Before his return to the majors, Hays made a return to Double-A Bowie

For Orioles outfielder Austin Hays, it was a familiar ballpark, just one he had not seen in person for quite awhile. From May 7-12, and a few days before that in practice, Hays spent time with the Double-A Bowie Baysox on his injury rehab assignment.

From 2017 through 2019, Hays, on his way up in the Baltimore farm system, spent time with Bowie. Once the Orioles' No. 1 ranked prospect, he batted .283 with 31 homers, 34 doubles and 108 RBIs in 144 total games with the Baysox. His best season in Bowie was in 2017 as just a 21-year-old when he hit .330 with 16 homers, 17 doubles and 54 RBIs in 64 games. He was a finalist that year for Baseball America’s National Player of the Year.

Now years later, he wore the Baysox uniform as a major league vet. A player for the kids now coming up through Bowie can try and learn from.

“I can feel that, as a bit older now, there are a lot more questions asked then when I was there in the past. Just kind of, ‘What’s your approach on this? What does your routine look like?’ Different questions like that,” Hays said the Bowie players asked him.

And he was very happy to help those prospects if he could.

“Absolutely. I’ve been in their position before,” said Hays. “I’ve been curious about stuff and I had questions. I was always kind of shy and quiet and usually didn’t ask. But I would lend an ear and see if I could pick up on something when people were talking. If I can help those guys in any way, I am happy to offer what I’ve got.”

Hays said it seemed like the Baysox have good team chemistry.

“Yeah, they’ve got a good home run celebration. Good win celebration in the clubhouse," he said. "It’s fun. It was a fun atmosphere to be in for a little over a week.”

When I asked him if any players caught his eye, he mentioned outfielder Jud Fabian, the No. 67 overall pick in the 2022 draft who has an OPS of .793 in 31 Baysox games.

In Hays' first Bowie game on May 7, Fabian went 4-for-5 with two home runs.

“Jud went crazy there for a few days and maybe won Player of the Week," Hays said. "He robbed a home run. Made a nice play running in and with a quick release, fired it in and turned a double play. Hit like two homers, bunch of doubles. He was hot when I was there and playing really well.

“It was fun. I enjoyed my time in Bowie. Also got to spend some time with my family and my boys got to come to the games. They got to see the ferris wheel there and I’m looking up in the fifth inning and they were out there jumping around. I could hear Hayden screaming and having a good time. We enjoyed our time there.”

The Baysox won again last night 5-1 and Bowie pitchers have allowed just five runs in going 4-1 this week at Binghamton. The Baysox are now 21-16.

Tomorrow in this space, I've got a story coming about how Bowie's attendance has been trending up nicely the last couple of seasons. 

Orioles lose Game 2 to Seattle: The Orioles waited out a long rain delay Saturday at Camden Yards only to see Grayson Rodriguez make a strong return to the team. He pitched six outstanding scoreless innings and the Orioles led 2-0. But the bullpen, mostly good lately, let it get away as Seattle scored twice in the seventh and eighth to win it 4-3.

The Orioles, 28-15, lost for the third time in five games and fell two games behind the division-leading Yankees.

Rodriguez provided the O's rotation, which ranks fourth in the American League with a 3.20 ERA, with its ninth scoreless start of this season. Cole Irvin has three of them while Rodriguez and Albert Suárez have two each while John Means and Dean Kremer each have one. The O's rotation ERA in May is 2.38.

But Baltimore falls to 20-5 when leading after six innings. 

And that bullpen allowed four runs or more for just the fifth time all season and for just the second time in the last 23 games.

In the rubber match game today, O's right-hander Corbin Burnes (3-2, 2.68 ERA) faces M's righty George Kirby (4-3, 3.58 ERA). The Orioles are 3-2 in rubber match games while Seattle is 5-3.

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