Mountcastle spends another night coming up big vs. Blue Jays


Two months after Ryan Mountcastle did his usual damage to the Blue Jays in Toronto, there’s still no one who can offer any sort of explanation for his extreme dominance against them. Why he stays or gets hot. Why slumps disappear like the baseballs that he hits.

Theories aren’t pulled out of thin air, or the heavy stuff that Baltimore is experiencing this month.

Mountcastle laughs about it. He knows the questions are coming at his locker.

Manager Brandon Hyde put him in the cleanup spot Monday night, though Mountcastle posted a .170 average and .435 OPS in his last 26 games. No home runs since July 3. None at Camden Yards since June 5.

Of course, Mountcastle hit a 426-foot homer to left field and delivered an RBI single in a 7-4 victory. Exactly how the script read.

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Odor home run in eighth inning gives Orioles 6-5 win over Blue Jays (updated)


The Orioles lost their lead tonight in the top of the sixth inning, then watched the tarp pulled onto the field before the rain arrived. Hurt by their own mistakes and what they couldn’t control.

They handled it with the same confidence and composure that’s guided them through the season. Always finding rays of light after a heavy downpour of disappointment.

This one almost got away from them. But it’s a different team in 2022.

Rougned Odor hit a two-run homer off Yimi García in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally the Orioles past the Blue Jays 6-5 at Camden Yards following a 1 hour, 18 minute rain delay.

Bo Bichette slugged his second home run of the night in the sixth inning, a go-ahead three-run shot on a two-strike pitch from reliever Bryan Baker. Ryan Mountcastle drew the Orioles within a run in the seventh on a double that scored Adley Rutschman, and Odor followed Austin Hays’ leadoff single in the eighth by driving a changeup 415 feet to right-center field.

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Hyde on standings, defense, Rutschman, bullpen usage and more

Adley white

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde can’t ignore the standings any longer.

His club is one game back in the wild card race, the season has moved past July and he’s peeking at the results.

“Yeah, I am,” he said. “Tried to stay up for the Seattle game, but I checked it this morning.

“When you’re in August, you start paying attention. After our games I’m always watching the Midwest games and the West Coast games at night anyway, but maybe a little differently now that we’re in August.”

The last few months of past seasons didn’t tempt Hyde to peruse the standings. Quite the opposite.

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Orioles lineup vs. Blue Jays

Orioles lineup vs. Blue Jays

The Orioles have moved within one game of the final wild card spot as they continue their series tonight against the Blue Jays.

They’re 1 ½ behind the third-place Rays and three behind second-place Toronto.

Terrin Vavra is the designated hitter tonight, batting fifth in a lineup that also includes Adley Rutschman catching, Austin Hays in left field, and Ramón Urías at third base.

Ryan Mountcastle has a career .356 average and 1.131 OPS in 30 games against Toronto, with four doubles, 13 home runs and 25 RBIs. He’s 10-for-21 with two doubles, four home runs and nine RBIs this season.

Urías had never hit a first-inning home run until last night’s three-run shot. He was 1-for-27 in the opening frame.

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This, that and the other

tyler wells pitching black

Tyler Wells can’t say with any amount of confidence that he’s going to pitch again this year. He’s encouraged by the improvements he’s noticing in his lower left side, which has him trending in the right direction. A popular term in the clubhouse whenever a player has avoided a setback.

But pitch again in 2022?

There are health and innings factors to consider.

Wells sustained his injury during a start on July 27, wincing in pain after throwing a slider to Tampa Bay’s Yandy Díaz in the fifth. The team announced that Wells experienced lower back discomfort, but he also felt it in his side, which usually signals an issue with the oblique that’s much more serious.

“I feel much, much better,” he said yesterday.

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Orioles hit four home runs in 7-4 win over Blue Jays (updated)

urias homer white

The Orioles knew the statistics and their own history with Yusei Kikuchi.

He walks a lot of batters. He can create rallies on his own. Be patient, be smart, and maybe it becomes a bullpen game for the Blue Jays.

Adley Rutschman drew a seven-pitch walk tonight with one out in the first inning and Anthony Santander earned a free pass on six. Ryan Mountcastle grounded into a force, but Ramón Urías launched a 96 mph fastball over the right-center field fence.

One big swing drew the loudest ovation, but the two walks before it set up the moment.

The Orioles did the heavy lifting in the third, again bringing the crowd to its feet, when Santander and Mountcastle went back-to-back, and Austin Hays homered off reliever Trent Thornton in the sixth in a 7-4 victory that again bumped the club five games above .500 at 57-52.

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Notes on Orioles' lineup changes, Hays' return, Head's arrival and more

hays hits white

Cedric Mullins has moved down to eighth in the Orioles’ order for tonight’s series opener against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards. Ryan McKenna is batting leadoff for the fifth time in his career.

The reasoning is simple.

The splits, which matter with Toronto starting left-hander Yusei Kikuchi. And the composition of the Jays’ bullpen, which is strictly right-handed.

The substitutions should flow when the Jays remove Kikuchi. The Orioles have Rougned Odor and Terrin Vavra on the bench for pinch-hitting purposes.

Mullins is batting .211/.273/.303 in 166 plate appearances against left-handers. McKenna is batting .294/.368/.559 in 38 plate appearances, going 10-for-34 with three doubles and two home runs.

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Orioles make roster moves, Hays returns to lineup and Mullins batting eighth

hays and mullins

The Orioles recalled reliever Louis Head this afternoon from Triple-A Norfolk to provide a fresh bullpen arm. They optioned Beau Sulser following yesterday’s game.

Head, who’s wearing No. 60, came to the organization as a July 12 waiver claim from the Marlins. He was on the injured list with a left shoulder impingement.

The right-hander made his major league debut with the Rays last summer, and he appeared in 23 games with the Marlins this season, allowing 19 runs and 26 hits with 11 walks and 23 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.

Head posted a 3.38 ERA in seven games with Norfolk. He allowed three runs and four hits with seven walks and 12 strikeouts in eight innings.

Sulser surrendered Ke’Bryan Hayes’ two-run homer yesterday after he replaced Keegan Akin. He threw 49 pitches in 2 1/3 innings.

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Vavra's on-base skills are carrying over to the Orioles

vavra swing away black

Terrin Vavra returned to his locker yesterday morning as neighbor Tyler Nevin wrapped up an interview about the rookie, the last compliment reaching his ears. Vavra never turned to watch, never acted like he overheard it. He just went about his business until he couldn’t ignore it any longer.

Nevin didn’t let the moment pass quietly, telling Vavra afterward that he had just finished treating his friend with extreme kindness. Vavra knew he was the main topic after hearing the word “trade.”

They arrived together at the 2020 deadline, when the Orioles sent reliever Mychal Givens to the Rockies. Never teammates in the minors until changing organizations.

“Got to know him in instructs, spring training, stuff like that,” Nevin said, “but as far as on the team, those first few weeks in Norfolk were our first experience doing that.”

Nevin quickly became more familiar with Vavra’s abilities as a hitter. He’s studied enough plate appearances to feel confident that the on-base skills wouldn’t taper in the majors.

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Soft hits and controversial call keep Orioles from extending winning streak (updated)

hyde argues

The first pitch of today’s game produced a grounder to Rougned Odor, making his third base debut as an Oriole, a position he tolerated last summer with the Yankees. He fielded it cleanly, paused and fired across the diamond for the out. Of course, the ball found him right away.

A grounder in the second eluded first baseman Ryan Mountcastle’s, but Terrin Vavra backed up the play and threw to Spenser Watkins, who was covering the bag. Of course, they hustled to get there.

Another grounder with two outs in the third looked like it would squirt into center field for the Pirates’ first baserunner, but Jorge Mateo cut in front of Odor to get the last out. Of course, he had the range and the arm to do it.

The Orioles led 1-0 after Mateo’s fly ball leading off the third inning kept carrying until it landed a few rows back in the left field corner, beyond the shorter portion of the wall.

The Orioles just have a knack, and it seemed to be trending again today. Doing whatever is necessary, often defying the odds. But a series of soft hits in the fifth inning and a controversial call in the seventh put them on the other side, where they haven’t resided of late.

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Notes on Hays, Vavra, Odor, Santander and more

odor w hays dugout gray

Austin Hays maintains his day-to-day status as he recovers from soreness in his side, a cautious approach to prevent a serious oblique injury.

Hays was scheduled to take more swings in the cage this morning after hitting, running and throwing yesterday afternoon. He said he’s “trending in the right direction.” No problems with the increased activity.

The lineup hasn’t included Hays for the last four games, with the Orioles winning all of them to run their streak to five in a row.

“Feeling better today. He’s getting a little better every day,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

“Available off the bench, maybe. Not sure about that yet. But hopefully in the next day or two we can get him in the lineup.”

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Orioles lineup vs. Pirates

Orioles lineup vs. Pirates

The Orioles will try for back-to-back series sweeps this afternoon as they play their final game against the Pirates at Camden Yards.

They’ve won five games in a row, are five above .500 and are one back in the wild card race. They also trail the third-place Rays by one game.

Austin Hays is out of the lineup again with tightness in his side, though he’s avoided the injured list.

Terrin Vavra, who’s 7-for-15 during a five-game hitting streak, moves up to third in the order and starts at second base. Rougned Odor has moved to third base as an extra left-handed bat.

Anthony Santander extended his hitting streak to 16 games last night, batting .354/.408/.646 (23-for-65) with seven doubles, four home runs, 13 RBIs and 10 runs.

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This, that and the other

vavra hits home orange

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde keeps learning more about this year’s team as it moves through the summer months. He’s making new discoveries, including how it handles difficult situations. And he marvels at it.

Nothing seems to faze these guys. They just keep going forward.

With heads lowered and expectations set high.

“I think we’re a tough group,” Hyde said. “We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity. We’ve lost some guys with injuries, we lost a couple guys with trades, important pieces, and our guys continue to fight and win series, continue to show up to play every day and enjoy it.

“It’s a really fun group to be around.”

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Hays remains out of Orioles' lineup

santander hays hi five white

The Orioles will try today to move five games above .500 for the first time since June 7, 2017, also against the Pirates, who remain in town through the weekend. They’re 1 ½ back for the last wild card spot and two behind the Rays for third place.

Last night’s 1-0 win bumped the Orioles’ run differential to plus-eight.

The Orioles lead the majors with four 1-0 victories, their highest total since 1983, their last championship team.

The pitching staff has allowed three runs or fewer in five consecutive games, their second-longest streak of the season.

Austin Voth has posted a 2.84 ERA in 11 games with the Orioles, and today marks his eighth start. He retired all six Pirates batters he faced in an April 15 relief appearance for the Nationals – his only career game against them.

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Maybe Mountcastle has found solution to struggles

Mountcastle swinging black

Ryan Mountcastle tried just about everything, including early hitting, rest and fast food, to break out of his slump.

A burger and fountain soda usually does the trick. When times get desperate, he heads to a drive-thru window.

Mountcastle was prolific at the plate in the month of June, slashing .297/.346/.614 with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 26 games. He could keep eating healthy.

The heat in July never reached his bat, though, with Mountcastle posting a .195/.242/.299 line with one home run in 23 games.

Before last night, Mountcastle was 2-for-12 in August and 5-for-46 in his last 12 games. His last home run was July 3 in Minnesota.

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One run is all Orioles needed while moving four games above .500 (updated)

dean kremer pitcher

Former pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, in town as the Orioles celebrate the 30th anniversary of Camden Yards, made a bold statement this afternoon that probably didn’t reach the players in the clubhouse. He said it during his media session on the seventh floor of the warehouse. And he clearly meant every word.

“If I could have one lineup in baseball right now,” he said, “and I know what the Dodgers have, I was there for the All-Star Game, I know what the Yankees have done, I would take the Oriole lineup right now.”

They weren’t challenged to back up what they didn’t hear, but efforts were made to live up to the compliment.

Runners on base in each of the first six innings against Pirates starter Mitch Keller, five of them leading off. No hits in eight chances with men in scoring position before the sixth. Pressure applied and unrewarded

Starter Dean Kremer didn’t need much. The Orioles provided just enough.

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Notes on Hays, Wells, outfield defense, Vavra, returning Orioles, and more

tyler wells pitches white

Austin Hays is out of the lineup again tonight with tightness and soreness in his left oblique, as he described it earlier today at his locker.

Hays also didn’t play Wednesday afternoon in Texas.

“I’m feeling better today,” he said. “We’re just trying to be careful with it. I don’t want to go out there and blow it out when I’m feeling some type of way, because those are very tricky injuries to try to come back from. So, it’s nothing super concerning right now. We’re just trying to make sure it’s 100 percent when I go out there.”

Manager Brandon Hyde said Hays is day-to-day. In the meantime, Brett Phillips gets his first start with the Orioles as the left fielder.

“The good news is it’s improving daily,” Hyde said. “A lot better on the day off, better even more today. Hopefully, it continues to trend that way. It sounds like it is.

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Orioles lineup vs. Pirates

kremer throws home orange

Austin Hays remains out of the Orioles’ lineup tonight with soreness in his left side.

Brett Phillips makes his first Orioles start, playing left field for the series opener against the Pirates.

Terrin Vavra is the designated hitter tonight.

Ryan Mountcastle is looking for his first home run since July 3. He’s 5-for-46 in his last 12 games.

Dean Kremer has allowed 13 runs and 23 hits in his last three starts over 13 2/3 innings.

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Vavra approaching fatherhood and hitting fastballs with same calmness

vavra binocs gray

Terrin Vavra sat at his locker Wednesday morning with his back turned to the room, his head lowered as he swapped text messages with wife Carlie. He seemed calm, which meant his first baby wasn’t ready to be born. Just a quick exchange, between Texas and Minnesota, before he headed outside for batting practice.

Vavra would appear in his sixth major league game later in the day, coming off the bench and delivering a two-out, tie-breaking double in the eighth inning. One of the unlikely heroes on an unlikely playoff contender.

The Orioles completed their sweep of the Rangers with a 6-3 win, and Vavra walked back to the clubhouse to eat, shower and board a flight to Baltimore.

Life is coming at him fast, but he’s done a nice job of slowing it to a manageable pace.

Daughter Tatum is due to arrive at the end of the month. The couple is on the clock, but Vavra is handling it as easily as the four-seam fastball from José Leclerc that he roped into left-center field.

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Brett Phillips: "I really am excited to be a Baltimore Oriole"

phillips orioles

ARLINGTON, Texas - Brett Phillips is a bundle of energy. As if there’s a switch that’s jammed in the “on” position.

Judging by his reputation, he’s probably the one who jammed it.

The huge smile never left Phillips’ face yesterday as he greeted his new Orioles teammates, club employees and the media. He embraced reliever Joey Krehbiel, who attended the same high school in Seminole, Fla. He expressed gratitude to manager Brandon Hyde for the opportunity and vowed to do anything the club needed from him.

Moving 100 mph even from a seated position. It’s quite a show. But it’s also genuine.

What exactly is the source of this energy?

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