The brother vs. brother matchup that did not materialize and other notes

Ramon Urias hug white Austin Hays

It would have been a cool story to watch unfold for the two brothers. When the schedule was released for the 2022 season, both Ramón Urías of the Orioles and his younger brother, Luis, of the Brewers noted the April dates on the calendar. Ramón’s Orioles would host Luis and the Brewers, and their family would made the trek from Mexico to see it.

But in his first spring training game, Luis, 24, suffered a quad injury.

“We felt bad about it. We were waiting for this time. My family would be here for sure if if we both were playing,” said Ramón, the older brother by three years, today in the O’s clubhouse.

Just like his older bro, Luis also plays second, shortstop and third base. He moved around the infield for the 2021 division-winning Brewers, slashing .249/.345/.445 with a .789 OPS, 23 homers and 75 RBIs.

“When we were growing up together, we talked a lot of baseball,” Ramón said. “We prepared together this offseason in Phoenix. I am proud of him, he’s a good player. We are very close.”

Continue reading

Cedric Mullins is optimistic that O's can turn the corner this year

GettyImages-1390958012 Cedric Mullins
It was a frustrating loss for the Orioles on Tuesday night. They went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and allowed three unearned runs in a one-run loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. They had plenty of chances to make plays to turn a loss into a win but could not do it.

 

So they have started the year going 1-4 and have played four games decided by two runs or less against two teams that combined to win 195 games last year.

 

In the big picture of looking ahead to the six-month season, the Orioles are saying they expect to make progress this season and win more games. It's time for O's baseball to start trending up - brutal loss last night notwithstanding.

 

Continue reading

O's game blog: Looking for two in a row over Milwaukee

orioles-outfielders

After a six-hit shutout on opening day in Baltimore, the Orioles tonight look for their second win in a row against the Milwaukee Brewers, a team that has won the National League Central twice in the last four years. The Brewers won 95 games with a first-place finish last season and won 96 games in finishing atop their division in 2018.
 
Milwaukee has made the playoffs four years in a row and the Brewers are one of five teams to make the postseason in at least each of the last four years. They join the Los Angeles Dodgers (9), Houston Astros (5), New York Yankees (5) and Atlanta Braves (4). Milwaukee’s 95 wins from a season ago fell one shy of a franchise record (96 in 2011 and 2018) and then they lost in four games to the Braves in the National League Division Series.
 
Yesterday was the fourth time the Orioles have played the Brewers in Baltimore’s home opener and the O’s are now 2-2. They beat Milwaukee by 10-0 in 1973 and lost 12-0 in 1988 at Memorial Stadium. They lost 7-0 in 1995 at Camden Yards.
 
The opening day win via a 2-0 score to begin the Orioles’ 30th anniversary season at Oriole Park matched the score they won by in their first game at the ballpark. On April 6, 1992, right-hander Rick Sutcliffe pitched the Orioles to a 2-0 win in a game that lasted just over two hours. This one was much longer – three hours and 24 minutes – but still felt good around Birdland after the 0-3 start versus Tampa Bay.
 
When Cedric Mullins smoked a 109 mph liner to right-center for a two-run single in the O’s second, it was the clutch hit the team has been looking for. The Orioles had been 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position for the year up to that point.
 
The O’s offense has scored just six runs over four games, scoring one, three, zero and two runs in order versus the Rays and Brewers. The Baltimore team batting average is .208 to rank 12th in the American League, with an OBP of .299 to rank eighth, a slugging percentage of .308 to tie for 12th and a team OPS of .607 which rates 12th.
 
Milwaukee is not hitting much, either, to begin the new year. At 1-3 they are in last in their division and they were shut out for the second time in three games on Monday. They have a team batting average of .202 with an OBP of .303, slugging of .331 and team OPS of .634. They’ve scored nine runs in four games.
 
The Orioles posted five shutouts in 2021. But three of their last six wins dating to 2021 have come via a shutout. On Sept. 20, 2021 they won at Philadelphia 3-0, and three days later they beat Texas 2-0.
 
Right-hander Spenser Watkins (2-7, 8.07 ERA) will make his first start of the year and 11th of his career tonight. Watkins had a 10.31 ERA in nine home games last year. He was just added to the roster Monday before the opening day game.
 
Lefty Eric Lauer (7-5, 3.19 ERA in 2021) gets the start for the Brew Crew. The 26-year-old Lauer was a first-round draft pick, No. 25 overall, out of Kent State by San Diego in the 2016 draft. He struggled in spring training, allowing nine runs (eight earned) over 6 2/3 innings.
 
But last season he threw 118 2/3 innings, allowing 94 hits with 1.138 WHIP. He gave up 1.2 homers per nine with a 3.1 walk rate and 8.9 strikeout rate. Milwaukee went 10-10 in his 2021 starting assignments. In 12 games in the second half, Lauer was 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA and 0.963 WHIP.
 
He throws his fastball 45 percent of the time with an average velocity of 92.6 mph, using his cutter 19 percent, curveball 15 percent, changeup 11 percent and slider 10 percent.
 
Outfielder Anthony Santander reached base four times Monday with two hits and two walks, and is 5-for-10 with four walks for the season. Yesterday was the seventh time in his career that he’s reached safely in at least four plate appearances in a game and first since April 4, 2021 at Boston. He ranks third in the major leagues with a .667 OBP, fourth with a 1.567 OPS, and seventh with a .900 slugging percentage through the first five days of the year. His single in the seventh inning had an exit velocity of 111.2 mph, the hardest-hit ball by an Oriole so far in 2022.
 
The Orioles have drawn 11 walks the last two games and are fifth in American League in walks so far.

Bullpen trade presented opportunity for Bryan Baker

GettyImages-457264630

When O’s right-hander Bryan Baker woke up on the morning of April 3, he didn’t know his chance to both make and impact the O’s 2022 bullpen would be greater by the end of that day.
 
But when Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser were traded to Miami, that meant opportunity and innings would open up for someone else. Baker thought, “Why not me?”
 
“Yeah, definitely,” he said during an interview at the ballpark on Monday. “It was something I didn’t see coming at all. But once I kind of wrapped my head around it and realized where I was going to be, I think it was mainly joy to know I could take advantage of an opportunity and maybe help the club win some games.”
 
And the 27-year-old Baker pitched twice in the series versus Tampa Bay, throwing two innings and allowing one hit and one run with three strikeouts. He showed a 93, 94 mph fastball and decent slider.
 
It was in November when he first realized a good chance to pitch in the majors could be coming. He was claimed on waivers from Toronto by Baltimore. This followed his very strong 2021 season at Triple-A for the Blue Jays in which he went 6-1 with a 1.96 ERA, allowing just 18 hits over 41 1/3 innings to produce a WHIP of 0.847. The 11th-round pick of Colorado in the 2016 draft was going to a new club, but he was on the O’s 40-man roster and he knew that could mean more big league time this season.
 
“Yeah, 100 percent. I got my foot in the door last year and had a really good year,” Baker said. “Being able to come over here I think it’s about taking advantage of these opportunities.”
 
And getting in two games early versus the Rays was a positive, too, as he gets his season going with his new club.
 
“I think it really helps,” Baker said. “Just kind of building off what I was doing in spring training. Just trying to go right at hitters. Being a Florida boy (from Fort Walton Beach), I guess I had a little bit of a comfort zone there in Tampa, but nice to get in a couple of games and get the season rolling.”
 
I asked him how his pitching looks when it’s going well for him.
 
“Going right at hitters, getting ahead in the count and then finish them with one of the three pitches that I have,” he replied. “Being able to elevate the fastball and get some punchouts with that. Mixing in the slider and getting some grounders as well. Just go right at guys and throw strikes.”
 
Now he’s starting to settle in for what he hopes will be a long run in the Orioles bullpen, which has pitched to a 2.45 ERA in the season’s first four games. He’s learning his new teammates and fitting in well.
 
“It’s pretty fun, man,” Baker said. “I didn’t really know anybody until I got here, but it’s been a pretty good month or so being around them. Getting to know everybody. It’s been really fun so far.”

Big Mike had big outing as O's beat Brewers

Mike-Baumann

In an interview before the home opener on Monday, young right-hander Mike Baumann told me how excited he was for opening day in Baltimore. He had heard how special it can be and he was also excited that his mom and some family members were in town to see it.
 
“It will be a day for me to remember,” he said.
 
Then the game started and his day got even better. The guy they call “Big Mike” had a big outing led by a big fastball. After lefty Bruce Zimmermann threw four scoreless innings at the defending National League Central champion Milwaukee Brewers, Baumann took the mound for the fifth inning.
 
He would enter this outing full of confidence. Confidence that had origins in Fort Myers, Fla. On April 3 in a spring training game against the Twins, Baumann fired 2 1/3 scoreless and his fastball touched 98 mph against Minnesota. That day he looked like the pitcher that was a top O’s prospect on his way up through the minors. He looked like the hurler that shared the 2019 Jim Palmer Award as O’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year with Grayson Rodriguez.
 
A meaningless spring game? It was, but not to Baumann.
 
“That felt good. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the season. I felt like everything was working. I felt powerful and strong on the mound. Really just had trust and confidence that whatever I was doing would be working,” he told me of that spring outing.
 
Then yesterday, eight days later, it was another 2 1/3 scoreless, and again he was touching 98 mph. This game was far from meaningless. It was his first opening day in Baltimore. The O’s were clinging to a 2-0 lead and Big Mike had a big outing. He leaned on his four-seamer heavily, throwing the heater 29 times in 37 pitches as he fanned three and averaged 97 mph on the fastball. He was cutting it loose again, just like he had against the Twins in Fort Myers.
 
Baumann pitched in the bigs late last year, but fans didn’t see him put his best foot forward then as he had a 9.90 ERA in four September games.
 
“It was just a good experience,” he said of getting the call to the show. “I was just happy to be here and I really just wanted to go out there and fill up the zone. I didn’t get the results I wanted but there was a lot to learn from and take with me going into the offseason.”
 
And a fastball that averaged just 93.6 mph in those four O’s games then is now back in the high 90s.
 
“I feel a lot better now than I did at the end of last year,” Baumann said Monday. “The coaches in player development got with me and we put together a plan to clean up some things. I was pretty persistent with my work in the offseason, working on stuff during the lockout. I came in feeling good and ready to go.”
 
He said one mechanics issue he cleaned up was that his arm would sometimes drag behind his body. Now he’s more in synch and on time with everything. Body and arm working in concert.
 
Baumann is one of the young pitchers executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was referring to, no doubt, when he said it’s time for some of that group to take steps forward this year.
 
Baumann said he completely concurs with that.
 
“Yeah, for sure," he said. "You know, we haven’t, you know, results speak for itself. He has a job to put together the best roster possible and it’s our job to go out compete and get guys out.”
 
For one day in front of a big crowd that included his family, Baumann sure did that. He picked up his second major league win as the Orioles picked up their first of the 2022 season.
 
A few more notes
 
* The Orioles won their first home opener since 2018, improving to 45-24 all-time in home openers. They avoided falling to 0-4 for the first time since the 1988 season and beat Milwaukee for the first time since May 26, 2014. The Orioles shut out the Brewers for the first time since June 26, 1995 at Milwaukee, when they beat them 2-0. And the win marked the first time the O’s shut out the Brewers in Baltimore since Aug. 21, 1989.
 
* Zimmermann threw 66 pitches in producing his first career scoreless outing. He had an ERA of 3.89 in seven home games in 2021. He is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last five starts at Oriole Park dating to May 16, 2021.
 
* O’s pitchers have allowed just 15 runs for the season and have a team ERA of 4.09.
 
* The Orioles had just five shutouts last year, but in their last six wins, three have come via a shutout. Last season they blanked the Phillies on the road on Sept. 20 and Texas at home on Sept. 23 and won via the five-pitcher six-hitter in the home opener.

Tags:

Zimmermann, Mullins and O’s come up big in home opener win

GettyImages-1235074712-1

The Orioles won 2-0 in the first game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 6, 1992. Today, in the beginning game of their 30th anniversary season, they beat the Milwaukee Brewers 2-0.

Rick Sutcliffe was not around to pitch a gem in just over two hours this time, but it was a satisfying win for Birdland nonetheless, the Orioles’ first of the year.

Bruce Zimmermann teamed with four relievers as the O’s won in front of a sellout crowd of 44,461 to improve to 1-3 and drop Milwaukee to the same 1-3 record.

Zimmermann showed poise - and that the moment was not too big for him this afternoon - with four scoreless innings.

O’s starters had allowed 10 earned runs over 10 2/3 innings to start the year and the last two starters – Jordan Lyles and Tyler Wells – had allowed nine runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Continue reading

O's game blog: Bruce Zimmermann faces Brewers in home opener

GettyImages-zimmerman

After losing three games at Tropicana Field to begin the 2022 season, the Orioles (0-3) begin their home schedule this afternoon on opening day in Baltimore as they host the Milwaukee Brewers (1-2) at 3:05 p.m. at Oriole Park.

Milwaukee lost 5-4 in Chicago versus the Cubs on Thursday and the Friday game was rained out before they fell to 0-2 with a 9-0 loss on Saturday. Yesterday, the Brewers fell behind 3-0 in the opening inning, but rallied to win 5-4 at Wrigley Field.

The Brewers went 95-67 last season, winning the National League Central for the second time in four years. They won the division with 96 wins in 2018.

The O’s began the year losing by scores of 2-1, 5-3 and 8-0 to the Rays to begin a season 0-3 for the first time since 2017. They have lost 15 straight to Tampa Bay.

The Baltimore offense produced just four runs in that series as O’s batters had 21 hits in three games, going 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position. O’s hitters fanned 14 times on opening day, 10 more on Saturday and 13 in yesterday’s shutout loss.

Continue reading

Austin Hays, O's talk about adjusting to new left field wall

left-field-wall-2

Orioles players and coaches and skipper Brandon Hyde are getting their firs in-person look today at the new dimensions at Camden Yards, where the wall is back much further this year in left and left-center field.

Austin Hays, who is starting in left field today against Milwaukee, had not yet been out there when reporters were allowed in the clubhouse this morning. But he didn’t think it would take him long to learn some of the differences and nuances with the deeper dimensions.

“You treat it like how you would going to a visiting ballpark,” said Hays. “It’s your first time there. You get your reps in and get a feel for what you need to do. I’m sure this series we will get very comfortable with it.”

And he added it won’t take long for him to feel at home out there.

“Probably just a couple of days of BP. Good shagging days, taking balls live off the bat. I can do that for three rounds the next couple of days and honestly I’ll be very comfortable,” Hays said.

Continue reading

Looking for offense at home, plus a three-homer game at Bowie

bruce-zimmermann

After two close losses to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles got hammered 8-0 on Sunday and got swept to begin the new season. They scored just four runs in three games.

They will look for a better fate when they host Milwaukee today at 3:05 p.m. in the home opener at Camden Yards.

Lefty Bruce Zimmermann (4-5, 5.04 ERA in 2021) will become the fourth Maryland native to start a home opener for the Orioles. Steve Barber did that in 1964 and 1965, Tom Phoebus in 1968 and Dave Johnson in 1990. Zimmermann will become the first Maryland-born pitcher to start a home opener at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the ballpark’s 30-year history.

The Rays surely have the Orioles’ number and beat them both in close games and blowouts, winning by one, two and eight runs at Tropicana Field.

While the Baltimore bullpen had some good moments in the opening series, the starters the last two days (Jordan Lyles and Tyler Wells) gave up nine runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Continue reading

O's game blog: Tyler Wells faces Tampa Bay

GettyImages-13187322691

The Orioles lost by one run opening day and by two runs yesterday. And now at 0-2 for the first time since the 2010 season, they need a win this afternoon at the Trop to avoid being swept three in a row by the Tampa Bay Rays.
 
After two games of the season, Tampa Bay, Toronto and the New York Yankees are tied for first at 2-0 in the American League East, and the Orioles and Boston are 0-2.
 
The O’s offense has produced 15 hits in 67 at-bats (.224), scoring just four runs in the series. Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle have homered. Mountcastle hit No. 1 Saturday when he drove a Drew Rasmussen slider out to right field to score two runs. The O’s batters are 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position the past two days. Baltimore hitters have fanned 24 times with four walks.
 
The Orioles have lost 14 games in a row versus the Rays, dating to last July. They have lost eight in a row in St. Petersburg and have lost eight consecutive road games and 10 of 11 overall dating to late last season. Tampa Bay has won six consecutive home games going back to last September.
 
Right-hander Tyler Wells (2-3, 4.11 ERA in 2021) made 44 appearances, all in relief, last season, so today will be his first major league start. Selected by the Orioles in the 2020 Rule 5 draft from Minnesota, he pitched to an ERA of 1.59 in spring training. Over 11 1/3 innings he walked four and fanned 14.
 
Last year Wells threw 57 innings, allowing 40 hits with 0.912 WHIP. He walked 1.9 batters per nine and struck out 10.3. Lefty batters hit just .167 with a .468 OPS against him, and right-handers batted .206/.675 versus Wells.
 
Wells was stellar in road games last season, with a 1.14 ERA and 0.803 WHIP over 23 2/3 innings in which he did not allow a single home run. He had a 6.21 ERA in 25 games at home.
 
Wells made four appearances against the Rays in 2021 with an ERA of 3.00. Over six innings he allowed four hits and two runs with no walks and 12 strikeouts.
 
Two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (5-3, 3.83 ERA in 2021) gets the start for his new team after making 16 starts last season for the New York Yankees. The right-handed Kluber won Cy Young Awards in 2014 and 2017 with Cleveland. He is one of 19 pitchers to win two or more such awards.
 
The three-time All-Star threw 80 innings last summer, allowing 74 hits with 1.338 WHIP, allowing a 0.9 homer rate with 3.7 walks and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
 
Kluber turns 36 today and celebrates his birthday by making his11th career start versus the Orioles. He is 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.127 WHIP in his career over 65 2/3 innings against Baltimore. In three starts last season for the Yankees, he went 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA against the Orioles.
 
The Orioles return home after the game to host the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. on opening day in Baltimore. It begins a week-long homestand before the club hits the road for a West Coast road trip. 

O's play it close, but still looking for a win over Tampa Bay

GettyImages-1390515851

There is no reason to look at anything as a moral victory – and the Orioles and their fans want real wins anyway, of course – but the Orioles have taken the first two games of their series at Tropicana Field down to the last pitch.
 
After 110 losses a year ago, they may be making some progress even while being 0-2, but fans, of course, are ready for wins, not just being close. Especially when the O’s are 1-20 in the last 21 games against Tampa Bay.
 
Lefty Keegan Akin had a terrible spring and then a terrific outing on Saturday afternoon. How to explain that? I have no idea, but it was nice to see.
 
Akin threw three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit on 31 pitches in Saturday's 5-3 loss. He was so good he threw 27 strikes and just four balls out of the strike zone to a combined 10 hitters. In 24 games last season for the Orioles, Akin got 10 or more swings and misses in just six of those outings. He did that yesterday in three innings, getting 10 whiffs on 21 swings by Rays batters. They swung and missed five times in eight swings versus his fastball and in three of seven swings off his changeup.
 
One impressive outing for a pitcher who gave up five runs and six walks in 5 1/3 innings in spring training.
 
Time for progress: In several recent interviews, O’s executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias has said he feels his team is making progress in its rebuilding and turning a bit of a corner this year, and that fans will continue to see progress from the club.
 
He said that again on opening day during an appearance on the MASN broadcast.
 
“This has been a very large rebuilding project from the position in which we started,” Elias said during the telecast. “Not just adding talent to the organization but updating and investing in the entire organization, top to bottom. We’ve been very careful about it. We haven’t rushed anything. We’ve kept players’ health and development in mind first and foremost.
 
“But we look up now and our two top prospects are in Triple-A. And a bunch of others are at Double-A. Coupled with some of the breakouts and players that have established themselves here with the Orioles, specifically last year, I can see things coming together a little bit. And I think the next five to seven years are going to be a terrific era of Orioles baseball. We will work hard, like the Rays do, to keep the organization very healthy year-to-year, so that we never have to plunge into the depths that we did during the 2018 season. I see us coming out of this very soon and we’re excited about that. I feel like we’re in a very healthy place with this organization right now, but it took some years and it took some work.”
 
Farm work: The high Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds outslugged Jersey Shore 11-10 on Friday night and won with solid pitching Saturday night 3-1. So Aberdeen is off to a 2-0 start for new skipper Robert Mercado, a first-year pro manager in the O's organization.
 
Righty Houston Roth allowed just one run over the first four innings for Aberdeen. Then winning pitcher Jensen Elliott went three scoreless and Clayton McGinness pitched the last two frames to record a save. The three hurlers combined for a five-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
 
Aberdeen's Connor Norby went 3-for-4 and Colton Cowser 1-for-3 with a run scored. TT Bowens had a two-run single and is 5-for-9 so far.
 
Triple-A Norfolk improved to 3-2 and held off Charlotte in the ninth to win 7-6. Starter Kyle Brnovich, in his Triple-A debut, allowed two runs over four innings. Johnny Rizer hit a two-run homer and Tyler Nevin drove in three runs. Richie Martin went 2-for-5 and scored three times, while Yusniel Diaz added a hit and is now batting .389.
 
Double-A Bowie fell to 0-2, losing 9-2 to Richmond as the Flying Squirrels scored seven runs in the top of the ninth. Jordan Westburg hit a solo homer for the Baysox. Bowie's starter today is lefty Antonio Velez, who was traded this week from Miami to Baltimore in the deal that sent relievers Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser south. Last year, between high Single-A and Double-A, he went 7-2 with a 2.55 ERA.  
 
Low Single-A Delmarva allowed 17 hits in an 18-5 loss to Fredericksburg to fall to 1-1. Shorebirds starter Conor Grady, an 18th-round pick last year, allowed two runs over three innings with six strikeouts. Davis Tavárez and Noelberth Romero hit two-run homers for the Shorebirds. 
 
So the farm clubs went 2-2 Saturday night and are a combined 6-5 for the year. 

Lyles allows five runs as O's fall in Game 2

lyles2

Right-hander Jordan Lyles’ first chance to eat innings for the Orioles resulted in a mixed bag. He did some innings-eating today, but also allowed runs in the second and third as the O’s fell behind early this afternoon and lost 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays.
 
The Orioles (0-2), who went 1-18 versus the Rays last season, have now lost 14 in a row versus Tampa Bay since a win last July 19.
 
Lyles, who went 10-13 with a 5.15 ERA last year for the Texas Rangers while throwing a career-high 180 innings, took the loss in his Orioles debut.
 
He went five innings on 83 pitches, allowing seven hits and five runs with three walks and two strikeouts. He threw 52 strikes using five different pitches, and his fastball sat in the 92-93 mph range.
 
Lyles recorded 13 quality starts, also a career high, last season when he ended the year going 3-2 with a 2.87 ERA his last five starts. He went six innings or more 18 times in 2021 and was one of just six American League pitchers to do that.
 
And it began well for him today with a scoreless first that included a strikeout of Wander Franco on a breaking ball. Lyles threw just 10 pitches in the inning. But Josh Lowe’s leadoff triple in the second started the Rays on a three-run inning. In the third, catcher Francisco Mejía drilled a two-run homer to right. That gave him a three-RBI day, and he also drove in one of the Rays’ two runs in their opening day win. 
 
The Orioles had another day with not much offense and not much in the way of clutch hitting.
 
Ryan Mountcastle did hit his first homer of the year after hitting 33 last summer. He hit a two-run shot to right in the Baltimore third to bring the O’s within 3-2. He hit a first-pitch slider off Rays starter Drew Rasmussen that produced a 101.6 mph exit velocity to get the Orioles on the board.
 
The O's added a run in the ninth on doubles by Ramón Urías and Jorge Mateo to pull within 5-3.
 
The Orioles had two on with one out in the top of the sixth, but Austin Hays bounced into a 1-6-3 double play to end that threat.
 
Baltimore used just two pitchers as lefty Keegan Akin had a strong relief stint replacing Lyles. Over three scoreless innings he gave up just one hit on 31 pitches.
 
The O’s will need to win Sunday afternoon to avoid being swept three in a row to start the year. Right-hander Tyler Wells (2-3, 4.11 ERA in 2021) will make his first big league start. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Corey Kluber (5-3, 3.83 ERA in 2021), a two-time American League Cy Young winner, in the series finale.

O's game blog: Lyles makes Orioles debut

GettyImages-1344496348

The Orioles lost 2-1 to Tampa Bay in their season opener on Friday afternoon, and today they are out to break a 13-game losing streak against the Rays on day two of the 2022 season.
 
In going 1-18 versus Tampa Bay last year the Orioles lost the last 12 games between the teams after their only win against the eventual American League East champs, on July 19. While the Orioles lost a few blowout games in the season series and were outscored 150-71, they also lost five of those games last year by one or two runs.
 
In falling on Friday at the Trop, they held Tampa Bay’s offense to eight hits and two sac flies. O’s batters went 7-for-33, and Anthony Santander’s solo homer was the only run-scoring hit for the visitors. O’s batters fanned 14 times as they went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
 
Right-hander Jordan Lyles (10-13 with a 5.15 ERA in 2021 for Texas) will make his O’s debut. Lyles threw 180 innings last season, among the most for any pitcher in the majors, and recorded a career-high 13 quality starts.
 
Lyles went 3-2 with a 2.87 ERA in five September starts, and the Rangers were 13-17 in his 30 starts.
 
He used his fastball 49 percent of the time with an average velocity of 92.8 mph while using his slider 26 percent, curveball 18 percent and changeup seven percent.
 
For Tampa Bay, righty Drew Rasmussen (4-1, 2.84 ERA in 2021) makes the start. He pitched in 35 games, 10 as a starter between Milwaukee and Tampa Bay. For the Rays only, in 20 games, he went 4-0 with a 2.44 ERA. Over 59 innings he allowed 44 hits and produced a WHIP of 0.966 with a 2.0 walk rate with a 7.3 strikeout rate.
 
The Rays drafted him in round one (No. 31 overall) in 2017 after his sophomore year at Oregon State. But injury concerns after Tommy John surgery led to his not signing with the Rays. He was then later drafted in 2018 in round six by the Milwaukee Brewers after a second Tommy John procedure. But despite the surgeries, his velocity would increase later.
 
Last season he averaged 97 mph on a fastball he threw 65 percent. He used his slider 30 percent and his curveball and change just 2.5 percent each.
 
He had a strong finish to the 2021 season, going 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in five September starts. In 14 games in the second half, Rasmussen went 4-0 with a 1.79 ERA and 0.894 WHIP.

An O's prospect's unique approach to help improve his offense

GettyImages-451870398

BOWIE – With all the data, technology and analytics available to players today, something simple that anyone could use that might help O’s prospect Gunnar Henderson take his offense to a higher level this year.

It comes through the magic of a foam baseball.

Yep, a foam ball is helping the top 100 prospect both flatten his swing to produce less swing and miss and to better get to balls at the top of the zone this year.

Showing that he has the game smarts to match his immense talent, Henderson, 20, with help from the O’s coaches, went to hitting the foam balls this spring in Florida to help make a difference when he faces the real baseball.

“Some stuff I said to them that I wanted to work on is flattening out (my swing) just a touch to eliminate some of the miss and foul balls in a sense that I know I should be hitting,” Henderson said Thursday at 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 over-exaggerates, 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 fall one run short on opening day at The Trop

means-od

The team that beat the Orioles more than any other last year beat them again today. But the two-time defending American League East champion Tampa Bay Rays had to dig deep to pull out the game with a late rally in the season opener at Tropicana Field.

Pinch-hitter Francisco Mejía’s sacrifice fly with one out and the bases loaded in the last of the eighth broke the 1-1 tie as the Rays won 2-1 behind strong pitching and two sac flies.

O’s batters were held to seven hits by six Tampa Bay pitchers. The O’s struck out 14 times today, went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

O’s lefty John Means gave his team a solid outing, just not a very long one.

The final numbers will say Means pitched much better on opening day last year when he threw seven scoreless innings on one hit at Boston. But today he navigated a couple of times through the Rays lineup, as they made him work very hard and elevated his pitch count, which got to 84 for four innings.

Continue reading

O’s game blog: Season opener against Rays

GettyImages-1335088191

The Orioles open their 69th season this afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla., against the Tampa Bay Rays. As the year begins, the Orioles are looking for their first winning season and playoff berth since 2016. Their last three full seasons have resulted in at least 100 losses.
 
Birdland is wondering how much improvement the Orioles can make from a team that finished 52-110 last year. Also, how will the roster turn over throughout the year and when will some of the top prospects arrive?
 
Good questions and three of many reasons to watch the 2022 Orioles.
 
They open with a three-game series against their 2021 tormentors in the Rays, who beat the Orioles in 18 of 19 games last year. They outscored Baltimore 150-7. Just three times in the divisional era since 1969 has one team gone 18-1 versus another. Both previously were in 2019 when Cleveland was 18-1 against Detroit and Houston went 18-1 versus Seattle.
 
The Orioles began last season with a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox, winning by scores of 3-0, 4-2 and 11-3 at Fenway Park. The Orioles were 8-9 after 17 games, 12-14 at the end of April and 15-16 on May 5 before they lost a bunch of games through the rest of that month as the season turned south.
 
This is the O’s fourth straight season opening game against a divisional opponent. They lost to the Yankees 7-2 in 2019, to Boston 13-2 in 2020 and then beat the Red Sox last year.
 
The Orioles are 9-2 in their last 11 opening day games and 16-5 in openers since 2001. They're 44-24 all-time in the first game. And they are 12-11 when the opener is on the road.
 
The Rays are the two-time defending American League East champions and went 100-62 last year. Tampa Bay lost in the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020 and the Rays season ended last year with an AL Division Series loss to Boston.
 
Lefty John Means (6-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 2021) will start an opener for the second year in a row. The last O’s pitcher to do that was Chris Tillman, with three straight opening day starts from 2014-2016. Since then, Kevin Gausman was the 2017 Game 1 starter followed by Dylan Bundy in 2018, Andrew Cashner in 2019, Tommy Milone in 2020 and Means.
 
Means threw a gem last season in the opener with seven scoreless innings on just one hit against the Red Sox. It was the O’s first opening day shutout since 2005.
 
Means posted an ERA+ of 131 in 2019 and 126 last year. He fell short of qualifying for league leaders by 15 1/3 innings last season. But if he had qualified, Means would have finished seventh in the AL and 23rd in the majors in ERA. He would have been first in the AL in WHIP (1.030) and seventh in the majors.
 
Lefty Shane McClanahan (10-6, 3.43 ERA in 2021) gets the start for the Rays. The 24-year-old McClanahan is a Baltimore native who lived in the area until he was 6. As a kid, he had a Cal Ripken Jr. poster in his bedroom.
 
In four starts versus the Orioles last year, he went 4-0 with an ERA of 2.74 and a WHIP of 1.087. Over 23 innings, he walked three and fanned 27.
 
His fastball, which he threw 41 percent last season, averaged 96.5 mph. He used his slider 35 percent, his curveball 16 percent and split-finger fastball 8 percent. He ranked in the 89th percentile (the top 11 percent) in the majors in fastball velocity and the 85th percentile in whiff rate. But when opponents did put bat to ball against him, his average exit velocity against was poor at 91.7 mph.
 
Some O’s batters against McClanahan:
 
* Cedric Mullins is 8-for-24 with two homers.
* Trey Mancini is 6-for-24 with six singles.
* Austin Hays is 6-for-22 with two homers and 10 strikeouts.
* Anthony Santander is 6-for-20 with two doubles.
* Ryan Mountcastle is 0-for-14 with eight strikeouts.
* Rougned Odor is 4-for-10.
* Jorge Mateo is 4-for-10 with two doubles.
 
 
O’s all-time opening day homer leaders:
 
6 – Brooks Robinson
4 – Cal Ripken Jr.
3 – Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson, Gus Triandos

Baysox talk about No. 1 farm rating as O's open at the Trop

GettyImages-451870398

BOWIE – The last two full minor league seasons have ended with the Double-A Bowie Baysox playing for a league championship. The Baysox came up short both times, but they went 76-64 in 2019 and 73-47 last year, with a fast start and sizzling finish, to wrap up a postseason berth.

Results like that and the highly ranked players that helped produce all of those wins have led the Orioles farm system to the No. 1 ranking in the majors from both ESPN and MLBPipeline.com. They are No. 4 via Baseball America.

On the eve of tonight’s Eastern League season opener for his club at Prince George’s Stadium versus Richmond, first-year Baysox skipper Kyle Moore said having a highly ranked farm won’t get his team or the O's organization anywhere unless they keep pushing and putting in the work to stay No. 1.

“I addressed that in the locker room in our opening team meeting,” Moore said during Baysox media day Thursday. “Because I’m really proud of that being a coach in this organization for a long time. I take extreme pride in us having the No. 1 farm system. But I don’t want the players to hear that or buy that at all. Because the truth is, no one in the AL East cares, and no one in the Eastern League cares either.

“You have to go out there and earn it. We can have the most talented team in baseball, but I want our guys to be the hungriest team in Minor league Baseball. If we go out there and do that, the talent will show. But if we come out here and buy into the hype that we’re the No. 1 farm system and we have all these best players and all this, that and the other, there are other clubs that have really good farm systems, too. And a lot of them are in our division. I try to keep the hype away from our guys as much as I can and make them understand you have to earn everything in this game.”

Continue reading

Some infield playing time at Aberdeen and what is new at the Yard

GettyImages-1186318808

ABERDEEN - With a roster that includes three Orioles top 30 prospects in his infield and two that primarily play second base, new high Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds manager Roberto Mercado may need to do some shuffling of his young talent when the new season begins on Friday at Jersey Shore.

Last summer the Orioles selected Connor Norby in the second round out of East Carolina, No. 41 overall. Every start he made last season between the Rookie-level Florida Complex League and low Single-A Delmarva was at second base. He batted .264/.380/.405/.785.

In January, when the O’s announced their latest class of international signees, they added 22-year-old Cuban-born infielder César Prieto from the Cuban baseball pro ranks. He was signed to a $650,000 bonus and last year batted .403/.463/.579/1.042 and showed amazing bat control, drawing 31 walks with just 11 strikeouts. During the 2020 season, he had a 40-game hitting streak. He also has played a lot of second base.

But during an IronBirds practice last night at Ripken Stadium, Mercado said that Prieto showed him during spring training that he can move around the infield. The skipper said he plans to get both these players on the field a lot.

“Prieto will be moving around the infield,” said Mercado, who is beginning his first year in the O’s organization. “He’s a guy that is athletic, and we saw it over the last five weeks. He can play second, short and third. Which gives us some opportunities to give guys a day of rest. That is a big plus for us. We’re going to move some guys around as well throughout the year. But Norby is going to be primarily at second base and that is where his focus is going to be.”

Continue reading

Taking another look at the minor league rosters

GettyImages-457264630

Now that the minor league baseball season has begun, let’s take yet another look at the opening day/break-camp rosters and provide a few thoughts on the four Orioles full-season affiliates at Triple-A Norfolk, Double-A Bowie, high Single-A Aberdeen and low Single-A Delmarva.

NORFOLK

Pitchers: Diógenes Almengo, Kyle Brnovich, Marcos Diplán, Conner Greene, Ryan Hartman, Blaine Knight, David Lebron, Zac Lowther, Ofelky Peralta, Grayson Rodriguez, Cody Sedlock, Kevin Smith, Cole Uvila, Nick Vespi, Alexander Wells.

Catchers: Brett Cumberland, Chris Hudgins.

Infielders: Rylan Bannon, Patrick Dorrian, Cadyn Grenier, Jahmai Jones, Mason McCoy, Terrin Vavra.

Continue reading

Adding the finishing touches to the new left-field wall at the Yard

wall1

It was a cloudy day at Camden Yards, but the ballpark was still looking beautiful today as workers were putting the final touches on the new configuration in left field.

It’s going to take quite a drive to hit the ball out in an area where once players hit what some would call “Camden Yards specials,” balls hit in the air that would be outs in most parks, but not in Baltimore.

The Orioles are intending for the park to play more fairly now. Since 1992, more homers have been hit in Baltimore than any other park, and nine of the other current major league venues have been around that entire time. More homers were hit at Camden Yards in the last 20 seasons, and 18 of the parks now in use have existed in that span.

As the final panels on the padded wall were going up today, the ballpark looked very ready for a game, and there will be one there on Monday for the home opener against Milwaukee.

“They are just putting the finishing touches on it and certainly it will be ready for our home opener against Milwaukee,” said Jennifer Grondahl, Baltimore Orioles senior vice president of communications and community development. “I think I’ve heard our players talking about it a little bit and they seem excited. The pitchers are certainly excited.

Continue reading