Orioles rotation, outfield and OPS

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Albert Suárez made another start with the Orioles last night. Cole Irvin closes out the Rays series on Sunday and is unlikely to do more bouncing between rotation and bullpen.

A minimum of five starters are needed on a major league staff. The Orioles want to expand it to six but injuries have created an unsettled situation.

Dean Kremer’s right triceps injury is improving but he might go on a brief rehab assignment. John Means and Tyler Wells are undergoing elbow surgeries within the next few days and won’t pitch again in 2024, crushing blows for them and the team.

A six-man rotation? The Orioles have fingers crossed that they can keep their quintet from crumbling.

A knee-jerk response to torn elbow ligaments is to burn up the phone lines and make a trade. The Orioles don’t have immediate plans to do it, though executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said he’s “in contact” with other teams.

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Orioles tally three runs in sixth to turn back Rays 3-1 (updated)

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The season shifted past the one-third mark for the Orioles tonight. It also dumped them into a treacherous stretch of 29 games in 30 days, the only breather coming on June 17, wedged between series against the Phillies and Yankees. The two teams with the best records in baseball.

How they responded tonight again illustrated why they also belong among the finest.

They pitched, they made plays in the field and they eventually hit in the clutch. Another division opponent was on the wrong side of it.

Austin Hays came off the bench to deliver a game-tying single in the sixth inning, Jorge Mateo doubled to score two more runs, and the Orioles defeated the Rays 3-1 before an announced crowd of 27,364 at Camden Yards.

Craig Kimbrel recorded his 13th save and 430th of his career to take sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list, and the Orioles improved to 36-19 after winning for the seventh time in eight tries.

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Means and Wells undergoing elbow surgery (updated)

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The Orioles are losing two projected starting pitchers for the rest of the 2024 season, presenting more challenges for the rotation and perhaps altering trade plans near or at the deadline.

John Means and Tyler Wells will undergo season-ending elbow surgery within the next few days, according to executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, who met with the media earlier today in the dugout. Both procedures are to repair the ulnar collateral ligament, and whether it’s Tommy John will be determined later.

The surgeries also will sideline them at the beginning of 2025.

"Both pitchers, after a lot of medical attention and diagnoses, were determined that they're going to require a revision repair to their ulnar collateral ligaments," Elias said. "It's a very unfortunate situation for us, for them. Tough news for everybody. But we'll take great care of them and get them back to their skill level in due time."

The ultimate solution to the injuries isn't discovered until the surgeries begin, which could lead to differing time frames.

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Westburg on Orioles' bench again tonight

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Jordan Westburg remains out of the lineup for tonight’s game against the Rays at Camden Yards.

Westburg has a bruised right hand. He didn’t play Wednesday.

Ramón Urías stays at third base. Colton Cowser is in left field, Cedric Mullins is in center and Anthony Santander is in right.

Adley Rutschman is batting .381 against fastballs this season, fourth-highest in the majors per STATS. Eight of his 10 home runs have come off fastballs. Kyle Tucker (13) and Juan Soto (12) are the only players with more.

Albert Suárez stays in the rotation and on turn after replacing injured right-hander Dean Kremer. Suárez tossed four scoreless innings Saturday in Chicago and is 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 0.955 WHIP in 11 games (four starts).

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Going back to Orioles' bullpen and Akin's recent struggles

Adley Rutschman and Keegan Akin

The Orioles kept their bullpen intact through the off-day that leads into tonight’s series opener against the Rays and begins a stretch of 29 games in 30 days.

They didn’t option anyone. They didn’t make a trade or a waiver claim.

But the day is still young.

The Orioles keep shuffling relievers. They acquired Thyago Vieira from the Brewers Saturday and optioned left-hander Nick Vespi two days later. Jonathan Heasley was recalled May 23 and optioned the next day to make room for Dillon Tate.

Mike Baumann was designated for assignment on May 18 and later traded to the Mariners for Triple-A catcher Blake Hunt.

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Westburg keeps impressing with rapid development in majors

Jordan Westburg

To understand and appreciate Jordan Westburg's advanced approach to hitting, rewind to Tuesday night in the bottom of the first inning.

The Orioles were down 2-1 and had the bases loaded. Red Sox starter Brayan Bello got ahead two strikes, threw a third consecutive sinker and watched it roll into right field. Ryan O’Hearn and Colton Cowser raced home and Bello’s lead was gone.

That’s Westburg, in only his first full season in the majors.

Gunnar Henderson was the American League’s Rookie of the Year last season and is an early favorite to follow in the footsteps of Cal Ripken Jr., who won the award in 1982 and was chosen Most Valuable Player in ’83. But the low-key Westburg is ranking highly on the club’s statistical lists, placing second in average (.291), on-base percentage (.351), slugging percentage (.508) and OPS (.859) heading into last night. His 34 RBIs were third.

His 12 multi-RBI games led the team.

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Burnes goes seven innings, Henderson hits grand slam and Orioles recover from sloppy start in 6-1 win (updated)

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The entire Orioles infield gathered on the mound in the second inning for a conference that seemed to be more about settling down. Hit the pause button, regroup and get back to work. Get back to the way they normally play.

The Red Sox scored after Connor Wong singled, left fielder Colton Cowser and shortstop Gunnar Henderson committed errors, and Jorge Mateo made a high throw to the plate on a fielder’s choice. Corbin Burnes also threw a wild pitch for bad measure.

A popup and caught stealing kept the deficit at one. The defense was fixed.

Fortunately for the Orioles, there was nothing wrong with the bats. No one had to say a word.

Henderson hit a grand slam in the bottom of the second, Burnes held the Red Sox to an unearned run and three hits over seven innings, and the Orioles claimed another division series with a 6-1 victory before an announced crowd of 18,857 at Camden Yards.

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Hyde on Westburg: "I think we really caught a break and got lucky"

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The 95.5 mph sinker that crashed into Jordan Westburg’s right-hand last night threw a scare into the Orioles. He didn't toss him onto the injured list.

Westburg is out of tonight’s lineup to give him an extra day to heal. X-rays came back negative, and Thursday’s off-day should improve his chances of playing Friday night against the Rays at Camden Yards.

“I think we really caught a break and got lucky,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He’s sore, but feels a lot better than he did last night. It squared him up pretty good on the hand.”

Brayan Bello drilled Westburg in the sixth, and the infielder crouched on his way to first base as Hyde and athletic trainer Mark Shires rushed onto the field. Westburg stayed in the game, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs, and they didn’t score.

Adley Rutschman also is out of the lineup but he’s healthy. Hyde is making concessions to the brutal schedule that includes only one open date in June.

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Westburg and Rutschman out of Orioles lineup vs. Red Sox

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X-rays on Jordan Westburg’s right hand and wrist came back negative after he was hit last night by a pitch. However, he’s out of tonight’s lineup against the Red Sox.

Westburg leads the club with 12 multi-RBI games.

James McCann is catching and batting ninth. Adley Rutschman is on the bench.

Ramón Urías gets the start at third base. Ryan O’Hearn is the designated hitter. Colton Cowser is in left field again and batting cleanup.

O’Hearn is hitting .325 against fastballs in Baltimore this season compared to just .167 on the road.

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More thoughts on Orioles losing Wells and Means from rotation

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Kyle Bradish was supposed to be the biggest worry in the Orioles’ rotation.

Bradish was the pitcher diagnosed with the sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He was the pitcher receiving the platelet-rich plasma injection in January, with the possibility of surgery that would end his 2024 season.

We’re a few days away from moving into June and Bradish is still standing. He’s still performing like an ace, mimicking the 2023 version that finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting.

The seven no-hit innings in Chicago came in only his fifth start after the Orioles reinstated him from the injured list. His ERA is 1.75 and his WHIP 1.052, with an average of 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. And he outlasted Tyler Wells and John Means, who didn’t figure to bow out in April and May, respectively.

Put it high on the list of unexpected developments, maybe No. 1.

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Orioles squander big scoring opportunity and bullpen buckles in 8-3 loss (updated)

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Chafed by his career-high five walks in his last start in Chicago, Grayson Rodriguez used the word “atrocious” to describe his fastball command and overall performance. Well below his standards. Easier to tolerate, however, because the Orioles won.

Rodriguez began tonight’s game with a strikeout, home run, double and run-scoring single to fall behind 2-0. He also walked a batter. He was around the plate with 16 strikes among 22 pitches, but maybe a little too much.

Atrocious remained in play after Rodriguez was given a lead in the bottom half and the Red Sox responded by snatching it out of his hands, but he struck out a career-high 10 batters and issued just the one walk over six innings. The Red Sox didn’t score against him after the second.

Still needed was a comeback that would extend the Orioles’ winning streak to six games. They had opportunities but couldn’t do it. They couldn’t even keep it close.

They loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and didn’t score, Keegan Akin allowed three runs in the ninth and the Orioles lost to the Red Sox 8-3 before an announced crowd of 17,970 at Camden Yards.

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Orioles pregame notes on injuries, Mountcastle, Henderson and more

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Dean Kremer is making good progress in his recovery from a right triceps strain.

The Orioles put Kremer on the 15-day injured list retroactive to May 21. He’s rehabbing with the club.

“He’s doing well,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “It’s getting a little bit better every day. The soreness has gone down. Should be expecting to play catch here soon.

“So far so good with him.”

Hyde didn’t have any updates on John Means (left forearm strain) or Tyler Wells (right elbow inflammation). Means is receiving a second opinion after flying back to Baltimore. Wells is in Sarasota rehabbing, with no news beyond how he was cleared to play catch last week.

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Orioles lose Ort to waiver claim, tonight's lineups

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The Astros claimed reliever Kaleb Ort on waivers from the Orioles earlier today. The Orioles’ 40-man roster is down to 39 players.

Ort had a 12.08 ERA and 2.447 WHIP in 14 relief appearances with Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles acquired him from the Phillies on Feb. 19 for cash considerations.

Ryan O’Hearn is the first baseman tonight as the series continues against the Red Sox. Ryan Mountcastle is on the bench.

Cedric Mullins is in center field again after yesterday’s two-run triple. Colton Cowser is in left field and batting cleanup. Kyle Stowers is the designated hitter after going 3-for-4 yesterday with a career-high four RBIs.

Jorge Mateo stays at second base. Fifteen of his 25 hits have gone for extra bases.

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Cossins catches up media on Basallo, Handley and Rutschman

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Tim Cossins can bring a unique perspective as a member of the Orioles’ coaching staff.

Cossins is the major league field coordinator and catching instructor, but he relocated from the dugout to the bullpen during games in 2022. He’s equipped to talk about the relievers, too.

Maybe he also can be described as a Swiss Army knife. The Orioles are carrying a few of them.

Cossins spent a few minutes Sunday morning meeting with reporters outside the visiting clubhouse, his availability leading only to bullpen questions. After he jokingly said that he prepared to talk catching, taking a few steps toward the door, he had to spend three more minutes on that subject.

Let’s not forget his primary function, which also enables him to discuss catchers in the farm system.

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Because You Asked - Jaws the Revenge

Kyle Stowers

I’ve left the Windy City and decided to blow through another mailbag.

Better than trying to do it in the Steel City. Much heavier and much harder on the back.

This is the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 original. You know the rules. You ask, I try to answer, you wonder if I did much editing and I scold you.

We want levity and don’t care an ounce about brevity. Who’s printing the T-shirts?

Also, my mailbag directs all spam calls to your mailbag.

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Bradish tosses seven no-hit innings and Rutschman and Cowser homer to complete four-game sweep (updated)

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CHICAGO – Get the rain delay out of the way first, this one lasting 1 hour and 40 minutes. Send Kyle Bradish to the mound. Try to complete the first four-game sweep against the White Sox since 1995.

Try to do it before the weather takes another nasty turn.

Who knew that Bradish would be nastier?

Bradish didn’t allow a hit for seven innings, but the combined attempt at history failed when Danny Mendick came off the bench in the eighth and belted a leadoff home run against Danny Coulombe.

The Orioles didn’t get their seventh no-hitter. No matter. They left town with a 4-1 victory over the White Sox before an announced crowd of 14,992 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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Tate talks about yesterday's dominant outing for Orioles (game status update)

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CHICAGO - Dillon Tate sat at his locker this morning wearing a black hoodie, his head covered, his body turned away from the clubhouse. He was relaxed and not looking for any attention. Probably wishing that he could avoid it altogether, given his low-key personality and preference that others bask in the spotlight.

Here’s the conflict: You retire all seven batters you face in your longest relief outing in three years, setting up the rally in the eighth inning that produced a 5-3 win, and you’re going to be praised and asked about it.

Tate earned the win with 2 1/3 spotless frames and four strikeouts. The Orioles hit three homers and scored five runs in the eighth.

“It was good to be back out there, sharing the field with my guys,” said Tate, who was optioned April 29 and recalled on Friday. “Happy to get that win. We needed that.”

Team first, as usual with Tate.

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Westburg leading off today in series finale in rainy Chicago

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CHICAGO – The Orioles are trying today to complete their first four-game sweep on the White Sox’s home field since 1995.

The forecast might not allow the teams to play. Rain is supposed to pelt the area through the afternoon, leaving to the question of how long they’ll wait with the Orioles traveling home for Monday’s day game.

Jordan Westburg is leading off today, with Gunnar Henderson in the cleanup spot in the Orioles’ mostly right-handed lineup.

Austin Hays is in left field and Colton Cowser stays in center. Adley Rutschman is the designated hitter.

Ryan O’Hearn is on the bench against left-hander Garrett Crochet. He homered yesterday and is batting .294/.364/.521 with four doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 18 RBIs against right-handers this season.

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Vavra finally healthy and playing again in Triple-A

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CHICAGO - The lineup card posted on May 12 in Memphis was top-heavy in Orioles prospects. Triple-A Norfolk manager Buck Britton had Jackson Holliday leading off, followed by Coby Mayo and Kyle Stowers. Connor Norby would have joined them except that he exited the game two nights earlier with a left wrist injury and didn’t play for a week. Heston Kjerstad was optioned on the 13th, with Stowers taking his place on the major league bench. Otherwise, he, too, would have been an imposing part of the order.

Batting sixth and serving as the designated hitter was Terrin Vavra. Back from a brief injury rehab assignment. Back from the shoulder surgery that brought down a season that began with such promise.

Trading in a cloak of invisibility for a Tides uniform that he hadn’t worn in 11 months.

“It’s not the level necessarily that I have aspirations to play at,” he said earlier this week, “but it’s also where I was and where I wanted to get back to.”

The journey was painful and tested him physically and mentally.

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O'Hearn, Santander and Westburg homer in eighth in Orioles' 5-3 victory (updated)

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CHICAGO – With two relief appearances in the past four days, Albert Suárez was put on a starter’s leash this afternoon that didn’t measure an exact length. Manager Brandon Hyde planned on checking with him after each inning. Maybe he’d go three, maybe four.

Suárez fielded a grounder and started a double play to end the third and leave him at 60 pitches. And he wasn’t done. Hyde sent him back out for the fourth and was rewarded with another scoreless inning.

Hyde wasn’t pushing Suárez beyond the 80 pitches thrown, and a scoreless game was passed to reliever Keegan Akin, who surrendered a two-out, bases-loaded triple to Gavin Sheets in the fifth. A death blow for some teams. A wake-up call for the Orioles, who hit three homers in the eighth in a 5-3 victory over the White Sox before an announced crowd of 22,283 at sunny Guaranteed Rate Field.

They can strike quickly, and less-than-ideal circumstances heading into a game don't faze them. An emergency starter, a sputtering offense, a short bullpen, whatever.

"That was a fun inning," Hyde said. "That game offensively for us sucked for seven. We didn't do anything offensively."

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