Hyde on Means, promoting prospects, and more

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Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he has a few ideas for Tuesday night’s starter in Oakland, but he isn’t ready to disclose them.

He doesn’t know whether John Means will start again in 2022.

The rotation wasn’t going to stay in its break-camp form throughout the summer, but Hyde didn’t think the adjustments would come so quickly.

Spenser Watkins is expected to open the series Monday against the Athletics, when a healthy Means would have been working on normal rest if not pushed back a day. But Means is on the injured list with a strained left elbow and is seeking second opinions after undergoing an MRI.

“It’s going to be a while,” Hyde said.

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Orioles lineup vs. Yankees

Orioles lineup vs. Yankees

Ramón Urías is batting second again tonight after last night’s walk-off walk in the 11th inning in a 2-1 win over the Yankees.

Urías is getting another start at third base, with Rougned Odor at second and Jorge Mateo at short. Anthony Bemboom is catching.

Trey Mancini is playing first base.

Anthony Santander has reached base in all seven games. He’s in right field tonight.

Tyler Wells is making his second major league start tonight, and he remains in a tandem setup. He allowed four runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings against the Rays in the opening series, walking two batters and striking out two.

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Resisting temptation while trying to fix rotation

Tyler-Wells-Throws-Gray
The development versus need argument rages on with the Orioles.
 
Not inside the walls of the warehouse or the manager’s office. Among fans and media.
 
The baseball gods keep poking the Orioles. Keep challenging their plan and their resolve.
 
Don’t want to rush the young pitching prospects? Well, what about a lockout and short spring training and injuries? The tandem compromise and uncertainty with the fifth spot?
 
And of course, the arms in Triple-A that are more enticing than the dessert menu at Cheesecake Factory.
 
The Orioles haven’t budged. Grayson Rodriguez made his second start with Norfolk on Thursday night and allowed two runs and three hits in five innings with no walks and eight strikeouts, giving him a 2.00 ERA and 0.556 WHIP in two games with one walk and 15 strikeouts in nine frames. Kyle Bradish spun four scoreless innings with no walks and six strikeouts in his first start in 2022 and 22 appearances in Triple-A.
 
Rodriguez is the top pitching prospect in baseball per some national outlets. Bradish is ahead of him in the race to the majors based on his experience and output in spring training.
 
Give the people what they want, and Bradish is in an Orioles uniform for his next start. Do what’s perceived as best for him in the long term, and he could dress again with the Tides while the club finds other ways to plug holes.
 
If this is an irritant, seek comfort in knowing that Bradish, Rodriguez and DL Hall are expected to start for the Orioles in 2022. Together in the same major league rotation. Plugging holes will be replaced by the task of making room for them. And perhaps someone else if the prospect train chugs into Baltimore again.
 
There’s an expression that says, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” It also could apply to baseball gods. They’re a lot less forgiving. But this is the Orioles’ vision.
 
They didn’t see John Means experiencing left forearm tightness in his first and second starts, then going on the injured list yesterday with a left elbow strain. They didn’t see Dean Kremer straining his oblique while warming in the bullpen for his season debut.
 
I didn’t see Matt Harvey returning to the organization, but he isn’t close to being an option.  
 
Jordan Lyles can eat innings. Hope he brought a big spoon.
 
Asked about Rodriguez and Hall last month, Means said, “That talent level, we don’t see very often.” The waiting is the hardest part.
 
Means is waiting to find out how much he’s being paid this summer in an arbitration hearing. His side filed at $3.1 million, the Orioles at $2.7 million.
 
This is why you have an agent. So you can focus on pitching and pain.
 
Tyler Wells makes his second major league start tonight after allowing four runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings at Tropicana Field. He made six appearances against the Yankees as a Rule 5 rookie and surrendered four runs and five hits with 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. He also notched a save.
 
Right-hander Jameson Taillon starts for the Yankees after holding the Blue Jays to two runs in five innings and striking out six. He’s allowed four earned runs (five total) with one walk and 17 strikeouts in 11 innings in two career starts against the Orioles.
 
Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander homered off Taillon in his 2021 and Yankees debuts. Ryan Mountcastle homered against him in an August game.
 
Bruce Zimmermann closes out the series Sunday afternoon, the Orioles fly to the West Coast to play the Athletics and Angels before heading to New York for the third stop in a dumb scheduling idea, and we’ll learn together what the Orioles are doing with the rest of their rotation.

Means goes on injured list, plus lineup (updated)

Means-Throws-Black-Road
The Orioles have placed left-hander John Means on the 10-day injured list with a left elbow strain. The move is retroactive to yesterday.
 
Reliever Travis Lakins Sr. had his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk. Room on the 40-man roster was created with left-hander Kevin Smith clearing outright waivers and being assigned to the Tides.
 
Means exited Wednesday night’s start after four innings with tightness in his forearm, which often is a precursor to an elbow injury. He underwent an MRI, and manager Brandon Hyde will provide more details later this afternoon.
 
This is the fourth consecutive season that Means has gone on the injured list, the previous three relating to his left shoulder. He was denied the opening day start in 2020 due to a strain.
 
Means said he’s never experienced forearm/elbow discomfort, which he first noticed last Friday at Tropicana Field while throwing a curveball. It resurfaced in the third inning Wednesday on the same pitch.
 
Lakins made 24 appearances last season before undergoing surgery to address a recurrent olecranon stress fracture in his right elbow. He’s pitched twice for Norfolk and allowed two runs and five hits in three innings.
 
Smith, 24, came to the Orioles in the Miguel Castro trade with the Mets in August 2020. In two games with Norfolk, he’s allowed two runs and five hits with six walks, three strikeouts and a hit batter over 7 2/3 innings.
 
Hyde must find another starter to replace Means, with bullpen choices including Alexander Wells, Keegan Akin and Mike Baumann.
 
Jordan Lyles makes his second start tonight after allowing five runs and seven hits in five innings at Tropicana Field. This is his third career appearance and second start against the Yankees, and he’s allowed three earned runs (four total) and eight hits in 8 2/3 innings.
 
Giancarlo Stanton is 4-for-9 with two doubles and a home run lifetime versus Lyles.
 
Ramón Urías moves up from fifth to second in the lineup. Chris Owings is starting at second base.
 
The Orioles are 5-for-55 with runners in scoring position.
 
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery allowed three runs and four hits in 3 1/3 innings in his first start against the Red Sox. He’s 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.353 WHIP in 12 career starts against the Orioles, with 72 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings.
 
Trey Mancini is 9-for-21 with a home run lifetime against Montgomery. Cedric Mullins is 5-for-16, Ryan Mountcastle is 4-for-14 with a double and home run, and Urías is 3-for-7.
 
For the Orioles
Cedric Mullins CF
Ramón Urías 3B
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Trey Mancini DH
Anthony Santander RF
Austin Hays LF
Jorge Mateo SS
Robinson Chirinos C
Chris Owings 2B
 
Jordan Lyles RHP
 
The Orioles released pitcher Yeancarlos Lleras, a sixth-round pick in 2018 from Leadership Christian Academy in Puerto Rico who made two appearances this season with Single-A Delmarva and didn’t retire a batter while allowing six runs and walking seven. He had a 7.78 ERA and 1.886 WHIP in 39 minor league games and averaged 5.8 walks per nine innings, spending last year in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League.
 
Steve Melewski is on game coverage tonight and will have more on Means. I’ll be back Saturday.
 
Update: Orioles manager Brandon Hyde told reporters at Camden Yards that Means is getting additional testing and the club doesn't know how long he will be out.

More questions surround Orioles rotation

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Jordan Lyles is starting tonight’s series opener against the Yankees at Camden Yards, and it seems like the right time for the veteran right-hander to lead the rotation.
 
John Means might not be around to do it.
 
The Orioles should have more information on Means’ status later this afternoon. He exited Wednesday night’s game after four innings with tightness in his left forearm and was set to undergo tests.
 
Good news from an MRI could clear Means to throw in a few days, but his next start might be pushed back. The discomfort is believed to be muscular. Means said there’s not “a ton of concern.”
 
But still enough to go around.
 
The shoulder has been responsible for Means landing on the injured list in each of the last three seasons – strain, fatigue, however you want to label it. He’s never experienced an issue with the elbow/forearm area, and there’s naturally some fear of the unknown.
 
Means didn’t know whether a rushed spring training led to his injury, if that’s what we’re calling it without the MRI result. He felt it while throwing a curveball on opening day, and again Wednesday with the same pitch. It didn’t go away when he tried the fastball and changeup, and manager Brandon Hyde removed him.
 
I’m no doctor, though I play one on television, but I’d think a serious injury would have been accompanied by pain during Means’ side session, while he warmed up Wednesday and in the first inning. Not just the tightness after he threw a curveball in the third inning. But that’s an amateur’s diagnosis.
 
The rotation already was unsettled with no game yesterday delaying the need for a fifth starter. Pushing back Means or placing him on the injured list creates more chaos.
 
Spenser Watkins was the fifth starter after one spin of the rotation, with no assurances that he’d get the ball again. Alexander Wells is in the bullpen and waiting to pitch in 2022.
 
Keegan Akin hasn’t allowed a run in 5 2/3 relief innings, with only two hits, no walks and four strikeouts. Hyde really wants to keep using him in the current manner, which obviously is bringing out the best in him – an aggressive and confident strike-thrower has emerged – but desperate times may force a change in thinking.
 
Mike Baumann delivered 2 1/3 scoreless innings with one hit and three strikeouts in the home opener. It’s the same situation. Ideally he’s kept in the bullpen and provides a tandem option, a hard-throwing right-hander as a nice contrast to a lefty. But the Orioles might have to pivot.
 
I don’t see the Orioles hustling top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez to the majors after two Triple-A starts. Kyle Bradish logged 86 2/3 innings with Norfolk last year over 21 appearances and tossed four scoreless innings in his only start this season. He stayed back in Sarasota for a little while before joining the Tides, and he made such a solid impression in camp that he began to look like a candidate for the opening day roster.
 
Bradish is pushing for a promotion, but is it too early for the club’s timetable?
 
Chris Ellis started on the same night as Means and tossed four hitless innings. He isn’t on the 40-man roster and would require a corresponding move.
 
Left-hander Zac Lowther is on the 40-man and he’s hopped on the shuttle before. He made his first Tides appearance on Sunday and allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings.
 
For development’s sake, he probably should stay down and keep pitching every five days. However, he’d be a convenient substitute.
 
Don’t come at me with DL Hall. He’s still at extended spring training and hasn’t pitched beyond Double-A. He isn’t making that jump.
 
Hyde might need another tandem arrangement if Means goes on the injured list, as if he was searching for more of them. The Orioles could bring up a pitcher who backs up someone already on the active roster. The newbie wouldn’t necessarily take the ball first.
 
Best-case scenario here is probably Means avoiding the IL but unable to make his next start after a brief rest period and bullpen session or two. Staying on turn would have put him on the mound Monday night in Oakland. Seems pretty ambitious.
 
A fifth starter was needed the following night, with Lyles working on normal rest Wednesday.
 
Six games into the season and Hyde is left with a bit of a mess. His ace leaving a start early after Dean Kremer strained his oblique while warming Sunday at Tropicana Field. One pitcher counted on to provide quality length from the start, the other as the backend of a tandem.
 
Kremer appeared to be slotted as the No. 3 starter in camp, became a candidate for fifth, was tabbed for long relief and now could miss a month of the season.
 
You can draw up as many plans as you want before breaking camp, but there’s just no way to know exactly what’s in store. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
 
The Yankees are starting left-hander Jordan Montgomery, right-hander Jameson Taillon and left-hander Nestor Cortes against the Orioles, whose bullpen has covered 29 1/3 innings, fourth-most in the American League before last night.
 
A 2.45 ERA was third-lowest in the league.
 
The Orioles are batting .201/.300/.299, their .599 OPS ranking 25th in the majors before last night. But Anthony Santander is 6-for-15 with a double, home run, six walks and two hit by pitches. He leads the team in walks, which hasn’t been part of his skill set in the past.
 
Bowie outfielder Hudson Haskin came out of Wednesday night’s game after being hit by a pitch that ran in on his hands in his first at-bat. I’m told that his removal was very precautionary, and there didn’t seem to be much concern about it within the organization. He was out of last night’s lineup.
 
Haskin, a second-round pick in the 2020 draft out of Tulane University, was 9-for-16 with three doubles in the first four games, and he hit three home runs in Sunday’s game against Richmond.

Because You Asked - Transformania

Brandon Hyde watching right

The Orioles reached their first off day since leaving Sarasota. No games or workouts. An early reset before the Yankees arrive and they get back into division play.

The only way to reset a mailbag is to dump out its contents. Sort through the pile. Wonder how many questions got lost along the way. 

They’re probably scattered in some back room. Hold onto the tracking numbers.

This is the latest sequel to the hit original. You ask, I answer, we promise never to speak of it again. And then we do.

There’s no editing here unless someone catches a typo. Bring your length and style. Don’t worry about clarity. And this is the home of the brevity.

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Means leaves tonight's game with forearm tightness

John Means throwing white

Orioles left-hander John Means retired the Brewers in order tonight on 12 pitches in the first inning, nine in the third and 12 in the fourth. They scored twice in the second on 18 pitches, but he wasn’t laboring. The total body of work was solid.

Why it lasted only through the fourth was a curiosity, to say the least.

Joey Krehbiel began to warm in the bullpen and entered the game in the top of the fifth. Dillon Tate worked the sixth. Other relievers would be following him, as manager Brandon Hyde needed to cover for Means’ unexpected departure.

The club announced that Means had left forearm tightness, with more details to come, including whether this is an injured list situation. Meanwhile, the Orioles rallied to tie the game in the eighth, but a run-scoring triple by Kolton Wong and RBI double by Rowdy Tellez in the ninth off Jorge López gave Milwaukee a 4-2 win and the series.

Means is expected to undergo an MRI, and the club hopes to have more information Friday.

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Hyde on Means, catchers’ setups, base coaches, Rutschman and more

Hyde takes ball Means white

Allowed to throw 84 pitches over four innings on opening day, Orioles left-hander John Means can be pushed a bit more tonight in his start against the Brewers.

Wade into the medium level of the pool before submerging in the deep end.

“It depends on how efficient he is, traffic, stressful innings,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I’m hoping to get him up to five or six innings and in the 85-pitch range or maybe a little higher. Kind of see how the game goes.”

The Dodgers pulled Clayton Kershaw today after seven perfect innings, another product of a short spring training. Hyde was asked what he’d do tonight if Means was perfect through the seventh at 80 pitches.

No mention of Kershaw. Just a “what if.”

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Orioles lineup vs. Brewers

John Means throw white

Anthony Bemboom is catching tonight as the Orioles close out their series against the Brewers.

Ramón Urías is at third base and Jorge Mateo is the shortstop.

Rougned Odor is starting at second base.

Trey Mancini, the designated hitter and batting fourth, has a hit in four of the first five games.

John Means makes his second start after allowing one run and six hits in four innings against the Rays.

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This, that and the other

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Cedric Mullins talked in spring training about trying to concentrate on the middle of the field, an approach that makes him a much larger threat at the plate.

He’s still trying, and the improvements are loud.

The exhibition numbers illustrated his struggles: five hits in 30 at-bats with 11 strikeouts.

Mullins began last night’s game with only three hits in 16 at-bats, and his nine strikeouts led the American League. But he lined a two-run single into center field in the Orioles’ home opener, with an exit velocity of 109 mph, that provided all of the scoring, and also sent a 99 mph live drive to the mound that reliever Aaron Ashby snared for the out.

After flying to left field in his first at-bat last night, Mullins launched a curveball from Eric Lauer 413 feet to right-center field for his first career grand slam. Exit velo was 101.8 mph.

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How do Orioles round out rotation after 5-4 loss?

mullins-grand-slam

The rotation has taken its first full turn of the 2022 season, and the Orioles don’t really know more than what they understood when it began.

John Means and Jordan Lyles are the two veterans at the top. Former Rule 5 pick Tyler Wells is getting his starter’s groove back but working as the front end of a tandem. Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann – he’s local, you know – is fourth in line.

The fifth spot is open for business.

Spenser Watkins felt like the favorite late in camp, and more so after the Orioles flew out of Tampa. A stellar showing tonight could have gotten him the ball again, though Thursday’s off-day pushes back the first four if manager Brandon Hyde isn’t ready to provide extra rest.

Alexander Wells sits in the bullpen. Hyde seems to prefer keeping Keegan Akin and Mike Baumann in it, at least for now. Kyle Bradish made his first start tonight with Triple-A Norfolk after leaving Sarasota, and he tossed four scoreless innings with two hits, no walks and six strikeouts.

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Hyde on Tate, Mateo, Watkins and more

dillon-tate

Orioles reliever Dillon Tate inherited a runner from Mike Baumann in yesterday’s home opener, gave up a groundball single to bring the go-ahead run to the plate and retired the next two batters. He was credited with a hold, and the bullpen kept Milwaukee scoreless over the last five frames.

But something didn’t look right.

Tate’s velocity was down, with his sinker clocked at 90-91 mph instead of climbing into the mid-90s. The MASN broadcasters and other media

noticed it. Fans noticed it and wondered via social media if there was a physical issue.

Manager Brandon Hyde said Tate, who retired Andrew McCutchen on a long fly ball to center and Willy Adames on a line drive to shortstop Jorge Mateo, needed to correct a flaw in his mechanics.

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Orioles lineup vs. Brewers

spenser-watkins

Spenser Watkins is the Orioles’ fifth starter at least for the first time through the rotation.

Watkins stayed with the team after his stint on a two-man taxi squad in St. Petersburg, and he’s facing the Brewers tonight at Camden Yards. He made 16 appearances last summer, including 10 starts, and registered an 8.07 ERA and 1.701 WHIP in 54 2/3 innings.

Watkins allowed one run in each of his first three starts covering 15 1/3 innings.

Left-hander Alexander Wells could follow Watkins if the Orioles employ another tandem arrangement.

Wells started Thursday for Triple-A Norfolk and tossed four scoreless innings with one hit allowed. He made 11 appearances with the Orioles last season, including eight starts, and posted a 6.75 ERA and 1.617 WHIP in 42 2/4 innings.

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Random thoughts following yesterday's win in home opener

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The Orioles will announce tonight’s starting pitcher before he begins his warm-up tosses. The wait is long, but it’s not unreasonable.

Spenser Watkins could be followed by Alexander Wells. Wells could be followed by Watkins. Both arrangements present a proper contrast in arms and styles.

Or manager Brandon Hyde has something or someone up his sleeve.

Mike Baumann pitched in relief yesterday and the Orioles like him as a multi-inning reliever, with the freedom to switch him back to a starter’s role. They have a long history of beginning a young pitcher’s career in the ‘pen.

Baumann tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings yesterday and the knee-jerk reaction is to make him the fifth starter. He could be headed for it. Or he could be really valuable in this kind of tandem setup.

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Zimmermann makes himself at home in 2-0 win

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The introduction began with the words “Baltimore’s own.” Family members wearing his Orioles jersey jumped to their feet behind home plate, raised their iPhones and captured the moment.
 
Bruce Zimmermann’s moment.
 
The local kid – Baltimore-born, Ellicott City resident, pitcher at Loyola Blakefield and Towson University – too busy warming in the bullpen to touch the orange carpet, but preparing to step on the rubber as the starter for the home opener.
 
Manager Brandon Hyde downplayed the sentimental reasons for choosing Zimmermann, and how they intertwined with such an important date on the calendar, but there wasn’t a more appropriate selection.
 
Hyde had the hook ready after a short spring training. Zimmermann might not make the middle innings, but he’d do his best to delay his departure.
 
A nine-pitch first inning, including a full-count changeup that froze Willy Adames for the strikeout. More screaming from his cheering section. A called third strike on the same pitch with Hunter Renfroe leading off the second, and Kolton Wong swinging through a slider to strand Tyrone Taylor after a two-out double – Zimmermann’s 30th pitch eliciting chants of “Bruuuce” from the crowd and fist-pumps from his loved ones.
 
Zimmermann escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third, and supplied four scoreless innings and a needed jolt after the weekend sweep by the Rays.
 
Hyde used four relievers to piece together a 2-0 victory over the Brewers before an announced sellout crowd of 44,461. Many hands needed to carry the load in the early portion of the season. Many of them reliable through four games.
 
Jorge López notched his second career save and first since 2019 with the Royals.
 
The Orioles hadn’t faced the Brewers since 2017, when they were swept in three games at Miller Park. They hadn’t hosted the Brewers since June 13-15, 2003, winning two of three with starters Sidney Ponson, Jason Johnson and Rodrigo López.
 
The teams hadn’t met in the Orioles’ home opener since May 1, 1995. Mike Mussina opposed Ricky Bones, and Milwaukee won 7-0.
 
Today marked the Orioles’ first shutout of the Brewers since June 26, 1995 in Milwaukee. It’s the first time they blanked the Brewers at home since Aug. 21, 1989.
 
Zimmermann retired the first two batters in the third inning, but Andrew McCutchen doubled and back-to-back walks brought pitching coach Chris Holt to the mound. Renfroe bounced to third on Zimmermann’s 54th pitch of the game. No one moved in the ‘pen.
 
A leadoff single by Keston Hiura in the fourth did no damage, except Dillon Tate began to warm with two outs after Cedric Mullins ran down Wong’s line drive in right-center. Mike Brosseau flied out and Zimmermann was done at 66 pitches.
 
“Zim pitched extremely well,” Hyde said. “I thought he had really good stuff. Good breaking ball, good changeup, kept guys off-balance, worked ahead in the count. Just really efficient, and four great innings.”
 
Zimmermann was the fourth Maryland native to start a home opener for the Orioles, and the first since Dave Johnson in 1990. He’s the first to do it at Camden Yards.
 
The Brewers had three hits against him and walked twice. Zimmermann struck out four – three on his changeup.
 
“It’s pretty hard to describe, to be honest with you,” Zimmermann said. “Even better than I could have imagined it going. I mean, it was perfect weather, sold out crowd, all of my family that could make it was here. Friends that I’m really close with, friends that I might have played years ago with came out. Messages I received were all incredibly special and meant a lot to me. And then, of course, we got a really awesome win, opening day, that’s what everybody wants at home. All in all, it was everything that I could have asked for and more.”
 
Zimmermann didn’t want until today to stroll onto the field. He did it after the team arrived last night from St. Petersburg, saying he “snuck” on it.
 
“I walked on the mound and tried to imagine what today would be like,” he said. “Then I tried almost to put it out of my mind this morning when I got here, tried to go about my normal routine and take care of business. Obviously, the nerves were still there, but the best way to go about them, in my opinion, is to feel as much as you can and not let it get too big. It was staying in the moment one pitch at a time.
 
“I think I handled it all right. Internally, it was a lot going on, but once I got out there and got through that first inning, kind of settled down. There was a lot of adrenaline to go. It was just kind of getting that first inning under my belt and it went well, and from there trusting my defense, making pitches. It was just playing baseball again.”
 
The day ranked with his major league debut, maybe a little more with the environment, first time seeing the ballpark so full as a player.
 
“It was incredibly special,” he said.
 
“That first inning, that punchout and walking off and hearing the Bruce chant and everything, that really kind of hit and fired me up a little bit more.”
 
Mike Baumann followed with 2 1/3 scoreless innings, only one hit allowed and one walk. He retired seven of the last eight batters.
 
Tate inherited a runner with one out in the seventh and Victor Caratini singled, but he escaped the jam with a long fly ball and liner to short. Left-hander Cionel Pérez got a big 6-4-3 double play to close the eighth and give him eight scoreless innings, counting spring training.
 
Mullins received his Silver Slugger Award to close out the pregame festivities, then struck out for the eighth time in 12 at-bats.
 
Anthony Santander walked with two outs, and Taylor robbed Trey Mancini of an extra-base hit and RBI by making a spectacular running catch and slamming into the wall. He landed on the warning track. The ball never touched it.
 
Taylor was a pest in center field, also running down Austin Hays’ deep liner with Ramón Urías on second base with one out in the second inning. But Jorge Mateo and Robinson Chirinos walked, and Mullins lined Adrian Houser’s sinker into center field for a 2-0 lead – the club’s first in 2022.
 
Mateo raced home with the second run, popped out of his slide and slapped his hands together. The place got loud.
 
“It got me excited, it got me hyped over there at first base,” Mullins said. “I saw Mateo’s reaction. We’re really into it. We’re trying go out there and play hard every single day and get some wins.”
 
“One of the louder moments here since I’ve been here, and a lot of fun,” Hyde said. “I know we have passionate fans and they were into the game today.
 
“The energy in the ballpark was fantastic. Crowd was great. It was fun to hear Orioles fans cheering, and a lot of them. I thought our guys fed off the energy. I was concerned that Zim and Mike might be a little too amped up, and I think Mike was when he first got out there, but he really settled in, and both guys handled it extremely well.”
 
The Orioles were 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position at Tropicana Field and 0-for-1 today before Mullins’ single. They were starved for a clutch hit.
 
They also were barreling Houser. Mancini’s ball in the first had an exit velocity of 104.9 mph, per Statcast, and Hays’ ball in the second registered 105.2 mph. Mullins’ single topped them at 109 mph.
 
Santander led off the third with a double and was stranded. So was Mateo after a one-out single in the fourth, when Brewers manager Craig Counsell replaced Houser with Aaron Ashby.
 
Ryan Mountcastle and Santander opened the fifth with walks, but a fly ball and Urías double play grounder stifled another rally. The Orioles put two more runners on base in the sixth on Rougned Odor’s leadoff single and a two-out error, but Mullins lined to Ashby. Another scorcher, this one 99 mph off the bat, with no return.
 
A fan sitting in front of the press box yelled, “Are you serious?”
 
Going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position at that point, eight runners stranded, was no laughing matter.
 
“We hit a ton of balls on the nose,” Hyde said. “The luck was not going our way offensively. Give Taylor credit for making two really great plays that cost us runs. We squared up a lot of balls, didn’t have a whole lot to show for it except for the Ced RBI single. But we pitched and played defense today and that was the key.”
 
Santander reached base for a fourth time with a one-out single in the seventh inning, but he, too, was grounded.
 
Hays reached with one out in the eighth on Adames’ throwing error – Hyde argued for Hays to be awarded second base, but the ground rule states a ball over the camera well is an extra base – Chirinos walked with two outs and the lead held at 2-0.
 
It stayed that way, with Baumann earning the win because Zimmermann didn’t complete the fifth. Maybe next time.
 
Nothing was going to ruin this day.
 
The Orioles won their first game of the season. Relish won the condiment race after starting 0-34 last year. The 2-0 score was the same as their victory in the inaugural game at Camden Yards 30 years ago. Home sweet home.
 
“It was huge,” Mullins said. “We were trying to bring a lot of energy to the games every day, and being the home opener is always a special day for us, and it was great to secure a W.”
 
Said Hyde: “We’ve got to give them something to cheer about, and we’ve got to give them something to root for, and I thought we did today. That’s kind of the blueprint of bringing energy to the ballpark is the type of baseball we’re playing.”

Notes on roster moves, Stewart, opener and new left field wall

opacy-opening-day

The Orioles placed pitcher Dean Kremer on the 10-day injured list today with a strained left oblique, an injury that manager Brandon Hyde said might keep him out for a month.

Kremer felt the oblique grab yesterday as he was warming in the bullpen. He was supposed to provide length behind starter Tyler Wells, who lasted only 1 2/3 innings against the Rays.

Hyde said no discussions have been held regarding the 60-day injured list.

“The oblique is tricky,” Hyde said. “I think we’re hoping three to four weeks, but you kind of never know with an oblique and he’s got to build up from there, as well. It’s an unfortunate thing that happened yesterday in the bullpen. Those things happen, but hopefully he’s back within a month or so.”

Spenser Watkins and Alexander Wells joined the club, giving the Orioles 15 pitchers and 13 position players – the expected ratio before they switched to 14/14 for the opening series. The 40-man roster is full with Watkins’ contract selected from Norfolk.

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Orioles lineup vs. Brewers

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Pitchers Spenser Watkins and Alexander Wells are in the Orioles clubhouse this morning and will be part of the team’s home opener against the Brewers.

Outfielder DJ Stewart was optioned yesterday to Triple-A Norfolk and Dean Kremer is expected to go on the injured list with a strained left oblique.

Austin Hays is in left field and prepared to be introduced to the taller fence and dimensions, which Trey Mancini described as “jaw-dropping.”

Mancini is the cleanup hitter today. Anthony Santander is batting third and playing right field.

Jorge Mateo gets his fourth start at shortstop.

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Lessons learned in first class of 2022

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The next steps in the 2022 baseball season, which felt like they began with the Dec. 2 lockout, finally bring us to the first home game. The absence of a dateline on this story makes it official.
 
We’re not in Florida anymore.
 
The .500 record in exhibition games already was packed away. The 0-3 start after Tampa Bay’s sweep made the trip to Baltimore, but the baggage wasn’t all bad.
 
The Rays are gonna do Rays things. They’re a small-market winner that’s a blueprint and a powder-blue pest.
 
What did we learn about the Orioles after only three regular season games?

 
* We know that Jorge Mateo is going to get many, many chances to stick with the club rather than being exposed again to waivers. And in a tiny sample size, he’s viewed more as a shortstop than second baseman, based on his starts.
 
Mateo made a couple of impressive plays in the field and also committed a fielding error. There could be lapses in consistency, but the tools intrigue and a rebuilding team can afford a lengthy audition.
 
He wasn’t a top 100 prospect for three years because of his winning smile.
 
You can’t steal first base, and Mateo is reaching at a much higher percentage with the Orioles. He collected two hits over the first two games, including a double, and drew three walks in the series to raise his total to 10 in 128 plate appearances since the waiver claim. He had three in 121 plate appearances with the Padres.

 
* There could be platoons at two infield positions.
 
Or some semblance of them.
 
Kelvin Gutiérrez started at third base on opening day against Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan, and he sat the next two games versus right-handers. Rougned Odor started at second base against the right-handers and sat versus McClanahan.
 
Ramón Urías could be a regular who keeps bouncing between third and second, with chances to start at shortstop when Mateo is rested.
 
Mateo seems more comfortable at shortstop.

 
* Keegan Akin can throw strikes.
 
Akin filled up the zone Saturday afternoon, with 27 strikes among 31 pitches. An insane amount for anyone. A real eye-popper with Akin averaging 3.8 walks per nine innings last season and issuing six in 5 1/3 frames in spring training.
 
Troubles with command prevented Akin from making the club last spring. He was more aggressive and confident in his stuff Saturday, and coming out of the bullpen just felt right.
 
“I liked it, actually, to be honest with you,” he said. “I liked it a lot, so could get used to it.”
 
Akin smiled. Manager Brandon Hyde was beaming, with Akin the highlight of the day for him.
 
Does this make Akin a tandem starter, perhaps behind Tyler Wells? Is he long relief behind anyone who requires it?
 
Stay tuned.

 
* Anthony Santander isn’t planted in right field.
 
Santander is expected to patrol right at Camden Yards, but he was the left fielder for two days at Tropicana Field before serving yesterday as the designated hitter.
 
That’s half the number of starts he made in left field in 2021.
 
Hyde mentioned that Austin Hays is throwing the ball a little better. He also pointed out that Santander’s running has improved after he sustained ankle and knee injuries last year, but he didn’t say that “Tony” has 100 percent mobility. 
 
Hays is likely to be the one introduced today to the new left field dimensions. Santander can observe from across the outfield if he isn’t the DH.

 
* The leash wasn’t long on DJ Stewart.
 
Stewart pinch-hit in all three games, struck out twice and flied out, and was optioned.
 
The choice seemed to come down to Stewart or Ryan McKenna if the Orioles decided to go with 15 pitchers and 13 position players. This could be happening, though they’d need two fresh arms with Dean Kremer expected to be placed on the injured list with an oblique strain.
 
Stewart lost a chunk of spring training after being hit by a fastball on his left hand. He rushed to get ready, and the club likely will explain yesterday’s optioning by saying he needs more at-bats.

 
* Ryan Mountcastle also can hit when he isn’t a rookie.
 
Mountcastle went 5-for-12 with a home run in the series. He just missed a three-run homer yesterday in the seventh inning, flying to the warning track in center field. Exit velocity of 102 mph, a 397-foot out.
 
No worries with this beast.

 
* A remade bullpen could have some real weapons.
 
Bryan Baker retired the first six batters he faced in two appearances before Manuel Margot led off the seventh yesterday by reaching on an infield hit that probably should have been ruled an error on Odor. Baker was good in camp and good in St. Pete.
 
Cionel Pérez may never give up a run. He owns a spotless ERA after six spring training games and opening day.
 
Félix Bautista flashed a 99 mph fastball yesterday, and we know there’s more in the tank. But his strikeouts came on a changeup and slider. 
 
Seems unfair.

 
* Bautista is huge.
 
We already knew it, but seeing him up close really drives home the point.
 
The guy walks into the clubhouse and it dims. I’m not throwing shade. It’s just true.
 
Bautista isn’t just tall. His shoulders are so broad, he can balance equipment bags on them.
 
Baseball.Reference.com lists him at 6-feet-5 and 190 lbs. That was at birth.

 
* Speaking of nicknames, which I did with Santander, backup catcher Anthony Bemboom is “Boomer.”
 
Hyder used it over the weekend. It’s official.
 
Baseball nicknames used to be the most creative in sports. Hammerin’ Hank, Catfish, Three Finger, Toy Cannon, Bambino, Iron Horse, Rapid Robert, Teddy Ballgame, The Say Hey Kid, The Wizard of Oz, The Georgia Peach, Spaceman, Charlie Hustle, Penguin. Then, everyone got lazy and just attached a “y” sound.
 
The raging beat writer controversy is in the spelling. Is Jorge López written as “Lopey” or “Lopie?” Is John Means “Meansy” or “Meansie?” Is Ryan Mountcastle “Mounty” or “Mountie?” Is Austin Hays “Haysy” or “Haysie?”
 
Thank goodness for “Ced.” No room for debate there.
 
Don’t get me started on “Zim/Zimm” or “D-Tate”/“DTate.”
 
Hyde confirmed “Zim” and “D-Tate,” by the way. And his word is gospel.
 
We also settled on Lopey, Meansy, Mounty, Haysy, Robbie (Chirinos), CO (Chris Owings), Mac (Ryan McKenna) and Roogie (Odor).
 
Your cheat sheet for the season.

Orioles swept and lose Kremer to oblique injury

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The visiting bullpen had a chance today to provide a hint to the identity of Tuesday night’s starter.

The length guy behind Orioles right-hander Tyler Wells would be excused from the guessing game.

Just as interesting as the outcome of today’s game against the Rays.

Wells supplied only 1 2/3 innings, his exit coming after Brandon Lowe’s two-run homer. Félix Bautista made his major league debut, fed Wander Franco 99 mph fastballs and struck him out with a changeup.

Dean Kremer warmed in the bullpen, appearing to eliminate him from the assignment at Camden Yards, but he walked to the dugout while Bautista came back out for a scoreless third. Joey Krehbiel, Bryan Baker and Paul Fry followed in an 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay that completed the sweep.

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Wells won't wander into middle innings today

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tyler Wells is making his first start in the regular season today since Aug. 31, 2018 with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, when he allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde won’t let him go that far.

Wells is on a gradual progression as a starting pitcher, and his innings will be controlled. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, didn’t pitch in 2020 with the minor league season canceled and worked in short relief last summer as a Rule 5 pick.

John Means completed four innings Friday and Jordan Lyles went five yesterday. Wells is on a different schedule.

Asked whether Wells is stretched out enough to maybe work five innings, depending on pitch count, Hyde said, “Probably not. I think it’s more three to four. We’ll see how it goes.

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