Odor's playing time scaled back down the stretch

GettyImages-1243312534

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde isn’t sitting on the same lineup while the offensive production keeps slipping and the organization is curious about some of the younger players who graduated this year from Triple-A.

Veteran Rougned Odor is on the bench for the fourth consecutive game. The Tigers started left-handers the past two nights, but right-hander Matt Manning is closing out the series.

Odor is 13-for-78 since going 4-for-5 on Aug. 12. He’s hitless in his last 15 at-bats and is 4-for-29 with a double, home run and 10 strikeouts this month.

“Roogie’s been an ultimate team guy and so great in so many ways for us this year,” Hyde said. “We’re giving some other guys some opportunities right now. You’re going to see (Terrin) Vavra play a little bit more, and I’ll still find spots for Roogie. But we’re just looking at some other players, too.”

Vavra is starting at second base tonight. The lineup also has Gunnar Henderson at shortstop and Kyle Stowers in right field, with Anthony Santander on the bench.

Continue reading

Orioles lineup vs. Tigers

GettyImages-1418200618

The Orioles have scored five runs in five games against the Tigers this season, all losses, and are 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position.

To avoid another sweep tonight, they’ll count heavily on their youth and the handful of prospects who made it to the majors.

Gunnar Henderson is batting third tonight for the first time after making his debut last night as the leadoff hitter. He was the cleanup hitter on Sunday.

The hot hand is touching the higher spots in the order.

Henderson has moved to shortstop, with Jorge Mateo going to the bench.

Continue reading

McKenna accepts role as emergency relief pitcher

GettyImages-1422650013

Adley Rutschman didn’t put down any fingers for Ryan McKenna in the ninth inning of Monday night’s game against the Tigers. The rookie was catching an outfielder with their team behind by nine runs. The usual routine already had been dismantled.

Just try to get the ball over the plate and get off the field. Don’t increase the embarrassment of a lopsided loss to a last-place club that dragged an anemic offense into Camden Yards.

McKenna didn’t think to jokingly shake off Rutschman and get inside the hitters’ heads a little bit. A funny idea that he hopes won’t present itself again this season.

Two trips to the mound are too many for a position player.

McKenna hadn’t pitched since his high school days at St. Thomas Aquinas in New Hampshire, describing his usage has “very minimal,” but bench coach Fredi González approached him in the dugout during a Sept. 10 game against the Red Sox at Camden Yards and asked whether he’d be willing to do it with the Orioles running out of pitching.

Continue reading

Orioles take another tumble against the Tigers (updated)

santander toss bat after k white

There really isn’t any momentum in baseball.

Rallying to win Sunday in Toronto didn’t thrust the Orioles past a difficult stretch this month. It didn’t ignite the offense. The euphoria never made it through customs.

The last-place Tigers won again tonight, 3-2, at Camden Yards, and the Orioles are left with trying to avoid being swept again by a team that sits at the bottom of its division.

The Orioles are 76-71 overall and 8-10 this month. They’ve lost 10 of their last 15 games.

Gunnar Henderson, batting leadoff for the first time, hit a two-run homer off Joe Jiménez with two outs in the seventh to break up the Tigers’ shutout bid. The 409-foot shot onto the flag court in right field was Henderson’s third homer in the majors and first in Baltimore.

Continue reading

Hyde on Henderson, Wells, finishing strong and more

henderson swing home debut black

Gunnar Henderson’s move to the top of the order tonight makes him the fifth-youngest Orioles leadoff hitter in club history, as well as the youngest since Manny Machado on Sept. 22, 2013.

Henderson, at 21 years and 83 days, is the youngest player to bat leadoff in the majors since the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr on Aug. 13, 2019.

Manager Brandon Hyde is trying to find a spark for the offense against Tigers left-hander Joey Wentz.

“We’ve had a tough time against left-handed pitching, especially of late, and just like the swings that he’s been taking,” Hyde said. “Giving it a try. Like to see him be at the top of the order and get as many at-bats as possible.”

The Orioles are 27-19 against left-handed starters this season, but Tyler Alexander no-hit them for six innings last night. Rich Hill started on Sept. 11 when the Red Sox shut out the Orioles 1-0.

Continue reading

Henderson elevated to leadoff spot in Orioles lineup

Gunnar Henderson running white

The Orioles have lost all four games against the Tigers this season, including last night’s 11-0 rout that left them five behind the Mariners for the last wild card. The White Sox are a half-game behind them.

Tonight’s game feels “must win.”

They all do at this point.

Manager Brandon Hyde has performed a major shakeup of his lineup, moving Gunnar Henderson to the leadoff spot for the first time. Henderson is starting again at third base.

Adley Rutschman is lowered to the cleanup spot for the sixth time. He’s batted second in 47 games, a spot occupied tonight by Ryan Mountcastle.

Continue reading

Hyde hoping to be left with right decisions while writing out lineups

brandon hyde walking black

The opposing pitcher last night wasn’t going to influence the entirety of manager Brandon Hyde’s lineup. Just a couple of concessions.

Gunnar Henderson was playing third base despite the left-on-left matchup with Tigers starter Tyler Alexander. You can’t sit the rookie. Get him in the box as much as humanly possible.

He flied to the center field fence in the second inning, one of the few hard-hit balls against Alexander in an 11-0 loss.

Adley Rutschman was catching and batting second despite splits that are much more favorable from the left side of the plate. He began last night slashing .286/.389/.510 with 26 doubles, 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 306 plate appearances against right-handers and .165/.295/.266 with five doubles, one home run and four RBIs in 95 plate appearances versus southpaws.

Hyde will catch Rutschman or use him as the designated hitter. It’s the stretch run. The triceps injury seems like a lifetime ago.

Continue reading

Orioles kept hitless through six innings in 11-0 loss (updated)

GettyImages-1425363206

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde didn’t fear an emotional regression from his team after Sunday’s comeback win and the Tigers arriving with their anemic offense and one of the worst records in baseball. He wasn’t worried about the clubhouse losing its edge. Not with so much at stake.

Hyde remembered the three-game sweep in Detroit back in May, and the past struggles against the Tigers under his watch.

“You can’t let your guard down,” he said this afternoon.

Tyler Alexander wouldn’t let the Orioles get a hit until the seventh inning. Something that Hyde never saw coming.

Two walks were the only blemishes on Alexander’s line before Ryan Mountcastle lined a single into center field leading off the seventh in the Tigers’ 11-0 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Continue reading

Mountcastle on elbow: "It's just good enough to play"

GettyImages-1417190010

Ryan Mountcastle will tonight wear a protective guard on his left elbow for the first time after being hit by a José Berríos pitch during Saturday’s game in Toronto. He isn’t back to full health, and he’d have been doubtful for the series opener against the Tigers if the season hadn’t moved past May.

“We’re not in May,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde.

All hands are on deck. All elbows, too.

Mountcastle is serving as the designated hitter instead of starting at first base, which is a concession to the injury.

“The elbow’s still sore, but he wants to play,” Hyde said. “Left-hander (Tyler Alexander) on the mound, he feels like he can hit, feels good enough to be out there.”

Continue reading

Orioles lineup vs. Tigers

GettyImages-1390958012

Ryan Mountcastle returns to the Orioles lineup as the designated hitter for tonight’s series opener against the Tigers at Camden Yards. He missed yesterday’s game in Toronto with a bruised left triceps.

Jesús Aguilar is the first baseman against Tigers left-hander Tyler Alexander.

Cedric Mullins stays in the lineup but moves down to eighth. Austin Hays is leading off.

Gunnar Henderson is batting .328/.388/.557 with six doubles, one triple, two home runs, 12 RBIs and six walks in 17 games and 67 plate appearances. He’s the third baseman tonight.

Adley Rutschman had his 24th multi-hit game of the season yesterday. He’s registered a .367 on-base percentage, with 31 doubles and 56 walks, in 97 games.

Continue reading

Orioles didn't win series in Toronto but again proved their competitive point

GettyImages-1419740780

We could harp on the two games lost over the weekend in Toronto, a bad outcome for a team scrambling to earn the last wild card. The Orioles needed to win the series, and a sweep would have been huge. Each defeat feels like a dagger. And Ryan Mountcastle was unavailable yesterday after being hit Saturday above the left elbow.

Or …

Yesterday’s comeback again says so much about the 2022 Orioles, even if they don’t make the playoffs. And so much about the future of this team. What may lie ahead next summer.

Down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-1. The Blue Jays starting Cy Young candidate Alek Manoah, who had 14 wins, a 2.43 ERA and a 0.996 WHIP. Closer Jordan Romano, with a 1.91 ERA and 34 saves, on the mound in the ninth. Everything working against them. But I’d love to know the spin rate each time the Orioles turn the tables this season.

The 15th triple play in club history, executed in the third inning after the Orioles fell behind 2-1.

Continue reading

Mountcastle out of Orioles lineup for series finale in Toronto

mountcastle orioles

The Orioles are reduced today to trying to avoid a sweep in their three-game series in Toronto. Not how they wanted it to play out.

The Blue Jays have won the first two games by the same 6-3 score, and they lead the Orioles by seven games in the wild card race. The Orioles trail Seattle by five for the final spot.

Eight losses in the last 12 games have put the Orioles in a precarious position.

Ryan Mountcastle is out of the lineup after being hit yesterday above the left elbow by a José Berríos pitch. Jesús Aguilar is playing first base.

Gunnar Henderson is the third baseman and cleanup hitter today. Henderson is 20-for-58 (.345) with a .973 OPS, six doubles, one triple, two home runs and 12 RBIs in 16 games.

Continue reading

Orioles did fine job of limiting use of injured list in 2022

Austin Hays Ryan Mountcastle fives white

The transaction seemed minor compared to the start of a critical series in Toronto. Alexander Wells hadn’t pitched for the Orioles since April 26 after straining the UCL in his left elbow. But his removal from the 60-day injured list was pending and he didn’t seem likely to get back on the 40-man roster.

The Orioles quietly put him on outright waivers – these things aren’t trumpeted – and he was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday after clearing.

Wells had returned to Norfolk on Aug. 19 after making rehab starts in the Florida Complex League and with Double-A Bowie. He didn’t pitch for three weeks before his Sept. 9 start with the Tides, and he worked 2 2/3 innings in relief on Tuesday.

Pitchers John Means and Chris Ellis remain on the 60-day injured list after undergoing their respective surgeries - Means on his left elbow, Ellis on his right shoulder. No one on the club is assigned to the 10-day or 15-day lists.

It seems so strange to say that the Orioles avoided injuries in 2022, considering how Means made two starts and underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery. The staff ace didn’t make it to May. He didn’t make it into the third week of April.

Continue reading

Orioles and Blue Jays lineups

Gunnar-Henderson-looking-up-black-away

The Orioles must rebound quickly from last night’s 6-3 loss in Toronto, which kept them 4 ½ games behind the Rays for the last wild card, but six behind the Blue Jays.

Gunnar Henderson, who hit a home run last night with two outs in the ninth inning, is starting at shortstop. Terrin Vavra is in left field, his first appearance in the lineup since Sept. 1.

Kyle Stowers is the designated hitter, and Anthony Santander is in right field.

Adley Rutschman is catching again. Rutschman hit his first home run last night from the right side of the plate. He was hitting .158 with a .513 OPS against lefties.

Rutschman and Henderson are the youngest pair of Orioles teammates to homer in the same game since Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop on May 8, 2016 versus Oakland.

Continue reading

Three more early reflections on Orioles 2022 season

odor hr @TB gray

The 2022 season is winding down, except that the Orioles want to get it cranked up again after the last game on Oct. 5.

Playoffs? Yes, we’re talking playoffs.

Reflection can come later, when bodies sink into recliners and every minute of time spent at ballparks and long flights is felt from head to toe.

But enough about the beat crew.

Here are three more early reflections, as I try to avoid the winter rush:

Continue reading

Orioles and Blue Jays lineups

Rougned Odor clap black away

Gunnar Henderson is the Orioles designated hitter tonight for the opener of an important three-game series in Toronto.

Henderson has reached base in 13 of his first 14 career games and has recorded a hit in 11 of 13 starts. He’s among five players in Orioles history with at least seven extra-base hits in his first 14 games, joining Trey Mancini, Manny Machado, Curt Blefary and Cedric Mullins.

Second baseman Rougned Odor has returned to the lineup after a two-game absence. Ramón Urías is the third baseman.

Anthony Santander is in right field, and Austin Hays is in left and batting eighth.

The bullpen has tossed 11 consecutive scoreless innings.

Continue reading

Notes on Orioles representatives in AFL and tonight's game in Toronto

Heston-Kjerstad-Aberdeen

The Orioles will have seven representatives on the Scottsdale roster in the Arizona Fall League, including outfielder Heston Kjerstad and infielder César Prieto.

Also playing in the AFL are pitchers Noah Denoyer, Nolan Hoffman, Easton Lucas and Nick Richmond, and outfielder Reed Trimble.

MLB Pipeline ranks Kjerstad as the No. 10 prospect in the organization and Prieto 19th.

These are important at-bats for Kjerstad after the late start to his professional career following a diagnosis of myocarditis in 2020 and his hamstring injury in March. The second-overall pick in the 2020 draft appeared in 22 games with Single-A Delmarva and 43 with High-A Aberdeen during the regular season.

Kjerstad batted .463/.551/.650 with nine doubles, two home runs and 17 RBIs in 98 plate appearances with Delmarva and .233/.312/.362 with eight doubles, two triples, three home runs and 20 RBIs in 186 plate appearances with the IronBirds.

Continue reading

Elias on Henderson: "It was about as meteoric of a season as you’ll see"

Gunnar Henderson black

Each game that Gunnar Henderson plays and each night that he remains in the lineup for a team chasing its playoff dreams, the more fortunate the Orioles must feel that their draft board in 2019 didn’t prove completely accurate. That they would be the organization to select a player who, three years later, grew into baseball’s No. 1 prospect.

Henderson was expected to go in the first round, but he kept tumbling until the Oriole caught a falling star.

That was the first big break.

They still had to sign him, and he already committed to Auburn University, where older brother Jackson played. The choosing was the easy part of the process.

The sides agreed to a $2.3 million bonus, more than $500,000 above the slot value. Henderson was 17 years old when he signed his contract.

Continue reading

Is there time left for Rodriguez to enter Orioles rotation?

Grayson-Rodriguez-Norfolk

As infielder Gunnar Henderson proves that he belongs in the majors and the Orioles didn’t rush him or hinder their playoff chances based on his arrival - he's inflating their optimism like a bicycle tire - there’s one more prospect who could come along for the ride.

The No. 1 pitcher in the minors.

What’s the plan with Grayson Rodriguez?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many details for anyone seeking them except for the more immediate future. But at least it provides some drama beyond the quest for one of the three wild card spots.

Rodriguez is starting Friday night for Triple-A Norfolk against the Charlotte Knights at Harbor Park. He stays on regular rest after Sunday’s injury rehab start at Double-A Bowie.

Continue reading

Henderson's career-high four RBIs guide Orioles to series sweep in D.C. (updated)

GettyImages-1423765165-1

WASHINGTON – Tyler Wells was stretched a little more tonight in his second start since recovering from an oblique injury. Twelve of 14 batters retired, 50 pitches thrown. A comfortable increase from his previous workload.

The two hits were two-out solo home runs. An uncomfortable result for a team that’s challenged to bust out offensively.

Breathing room often is a sigh of relief when scant support doesn’t cost the Orioles ground in the wild card race.

They gained it tonight. A rookie who's spent two weeks in the majors made certain of it. A breath of fresh air since his arrival.

Stuck on one run and unable to find a clutch hit, the Orioles took advantage of a pitching change by the Nationals in the seventh, got four RBIs from Gunnar Henderson, and swept the series with a 6-2 victory before an announced crowd of 32,497.

Continue reading