A few quick takes from the O's winning weekend that began the 2024 season

Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels meant the Orioles got a series win, but not a series sweep to start the 2024 season.

After scoring 24 runs on 24 hits and going 9-for-21 with runners in scoring position in wins Thursday and Saturday, they went 3-for-30 at-bat on Sunday and lost 4-1.

But in scoring 11, 13 and one run in those games the O’s tied a team record for most runs through a season’s first three games. The 2006 club scored 25 runs first and that was matched by this year’s club.

With eight more strikeouts Sunday, the O’s staff fanned 35 (against just five walks) in the series. The 35 strikeouts also tied a club record for the first three games. The 2016 O’s did it first and this club matched them.

For the first time in team history, O’s starting pitchers recorded at least seven strikeouts in each of the first three games. Corbin Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez and Tyler Wells combined to allow five earned runs over 18 innings with one walk and 27 strikeouts. Wells settled down nicely yesterday after a shaky start and it was nice to see him back in the rotation.

Here are a few things that emerged over the weekend:

Burnes and Rodriguez are quite the 1-2 punch. They combined for 20 strikeouts, allowing just two runs (on solo homers) in 12 innings versus the Angels.

Rodriguez said when Burnes talked some smack after his strong Opening Day outing it fueled him to do likewise in Game 2. And he did. Rodriguez is a different personality on game day and hey, whatever works.

Burnes showed what it looks like when experience, talent and execution converge, and his curveball was swing and miss good. Grayson did it with a high velocity fastball that touched 99 mph and a changeup that was dancing and moving and missing bats too.

Having these two pitch back-to-back – if the rotation holds in this order – will be special to watch this year.

* The jury is still out on the bullpen. Yep, no real answers in this series about how well this ‘pen will throw this year or how or if it could struggle. We just didn’t see enough of everyone to pass any judgements yet and new closer Craig Kimbrel didn’t get in a game yet. Yennier Cano looked fine Sunday in the ninth, but how the O’s do at closing out close games will probably have a lot to say about their final win total.

* The Gunnar Henderson show was fun to watch at the Yard. Henderson, who hit .417 in spring training, is hitting .400 after the first series of the year. He went 4-for-10 versus the Angels with a triple, homer and four RBIs. He walked three times and fanned once.

He made a spectacular diving play and strong throw to get Brandon Drury in the third inning Sunday. Yes, he can play the heck out of shortstop and might contend for a Gold Glove there this year.

Maybe that scout, who last year in the Dallas airport after the O’s lost to Texas that predicted he was on his way to becoming the best player in the sport, was not far off.

The talent is immense, and he has the smarts and drive to match that and should be an MVP candidate this year.

Adley Rutschman and Gunnar were the first two picks in the O’s 2019 draft and Mike Elias' first two picks after joining the Orioles. They bat first and second in the O’s order with Gunnar leading off. That looks good to me for now. Maybe when Jackson Holliday arrives, he moves to leadoff, and Gunnar drops to the three hole. But right now, those two look great atop the Baltimore order.

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