Because You Asked - Assignment Miami Beach

Cedric Mullins

The current homestand is the longest of the season. I'd like to avoid carrying the heaviest mailbag.

Time again to empty it.

Same rules apply. You ask, I try to answer, sometimes you ask the exact same thing again and I decide whether to indulge you or shatter your hopes and dreams.

Confused by the title? Then you're new here. This is another sequel to the beloved 2008 original. I spend more time researching movie sequel titles and making sure I didn't repeat one than I do answering the mail. And in no way am I proud of it.

My editing is like my knowledge of 17th century literature. It's minimal. Practically non-existent. Style away, my friends. Write as long as you want. It's the internet. It won't break.

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Orioles pushed to extra innings again and lose 3-2 (updated)

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Corbin Burnes is universally liked and respected inside the Orioles clubhouse. Teammates were thrilled by the trade that brought him to Baltimore. They lauded his work ethic in camp. Everything from his routine in the weight room to how he approached bullpen sessions and starts.

Their failure to provide offensive support isn’t personal. More of a weird, quirky coincidence. But it exists.  

The Orioles hadn’t scored with Burnes on the mound in his last 18 1/3 innings, getting shut out twice, until Adley Rutschman led off the fourth tonight by hitting a José Berríos sinker 425 feet to the back of the flag court.

Finally, a run.

Rutschman decided to spoil Burnes, dumping a changeup above the out-of-town scoreboard in the sixth to break a tie, the first multi-homer game of his career. Burnes exited with a lead, with manager Brandon Hyde turning the game over to his bullpen.

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Hyde on Kjerstad: "I’m sure he’ll be back up here soon"

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Heston Kjerstad appeared only seven games with the Orioles and made the lineup four times before they optioned him today to Triple-A Norfolk.

He made 17 plate appearances. They want one of their top prospects to get busy again.

Asked earlier today whether the decision on Kjerstad was motivated by his need to play more, manager Brandon Hyde said, “That’s exactly it.”

“Just the way our outfield configuration is right now, we feel like it was important for him to go play every day, get everyday at-bats. I think this was a good experience for him, to get up here for a couple weeks, get a couple starts, get some pinch-hit opportunities. But just kind of where we are, health-wise, in our outfield, which is pretty strong, we feel like we want him to go play every day. He’s a big part of our future going forward, and somebody we really believe in. I’m sure he’ll be back up here soon.”

Kjerstad was batting .349/.431/.744 with four doubles, 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 21 games with Norfolk when the Orioles recalled him. He went 2-for-14 with six strikeouts.

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Hays back with Orioles and McKenna designated for assignment, plus tonight's lineups

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The Orioles made a second outfield-related roster move today, reinstating Austin Hays from the 10-day injured list and designating Ryan McKenna for assignment.

McKenna can decline an outright assignment and become a free agent if he clears waivers.

Hays worked out on the field earlier today before the Orioles decided to reinstate him.

Hays and Kyle Stowers are on the bench tonight. Colton Cowser is playing left field and Cedric Mullins is in center after being out of the last two lineups.

Jordan Westburg is the third baseman and Jorge Mateo is at second.

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Orioles recalling Stowers, claim Martin on waivers, plus other notes (updated)

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The Orioles have recalled outfielder Kyle Stowers from Triple-A Norfolk today, according to an industry source. The club hasn’t announced the move.

Stowers hasn’t appeared in a major league game since May 14, 2023, after breaking camp with the Orioles. He’s batting .240/.315/.541 with 11 doubles, 11 home runs, 32 RBIs, 13 walks and 44 strikeouts in 165 plate appearances with Norfolk.

A chance to join the expanded September roster last year was ruined after Stowers was hit by a pitch and fractured his nose. He had missed two months with a shoulder injury.

Stowers was 2-for-30 with the Orioles last year, striking out 12 times in 14 games. The former second-round draft pick out of Stanford made his major league debut on June 13, 2022 in Toronto while replacing Anthony Santander, who was put on the restricted list. Stowers returned in August and finished with a .253/.306/.418 line and four doubles, a triple, three home runs and 11 RBIs in 34 games.

A spot must open on the roster to accommodate Stowers. And perhaps there are multiple moves pending with Austin Hays eligible to return from the injured list.

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Orioles avoid obstacles to stay atop division

Cowser, Mullins and Santander

A lopsided loss yesterday didn’t knock the Orioles out of first place. They begin a three-game series tonight against the Blue Jays with the best record in the American League.

They are thriving under circumstances that haven’t been ideal. They aren’t catching all of the breaks. They aren’t at a peak health level.

They just find ways to win on most nights.

What are some of the obstacles that they’ve had to clear?

The rotation has stayed unsettled.

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Unearned runs overshadow Kremer's 10 strikeouts in Orioles' 9-2 loss (updated)

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No one in the Orioles rotation has been willing to assist with the difficult task of making room for a sixth starter.

No one has stumbled to the point where an excuse for removal is created. So it’s left to the decision-makers in the organization to figure it out.

Dean Kremer followed his six scoreless innings in Cincinnati by not allowing an earned run today heading into the sixth, with a couple of errors doing more damage than the Diamondbacks.

Three unearned runs already were mountainous against Arizona ace Zac Gallen, and Jake McCarthy’s two-run shot to the flag court in right field was a dagger in the Orioles’ 9-2 loss before an announced Mother’s Day crowd of 31,448 at Camden Yards.

Kremer tied his career high with 10 strikeouts, but he also was charged with a third earned run when Cionel Pérez walked a batter and allowed an infield hit to Corbin Carroll and a two-run single to Ketel Marte.

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Orioles pregame notes on Rodriguez, Means, Mountcastle and injury updates

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Grayson Rodriguez is eligible to return from the injured list on Wednesday and he seems to be trending in the right direction.

Rodriguez said he threw about 30 pitches this morning in his latest bullpen session, about double his amount Wednesday in D.C.

“I felt great,” he said.

Rodriguez said he’ll probably throw another ‘pen in the next few days, and the Orioles can decide whether he should go on a brief rehab assignment.

The right-hander’s preference, of course, is to get back on the active roster.

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Cowser stays in center field for today's series finale

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The Orioles are going for the sweep today against the Diamondbacks and trying to improve on a 26-12 record that matches the 1969 and 1970 teams for the best 38-game start in franchise history.

Cedric Mullins is on the bench again today. He struck out yesterday as a pinch-hitter and is 5-for-53 since his two-hit day in Kansas City on April 21.

Colton Cowser gets another start in center field. Ryan O’Hearn is in left after Heston Kjerstad started there yesterday.

Ramón Urías is the third baseman.

Jordan Westburg is playing second base after yesterday’s walk-off single in the 11th inning. Westburg has doubled in three consecutive games, and his four-hit game yesterday was the first of his career and the first this season by an Orioles player.

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Quick Q&A with Dylan Bundy

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Dylan Bundy picked up a baseball and couldn’t make it zip like the old days. Couldn't come close. And he knew it was time.

The former top prospect’s pitching career was over.

Bundy made 29 starts with the Twins in 2022 and six last summer with Triple-A Syracuse in the Mets organization. They released him on July 24, and the next phase of his professional life slowly began to take shape.

The retirement papers were filed over the winter, around the same time that Bundy got his realtor’s license. He’s still living in Sperry, Okla., where he bought a house next to the one he grew up in, is working for Ary Land Company and he also offers pitching and hitting instruction to stay involved in the sport.

Bundy and his wife Caitlin also became first-time parents, bringing their son Koda into the world on Feb. 11.

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Jordan Westburg walk-off single gives Orioles 5-4 win in 11 innings (updated)

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The late-inning bullpen decisions today by the Orioles were lacking in intrigue and excitement. Nothing about the closer. Nothing about protecting a lead. The top story angle also was being reset.

And then, the threat arrived when Anthony Santander hit a home run with two outs in the eighth inning to tie the game. Perhaps there was hope for hysteria after all.  

The movements and usages of the relievers were back to being Baltimore obsessions, but the Orioles didn’t let the game carry to a save situation. Better to just walk it off and win the series.

The Orioles fell behind in the fifth inning before Santander’s 410-foot shot to center off Diamondbacks reliever Kevin Ginkel, and Jordan Westburg poked a single down the right field line on Bryce Jarvis' first pitch of the 11th to score Colton Cowser in a 5-4 victory before an announced crowd of 27,882 at Camden Yards.

Danny Coulombe retired the three batters he faced without the automatic runner budging from second base, Craig Kimbrel hit Christian Walker but stranded runners on the corners in the 11th with a strikeout and force play, and the Orioles improved to 26-12.

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Hyde on Mullins: "He's pressing big-time"

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Cedric Mullins is available off the bench this afternoon. However, manager Brandon Hyde wants to give his center fielder a breather.

Mullins went 0-for-4 last night with a run-scoring grounder and is batting .193 with a .616 OPS in 36 games. He was lowered to ninth Wednesday in D.C., hit eighth last night and is out of today’s lineup despite the Diamondbacks starting right-hander Ryne Nelson.

A 2-for-4 day in Kansas City on April 21 was followed by a 5-for-52 stretch with one home run and three RBIs. He’s struck out nine times in his last five games and slammed his bat in frustration after a recent at-bat.

“He’s pressing big-time,” Hyde said, “so I just want to give him an evening to relax a little bit.”

Colton Cowser is in center field today and Heston Kjerstad is in left. The Diamondbacks are starting another right-hander, Zac Gallen, in Sunday’s series finale.

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Cowser and Kjerstad in today's Orioles lineup

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Colton Cowser is starting in center field this afternoon as the Orioles try to secure a series win against the Diamondbacks.

Heston Kjerstad gets the start in left field. Cedric Mullins goes to the bench against an opposing right-hander.

Jorge Mateo remains at second base. Ryan O’Hearn is the designated hitter.

Gunnar Henderson collected his 40th career double last night, making him the fifth player in Orioles history with 40 doubles and 40 home runs before turning 23. He joins Boog Powell, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr. and Manny Machado. Henderson is the only Oriole to also have 10 triples.

Jordan Westburg has 24 RBIs, one more than his rookie total last season.

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Kicking around ideas for Kimbrel and the Orioles' closer's job

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Rarely do a reliever’s first warmup tosses in the bullpen create such a stir.

Craig Kimbrel wasn’t getting ready last night for the ninth inning. He was prepping for the seventh in a one-run game. Cue the gasps.

The Orioles went with the reset over their other options, and Kimbrel retired the Diamondbacks in order to preserve a 3-2 lead. One ball was scalded to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle. Another ball drove right fielder Anthony Santander to the edge of the warning track. But they were outs. Do not quibble.

Kimbrel is working on his mechanics. He isn’t dealing with upper-back tightness or anything else physical. And he’s still the guy who expects the ball in a save situation if he’s available. He said so earlier in the day at his locker.

The Orioles seemed to be on the same wavelength judging by manager Brandon Hyde’s comments after Wednesday night’s thriller in D.C. They didn’t appear ready to demote Kimbrel or do anything drastic.

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Orioles use Kimbrel in seventh inning, Cano closes out 4-2 win over Diamondbacks (updated)

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Craig Kimbrel stood up tonight, removed his jacket and began to throw in the Orioles’ bullpen.

It was the bottom of the sixth inning.

Kimbrel said earlier in the day that he expected to get the ball again in a save situation, but he jogged onto the field for the top of the seventh with the Orioles ahead 3-2. The lights flickered as if he were closing. The entrance didn’t change.

Just the timing of it.

Kimbrel retired the Diamondbacks in order on a 101.4 mph line drive to Ryan Mountcastle, a strikeout at 94.4 mph and a fly ball near the warning track in right field. Twelve pitches, eight for strikes, and Kimbrel was done.

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Kimbrel: "Let's make it simple, I've got to be better" (plus other notes before tonight's game)

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Craig Kimbrel is working on some mechanical adjustments with Orioles coaches and instructors in an attempt to snap out of the funk that’s forced his removal in four of his last five appearances.

He isn’t working on an alibi.

Kimbrel won’t make excuses for the blown saves and runs allowed that have increased his ERA from 0.82 on April 24 to 4.73 and created some shuffling in the back end of the bullpen.

“Let’s make it simple, I’ve got to be better,” he said this afternoon. “I think four of my last five outings have been pretty bad and I’ve just got to be better than that. Whatever they are – walking guys, throwing pitches where I shouldn’t, giving guys opportunities, not capitalizing on opportunities in at-bats and things like that.

“It can be laying in the breaking ball more, being less predictable, you name it. Whatever it is. I need to figure it out and be better, and I fully expect to. I don’t go out there thinking I’m going to give up any runs. I go out there expecting I’m going to do my job each and every time. Unfortunately, the last couple times that hasn’t been the case, but I plan on turning it around and getting on a good roll just like I always do.”

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Orioles and Diamondbacks lineups for series opener at Camden Yards

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Last year’s National League champions come to Baltimore for a weekend series, with the Diamondbacks bringing along Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll.

Carroll can pose for photos again with American League Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson.

Henderson totaled his 125th career RBI Wednesday at 22 years and 314 days old, becoming the fifth-youngest player to reach that mark with the Orioles, per STATS. Cal Ripken Jr. is fourth at 22 years and 291 days.

Jorge Mateo is the second baseman again tonight, with Jordan Westburg at third.

Colton Cowser is in left field and Anthony Santander is in right. Ryan O’Hearn is the designated hitter.

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Leftovers for breakfast

Albert Suarez

Albert Suárez made a run at a rotation spot in spring training, faltered late and was reassigned to minor league camp. He was an unexpected addition to the roster on April 17 after the Orioles placed Tyler Wells on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation. And he keeps finding ways to contribute.

Maybe to complicate, too.

Two starts produced a combined 11 1/3 scoreless innings, because the man is full of surprises. The Orioles ran out of room in the rotation and moved him to the bullpen, where he retired all seven Cincinnati batters he faced Sunday afternoon.

“He made it look pretty easy,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

Nothing was simple about Suárez’s assignment Wednesday night in D.C. The 10th inning, automatic runner on second base, game on the line. Luis García Jr. didn’t budge because Suárez induced a grounder and fly ball and struck out Joey Meneses on a 96 mph four-seamer to keep the score tied.

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More questions confronting Orioles

Grayson Rodriguez

The latest off-day for the Orioles is upon them. They’ll take it, of course, but they’d like to trade in a few for later in the summer.

Work it into the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. Trade you two Aprils for an August and September.

On a more realistic note, a few more big decisions are on the horizon. I feel like I’ve typed these words many times since spring training.

It’s true again.

* The Orioles set their rotation for the weekend Diamondbacks series at Camden Yards with Cole Irvin, John Means and Dean Kremer on the bump. Meanwhile, Grayson Rodriguez advanced this week from playing catch to throwing a bullpen session yesterday, his first since going on the injured list April 30 with right shoulder inflammation.

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Orioles squander two-run leads in ninth and 11th before winning 7-6 in 12th (updated)

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WASHINGTON – Kyle Bradish backed up home plate in the second inning and glanced at his glove, as if checking whether a hole had gone undetected.

That isn't where the leak would spring later in the night.

Trey Lipscomb’s one-hopper made it past Bradish, who reached across his body and rested the glove on his right shoulder as the ball bounced into center field for a run-scoring single.

The Orioles were behind again in D.C. Bradish finished the inning at 44 pitches, stranding two runners by fielding Jacob Young’s high chopper and striking out CJ Abrams. But he’d need to become more economical to get deep in his second start since his reinstatement from the injured list, and the Orioles would need a rally to avoid their first series sweep in the regular season since May 2022.

Anthony Santander hit a game-tying home run in the fourth inning and Gunnar Henderson provided a lead leading off the sixth. Bradish struck out nine batters in five frames and became the pitcher of record. It was setting up ideally until closing again became a major issue.

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