah, some inconsistency, but at least they’ve scored a season high for runs twice in four games. And they won those two games and lost a third by one run.

Before last night, the Orioles had not hit two homers in a game at Camden Yards this year. Then they hit two in one inning. In a six-run O’s third, Cedric Mullins and Ramón Urías hit two-run shots.

The Orioles took a 6-0 lead, saw the Twins get back in the game at 6-4, only to score three more runs an inning later to pull away again and win 9-4.

So the Birds are now 9-16 overall, 6-6 at home and 3-3 during the current homestand, which has four games left.

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O's game blog: Kyle Bradish faces first-place Minnesota

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When the Orioles traded right-hander Dylan Bundy to the Los Angeles Angels on Dec. 4, 2019, one of four pitchers they got back was right-hander Kyle Bradish. Tonight Bradish, in his second big league start, pitches against Bundy at Oriole Park.

Bradish (0-1, 3.00 ERA) and Bundy (3-1, 2.95 ERA) square off in the third game of the series between the O's and first-place Minnesota at Camden Yards. The Twins have pitched their way to 2-1 and 7-2 wins to start this four-game set as they improved to 15-9 overall and to 11-1 the last 12 games.

The Twins pitching staff ranks second in the American League and fourth in the majors with a team ERA of 3.01. And they are first in the AL and third in the big leagues with a rotation ERA of 2.63. Minnesota pitchers have allowed just 25 runs the last 12 games.

And they are facing an O’s offense that has struggled much of the year. The Orioles have scored fewer than three runs in 14 of their 24 games this season and four times the past five games. The Orioles rank 30th in the majors with a team slugging percentage of .311 and are 28th in OPS at .609. They are averaging only 3.08 runs per game.

Bradish made his big league debut on Friday and went six innings, allowing five hits and three runs (two earned) against Boston with one walk and two strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches in a 3-1 loss. Bradish used his four-seam fastball 45 times that night, at an average velocity of 94.1 mph, which topped at 97.2. He used his slider 20 times, curveball nine times and changeup seven.

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Mountcastle has overcome a slow start before

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Ryan Mountcastle has been here before. He is struggling early in the season. During a 2021 season that ended for him with an Orioles rookie record 33 homers and with a .796 OPS, he got off to a very slow start.

Through 25 games last season, Mountcastle, who went on to finish sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, was batting .198/.229/.286/.515. He is actually struggling a bit less now, per the stat sheet, through 22 games, batting .227/.261/.307/.568.

Since he got out of a major slump early last year, he just has to do it again. And having done it once sure gives him experience and confidence that he will do it again.

“A little bit," he said today in the O's clubhouse. "This year I feel like I’m putting together better at-bats than I did last year early in the year. Some things just aren’t falling right now. I feel like I’ve probably lined out about five or six games in a row. That’s just baseball. You have to get through it, and hopefully they start dropping soon. Going through that struggle last year has definitely kept me level-headed going through a rough patch."

So what did he do then that could help now?

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Adley Rutschman arrives at Bowie, talks about next steps

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Catcher Adley Rutschman’s rise toward his major league debut took another big step last night as he began a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie when the Baysox opened a six-game series at Prince George’s Stadium against Harrisburg.

Rutschman’s chances to make the O’s opening day roster were dashed early in big league spring training by a strained right triceps. But he’s doing much better now and last week at high Single-A Aberdeen he went 6-for-13 with three doubles. He went 4-for-5 on Saturday for the IronBirds.

Several reporters, including those from the "MASN All Access" crew, interviewed Rutschman before Tuesday’s game at Bowie.

“Felt great so far. I think the training staff, all the coaches, they’ve just done a tremendous job so far," Rutschman said of his return to game action. "Helped me feel right at home and get me back in the swing of things. It’s been great.

“Just continue now to keep progressing forward. Just trying to feel good and stay healthy. Get to see guys and keep those relationships up. Last week was a great week. Got to see all the guys and now looking forward to this week.”

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O's game blog: Bruce Zimmermann faces the Twins at the Yard

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The Orioles continue to play a series of low-scoring close games at Oriole Park, with the new wall dimensions this year no doubt contributing greatly to that. Last night the teams combined for just three runs on 11 hits as the Twins beat the Orioles 2-1 to start a four-game series.

The Orioles went 2-4 versus the Twins last year and have now lost 17 of 20 to Minnesota since 2018. The Birds are 14-33 against the Twins since 2014.

The Orioles (8-15) scored nine runs – a season-high – in winning Sunday against the Red Sox. But they have scored just one, two and one run in the other three games around that one recently. So the offense remains remarkably inconsistent. This series the offense is matched up against a pitching staff that ranks second in the American League and fifth in the majors with a team ERA of 3.06. The Twins' rotation ERA of 2.58 is first in the AL and second in the majors.

The Twins (14-9) lead the AL Central by 3 ½ games over the Guardians and by 4 ½ games over the White Sox. Minnesota began the year going 4-8 but have now won 10 of 11 games, allowing just 23 runs in that span. In those 11 games, the Twins have a plus-33 run differential.

Tonight’s game features a marquee pitching matchup between two somewhat unheralded pitchers that have put up excellent numbers to begin the 2022 season. It’s O’s left-hander Bruce Zimmermann (1-1, 0.93 ERA) against Twins right-hander Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.17 ERA).

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Chris Holt on the O's improved pitching

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For a team that ranked last in the major leagues in team ERA last season, the Orioles have made some impressive pitching improvement thus far in the 2022 season. Baltimore’s ERA was 5.84 in 2021 and the next closest team to that was really not that close with Arizona at 5.11.

But this season the Orioles have gone from worst to, at one point on the recent road trip, close to first. They ranked near the top of the league to that point in team ERA, rotation ERA and bullpen ERA.

The club took a step back when it gave up 27 runs in three games at Yankee Stadium, but still is doing overall much better in American League pitching stats. Through last night’s game – a 2-1 loss to Minnesota at Oriole Park – the team ERA of 3.60 is eighth in the league and the rotation ERA of 3.53 is fourth. In bullpen ERA, at 3.67, the O’s are ninth.

Right-hander Tyler Wells gave up one run in five innings last night. It was the 19th time in 23 games that an O's starting pitcher allowed two earned runs or less. That happened 10 times in the first 23 games a season ago. O's starters have an ERA of 1.72 in home games.

It is a nice trend for the better. During the West Coast trip, I sat down with O’s second year pitching coach/director of pitching Chris Holt to discuss some reasons for the potential turnaround. Holt was one of the first hires by executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias after he took over with the Orioles and he headed up the O’s minor league pitching development starting in 2019 and still does today, even with his bigger role now on the major league staff.

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O's game blog: O's face first-place Twins in series opener

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The Orioles' homestand continues tonight at Camden Yards. After the Birds took two of three from Boston over the weekend, winning the last two games, they begin a four-game series against Minnesota.

The Twins (13-9) are a team on a good roll. They are 9-1 since a 4-8 start to their season. They just won two of three from Tampa Bay, taking the last two games versus the Rays by 9-1 and 9-3 scores. Minnesota is now 13-7 against Tampa Bay since July 2018. The Twins' run differential is a plus-32 over the past 10 games.

Minnesota has moved into first place in the American League Central, leading by three games over Cleveland and by 4 1/2 over the Chicago White Sox. The Twins are the fourth current first-place team the Orioles have played. Baltimore went 1-2 versus Milwaukee, 2-4 against the New York Yankees and 2-1 versus the Los Angeles Angels, so 5-7 against the first-place teams.

Minnesota’s rotation ERA of 2.62 is the best in the AL and fourth in the major leagues. The Twins' overall team ERA of 3.15 ranks second in the AL, and its 3.80 bullpen ERA rates 13th. Over the last 10 games, Minnesota pitchers have allowed just 22 runs total and allowed two runs or fewer six times in that span.

The Twins are 3-4 in series openers, 3-3 against the AL East, 5-5 in road games and 8-0 when they outhit their opponent.

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A look at reasons to have hope for the offense

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Captain Obvious checked in with me again this weekend. To his credit, he first asked me how I was feeling and then discussed the O’s offense. He told me they were really struggling. This call came before Sunday’s game, when the Orioles scored a season-high nine runs.

It was obvious they had a good day and we didn’t need any Captains to notice that.

But they had scored just three runs combined in the first two games of the Boston series and, as always, the Captain had a valid point.

Here is the good news: Before Sunday, they were struggling so much that the stat sheet and history tell us they will get better, at least to some degree. And then we can look at several key Baltimore hitters and see how they are performing and how when they get it going - and they likely will - that should help too.

First, here is a look at the lowest scoring teams in the majors the last three years in runs per game, and where the Orioles were in those seasons.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win against Boston

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After last night’s 2-1 win in 10 innings over Boston on a throwing error by the Red Sox, the Orioles and Sox have split the first two games of this series. They have scored seven runs combined in the games.

Today, the Orioles (7-14) host Boston (9-13) in the rubber game in the series. A win would give the Orioles their third series victory of 2022 and they are 1-1 in rubber games.

Last night was the club’s second walk-off win of the season and they are now 2-0 in extra-inning games. They are 4-4 at home and 3-8 versus the American League East, and the win ended a five-game losing streak for the Orioles.

They continue to play a lot of close games, with 13 of the 21 decided by two runs or less. Baltimore is 4-4 in one-run games and 1-4 in two-run games.

The Orioles are moving into what looks like a bit of a softer spot in their schedule. The combined records of the teams they played in their first six series – the Rays, Brewers, Yankees, Oakland and Angels – is 66-41 through Saturday, for a win percentage of .617. The combined records of the teams they play the next five series starting with this one – the Red Sox, Twins, Royals, Cardinals and Tigers – is 46-54 for a win percentage of .460.

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O's game blog: The series with Boston continues

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The Orioles began a long homestand last night and they once again struggled for offense. They didn’t score until Ryan Mountcastle blasted a 423-foot homer in the last of the ninth in a 3-1 loss to Boston.

The Orioles (6-14) have now lost five games in a row. They are also now 3-4 at home (scoring just 18 runs), 3-8 at night, 3-4 in series openers, 1-11 when their opponent scores first and 2-8 versus the American League East. The Red Sox improved to 9-12.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish made a solid major league debut, allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits over six innings on 81 pitches. But he took the loss as the Orioles were held to just five hits for the fourth time this year and second time in three games.

The Orioles are now 13-6 dating back to 2008 when their starting pitcher was making his big league debut.

Mountcastle’s second homer avoided a shutout, and the blast had 111 mph exit velocity. Mountcastle produced three of the top 10 exit velocities in the game as he also smoked a lineout at 106 and a single at 102 mph.

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O's game blog: Kyle Bradish makes major league debut

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After completing a 10-game road trip where they went 3-7, the Orioles begin a three-team, 10-game homestand tonight against Boston. And right-hander Kyle Bradish, acquired from the Angels in the December 2019 Dylan Bundy trade, will get the start for the O's, making his big league debut.

Bradish, who went 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in three Triple-A starts this year, is ranked as the Orioles' No. 9 prospect via Baseball America and No. 10 by MLBPipeline.com.

In 15 innings at Norfolk - where he went four, five and six innings in successive outings - he allowed eight hits and two earned runs with three walks to 17 strikeouts. He posted a 0.73 WHIP and .148 batting average against.

Bradish ended last year pitching on a roll for Norfolk, giving up two earned runs in 20 innings over his last four starts. So in his past seven Triple-A starts dating to last year, he has a 1.03 ERA, allowing 21 hits in 35 innings with nine walks to 41 strikeouts.

Lefty Rich Hill (0-1, 4.85 ERA) starts for the Red Sox. The 42-year-old Hill has thrown 13 innings this year, giving up 15 hits and seven runs with six walks and seven strikeouts. He has a 1.615 WHIP, a walk rate of 4.2 and strikeout rate of 4.8.

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O's game blog: The Yankees series begins in Bronx

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It’s on to The Bronx for the Orioles' three-city road trip. The Birds play the Yankees tonight in the first of a three-game series to wrap up the trip. It began with the Orioles going 1-3 at Oakland and then 2-1 in Anaheim versus the Los Angeles Angels.

The Yankees lost two of three in Baltimore in the series just before this O’s trip. But New York is 5-1 since leaving Baltimore and swept Cleveland three in a row over the weekend by scores of 4-1, 5-4 and 10-2. New York scored just six runs in the three games at Camden Yards, but has scored 28 runs in the six games since. The Yankees (10-6) begin play tonight half-game behind Toronto for the American League East lead.

The Orioles (6-10) lost 7-6 to the Angels on Sunday. They beat Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday, then fell short of getting a sweep. Had they done that, it would have been their first road sweep since June 28-30, 2021 at Houston and first sweep of Los Angeles in a three-game series since Aug. 27-29, 2010 at Angel Stadium.

The Orioles offense produced 16 runs at Angel Stadium. After scoring just 24 runs during the first 12 games, and going 4-8, the O’s have scored 20 over the last four games, going 2-2.

The last five games have been decided by one or two runs and the Orioles are 3-2 in those games. They are 5-5 since starting the year 1-5. They are 3-4 on this road trip and 3-2 on the season in series-opening games. Baltimore is 0-5 when it homers in a game and the Birds had their first two-homer game on Sunday.

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Final thoughts on West Coast road trip

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Orioles road trip has moved to the East Coast and they face the New York Yankees tonight. The Orioles (6-10) took two of three from the Yankees (10-6) in the series in Baltimore that preceded this trip.

New York scored just six runs in three games in Baltimore. But in winning five of six since then - and they just swept three from Cleveland on Sunday - they’ve scored 28 runs.  

The Orioles have not won back-to-back series against the Yankees since taking the last series against them in 2016 and the first of the 2017 season. So it’s been a minute.

Here are a few thoughts from the West Coast part of the trip.

Mancini is mashing: Trey Mancini is batting .237/.288/.339/.627 and those numbers in no way reflect the quality of his contact. He hit a three-run homer Sunday and he has been mashing baseballs during the entire trip where his OPS is just .646.

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O's game blog: Looking for a sweep in Anaheim

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After winning Saturday night to provide a series victory, the Orioles shoot for another win today over the Los Angeles Angels as they seek to sweep this three-game series.

The Orioles, who are 3-3 on this road trip and 5-4 the last nine games, beat the Angels 5-3 Friday night and 5-4 last night. Baltimore is now 3-3 in games decided by one run and 2-3 in two-run games.

The last five games on this trip to Oakland and Anaheim have been decided by one or two runs and the Orioles are 3-2.

Right-hander Chris Ellis (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will get the start in today’s series finale, his second of this season and road trip. On Tuesday at Oakland, Ellis went 4 1/3 scoreless innings on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. He threw 62 pitches and did not get a decision in a game the Orioles would lose 2-1 to the Athletics. He threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of the first 16 batters he faced that night, and getting ahead in the count was important during his outing.

Ellis made one start this season at Triple-A Norfolk before joining the Orioles and he threw four hitless and scoreless innings for the Tides. After his strong outing on Tuesday, Ellis remarked how excited he was to be back in the big leagues.

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López dealing again, plus Hyde on Maddon and more

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – After Joey Krehbiel pulled off a nice escape act and stranded two runners in scoring position in the eighth inning Saturday night, it would once again be Jorge López time. The right-hander, who always seemed to struggle in the fifth innings of his starts, is now a closer, and he is pitching with the determination and effectiveness of an All-Star right now.

Asked to save the game for the second time in two nights and third in four days, López did it again last night. Throwing 98 mph again, López recorded the final two outs with a strikeout of Shohei Ohtani and an Anthony Rendon grounder as the Orioles held on for a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels. They had a narrow 5-3 win on Friday night and can sweep this series this afternoon.

When the series started, the Angels were 8-5 and in first place in the American League West, had won seven of nine games, had beaten Houston 7-2 and 6-0 in its previous two games and ranked second in the AL in slugging and OPS.

But the Orioles have held their offense in check and López has been bringing the heat in the ninth.

“When the season started I told him, ‘I’m going to pitch you late game against the toughest part of the lineup,’” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Because I believe so much in his stuff. Whether that is going to be the seventh, eighth or ninth, he’s going to face the middle of the order. He’s taken it and run with it. He’s super confident on the mound. It’s never been about stuff with Lopie. His stuff has ticked up out of the 'pen because it’s a shorter sprint. He doesn’t have to go through the lineup a few times. And I think he’s relishing getting the ball in a high-leverage spot. It’s exciting to watch him. He’s come a long way.”

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O's rally in seventh provides comeback win, series victory

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – It was another night where an Orioles starter kept his team in the game and another night where that pitcher allowed two earned runs or fewer. That is an ongoing O’s team record.

But one pitching stat did take a hit tonight: the O’s staff had allowed just six homers in the first 14 games – tied for fewest in MLB with San Francisco. But they yielded three tonight – including a tie-breaking shot by Brandon Marsh in the sixth – as the Los Angeles Angels took a 4-2 lead.

But on this night, the Orioles had a comeback in them.

They scored three times in the top of the seventh off the Angels bullpen and won 5-4 in front of 43,883 at Angel Stadium. They improved to 6-9 overall and 5-4 in their past nine games.

The Orioles have won three of four and have won a series for the second time this season.

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Reaction on the Means news from Brandon Hyde and clubhouse

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – The news of Orioles left-hander John Means needing Tommy John surgery became official today as announced by the pitcher himself via Twitter. But in the Orioles clubhouse, it’s clear some, maybe most of his teammates had advance warning.

Still that doesn’t make it easier to take when someone they see as not only the best pitcher on the staff but a leader too and a valued close friend is going to miss the rest of the season.

“It’s something that, it’s obviously a blow,” manager Brandon Hyde said in the Orioles dugout. “It’s a blow to John, to our club. Not going to have John for a while and John’s a big part of our pitching staff, a big part of our team. Injuries happen but I feel bad for John. Not only what he brings on the field, on the mound, but the leadership he brings to our clubhouse. It’s going to be tough without him. But we have to have guys step and take different roles.”

Hyde said there was no reason to have a team meeting or anything of that nature about this news or to try and have any special words for his players.

“No, I think we all are professionals and these things happen. Injuries are part of the game. You know we lost our opening day starter and that hurts and I think we’re all aware too that it was going to be an extended time he would be out. We need to get John healthy and ready for 2023.”

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