Because You Asked - The Rise of Red

Jordan Westburg

The Orioles are leaving the cold and rain of Baltimore and flying into the cold of Pittsburgh. But no rain.

Daytime highs for the three games are 43, 48 and a balmy 56 degrees. But a new concession item at PNC Park is “The Renegade,” a foot-long hot dog draped in potato pierogis, pot roast, pickles and onions.

Let me start by saying cheddar potato pierogis are the best. I’d eat a box of 12 for dinner back in the day – boiled and slathered in melted butter. Better than pan-fried crispy. I want to pasta texture.

I’ll also say that the pickles are unnecessary and unwanted on this item. Save ‘em for a burger or barbeque sandwich.

And finally, this is a long-winded way of setting up the mailbag.

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Late rally compensates for early silence in Orioles' 4-3 walk-off win (updated)

James McCann walkoff

A game that starts five hours late because of rain, with Major League Baseball determined to squeeze it into a window that could slam shut again, is bound to contain some abnormalities. It was born that way.

Corbin Burnes allows one hit over six innings on Opening Day and surrenders three tonight in the top of the first. An out is recorded at the plate in a 1-2-5-1-2-3 rundown, giving Burnes a chance to touch the ball twice and Royals manager Matt Quatrano to pop out of the dugout and argue.

Jorge Mateo can’t make a diving catch on Bobby Witt Jr.’s liner into right-center that goes down as a one-out double, Burnes snares Vinnie Pasquantino’s 98.5 mph comebacker to start the bizarre putout, Pasquantino keeps running until he reaches third base and Burnes gives up a run-scoring single to Salvador Pérez on a 63.1 mph blooper to left.

Weird already had taken the controls before MJ Melendez doubled, with Mateo needing a second try at a clean pickup, and Hunter Renfroe froze on a cutter for the final out. Burnes threw 27 pitches, with several hundred fans watching from the lower bowl.

A young boy in front of the press box wore a Mateo jersey and kept yelling for Witt to look at him, hollering, “I know you can hear me!” Everyone could be heard.

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Orioles lineup and Pérez update at rainy Camden Yards (6:05 p.m. start)

Cionel Perez throwing orange road

The Orioles will attempt today to win back-to-back series before embarking on their first road trip of the young season.

They’re at the mercy of the weather. Rain continues to fall at Camden Yards and manager Brandon Hyde said the club is in “wait-and-see” mode.

Asked what he’s hearing about a window, Hyde said, “That they close, also.”

“It doesn’t look great,” he said.

Jorge Mateo is starting in center field today. Jordan Westburg is in the lineup for the sixth consecutive game, moving up to fifth in the order.

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Taking swings at some premature Orioles hot takes

Craig Kimbrel

The rotation has taken one full turn. The first homestand reaches its conclusion this afternoon, leading to an off-day and the first road trip to Pittsburgh and Boston. Can't outrun the cold.

We remain in the extremely early stages of the 2024 season, which won’t allow hot takes on social media to begin cooling. The steam is swirling.

Let’s address a few while I keep checking the weather apps and wondering how long the Royals will wait before screaming for their bus to take them to the airport. It’s a travel day. They host the White Sox on Thursday.

They don’t come back to Baltimore unless today’s game is postponed and the teams find a mutual off-day. Never a fun endeavor.

Colton Cowser is getting the Kyle Stowers treatment.

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Orioles can't find offense in 4-1 loss (updated)

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The grounds crew rolled up the tarp and prepped the Camden Yards field, with instructions that tonight’s game would begin at the appointed time. A light rain fell. The Orioles tried not to do the same.

They were down by three runs again tonight but didn’t have a dramatic rally in them. The performance fit the dreary setting.

Cole Irvin allowed four runs in five innings, the shortest start from the rotation in its first complete turn, and the offense managed only three hits in a 4-1 loss to the Royals before an announced and extremely dedicated crowd of 9,404.

The homestand concludes this afternoon if the weather allows it. Storms are forecast throughout the day. Two tarps might not be sufficient.

The three hits tonight definitely were not.

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Orioles pregame notes on weather, rotation, Cowser, Kemp and more

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The Orioles don’t know if they’re going to start tonight’s game on time. They don’t know if play will be interrupted.

All they can do is try.

Manager Brandon Hyde was asked whether he gets “anxious” during these moments. If he worries about his pitching and other potential complications.

This isn’t his first lousy forecast.

“Well, you can only control what you can control. I can’t control the weather,” he replied, trying to suppress a grin.

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Cowser and Kemp crack Orioles lineup

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Colton Cowser gets his first start tonight if the weather allows the Orioles to continue their series against the Royals at Camden Yards following last night’s walk-off homer from Jordan Westburg.

Cowser is playing left field. Austin Hays goes to the bench.

Westburg stays in the lineup, starting at third base. Tony Kemp gets his first start at second.

Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías are on the bench with Hays.

Nice depth around here.

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Answering a few of my own Orioles questions

John Means

Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias informed the media on the first day of spring training that John Means probably would begin the season on the injured list because the left-hander was a month behind the other starters. The Orioles delayed the start of his throwing program after elbow soreness denied him a roster spot in the Division Series. There weren’t enough days and innings in camp to get him ready and no reason to be reckless and rush him.

The circumstances made it a little awkward when lumping Means in articles with Kyle Bradish, who was diagnosed in January with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Bradish was injured. Means was behind. But they were going on the IL.

The Orioles set their Opening Day roster on Thursday and listed Means as having a left forearm strain. They had to put down something, of course, because it would have seemed strange for the IL list in the game notes to read:

Félix Bautista (right UCL injury)
Kyle Bradish (right UCL sprain)
John Means (behind other starters)

I wondered about the forearm, whether that was the cause of the elbow discomfort in October. Or was it forearm discomfort and we kept reporting it incorrectly.

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Westburg hits walk-off homer in 6-4 win after Mountcastle beats left field wall (updated)

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Jordan Westburg rounded first base tonight, looked back at the dugout, pumped his fist and yelled.

This is what a walk-off home run feels like.

This is what a good, young hitter looks like.

Cedric Mullins singled with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning against Royals right-hander Nick Anderson, Westburg fell behind 0-2 on a pair of curveballs and launched a fastball over the right field fence, and the Orioles won the series opener in dramatic fashion, 6-4, before an announced and chilled crowd of 12,666.

"I was a little antsy that first pitch and chased a curveball down," Westburg said, "and I figured he was going to try to go back to the heater up, so I took that nice curveball right down the middle."

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Hyde on Cowser: “I think you’re going to see him in there the next couple days, possibly a start tomorrow”

Colton Cowser gray

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde posted his fourth lineup this afternoon and it’s still missing Colton Cowser.

The young outfielder has appeared in three games and received two at-bats. He replaced Anthony Santander in right field on Opening Day and didn’t get to the plate, did it again Saturday and stroked a double to right field in the eighth inning, and pinch-hit for Jordan Westburg yesterday in the eighth and grounded out on the first pitch to strand a runner.

Santander, Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins have started in the outfield in every game. Westburg, Ryan O’Hearn and Adley Rutschman have been used at designated hitter, with O’Hearn getting the assignment again tonight against right-hander Michael Wacha.

The Orioles saw two left-handed starters in the Angels series and get southpaw Cole Ragans Wednesday in the series finale against the Royals.

“It’s easier as the season gets going and you get a chance to give guys days off and rotate a little bit,” Hyde said. “I think you’re going to see him in there the next couple days, possibly a start tomorrow.”

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Orioles lineup and notes

westburg swing v CIN

Jordan Westburg stays in the lineup tonight at second base as the Orioles begin a three-game series against the Royals.

Ramón Urías is playing third base. Ryan O’Hearn is the designated hitter.

It’s Jorge Mateo’s turn to sit again.

Gunnar Henderson continues to sit atop the order. He recorded his 10th career multi-walk game Sunday and first since July 7, 2023.

Henderson posted a 1.646 OPS against the Royals last season, and his three home runs tied Manny Machado for most by an Orioles rookie versus Kansas City, per STATS.

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This, that and the other

Mike Baumann

Mike Baumann’s world of baseball firsts spun again Saturday evening. It dumped him on the mound when he assumed that he’d watch the last three outs from the bullpen.

The phone wasn’t supposed to ring. He wasn’t supposed to pitch.

Cionel Pérez faced two batters, gave up a triple and single, and exited with soreness in his right oblique. The Orioles led 13-2. The only drama should have been whether the time of game would stay under three hours.

Baumann was allowed to take as long as necessary to warm up. He motioned that he was ready, threw a wild pitch and surrendered hits to three of the next four batters.

A scoring change removed an error on Baumann for a missed catch and attached it to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle on Nolan Schanuel’s infield single.

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Orioles offense loses steam in 4-1 loss, Wells retires 14 in a row, McKenna and Maton clear waivers (updated)

Tyler Wells

The Orioles won’t go 162-0. Seemed like a long shot anyway.

Tyler Wells was charged with three earned runs and four total today in the first two innings before plowing through the Angels order, and a red-hot offense cooled in a 4-1 loss to the Angels before an announced crowd of 20,576 at Camden Yards.

A season-opening sweep was denied.

Wells got into a groove and retired the last 14 batters he faced after Zach Neto’s run-scoring single in the second. He struck out the side in the sixth, giving him seven on the day, with five hits and no walks.

A pitch count of 82 over six innings included 60 strikes. His strikeouts in the sixth came on his changeup, cutter and fastball.

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Orioles and Angels lineups in series finale (Pérez goes on IL)

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The Orioles go for the sweep this afternoon with Jordan Westburg in his third starting role in three games.

Westburg is playing third base after serving as designated hitter and playing second. He also moved over to shortstop last night in the ninth inning.

Ramón Urías goes to the bench today, with Jorge Mateo at second base.

Adley Rutschman is the designated hitter. Gunnar Henderson stays atop the order, with Cedric Mullins batting seventh.

Tyler Wells won the job as the No. 3 starter in spring training after allowing two runs in 14 1/3 innings. He’s made five career appearances against the Angels, including two starts, and allowed six runs with 14 strikeouts in 13 innings.

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Leftovers for breakfast

Jordan Westburg swing

Two games into the 2024 season won’t allow for an Orioles lineup pattern to develop. Much too soon for that.

What we did learn yesterday is that Jordan Westburg is projected to play a lot more barring a horrendous slump that would send him to the bench or the minors.

Westburg went from designated hitter on Opening Day against left-hander Patrick Sandoval to second baseman yesterday against right-hander Griffin Canning. The infield is deep and versatile, but Westburg will find his at-bats.

An 11-3 win in the opener included Westburg’s run-scoring single in the first inning that broke a 1-1 tie. He had a two-run single yesterday in the sixth, grounding a 95.7 mph fastball up the middle after seeing three sliders, a splitter and another slider.

“We’re going to give him a lot of starts here and I want to see him play,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

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Rodriguez gives Orioles another stellar start, Henderson almost hits for cycle, Pérez injured in 13-4 win (updated)

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Corbin Burnes raised the bar to ridiculous heights on Opening Day by retiring 18 of 19 batters and striking out 11, a club record for an Orioles debut.

Grayson Rodriguez could have wilted from the challenge this afternoon, questioning his ability to live up to the standard set by Burnes. Instead, he grabbed it with both hands and did chin-ups.

Intimidation is a one-way street with the Orioles.

Rodriguez held the Angels to one run in six innings and tied his career high with nine strikeouts in the Orioles’ 13-4 victory before an announced crowd of 28,420 at Camden Yards, the latest thrashing after a 11-3 win on Thursday.

One team is really good. The other appears to be really bad, unless it’s because the Orioles are really good.

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Bradish and Bautista head to Sarasota, Means making first rehab start Sunday, Webb back from paternity list

Kyle Bradish ALDS Game 1 white

Kyle Bradish and Félix Bautista slipped on backpacks this morning and left the ballpark for their flights to Sarasota, where they can keep rehabbing at the complex.

Bradish threw a 35-pitch bullpen session yesterday at Camden Yards. He used all of his pitches after being limited early to his fastball following his diagnosis in January of a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“Feels really good,” he said.

The progress is encouraging since his platelet-rich plasma injection, but there’s no timeline for his return to the active roster and rotation.

“Still day-by-day, see how everything feels, see how I’m recovering,” he said.

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Orioles lineup vs. Angels

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Reliever Jacob Webb was reinstated from the paternity list this morning after the birth of daughter Hudson, and the Orioles optioned left-hander Nick Vespi to Triple-A Norfolk.

The Orioles play their second game of the season this afternoon with Gunnar Henderson leading off again.

Ryan O’Hearn is the designated hitter and Jordan Westburg is playing second base.

Ramón Urías stays at third base.

Grayson Rodriguez broke camp as the No. 2 starter. He allowed five runs and 16 hits with eight walks and 10 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings.

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Vespi's surprise inclusion on Orioles Opening Day roster

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Five Orioles made their first Opening Day roster Thursday. Four of them were easy calls, anticipated over the winter or definitely late in camp.

Grayson Rodriguez was in the rotation after last spring’s surprise demotion, with the only question whether he’d be the No. 2 or 3 starter. He gets the ball this afternoon.

Yennier Cano made his 2023 debut on April 14 in Chicago, with the Orioles desperate for bullpen help, and became an All-Star setup man and backup closer. He was a lock this spring to repeat those responsibilities after the Craig Kimbrel signing.

Infielder Jordan Westburg made his major league debut on June 26 and was set for 2024, with most of his work done at second and third base but also with a chance to play a little shortstop. Outfielder Colton Cowser really had to win a job after reaching the majors on July 5 at Yankee Stadium and going 7-for-61, and he responded by batting .304 with six home runs and a 1.135 OPS in 18 exhibition games.

Cowser broke the news to the beat crew on the final day that he made the club.

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Some leftover thoughts and observations from the Orioles' Opening Day win

Jordan Westburg

The Orioles are 1-0, the record that really matters.

Only 161 more to go, and then more. It’s almost inconceivable that this team isn’t playing deeper into October than 2023 at the least.

I’m not using yesterday’s Opening Day trouncing of the Angels as my sole reason. They don’t appear to be very good - on paper for sure and on the field in their first regular season game. What are the odds of that happening without Shohei Ohtani?

There was a lot to unwrap from a day that began with Nick Vespi’s unexpected inclusion on the roster. I heard earlier in the day that he was summoned to Baltimore but didn’t know why until the Orioles announced that Jacob Webb went on the paternity list. So, Vespi makes his first Opening Day roster and Webb is denied his first.

Gotta admit that a baby is one heck of a consolation prize.

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