Nevin playing ball in Dominican Republic and hoping to make Orioles opening day roster

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Players arranged flights home, hopped in their cars or weighed their options.

Reliever Keegan Akin normally drives straight through to Michigan, but didn’t know if he’d need to stop somewhere overnight with the Orioles playing a doubleheader on Wednesday. Center fielder Cedric Mullins was heading down to Georgia, with planned visits along the way as if checking them off his list.

Infielder Tyler Nevin needed to repack and get back into baseball mode this week. One season was over, but he committed for the first time to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Nevin wanted to get more at-bats and try to gain an edge before spring training, hoping that the Orioles give him another shot at making the roster while infield prospects keep infiltrating it.

An uneven season for Nevin, with stops in the minors and stretches on the major league bench, left him with a .197 average and .560 OPS in 58 games and 184 plate appearance in his second full season in the organization.

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Two more reflections on Orioles' 2022 season

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The Orioles played their last games on Wednesday, a doubleheader feeling like a kick in the pants on their way out the door.

A gentle nudge would have sufficed, but the sport can be cruel.

Some of my reflections were shared ahead of the finale. Maybe a bit premature, but rules are made to be broken.

I’ve already noted how Matt Harvey never had his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk, Gunnar Henderson earned a promotion despite his age, Yusniel Diaz stayed only for a cup of coffee, Rougned Odor lasted into September, we never saw Robert Neustrom, DJ Stewart didn’t make it back to the Orioles after three games to begin the season, Jorge Mateo was exclusively a shortstop, Bryan Baker stuck for the entire season, and Nick Vespi will never give up another Triple-A run.

That last one might come back to bite me, but man, he was good.

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Tate: "I still don’t feel like I’m established yet"

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Dillon Tate can be pleased with his 2022 season. He probably should be ecstatic.

How he led the Orioles in appearances with 67 and also established a career high in innings. How he posted the lowest ERA and walk average in his four years in the majors. How he became a trusted late-inning reliever on a contending team with 16 holds and five saves as a substitute closer.

Pleased, ecstatic … but not satisfied.

I wasn’t expecting Tate to treat the summer in such a casual way when I sought his personal reflections before Wednesday’s doubleheader. But he isn’t ready to relax. He can’t do it and go against his competitive nature.

He must stay true to it.

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Orioles taking care of minor matters before getting into major business

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A tweak of the 40-man roster yesterday was similar to cleansing the palate before the main course. Likely the first and only time that Anthony Bemboom has been compared to a sorbet.

The Orioles can’t really get busy with their offseason until after the World Series. The free agent market opens. Executives discuss potential trades. Decisions are made regarding arbitration-eligible players and who’s protected in the Rule 5 draft.

Bemboom had his contract selected yesterday from Triple-A Norfolk, preventing or delaying his plunge into minor league free agency, depending on whether he stays on a 40-man roster that’s currently full.

Pending free agents Robinson Chirinos, Rougned Odor and Jesús Aguilar will come off the 40-man, and Jordan Lyles would join them if the Orioles don’t pick up his $11 million option. John Means and Chris Ellis must be added from the 60-day injured list, though the latter isn’t guaranteed to stick.

The Orioles could designate Ellis for assignment and try to re-sign him to a minor league deal or cut ties.

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Orioles select Bemboom's contract, Tate to play in WBC

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The Orioles made an adjustment to their 40-man roster on the first day of their offseason.

Catcher Anthony Bemboom’s contract was selected this afternoon from Triple-A Norfolk, and right-hander Anthony Castro was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

Bemboom didn’t play for the Orioles after No. 1 prospect Adley Rutschman arrived on May 21. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to Norfolk six days later.

The Orioles signed Bemboom to a minor league contract and he broke camp with the team, beating out Jacob Nottingham as the backup to veteran Robinson Chirinos. He appeared in 22 games and went 6-for-52 (.115) with two doubles and a home run.

Bemboom threw out three of eight runners attempting to steal.

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Elias and players endorsing Hyde for Manager of the Year honor

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One season after his club lost 110 games and earned the chance to pick first in the draft, the darkness of a rebuild turning another ugly shade, Brandon Hyde is a favorite to win the Manager of the Year award in the American League. Arguments that I heard about him needing to finish above .500 became moot on Sunday afternoon in the Bronx.

Also, I never agreed with them.

Hyde oversaw an unprecedented improvement, which is a solid reason for him to collect votes, but there’s competition from the Guardians’ Terry Francona, the Mariners’ Scott Servais, the Blue Jays’ John Schneider and the Rays’ Kevin Cash – whether based on low expectations or surviving an avalanche of injuries.

Francona has the youngest roster in baseball. The Orioles are tied for fifth, with 38-year-old catcher Robinson Chirinos skewing the numbers, but the lack of experience can’t be measured by age. The untested starters and relievers with long minor league track records and little to show at the major league level before this season.

“I think this is the year that people are noticing what a talented manager that we have in Baltimore, but for me this has been four years,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said yesterday, with Hyde sitting next to him in the auxiliary clubhouse.

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Orioles finish 2022 season with 5-1 loss in Game 2 (updated)

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Jorge Mateo slapped a ground ball to the right side of the infield in the ninth inning, from mitt to first base to the final out of the 2022 season.

Fans stood and cheered the Orioles after a 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays in Game 2 of the doubleheader. The team came back out of the dugout with caps held high in the air. Some players waved and others returned the applause.

Manager Brandon Hyde intended to play everyone today. No one would be left on the bench on the last day, with a makeup doubleheader carrying them to their 162nd game.

A winning record was intact. Stats could be padded before players scattered for the winter. Go home, rest, and get ready to make a stronger run within the division in 2023.

But first, an emotional send-off.

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Vavra's first major league home run gives Orioles 5-4 win in Game 1 (updated)

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The Orioles and Blue Jays are taking contrasting approaches to today’s doubleheader, an understandable development considering how only one team is preparing for the wild card round that begins on Friday.

Mike Baumann started Game 1 for the Orioles and worked into the sixth inning. The Jays used five relievers within the first five innings, including closer Jordan Romano, who stranded a pair of runners in the fourth.

No one likes a doubleheader on the final day of the regular season. It’s especially distasteful for Toronto, which led until the eighth inning.

Until rookie Terrin Vavra lined a two-out fastball from Mitch White onto the flag court in right field, his first major league homer a three-run shot that gave the Orioles a 5-4 win in the opener at Camden Yards.

One team suddenly felt a lot better about the doubleheader.

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Elias: "I feel like this team is officially in the fight in the American League East"

Elias: "I feel like this team is officially in the fight in the American League East"

The Orioles were saddled with two games on the final day of the 2022 season, an inconvenient doubleheader born from the club’s fifth rainout. A final jab from the baseball gods.

Nothing really hurt the Orioles this summer beyond their official elimination from the wild card chase. Being in it after national projections of 100-plus losses felt like a huge win.

Many more are expected in the coming years.

“Looking at the entire organization, I think we’re very pleased with everything that happened up and down the organization this year,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said this morning. “First and foremost, the way that this team played and competed at the major league level is something that I think rightfully our players and coaches deserve a lot of credit for. We’re not where we want to be or need to be in the division. It’s very daunting looking at these other four, not only teams but organizations in our division, picturing having to beat them to make it to the playoffs next year, but that’s our goal and we feel that the organization is in a position now to realistically pursue that goal for next year. So that’s going to be my focus this offseason, and I think the focus of our squad when we meet in Sarasota next year.

“It’s not going to be easy, given who we have to compete against and who we have to play against, but as I said in the summer, I feel like this team is officially in the fight in the American League East, and that’s a big achievement. It doesn’t mean we’re going to be complacent about it. We know that we had some relatively good health this season. We had some guys have good seasons. It’s tough to repeat in this league. Players make adjustments against you, we’ve got a lot of young guys. We may have some individual steps back, but we plan to hopefully reinforce this group, keep helping the players improve, and hope that we can take another step forward next season and get into the playoffs that we narrowly missed out on this year.”

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Orioles and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1

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The Orioles can’t get away clean. They must play a doubleheader against the Blue Jays today before scattering for the offseason.

Mike Baumann starts Game 1 after yesterday’s rainout. So, to review:

Baumann is making his fourth start and 13th appearance. He’s completed four innings in his two starts since being plugged into the rotation on Sept. 24, throwing 58 and 74 pitches.

Baumann also started Game 1 of a Sept. 5 doubleheader against the Jays and allowed three runs and eight hits in five innings. He tossed two scoreless relief innings on Sept. 16 in Toronto.

Gunnar Henderson is playing third base and batting fifth. Terrin Vavra is the second baseman and Ryan McKenna is in left field.

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A season jeopardized and influenced by lockout ends today for Orioles

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The 2022 season has reached its end for teams on the outside of the playoff arena. The doors will be locked after today.

You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

Last call for the Orioles is a traditional doubleheader against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, which is attracting rain the way a picnic lures ants. It’s an open jar of marmalade.

(We’ll … wait for it … toast the season later.)

A “traditional” doubleheader for me still conjures images of carrying a cooler of beer into Memorial Stadium. Or screwdrivers for the last Colts game before they moved to Indianapolis, which wasn’t a doubleheader but is in keeping with the theme.

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Game postponed and doubleheader set for Wednesday (plus other notes)

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The Orioles will close out the 2022 season by playing a doubleheader on Wednesday.

Tonight’s game with the Blue Jays was postponed due to rain. A traditional, single-admission doubleheader has been announced, with the opener set for 12:35 p.m. Game 2 begins approximately 30 minutes after the final out.

Just one more oddity after the lockout delayed spring training and opening day and forced an adjustment to the schedule, which tagged this series at the end of it.

Mike Baumann starts Game 1 and Spenser Watkins starts Game 2.

The Blue Jays are sending Mitch White to the mound for Game 1. Game 2 is undecided.

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Orioles lineup vs. Blue Jays

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Gunnar Henderson is the cleanup hitter tonight in the Orioles’ penultimate game of the 2022 season.

The forecast calls for rain all day and night, but that’s the plan.

Jesús Aguilar is the first baseman, with Ryan Mountcastle on the bench. Ryan McKenna is the left fielder and Austin Hays is in right.

Terrin Vavra is starting at second base instead of Rougned Odor.

Mike Baumann is making his fourth start and 13th appearance. He’s lasted four innings in his two starts since being plugged into the rotation on Sept. 24, throwing 58 and 74 pitches.

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Leftovers for breakfast

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Omar’s whistle has been silenced at Camden Yards.

The hype video goes into storage, along with the 100 mph fastball and filthy splitter.

Félix Bautista packed away his jerseys and other items yesterday for shipment home. The big boxes in front of lockers are a sure sign of fall, and the end of a baseball season.

Unfortunately, Bautista’s season reached its conclusion yesterday with three home games remaining on the schedule. The Orioles didn’t want him trying to pitch with some lingering discomfort in his left knee. His work here is done.

Bautista told me yesterday that he felt much better and was available, if the Orioles kept him on the active roster. That’s the competitor in him.

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Orioles lose 5-1 in game called in eighth inning (updated)

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The Orioles had to dig deep for motivation tonight.

They didn’t play in front of 45,000 hostile fans. A home run record didn’t hang in the balance. They had already fallen out of the wild card chase and secured the first winning season since 2016.

The temperature at first pitch was 49 degrees, the coldest in Baltimore at the start in four years, with rain falling throughout the night. Weather that scaled back the crowd.

But the statistics count and the wins matter. They had a chance to claim one more series and perhaps influence where the Blue Jays will begin the playoffs.

Dean Kremer braved the elements and grinded through six innings in his final appearance, but the Orioles didn’t offer much support in a 5-1 loss, in a game delayed and then halted after Yennier Canó allowed a run in the eighth and loaded the bases with two outs.

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Bautista on injured list with sore knee (and other notes)

Bautista on injured list with sore knee (and other notes)

The Orioles have recalled reliever Yennier Canó from Triple-A Norfolk and placed Félix Bautista on the 15-day injured list with left knee discomfort. Bautista is done for 2022.

The rookie made the 40-man roster and then the opening day roster and finished with a 2.19 ERA and 0.929 WHIP in 65 appearances, which tied for second-most behind Dillon Tate’s 66. He recorded 15 saves, 13 after the Jorge López trade to Minnesota, and he allowed 38 hits and struck out 88 batters in 65 2/3 innings.

Bautista averaged 3.2 walks per nine innings, compared to 5.1 in seven minor league seasons.

“We’re going to shut him down for the rest of the season, unfortunately,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “So happy with the season he had and him going forward. What a great story. Great story for us, great story for him. Love watching him pitch, and looking forward to having him next year.”

Bautista, who received votes on the Most Valuable Oriole ballot, said earlier today that his knee felt better and he could come out of the bullpen if allowed.

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Orioles lineup vs. Blue Jays

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The Orioles begin the final series of the 2022 season tonight with the Blue Jays arriving in town.

They won’t have Félix Bautista available in the bullpen. He’s been shut down with lingering soreness in his left knee. A roster move is coming.

Gunnar Henderson is the third baseman tonight and Terrin Vavra is in left field. Kyle Stowers is in right.

Dean Kremer has a 3.17 ERA and 1.257 WHIP in 21 games (20 starts). He’s surrendered only 10 home runs in 119 1/3 innings, though two came in his last start in Boston.

Kremer has allowed six earned runs and seven total in 18 innings against Toronto this season.

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Rutschman named Most Valuable Oriole

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Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman is in the thick of the voting for American League Rookie of the Year. While waiting for next month’s announcement, he has become the recipient of a local honor bestowed annually by media covering the team.

Rutschman has been voted Most Valuable Oriole, the third rookie since the award’s inception in 1954, joining pitchers Gregg Olson in 1989 and Rodrigo López in 2002. He’s just the third catcher to be named MVO, along with Gus Triandos in 1958 and Chris Hoiles in 1993.

The Orioles are 66-53 since Rutschman’s promotion on May 21 as baseball’s No. 1 prospect. And it isn’t a coincidence.

There’s lots of data to back it up.

The first-overall selection in the 2019 draft is slashing .251/.356/.444 in 110 games, with 34 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 42 RBIs, 61 walks and 84 strikeouts. Baseball-Reference.com assigns him a 5.0 WAR.

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Signs of drastic improvement from the Orioles arrived in waves

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NEW YORK – The realization that the Orioles could be special in 2022, that they had the staying power to contend late into the season, hit some players at different points and for different reasons.

Can’t agree on everything, but can come pretty close sometimes.

Jordan Lyles saw a bullpen filled with unheralded relievers getting important outs and covering bulk innings and felt much better about the club’s direction. The shortened spring training after baseball’s lockout forced managers to reduce the early workload on their starters. The Orioles had a much stronger safety net than anticipated, especially after Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott were traded in March.

Outfielder Austin Hays remembers how it hit him in May.

“We were playing teams really tough, and then the bullpen just started rolling, and anytime we could get them the lead, the bullpen would just come in and close it down. And then our starters grew as the season went on, especially later in the year,” Hays said.

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Orioles assured of winning record after 3-1 victory over Yankees (updated)

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NEW YORK – The rain, wind and cold didn’t matter. Aaron Judge’s pursuit of a home run record and the hostile reaction from fans denied it also didn’t matter.

The Orioles didn’t bus into the Bronx for three days to stake out their place in history. They wanted to win the series. They wanted an 82nd victory and assurances that they’d finish on the right side of .500.

Gunnar Henderson drew a bases-loaded walk off Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning to break a tie, Bryan Baker registered his 10th scoreless appearance in a row by retiring all six batters faced and the Orioles defeated the Yankees 3-1 before an announced crowd of 45,332 to guarantee their first winning record since 2016 with three games to play at home.

"I think it's an accomplishment definitely from where we came from last year, 30 win difference, and still got a few games to go," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Proud of our guys with the season they've had."

Dillon Tate notched his fifth save with an uneventful ninth inning.

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